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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mayor Murray Says He'll Fight Any Attempt to Save Metro by Using Property Taxes; Slams Founder of "Plan C"

Posted by and on Thu, May 8, 2014 at 1:18 PM

  • Ansel Herz
"I don't oppose people filing initiatives to support Metro," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in an interview with The Stranger this morning to talk about his lobbying against a Metro-saving initiative.

"But," Murray said, "I will fight the use of property tax." The mayor opposes Initiative 118—also known as Metro-saving "Plan C"—because it would use a Seattle property tax hike to save Seattle-only bus service. That approach, he believes, would have bad consequences for other social-justice priorities in Seattle.

"I'm concerned that we’re using the property tax and unwittingly pitting universal pre-K against parks and transit," Murray said. "I don’t think we want to do that." He called universal pre-K the most important thing he can achieve as mayor, citing the high rates of poverty for local African-American and Latino children in Seattle.

He conceded that it would be theoretically possible to do all three—universal pre-K, parks, and transit—via property tax hikes in the very near term. "This year, technically, do we have capacity?" Murray asked. "Yes.” But, he continued, “In reality, we are quickly going to run out of levy capacity in the next few years if we do everything on the property tax.”

To buy back Seattle's Metro service, Murray is considering cuts to Seattle's Department of Transportation. He's also considering the same funding methods floated by Proposition 1, which failed across King County but was overwhelmingly supported by Seattle voters. Those methods included raising sales taxes and car tab fees.

As we've reported, Murray has told at least two state lawmakers not to support any initiative that would save Metro by using property taxes. That prompted one legislator, State Senator Adam Kline, to recently withdraw his endorsement for "Plan C," and Murray said he saw nothing wrong with lobbying local politicians for his preferred bus-saving alternatives. He said if he'd had more time (he's been busy interviewing prospective police chiefs), he would have called more of them.

But, Murray continued, it's disingenuous to question his transit bona fides, as some have been doing during this debate. "If people want to go and replay the 2013 campaign and say Ed’s anti-transit and he wants to pave the city, then go ahead," Murray said. We asked him whether the role of former Mayor Mike McGinn in the campaign for Plan C plays any part in Murray's hostility towards the initiative. Murray said it doesn't. "If Mike McGinn didn’t exist, I would still be saying that," Murray said. But, he also complained that during the mayoral transition period McGinn didn't meet with him, violating a longstanding tradition, and said that normally new ex-mayors don't work so publicly against the interests of a sitting mayor.

Murray's rap against McGinn during last year's mayoral race was that McGinn couldn't play nice with others and refused to collaborate. So why isn't Murray collaborating with the backers of Plan C? "We are being collaborative," Murray said. He is currently working with King County, Transportation Choices, FUSE Washington, and "a half-dozen other organizations" that he said he couldn't recall off the top of his head. Their plan just isn't ready yet.

He cited his recent success in getting a minimum wage agreement (after a few decision deadline extensions) as proof that if given some time, he can deliver. And he pointed out that the coming Metro service cuts, while horrifying, don't begin until September, so there's time. "I'm working on a plan, Murray said. "And I’m sorry if folks believe I should pop a plan out. It’s easy to pop a plan on the ballot... If people believe I should have popped out the morning after the election with a fully-cooked plan, I disagree.”

That said, Murray added: "I'm totally willing to be pounded if people want to re-fight the 2013 campaign."

And what, exactly, does Mayor Murray know about Keep Seattle Moving, the ballot initiative that was popped out right after the election?

"I only know them to be a single person who has never written a positive thing about me," Murray said, referring to the initiative's filer, Ben Schiendelman. "I've gotten a lot of advice that there will be no positive outcome if I reach out to that individual...I don't remember when Ben Schiendelman became the czar of transit advocates in Seattle."

Meanwhile, Schiendelman's Keep Seattle Moving announced new endorsements today from the local chapter of the Sierra Club and the Transit Riders Union. "We need progressive action immediately," said the union's assistant secretary, Beau Morton. "We've waited for the state, we've tried at the county, and the city can't afford to wait any longer and lose the transit service that we need now."

Murray, however, bristled at the idea that he's been part of a series of failures at the state and county level that led to this current mess. “Transportation—that’s my first love in government," he said. "Unlike the people who are proposing this, I’ve actually gotten funding for transit." He thinks it's a false choice to say that Seattle can either go it alone now or wait months for the state legislature to—maybe—help save Metro in 2015. "I'm in both camps," he said. "Moving this year for revenue, and continuing to fight in Olympia for a package that will give us more revenue, including for our streets and sidewalks.”

Sometime in the coming weeks—the mayor wouldn't say when—he'll unveil his own plan to save Metro. (Call it Plan E, for "Ed doesn't like Plan C.") Until its details become more clear, this much is certain: It will not rely on revenue from property taxes.


Comments (108) RSS

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Bold statement Mr Mayor, thank you!

Mayor Murray: best mayor ever!
Posted by Kicker on May 8, 2014 at 1:29 PM · Report this
I'll wait on his plan, and until then collect signatures for Plan C. I support his legislative goals but the buses are an immediate problem. His statements here are, in sum, a justification for why its not such a big priority for him.
Posted by wxPDX on May 8, 2014 at 1:30 PM · Report this
"...normally new ex-mayors don't work so publicly against the interests of a sitting mayor."

Um, perhaps. But how can Murray make this claim when everybody knows McGinn supported this Initiative BEFORE Hizzoner "decided" to come up with his own plan after the fact?
Posted by COMTE on May 8, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Ed Murray will be remembered as the most divisive mayor in Seattle's modern history. The personal attacks of McGinn, Schiendelman and others reflect poorly on him and his office.
Posted by DOUG. on May 8, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
Mayor McGinn? The 45 percenter?

