June 11, 2006
John Carlson teams up with transportation tax advocates

The Tacoma News Tribune reports that former Gov. Gary Locke is organizing a campaign to win passage for a hefty package of transportation taxes in the Puget Sound area .

[Locke] is inviting movers and shakers in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties for a meeting to talk about how to educate voters about the need to invest more money in roads, buses and rail.

That could amount to between $13 billion and $16 billion, the combined total for measures that Sound Transit and the Regional Transportation Investment District plan to put on the November 2007 ballot.

The twist that makes this interesting is that conservative talk-show host John Carlson is reportedly on board with Locke and pro-transit advocates "to build consensus on the transportation package ". I'll be curious to hear from Carlson himself about his role and objectives with this effort, but one thing's for certain -- should Carlson advocate for higher taxes on his radio program, Mike Vaska and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer won't be complaining about campaign finance violations.

UPDATE: A source close to the Locke/Carlson project filled me on some of the background. This is an attempt to forge a consensus on transportation solutions in order to shape the 2007 ballot measures. The three co-chairs, Locke, Carlson and Jessyn Schor (from public transit advocacy group, Transportation Choices) will bring in a broad range of people across the political spectrum to help formulate the package, including conservatives and transit skeptics as well as transit advocates. I personally think it will be a challenge for this group to develop a transit-heavy package that makes economic sense, but I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised and I think it's good that a broad range of perspectives will be consulted. I would expect Carlson's contributions to be constructive and I'll be interested to see what the group comes up with.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at June 11, 2006 09:27 AM | Email This
1. I'm glad to see some republicans getting on the transportation infrastructure bandwagon. A good transportation infrastructure, benefits business. Whether it’s a small business trying to get its customers to it, or a large manufacture trying to ship millions of goods. Good mass-transit benefits business as well. Why else would Boeing and Microsoft be such fans.

It's also nice to see the stupid roads vs. transit debate subsiding. The truth is that both are needed. I am especially glad the current planning recognizes that, and is trying to develop a holistic solution.

For example it is not very likely that we will have effective transit serving far our suburbs any time soon. However we can definitely serve closer communities. This in turn removes those cars from the road creating less traffic for those unable to use transit. A win-win.

Posted by: Giffy on June 11, 2006 09:47 AM
2. Search your memory Giffy. What Locke is doing was essentially the central plank in Carlson's transportation platform when he was running for governor. Only now he can take credit for it, and share the blame when the tax payers realize Olympia has even bigger plans for our wallets.

Posted by: Diogenes on June 11, 2006 10:18 AM
3. The devil is in the details of what new transportation taxes will buy.

Mass transit or massive transit? Five mile "light" rail tunnel from Pine Street to NE 75th? Mostly empty RR tracks on the I-90 bridge or full-up and free-flowing buses and HOV in the center lanes? More rush hour bus-streets in Seattle, like 3rd Avenue? Keep the freeway HOV lanes working at 45 mph with fast incident response, or not? Traffic signal prioritization for buses or just pretend? Four lanes, six lanes, or eight lanes on the SR-520 bridge? Alaskan Way tunnel, resbuild, or teardown? Transit tunnel under downtown Bellevue? How will BRT work on 405? Vanpool and carpool marketing/facilitation like it matters? Fix the South Park Bridge? Cross-base highway in Pierce? Fix highway 9 in Snohomish? Serious transit service to downtown Bellevue? Whither tolls and congestion pricing? Get really really Amsterdam-serious about bike mobility? Facilitate really small electric vehicles?

Surely people will look at what the money will pay for before deciding yea or nay on multi-billions in new taxes. Industrial-strength multi-modal "least cost" planning to address traffic congestion has been state law for the past 12 years, but hasn't been implemented. Which transit investments remove the most cars per ten million dollars spent? Which road investments move the most people and freight per ten million dollars spent? A $12 billion dollar "package" equals 1,200 ten million dollar "packets." Lets allocate the packets very carefully.

Posted by: John Niles on June 11, 2006 11:35 AM
4. I am still waiting for any rational basis for the 125 million dollars in "Wildlife Overpasses" for the I-90 widening project. One can only imagine the junk they are going to put into the RTID. Put this together with thePSRG Vision 2020 + 20 planning process and you will see the handwriting on the wall as to where the funding will be directed. Scoring of projects will be bias to certain areas (Metro Areas) and organizations (ST) not necessarily guided to any effective congestion relief. Sad to think Carlson would join this Big Government Boondoggle.

Posted by: Smokie on June 11, 2006 12:28 PM
5. On the surface, I'm surprised and a bit dismayed to see Carlson team up with Locke on what will likely be yet another gov't boondoggle. We need to hear from John why he's in this.

Posted by: MES on June 11, 2006 01:12 PM
6. The love of money is the root of all evil. The same reason Carlon now supports gambling. Mo money.

Posted by: Jericho on June 11, 2006 01:47 PM
7. The wrapper will be different, delivered by someone new...but it will be the same old cr@p, Seattle-centric and transit heavy. Why else would the packages be linked?

Posted by: South County on June 11, 2006 04:33 PM
8. The transportation planners for too long have been reading from the same playbook.

Mass transit.
Light Rail.

Now a voice singing a different tune in the chorus.

Line miles

I thing Carlson will get drowned out unless we the people support him.

Posted by: JCM on June 11, 2006 05:35 PM
9. I think the Carlson move is an attempt to put a token Republican representative on the RTID movement. Not unlike Rob McKenna on the ST board, when and if he voices a contrary opinion, it will simply be cast aside or shouted down. Same story different day, I hope he isn't this stupid. Nothing will change until there is change in Olympia and in King county.

Posted by: Smokie on June 11, 2006 05:48 PM
10. Well, maybe now people will wake up to the fact that Carlson really isn't a conservative. He's just a lackey trying to capitalize on the Reagan legacy. He's a hack.

But I'm sure he'll continue to talk out of both sides of his mouth, and his listeners will buy into his disguised liberal ideas.

Posted by: Republican (by default) on June 11, 2006 06:06 PM
11. Just because Carlson has been invited to be part of the group does not mean he agrees with Locke's agenda.

The requirement for sound transit to pass in order to do something about roads seems to be in conflict with the state constitution.

On the other hand, those who question Carlson's conservativism have an argument with some merit.

Posted by: Don on June 11, 2006 07:08 PM
12. If they had any intention on meeting the will of the voters, they would unlink the unSound Transit part of the bill. I can't vote for anything that provides more money to Sound Transit and their trains to nowhere.

Posted by: Rob on June 11, 2006 07:08 PM
13. If you liked Seattle Monorail, and like how Sound Transit is functioning, you'll LOVE this upcoming RTID/ST2 horror show. This is a rip-off of gargantuan proportions. Sound Transit flat lied to the voters in 1996 – it said the whole enchilada would be operational in 2006, and it said it had a firm grip on how much taxes it would need (under $2 billion).

I defy anyone to point to anything now on Sound Transit’s website that comes close to saying how much MORE in taxes ST now plans on hammering this region for. It got voters to approve a feel-good measure, and then it cast aside with disdain the tax limits it said it would respect. Now voters have no say on how much taxes it will collect, and it can not be stopped from taxing many billions over the budget it told the voters in 1996.

That combined RTID/ST2 measure in November 2007 will be an abomination. It is designed to get taxpayers over a barrel. We were humped by Sound Transit once – never again.

Carlson is a dweeb.

Posted by: peter a. on June 11, 2006 08:28 PM
14. Not that long ago, Carlson mentioned on his radio show that he planned to run for governor after Dino had his two or so terms. I'm thinking he sees this as a resume-builder. These people (except maybe John) have no interest in building roads (except for lanes that no one can use except buses). It will be another boondoggle and I'm not voting for it!

Posted by: Me on June 11, 2006 10:08 PM
15. Right you bet Giffy, spending huge amounts of money on transportation systems
that no one will use unless forced to is GOOD FOR BUSINESS.

You are a typical Seattle liberal -- no brain -- no pain.

Posted by: Amused by liberals on June 11, 2006 10:58 PM
16. Amused by hypocrites None of us have any idea yet what this means with respect to Carlson.
All of you that trash him here are witless pricks with no class.
Carlson may not be Attila the Hun . . . but he is no liberal.

Posted by: Amused by hypocrites on June 11, 2006 11:14 PM
17. In reponse to previous questions in the comments, the ballot is linked because it's mandated by the Legislature. They're tired of stand alone measures that don't make sense (monorail v. light rail) and that only focus on roads or transit, not the combined system necessary in the Puget Sound region. So this package is combined, and the non-Sound Transit portion will be heavy on roads such as 405, 520, etc. Hence, the likely reason for Carlson's involvement.

Plus, the joint ballot is also likely to include notable accountability provisions in line with what the state has added the last several years for the state DOT (not to mention the capacity for audits because of I-900).

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 11, 2006 11:25 PM
18. Smokie,
Since you care about the critter crossingS, you might want to check out the landscaped "lids" on the bridges, the hundreds of millions spent on "sound walls" and cable barriers.

And then of course there's 5 million for a streetcar in South Union in Seattle. Paul Allen can't afford a streetcar?

Posted by: sgmmac on June 12, 2006 01:10 AM
19. We just need another 16 Billion in tax revenue from the citizens in this 5th hightest taxed state in the US, on top of just recieving a 13% and 20% property tax increase to boot, on top of just recieving the highest gas tax in the nation from the Queen election stealer herself!

All Emergency's

None which have even started yet!

Sorry John and KVI

When John Carlson goes over to the dark side and joins the taxhappy democrats, to hell with John Carlson and KVI!

Posted by: gs on June 12, 2006 02:11 AM
20. 1 Governors Gardner, Lowry, and Locke had plenty of gas tax revenues to fix and expand the roads, and they chose not to
2 Having grown up in the NE corridor commuter trains do work
3 Our problem is we do not have competent people running our government agencies
4 In NJ no one was using the HOV lanes and traffic was jammed up so Christie Todd Whitman, the governor, had the HOV signs removed and the Federal Government did not object
5 Here Sound Transit has been in business for 10 years and has very little to show

Posted by: Green Lake Mark on June 12, 2006 05:24 AM
21. How many times do we hear "If you don't like the way something is working, do something about it"? Before everyone goes off on John, how about seeing if just maybe he is trying to do something constructive about our out of control tax to the max ST and lack of proper planning for road and freeway constuction. Just because someone is invited to sit on a committee does not mean that they endorse the agenda of said committee. What better place to gather information about who is doing what with our taxes and, who proposes the best and worst ideas.
Lets see what comes of this before we are too critical of Mr Carlson.

Posted by: Robert J on June 12, 2006 06:33 AM
22. What official status does this "committee" have? Is it plainly advisory? Who asked Locke to put it together?

To me, the problem isn't that John would participate, but that "Even though they will be separate ballot measures, the Legislature has linked them. If the Sound Transit measure fails, then the roads measure fails, too."

