Morning Fizz: King County Voters Rejecting Metro Funding Measure
Caffeinated News and Gossip featuring last night's special election results.
1. Prop 1, the last-ditch proposal to prevent devastating Metro cuts with a .1 percent sales tax increase and $60 flat fee on cars was failing 55-45 last night with about 80 percent of the anticipated total vote already counted; King County has predicted a 38 percent voter turnout, and they've tabulated the results of the 30 percent turnout to date: 200,887 'No' to 162,508 'Yes.'
Metro has warned that without the extra revenue (about $80 million for buses and $50 million for roads), they'd have to cut 550,000 hours of bus service—including a combination of reducing and eliminating 156 routes.
Last night, King County Executive Dow Constantine said he would send a plan for cuts to the King County Council this week.
(Voters would have to go 73 percent 'Yes' on the estimated 82,000 remaining votes to pass the measure).
Let the psychoanalysis of the electorate begin—a proposed Lake Washington school levy was also failing in tax-friendly King County (it needed 60 percent and was at 50.88 percent)—but one thing seems clear, regressive means (sales tax and a flat car fee) to fund progressive public policy (mass transit) is an oxymoron that voters don't buy.
Also clear: With work-week Metro ridership currently serving 400,000 riders daily, expect the cuts to increase traffic congestion with an estimated 30,000 more cars on the roads.
2. Which brings us to yesterday's Earth Day environmental report from Mayor Ed Murray's office, where two data points jumped out at us. First, for the first time ever in 2012 (the last year for which data are available), fewer than half of Seattle commuters got to work by driving alone—just 49 percent, compared to 53 percent in 2011. The city's goal is to have just 25 percent of commuters driving alone by 2035.
Second, 40 percent of emissions in Seattle are produced by transportation—suggesting that reducing reliance on single-occupant automobiles is going to be critical in reducing emissions from 58 percent from 2008 levels by 2030, the city's stated goal.
Read the whole report for yourself here.
3. Finally, Isn't It Weird That ... City Council member Mike O'Brien voted "no" on an alley vacation for a Whole Foods-anchored project in West Seattle, despite the fact that his wife Julie received a $16,000 low-interest loan for her kimchi business, Firefly Kitchens, through Whole Foods' Local Producer Loan Program?
Of course, we're being tongue-in-cheek here—O'Brien's obviously voting on his beliefs (like former mayor and O'Brien ally Mike McGinn, O'Brien opposes Whole Foods in part because it's a non-union shop). We actually think environmentalist O'Brien's vote is weird for other reasons—the development will bring mixed-use density to what is currently a vacant former car lot.