Employers should stop subsidizing free parking by employees

The Bellevue Planning Commission has recently suggested encouraging employers to stop subsidizing free parking by employees.   The intention is to incentivize people to  use public transportation and other alternatives to commuting by car.   The benefits would be clear: less traffic congestion, less pollution, and a more pleasant environment.

As expected, there’s a posting on nextdoor.com calling on Bellevue residents to stop the proposed plan.  The posting encourages reader to email council members and to express their opposition to the increased parking fees.

One person said that the proposed fees would be an economic hardship on working families.

Yes, the policy to charge for parking will hit everyone, but employers have the option of paying higher salaries. Also, that argument (“It will hit working families”) can be used to oppose almost any regulation that protects people via an economic incentives. Safety regulations on cars, planes, food, and a myriad of goods result in higher prices, but those higher prices are needed to reflect the hidden costs and external costs (e.g., pollution) from the goods and services.  Countries worldwide are moving towards green economies less dependent on fossil fuels.  Our lives and communities need to be reconfigured to reflect the necessary trade-offs.

A similar proposal in 2015 was scrapped because of concerns that drivers would park at malls and would disrupt local businesses.

Since heavy traffic is detrimental to our health and quality of life, it is indeed desirable to make incentives for people to use public transportation and other alternatives to cars. Google “air pollution health” and you’ll find many scary scientific articles about how bad auto pollution is to the lungs of people living near freeways. Do you like sitting in traffic and breathing toxic exhaust? Are you OK with making nearby residents and workers breathe it?

Bipartisan attack on ST3 funding threatens light-rail extensions

(April 20, 2017) — The Legislature is wrapped up in discussions about how to fund (or not fund) K-12 education. But if you look under the covers, you will see that these very same elected representatives and senators are intent on defunding Sound Transit 3. Instead of simply abiding by the voters’ approval of the tax increases necessary to fund mass transit in the Puget Sound area, they are engaging in a bipartisan attack on the election results.

Last November, we approved Sound Transit 3, with more than 54 percent support for the taxes necessary to build out our light rail system. To finance this, voters ratified Sound Transit’s financing plan, which increases property taxes by $25 per $100,000 in assessed value, hikes sales taxes by one half of one percent, and increases annual car-tab fees by about $80 for a vehicle valued at $10,000.

That money will enable Sound Transit to complete a 108-mile light rail network from Everett to Tacoma. By 2040, Sound Transit and its regional transit partners, including Community Transit, will carry more than 200 million passengers, with seven out of 10 trips made by rail, most of those by light rail. That is the key, because light rail is dependable, doesn’t get stuck in traffic, and takes you to where you want to go, or at least close by!

During the campaign, Sound Transit was completely transparent about the taxes. We all knew that our car tabs would increase a lot in 2017 to help fund Sound Transit. So when the first invoices arrived, the vast majority of people just paid their tabs. But a vocal minority, with big tabs from expensive cars, took their displeasure to Olympia, hoping that the Legislature would listen to their stories and disregard the will of the people.

Now we have a bipartisan attack on Sound Transit, with both Republicans and Democrats offering proposals for defunding.  The Republicans in the Senate are straightforward. One bill, sponsored by Sen. Dino Rossi (R-Sammamish), would allow cities and counties to opt out of all Sound Transit taxes. With this one bill, the Republicans enable any city to pull itself out of Sound Transit, regardless of how its citizens benefit. Free rides for all! This bill also appears to be a moneymaker for Tim Eyman, as it enables local initiatives to void all taxes paying for Sound Transit.

In this context, the Democrats’ proposal in the House of Representatives doesn’t look so bad. But it is not good. It, too, undermines the vote of the people last year and the financing necessary for building out Sound Transit.  Twenty Democrats in the House of Representatives endorsed the Sound Transit 3 ballot initiative. Now they are proposing to lower car tabs for motorists who have bought cars recently, and especially for those who have bought the most expensive cars. This is what is considered “providing fair tax relief for motorists.”

Do Democrats think they can win votes from the complainers who do not want to pay their car tabs for Sound Transit? The Democratic proposal does not roll back car tabs to where they were last year. So if you are going to complain, you will complain about your car tab increase whether it is $100 or $200 or $300.

One owner stated that he was billed three times as much as what he paid last year. His total bill was $406. Under the Democrats’ bill, it will be around $275. He won’t like that either.

But let’s stick with the law as approved by the voters. $406 sounds like a lot. Now consider his vehicle: a 2010 Range Rover, with a sticker price of more than $76,000. If he can afford a car that is valued at twice the total annual earnings of typical workers in our state, then he can afford his car tabs. They cost him $1.11 a day.

Under the Democrats’ bill, if passed, car tabs for this fellow would be 75 cents a day. He would save 36 cents a day and Sound Transit would lose 36 cents a day. That’s not much, but you add together all these reductions, and Sound Transit loses $780 million in car tab fees. This will result in a total loss of $2 billion over 25 years, a loss of 4 percent of the total budget for Sound Transit 3, worth about four miles of light rail track.

Perhaps the light rail to Everett would end at Paine Field. You could take a taxi to downtown!

 

Originally published at The Stand.

Report on Standing Rock

[Copied from my post on George Takei’s fb page. This needs to be shared and understood WIDELY, and edited to make readable paragraphs]

….Please forgive the long post. I camped at Standing Rock for three weeks, mid-August to the 9th of September.

A great deal about this situation isn’t being covered by the media. Even those who are well-meaning, like Mark Ruffalo, aren’t getting the following factual information out there. The conversation keeps sliding off into the suffering of the Lakota- another subject that deserves scrutiny- but the dangers of this pipeline need to be addressed- WHY THEY ARE FIGHTING.

I suspect the story would significantly shift if more Americans understood what is at stake. SO – hence the long post.

Bakken Crude is more corrosive than other crudes. It’s also much more radioactive, and higher in methane and propane as well as poisonous compounds.

When this crude first starts travelling through the substandard, cheap-out construction, it will begin eating away at the metal. As crude travels through a pipeline, it is heated by friction and pressure. Methane and propane expand when heated.

The scale [mineral deposits] that forms on the interior of the pipe will be highly radioactive- the kind of radiation that causes cancer in bone and blood.

So WHEN the pipeline leaks or breaks- as it has already done in the places where it’s operational- its million-gallons-an-hour of toxic, radioactive sludge will spill out into the environment, poisoning earth, air , and water [edit to add: and the cleanup efforts, such as they are, will be on the taxpayers, not the corporations].

The pipeline crosses more than 2000 lakes, streams, and rivers [the Missouri, twice], and is at the headwaters of the fourth largest watershed in the world- Seventeen MILLION people get their drinking water there, and the Oglala Aquifer- irrigation source for the Breadbasket of the World- is fed from the same source.

We’re talking about a disaster that will easily rival the Exxon Valdez- but at the center of the water supply for the entire central US. Meanwhile, the crude is going to be refined in Illinois and then SHIPPED OVERSEAS. It’s been documented.

Behind the fight is a nepotistic state government whose cash cow is being threatened by these pesky brown people, after they refused to put the pipeline in in Bismarck as IT COULD THREATEN THEIR WATER SUPPLY.

And the pipeline was originally going to go through Minnesota, but got fought down there [because their regulation system isn’t a JOKE]. /thanks, again, sorry for the longgg post.” ….

“…Additionally- and equally- no, MORE- important- the Lakota have a prophecy of a Black Snake that will come in the seventh generation to destroy the world, unless the people fight it.

This is- now- the seventh generation. The people there are there because they LITERALLY BELIEVE that they must fight this thing in order to SAVE THE WORLD.

This is a deeply spiritual fight for them. They are in continual prayer and spend all of their time walking in Spirit.

The reason more than 300 tribes have joined them- from all over the world, not just the US- and are building solidarity for future endeavors, thanks be to the Divine- is that the prophecy is well-known.

This is not a small thing. This is the biggest thing that has happened in a very long time, and it is the beginning of a fundamental shift in power.

Let's use I-732 (revenue-neutral carbon tax swap) to beat I-1366 (Eyman's 2/3 super-majority blackmail)

There’s a simple way to beat Tim Eyman and his initiative I-1366. At the same time we’ll help the environment, and, optionally, raise revenue to fund schools.  And we can even do it in a revenue-neutral way, thereby making it palatable to Republicans.

By way of background, recall that if I-1366 passes — and early returns suggest that it will — one of three things must happen.

