1. This Pronto story keeps getting stranger. First, there’s the fact that Seattle Department of Transportation director Scott Kubly used to work for Alta; Pronto’s current operations contractor, Motivate, bought out Alta, and is a likely bidder on any future city-run bike share contract. Second, there’s the fact that SDOT slipped $305,000 to Pronto without the council knowing about it (so Motivate could get paid)—which led to some terse moments at this week’s transportation committee hearing.
And speaking of this week’s hearing, now comes a Saturday Night Live skit. The three-to-three split vote on whether or not to go ahead and give SDOT permission to buy out pronto was actually a four-to-two vote according to freshman council member Debora Juarez.
As I reported along with the rest of the media: at Tuesday’s transportation committee meeting, council members Rob Johnson, Mike O’Brien, and Kshama Sawant voted to back SDOT’s plan for a publicly owned bike share system, while council members Tim Burgess, Lisa Herbold, and Juarez voted against the legislation.
And, in fact, immediately after the vote, committee chair and bill sponsor O’Brien, laying out the next steps for his colleagues, noted the three-to-three vote a couple of times, explaining that it meant the legislation would move forward to full council without a yes or no recommendation for further discussion. No one challenged O’Brien’s summary.
The next day, however, Juarez said she had voted for O’Brien’s legislation. (The video of the voice vote doesn’t make it clear either way.) The clerk’s office has reviewed the tape and officially changed Juarez from a no to a yes, though. O’Brien tells me the snafu was his mistake.
The proposal to buy out Pronto is now headed to a March 14 full council vote with a new and improved yes recommendation from the committee.
2. Maritime interests and the Port of Seattle released polling yesterday that shows Seattle voters don’t consider a new SoDo stadium a priority; the port and the city’s maritime interests oppose the new stadium themselves. The poll also says voters think a new stadium would be a traffic nightmare.
More interesting was what the poll, conducted by Strategies 360, said voters did consider priorities for Seattle.
It was an open-ended question, so different, specific versions of similar larger themes dotted the list.
Factoring all that, economic security—capitalism!—seems to be the macro (and frankly, national) issue that voters want local leaders to tackle. Adding up to 71 percent, “homelessness,” “housing and rent,” “cost of living and affordability,” and “economy, jobs, and unemployment” dominated voters’ responses.
Transportation issues (voiced either as “transportation,” “traffic,” “transit, public transportation, bicycles”) were the next biggest bloc at 56 percent total. (The results total more than 100 percent because of the open-ended format.)
Despite somewhat depressing focus on an intractable grand issue like economics, 53 percent of voters felt Seattle was “on the right track,” according to the poll.
3. If Donald Trump were president, there’d be no goddamn tolling on I-405! (There'd be no traffic either, because he'd wave his wand.)
However, Democrats are doing their best to undo government management too. Despite the fact that this year’s Republican anti-tolling bill was tabled because the Washington Department of Transportation relented to the populist outcry and pledged to address the issues with the new program, Democratic state senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D-1, Bothell), submitted a bill Thursday—with just a week left in the legislative session—to study how to improve I-405 express toll lanes.
McAuliffe’s bill would require the Joint Transportation Committee to meet with stakeholders in the I-405 tolling debate to (oxymoron alert) talk about reducing occupancy requirements for carpool lanes, and whether to eliminate double white line barriers to allow easier access into the lanes.
Her bill would require a survey to identify who is using the toll lanes, where they are traveling to and from, their socioeconomic status, and their mode of transportation.
“I’ve heard from thousands of my constituents who have voiced their frustration about the pricing, congestion, and varied inefficiencies of the toll lanes on I-405,” McAuliffe said in a news release.