The people have spoken loud and clearly on that moron.
Posted by People won't forget how much they hated McGinn on May 8, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
Excuses excuses excuses

He wants the property tax for the Big Bertha cost overruns

Cancel that instead, Mayor
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this
fletc3her 7
Are we at least getting a blue ribbon committee? How are we going to know what's wrong without one?
Posted by fletc3her on May 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM · Report this

That's basically what's going on here. He's trying to make this about McGinn and hoping people get so caught up in this drama that they forget that he doesn't have a plan and is screwing our ability to save bus service.

And how is Plan C about opposing him when he hadn't put forward a plan or even announced any intention to do so?
Posted by politickling on May 8, 2014 at 1:55 PM · Report this
Fnarf 9
You know what else fucks over local African-American and Latino children in Seattle? Taking away the buses they take to school, and their parents to work.

That's a hell of a lot worse than not having a little pre-K.

I'm a property owner and I'll pay the tax.
Posted by Fnarf on May 8, 2014 at 1:56 PM · Report this
-- And he pointed out that the coming Metro service cuts, while horrifying, don't begin until September, so there's time. --

If Murray really said this, he doesn't understand how Metro service is delivered. Bus schedules are written months in advance of the next service change. If September service schedules are not locked down right now, they very soon will be; in a matter of days, not weeks.

September transit service is effectively decided. We need to be working for the future beyond that, and quickly!
Posted by Citizen R on May 8, 2014 at 1:59 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 11
Well, he's not wrong exactly. The more property tax levies on the ballot, the more likely people will vote no to all of them, or split the yes votes among initiatives.

Tie a car tax/fee *to the value of the car* maybe? I'd like to see that, I think overall that may be why our last prop didn't pass. People driving a 15 year old beater shouldn't have to pay the same as people driving a brand new luxury suv, yeah?
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 8, 2014 at 2:00 PM · Report this
In the same breath, Murray falsely accuses Plan C of hurting the poor minority children that need universal pre-K, and then says we shouldn't pit priorities against each other. He then contradicts himself and admits we can pay for both, but says that Plan C hurts unnamed priorities that could come up later.

Only one person in the city right now is pitting pre-K against buses, and it looks like he's doing it to settle personal vendettas.
Posted by Hogan on May 8, 2014 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Placing this on the backs or property owners alone is wrong, period. Why isn't a local only version of prop one more popular - because all the non property owners are itching to get this paid for on someone else's dime. And don't bother with the "renters pay through their landlords" rhetoric. If renters were willing to pay they would be all for a local only prop one. All property owners are not the idle rich you know. many are barely making ends meet as it is.
Posted by woofy on May 8, 2014 at 2:03 PM · Report this
Every time Murray opens his mouth I wonder just a little bit more how this guy has been able to hang on as long as he has. Attacking activists and trashing a former Mayor who has made no public comment about him whatsoever in his support of Schiendelman's initiative should not the behavior of someone whose sole campaign platform was being collaborative. I don't believe a word he is saying about any of it partly because of his undignified public responses to media and in his own words in places like Facebook. There's only one plan (c) and I am supporting it. If he comes up with something better, great.
Posted by Yeah You on May 8, 2014 at 2:05 PM · Report this
I have no children, but ride the bus five days a week. Maybe people with kids should budget for paying for their schools before asking everyone else to foot the bill? Or does that sound like short-sighted assholedom?

I await the Mayor's "plan".
Posted by tiktok on May 8, 2014 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Cascadian 16
Ed Murray is a bad mayor.

If he had designs on the property tax for other purposes, he needed to lay claim to it with his own proposals instead of getting upset when someone else did.

If he truly supported transit, he would have been more vocal about Prop 1, and would have worked with others to have a Plan C of his own ready to go. He still has no plan but "maybe I'll cut other important funding or maybe I'll ask people to vote for regressive taxes again."

If he truly supported police reform, he would have kept on the reformers in the department and enforced higher standards on officer conduct, instead of firing the chief reformer and enabling the police guild's misguided agenda.

If he really wanted universal pre-K, he's had months to start mobilizing a plan.

He could support Initiative 118 *and* also put forward funding for universal pre-K. But instead he's creating a false choice between them, hurting both those who use transit and the city's children.

He's just a bad mayor. Incompetent. Egotistical. Petty. Shortsighted. He should have stayed in Olympia where those traits are valued.
Posted by Cascadian on May 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM · Report this
What does he have against Schiendelman? Posters say "it's personal." Murray acts as though it's personal. What happened? Can't imagine anything bad enough to have a pissing match in lieu of a collaboration on getting Seattle the transit it needs.
Posted by gator bait on May 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 18
@15 "Maybe people with kids should budget for paying for their schools before asking everyone else to foot the bill?"

...really? A non-subsidized metro fare would be something like $6.00 per trip.

So "does that sound like short-sighted assholedom?" - No, it sounds like hypocritical short-sighted assholedom.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 8, 2014 at 2:16 PM · Report this
Murray views himself as a collaborator, and that's somewhat true, as long as the only people he is asked to collaborate with are people with whom he is politically comfortable, and who share his vision.
Any one out side of that narrow demographic simply doesn't exist for him, and on the occasions that others advocate for causes, whether he agrees in principle or not, he views them as a hindrance to the "process".
Ive never witnessed a more thin skinned, childish politician in local politics. He is utterly caustic and vitriolic towards everyone not part of his political tribe. He expects everyone to sit down, shut up and get on board.
Worst Mayor Ever.
Posted by Pol Pot on May 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Cascadian 20
I'm pretty sure that Schiendelman has been a long time associate of Mike McGinn, but in any event has been (rightfully) vocal about Murray's shortcomings on transit. Ed Murray is thin-skinned and reacts emotionally to criticism, plus he hates McGinn and sees Schiendelman as a McGinn proxy. It's the same petty bullshit that was the whole rationale for his mayoral campaign as far as I can tell. Murray was always the establishment guy annoyed at the grassroots (represented by Schiendelman and McGinn, among others). Really sad.
Posted by Cascadian on May 8, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
I would vote yes on parks, transit and education, but levies sometimes fail in this town, and we have to be careful about property tax sticker shock.

