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ON BLAST: Ed Murray and Co.

After the first round of drops came in for Proposition 1 last night, a lot of people began asking the same question on Twitter: What do we do now? What’s plan B?

And to be honest, that was plan B. This was an across-the-aisle handshake by King County Council, a group that has traditionally not been great on Metro issues. This was what it looks like when people from both sides work together. This was it.

Stop-gaps like the congestion reduction charge have kept Metro on life-support, but were not permanent solutions. The transportation package in June failed, and that is devastating. 

So what we do now, we at Seattlish believe, is we hold accountable the people whose actions — and, maybe more importantly, whose lack of actions — have resulted in a transit system that will simply be incapable of serving the population.

One of the people who needs to be held accountable for this is your mayor, Ed Murray. Because before Ed Murray was charming bar owners and pointing fingers at McGinn and probably also completely fouling up police reform, he was the chair of the Transportation Committee. He was in Olympia, repping Seattle. His job was to make the wheels on the bus keep turning.

During that time, Metro was basically only kept functionally through a series of transportation packages which focused largely on roads and highways, and tacked on tiny amounts of transit spending. Which is basically what Prop 1 was. 

In short, while he had the chance to head off deep cuts, he didn’t/couldn’t. He raised some money, sure. He created some new taxes to pay for it, yes. But he also fucked up. A lot. 

Which is not to say that Ed Murray was anti-transit. He wasn’t and isn’t. What he is is what I’d call “ok-transit.”

Way back in 2005, his pretty decent gas tax was passed, and was later backed by voters. He has done some things. He sees the need for transit, he supports transit, and he has gone back and forth on the varieties of transit we could have (rail? No rail? He doesn’t seem sure).

But in a pinch, he won’t go to bat for it in a progressive way, and he won’t innovate on its behalf. He has been pretty iffy on things like alternative transportation, like cycling safety. He didn’t see completing the Burke as a priority. He spent a lot of time pursuing private funding, which isn’t necessarily a great fix.

Mostly, though, fought hard for things like agency consolidation, which were more divisive than anything else. In 2007, he fought to basically gut Sound Transit, repeating the old opinion that if something is broke, you should just legislate against it until it gets better. That doesn’t work. 

In an interview with STB in May of last year, Murray even admitted that his approach in Olympia was wrong.

I realized a few years ago that my approach was wrong. It is not that I have changed my opinion about the importance of regional cooperation, or my belief that a stronger alliance between Seattle and our inner-ring suburbs is the right way to build up our transit infrastructure most effectively; I have not. But I realized that these divisive and polarizing governance reform debates were not the way to get this done. I realized, rather, that regional cooperation must be an organic, incremental and evolutionary process, as Seattle and suburbs like Bellevue become more like one another in terms of urban culture and land use principles.

So, naturally, he must be working really hard to prepare Seattle to go lobby in Olympia, right? To get more money for our various transit needs?

And yet, in the run up to Prop 1’s vote, he seemed too distracted by other matters to get the lead (and the vote) out. He tweeted this:

…Which isn’t even an endorsement of the proposition. Which is weird, because homeboy DID IN FACT ENDORSE IT. He quietly signed a little thingy saying he did. 

But it was oh-so-quiet. And it was not enough to motivate people who needed to know that this was about more than just buses — this was about roads and the future and income and wealth disparity and traffic and parking and congestion and the health of our city.

He never said all that. And he should have.

On a local level, since taking office (which, to be fair, was just a few months ago), Murray has been absent on transit.

He stepped into the Mayor’s Office with what appeared to be very little understanding of the existing Transit Master Plan, and has made barely any mention of the special election, or the very real threat of sweeping Metro cuts.

In a February, 2013 interview with PubliCola, he called out then-opponent (and still City Councilmember) Tim Burgess for his plans on transit, outlined what he wanted for Seattle:

It’s very interesting to hear one of the candidates [Burgess] say they want to go back to basics, because we had Bridging the Gap [the $365 million 2006 transportation levy], except now we have a $2 billion backlog.

That’s not a strategic approach to transportation. We have a major, silent, growing maintenance and infrastructure problem.

I would aggressively push for Sound Transit 3, aggressively push for what we’re doing to do on the westside transit corridors. We haven’t prioritized what comes first and then how are we going to pay for it over a period of time.

Infrastructure like…the tunnel he backed that is now stuck for the foreseeable future? Sure.

But of course, Ed Murray isn’t solely responsible. And looking back on what he didn’t do isn’t helpful. There are a lot of other lawmakers who remained relatively quiet as the vote for Prop 1 neared.

Kshama Sawant was too busy lobbying for a higher minimum wage — which, don’t get us wrong, matters — to have much of a say on this very real, very salient matter to the demographics she claims to be the most concerned about. Transit is an everybody issue, but it’s REALLY a lowest-earners issue.

Nick Licata, the councilmember who has traditionally been the biggest advocate for the city’s neediest populations, was mostly focused on parks.

Larry Phillips**, who is a member of the KC Council and a huge transit advocate, did a great thing by writing a guest post in Noted Enemy the Seattle Times’ pages…but focused it too much on transit, and less on the matters that appear to his constituency, like the fact that the majority of the measure would have gone to roads. 

Rodney Tom, the confirmed piece of shit behind the Great Republican Coup of 2013, is very much to blame. Consistently anti-transit in any form, this turncoat shred of human waste has done nothing but harm people with his decisions, and convince his constituents to do the same. 

So, there you have it. If you’re mad, write to Ed Murray. Ask him what the actual fuck he’s going to do to ensure that your ass can still get around. Write to Kshama Sawant and ask her if she can kindly focus on more than one issue at once, because it won’t matter how much you’re getting paid if you can’t get to work. Write to your representatives and ask them how they’re going to figuratively punch Rodney Tom in his stupid face until shit gets funded in a sustainable way.

You’re mad. So are we. Tell someone.

** Though, Larry Phillips’ op ed really was great. Here’s a quote: 

Remember that the most regressive action we can take is cutting our bus system. That will not only harm low-wage workers who depend on Metro to get to their jobs, it will increase traffic congestion, damage our economic competitiveness, diminish mobility options for seniors, youth and people with disabilities, and hurt our environment.

AYUP.

ON BLAST: Hey everyone, the Seattle Times fucked you over

At first drops Proposition 1, the last ditch funding mechanism meant to prevent major cuts to King County Metro, is failing. By a lot.

The ~40,000 vote gap between the yeses and the nos looks bad. If only 8% of the votes are yet to be counted, it would take an extraordinary amount of last minute support to close the gap. While not impossible, it’s certainly improbable.

This means that come September King County Metro will implement major alterations and reductions in service across King County. The 17% budget shortfall will affect 80% of routes and impact tens of thousands of bus riders. The full list is here, and yes, your route is probably on it. Hopefully you already knew that.

But maybe you don’t ride the bus, and you thought this had nothing to do with you. Maybe you thought a “$60 increase” in your car tab was just tooooo nasty a pill to swallow. So you voted it down, because fuck a bus, right? Or maybe you didn’t even bother to vote because what-ever too busy no hashtag.

We ain’t even mad yo.

You know why? Because we were all failed.

We were failed by media that didn’t explain how Proposition 1 would have benefited everyone. We were failed by editorials that told us that stop gaps weren’t good enough. We were failed because the only major daily journalistic outlet in this city didn’t mention to the auto-dependent that 40% of Prop 1 money would have gone to roads. The Seattle Times didn’t tell us that 90% of bus commuters have a car, and that these transit cuts will result in 30,000 new daily car commuters on an already taxed road system.

The Seattle Times called a 0.1% increase in sales tax “regressive” without mentioning that cutting people off from their ability to get to work is beyond regressive, and enters the realm of class warfare. They completely ignored how Prop 1 would have further funded a low income bus fare. They never mentioned the $20 car tab credit for low income auto owners.

The Seattle Times is culpable for the transit tragedy we now face, and they should be deeply ashamed. Their anti-transit viewpoints and advocacy are irresponsible in that they have created direct and measurable negative impacts to the daily lives of the the very people they are meant to serve.

Because, yeah, journalism is a service. And it’s a vital one. Journalism is meant to give the public access to the information they need to make well-informed and well-considered opinions about issues that affect them.

And like it or not (hopefully not) as Seattle’s only daily print paper the Seattle Times is the region’s single most prominent and influential media outlet. And their editorial board is the ideological heart of the organization. You may not read it, but I bet your uncle in Burien does. And it’s likely he votes.

Seattle Times editorials that advocated again Proposition 1 provided biased and ill-informed information which deliberately hid crucial viewpoints and failed to fully explain the implications of their position.

They said we need to send a message to King County, and didn’t tell us that message wouldn’t be as big a ‘fuck you’ as it was a ‘fuck me.’

When you’re told to ask for it, you end up getting fucked.

Other media are also asleep at the proverbial wheel, for sure. But the Seattle Times’s use of their market-share omnipotence to manipulate people into voting against their own self-interest is an act of civic violence.

There’s been a lot of talk about “Plan B,” but we’d like to remind you that Proposition 1 was Plan B. The Legislature fucked us earlier this season, and Prop 1 was meant to be King County’s big “you ain’t the boss of me” moment. So yeah, a lot of people are to blame for getting us into this mess in the first place.

At the end of day even partial blame needs to lie somewhere. Today, and every day until this mess is somehow fixed, part of that blames lies squarely on the shoulders of the Seattle Times.

