Certain Democrat members of the King County Council are preparing to lead the fight on Sound Transit 3 (ST3) as part of the Council’s legislative agenda for the 2015 session. The legislative agenda—which currently includes ST3—was approved by a committee yesterday and will go to a full council vote next week.
The Council members who support Sound Transit’s latest spending push—this time a $15 billion package—will have to first convince the Legislature to grant the transit agency greater taxing authority. Sound Transit—which has yet to complete all the promises it made to voters in ST1 and ST2—has already reached its tax ceiling. ST3 will only make it on the ballot for King, Pierce and Snohomish County voters to approve or reject if the Legislature approves a higher tax ceiling.
Sound Transit’s lack of accountability—given the transit agency’s history of broken promises and wasteful spending—has long been a serious problem. In order to renew public trust in Sound Transit, accountability advocates have proposed the solution of allowing voters the opportunity to select board members—switching the make-up of the board from appointed to elected members.
Unfortunately, not many Democrats take the problem—much less the solution—seriously. As Publicola points out, “For many liberals, governance reform, such as restructuring the board, is code for regionalizing the agency in way that could turn Sound Transit into less of a mass transit agency and more of a roads agency.”
But, yesterday, Democrat Councilmember Rod Dembowski offered accountability advocates a glimmer of hope when he used committee discussion time to discuss the need for Sound Transit to adopt governance reforms. Though Dembowski did not get very far—Councilmembers Joe McDermott, Larry Phillips, Dave Upthegrove and King County Executive Dow Constantine all sit on Sound Transit’s board—he expressed his desire to “continue the conversation.”
Picture via wikipedia.