Isn't It Weird That
Isn't It Weird That: The Eastside and the Seattle Police
Some weird things we noticed about transit opposition on the Eastside and the former interim police chief's retirement announcement.
Isn't It Weird That ... the Eastside Transportation Association can't keep its story straight?
Initially, the ETA—a conservative, Kemper Freeman-backed group of transit opponents that sued Sound Transit, unsuccessfully, to stop light rail across I-90—argued that what they really wanted was more express buses, AKA "bus rapid transit," rather than light rail.
"Buses can travel through activity centers and neighborhoods, then enter HOV lanes for one-seat service to major activity centers," the ETA wrote in a 2005 brochure supporting BRT. On I-90, they claimed, investing in buses instead of light rail could "leave room ... for 10 times more buses!"
Now, however, the ETA has changed its tune. They're working to defeat King County Proposition 1, which would prevent devastating cuts to Metro bus service, including Metro's five BRT lines. Their new line: Buses are too expensive, and bus riders should be required to cover more of the cost of providing service. (Get back to me when a conservative makes the same case about our massive public subsidies to encourage driving).
At a recent meeting, ETA member Dick Paylor argued that Metro's costs have far outstripped inflation, a claim King County budget director Dwight Dively eviscerated in a PubliCola One Question earlier this month. We're not saying we're exactly shocked that the ETA actually doesn't like buses any more than light rail (ETA ally Freeman has made it abundantly clear he doesn't want to give transit riders any more access to the Eastside), just that it's somewhat surprising to see them flaunting their true colors quite so boldly.
(Thanks to Seattle Transit Blog for pointing out the ETA's epic "flip-flop.")
Isn't It Weird That ...
The difference does seem to reflect a fundamental philosophical split between Pugel and the man who's been hired to help find his permanent replacement. In light of former interim police chief Jim Pugel's announcement today that he's retiring from the force at 54, we noticed a weird (or not-weird?) difference between Pugel's statements about disciplinary decisions in the department and a statement on the same subject by Bernie Melekian, the police consultant who's advising Mayor Ed Murray on his search for a new police chief.
(Murray demoted Pugel to assistant chief shortly after he was elected, and appointed Harry Bailey as the interim police chief. Bailey subsequently gave Pugel the choice of a being demoted to captain or retiring).
Murray came under fire after first defending Bailey's decision to overturn six disciplinary findings against SPD officers, then reversing himself and announcing that he would have Melekian review the decision, then, finally, announcing, after Melekian's review, that the city would stick with Bailey's decision to overturn the disciplinary findings.
The PI.com quotes Melekian from a letter to the city council: "At this point in the process, the issue is not about the alleged facts or the imposed discipline. These issues have been resolved. Rather, the issue is a legal/business decision as to whether it is worth expending time and money to battle a particular case.”
And the PI quotes from Pugel's announcement: "Once a decision is reached, discipline should not be bartered away without a clear justification that enhances standards of accountability, professionalism and fairness.”
Although one quote can't reflect an entire belief system about police misconduct, the difference between the two—discipline as a "legal/business decision," vs. discipline as a way of enforcing "accountability, professionalism and fairness"—does seem to reflect a fundamental philosophical split between Pugel and the man who's been hired to help find his permanent replacement.