If there's a Plan E that's viable, can we give his administration time to find it?

Let's remember that the mayor didn't screw transit...the state legislature, and then suburban voters did. Direct your anger there.
Posted by IslandGuy on May 8, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
King Ed Murray 22
Schiendelman, McGinn, and these rebels who dare claim power from outside of my party's machine will be crushed.

Here is my Metro plan. Don't like it? You mean nothing to me. I cannot abide the wailing of progressives.
Posted by King Ed Murray on May 8, 2014 at 2:23 PM · Report this
@ Cascadian: Thanks. Now I can try to make sense of the current madness, which - yes - seems haphazard and petty at City Hall - maybe on Ben's side too, but that's not being covered right now. In any case, "give me a couple of weeks" for a plan and BTW I hate Ben is not exactly a confidence-builder in getting transit addressed.
Posted by gator bait on May 8, 2014 at 2:23 PM · Report this
Sadly, Ed is showing just how petty he can be. His opposition to Plan C is personal-plain and simple. Schiendelman worked on McGinn's campaign and anyone who is associated with McGinn is persona non grata in the establishment circle. As for Ed's comment- "Unlike the people who are proposing this, I’ve actually gotten funding for transit." Aside from the gas tax increase 9 years ago- what is he talking about? Or, is he referring to the boondoggle tunnel? Things in Olympia were dysfunctional before the Majority Coalition (reminds us again how they got control of the Senate?) and he was a part of that dysfunction. Colluding to sabotage a transit funding option is NOT collaborative...
Posted by Time4Change on May 8, 2014 at 2:25 PM · Report this
No one demanded a full plan, but had he just said these same things a day or two after the election, he could have precluded a lot of this. It's not like people can read his damn mind.

Or, if he wanted to actually fucking lead, called up McGinn himself and ask him if he wanted to head up a commission to explore seattle only funding options. That'd have been classy and good mayoring.

Instead we have this.
Posted by giffy on May 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this
@21, true. The current Mayor was a long-time member of the state legislature, during many of its opportunities and failures to do something on transit, but fine. Let's hit the reset button -- he's in a new position with new opportunities now.

Anyone who knows a thing about Ben knows that his commitment to transit advocacy trumps all. For better or for worse. Most of him appreciate him for that.

Murray has 3 and a half years ahead of him to make nice with the cities strongest advocates, on topics he ostensibly cares deeply about. Why in the world would he start off like this? What does he have to lose by simply having someone from his office return a damn phone call? Is it that hard to make a non-committal diplomatic statement? Isn't that the easiest and most common part of any political office?!

There are a lot of us that supported Mike McGinn because of what he stood for. Not who he is or the position he held, but for his works and advocacy. Many of us walked into Murray's term very skeptical, and many of us are loud and opinionated, but it's because of our passion for the city. Our votes are on the table, and he has years to earn it. Why treat us like political enemies rather than potential allies?
Posted by grkle on May 8, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Report this
MrBaker 27
I'm voting no on the parks initiative no matter what. I've already voted yes on the seawall, I don't need a waterfront carnival for hobos.

I will vote yes on pre-k.
I will vote yes for plan C unless plan E is better.

And yes, nothing positive could result in Murray contacting Schiendelman. Schiendelman has already put forward his proposal.
I think it's interesting that Schiendelman didn't reach out to Murray for Murray's support (if that happened then maybe the McGinn fan club could find a journalist in your office to report on that).

Weird that McGinn's puppet put forth a go-it-alone proposal, it's shocking.
Posted by MrBaker on May 8, 2014 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Good suggestion, #11. I'd go for that!
Posted by Sharip on May 8, 2014 at 2:29 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 29
@19 "He is utterly caustic and vitriolic towards everyone not part of his political tribe."

I haven't noticed him displaying these tendencies. Is there some communications outlet I can check out to read his acid and vitriol? I don't think statements like "I don't agree with the priorities of interest group x" qualify.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 8, 2014 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 30
Well, he's not completely wrong. If you pile 3 new increases to property taxes in the same election, you risk maxing out your taxing capability, or facing overloaded voters voting all of them down, or cherry picking which they like best.

In reality, early childhood education should be a priority. There will be significant. long-term benefit to the entire education system in the city if this happens. I think buses are important too. I would hate to be forced to choose one over the other.

But please don't go back to the car tabs. Car tab fees have proven to be very unpopular. And sales tax is the most regressive taxing option we have.

I still think property tax is the best option. In the absence of an income tax, property taxes are the most progressive taxing option we have available to us right now. Generally, wealthier people live in more expensive houses, and subsequently pay higher property taxes.

I'll wait to see what his new plan is, but if it involves sales tax, I'd rather support Plan C.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on May 8, 2014 at 2:31 PM · Report this
Since it's transportation, and mostly for those who can't afford a car, tax those who use their cars, via parking, and gas taxes in the city and region. People that don't want to pay the tax can simply ride the bus, increasing ridership and thereby increasing money generated through transit use. Taxing the sale of cars would be a tricky thing, because people would just use a dealership out of city or out of state. Instead of that, you could have a fee on registration for all vehicles registered within the city limits.

Coming from Vancouver many of these initiatives happen here, and they work, sure drivers bitch, but do you know who doesn't? The thousands that use transit everyday.
Posted by heavymellow on May 8, 2014 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Murray, however, bristled at the idea that he's been part of a series of failures at the state and county level that led to this current mess.

