Sound Transit has a public relations problem — spending nearly $1 million on a party celebrating the completion of late and over budget projects didn’t help.
The public relations debacle brought on by an extravagant million-dollar party couldn’t come at a worse time for the transit agency. In November, Sound Transit will ask voters to approve ST3, its latest $50 billion scam.
A recent editorial from the News Tribune points out that Sound Transit faces the “lofty task of persuading voters to make an unprecedented investment in mass-transit infrastructure.” It advises, “There’s no need to add degrees of difficulty to an already uphill climb.”
But, what exactly added to Sound Transit’s “degrees of difficulty” (other than the obvious $50 billion ask) that makes ST3 an “uphill climb”? After all, if Sound Transit kept its promises to voters, asking their approval for another plan shouldn’t be a problem.
In light of the “uphill climb”, we decided to make a list Sound Transit’s transgressions against voters — the top three problems that have added to the agency’s difficulties when it comes to convincing voters to trust it once more.
Without further ado:
Sound Transit’s broken promises
Sound Transit’s campaign strategy continues to dodge the truly important question haunting ST3: “Why, given all the broken promises, should taxpayers trust Sound Transit to keep its commitments and spend their hard-earned dollars responsibility, on time and on budget?”
The answer, of course, is that Sound Transit has not done anything to earn, retain or deserve the public’s trust.
Sound Transit has never produced a project on time and/or on budget. But, that hasn’t kept the agency from claiming it has — a fact that makes its failures worse. A case in point was the unelected officials over at Sound Transit recently celebrating the completion of the University Light rail extension (a.k.a. U-Link), and claiming the link was delivered “on-time and on-budget.”
Sound Transit’s accountability problem.
Perhaps the most appalling aspect of how Sound Transit operates—other than all the wasted time and money—is the fact that an unelected, unaccountable body of local officials governs the agency. 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.
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. Without a complete change of leadership in Olympia, nothing is likely to change.
Sound Transit’s Seattle-centric agenda.
As one could expect given past projects, ST3 favors Seattle over taxpayers living in East King County, South King County, and Pierce County. Sound Transit officials recently admitted that it will spend “only 18% of ST3 rail and bus money on service in East King County” but is happy to “funnel double that, 36% of new tax money, to serve people living in Seattle and the immediate area.”
But, it’s not just light rail or bus service that favors Seattle. According to recent reports, Sound Transit “officially made the case that the whole region should pay for the second downtown Seattle tunnel.” The scheme follows a philosophy often trumpeted by officials that defines “equity” as “an integrated, regional system.” In other words, local money doesn’t necessarily benefit local areas… it benefits Seattle.
Apparently, the Sound Transit board knows what is best for all taxpayers because it reserves the “flexibility to determine what constitutes a benefit in the first place.” And, a project “doesn’t have to be physically in one area” to provide a benefit that area.
Funny how the “benefit” always seems to be “physically” in the “one area” of Seattle.