King County has four questions up for vote dealing with reducing the size of the ruling council and doing 'something' about transportation, I'm basically voting no on all of them. Seattle also has an initiative up for vote, on killing the ability to build the monorail, and I'm voting no on that as well even though I dislike the monorail. In each case the details are pretty slippery and there is a non-trivial amount of trickery involved.
King County Alternative Proposed Charter Amendments 1A and 1B – Question 1 – NO
What: Should either of two options be adopted to reduce the size of the King County council from 13 to 9?
Why: I can find precious little on the Internet that argues for or against this initiative so I'm forced to make a decision largely based on the arguments in the voter's pamphlet. I found the arguments made by the proponents to be weak. Their total tax savings by having a smaller council sound impressive until you reduce it to a yearly rate of around $2 to $4 million a year which is peanuts in a $3 Billion/year budget. Their arguments that other counties in Washington only need 3 council members as opposed to King County's 13 also doesn't hold water for me given that King County holds about 1/3 of Washington State's population. Their argument that L.A. county does with just 5 council members is interesting but having lived in L.A. county I can say that it isn't exactly a shinning example of successful local politics. Over all I don't believe that the supporters of this effort have made their case so I will vote no.
King County Alternative Proposed Charter Amendments 1A and 1B – Question 2 – 1B
What: Option 1A would reduce the council to 9 members immediately. Option 1B would take several years to implement the reduction and would also reduce the size of some associated regional committees.
Why: Near as I can tell the current council is playing games. Option 1B would make the transfer to the new system take longer so there would be more time to figure out what the new districts should look like but the kicker is the addition of reducing regional committee sizes. The reason for the kicker, as near as I can tell, is that it makes the proposal do two things instead of one. The State Supreme Court has previously ruled that initiatives must only do one thing, this is what was used to strike down Eyman's (who is one of the sponsors of 1A) reduced car tabs initiatives after it was passed. It looks like 1B is a poison pill meant to kill the whole effort in case enough people vote for Question 1 in the affirmative. If this change must occur then I like the idea of taking extra time to do it and if the whole thing gets struck down that's fine with me as well. So 1B it is.
King County Advisory Measure No. 1 – NO
What: Should votes advise (e.g. not legally binding) the King County Council that they should put an initiative on the 2005 ballot to create a locally funded effort to improve local transportation including replacing the 520 bridge, the Alaskan Way Viaduct and extending light rail to SeaTac and the U. District?
Why: There are many reasons Marina and I think of leaving Seattle and after the lousy weather and the insane house prices comes the traffic. I've lived here for nearly eight years and traffic just gets worse. But this advisory measure doesn't really say anything. It just asks 'should we do something'? Yes, you should. It's your job. Furthermore the measure says nothing to demonstrate why more money is needed then what is already available. Near as I can tell this measure is meant as a Cover Your Rear action to give the council some coverage when it tries to ram down our throats a massive tax increase to pay for huge new transportation boondoggles (gee, aren't I positive? Live in King County long enough and you'll think I'm being optimistic). Until the whole facts are presented I'm voting NO.
King County Advisory Measure No. 2 – NO VOTE
What: If the transportation plan discussed in measure no 1 is presented how should it be paid for?
Why: Because there is 'none of the above' option this question is the moral equivalent of asking "How often do you beat your spouse? 1, 2 or 3 times a day?" I have yet to see proof that existing revenues, if properly managed and spent, couldn't provide for the transportation improvements we so desperately need. Until that proof is forthcoming I won't be choosing any of the proffered options. So I will skip voting for this measure. Keep in mind that the measure is advisory anyway.
City of Seattle Initiative No. 83 – NO
What: Deny the monorail the right to build on city property effectively killing monorail in Seattle.
Why: This is a rather nasty bit of legislation. To get the monorail killed completely a fairly complex legal process and a much higher threshold of signatures to get on the ballot is needed. This initiative takes an end run which requires less process and signatures but can't really kill the monorail, specifically, it can't remove the Seattle Monorail Project's (SMP) ability to collect taxes. So the SMP will build up a big fund but can't spend it. I wish the Monorail wasn't being built and I voted against it last time around but this isn't the right way to kill the monorail. I'll be voting no.