The legislature did us a huge disservice when they crafted the law in this manner. They know that the PEOPLE want roads and are NOT too keen on expanding Sound Transit.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on June 12, 2006 07:23 AM
23. We are not the 5th highest taxed state in the country
13th in per capita (we are a rich state)

33rd as a percent of income (best measure)

Now if you factor in federal taxes we are higher then most. This is because 1)we are a rich state and 2) our state tax structure makes it more difficult to get deductions at the federal level. Especially until we got a sales tax deduction. These two factors bump up our share of federal taxes. (also why eliminating the sales tax and replacing it with an income tax would save almost everyone money).

As for the whole roads vs. transit thing. In the past we have alternated. Sound transit was the first major transit investment in a long time. After that we had a major roads initiative (remember the gas tax you guys got all worked up, it was almost al roads). Now we are doing both at the same time.

As for use 41% of people going to downtown use transit and 31% of people going to the U-district. That is actually down form a high in the late 70's.(due to a lack of investment). It has been going up in recent years. I wonder what major transit program has been going on...

Posted by: Giffy on June 12, 2006 07:26 AM
24. Eric, if Sound Transit didn't agree with it, it wouldn't have been "mandated" that the two measures be combined.

As for Giffy, why must I pay for a transit system that will not be in my area (even by your estimation)? Why must I subsidize King County and Seattle?

Fix Highway 2 and you may get me, but this combination is a lose-lose-lose for me.

Posted by: swatter on June 12, 2006 07:27 AM
25. Swatter -

So what if they agreed to it? The whole notion of linking their ballot with the RTID/roads-heavy package is that the Legislature was amending the local taxing option of the RTID to require a combined proposal instead of continuing the Puget Sound's long history of discordant policy solutions. I have no idea whether Sound Transit preferred the joint ballot or not, though I believe at least some on the board were concerned about failing because of the overall price tag of a combined ballot.

I agree with Hwy 2, and hope more fixes are included after it was shamefully neglected in the latest gas tax package. But where do you live? If you live outside King County you may not pay any taxes for Sound Transit, and if you do (if you live in some parts of Pierce or Snohomish) you only pay it for Sound Transit services in your county. If for example you live anywhere near Hwy 2, you probably don't pay anything for it.

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 12, 2006 07:47 AM
26. Souther Roots, yes it's waaaay bogus for the legislature to link these two. Whatta crock. I will vote it down because of that ridiculous move. When will these people ever learn?

Posted by: Me on June 12, 2006 08:04 AM
27. sgmmac,

I agree, Gerbil overpasses instead of crosswalks and sidewalk improvement nears schools make no sense. Maybe if they started putting Sound Walls and Cable Barriers around the Capital in Olympia and the King County Courthouse we could get something done about transportation in this area.

Posted by: Smokie on June 12, 2006 08:22 AM
28. 1 Governors Gardner, Lowry, and Locke had plenty of gas tax revenues to fix and expand the roads, and they chose not to

(( now THERE'S a reason to never support another transportation tax ))

2 Having grown up in the NE corridor commuter trains do work

(( you're right, they do.... now we need a few more of them ))

3 Our problem is we do not have competent people running our government agencies

(( vote 'em out! ))

4 In NJ no one was using the HOV lanes and traffic was jammed up so Christie Todd Whitman, the governor, had the HOV signs removed and the Federal Government did not object

(( well, at least in the south-end, they are full of cars, so I think they are working ))

5 Here Sound Transit has been in business for 10 years and has very little to show

(( Sounder runs from Everett to Tacoma, go take a look around the I-5/518 interchange and Beacon Hill... for a Seattle/King County project, it is moving along quite nicely... consider the progress made on the viaduct over the last 5 years ))

Posted by: Eric on June 12, 2006 08:29 AM
29. Sorry Eric, but you must have missed the latest strategies that has been in the press.

Sound Transit is thinking they will and have said they can raise the sales tax to an ungodly level and are going to increase the taxing area to include most of Snohomish County.

And have you seen a couple of their proposed projects to run from the Bus Stations in Tacoma and Everett down the middle of major streets to get to the colleges?

Posted by: swatter on June 12, 2006 08:37 AM
30. This move from Carlson doesn't surprise me. A few years ago, Slade Gorton was recruiting employees at the Preston, Gates and Ellis law firm (where he had recently come on as of counsel to the firm) to man the phones in support of another massive Democrat transportation tax hike. Slade sent a mass email out to all the employees over company email, and set them up on company premises to call people to solicit their support. I thought it was a fairly ghastly move for him to be using his position at the law firm to coerce employees into becoming shills for higher taxes; but when I wrote to John Carlson about it, Carlson's response was that he saw it as an admirable bit of "grass-roots" activism.

Posted by: Snuggs on June 12, 2006 08:42 AM
31. This is from the linked News Tribune story:
[b] Even though they will be separate ballot measures, the Legislature has linked them. If the Sound Transit measure fails, then the roads measure fails, too.[/b]

They will NOT be separate ballot measures. They may have different ballot titles, but they are a single ballot measure. That is because one vote for (or against) either set of those proposed laws is simultaneously a vote for (or against) the other.

Just to state what everyone probably knows: RTID is a completely separate local government from ST, which also is a stand-alone local government. Both have appointed boards - they are designed by Foster Pepper Preston Gates to be unaccountable once they have taxing authority.

Take the new RTID laws that will be proposed on the Nov. 2007 ballot. Vote yes for them, and you also have cast a yes vote for the new ST laws. That is because the new ST laws require a certain number of yes votes on the RTID laws.

If you want to vote for one set of the new laws, you are forced to vote for another set of tax/spend laws whether you want them or not.

There is a reason absolutely nothing like this joint ballot measure ever has been tried before: it violates the single subject rule of the constitution.

Posted by: Ken More on June 12, 2006 08:44 AM
32. For the record, whoever posted at 8:29 as "Eric" wasn't me.

Swatter - I'm fully aware of the potential for Sound Transit expanding their boundaries by public vote, and that what would be on the ballot in 2007 will include a sales tax increase. The only question on the later is how much. I understand even organized labor is concerned about too much of an increase and where that puts the overall sales tax burden.

As for the colleges, I'm aware of the Tacoma plan to expand the existing light rail system in part of the Sound Transit 2 planning. I don't see what the problem with it is. If you're going to build the starter line, you might as well expand it to maximize its use. I know the Everett idea was discussed last year but I don't see it anywhere in the current Sound Transit 2 options posted online.

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 12, 2006 09:01 AM
33. I will support higher taxes when 1) all gov't unions are abolished and 2) it can be clearly shown that there is zero waste.

Half the taxes we pay now are either going to some union goon's paycheck or directly stolen.

Posted by: Mark on June 12, 2006 09:06 AM
34. "For the record, whoever posted at 8:29 as "Eric" wasn't me."

as you know, Eric, there are many people named "Eric". (It was the 13th most popular name in the year I was born) I suppose that is why you post as "Eric Earling".... I hope you didn't think I was trying to impersonate you.

Posted by: Eric on June 12, 2006 09:12 AM
35. "For the record, whoever posted at 8:29 as "Eric" wasn't me."

Stefan - Just one more reason to bring back the email hyperlink identifier!

Posted by: alphabet soup on June 12, 2006 09:15 AM
36. Eric and Eric Earling, I caught the difference. You each have different political makeups (obvious ones).

Eric Earling, why do you keep insisting on mass transit like you do? Who maintains them? As a Republican, aren't you concerned about the subsidies that these systems rely on to make ends meet? Do you think at some time certain, the revenues would pay for even the operation and maintenance expenses?

I don't.

I would think you could spend your time getting Seattle/Bellevue businesses out to the old suburbs which are now the City. Then there wouldn't be the commutes we (you) have.

Posted by: swatter on June 12, 2006 09:17 AM
37. 1 Governors Gardner, Lowry, and Locke had plenty of gas tax revenues to fix and expand the roads, and they chose not to.
Liberals all – was there ever any doubt on the part of sane people (conservatives)?

2 Having grown up in the NE corridor commuter trains do work.
Wow, what a piece of genius reasoning! Mark and Eric; commuter trains do work in SOME VERY LIMITED PARTS of the NE corridor because the population there justifies them, that certainly does not mean we need them here. He who only owns a hammer . . . goes around pounding everything down.
How stupid are you really? . . . sorry . . . foolish question . . . never mind.

3 Our problem is we do not have competent people running our government agencies.
If your comments are representative of the status quo in our local area, that won’t change soon.

4 In NJ no one was using the HOV lanes and traffic was jammed up so Christie Todd Whitman, the governor, had the HOV signs removed and the Federal Government did not object.
Only dim-witted ideologues feeeeeel that it matters how many people use the HOV lanes. A bad idea that does not work, should need no other justification for abolition. Whitman acted out of pure pragmatic leadership in eliminating the HOV lanes, and we should do that here.

The only reason we will not eradicate the idiotic HOV lanes is because our liberal "leadership" is committed to forcing us out of our cars to reduce green house gasses. They will run empty 70 plus passenger busses up and down hundreds of miles of HOV lanes all day long at taxpayer expense bringing traffic to a crawl and pumping record amounts of CO2 and other so-called global warming pollutants into the atmosphere until hell freezes over in order to prove Global Warming is caused by cars. This can be aptly called "How to fu@k up an economy by emulating France, pretending that you are stupid enough to be French." BTW: Russian Roulette was actually invented by the French, go figure. They couldn't even get that right so they blamed it on the Russians. What a pity.

5 Here Sound Transit has been in business for 10 years and has very little to show.

Sound Transit is a pre-meditated failure that will never succeed. Bad ideas that do not work are put into place by liberals because they are corrupt and their constituency is brain-dead.
Along with Sound Transit, we need government subsidized politically correct indoor miniature golf links . . . . after all . . . someone said the French have them.

Posted by: Amused by liberals on June 12, 2006 09:31 AM
38. "Just to state what everyone probably knows: RTID is a completely separate local government from ST, which also is a stand-alone local government. Both have appointed boards ..."

This is one of the largest reasons that I will not vote for the RTID - lack of DIRECT accountability. The Monorail project was run by such a board. ST is run by such a board and they have flat out told taxpayers to pound sand every time we complain about the over spending or the constant project revisions that give us less for more money.

I also believe that we are spending too much in overhead if we are really trying to have a "Regional Transit" system. We have ST, we had the Monorail, Metro, Peirce Co. transit, Community Transit (SnoCo).

If we were serious about this, we would have a regional transportation board, elected by the people, to oversee, and be accountable for these types of projects.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on June 12, 2006 09:45 AM
39. It is obscene that commuters have no choice to improve their facilities either pay billions for toy trains to no where or stay stuck in traffic....I am staying stuck...Thanks to cowards like Carlson...Glad to hear Wilbur skeptical of him this morning.

This Vote should be separate and distinct...they can SCREAM Emergency about how all the unbuilt rail tunnels are going to collapse if we don't vote billions for them. Put that wimpy engineer out there again in the commercials and send advertising only to women again. It worked for 912 now lie again!

This linked vote is a POLITRICKERY to get the billions they can't on their own for their trains at the point of CONTINUING TO HOLD COMMUTERS HOSTAGE!!! I know Carlson, Rosenberg, Earling and others are in RINO heaven this morning as they don't care where the tax money comes from as long as they get a job at the trough and this is their PR machine to do so.

You can bet your bottom that the pennies per year they claim (that will be thousands) you'll pay will mean no roads for years but a cute choo choo steaming across I-90 on what was once a multilane bridge will happen at top speed.

Mike Vaska are you suing KVI again? Carlson is already politicking again!

There is not a link between mass transit and highways except 3% of the commuters get 50% of the transportation funding, get to bulldoze their way down the freeways, get to cut in front of you with their yield sign on the bus, get to design dangerous on and off ramps in the center of the freeway and rip up downtown Bellevue for 3 years, cause thousands of hours of traffic delays in Kirkland, kick out businesses on Capitol Hill, spend half a billion dollars to rebuild the "train ready" downtown tunnel and spend thousands of dollars per day moving a few hundred people from Everett to Seattle. Split the freeway in south Everett causing dozens of traffic accidents to build a ramp there. We have disastrous public policy and disastrous stewardship of public funds in regards to public transit in Seattle. The linking of the two is politrickery at the obscenest of levels.

The obscenity is the politicians have driven the situation into complete insanity for the commuters of Puget Sound and truly have nothing but visceral hatred for anyone not currently sheepling to the trains and busses and they do not desire to actually build any roads. The only road improvements we?ll see are storm water management ponds and narrowed lanes and environmental mitigation studies.


Posted by: Col. Hogan on June 12, 2006 09:49 AM
40. I didn't think there was any ill-intent on the name. Just wanted to clarify. Some commenters, none currently presently on this thread, can't always differentiate.

Swatter - no, I don't think the revenues will ever cover operations & maintenance, and in concept (though not always in practice) I'm ok with the subsidy. We pay taxes for essential services such as police and fire that are essential to our society. Integrated transporation systems of roads and transit are likewise essential, in a different way, for major urban areas with large surrounding suburbs - especially in cases like ours where geography limits our ability to build LA style freeway systems.

Now, I don't always like transit. I think Everett Transit for example is a waste of money that should be merged with Community Transit. And I think the state has neglected roads for far too long; thanks to actions by both parties. Now, as witnessed in the last couple gas tax increases, we're dealing with sticker shock for that neglect and it isn't much fun. But, for where this area is at, continuing to build a core infrastructure of transit and roads is an important component of our long-term health as a multi-county community.

Related to that, I think as unfriendly to business as Seattle can be, there are a host of reasons why companies choose to locate to the Seattles and Bellevues of the world. I think it would be irrational, and very difficult, to try and create enough incentives for the kind of significant moves you're implying.

All this being said, I don't know whether I'll support whatever is going on the ballot in 2007. I'll have to see the project list, the tax impact, and potential accountability measures. But, I obviously support the concept.

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 12, 2006 09:50 AM
41. Southern Roots - I agree on the lack of direct accountability being a problem. I believe there is an effort with the 2007 ballot to merge transportation governance into one entity where there would be more accountability, including possible direct elections (and an easier one-stop shop for an I-900 related audit). I would much prefer to see such measures be part of the total package of the ballot proposition.

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 12, 2006 09:56 AM
42. Not another penny from this voter. Not until transportation projects are open to non-union companies. Not until all transportation projects' materials are purchased sales-tax free.

Posted by: Palouse on June 12, 2006 10:48 AM
43. Any package that doesn't kill the rail system at its current length is not gonna fly w/ me.

Call 9.1.1: An ambulance comes down the ROADS! Same for fire, police, every food product you eat, every school bus, every piece of furniture you have delivered. They all use ROADS. Busses can use roads, too.

But a train has NO ALTERNATE route. One little mudslide and NO SERVICE. Approx $300 per passenger per trip to ride the Sounder. Light rail will be several times more expensive. And several times less efficent. Because the passengers will all have to USE THE ROADS to get to the train (at either end of their trip).

Trains are an 18th century solution to 21st century traffic. Busses, okay. Trains, NEVER.

Posted by: C.D. on June 12, 2006 11:16 AM
44. Carlson has been moving more and more towards the center lately. Strange and not too realistic. A transportation heavy package for Puget Sound is a 100 year proposition. That's how long it took New York, Paris, London, etc. to develop the useful systems they have today. In typical American foolishness, leftists and now apprently even those on the right are deluding themselves that somehow we can have mass transit in short order.

Ain't gonna happen.

We'd be far better off with a very conservative and sound fiscal approach that slowly builds and excellent system over the next 50 years, while continuing to build and maintain the road infrastructure that we need today to handle Puget transit as it exists today.

Anything else is a foolish sinkhole of debt that will ultimately saddle Puget Sount progeny with a far worse economic problem than any mass transit system would ever solve.

Carlson seems like he's gearing up for a run at something. That's probably why he's suddenly moved towards the center. Seems like a transparent Hillary Clinton like move.

Posted by: Jeff B. on June 12, 2006 11:38 AM
45. Palouse..

Once again,sage advice from across the hill! It makes so much sense, it doesn't have a chance here in the peoples republic. We should probably throw in limiting environmental studies and mitigations along with SEPA exemptions too for public projects.

Posted by: Smokie on June 12, 2006 11:39 AM
46. look- you have to do something about the transportation issue. It probably begins with auditing WDOT and current projects, because I'm not voting for anymore money when they fail to demonstrate the current funding (gas tax) can support the infrastructure. Washingtons funding of transportation looks like this.

More cars = more tax revenue = big black hole != more infrastructure.

I don't like that math. I could get the same result by not raising taxes or even by reducing them.

Not sure Carlson is the right one, but at least he's got a big mouth in case they start to screw the pooch.

Posted by: Andy on June 12, 2006 12:11 PM
47. Carlson was a key figure trying to repeal the largest gas tax increase in state history, and one of the primary reasons for that campaign was accountability. That's good enough for me.

If anything, his presence gives conservatives a voice in this, even if we already know the outcome of RTID will include more taxes and more transit. It won't change my vote, but I'll be interested what he can/will reveal about the committee meetings on his show.

Posted by: Palouse on June 12, 2006 12:26 PM
48. Palouse--agree-i'll only agree to more tax if no 'going wage' or union-only restrictions, no sales tax on materials, AND--ENFORCEABLE (say 'jail') performance audits for incompetent jackasses who mismanage our funds that we give them in trust; talk is nice, but look at their audit record--continual failure and no fixes;

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on June 12, 2006 01:06 PM
49. Palouse,

"Carlson was a key figure trying to repeal the largest gas tax increase in state history . . . good enough for me."


Posted by: Amused by liberals on June 12, 2006 02:35 PM
50. C.D.,

Thanks for making the argument; you are precisely on point.

Trains have a place in some very limited high population areas where commuting is a sensible alternative to commuting by car.

Commuter trains in the Seattle area??? It takes the complete arrogance and stupidity of a liberal mindset to do what they are doing to our transportation system and the public just follows like a mass of half heartedly bleating sheep. See Giffy.

Public policy formulation and execution through end-run coercion is a fascist idea, and so is transit advocacy.
Your comments are correct and bear repetition lest we become lulled by ever rising taxes and decreasing livability into forgetting who and what is ruining our area.


Posted by: Amused by liberals on June 12, 2006 02:49 PM
51. There is a problem with the “I’m not going to vote for it until” ultimatums thrown around in the comments here: the complaints presented are either a) already being addressed, or b) not realistically addressable.

First, people complain about supposed lack of accountability. That’s a nice perception, but doesn’t jive with all the accountability measures that have been added to the state DOT by the Legislature (thanks largely to pressure by Republicans) such as performance benchmarks, quarterly reports, and performance auditing:

-Basic info is available here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/accountability/
-Detailed info available here: http://www1.leg.wa.gov/documents/ltc/tpab/audits/accountability/final_accountability_report.pdf
-And specific info on accountability provisions included in last year’s gax tax package available here starting on page 5 of the report: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/Detail/2005/ht0507tranimpact0411.pdf#search='9.5%20gas%20tax%20accountability%20washington%20state'

And all this doesn’t even include the capacity for I-900 induced audits on DOT and related transportation agencies.

If the argument is there is no accountability at the state, that’s simply no longer true. If the complaint is lack of accountability in the Puget Sound region for transportation that has more legs, and most definitely should be address as part of a 2007 proposal.

Second, the whole complaint about union labor and wages, sales tax, etc. is tiresome. If you think we have a reasonable chance in the near future of having strong Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature and a Republican Governor then fine, hold out for those issues. In the meantime, it makes more sense to accept the fact we’ve made dramatic improvements in lowering the cost of projects by reforming some of the environmental mitigation requirements, and using such practices as “design-build” to speed construction of the project.

Heck, one of the biggest arguments for building especially the road projects now is that their cost keeps going up faster than inflation. Moreover, DOT’s improved overall performance in recent years building projects on time and/or under budget is a significant reason a number of Republicans in the legislature actually voted for last year’s package. We like to complain about the cost of this stuff, but how much of that is our own fault as Republicans as our majority in the Legislature dilly-dallied on the issue in the ‘90’s when we should have been building the road capacity (at a cheaper price) that was needed then, and is now long overdue?

If people want to skewer existing agencies in the Seattle area that’s fine, if they want to poke holes in whatever package gets proposed in 2007 that’s fine too. But the other arguments presented in this thread thus far don’t seem to have much merit.

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 12, 2006 05:15 PM
52. The great thing about living in Washington State is you can watch as Billions are wasted on Transportation projects, and the State will tell you that YOU (The Voter) don't have any merit for opposing wasting even more. DOT will only do the right thing for Transportation if there are Republican majorities in the House and Senate and hold the Governors Mansion? Otherwise accept the fact that the Democrats have stopped some of the corruption (toll takers) and unnecessary projects and call it good. Wow, now that's depressing.

Posted by: Huh? on June 12, 2006 05:47 PM
53. Eric Earling,

While I agree that accountability may be enhanced by audit authority, its legs have not been stretched, and we have yet to discover the inevitable extent to which Democrats will go to avoid, obscure, scuttle, and/or disable the power of the audit. I am skeptical if I-900 induced audits on DOT and related transportation agencies will be fruitful. Please read the fine print. Democrats will resist accountability with everything they have because they have no intention of fulfilling their duties to the people, and they have spent beaucoup dollars of yours and mine on the best lawyers money can buy.

At any rate, you make some other sweeping statements that are puzzling.

You say "one of the biggest arguments for building especially the road projects now is that their cost keeps going up faster than inflation."

What? That is not a big argument I've heard, but even if that is true, how is it important when the real necessity is fixing transportation infrastructure to support economic growth? Inflation is very low, and the key economic ingredient in this context is commercial investment in our area to support private sector growth.

