Mass Transit in Seattle: The Greatest Example in Modern Times of Government Corruption

Many transit systems in the US are born out of the same weird “conglomerate” government approach.

Without getting into the same legal drivel they would like to hide behind, the basic idea is as follows:  municipal governments in a concentrated area reach a conclusion that mass transit is something they need to pursue together.  In order do that, they need plans, operations, and administration that is centralized.  But, local governments, when merely sharing a land border, have many different laws and governance between each other, how do they streamline efforts so they are not affected by a litany of differences?  In comes the idea of quasi-government:  Local governments sign agreements to financially support a centralized body that is not governed by them directly, and is not elected by citizens.  Instead, they appoint people to the board of this organization, and their job is to formulate the organization.

Now, the idea of centralizing such an effort makes sense.  It’s most efficient, makes the mission specific, and of course, unburdens their government  bodies from more layers of bureaucracy.

There is a couple of serious problems with this:  the main point is that this is an organization that acts like a government, by proposing and lobbying for taxes, and because they are the chosen experts in their field, it’s hard for the governments they lobby for tax funding to argue with their logic.  But even beyond this simple conundrum, there’s the issue of taxpayers not being able to scrutinize those that are controlling their tax dollars, their infrastructure, and their potentially their lifestyle.

This is wrong.  Our Constitution says it’s wrong (Taxation without Representation), all State’s have laws, or their own constitutions that outlaw the practice, and yet this idea of public mass transit becoming a sort-of/kind-of government agency, with no real oversight is being born around the country, because it fixes jurisdictional issues, centralizes services, and makes the project actually ‘work,’ when evaluating results.

Washington, DC, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the State of Maryland have done this with Metro.  The entire Dallas Metroplex has done it with DART.  San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda, San Jose, and every other city in the Bay Area did it with BART.

These highly regional models work in areas where they answer highly regional problems.  Congestion, a lack of land to re-work to efficiency, and layers of planning, that complicate land use.

But where sea and air ports are controlled by State agencies, somehow no one thought that public transit on a mass scale should also be a State issue.

Some would say that the highly concentrated areas of population represent a certain set of problems the rest of the State doesn’t have, and that they shouldn’t be laying the same burden down.  Logically it makes sense.  If the ranch land doesn’t need a train, why should pay for one?

However, what is happening with Sound Transit hits on a whole new level.  They are arguing for State taxes, and city taxes, and county taxes, and on it goes.  They can’t get what they want in this jurisdiction, so they find it somewhere else.  Cost overruns, meh the tax payers will bank roll it.  If that’s not enough, they absolutely do not take no for an answer.

Recently, it came to light that Sound Transit willingly misled the Washington State Senate, on a tax bill that authorized $15 billion to be earmarked for Sound Transit.  What they didn’t discuss in the bill, and what was not clear, was that Sound Transit had not put an expiration date on the tax bill.  So, when time came to close down the funding, they argued there was no expiration, and ended up collecting $54 billion.

This would literally be criminal, for any other entity to deceive government in this manner, and yet, no charges have been filed.  Why is the State government being taken to task by a regional government?  This would literally not happen in any other relationship, and yet, when we look at history, public transportation organizations, like Sound Transit, use language as a weapon when going after tax funding.  They are their own maker, and thus, have a duty to protect themselves.  If they appropriately positioned in State government, we know this wouldn’t happen, because they would have a chain of command to explain themselves, or their funding could be halted immediately.

The fact is that quasi-government doesn’t work, and that’s why our forefathers outlawed it.  They faced similar groups in their day, but they were known as something else, “tax collectors.”

That’s not to say that tax collection is wrong, because it’s not.  However, the tax collectors they dealt with were people empowered to extort money out of common people, keeping a percentage for themselves, and passing the rest on to the King.

This is the problem with quasi-government.  No matter how it’s structured, no matter how it’s “monitored,” it will always find a way around, for it’s own version of survival.

Mass transit is a needed function in our society – it should be housed directly in State government.

Friday Night Opinion: Gun Control is Not as Easy as You’re Being Told

The absolute terrible events that occurred in Las Vegas have perpetuated a very touchy, and stale, argument that carries on in the halls of Congress.  They also carry on in the halls of State and local governments, particularly government regulatory agencies .

Last year, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, of King County Public Health made an impassioned argument that local government should add their own gun controls since Congress has been less enforcement-oriented then the numbers he deals with in the Greater Seattle area suggest; he claimed that the numbers of gun deaths surpass those deaths attributed to traffic collisions in King County, and then argued that nationally and locally lots was done to curb traffic deaths, which is still the in the top five of causes of death nationally, still surpassing gun-related deaths on that scale.

From a local perspective, it would make sense that this argument would come forth; in that we look at the biggest causes of death locally, and act to limit, or hopefully eliminate those causes.

Here is the major problem to this ‘local’ argument: Dr. Duchin highlight, but failed to go into detail, that those gun deaths he was talking about, included suicide, which attributed two-thirds of that total.  If you remove suicide from this gun death total, the number of gun deaths in King County are far below those caused by traffic collisions.  Here is why that matters:  No one in King County, as of today, has killed themselves in a traffic collision as a means to commit suicide.

Yes, suicide is terrible.  We know that suicide is in someway related to crisis, acute, or even long-term mental illness suffered by the person committing it.  Mental illness remains to be a serious problem in our society, from local to national levels, that needs to be addressed.

However, enacting public health ordinances, regulation, or similar structures ‘to combat gun deaths’ is a rather sophomoric response to the all too serious state of mental illness in our country, and speaks to agenda, rather than real solution building.

Believe it or not, the NRA has requested democrats to get serious about mental health checks being tied to background checks for firearms purchases.  The problem is that democrats routinely won’t agree, because the proposed legislation would also loosen restrictions on what sane people can buy.  The NRA is not asking for citizens to have the right to buy automatic firearms, or more serious military-grade weaponry.  Instead, the NRA has been since this issue of mental illness and firearms first came up nationally in the mid-90’s, that those that pass the instant background checks provided by the FBI needs to be given greater latitude to access rights through ATF regulated firearms rights, and to remove antiquated bans from legislative efforts permanently, especially those involving media-induced fabrications about certain firearms and accessories.

Gun control measures are not as easy as you’re told they will be, because those that are proposed are rarely based on logic and thought of the problem.  Democrats would rather placate the mentally ill, and allow them to interact in life unchecked by professionals, than actually tackle neurosis that threaten neighbors, families, and innocent bystanders.  Mental illness treatment however, even in it’s smallest form, can have a much greater impact than any gun control effort ever could.  And yet, efforts to address mental illness are continually thumbed down, not just by Congress, but local leaders who continue to claim they don’t have enough resources to enact them.

Democrats, including Dr. Duchin, don’t want to give up the “tool” of gun control tactics for their efforts.  They would rather work citizens into a hot lather about how this one accessory, or this one gun is the problem, and that banning it can save the day.  One need look no further than Chicago to see that bans don’t work.

And whether we like it or not, people like Dontray Mills, who admitted to perpetrating gang violence through illegal gun purchases, who get a reduced plea agreement that leads to no jail time, make it clear that those who actually perpetrate gun violence visited upon others are not getting the justice they so rightly deserve.  Instead, we have democrats who make a mockery of mental illness, cloaked in their government and medical credentials as some sort of expert, but then use the pain of those who don’t receive resources they actually need as a reason to stop everyone else from owning a firearm.  We don’t call it political grandstanding because in our eyes, they’re an appointed “expert,” but they are simply a politician who isn’t subject to election.  A local-level cabinet members expanding an agenda through a filtering of statistics and data.  It’s not a service to the citizens, it’s a weak attempt at shaping discussion and outcomes.  You should be outraged at the level of patronizing that goes on from offices such as those occupied by Dr. Duchin.

