Mayor Ed Murray’s frosty reception to a Seattle-only ballot initiative to staunch gaping cuts to Metro bus service is at least partially due to the enthusiastic support the measure received from the man he engaged in an ofttimes mean-spirited campaign last year, Mike McGinn. Indeed, their mutual animosity persists.
“I think Murray is feeling threatened right now,” Ben Schiendelman, who is leading the Keep Seattle Moving campaign, told Seattle Weekly today. “He’s put himself in a box, because he has dropped the ball on this, and then McGinn comes out in support.”
Keep Seattle Moving is seeking to collect 20,000 legitimate voter signature by June 4 to put Initiative 118 on the fall ballot. If passed, property taxes would rise by $0.22 per $1,000 of assessed value to pay for bus routes, mostly in the city of Seattle.
Schiendleman, with McGinn at his side, unfurled the “Seattle-only” plan on April 23, the day after King County voters shouted down Proposition 1, a tax package that could have saved Metro from 550,000 hours’ worth of service cuts – or 16 percent of all bus service. It has put more than 150 bus routes in jeopardy. Cuts begin in September.
The ill-fated initiative, damned mainly because of its reliance on a $60 car tab fee, passed in the city, but was overwhelmingly spurned on the Eastside and South King County.
Murray has essentially offered no bus rescue plan of his own, though he’s hinted that he’d prefer that Seattle not go this alone – that the county be involved, perhaps in formulating another countywide referendum.
The mayor’s spokeswoman Megan Coopersmith told us earlier today that the mayor’s office “is working on a proposal which we hope to share with the public next week.” She said she did not have any details of what might be unveiled.
Meanwhile, eight state legislators have rallied behind the Seattle plan, which has plainly not pleased the mayor. In fact, one of the eight, State Sen. Adam Kline (D-Seattle) withdrew his support after getting a call from Murray the other night, The Stranger has reported.
“He pointed out that they wanted flexibility and I’m more than happy to give it to them,” Kline told the paper.
Schiendelman said Murray has few options in terms of raising the bucks to restore bus routes and service hours, save for perhaps doubling commuter parking taxes from 12.5 cents to 25 cents, hiking the sales tax by 0.2 percent, enacting an $80 car tab fee on Seattle car owners, or slightly increasing property taxes.
The I-118 advocate added that Murray has had no contact with him or fellow Keep Seattle Moving supporters. “He went before a Cascade Club breakfast the other day – and without reaching out to us – and said he didn’t want to pit different things against each other,” Schiendelman said. “He implied that if this went on the ballot, it would hurt his universal pre-kindergarten initiative.”