The Washington State Senate Republican caucus today unveiled a list of dates and locations for the transportation “listening tour” they’ve been promising to hold since the end of the contentious legislative session back at the beginning of the summer. The “tour” will consist of seven public meetings – one each in Bellevue, Vancouver, Tacoma, Spokane, Yakima, Wenatchee, and Everett:
- September 17th – Seattle/Bellevue (Northwest Region): Stevenson Elementary School, 14220 NE 8th St., Bellevue, WA 98007
- September 18th – Everett (Northwest Region): Snohomish County, Robert Drewel Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., 1st floor, Everett, WA 98201
- September 23rd – Wenatchee (North Central Region): Chelan County PUD Auditorium, 327 N Wenatchee Ave, Wenatchee, WA 98801
- September 24th – Yakima (South Central Region): Yakima Area Arboretum, Garden View Rm., 1401 Arboretum Dr., Yakima, WA 98901
- October 2nd – Spokane (Eastern Region): Greater Spokane Inc., 801 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201
- October 7th – Vancouver (Southwest Region): Vancouver Community Library, Columbia Room, 901 C St., Vancouver, WA 98660
- October 9th – Tacoma (Olympic Region): Evergreen Tacoma Campus, Lyceum Hall, 1210 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98405
No stop is planned for Seattle, the state’s largest city, although bizarrely, the Bellevue stop is listed on the Senate Republicans’ website as “Seattle/Bellevue”, as you can see above. This is misleading, because Stevenson Elementary School is just down the road from Crossroads in the eastern part of Bellevue.
The school is closer to Redmond or Kirkland than Seattle, yet it’s being advertised as the “Seattle/Bellevue” meeting location. Huh? “King County” would have been accurate. But it seems as though the Republicans are trying to cover for the fact that they didn’t bother to schedule a meeting in Seattle proper.
Nice try, guys, but that won’t do.
The Emerald City, Washington’s largest municipality, is bigger than Spokane, Tacoma, and Vancouver combined… so why doesn’t it have its own stop?
Maybe it’s because, as we saw during the session, Republicans seem to have nothing but contempt for Seattle. From their anti-Emerald City rhetoric to their sponsorship of bills aimed at overturning the city’s pro-worker ordinances to their failure to provide King County with the authority to raise revenue for Metro, they’ve done their best to stiff Washington’s largest city.
The Republicans claim that the meeting locations correspond to the Department of Transportation’s six regions. While that may be the case, they could have done a better job of picking meeting places (or scheduled more meetings).
Notice that three of the meeting locations are in fairly close proximity to each other on the mainland. This is where the majority of the state’s population lives, but because no other meetings are scheduled for the northwestern part of the state, it means any Washingtonians who live on the Olympic Peninsula, Kitsap Peninsula, or any of the state’s major islands – Vashon, Bainbridge, Whidbey, the San Juans – will need to pay a toll or ferry fare to participate in the “listening tour”.
(Either that, or do a lot of driving to cross a bridge that isn’t tolled).
Transportation is a major issue for Washingtonians who live in ferry-dependent communities, which leads us to wonder: Why wasn’t a meeting scheduled in, say, Bremerton, Port Townsend, Friday Harbor, or Anacortes?
And what about people in southwest or southeastern Washington who don’t live near Vancouver or Yakima? There’s no meeting being held at a location within reasonable driving distance for many Washingtonians. Was any thought given to scheduling meetings in Bellingham, Aberdeen, Pullman, or the Tri-Cities?
We also wonder whether this “listening tour” will live up to its name. The NPI team are political town hall veterans, and we know from experience that politicians tend to dominate town hall-style public meetings and do most of the talking.
It would be something if Republicans actually did open up the floor for public comment from the get-go, and put the focus of the meetings on the testimony, as opposed espousing to their own views.