  1. The legislature must put before Washington State voters a constitutional amendment requiring a 2/3 super-majority of legislators in both the state House and the state Senate (or a majority of voters) to approve any tax increase or reduction in tax breaks; or
  2. The state sales tax must be lowered from 6.5% to 5.5%; or
  3. The state Supreme Court will have to rule that I-1366 is unconstitutional.

But I say there’s a simple solution to this problem, even if the State Supreme Court fails to rule I-1366 to be unconstitutional.

Let’s go ahead and lower the sales tax 1% but at the same raise taxes on carbon, capital gains, and/or income to make up the loss.

The tax on carbon will be similar to the effect of I-732 being (successfully) pushed by CarbonWA. One difference is that I-732’s tax would be revenue-neutral, whereas the current proposal allows, but doesn’t necessitate, revenue neutrality.

Because I-732 apparently has enough signatures to succeed, and because I-732 is an initiative to the legislature, the legislature will need to decide next year whether to impose a revenue-neutral tax on carbon. If they fail to act, a measure will appear on the ballot in 2016 to raise tax on carbon and lower the sales tax and the B&O tax in a revenue-neutral way. My point is: the legislature can use I-732 (or something similar) to neutralize I-1366.

But in addition to raising tax on carbon, we should raise taxes on capital gains and/or on income (with the first, say, $50,000 of income exempt from tax). These taxes would make Washington State’s tax system more fair and progressive. They’d lower tax on most people. After all, our state is said to have the most regressive tax system in the nation.

The voters are correct to be angry about high taxes! Most people are over-paying. What most people don’t understand is the reason their taxes are too high: because our tax system is regressive.

The net result of this proposal is that we’d satisfy the words of I-1366 — we’d lower the sales tax by 1%. But what’s great is that we’d also lower taxes on most people, help save the environment, and make our tax system more progressive.

Even if the tax shift is revenue-neutral — and that would be easier to pass in the legislature — the change will be a big win.

So, there should be no need to be afraid of I-1366 — if the legislature has the guts to do the right thing and if the people of Washington can be educated about what’s in their own self-interest.

The key is just that: educating the public. Will our political leaders show some leadership and help educate the citizens? And will we activists build an effective movement to help this happen? Until we educate the public on this issue, we will continue losing elections and initiatives.

I admit that Republicans in the legislature are unlikely to be reasonable about raising an income tax or capital gains tax. Most of them would be OK with public education failing and with homeless and sick people languishing on the streets. Conservatives will argue that the legislature mustn’t dare go against the will of the voters, who say by their votes that they do not want additional revenue. I have two answers to this.

First, if we make the change revenue-neutral, then the Republicans may agree. As CarbonWA has shown, many conservatives will agree to a revenue-neutral tax shift (for example, More and more conservative thinkers want to tax carbon. Will politicians and activists follow? and Why We Support a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax). In fact, many lefty groups are opposed to I-732 because of its revenue-neutrality and because it was designed in consultation with people from the conservative Washington Policy Center. (See Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, Carbon-tax initiative divides environmentalists, and Why I decline to sign I-732).

Second, the voters are voting against their own self-interest and need to be educated as to why the current tax system is unfair and inadequate.

But we can beat I-1366 without raising revenue.

Stop voting against your own self-interest

Republicans raised taxes on the poor and the middle class

Governor Inslee on our unfair, regressive tax system

Note: This article was previously published under the name Hell, yeah! Let’s lower the sales tax 1% — and raise taxes on carbon, capital gains and/or income.

The "Poison Pill" and the Carbon Tax

The transportation bill passed by the Washington State Senate contains an infamous “poison pill” provision that would move public transit and other multi-modal funding to the roads account if the state passes a low carbon fuel standard. (See http://www.thestand.org/2015/03/fix-fatal-flaws-in-transportation-package/ for background.)

The poison pill was inserted by State Senate Republicans to please the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel industry backers of the GOP, as well as to stymie Governor Inslee’s green energy agenda.

Late last month, Governor Inslee agreed to existence of the poison pill as a condition for getting a deal made.

But the state House needs to agree on identical language. So far, some progressive House members are refusing to accept the poison pill, while some Republican House members are refusing to go along with the 11.7 cent rise in the gas tax.  See Solving or At Least Understanding the Gridlock in Olympia for details.

(By the way, the budget and transportation package agreed to by the Senate raise taxes on the poor and the middle class, while not raising taxes on the coddled rich.)

But if the poison pill is the only blocker for the progressives, perhaps they should relent, because there’s an excellent alternative that appears not to be subject to the poison pill. The revenue neutral carbon tax promoted by CarbonWA, with bipartisan support, is not a low carbon fuel standard and so apparently wouldn’t trigger the fund transfer.

CarbonWA and its supporters are gathering signatures for initiative I-732 that they hope will appear on the November, 2016 ballot.  There are many reasons why a carbon tax makes more sense than Cap and Trade or a Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

sHellNo Nighttime Luminary Flotilla on World Environment Day

Join us this Friday, June 5th, on World Environment Day for an eveningof art-making, inspiration, music, wise words, and creating a communitythat’s acting in harmony with our shared values and visions of betterway forward.

Rent a Kayak to join the Luminous Flotilla
culminating withprocession to the rig and light action! (you can enjoy music beginningat 6pm from the water or on land). Join the Luminary Flotilla

 

  • Paddle with lanterns from 9-10pm
  • On-the-water Light Action near the rig 10-11:30pm

 

Boaters, please email Capt Marnie. Lantern-makers and artists, please email Denise.

(more info on Luminary Flotilla below)


We need kayaks!
Ask everyone you know. Help us sniff out spare kayaksthroughout Seattle and beyond. Click HERE to offer to Loan Kayaks!

We are looking for loaners for the month of June, beginning IMMEDIATELY. We have more Kayaktivists than there are kayaksfor them to use. The success of the Rapid Response Network and ourability to defend the Arctic from Shell’s destructive drilling may hingeupon your assistance locating and coordinating boats to loan us.

We are interested in kayaks for Kayaktivists considering engagement inboth non-arrestable and elevated risk of arrest actions.

Click HERE to offer to Loan Kayaks!

Join the Flotilla Raft up with kayaktivistsFinal Kayaktivist Trainings – Shell could attempt toleave for the Arctic as early as June 10th. Join us and tell all yourfriends to attend these final trainings!

Last Saturday we were joined by participants from Barcelona, Liverpool,London, Canada and people from throughout the Salish Sea.

Stay tuned for more info about the rapid response efforts. . .


Luminary (ˈlo͞oməˌnerē/)- noun

  1. a person who inspires or influences others.
  2. a celestial body, as the sun or moon.
  3. a body, object, etc., that gives light.

Inspire others to join the climate justice movement! Unite with fellowKayaktivists to share your inner light, bask in the moonlight on thewater, and shine a light of truth on Shell’s depraved plans to drill theArctic.

CLICK HERE to RENT a KAYAK for the sHellNO! Luminary Flotilla

Join the Luminary Flotilla!

We are reclaiming the territory of our imaginations and aspirations,creating a Solutionary Culture of resistance and possibility.

Celebrate our collective creative force with this luminous flotilla andvigil for the Earth! Local artists from throughout the region will bedisplaying their magical light works. The event will open with music andhands-on arts projects to “hold the light” for what is threatened byArctic drilling and climate change. Then we paddle to the Polar Pioneer.

Reserve a spot in a kayak and please pay in advance. We are working withAlki Kayak Tours to provide a Pay-What-You-Can Sliding scale opportunity(it costs us $20-30 per person).

Please finish payment after you RSVP. If you need to find it again visitBackbone’s Kayak Training Payment Portal. Thank you in advance!

Once you register we’ll send you some more info, but plan to wearquick-drying clothing like what you might wear to yoga or hiking, aswell as something warm and a windbreaker (Just about anything butcotton).

Make a meaningful contribution TODAY!
If you think this is worthwhile work, we invite you to support our ability to keep doing it. Thanks for sharing in our enthusiasm!


Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070

Successful Climate Justice Activism

Look what we have accomplished together! (see the media roundup below)
Paddle In Seattle
Together we were:

Paddle in Seattle Stranger CoverLed by the beauty and spirit of the moment,

Emboldened by the drums and wise words of the Duwamish and Native Canoe families and the voices of those on the front-lines of the climate crisis,

D
riven by a moral obligation to take principled and bold action in service of a habitable planet and younger generations.

300+ people (and countless others on land) took to the water, paddling straight to Shell’s Arctic destroyer to demand climate justice.

It is in these moments that we solidify the courage to act upon our convictions. The Paddle In Seattle has seized headlines across the world and has inspired others to join the movements for climate justice.

Thank you for sharing in our vision and for striving to manifest it. Collectively we have done something truly beautiful and powerful.

