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King County Executive nixes council's head-in-the-clouds bus plan

Reality. It's a pesky little bugger. Not to mention the reason Dow Constantine vetoed a plan that would have softened bus cuts.
Dow Constantine

Dow Constantine Matt Fikse Verkerk

King County Executive Dow Constantine squarely vetoed a proposal passed by the King County Council Monday that would have delayed impending cuts to King County Metro service. Constantine explained that he felt the proposal passed by the council was based on unrealistic expectations about budget.

“Everyone wants reliable bus transit,” he said in an interview Monday. “But someone has to be the adult and deal squarely with the challenges that face us.”

The council spent about an hour and a half of Monday's nearly four-hour meeting listening to testimony on and discussing proposals for ways to reduce bus service, before passing Item 9 on the agenda. Introduced by councilmember Rod Dembowski, Item 9 would have implemented a first round of bus route cuts in September 2014, but delayed three rounds of service cuts tentatively slated for February, June and September 2015.

“The ordinance passed today spends money we do not know will be available, spends one-time money on ongoing expenses and, [in] regards to amendment on Dial-a-Ride (DART) service, it violates the Transit Strategic Plan,” Constantine said in a statement Monday night. “I’m asking the council to try again for legislation that aligns our expenditures with our anticipated revenues.”

The council was also considering a counter proposal at Monday's meeting. In an interview, Constantine said he proposed a reduction of 550,000 hours of service in 2014 and 2015 to the council due to the revenue shortage that was result of Proposition 1 failing. That plan, he said, is in line with realistic budget expectations.

“When and if resources materialize, then I will be proposing the restoration of transit service that has been eliminated due to revenue shortfall,” Constantine said. “But it’s not appropriate now to promise the people something we do not know if we can deliver.”

Crosscut editorial intern Jessica Buxbaum recently moved to Seattle from California where she studied political science at Humboldt State University and worked on the university's newspaper and magazine.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Jun 10, 3:48 a.m. Inappropriate

“Everyone wants reliable bus transit,” he said in an interview Monday. “But someone has to be the adult and deal squarely with the challenges that face us.”

So will Constantine veto any raises for METRO's drivers union?

Perhaps Executive Constantine can become an "adult" and deal squarely with the King County Ferry District? Close it.

Cameron

Posted Tue, Jun 10, 10:05 a.m. Inappropriate

WOW! Is Jessica biased or what? This is the most biased headline I've seen in a long time. Tell us how you really feel? Just don't claim to be reporting the news...

Posted Tue, Jun 10, 10:19 a.m. Inappropriate

Written by an editorial intern, it shows it. Seems like she's angling for a job as Constantine's flack, which she's clearly practicing here. He "squarely vetoed" the measure? As opposed to roundly?

And this is the "quality journalism" that Crosscut is supposed to deliver?

Posted Tue, Jun 10, 12:48 p.m. Inappropriate

Noting the comments above on intern-quality journalism, my view is that we should be thankful for anything at all in Crosscut on King County government -- be it written by an intern or the building janitor. Something is surely better than the usual nothing.

More substantively, the bus fare flap looks like classic Kabuki theatre. The Council members get to go on record voting for a fare structure that pleases their various constituencies, while Dow the Dour gets to polish his image as the tough budget hawk. Yawn. Wake me when the Road Runner cartoon comes on.

woofer

Posted Tue, Jun 10, 3:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Look at the transit nuts panic when their Big Lie is exposed for all to see.

Simon

Posted Tue, Jun 10, 11:15 p.m. Inappropriate

Do the writers of Crosscut stories also write their own headlines?

simorgh

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 10:26 a.m. Inappropriate

simorgh:

Thanks for your comment. Crosscut writers typically do not write their own headlines.

Best,

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 8:34 a.m. Inappropriate

The writer was generous in characterizing Councilmember Dembowski as having his head in the clouds--it was actually stuck somewhere lower than that. Unless Rod can identify some additional funding, he needs to grow up and do his job.

Mannix

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 11:48 a.m. Inappropriate

Considering your ignorance, you are a poor one to talk about anyone else's head being up their ass.

Dembowski has identified additional funding. Apparently, you are not smart enough to grasp this.

Metro got $32 million more in sales tax revenues in 2014 than they had expected when they threatened to cut 600,000 hours of bus service. That $32 million in unexpected revenue would pay for 320,000 hours of bus service. That is "additional funding" that Dembowski has identified.

Dembowski recommends raising fares. That would be additional funding.

Dembowski recommends eliminated paper transfers. That would reduce expense, which is the same as additional funding.

Dembowski recommends increasing the price of monthly passes to 40 boardings per month from the current 36. That would be additional funding.

Get your head out of your ass, and learn something.

Lincoln

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 11:53 a.m. Inappropriate

From Danny Westneat's column in the Times yesterday, my favorite quote from Dembowski:

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023814894_westneat11xml.html

“There is a view by some that we need to make voters ‘feel the pain,’ ” he said of his own party. “They call it the credibility issue — that we said there would be huge cuts if voters said no to the tax increases, and so now we better give them the huge cuts.”

Even if some of the cuts might no longer be needed?

“Nobody over here believes we’re going to end up cutting all 550,000 hours of bus service. So this is all political now,” he said.

Truer words were never spoken.

Lincoln

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 12:27 p.m. Inappropriate

While I support transit, it's hard not to become (more)cynical the more you delve into this.

Lily32

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 2:22 p.m. Inappropriate

All perhaps preamble to putting separate transit and roads props on the ballot, probably following the first round of cuts, but preceding the second.

With the degree of denial in the suburbs, it is hard to see how some pain infliction can be avoided - better to cut off a foot now, if it will save the leg.

They are trying to balance who gets skewered (deleting four Ballard routes, the 28, 29, 61, and 62, for instance), although it is no secret that the biggest savings are to be found in the 'burbs. Cuts already made to inefficient eastside and south county routes, at the behest of conservative council members, likely damaged support for transit.

Posted Wed, Jun 11, 9:44 p.m. Inappropriate

Raise fares. Give special passes to people below a certain income level.

Reduce executive salaries, and make the hiring process be 100% transparent to the public.

Posted Thu, Jun 12, 5:23 a.m. Inappropriate

Call for a Public Transit Improvement Conference under RCW 36.57A, adjust METRO's Service and Taxing boundaries down to an area they can manage. Right now METRO is maxed out at 9 tenths of one percent on Sales Tax funding. Take a look at your community's bus service, look at the revenues you are currently providing to METRO and ask the question...is this a value proposition worth continuing to support or expand for the same or lower service levels?

Cameron

Posted Fri, Jun 13, 11:57 a.m. Inappropriate

I wonder if there's an inside game going on here that we aren't seeing. First, Dembowski, who represents me, also represents suburban Shoreline and Kenmore, maybe even Bothell. I don't know which way they voted on Prop 1, but on this issue, he allied with the suburban Republican councilmembers. Their constituents voted against Prop 1 but they are understandably reluctant to bear any pain. Still, Seattle is the economic driver of the region, and even the suburbanites who never go downtown benefit from an urban bus system.

Second, with the drivers' contract coming up, Dembowski's proposal would have reduced the county's negotiating leverage. I think the Executive wants the union to understand, "you will either have fewer drivers or you will have to moderate your wage/benefit proposals." Dembowski's proposal undercuts that stance.

Posted Sat, Jun 14, 1:08 p.m. Inappropriate

If suburban councilmembers and their constituencies are unwilling to adequately fund transit, perhaps we here in Seattle need to start talking about pulling Seattle Transit out of Metro.

Initially the city could take over the electric trolleybus network, which is operationally distinct anyway, with a plan to extend it throughout the city within, say, ten years, as well as the streetcar network. Alternatively, could be named Seattle Electric Transit, possibly becoming eligible for carbon emission-reduction funding.

Compacts could be made with suburban municipalities and large employers to provide additional linking service, as required, including potential expansion of the trolleybus network beyond the city boundary (to Bellevue?).

Metro, renamed King County Transit, would be reduced to providing feeder routes to ST light rail and express/commuter bus routes, and service to suburban municipal and employment centers.

Posted Sat, Jun 14, 2:26 p.m. Inappropriate

HistoryLink medication for Historical Amnesia—Seattle's painful lesson in acquiring equipment in dire need of replacement—fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...

"In 1900, Stone and Webster, the Boston utility giant, had completed acquisition of 22 competing street railways in Seattle as well as the main power company. First named Seattle Electric Co., the system was renamed Puget Sound Traction, Light & Power Company (also known as Puget Power)
In a controversial deal, Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson (1874-1940) agreed to buy the streetcar system for $15 million, which voters approved in 1918.
Buyer's regret set in almost immediately, when people realized that the price was three times the system's true value. A grand jury investigated the deal and found the mayor guilty of "stupidity," but not graft. The debt drained resources from the streetcars, and a 1922 State Supreme Court ruling blocked any city subsidy beyond fare revenues.
Through Puget Power, Stone & Webster tried to manipulate the crisis in a bid to acquire Seattle City Light, which had been established in 1902 to counteract Puget Power's monopoly over electrical service. This power struggle contributed to the defeat of Seattle Mayor Bertha K. Landes (1868-1943) in 1928 and to the recall of her successor, Frank Edwards, two years later.
Seattle officials learned that they could not retain the popular nickel fare and still pay off the debt, even after the purchase price was renegotiated to $10 million. By 1936, the municipal street railway was operating 410 streetcars on 26 electric routes as well as three cable car lines totaling 231 miles of track. The city also operated 60 gasoline-powered buses on 18 additional routes. Despite average daily revenues of $11,000, the system had run up an operating deficit of $4 million and had paid down less than half of the principal on the original purchase price. Seattle defaulted on the loans before borrowing enough money to revamp the system in 1939.
The State Legislature also mandated creation of an independent Seattle Transportation Commission to manage the new system. The conversion to buses and trackless trolleys began immediately. The last Seattle streetcar completed its run on April 13, 1941.


http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file;_id=2694
http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file;_id=2707
http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file;_id=2535
(a composite)

afreeman

Posted Sat, Jun 14, 7:12 p.m. Inappropriate

Not necessarily relevant in that we'd be talking about a divorce (due to irreconcilable differences) rather than a marriage (based on false promises and hopes). The biggest problem would be divvying up the community property, but that's what accountants and lawyers are for. The new replacement trolleys would need to be included. Each side would, hopefully, get out of it roughly what they put into it. The Downtown Transit Tunnel could be deeded over to Sound Transit.

Posted Wed, Jun 18, 7:19 a.m. Inappropriate

Don't copy editors usu. write heds? Does CC even have copy editors? Certainly this piece squarely missed editing...

Cheonasty

Posted Thu, Jun 19, 12:01 a.m. Inappropriate

What is this? "“But it’s not appropriate now to promise the people something we do not know if we can deliver."

The new "Read my lips. No new taxes." ????

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