Legal challenge to Move Seattle goes down in flames

logoIn case you were wondering if there would be a campaign to fight the bold Move Seattle transportation levy, of course there is. And their first major showing this week has gone down in flames as quickly as it started.

The campaign tried to challenge the ballot language in court because they didn’t think the levy to replace the Bridging the Gap levy should be called a “replacement.” Not only was their argument questionable, but they also filed it too late.

The challenge first reported Monday was dead by Thursday. Spokesperson Eugene Wasserman blamed their lawyer (if Wasserman hired that lawyer for his fight to stop the Missing Link, maybe the trail would be completed by now!).

Let’s Move Seattle, the campaign to pass the measure, celebrated the prompt demise of the challenge in a statement:

The Let’s Move Seattle levy is a replacement for the expiring Bridging the Gap levy, and ‘would fund bridge seismic upgrades, transit corridor and light rail access projects, pedestrian and bicycle safety projects, new sidewalk installation and maintenance, synchronized traffic signals, street maintenance and repair, freight projects and neighborhood street projects,’ exactly as the ballot language states.

The opposition campaign is funded by anti-tax conservative Faye Garneau, a Tim Eyman financial supporter who previously fought the successful Bridging the Gap levy nine years ago and the failed $60 car tabs transportation package in 2011. And she isn’t fighting Move Seattle because of any specific details within the plan. She is against all transportation funding efforts, as the Seattle Times reported in this 2013 profile:

In 2011, she worked to defeat a $60 car-tab fee for the same reason she opposed the $365 million Bridging the Gap transportation levy. Maintaining roads is a basic function of government that shouldn’t require additional taxes.

“They get enough tax money as it is. They’re supposed to prioritize,” Garneau said.

That sounds nice, but it’s also a conservative dream. In reality, we need to invest in transportation if we want things to get better. And Move Seattle is a bold package filled with smart improvements.

The opposition campaign is operating under the name Keep Seattle Affordable, which is not to be confused with efforts to actually find solutions for affordable housing. In fact, the so-called Keep Seattle Affordable website even preemptively argues against the likely 2016 Seattle Housing Levy, calling it a “looming” tax in an attempt to scare up anti-tax sentiment:

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 9.09.50 AMLet’s be clear: Slashing funding for transportation — especially for congestion reduction investments in transit, biking and walking — will not help Seattle remain affordable. Sitting in traffic is an expensive waste of time, and that’s if you can even afford a car, insurance, parking, etc.

Here’s just a few ways Move Seattle is good for affordability:

  • Liberating transit from traffic jams and connecting more homes to more jobs is vital for creating an affordable Seattle.
  • Making streets safer so people are able to walk and bike around their neighborhoods is a huge boost to the family budget, because walking is free and biking is almost free.
  • Move Seattle focuses Safe Routes to School funding on low-income schools, giving working families a low-cost and healthy option for getting their kids to school in the morning.
  • Investing in accessibility improvements like curb ramps and tactile sidewalk guides allows people with mobility challenges to travel to more jobs and businesses at their own speed and using whatever mobility aids they need. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also saves people money.
  • Investing in road and bridge repairs is more cost-effective than allowing them to deteriorate and fail over time. California estimates that $1 spent repairing a road before it fails saves $8 – $16 needed to reconstruct a failed road.
  • Our infrastructure is not earthquake-ready. We have bridges that need seismic work or replacing, like the Fairview Ave bridge near Eastlake that is still supporter by old timber. Move Seattle would replace it. Collapse in a disaster is not a fiscally sound strategy.

But anti-tax sentiment is always very difficult to overcome, so the anti-Move Seattle campaign is probably going to be strong. That’s why you should get involved with the Let’s Move Seattle campaign to help get out the votes needed to fund safer and more efficient streets and transit for everyone.

A meeting August 26 will give you an idea of what help the campaign needs and how you can get plugged in. If you can’t make that meeting, you can also get connected on the Let’s Move Seattle website.

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