Sound Transit officials are pushing their latest $54 billion scheme, Sound Transit 3 (ST3), with some rather far-fetched claims. Of course, the agency’s use of misleading information as a means to push ST3 should come as no surprise — voters have no real reason to trust that Sound Transit will keep its ST3 promises.
But, the predictability of it all doesn’t make the misleading nature of the claims any less troublesome. Perhaps the most troublesome claim made by Sound Transit officials is that the agency has a track record that deserves voters’ trust.
Sound Transit recognizes that it is expected to “use tax dollars wisely” so it pledges to continue building “a track record of delivering major capital projects on schedule and under budget.”
Sound Transit officials have made similar “on-time and on-budget” claims in the past. At the opening of the University Light rail extension (a.k.a. U-Link) in March, King County Executive Dow Constantine claimed that the new extension opened six months ahead of schedule and $200 million under budget. In reality, U-Link opened 10 years late and at double the cost.
You see, in 1996, when Sound Transit 1 passed, the promise to voters was that U-Link would be completed by 2006 as part of a 10-year plan. Sound Transit officials, after making a promise they could not keep to voters, revised the plan in 2008, giving themselves more time and increasing the budget by nearly $2 billion (double the initial projections).
Time and time again, Sound Transit has proven itself untrustworthy. It has wasted taxpayer dollars and has repeatedly broken promises made in its first two spending packages—ST1 and ST2.
Merely claiming you have a track record of responsible behavior doesn’t make it true — though, apparently, Sound Transit officials believe it will be enough to garner them the uninformed voter vote. The truth, of course, is that Sound Transit has never produced a project on time and/or on budget.
Sound Transit’s record of being late and over-budget with virtually every project has many questioning whether or not it is ethical to give a group of unelected officials taxing authority over voters.
Notice that Sound Transit also states, “We’re accountable to you.” That’s not true in any sense of the statement
A board of unelected, unaccountable board of officials governs Sound Transit. Given that fact alone, the agency cannot be accountable to voters. After all, an unelected board means zero accountability. No one is held responsible for Sound Transit’s waste.
Republicans’ effort to reform the way Sound Transit is managed by changing the transit agency’s appointed board to one elected by districts has been blocked by Democrats who love the lack of accountability at Sound Transit. So, without a complete change of leadership in Olympia, it is likely Sound Transit will be accountable to voters any time soon.
Sound Transit has not done anything to earn, retain, or deserve the public’s trust. Using false claims to push its agenda just adds insult to the injury that Sound Transit has the audacity to even ask voters for a tremendous tax increase.