The coordinated campaign – from elected officials like King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, to mega-donors who will benefit from construction projects, to the usual voices in Seattle’s liberal blogosphere – relentlessly pushing Sound Transit’s latest $54 billion grab has faced little organized opposition so far.
One of the few voices of reason has come from the Seattle Times editorial page. It was back in June that the Times first suggested that the cheerleaders on Sound Transit’s unelected board of directors should “tap on the brakes” on their plans for the largest tax increase in state history. Then, in August, the paper wrote about how the liberal attack dogs had turned on Democrat State Senator Reuven Carlyle after he suggested that Sound Transit’s financial numbers didn’t quite add up, noting “as thanks for sharing his fiscal concerns, the Seattle Democrat was savaged publicly and privately by peers, neighbors and ST3 supporters.”
Now the Times is highlighting some cracks in the public support for what’s formally known as Regional Proposition #1, but is ST3 to insiders, on the same day it carried a front page piece that questions the value of spending the next 25 years building a light rai linel to Issaquah.
As the Times reminds voters:
“The city of Newcastle recently broke from the municipal pack and formally voiced concerns that many area residents share about the $54 billion transit proposal. If the measure is approved in November, families in Newcastle would pay an estimated $37,500 for Sound Transit over the next 25 years and receive minimal benefits, according to the City Council.
“That’s just for starters, since ST3 creates permanent taxes. All cities in the region should provide such clarity about the cumulative Sound Transit cost and benefits their residents would see if ST3 is approved in its current form.”
It will take some aggressive reporting by the Times to overcome the financial weight of the pro-light-rail campaign. The Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly writes that the campaign just put down $800,000 in television advertising – and still have over a million dollars in the bank after that check clears. You can bet the ads will talk a lot about congestion – which Sound Transit officials have admitted won’t be reduced by ST3 – and not as much about the 25 years it will take to potentially complete the projects on the ballot.
Nor are you likely to hear much about how Sound Transit has never completed a project on time or under budget, and isn’t projected to finish the projects promised in the first Sound Transit vote (back in 1996) until 2121.
With ballots going out to voters in just over four weeks, time is running short to capture the attention of the voters who will turn out for the presidential election. It will be informative to see if others in the media will join the Times in asking tough questions about the light-rail boondoggle.