Thursday, January 6, 2011

Two Things: Neutered Transportation Commission and the Fallacy Of Gregoire's Ferry Proposal

Thursday night I attended the last of the public testimony meetings hosted by the now neutered State Transportation Commission.

Directly after the fall elections I requested an informal AG Opinion regarding the effects of Initiative 1053. The main thrust of the initiative was to require a 2/3 vote of the legislature to raise taxes. By 64% the voters wanted it harder to raise taxes. But, they also want greater accountability in government. In the spirit of getting affirmed by Attorney General Rob McKenna in the response to my request...affirmed the part of the initiative that said
all toll and fee increases must have a recorded vote of the legislature with a simple majority required for passage.
At first the Transportation Commission kicked at the prick. (That is a biblical reference and may be esoteric...but I like the meaning which refers to camels that don't want to take commands even while being poked with a stick.)

The Transportation Commission may actually be unconstitutional. In the late 1980's King County had an agency called Metro. It was a federated board. There were mayors, a few city councilmembers and county council members...a few executive appointees, a couple of "others." This appointed, federated board was responsible for all of the transit and sewage decisions for King County.

Cumberland resident, Valerie Cunningham, successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Metro board. Judge Dwyer ruled that the system deprived certain voters and favored others through unfair representation. Metro did not meet the "one man-one vote" requirement.

A person could have no elected representation from their residence and yet another King County resident could have three or four. Maybe Black Diamond had none...yet a resident of Des Moines had a King County Councilmember, mayor and city councilmember voting on the Metro board.

After Dwyer's ruling....Metro's responsibilities of transit and sewer were put into the hands of the King County Council so the one man one vote rule would be satisfied.

The governor has proposed a regional ferry taxing district. If you live in a county that has a ferry dock...then you would be required to pay for the ferries. The appointed board would not be dissimilar to the old Metro.

The ferries are part of the state highway system...where would this kind of financing lead us? What would the Gregoire proposal mean to the pocket books of those of us who don't use ferries?

No comments: