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Monday, April 28, 2014

What Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Can Do About the Metro Funding Mess

Posted by on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36)
  • E.S.
  • Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36) doesn't blame the mayor. The state legislature is the problem, he says. True. But the mayor was a state legislator for 17 years...
The day after the depressing vote against Metro funding, State Representative Reuven Carlyle walked by a bar holding a few Stranger writers.

When he came in, we asked him what the hell was wrong with the Washington State Legislature, which last year created the funding mess that led to last week's failed attempt at fixing our local bus system with local money.

“We have to do something legislatively," Carlyle, who represents Ballard and Queen Anne, told us.

It was an admission that the legislature—particularly the state senate—has utterly failed to protect the interests of Metro riders and transit supporters, a group of people conservative state lawmakers may love to bring pain to, but who happen to keep this state's major economic engine running. When the people who ride Metro suffer, Seattle and King County suffer, and when Seattle and King County suffer, the state suffers.

Why have Seattle lawmakers not been able to make the rest of the state legislature understand this? And speaking of Seattle lawmakers: What ever happened to Ed Murray's campaign talk about how his 17 years in the state legislature would mean that, as mayor, he would make sure Olympia does right by Seattle?

“You absolutely cannot hang this, in and of itself, on him," Carlyle said, defending Mayor Murray.

Okay... Murray was in the state legislature when Metro funding was set on a course to the present catastrophe. He couldn't stop it then, and he wasn't able to get the recent Metro funding measure to pass among voters in King County. But, okay. Say we give the mayor a break and assume he'll use all of his legislative prowess to make sure Olympia does right by Metro during the next legislative session (eight months from now). What, exactly, should Mayor Murray and the rest of us be doing in the meantime?

“We need a wake-up call statewide," Carlyle said, noting that a statewide transportation package failed to pass the last legislative session. Until a statewide package passes, Carlyle said, "I think the pain points are going to increase everywhere. Pierce County is feeling it. King County is now feeling it. What is the argument against a statewide transportation plan, other than that taxes are a bummer?”

Isn't that the only argument you need to win debates in the Republican-controlled state senate these days?

“The only way we get anything through is if there’s a grand bargain," Carlyle said.

That's one possibility.

Another way to get to a transportation funding breakthrough is if Democrats take control of the state senate in the November elections. How might the Olympia-savvy mayor of the largest city in Washington State, a man who represents a lot of voters who are both well-off and furious about the Metro cuts, make a senate takeover more likely?

By loudly connecting the dots for Seattleites who want action to save Metro, telling them exactly who to send money to in order to flip the handful of state senate seats that Democrats need in order to get Metro the money it needs.

For decades, Murray, from his legislative seat, complained that impatient Seattle voters needed to see the bigger legislative picture, that they needed to work to elect Democrats outside the city's borders in order to improve the quality of life within the city's borders. Well, as the Seattle voter with the largest megaphone at the moment, Mayor Murray now has a great opportunity to repeatedly paint this bigger picture for Seattleites, and to lead them in a campaign to remove lawmakers who are an obstacle to Metro funding.

"We’re on a march to being a low-tax, low-service, low-quality of life state," Carlyle said. "That’s the public conversation that every election should be about. You can’t have Denmark-level services with Somalia-level taxes.”

That's a conversation the Mayor of Seattle should be leading—along with an all-out effort to make sure lawmakers outside of Seattle know that when they vote to bring needless suffering to the citizens of Seattle, they vote to end their careers.


Comments (15) RSS

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"By loudly connecting the dots for Seattleites..."

You mean the same Seattilites, including the entire staff of The Stranger, who spent all of last year debating which liberal Democrat should be mayor instead of helping defend a vulnerable Senate seat (which was subsequently lost to the Republicans, solidifying their hold of the Senate)?

Good luck with that.
Posted by SuperSteve on April 28, 2014 at 7:02 AM · Report this

I used to subscribe to Reuven's Feed on Facebook, until he basically said that he hated the suburbs and only liked Seattle.

That, in a nutshell, is why no one should vote on these omnibus bills because the people who spend the money are Seattle-centric-car-hating-house-hating-densifiers who would use our own tax money against us.

Rip the ideologues out of Olympia first, before you tax another nickel.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on April 28, 2014 at 7:11 AM · Report this
fletc3her 3
Let's start by passing a county equality bill which says that state expenditures in each county must average out to the share of taxes they pay. That would immediately help the Puget Sound region by preventing the flow of money to the more rural counties. And somehow I bet you could sell it to the more rural counties as in their best interest.
Posted by fletc3her on April 28, 2014 at 7:20 AM · Report this
@3: Absolutely.
Posted by tiktok on April 28, 2014 at 7:39 AM · Report this
Ed Murray has been mayor for nearly five months, and in every major decision made so far (staff, police chief, minimum wage, etc) he's displayed neither competence nor leadership. Thinking that this will change over the next three-and-a-half years is wishful at best.