To sum it up: it’s a disgusting, dystopian take on life and pursuit of liberty.  It’s unfortunate that this particular issue does split along party lines, because I’ve yet to run into anyone who denies the need for mental health treatment to be expanded when needs are identified, but no one with temporary power will accept that, and in turn accept that law abiding citizens can own firearms without incident.

And if we look a smaller community, like Grays Harbor County, also in Washington State, we see that causes of death attributed to gun violence in Table C1 and C2 are well below the top ten threshold.  It stands to reason how a county with a more isolated  population with less resources is able to report these numbers, and King County sees an increase.  Guns aren’t the problem.  The high-stress that comes with trying to sustain a life in Seattle and King County are to blame.  More people in King County find the need to escape their reality through drug and alcohol abuse, sex addictions, and number of other behaviors that increase mortality risk.  To be fair, these are behaviors we see everywhere in the country, it’s not exclusive to King County.  However, they are increasing in King County, and the reason is that the government in place is making it tougher and tougher for ‘regular joe’ citizens to succeed personally.  Surely, they are not intending this, but it is a consequence of overreach and draconian thinking that was originally banned from the US-lexicon.

Whether Dr. Duchin and people like him realize it, regulations aren’t going to stop people from committing suicide: help is.  Actual help for those people in those situations.  The type of help that defrays stress and pressure on individuals, so they can dream, and work, and fail, and succeed.

One last thing to consider:  Washington State has legalized assisted suicide, making it possible for terminally ill people to seek help in ending their own lives, when they feel they can no longer take the pain of living in their condition.  If this is the ideal that Washington State wants to live by, why attempt to criminalize suicide by other means?  Has no one considered that those who are suffering mental crisis are too in pain?

For such a “progressive” outlook, it certainly seems short-sighted.  If you live in King County, you need to be asking that if such a high tax rate is necessary, why are those funds not being directed towards true mental health resources that provide results.  Because if you visit King County Public Health’s website, you’ll find they are thick on studies and research, and thin on direct efforts.  Maybe if Dr. Duchin spent more time in the field, working to expand mental treatment for the wide array of people in need, and empowering County Designated Mental Health Practitioners with multiple methods of addressing mental crisis, rather than solely three day involuntary hospital stays, instead of writing position papers, we’d have a government that was achieving an end to some problems, rather than tracking increases, with little to show for the effort.

If you know of someone contemplating suicide, please give them the following: 1-800-273-8255.  And continue to check in with them, you make actually be the difference in their world.

Friday Night Opinion: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Must Resign

I know most people are living in or near Seattle.  Mathematics and statistical distribution says it’s not possible.

But I must comment on one of the worst scandal-not scandal’s I’ve seen in some time.

Ed Murray is the embattled Mayor of Seattle.  The reason he is embattled is because it has come to light that his adult past may not be as “clean” as we’d all expect of a mayor.

First, some men that are younger than Mr. Murray came forward alleging that when they were teens, he paid to have sex with them by offering them drugs as well as cash.  Allegations like these never look good in public, but I would agree that these allegations alone are not a reason to resign.

But, those allegations started gaining traction in the form of court hearings.  Murray, continuing to run for re-election, boldly said that these allegations were part of a “right-wing conspiracy” aimed to take him down.

And that’s the point that I had to raise an eyebrow about his involvement in these alleged past discretions.

If you know anything about Seattle politics, they haven’t had a conservative, or “right-wing” anything in the city since James Braman, who last served as mayor in 1969.  Since then it’s been an onslaught of progressively aggressive left-wing ideologues, with Murray being the most recent iteration of that group.

