Labor Day is generally seen as the starting point for people to start paying attention to what’s on our state’s November general election ballot – but you wouldn’t know that from the intense coverage which Sound Transit has received in recent weeks for its $54 billion tax increase referendum. Indeed, the advocates for the state’s largest-ever tax increase can only wish for the sleepy days of summer when their scheme was being largely ignored.
The latest broadside against the so-called ST3 light rail proposal is from the Seattle Times editorial page, which calls on the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) to accelerate the multiple investigations it has going into the agency’s potential illegal support for the campaign to pass the regional referendum. The Times correctly notes that “voters need as much information as possible about Sound Transit before they give the agency a huge share of the Puget Sound area’s future tax revenue. That information includes the results of a state investigation into Sound Transit’s improper release of 173,000 customer emails to a supportive political campaign.”
It sounds like the PDC had already recognized the need for speed, as the Times notes. “The PDC intends to complete its investigation well before ballots are mailed on Oct. 21. The PDC’s sense of urgency is welcome. It should have the investigation ready for a Sept. 22 meeting, at which point commissioners could decide to penalize Sound Transit.”
The stakes are substantial. Rulings of illegal behavior against the bureaucrats running Sound Transit – and the ignorance of such questionable activity by the unelected board that allegedly oversees those bureaucrats – will not give voters a sense of confidence that the agency will be very efficient with the huge influx of tax dollars.
The editorial puts into perspective what is at stake for the region’s voters, noting “voters should not have to decide on ST3, and commit perhaps $20,000 of their household’s money over the next 25 years to Sound Transit, with open questions about agency misbehavior. One of the big questions about ST3 is whether voters can trust Sound Transit to be prudent and make the right decisions, once it receives a blank check.”
Trust has been hard to come by for Sound Transit in the past, and the PDC’s investigations will be shining a spotlight on why that has been the case.