Christ. Own your goddamn failures, Mayor. I'm sure you intended to do better. Perhaps its not entirely your fault you didn't do better. But your "leadership" on transit in Olympia is a primary reason we're in this f-ing mess right now.
Posted by david jw on May 8, 2014 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Kinison 33
There's always Plan D, which is wait at a bus stop for 20-25 minutes to transfer to a connecting bus. That's what I had to do when Metro cut 13 eastside routes 3 years ago. My commute from First Hill to Overlake went from 40 minutes to 75. And on the way home, would always miss the connecting 255 bus by 2 minutes, often seeing it pull out of the P&R as mine was arriving. But hey, at least you guys are aware of the cuts and when, most people on the 256 bus found out when the driver made the announcement on the PA system 2 weeks prior.

As a former Seattle resident, as someone who was told to deal with the bus cuts years ago, I am taking immense pleasure at the fact that not only does Murray not approve of the plan, is trying to block it.
Posted by Kinison on May 8, 2014 at 2:37 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 34

Car tab fees tied to the value of the vehicle is a win for everyone. For some reason that approach always seems to be off the table though :(

And keep in mind the highest value real estate properties are commercial and multi unit residential. Levies on them aren't paid by the owners, they are paid by shoppers and renters.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 8, 2014 at 2:37 PM · Report this
This is just amazing. Ed Murray, Seattle mayor, is happy to let buses die because of personal pique. He has gone off the deep end here and is behaving extremely unprofessionally.

This is also very bad politics. If he was jealous of Schiendelman or McGinn, he could just embrace their plan and steal all their thunder, making them both irrelevant. Instead he wants to torpedo a good plan even though he has nothing else to offer.

Oh, and Ed? You had *18 years* in Olympia to fix this problem. You did nothing.
Posted by junipero on May 8, 2014 at 2:38 PM · Report this
guerre 36
Murray hates initiatives, which go outside the collaborative process. His donors and friends don't get a say besides their one vote in November.
Posted by guerre on May 8, 2014 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Come to the signature gathering launch party tonight and help make sure there's a public vote!…
Posted by Gabe Global on May 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM · Report this
@27 I left messages with Murray's office before we filed the measure - I've reached out repeatedly. I only got a call back this afternoon, after two weeks. I'm happy to work with them if they continue to reach out.
Posted by Ben Schiendelman on May 8, 2014 at 2:46 PM · Report this
@27, Ben has publicly made clear that he's reached out to the Mayor's office. I couldn't tell you when he first contacted them, but I know it's been at least a few weeks. So both yours and Murray's use of the phrase "reach out" seems like, at the very least, a poor choice of words. Responding is a form of reaching out, but the initial reach was already made.
Posted by grkle on May 8, 2014 at 2:46 PM · Report this
@38 So they finally got back to you, but only after public backlash (and this interview!!) over failing to do so? Fascinating.
Posted by grkle on May 8, 2014 at 2:47 PM · Report this
King Ed Murray 41
@40 a good King wastes nothing.
Posted by King Ed Murray on May 8, 2014 at 2:49 PM · Report this
The most preposterous statement on this comment thread from the echo chamber of McGinn-lovers and Murray haters is that this little elitist technocrat yuppie punk Schiendelman is "grass-roots."
Posted by told you on May 8, 2014 at 2:52 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 43
Murray prioritizing his little pet project over *basic infrastructure* makes me extremely disinclined to vote for universal preschool, regardless if it shares the same ballot with Plan C.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 8, 2014 at 2:55 PM · Report this
Technocrat yuppie punk, that's a pretty cool-sounding insult for yet another unregistered commenter.

Grassroots defines community engagement, rather than a politician's or an institution's. Maybe Ben is a technocrat yuppie punk (I know him fairly well and I gotta say that's definitely not the least accurate description I've heard about him), but he's still a part of the community, as are many of us that support transit advocacy he's worked on in the past.

Just because it's not your preferred version of grassroots (or your preferred source) doesn't mean it's not grassroots.
Posted by grkle on May 8, 2014 at 3:00 PM · Report this
MrBaker 45
@38, Was that before or after you said in the Seattle Weekly that Murray was "scared"?
That's an interesting way to reach out, Ben.
Maybe you should endorse McGinn a few more times and wonder why Murray doesn't return your calls.
Posted by MrBaker on May 8, 2014 at 3:01 PM · Report this
FROM* yet another unregistered commenter. Oops!

Because as we know, love him or hate him, at least Ben has the guts to put a name by his comments.
Posted by grkle on May 8, 2014 at 3:01 PM · Report this
SPG 47
We're not even six months in to a Murray administration and there's already a pile of disasters. Can't wait to see what we get over the next few years.
Posted by SPG on May 8, 2014 at 3:03 PM · Report this
cressona 48
He called universal pre-K the most important thing he can achieve as mayor,...

Did I miss something? I was kinda paying attention to the Seattle mayor's race last year. When did Ed Murray suddenly become Bill de Blasio?

But, Murray continued, it's disingenuous to question his transit bona fides, as some have been doing during this debate.

Ed Murray has been a "friend" of transit for a long time now. See:…

BTW, I consider property tax a less than ideal way to fund transit. Worse even than the lousy Prop. 1 funding sources. And I still find Ed Murray's response to this initiative par for the course for him.
Posted by cressona on May 8, 2014 at 3:03 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 49
@16: What the hell are you talking about? Haven't you been paying attention? Plans for a property tax levy for pre-K and parks have been in the works for months.

And the Mayor isn't talking just about voter fatigue. State law actually limits the amount of property taxes that can be levied by a majority vote to a total of $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value. So putting transit on the property tax could well be the death of pre-K or parks.

But you won't find any of those facts being discussed in the low-information Stranger.