Kayaktivists confront artic destructionNow, we must use this momentum and spotlight to push onward.

Right now, we are resuming kayaktivist trainings and organizing a rapid response network for when Shell dares to leave for the Arctic. We’re also connecting the solar powered People’s Platform with upcoming night-time paddle actions.

 

 

Media Round-Up:

Chief Seattle is Watching banner at Jack Block with Native      Canoes by Alex GarlandThe news from the weekend made national and global headlines in addition to completely saturating Seattle media (best- KOMO 4 TV, KIRO 7 TV, Q13 Fox TV, Stranger, Seattle PI, West Seattle Herald) This has completely changed the conversation around Arctic drilling and rocketed it to being a top national and even international issue. Even Obama found himself extolling the virtues of protecting the Arctic at a USCG Academy commencement address.

Here are a few highlights: on Saturday, the protest was #3 on BBC World News (right beneath the ISIS raid and Morsi’s death sentence, to give you perspective). The Guardian went wild with coverage as well (here, here, here, and here) and it even reached Australia!

The Associated Press story was picked up in nearly every major paper across the country from Atlanta to Minneapolis to Dallas and on ABC and Yahoo news.

The coverage from the NBC affiliate, King 5 TV, was picked up nationally.

The photos were particularly well-traveled with even Leonardo Dicaprio posting the aerial kayak photos on his Instagram.
Paddle In Seattle
Here is a roundup of the photos from Grist.

The speeches all came from native and impacted people telling us powerful truths. In fact, after traveling to Seattle from the North Slope, Mae Hank and Faith Gemmill-Fredson – founder and executive director of the grassroots indigenous network REDOIL- confronted Shell at the AGM meeting in London. Faith spoke directly to Shell shareholders saying “The moral and financial burden of the irresponsible decision to drill in the Arctic is too risky to consider.”

Paddle In SeattleArctic drilling dominated the coverage of the meeting, casting serious investor doubt on the project.

Earlier in the week, Kayaktivists were live on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, followed by an amazing segment on Rachel Maddow during which she spent several minutes reading out-loud the riveting and terrifying piece “The Wreck of the Kulluk.”

The Monday following the actions, there was even more national coverage. Here are just a few of the highlights: USA Today, NPR, Slate.

Lastly, #ShellNo and “Arctic drilling” were trending on Twitter and Facebook, respectively!

Floating Banner Defend The Arctic Climate Justice Now

New Kayaktivism Training Dates:

 

 

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!

Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070

[Breaking] Kayaktivists Confront Shell's Arctic Destroyer

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Kayaktivists Take Action, Now It’s Your Turn!

Register for the 100% Corrected Kayak Training Dates & Times
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Today, Kayaktivists from the sHellNo! Action Council confronted Shell’s Arctic Destroyer in the Port Angeles.

Arctic Destroyer Arrives in Port Angeles`

Do you appreciate beautiful, principled, creative action?

Help Backbone Campaign skill-up more Kayaktivists by supporting the kayak safety trainings with a meaningful contribution today.

Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070

Support effective and creative                artful activism by making a meaningful contribution                TODAY!The growing fleet of kayaks took their clarion call to “Save the Arctic” from the land, out to sea, and even the air! Equipped with paddles, PFD’s and a whole lot of heart, they brought their message, “Arctic Drilling = Climate Chaos,” right to Shell. Paddlers probed the 100 yard “safety zone” of the Polar Pioneer, the platform being prepped for Shell’s pillaging of the arctic.

Even an Orca whale joined the protest, albeit in the form of a 10 foot large kite. More unusual sights will follow as the creative, beautiful, and powerful movement grows to preserve the arctic and stop catastrophic climate change.

Join the sHellNo! Action Council!

Take the pledge of resistance!

Become a Kayaktivist!

Sign-up for this weekend’s kayak trainings, and Thursday’s Training for Trainers to become a Action or Safety Lead.

  • Note Ignore other times, 5pm is the official start time! – Intro to Kayaktivism: Saturday April 18th – 5pm – Register HERE
  • Intro to Kayaktivism: Sunday April 19th – 10 am – Register HERE
  • Kayaktivism Training for Trainers: Thursday April 23rd 5pm – REGISTER HERE

Arctic Destroyer Arrives in Port Angeles

Arctic Destroyer Arrives in Port Angeles

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