For four years Seattle had a mayor who was a regional leader in funding and expanding public transit, but he was voted out in favor of the current clown sitting in City Hall. If you voted for Ed Murray and are a supporter of public transit, look in the mirror: YOU are part of the problem.
Posted by DOUG. on April 28, 2014 at 8:32 AM · Report this
@3 - 100% correct

@6 - Let's not forget that Murray was the chief architect of the downtown tunnel. How's that working out for us?
Posted by I Got Nuthin' on April 28, 2014 at 9:10 AM · Report this
Martin H. Duke 9
What is the argument against a statewide transportation plan, other than that taxes are a bummer?”

The argument is that any statewide transportation package -- Democrat or Republican -- will have an unacceptable amount of greenhouse gas, sprawl-inducing highway expansion in exchange for us merely keeping what we have in Metro. The highways would happen automatically while the buses would likely be subject to a countywide vote, which as we've seen as no slam dunk.

Don't believe the line the Senate Democrats are feeding you. The Republicans have been in charge in the Senate for less than two years, but the Metro funding crisis has been going on for SIX -- four years where the Democrats did nothing but apply band-aids for Metro, holding out until they could blackmail us with a highway package.

The Senate Republicans are, of course, horrible -- but at least they're inspiring gridlock, gridlock that's preventing a horrible highway bill from passing.
Posted by Martin H. Duke on April 28, 2014 at 9:29 AM · Report this
Martin H. Duke 10
And by the way, the idea that Ed Murray is any position to affect the upcoming Senate election is complete nonsense. The voice of the Seattle Mayor as at best irrelevant and at worst massively counterproductive in Washington swing districts.
Posted by Martin H. Duke on April 28, 2014 at 9:34 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 12
@11 This. So much this.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on April 28, 2014 at 11:56 AM · Report this
meanie 13
@9 this is what I can never get about the liberal fanaticism in Seattle. Its been a super majority in Olympia from Slade Gordons era up until this Rodney Tom scapegoating, and what do we have to show for it? People vote democrat and pat themselves on the back while Boeing bleeds us dry, Microsoft evades all taxes while demanding more services, and we cripple our funding to support the daft ideas behind initiatives that were unconstitutional.

The hostage politics of the PNWs liberals need to go, every vote includes a grand bargain that threatens kids, transit, or education while passing glut for roads, corporate welfare and regressive tax systems.
Posted by meanie on April 28, 2014 at 12:05 PM · Report this
"...make sure lawmakers outside of Seattle know that when they vote to bring needless suffering to the citizens of Seattle, they vote to end their careers."

And how exactly will they know that? Will they know it when they see the Stranger whine about the absolute purity of representation in deep-blue Seattle districts? Will that cause suburban moderates to quake with fear?

There is one way - only one - to get the attention of suburban moderates: fund their opponents in elections. Period. And use that money to make strong arguments.

Who's got that money? The same group of idiot political allies that lost the Senate majority in 2012 because they wanted to squabble over litmus tests in deep-blue Seattle districts instead of doing actual work and pumping serious money into the surrounding communities. Let's be clear: The Stranger was (and still is) the useful idiot for that strategy. Cheer for Seattle, scorn King County, lose more power. Repeat.

You want to blame somebody? Don't blame Carlyle. Don't even blame Murray, in spite of his increasingly obvious wimpiness. Blame those political funders. Hold them accountable, because their actions (and inaction) decide elections.

I dream of the day when someone at The Stranger develops enough political sophistication to figure this out, and writes something enlightening and sharp about the people who give the money instead of the people who get it. Hold those entities accountable. Ask them why they're so committed to losing and wait for the sound of crickets.

Posted by Relling on April 28, 2014 at 2:04 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 16
You mean the corporations that got all the tax exemptions instead of us actually doing something ...
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 28, 2014 at 2:24 PM · Report this
MrBaker 17
Dear amnesia victims,
There was a guy named Tim Eyman.
This massive fuckup wasn't an accident, it was on purpose, on state-wide votes.
There are very fiscally conservative folks outside of the blue bubble that have created what they have wanted, what Carlyle points out as a low tax and low quality of life state. But it hasn't actually turned out that way for those fiscally conservative folks. They are getting the low tax portion but are getting a much higher quality of life than their taxes would actually support. They get to keep their cake and eat ours too.

The solution doesn't require the capture of the senate, it takes playing hardball in the House. Stop giving the conservatives what they insist they don't want to pay for, and have expressed many times through the ballot.
If the rest of the state really wants to live like South Carolina, let them.
Stop paying them to screw us.
Once they realize their utopia isn't as dreamy as imagined maybe they will actually begin to vote in favor of reaching into their pockets to pay for the world we are currently gifting to them right now.

Wake the fuck up to the incentives in the current system, and have the guts to do something about it.
Posted by MrBaker on April 28, 2014 at 3:22 PM · Report this
meanie 18

nearly all Tim Eyman initiatives FAILED to pass constitutional muster, and were invalidated.

The liberal left super majority that made up the Washington legislature, crossed the isle to the conservative side and drafted new legislation for all the current restrictions we have. Blame Reuven Carlyle and Ed Murray for this, its their fault.

Tim Eyman scapegoating is as stupid as he is. learn to read:
Posted by meanie on April 28, 2014 at 4:29 PM · Report this
Posted by j2patter on April 28, 2014 at 8:50 PM · Report this

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