And if property tax for transit was such a fabulous idea, then where the hell was McGinn on the subject when he was actually, you know, Mayor?
Posted by kk in seattle on May 8, 2014 at 3:04 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 50

Welcome to the club. I've regularly waited 20 minutes or longer for in-city transfers. And going crosstown on the bus can take an hour or longer. Metro is efficient if you're traveling directly to or from downtown with zero transfers, and that's why I broke down and bought a car.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 8, 2014 at 3:06 PM · Report this
@45 He's the goddamn Mayor. That's a job for adults. Adults that can put the needs of the City ahead of their own petty squabbles. Ben at least tried to do that.
Posted by giffy on May 8, 2014 at 3:10 PM · Report this

The motor vehicle excise tax (MVET), which is what you're referring to, is illegal thanks to the state legislature. If it were legal it would absolutely be on the table, but Republican and conservative Democrats in the state senate blocked those efforts this year and, as others have noted, Murray didn't do anything to change that back when he was running the senate.
Posted by Shane P. on May 8, 2014 at 3:12 PM · Report this
@18: I can't see beyond the horizon line of my own immediate interests. I'm thinking everyone else should chip in to subsidize things that make my life pleasant and comfortable.

Wait--which side am I arguing?
Posted by tiktok on May 8, 2014 at 3:20 PM · Report this
Cascadian 54
@49, the Metro cuts were not an issue until the failure of Plans A (Legislature) and B (County funding). You can't fault McGinn for not finding a funding source for cuts that weren't happening yet.

As for pre-K, if the mayor had funding plans lined up how come none of the Seattle legislators who announced support for Initiative 118 know anything about it until Murray made calls to (at least some of) them to get them to rescind their support? Are legislators low-information, too? Or is it just that Murray hasn't communicated his plans? And if Murray did have property tax funding in mind, why didn't he realize that failure of Prop 1 would present a possible conflict, and thus come up with an immediate funding plan of his own for transit?

At some point, he has to stop blaming other people for what goes wrong and sabotaging people for getting stuff done without waiting for him to get his act together, and start working with other people to get stuff done. It sounds like Ben and McGinn are ready to work with him if he decides to stop pitting daycare against transit.
Posted by Cascadian on May 8, 2014 at 3:33 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 55

Oh, right. Tim Eyman. I try to forget that guy and what he's done.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 8, 2014 at 3:34 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 56
@52. It's illegal because a Tim Eyman initiative repealed it. The Supreme Court threw out the initiative on a technicality and the Legislature reenacted it lawfully. Yes, of course, the Legislature could repeal this, which would be a Tim Eyman wet dream. He probably has a referendum drafted and ready to go. The MVET is wildly unpopular. Very few people outside of Seattle like paying a huge lump sum annual car tab. There is no conceivable way an MVET would survive an Eyman referendum. Don't be obtuse.
Posted by kk in seattle on May 8, 2014 at 3:35 PM · Report this
MrBaker 57
@51, did Schiendelman do that before or after he called Murray "scared" in the Seattle Weekly?
Posted by MrBaker on May 8, 2014 at 3:41 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 58
@54: of course they were an issue. The reason Metro is in trouble is because their two-year band aid expired. McGinn never proposed any kind of fix. He never did doodly squat for transit except overplaying a car tab that crashed and burned. He was a single-handed disaster for transit funding, but now fancies himself an able sent-to-the-showers quarterback. Under Murray, in contrast, we've had successive increases in the authority for both Metro and Sound Transit to impose sales taxes, which now total 1.8% of every sale in King County, which is the highest in the country.
Posted by kk in seattle on May 8, 2014 at 3:44 PM · Report this
MrBaker 59
Let's raise the B&O tax to pay for transit.
Posted by MrBaker on May 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM · Report this

"And don't bother with the "renters pay through their landlords" rhetoric. If renters were willing to pay they would be all for a local only prop one."

Sorry if reality is problematic for you, but this IS in point-of-fact how many, if not most, landlords handle increased property taxes - by passing at least a portion of the increase along to their tenants in the form of higher rents.

As to your second assertion, given that Seattle residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of Prop 1by well over 60%, and given that around 51% of the citizens here are renters, I would say that clearly refutes your supposition that renters aren't willing to pay for Metro services in a manner consistent with the Prop 1 funding package.

The only reason Seattle renters wouldn't vote for a City-only version of Prop 1, is simply because nobody, as yet, has offered that as a proposal. If that's what Murray has in mind, then it's entirely likely such a plan WOULD be supported; we'll just have to wait and see what he has up his sleeve this time, won't we?
Posted by COMTE on May 8, 2014 at 3:48 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 61
Going to be an ex-Mayor soon if he doesn't start doing stuff instead of making excuses for his Suburban Car-Driving Donors
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 8, 2014 at 3:53 PM · Report this
Raise bus fares, or amend the Commute Trip Reduction law to include more employers.
Posted by ajn on May 8, 2014 at 3:58 PM · Report this

Yup. Always get potential opposition to work with you. :)

"Or, if he wanted to actually fucking lead, called up McGinn himself and ask him if he wanted to head up a commission to explore seattle only funding options. That'd have been classy and good mayoring."
Posted by David Sucher on May 8, 2014 at 4:08 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 64
@56 "Very few people outside of Seattle like paying a huge lump sum annual car tab."

To be fair, we aren't all that fond of the two much larger annual property levy payments either.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 8, 2014 at 4:21 PM · Report this
Just wow on the "being a friend of transit for a long time" down in Oly. This state funds transit less than EVERY OTHER STATE. If you are from the state legislature, you are clearly no friend of transit. Or at least, a very unsuccessful friend, who probably should have tried harder. I mean, Mississippi does a lot more than Washington... let that sink in.
Fun fact, the Army Engineer Corp thinks Washington has the best rural road system in the country, for what its worth. Im glad to hear it too, cause its a good thing, but maybe Oly could look our way sometimes too.
Posted by JonCracolici on May 8, 2014 at 4:43 PM · Report this
The fact that Ben Schiendelman is a toxic and corrosive individual who eventually gets under the skin of everyone he works with does not mean that the content of his initiative plan should be disregarded. It seems the Mayor can't be counted on to stay professional at this critically important time. Ignore Ben the person as I do, but don't ignore the only one who came forward with a plan.
Posted by Message>Messenger on May 8, 2014 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Thats not really a victory. Thats the victory of being allowed to pay for things ourselves. That Seattle pays for more of its transit out of its local sales taxes than any other place is not something to cheer. Maybe we HAVE to do that because our state government wont spend as much on transit as Wyoming...
Posted by JonCracolici on May 8, 2014 at 4:51 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 68
@64: Most people pay property tax either through their rent or their mortgage payment.