A quick primer on the many fake Bertha twitter accounts

Since yesterday’s announcement that Bertha the Boring Machine is taking a year off to find herself, about a grillion parody accounts sprung up because this is 2014 and most of us have white collar jobs where we can do shit like dick around on the web (hai). 

But! It would be easy to get them confused — and some are more worthwhile than others — so here’s a short roundup. 

Bertha:

The real deal. Actual info from WSDOT.

Stuck Bertha:

This is the OG-est account and also has the best user image. Also seems to be the most politically-involved and up-to-date on the issues, making this a great account.

Fake Bertha:

This one was started a while ago (December 2012!) and has been a little spotty, but when she’s good, she’s good. 

Big Bertha 99:

Cropped up yesterday. Is fairly funny and also has deferred to Stuck Bertha, so seems to actually know what’s up. 

Unemployed Bertha

Don’t bother with this one. Not only is it pretty classist/racist/just kind of icky, it’s also critically unfunny. BOO. 

Ok, who’d we miss?

Ridesharing may soon become a subversive act

GeekWire reported a few days ago that the city may begin issuing cease-and-desist orders against UberX and Lyft drivers/the companies themselves if no deal can be reached before the matter can make it to a public vote.

Murray says the cease-and-desist orders would be a response to the safety and insurance issues which have plagued the ridesharing services. 

I have a responsibility to enforce the law, even if I don’t like the law. I do think if we enforce the law on taxicabs, we’re going to have to enforce the laws on TNCs. Quite honestly, I think it would be irresponsible of me not to because if some tragedy were to happen and we had not dealt with the issue of insurance, I think that would be an unfortunate situation for the TNCs and for the city,” he told GeekWire.

For the record, by the way, these orders have done very little to curb usage. in other cities — and other cities seem to have a way less archaic view of the companies. Out of Omaha:

Taxi companies don’t mind the competition as long as Uber and Lyft play by the same rules”

Of course, ostensibly, Murray and City Council could just work together on a progressive decision that, rather than kneecapping TNCs in favor of taxis, would actually encourage both kinds of providers to innovate and improve their services, rather than become an over-regulated clusterfuck

UberX is addressing the safety concerns…by implementing a $1 surcharge for insurance, which I guess is good?

Again, none of this is to say that UberX or Lyft are perfect services, or that they should be allowed to operate freely when taxis are regulated within an inch of their lives. 

However, just limiting everyone isn’t the right solution. It hinders progress and it allows a shitty status quo to continue. And issuing cease-and-desist orders?

I can’t imagine that’ll actually stop any of us from getting around the way we need to. 

Seattle Tunnel Partners to WSDOT: Please pay for Bertha repairs

As reported by a series of tweets from the Seattle Times opinion section, because why not: Seattle Tunnel Partners want the Washington State Department of Transportation to pay for the over $125 million it’ll take to repair Bertha because DUDES, IT’S YOUR PIPE. WSDOT says dudes, we told you about that pipe, like, ages ago.

image

Take it away, Former Mayor McGinn:

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"It’s important to us that we are open to all people," said Monica Corsaro, pastor at Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, in a statement. "It’s a part of our values that the spirit of inclusion is also reflected in the Boy Scout Troop we charter. The congregation stands with Geoff, because his work with this troop reflects the spirit and the values of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church."

The Boy Scouts of America, in an April 17 letter, told an attorney representing [troop leader Geoff] McGrath and the troop that the church was no longer allowed to house a Boy Scouts troop.

The Boy Scouts have revoked the charter of RBUMC, according to the Seattle PI.

To be honest, seeing the headline “National Boy Scouts strip Seattle charter due to support of gay leader,” I was disappointed that BSA didn’t just strip the whole city. Because then we could be like, good the fuck riddance, Boy Scouts.

Of course, the State Legislature is nicer than we are. 39 reps signed a letter throwing their support behind Geoff, saying that being an asshole like that pretty much defeats the whole point of Boy Scouts. Good on you, 39 state reps!

And Mike McGinn just sadly shook his head

…For all he predicted came true. 

Reminder: Ed Murray was the transpo chair when this decision was made. Look, here’s a photo of him looking really happy about it. 

Neat. 

UPDATE: Bertha’s Twitter account has more information about how WSDOT and STP are going to try real real hard to make the deadline still. It seems unlikely.

Also worth noting:

If anyone ever asks you for an example of Seattle’s alleged cultural fervor for uptightness and passive aggression, refer them to this.

When someone comes to your restaurant and drops $400+ on a meal (not including alcohol), you should probably keep your thoughts about their colas off your social media. 

^^THE HORROR.

People talk about biting the hand that feeds, but this, this is the feeding hand slapping the face that eats. It’s rude, elitist, and it’s everything that’s embarrassing about Seattle’s holier-than-thou attitudes regarding damn near everything.