1. Late Friday, three Seattle City Council members offered competing versions of the vehicle license fee that the council plans to send to voters in November.

Sticking closely to the recommendations of a citizens' panel and opting for the most transit money, Mike O'Brien is pushing an $80 fee plan for $27.2 million annually with 51 percent of the money going to transit-supportive infrastructure and projects, 29 percent going to pavement preservation and safety, and 20 percent going to bike and ped programs.

Keeping similar percentages but shrinking the dollar amount, Tom Rasmumssen is proposing a $60 fee for $20.4 million annually with 49 percent going to transit, 29 percent going to road preservation and safety, and 22 percent going to bike and ped projects.

And cutting back the dollars dramatically from the citizens' proposal and lowering the percentage for transit, Jean Godden is proposing a $40 annual fee for $13.6 million annually with 15 percent going to transit, 10 percent to bike and ped, and 75 percent to road preservation and safety.

Unlike the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee's $80 plan, which did not include a time limit, all three proposals expire after eight years— which nullifies plans for bonding heavy-lift projects such as extending the streetcar lines.

However, by reserving $20 of the total $80 taxing authority, as Rasmussen does, or $40, as Godden does, the council could come back to the voters quickly for another fee that doesn't expire.

O'Brien's and Rasmussen's plans include planning money—$6 million over eight years—to look at studying the streetcar extensions, such as connecting the South Lake Union line with the planned First Hill line or extending the First Hill line to Capitol Hill. Godden's does not.

The Transit Benefits District governing board will review the proposals this afternoon.

2. It's a Wisconsin story—or a national story—but as we've noted, there's a Seattle connection. As you may know, the S&P downgrade of America's long term debt rating is being called the "Tea Party Downgrade."

Thanks to some of our pals in Wisconsin, we got some video from a Tea Party rally in Wisconsin for their reaction to the news.

Why does the Tea Party hate America?

3. In other national news that Fizz feels compelled to weigh in on: The Sunday NYT ran a defining piece on the front page of its opinion section on Sunday. The piece eviscerates President Obama for failing to lead.

However, in among the potent indictment of Obama, there's one startling line that undermines the whole premise and offers a clue to what the problem really is:

The public was "ready to follow wherever the president led."

For those who've run out of '08 hope, that creepy reality about Obama hero worship is something to consider.
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