Last week, the Office of Financial Management (OFM) released its analysis of the fiscal impact of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976, finding that more than $4 billion in bipartisan and voter-approved transportation investments would be wiped out by the initiative, gutting projects and services at the state, regional, and local levels.
Seattle Times reporter Heidi Groover was tasked with writing a story about the fiscal impact statement and did an excellent job summarizing the fiscal impacts and getting reaction from both sides — the no camp and Tim Eyman, the disgraced initiative promoter who is the author and chief proponent of I‑976.
KIRO’s resident bloviator Dori Monson — who is one of Eyman’s staunchest allies and loathes Sound Transit with a passion — took notice of Groover’s reporting over the weekend, which appeared above-the-fold in Saturday’s print edition of The Seattle Times. The seemingly always grumpy Monson trashed Groover’s story at length on his show today, impugning it as “slanted” and not “balanced”.
“I don’t like to criticize The Seattle Times,” Monson began, before proceeding to do exactly that. He seemed particularly offended that I was quoted in the story.
“They quote a far left group — Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, which opposes the initiative — [who said] ‘The numbers are pretty devastating.’ Why do they never call me? Dori Monson, local talk show host, says the numbers are fantastic for taxpayers.”
Yo, Dori! I know how much you hate Sound Transit, dislike NPI’s work, and want this destructive Eyman measure to pass. But that’s no reason to attack Heidi Groover’s reporting. There was nothing wrong with Heidi’s story. It was factual. It was balanced. It captured the reaction of both sides — your side and our side.
What you really seem to be upset about is that the story wasn’t slanted in favor of your side like a segment on your show would be, or a Tim Eyman email would be.
This is a newspaper story about a statewide initiative’s fiscal impact statement. Appropriately, the story’s lede concerns what we collectively stand to lose as a society of more than seven million people if the initiative is implemented, as opposed to inappropriately repeating Eyman’s tired, very worn sales pitch.
It would be wrong if the story was written from your point of view. As you yourself conceded during your rant, you’re a commentator. You have a bias, which is continuously reflected in your dreary, unpleasant monologues.
We, the people, are the government of Washington State, and we deserve to know what the cost and consequences of an initiative like I‑976 are before we cast our vote. That is why the law requires OFM to prepare fiscal impact statements.
The release of the fiscal impact statement was an important event in the battle for and against I‑976. Recognizing this, The Seattle Times chose it for an installment of their ongoing Traffic Lab series, which is always worth reading.
Heidi Groover landed the assignment of writing the story. She did a good job putting it together. Your criticisms, Dori, are without foundation.
Eyman is quoted three times in the story, which alternates between presenting the opposition perspective’s, his side’s perspective, and the perspective of the people who are overseeing the work that the imperiled funding pays for.
Additionally, in the online version of the story, there are plenty of hyperlinks for context, so anyone can read further on the subject if they want.
This story is unquestionably solid journalism. It’s not the kind of piece I would write; I’m an advocacy journalist. But it is what I want and expect as a Seattle Times subscriber who depends on the work of our region’s biggest newsroom.
Oh, and by the way, Dori, I said the numbers in the fiscal impact statement were devastating because they are devastating. Implementation of I‑976 would not just mean that Sound Transit’s Phase III expansion would be jeopardized.
This measure also threatens Amtrak Cascades, the delivery of new ferries, essential freight mobility projects, the State Patrol, Seattle-funded King Country Metro bus service, and local roads in sixty cities across Washington State.
You’re so blinded by your hate of Sound Transit and your opposition to paying vehicle fees that you haven’t really given this initiative much thought.
Have you even read the initiative? Or the fiscal impact statement?
I have. I went and connected the dots. For each section of I‑976, my team and I analyzed not only where the money is coming from, but where it’s going.
The money raised by vehicle fees is going to things we need. Sidewalks. Police protection. The ability to get off one of our beautiful islands and reach the mainland, or vice versa. The filling of potholes. The resurfacing of decrepit, bumpy roads. Intercity train service that provides an alternative to clogged highways.
And yes… expansion of mass transit here in the Puget Sound region. Which you don’t want, but which voters here have repeatedly voted for.
Why don’t you and Tim Eyman respect the will of the voters, Dori?
And why aren’t you listening to the captains of industry that have warned that this initiative would be very harmful to Washington’s business climate?
Businesses throughout Washington oppose I‑976 because they know it’s a threat to Washington’s future. Even the reliably anti-tax Association of Washington Business has come out in opposition to I‑976. They understand that cutting $4 billion in bipartisan, voter approved transportation investments is utter foolishness that will injure Washington’s business climate and cost us good paying jobs.
At NPI, we believe we all do better when we all do better. We emphatically support pooling our resources through taxes to build the infrastructure and create the essential services that businesses and households need to thrive.
Unfortunately, you, Dori, do not share our cherished Pacific Northwest values. Instead, you and Tim Eyman represent the vices of greed and selfishness.
That’s the kind of thinking we need to reject by voting NO on I‑976.