You say that "we’ve made dramatic improvements in lowering the cost of projects by reforming some of the environmental mitigation requirements"
Which dramatic improvements are those? Sincerely, I am interested in knowing what you are referring to with this comment. If anything, environmental mitigation requirements have become more strict in development costs except where sanctions of public projects are concerned.

You say that "Republicans as our majority in the Legislature dilly-dallied on the issue in the ‘90’s when we should have been building the road capacity (at a cheaper price) that was needed then, and is now long overdue"
Claiming that the Republicans could have built road capacity in the ‘90’s and simply didn't, is gratuitous and short sided. Had you been Clyde Ballard, what would you have done to build road capacity?

If there is "inside information" about these issues that you are privy to, please share them, I'm sincerely interested.


Posted by: Amused by liberals on June 12, 2006 08:44 PM
54. Amused –

Interesting points. I’ll do what I can with them, and I’ll apologize in advance for the length of the post since they are meaty questions.

You raise the point of costs v. inflation and the need to support private sector growth. The private sector has been screaming for solutions on this issue for years, and have always played an active role in framing project lists and the like so I think we can assume their concerns will be reasonably addressed – and that many elected officials take their priorities seriously.

As for project cost inflation, you don’t hear it discussed as much as a main talking point on the issue, but the longer we delay building projects, the more they cost because the cost of raw materials, labor, land, etc. are rising much faster than inflation. Carlson was actually talking about this problem on his show today, as a reason to get involved in the process to try and get something constructive done, otherwise the projects we know we need (like 405 expansion, 520, etc.) will cost a lot more even a few years later. An example of this is how last year’s gas tax is being used to speed up a couple major projects along I-5 through downtown Everett. The entire combined project will be done at least a couple years earlier than previously scheduled and I recall the savings run in the tens of millions of dollars. Info here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I5/HOVSR526toUS2/default.htm

As for cost-savings measures, they’re outlined specifically in one document I already highlighted starting on page 5, specifically breaking down components of the 2003 and 2005packages that improve accountability and lower cost: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/Detail/2005/ht0507tranimpact0411.pdf#search='streamlined%20permitting%20accountability%20transportation%20washington%20state'

The streamlined permitting and design build options (more on the later here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/delivery/designbuild/), were significant improvements on the cost, in large part because of comparative time delays, in completing projects. And I should expand my previous comment to say environmental mitigation is still way to high, and a huge component of capital construction costs for transportation. I think advocates for such projects should spend more time telling people what a significant part this is of the overall cost as a reason for reform of relevant environmental laws, but I digress. What has been done is to improve the mitigation process, so that it is more efficient, coherent, and comprehensive – so projects are completed quicker, without any surprises or costly environmental screw-ups that lead to painful project delays. More info here, particularly the sections on “Watershed Mitigation” and “Coordinated Permitting Tools”: http://www.ora.wa.gov/spotlight-series/TPEAC/library.htm

Lastly, if you want to pinpoint Ballard, he wouldn’t move on transportation in part because the public complaint that his constituents didn’t want more taxes. That’s fine. But that didn’t do anything to address what even then were serious road capacity problems in Western Washington that it would have been smart to try and address. As it is now, between that period of inaction when we had a majority, and the recent gas tax kerfluffles, we as Republicans have a bad reputation among many suburban voters of simply being the party of “no” on transportation. That’s not helpful. As I’ve said, both parties share blame for this, but I don’t think we as Republicans are self-critical enough about our wasted opportunities to both lower the cost of these projects and to do something that would have also been politically beneficial.

The reason I take this position on the whole, and I think why Carlson is getting involved, is that at some point, this problem has to be addressed, and necessary projects need to get built. In this blue-tinged state, we’re not going to get the ideal circumstances described by some posters here, so our best bet is to sit down, take part in the process, and get the best package we can (this philosophy is how we got current accountability and performance measures). If we don’t, we suffer in an even more inadequate transportation system, pay more when we do decide to build projects, and continue as Republicans to offer nothing more than “we don’t like taxes and Democrats are crooks” to voters who want the issue addressed. That’s nice rhetoric, but eventually I think electoral history shows us people want problems solved or they punish the party that appears to be less serious (or more obstructionist) about solving it.

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 13, 2006 08:08 AM
55. EE, the reason "I think why Carlson is getting involved, is that" he is getting paid. By Sound Frigging Transit. The most unaccountable, anti-taxpayer government anywhere.

Hey John Carlson: How much total taxes is Sound Transit really going to rip out of this region, compared with what it said to the voters in 1996?

Let's see you go to bat for your new master here, now --

Posted by: rotomolded on June 13, 2006 08:55 AM
56. Glad to see the unhinged are still reading here.

Carlson said on his radio show yesterday that the group with Locke and others isn't using a dime of taxpayer money to try and deal with this issue. So how is he getting paid? Do you have proof Sound Transit is paying him? Moreover, Carlson's position on Sound Transit is pretty well known - he doesn't like it much at all. He likes road construction to reduce congestion and accountability for the use of taxpayers money. I'm no defender of the guy, but what's wrong with him on his own time joining a group like this (that is working for free) to try and advocate for such issues?

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 13, 2006 10:27 AM
57. Toe mold,

Right, Carlson is also being paid by Sun Myung Moon from the hereafter . . . he's a moonie . . . didn't you know that?

Posted by: Amused by liberals on June 13, 2006 11:24 AM
58. ST funnels the money through third party consultants, and through direct payments to Transportation Choices. The Gates Foundation pays Cascadia Center big bucks so that its chairman's law partners at preston gates get to keep sucking money out of sound transit - that's why Cascadia/Discovery Institute backs ST. Gallatin Group is paying for this "educational" group, it in turn relies on contracts from politicians and political parties who have a vested interest in the public teat being broadband.