Murray, along with support of the majority of current Seattle City Council, has ushered in the left’s economic scourge of raising minimum wage to $15.00 an hour.  They’ve made a mess (yet again) of both the drug and homeless problems in the city, they’ve gone after property owners in Seattle, who in their opinion, are charging too much for rent for certain apartments – going so far as naming a law after a landlord which is prompting a legitimate lawsuit, and the final piece of Murray’s tenure, instilling an income tax against what his council has defined as the “wealthy” of Seattle.  In case you’re not catching the theme, these are all examples of major pillars of the far left argument concerning their version of economics, which is suppose to place the common person first, ahead of those that are high earners and innovators.

And for those that are further perplexed, here’s the straight dope:  These kinds of moves within any government, can’t be accomplished by the first group in support of them that has achieved a majority of office.  It takes years, upon years, upon years to get the right kind of momentum going.  Usually, somewhere between 40 and 50, and we’re at 48 years of progressive liberalism in Seattle.

There certainly are conservatives in Seattle and Washington State, but to think that they could organize such an effort to take down an openly gay mayor is comic relief at it’s finest.

The fact that Murray uses that reasoning for these allegations only helps solidify them.  Though it will take a court to sort the mess out.

But, if that wasn’t enough, more problems with Murray’s past came to light, to include a very damning report from his life in Oregon, where he had adopted a child.  In the report, the investigator who was looking into accusations of child abuse, made clear statements that the adopted child Murray had should have been removed from the home by the State of Oregon, and there was a strong likelihood of both physical and sexual abuse occurring in the home.

It’s this revelation of fact that causes me to put my foot down and state loudly that Ed Murray must resign.  He’s argued that he won’t leave office, because it would cause more problems, with a power vacuum occurring within the council.

The main problem with this, whether the media mentions it or not, is that Murray is failing to respect the desires of the citizens of Seattle.  Despite politics, despite ideals, no citizen in any citizen wants a child abuser as a mayor, nor should they have to accept that.  Murray effectively makes the argument that citizens don’t care enough about their own city to work to remove him, which is essentially the only option, since it is clear the council is not going to take action to remove him.  These issues with Murray started to break publicly around February of this year.  It’s August now, and the council has verbally said they’d like him to leave, but they’ve done nothing to remove him, which they have some power in.  But more to the point, if they truly stood for children’s rights, which they’ve invoked about four dozen times over the last five months, you’d think the first thing to do is begin removal proceedings.  There’s no legal grounds for Murray to sue, he serves at the pleasure of citizens, and there’s nothing in law that stops council members from energizing the cause.

And considering that Kshama Sawant, who is the biggest liability on the council, if you read the link news story, you would think this is a no-brainer for them to get started, since she stuck her nose in the business of the City of Seatac, which also had a push for a $15.00 an hour minimum wage.

But of course, while the council has strict rules on their members getting involved in other municipalities politics, they didn’t enforce it with Sawant then, which then allowed the politcally-motivated Seatac judge to dismiss the criminal charges on the worst legal grounds ever uttered in a court of law. 

And since it’s clear they’ll let a council member act criminally, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ll let a mayor, whether or not the statute of limitations has been reached.  But this is why the citizens of Seattle need to take this effort on.  Because until they do signal their supreme interest in having ethical leadership, this kind of terrible circumstance is going to continue to visit this fair city multiple times.

On a side note, this might be the reason that voting down party lines is a bad idea.  It gives people the chance to fast-track themselves, despite their inability to maintain a proper life.  Of course, that idea can be used subjectively, but I think this example states it very well.  While there is no question that no one helped Murray do any of the despicable things he’s been accused of, or been found to have done, it is clear that due to a liberal-friendly media, a liberal-friendly citizenry, and delegates, advisers, business leaders, really a whole apparatus of political “clergy” who were friendly to a politician like Murray that has allowed him to serve as long as he has without anyone digging into his background.

It ought to be concerning to citizens that it took until May 2017 for the child abuse investigation to be made known, seeing as Murray has served in as a State Representative in Washington State for several terms before becoming mayor.  Those findings were made in the 80’s.  How was the press not capable of finding this out?

All the more reason for citizens to take over their own cause, which is the city, and forced Murray to resign, or face recall.