"Thats the victory of being allowed to pay for things ourselves." Well, just who is supposed to pay for things? Martians? Local transit authorities are funded by local sales taxes. What's so unfair about that?

And by the way, cities and local transit agencies have to get permission to tax from Olympia. So yes, getting that permission is in fact a victory.

And finally, when the State funds things, Seattle gets fucked. We always pay way more to subsidize others than we get in return. So local taxes that are spent locally are a way, way better deal for us than State taxes that get spent everywhere else. Duh.
Posted by kk in seattle on May 8, 2014 at 5:20 PM · Report this
Glad I voted for McGinn. Sadly, this is VERY typical of Seattle politics.
Posted by pat L on May 8, 2014 at 5:36 PM · Report this
I think you might have misunderstood what I meant. Of course the money for transit in seattle will come from somewhere in washington state, since the feds dont really do that. But that wasn't really what I was talking about.
Cities send legislators to Oly (or DC if you like) to bring home money for important projects. Instead of getting money from Oly, we have had to negotiate for the right to pay for our own transit. This is sort of like going to a restaurant, and only being allowed to eat if you buy the guy next to you a steak, and you only get to order an appetizer.

Most states will directly help pay for transit, and not make the locals pay for everything. And by most states, I mean every state but ours. This is how every state treats roads, and only Washington wont treat transit this way as well.

Legislators from Oly really cant claim to be a friend of transit AND not a failure on that issue. Not to be mean, but its mutually exclusive. The only ones in Oly who haven't failed their transit agenda are the ones who want transit to die.
Posted by JonCracolici on May 8, 2014 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Metro should dismantle and reconfigure the entire system. Of all the big city transit systems I've used, Seattle Metro is the worst. Sound Transit bus services do not complement Metro, compounding the inefficiencies of each; more buses and buslines than necessary and too few arranged to actually provide reliably convenient service. The trolleybus routes arrangement downtown are far from their potential, Metro personel must know. Yet there's no better hill-climber than trolleybus. Don't sling that crap about hybrids one day being as good for hillclimbing. With a decent downtown trolleybus system, with new low-floor, short wheel-base models, more suburbanites who won't take transit, would knowing once downtown they could finish trips easily. A business excise tax funds Tri-Met, but until Metro and Sound Transit reach even a modest level of competence, funds are wasted.
Posted by Wells on May 8, 2014 at 6:12 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 72
Good on you Mayor Murray. Please, no more "property tax as public funding panacea" politics.

Landlords can pass the costs on to tenants, rich people don't give a fuck since they have plenty of money, and me? I'll be lucky if I can keep this home after retirement... and this is my Home, I've got the traditional blood, sweat, and tears into it. I painted it. I pulled all the trim and millwork and flooring and refinished it. I build the little back patio and garden. I can't afford a contractor. What's really scary is that I'm not even close to the top levy rate in our area, being at 10.30 but it's climbing a little bit every year, and I can foresee a much higher rate before I hit senior cit / retirement age. At the same time I pay just as much sales tax as the next guy.

We really need to control property levies to some extent, unless the idea here is to make it so that only rich people can afford ownership in all of King County. An extra 3 or 4 thousand in taxes per year makes a real difference in the ability to own a home - and that 3 or 4 thousand figure is for a (Seattle prices) cheap house.

I'll link to the county levy rate site. If you folks aren't aware, that levy rate of 10.30 is made up of dozens of levies which "only cost an average homeowner 50 or 60 dollars a year". Does the middle class homeowner now have to fear both the right And the left?…
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 8, 2014 at 6:24 PM · Report this
Why is everyone so opposed to raising bus fare?

Its a very simple solution, and there is nothing more fair than asking the users of the busses to belly up to bar and start paying their own way a little more.
Posted by common sense for common people on May 8, 2014 at 6:55 PM · Report this
MajordomoPicard 74
@57 Jesus Christ, he said he thinks Murray is feeling "threatened." Learn to "quote" correctly. This isn't the big deal you clearly wish it to be.
Posted by MajordomoPicard on May 8, 2014 at 7:31 PM · Report this
WTF, Mayor Privilege?!

1st he mishandles the Dems Leadership in Oly, then totally screws residents of Seattle so he can put all energy into getting to marry his BF (don't get your panties in a twist, I am Queer, but it wasn't a good choice for the future mayor of WA's only actual city!) then drops the ball on saving Metro a more regressive way by failing to work With Constantine - Not to mention utterly & completely effing up on the Cops Getting Away with It while he Helps thing, - Now, NOW, Hiz'oner opposes saving Metro in time for it to make a difference to lives of WORKING people, & in a way that is NOT a regressive tax but in fact a very progressive one! NO GOOD IDEAS COME OUT OF Fool Murray! NONE! SEEING him Lose His Job is Now my ONLY HOBBY!
Posted by naughtynanny on May 8, 2014 at 7:42 PM · Report this
As somebody who is looking to buy a home in Seattle and relies upon the busses to get to work so that I can continue to pay for said home, I'm more than happy to have property taxes go towards keeping bus routes running. Fuck Murray for fighting this. Fuck Murray hard.
Posted by treehugger on May 8, 2014 at 8:02 PM · Report this
Murray: "Murray said. But, he also complained that during the mayoral transition period McGinn didn't meet with him"

Let's see: Murray's PAc used victim of violence as political pawns. Murray wouldn't denounce the actions of his supporters.

Any wonder why McGinn doesn't want to speak with MURRAY!!! Dirtbag!
Posted by Play Nice on May 8, 2014 at 8:15 PM · Report this
Seattle, I miss you.
Please....come back!
Posted by auntie grizelda on May 8, 2014 at 8:20 PM · Report this
Very happy to reply the 2013 campaign. If Ed Murray loses will he get pissed off and quit? Promise?
Posted by spock on May 8, 2014 at 8:40 PM · Report this
So plan C isn't the greatest but under the rules of this state the county and city have limited options. We're going to have to push our "leaders". The Transit Riders Union is in for the long term to try to fix the tax structure in this state.
Please join us.
Posted by Oldmesenger82 on May 8, 2014 at 8:52 PM · Report this
P.S. Goldy suggests two ways Ed Murray can save transit. (Goldy doesn't work at the Stranger anymore so we need to link him here.)…
Posted by spock on May 8, 2014 at 8:56 PM · Report this
MrBaker 82
@74, "threatened" thanks that is so much better.

I'm just a little sick of Ben being portrayed as some angel and Murray as the devil.
They have different opinions.
I'm for Ben's plan C unless Murray actually delivers a better option.
But right now, we're not having that discussion, it's, Ben reached out blah blah blah. Ben has been McGinn's cheerleader for years, so, please, give it a rest.

I understand that Ben has the support of McGinn, and the Stranger is in love with McGinn, so, by extension, Ben could say anything and get sweet sweet love from the Stranger.
And Murray opposes using property tax for transit funding, so, he is clearly evil because he isn't McGinn.

How about we find out what Murray's proposal is and we compare the proposals rather than having Ben blabbing in the Seattle Weekly and having Murray defend something he hasn't even proposed yet.

The Stranger isn't doing the competition of ideas any favors with their slant on this. Murray could propose something superior but with the Stranger pissing in the pool, because their guy McGinn lost the election last year, we could get stuck with something inferior in the end. But that doesn't look like what the Stranger is interested in.
Posted by MrBaker on May 8, 2014 at 9:02 PM · Report this
Mr. baker, this isn't about Ben being an angel and Murray being the devil. Ben is an activist, he is doing his job. Murray should start doing his.
Posted by Yeah You on May 8, 2014 at 9:12 PM · Report this
seatackled 84
How about we find out what Murray's proposal is

Uh, I think that was the whole problem to begin with. Pay attention.
Posted by seatackled on May 8, 2014 at 9:27 PM · Report this
This whole issue is deadly simple to resolve: Impose an income tax on all people who earn money in King County. Call it a "City Tax" (see,4676,7-2…). What's really needed is a state-wide income tax and sales taxes that roughly match Oregon and Idaho, but until someone in Olympia realizes the social folly of trying to run everything with sales taxes and user fees alone, I guess we're "stuck" with imposing income taxes locally. Maybe as an incentive to business, maybe Seattle could offer businesses a modest discount on sales tax (but less than the increase associated with the income tax).
Posted by Ess Dee on May 8, 2014 at 10:26 PM · Report this
Exactly what 83 said. Plan C is obviously not the best ever, thats why it wasn't plan A. But its the only plan actually in the works, and I honestly dont trust the "Seattle Process" to give us a solution fast enough that the buses actually keep running.
Posted by JonCracolici on May 8, 2014 at 10:39 PM · Report this
Quit dragging McGinn into this, @82 and others. Murray's the mayor now. Commenters here aren't "The Stranger", we're individuals, and most of us who can read don't have a great opinion of Murray so far. It's a little frightening to think that he's only about 1/16th into his term and already his administration is a mess.
Posted by sarah70 on May 8, 2014 at 10:52 PM · Report this
"Benschie" is as arrogant and ambitious as they come, he'd sooner walk all over people than collaborate, as his sense that he is just brilliant limits him to any approach that doesn't reflect on his glory. Murray is right to call out McGinn and Schiendelman for their tactics and their losing campaign. Two blowhards with a campaign that has no substance in the end.
Posted by Real Change on May 9, 2014 at 12:41 AM · Report this
Has anybody done an analysis on whether continued property tax increases such as this plan will force junior taxing district rates to be ratcheted downward? For example, the countywide EMS levy is a junior taxing district. If the city's portion of property tax gets too high, the EMS levy rate is forced to be reduced. That would mean voting for buses would cut EMS services.

I suspect that part of the issue for Murray is making sure that something like the above scenario doesn't happen. Of course that takes time, rather than rushing headlong into something the way the pro Plan C crowd seems to want to operate.
Posted by Bax on May 9, 2014 at 6:49 AM · Report this
@Island Guy,

"The Mayor" was a part of the legislature that "screwed transit" and he did about as little as is humanly possible for a Minority Leader to do in order to prevent it.

His idea of "transit" is SoundTransit on which he did good work a few years ago. It's got trains and tunnels and goes to the airport! Whiffy! But those smelly buses? Yuk!

Posted by anandakos on May 9, 2014 at 8:06 AM · Report this
I love how the Stranger bashes Ed Murray when their district sent him back to Olympia repeatedly. Looks like you guys are way out of touch.
Posted by hmmmmm on May 9, 2014 at 8:37 AM · Report this
@87 Yes, and an avowed Stalinist like yourself would have better ideas on how to have a "disciplined" administration within 24 hours of taking power. Trouble is that with the lack of green space in Seattle, it would be hard to dispose of the bodies.
Posted by hmmmmm on May 9, 2014 at 8:39 AM · Report this
Schiendelman is a single issue activist-lobbyist who is basically tone-deaf on all other community issues, much like McGinn. (And, yes, I know Schiendelman. Anyone who knows him want to challenge me on that?) The only folks who've brought up McGinn, the absolute worst mayor in recent memory, in this discussion are the reporters. Democracy by initiative is toxic--it is via Eyman and it is with Schiendelman. I take the bus, and my route is slated to be affected.
Posted by ZZ on May 9, 2014 at 9:28 AM · Report this
Maybe if the stodgy State Democratic Party would have ever given us a better option, we would have sent someone else.