Here's a question for you, EE. How much is Carlson getting paid to be a shill for this ST/RTID boondoggle? Let us know who is funding the groups paying Carlson, and I guarantee behind that cabal will be those who want to maximize tax streams and minimize limits on taxes.

Posted by: Coot on June 13, 2006 11:31 AM
59. PSRC is an additional group that might be funding this new advocacy group Carlson will be paid by, and PSRC gets tons of public money (Sound Transit has paid it millions of dollars over the past couple of years). Obviously Locke's law firm also is a recipient of big money from ST (over seven figures as shown on the most recent subarea equity report). I don't know who will be paying for this new group to advocate for the combined ST and RTID offering, but it stands to reason it would be those who make big money if there are few limits on the taxes.


RTID is going to propose a .6% MVET, a sales tax, and tolls. ST will propose an increase in the overall sales tax rate it charges (which also will extend the length of time it is imposing the present sales tax rate).

What limits do you think should be on those taxes? There is no limit on the ST sales tax now, other than ST's promise to reduce the rate at some point. Seattle Monorail had virtually no limits on how much MVET it could collect - we're darn lucky that thing blew itself up.

Posted by: Coot on June 13, 2006 12:32 PM
60. EE, I don't care who does it, D's or R's, but the way to make transportation projects cheaper is opening it to competition, and to stop using these mega-projects as slush funds for the general tax revenue of the state. Do those two things, and the rate of inflation won't matter.

Problem is that it's a feeding frenzy of special interests, namely unions, who run the show in Olympia, and the slush fund revenue from the transportation projects fund a whole host of other pet projects. I understand your argument, something needs to be done. But it's a matter of voting on principle - I cannot vote for something that supplies those pigs at the trough. They need to wake up, and voting for whatever comes out of RTID is tacit approval of the way they do business.

Posted by: Palouse on June 13, 2006 05:22 PM
61. Coot -

It's those evil neocons. They're behind every cabal in this country...well, them and the Trilateral Commission.

An evil cabal of neocons has in fact taken over major Seattle law firms to raise taxes in perpetuity to enrich themselves and screw us minions in the masses over. Yeah, that it’s it. There’s no correlation between actual transportation needs in the area and what Carlson and Locke are talking about.

And if you’re really good, you could work Mike Vaska (from the Board of the Discovery Institute and another prominent law firm) into all this too since he’s arguing the public disclosure case against KVI, Carlson, Wilbur, et. al. Let me know how that twist goes, maybe Oliver Stone could do the movie?

And on a serious note, since I know someone directly involved in the Cascadia Center’s work on this project, I can say without fear of contradiction that your conspiracy theory is just a couple sandwiches sort of a picnic; though it is mildly entertaining.

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 13, 2006 05:32 PM
62. "What limits do you think should be on those taxes?"

AmusedByLiberals didn't want to answer that one. How about you Eric Earling? Do you have an aversion to speculating about appropriate curbs on taxes too?

Given the slew of taxes RTID and Sound TRansit want approval for EE, how should those local governments' taxing abilities be limited by what they put on the 2007 ballot?

Posted by: Biz Martin on June 13, 2006 07:15 PM
63. Biz -

I'm open to ideas on how to limit or curb taxation and/or improve accountability based on the 2007 ballot. I don't have any brilliant ideas for the former, though for the later would like to see for starters an all-encompassing transit agency for the Puget Sound (rather than our current mix and match of agencies) that includes at least half of the board members being elected directly by the public.

Posted by: Eric Earling on June 13, 2006 11:33 PM
64. Eric: Well you should start thinking about ideas to effectively limit the tax grab that is the RTID and Sound Transit ballot proposal next year. Here is what Seattle Monorail did to people: once it got taxing authority, suddenly it was going to be 50 years of MVET. That was not on the ballot anywhere. The same legislators and lawyers who drafted that authorizing legislation and the ballot proposal will be drafting the RTID and ST proposal for 2007.

Your suggestion of part-elected, part-appointed board is just what Seattle Monorail Project was, and it was a train wreck. From the get go.

RTID and Sound Transit are appointed boards that are functionally identical to Seattle Monorail. What will be in the 2007 ballot language that will effectively limit how they wield their tax power? I don't care if you have brilliant ideas, ANY idea you have could help.

Posted by: Biz Martin on June 14, 2006 08:39 AM
65. Eric Earling,

I havien't had time lately to respond, but I appreciate your answer. I agree that Carlson is doing the right thing.
I am surprised at how easily eveyone jumped to conclusions about his role in this effort.
Very amusing.


Posted by: Amused by liberals on June 15, 2006 12:11 AM
66. Amused: Carlson is now a shill for Sound Transit. If he loudly, publicly and repeatedly calls for limits on Sount Transit's taxing authority THEN he will be doing the right thing.

The only thing we know about Carlson's new gig a this point is that he is advocating for additional taxing authority for Sound Transit, a boondoggle agency of massive proportions.

Well Amused, do you agree that the text of this 11/07 ballot measure should be disseminated widely as soon as possible? And given what kind of taxes ST and RTID will be proposing, how should reasonable limits be written into law so we don't have nasty surprises like with Seattle Monorail?

Another thing, Amused, just to show that you have a clue -- spell out what you think the flaws were with SMP, from a tax and government-accountability standpoint. Your posts suggest that you might be a supporter of local governments over citizens' rights to not be taxed.

Posted by: Coot on June 15, 2006 09:25 AM
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