"Vindication won't help buses, ferries"
June 9, 2008 · Updated 2:54 PM
"Today's math challenge:If the Legislature meets in a special session for four weeks, at a cost to the public of $22,000 per day, how many $30 car tabs will it take to pay for the session?You can work that one out while our senators and representatives labor away in Olympia, trying to plug the $750 million hole in the state budget left by Initiative 695. Notwithstanding the thrashing the $30 car tab measure received in King County Superior Court this week - Judge Robert Alsdorf found it unconstitutional from top to bottom, including its mandate that all tax and fee hikes be subject to voter approval - the future of local mass transit is still very much in doubt.This (ruling) doesn't really help our ferry system, Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen lamented, as legislators fell all over themselves to codify the $30 license fee, even as they ran up a tab dealing with the massive budget shortfalls it caused.Certainly, no one's going to lament the demise of an unpopular and unfair licensing fee, but there is a way to fix the system, and misleading and destructive initiatives are not it. Alsdorf underscored that notion in the welcome civics lesson that opened his decision, in which he reminded us all of the difference between representative and direct democracy, and the constitutional balance they must maintain. We doubt that lesson made much of an impression on I-695 sponsor Tim Eyman, who responded to the decision Tuesday by throwing a tantrum in the courtroom- tearing up an I-695 sign and whining about the despicable ruling. Perhaps his folly hit home later in the week, as he filled his SUV at the pump and watched the price wheels spin at a record pace, while those buses that are still on the road sped past full of grateful riders. More likely, though, Eyman's still motoring alone along I-5, looking ahead to his next initiative and coveting the prospect of sliding into the HOV lane by himself.We say, it's long past time for someone with some claim to moral authority in this state - and we've given up on Gov. Gary Windsock Locke here - to stand up and denounce Eyman's knavery for what it is - a war against public transportation, against managed growth, against the conservation of resources, against the environment. It is predicated on the primacy of two myopic concepts - me and today. And it is portends an ugly future for this state.Yes, Judge Alsdorf's decision was logical and sound, grounded in law rather than the political caprice of the day. We are wholly confident that the state Supreme Court will agree when it weighs the decision later this year. And we are again pleased that 73 percent of Bainbridge Islanders saw through the I-695 smokescreen and opposed it.But make no mistake, the damage to ferry and bus service is done. Ferry runs will be cut back around the sound, and commuters, the poor and anyone else who relies on bus service to get around find themselves newly immobile. And in Olympia, they're working overtime to salvage what they can.Tip your hat to Eyman here, at least - the sneering frat boy pulled off the ultimate prank.We'll be cleaning up the mess for some time."