Sound Transit has an uphill battle to fight if they expect voters to approve its latest 25-year, $50 billion scam, branded ST3. Sound Transit officials have multiple taxes they are trying to sell – a sales tax rate of 10% in much of the greater Seattle area and 10.1% in Seattle, a property tax increase of 25 cents per $1,000 valuation, an increase in car tabs, and (adding insult to increase) the fact that these taxes will never end.
That’s probably why officials thought they would try and get away with using public resources to help determine messaging strategies for its campaign leading up to November. Of course, the law prohibits the use of public funds for political purposes; the liberals over at Sound Transit just didn’t care (until they got caught).
Sound Transit’s unethical (if not illegal) recent stunt grants insight into the kind of ST3 campaign we can expect from its supporting zealots leading up to November. Unfortunately for King, Pierce, and Snohomish County taxpayers, Sound Transit will have a lot of paid help to push its very expensive schemes on voters. The [very well] paid help includes the Seattle-based consulting firm, EnviroIssues.
Sound Transit hired EnviroIssues in 2013 under an $800,000 contract. Late last year, EnviroIssues received nearly $600,000 more for additional work, “including developing the ST3 website, online survey and other aspects of the transit proposal’s public outreach.”
Essentially, Sound Transit paid EnviroIssues a whopping $600,000 to build a website and develop a flawed survey. Considering the financial ties the consulting firm has to top officials, it’s not surprising that the transit agency chose to hire and overpay EnviroIssues.
For instance, Amy Grotefendt, the apparent president of EnviroIssues, is a generous contributor to the campaigns of Sound Transit board members, including King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
Sound Transit appears to have the help well paid but, as the Seattle Times points out, the strategy needs a little work.
During his recent state of the county speech, Constantine boasted of the great possibilities of ST3 by making misleading assertions. Constantine claimed that light rail trains “can carry as many people as 14 additional lanes on Interstate 5 through Seattle” in his attempt to explain why voters should approve ST3.
Of course, the operative word is “can.” Constantine’s claims are exaggerations that assume “a best-case scenario for rail while grossly undercounting freeway capacity.”
By every indication, Sound Transit officials “prematurely dismiss questions about whether there are better ways for the region to spend $50 billion than the slate of trains, buses and stations in Sound Transit 3 (ST3).” That’s the same mistake they made when pushing the 2014 levy to “save” Metro. Officials insisted that they needed to levy to save 72 bus routes, voters said no, and all the claims turned out to be false.
The Seattle Times editorial board offers a list of questions which should be addressed by Sound Transit in a recent article. They write, “The point is voters need their representatives to provide clear, objective explanations of ST3’s pros and cons, not cheerleading.”
While all the Times’ questions are relevant, there is one very appropriate one missing – given Sound Transit’s history of broken promises, the voters of King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties would be wise to ask Sound Transit officials, “Why should we add to our burdens, when you can’t deliver on your promises?”
Incidentally, there is no reason to believe claims that ST3 will reduce traffic congestion. After all, Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl admitted that more light rail will not provide congestion relief. She said, “We’ve never said we will reduce congestion.”
It seems like Sound Transit officials say and don’t say a whole lot. Either way, they don’t have a “clear, objective” explanation for why ST3 is necessary because it doesn’t exist.
But the taxes will exist forever, if Sound Transit can slip them by the voters.