I know the GOP sure as hell never did.

This is why we don't like electing big-time state party politicians to our local offices - they have a suburban view on everything.
Posted by Lack Thereof on May 9, 2014 at 9:32 AM · Report this
@94 He wasn't big time when you sent him there in the first place. Sorry, maybe someone in another district can take leadership so that you can all maintain ideological purity with $14 cocktail drinks and an ineffective state rep to complain about. Because that is all the Stranger does is complain. They are the left counterpart to Faux News.
Posted by hmmmmm on May 9, 2014 at 9:46 AM · Report this
Metro should dismantle and reconfigure the entire system. Of all the big city transit systems I've used, Seattle Metro is the worst. Neither does Sound Transit bus service complement Metro, compounding the inefficiencies of each; more buses and buslines than necessary and too few arranged to actually provide reliably convenient service. The trolleybus route arrangement downtown is far short of its potential, Metro personel should know, yet there's no better hill-climber than trolleybus. Don't believe the conjecture about hybrids one day being as good for hillclimbing, another lie.

With an efficiently arranged trolleybus system to serve just downtown, with least turns of overhead wire on more streets, with a modern new fleet (perhaps 20 to start) of a low-floor, short wheel-base model, more suburbanites would take transit knowing once downtown they could finish trips conveniently. A "Business Excise Tax" funds Portland's Tri-Met, but until Metro and Sound Transit reach even a modest level of competence, their funding is wasted, IMNSHO, intentionally wasted.

As for McGinn, he is correct about stopping the Bertha Bore tunnel atrocity. Surrounded by Sdot, Wsdot and business interests whose level of incompetence is plainly malevolent, he was thrown under the bus as roadkill to feed Seattle's nitwit vultures.
Posted by Wells on May 9, 2014 at 10:35 AM · Report this
DOUG. 97
@95: We didn't send him in the first place. Murray was appointed to the state House when Cal Andersen died. Yes, he was re-elected several times, but incumbency has its privileges.
Posted by DOUG. on May 9, 2014 at 10:52 AM · Report this
I know Schiendelman too. Asshole is a polite description.

What this boils down to is you a still buttsore over mcginn's defeat. This is delicious. You're ducking with the wrong mayor Murray is no lightweight.
Posted by Sugartit on May 9, 2014 at 11:26 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 99

If Murray's "proposal" isn't to stick every car owner in Seattle with a $60 vehicle license fee to keep Metro afloat (in other words, the same measure that got voted down countywide and was voted down within the city proper a few years ago), I'll eat my hat.


The principal factor in whether you'll be able to stay in your house post-retirement is whether it increases in value. Unless Washington gets its own Prop 13, you're going to have to downsize in your old age. Sorry.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 9, 2014 at 11:40 AM · Report this
" you're going to have to downsize in your old age. Sorry."

Urbanism = sorry grandma, get the fuck outta town.
Posted by Sugartit on May 9, 2014 at 11:52 AM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 101
Thanks keshmeshi. Prop 13 has so many issues associated with it, I'm not sure I'd vote for a similar act even if it was proposed - and the likelihood is that it would be proposed by the libertarian right doesn't help.

Still, there has got to be a way to manage our resources in such a way that not only the wealthy and banks can afford to own a modest little house in our city. Perhaps we can harvest Tim Eyman's organs and sell them to fund metro for a few days.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 9, 2014 at 12:19 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 102

What else do you propose? Anyone who owns a house should be *glad* it increases in value, you nitwit. It's still better than renting, since at least the property tax increase doesn't hurt as bad as a rental going up 10 percent year over year.


Nah. You could sell them once, but then where would you be? We should impose a tax on each initiative Eyman files.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 9, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Report this
@ a lot of people
A lot of objections raised against Plan C seem to be that you dont like Ben or McGinn, and so therefore you dont like Plan C. While you might have the luxury of watching our transit fall apart because of something someone said to you one time, many people dont. And that sort of thinking is terrible, terrible policy.

If you're willing to see transit gutted, transit that is needed by working familys, the school district, seniors, and techies too, just because you dont like Ben.... I think you might just need to take the wider view. This is a much bigger deal than who the messenger is.
Posted by JonCracolici on May 9, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Is Murray a crazy person? Pop out a plan? Poop out a plan? e is more worried about being criticized then gaining credibility for the entire City Government through meaningful accountabiity
Posted by jam1 on May 9, 2014 at 1:52 PM · Report this
"Anyone who owns a house should be *glad* it increases in value"

Tell that to Edith Macefield yuppie.
Posted by Urbanists are white tech assholes on May 9, 2014 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Interesting how people who hide behind anonymity are so free to criticize the personality of others.

Posted by David Sucher on May 10, 2014 at 11:29 AM · Report this
@18 said - "...really? A non-subsidized metro fare would be something like $6.00 per trip."

i say, "good. fine. no problem."

i used to live in maple leaf and work in downtown. depending on weather and sleeping-in-ness i rode my bike. other times i drove and paid $7 for parking. (this was 2009.)

so, now it's 2014, gas is more, parking is more. a $6 trip that is timely seems cheap.

especially since i have moved to another country where privatized bus service is the norm. it is always on time - never early or late (not an exaggeration), the buses are incredibly clean. but, it is expensive - up to the equivalent of $9 for a one-way trip from where i live to the closest "big city" - about 25 km. . .
Posted by expatwhereitsat on May 10, 2014 at 5:56 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 108
I'm with @49, contrary to this Murray trash-fest, which I'm sure feels good but is exactly why were here in the first place.

There are strict limits to what can be levied via property tax, and paying for buses this way is not the best way to spend up to that limit.
Posted by wilbur@work on May 11, 2014 at 7:40 AM · Report this

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