Report on the “WTF, Olympia?” rally in Seattle, on transit funding
Today at noon, about a hundred people showed up at a rally in Seattle at City Hall Park in support of funding for King County Metro Transit.
“Where’s The Funding?”, they shouted.
The rally was organized by the Transit Riders Union.
They were collecting grievances and stories about transit and placing them into the “grievance bus” — which they plan to deliver to Senator Rodney Tom and other legislators.
Speakers, including King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and mayoral candidate Kshama Sawant, asked the legislature, and Rodney Tom in particular, to defend Metro Transit from a likely 17% cut in service resulting from the failure of the legislature to pass a transportation budget during the second special session.
Much of the blame was laid at the feet of Rodney Tom, whose name drew repeated loud boos.
Some speakers suggested that Governor Inslee should call the legislature back for another special session in the fall to tackle transportation funding.
A blind man spoke of his dependence on public buses.
Katie Wilson gave a powerful speech that included promises to try to meet Senator Rodney Tom, who as leader of the Senate “Majority Coalition” played a major role in shooting down the transportation bill. Wilson said that protesters may even go to Tom’s house to protest the cuts. Even if we lose on this issue, she said, we’ll be building up power. Organizing is important!
Many speakers mentioned the need for progressive taxation and for an end to tax avoidance by rich corporations. There’s no shortage of funding, they said; it’s all going to the 1%.
Mayor McGinn said he met with a leader of the Senate Majority Coalition, who told him “We want Seattle to starve til we get what we want.” McGinn said that 47 mayors from King County supported the transportation bill.
Mayor McGinn made a special effort to blame Republicans in the State Senate and Republicrat Rodney Tom for the failure to pass transit funding. Mayor candidate Kshama Sawant, who is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party, said the Democrats too are part of the problem.
There were quite a few socialist activists there at a table with literature and buttons, as well as numerous Transit Riders Union members in their yellow shirts.
Even the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable supported the transportation package that the Senate rejected. Business leaders know that congested roads are bad for the economy and bad for their bottom lines.
Here’s a video of Dow Constantine’s speech: