About this blog

My name is Bill Hirt and I'm a candidate to be a Representative from the 48th district in the Washington State legislature. My candidacy stems from concern the legislature is not properly overseeing the WSDOT and Sound Transit East Link light rail program. I believe East Link will be a disaster for the entire eastside. ST will spend 5-6 billion on a transportation project that will increase, not decrease cross-lake congestion, violates federal environmental laws, devastates a beautiful part of residential Bellevue, creates havoc in Bellevue's central business district, and does absolutely nothing to alleviate congestion on 1-90 and 405. The only winners with East Link are the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and their labor unions.

This blog is an attempt to get more public awareness of these concerns. Many of the articles are from 3 years of failed efforts to persuade the Bellevue City Council, King County Council, east side legislators, media, and other organizations to stop this debacle. I have no illusions about being elected. My hope is voters from throughout the east side will read of my candidacy and visit this Web site. If they don't find them persuasive I know at least I tried.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sound Transit Car Tab Tax Mendacity

The July 12th Seattle Times B1 page “Traffic Lab” article, “Eyman initiative would toss Sound Transit car tab tax” should be welcome news for the entire area.   A Joel Connelly June 8th Seattle PI article included the following:

        A survey by Moore Information, the venerable Portland-based polling firm with Republican and business clients, shows that ST3 would get only 37 percent support were voters given a do-over.

The survey results “suggest” large numbers of voters would respond favorably to the initiative.  Eyman is certainly correct to raise the question,

“Now that you know how much these car tabs are going to cost, do you think this is fair?”

Those opposed to the car tab costs surely have a reason to do so.  Presumably many were likely persuaded to approve ST3 by a Sound Transit 7/8/2016 post entitled: “ST3 plan would cost typical adult $169 annually or $14 per month”.

It included the following:

Here’s how much a typical adult would pay if ST3 is approved:
An adult owning the median value motor vehicle would pay an additional $43 per year in MVET if ST3 were passed. The updated calculation reflects an annual median value $5,333 of vehicles in the Sound Transit District. MVET taxes are determined by a state of Washington depreciation schedule for a specific vehicle’s model and production year. The previous calculation relied on a less representative average vehicle value of $10,135 for the more expansive tri-county area, for a significantly higher annual cost of $78 per adult. 

Thus it was Sound Transit who provided the MVET tax for ST3 that “misled” voters.  Yet Sound Transit's responce to voter complaints, an April 2017 post headlined “Sound Transit 3 car tab rollback threatens light rail to Everett”, included the following:

During the campaign, Sound Transit was completely transparent about the taxes. We all knew that our car tabs would increase a lot in 2017 to help fund Sound Transit. So when the first invoices arrived, the vast majority of people just paid their tabs. But a vocal minority, with big tabs from expensive cars, took their displeasure to Olympia, hoping that the Legislature would listen to their stories and disregard the will of the people.

A May 12th KOMONews.com article “State senators claim Sound Transit misled public about ST3 project impact and cost” also raised the issue:

Now, State Senators Steve O'Ban and Dino Rossi are calling for a special investigation into Sound Transit saying in a statement: "We are concerned about whether sound transit is engaged in a systematic effort to confuse and misrepresent the impact and cost of the Sound Transit authorization to legislators and the public."

It generated the following response from the Sound Transit Director of Media Relations and Public Information Communications & External Affairs, Geoff Patrick:

Sound Transit's interactions with the legislature and all of the extensive public materials related to the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure included clear and accurate information.   That the legislative language allowing regional voters to consider the Sound Transit 3 measure was extensively debated and covered by news media.

The “inconsistency” between what Sound Transit told voters before the vote and what they claimed they told them after the vote should be no surprise to blog viewers.   They sold East Link to voters with their DEIS claim it could double I-90 bridge transit capacity.  After Prop 1 was approved they conceded in their East Link extension website it was limited to one 4-car train every 8 minutes with about half current peak transit capacity.

What’s unique about their car tab tax mendacity is the Sound Transit 3 Tax Calculator used in the 7/8/16 post no longer exists.  Those looking for their ST3tax.com website for “How much tax per year will you pay for Sound Transit if ST3 passes” will instead find its available to buy. 

The website was valued at $1385, however their have been no offers or bids.   Anyone “interested” will have to act pretty quickly since the 1-year auction ends 7/20/17 at 12:17 PM (PDT).   Apparently Sound Transit decided they wanted to close the website very soon after their 7/8/16 post about the “reduced” car tab tax.  Their "likely" objective being after lying about what car tabs would cost, they wanted to be able to "lie about lying".

What’s “unfortunate” is the Seattle Times apparent inability to recognize Sound Transit mendacity.  The July 13 2016 edition “Traffic Lab” article “Here’s what you’d pay to build a bigger Sound Transit network” essentially parroted Sound Transit July 8th post.

Sound Transit itself made an important discovery while revising its estimates last week. After it initially projected an average car value of $10,135 in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, further research found the median value was only $5,333. In other words, a minority of people own new or luxury cars that drive up the average, while the masses own older wheels.

They surely were either aware of, or should have been aware of, the "insistency" between Sound Transit tab cost estimates before the ST3 vote and what they had said afterwards.  Yet their July 12th article concerning the Eyman initiative makes no mention of their mendacity concerning car tab taxes.  Their  “neglecting” to do so exemplifies their "Traffic Lab" failure to alert the area about the debacle awaiting the area from Sound Transit Prop 1 and beyond light rail extensions.

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