Email to S-R Lynn Swanborn letters editor regarding her post at S-R’s “A Matter of Opinion:”

Letters: STA tax

Watch this space (and the Opinion section) for pro and con arguments on the STA and emergency communication sales tax ballot measures. Here are excerpts from a couple of letters in today’s Roundtable:

According to the STA board, the STA reserve fund is at $58 million. This is an agency that is basically funded by sales tax that we voted for. Fifty-eight million dollars in reserve is more than Liberty Lake’s, Spokane Valley’s and Spokane’s reserve funds added together. (…)I don’t think that having $58 million in reserve is taking care of and being good stewards of our tax dollars. It’s just plain taking our tax dollars. Vote no on any more money to these money-grabbers. Fifty-eight million dollars – they should be ashamed. — Dan Allison, Spokane

Transportation and growth management are inseparably linked as essential elements of community development. Therefore, it is critically important to our region’s future that we support transportation options that are affordable, sustainable alternatives to automobiles and petroleum fuels. Meanwhile, the community should pursue options for separately electing a regional transit board of directors rather than relying on appointed officials. Conditional support, i.e., a sunset clause, should be applied to the STA leadership and not to the necessary funding. — K.C. Traver, Spokane

There seem to be a lot of mixed feelings on this issue. Do you support public transit in principle but oppose this particular tax? Or, do you support the tax but still seek revisions of STA’s administrative structure? Or, none of the above?

(S-R file photo)

Posted by Lynn Swanbom | 30 Apr 9:51 AM | Comments (8)



Since I’ve been a very bad boy lately, Mr. Smith has killed my mike switch. I’ve been doing serious research on the STA Transit Plaza. There is now discussion that this was a bad location for this transit hub. The folks in the Sterling Bank Bldg have major issues with the cliental at the Transit Plaza. There is serious talk of it being moved. The STA Transit Plaza cost the taxpayers some $20M and is only valued by the assessor at around $5M. And yes I’m familiar with the design issue of the building as it relates to its current value. The costs of this project were inflated and top dollar was paid for the property. There is evidence to suggest that property acquisition leading up to this project was staged by Cowles Co intermediaries. And yes I’m still digging on the arson/murder fire at the Zukor Clothing Store where Fire Captain Hanna was killed. As I said before an argument can be made this project was steered to this less than adequate site.

I would vote for this proposal if it had a “sunset clause.” Without a “sunset claude” this is too much of a funding bundle that can be steered to less than desirable projects. The smart money is that the STA fund surplus will be used to fund light rail in Downtown corridor over to Kendall Yards. While the concept is nice, the density to support such a move is not there without a big public subsidy. Given that the Cowles Co own a lot of property that would directly benefit from such a light rail program this smacks of past runs on the public treasury to benefit a few individuals at taxpayer expense.

As I suggested “tongue in cheek” a few days ago, the cute little trolleys with wheels would be much more cost efficient if we must have a San F ambiance in Downtown. If it doesn’t pan out there won’t be a huge loss that again will be on the backs of the taxpayers. If these trolleys run full, then we can talk. The streets we’re already paying to rebuild won’t have to be torn up again.

Ron the Cop

[NOTE: Attorney Michael Ormsby of RPS fame has now been retained by the STA. If anything this should be a cause for concern. Ron the Cop will vote yes for Crime Check though. I’ve heard the “powers that be” in Spokane don’t really want it as it will cause an increase in the crime rate that perhaps is now understated]


The STA Pro View:

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wayne Williams: Buses help business

To help drive economic development, vote yes on STA funding

For business, buses are a necessity. That is why I support the sales tax re-authorization for Spokane Transit Authority. Continued funding for public transportation means no increase in taxes. Should you choose to join me in supporting this effort, you will pay no more for public transportation than you do right now.

As chairman of Greater Spokane Inc., the combined Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, this vote is all business for me. Transit service is essential to our growing metropolitan area. Transit and mobility services make the Spokane region more attractive to outside investment and continued growth of existing companies. When businesses contemplate a move to our region or consider a major expansion, a key consideration is our region’s available infrastructure. That includes transit services that will link their new work force to business locations throughout the region.


For those of you who don’t ride the bus, or have employees who make use of the service, I encourage you to think of the multiple public goods that transit service provides. Buses transport patients to doctors’ appointments and hospitals. Buses provide an inexpensive option for the elderly and individuals without access to personal vehicles. Public transportation connects our first-class universities with students from throughout the region.

Spokane Transit Authority has been a diligent steward of our tax dollars and has produced results that include increasing ridership by 9.4 percent to 7.9 million fixed route rides. Service has improved to many areas including Spokane Valley, north Spokane, Liberty Lake, Medical Lake, Cheney and Airway Heights. Ridership in some areas has increased by as much as 85 percent! Accountability measures have included televising STA board meetings, conducting opinion surveys and the formation of a Citizen Advisory Committee designed to solicit regular input. . .


The STA Opposing View:

STA lacks accountability

Hold out for sunset provision; vote no for now on STA funding

Pro and con

This is the second of two guest columns about a transit funding proposal that will appear on the May 20 ballot. On Thursday, Wayne Williams, chairman of Greater Spokane Inc., argued in favor of the proposal.

It is critically important that Spokane voters see through the expensive public relations campaign by the Spokane Transit Authority and vote against the transit sales tax extension this May 20. The real issue in this election is the lack of the sunset provision, which makes this tax permanent. A “no” vote will bring this tax issue back to voters in November with a provision for the public to vote again on this tax in four years.

A “no” vote is not a vote against public transportation, it is a vote for accountability in public transportation. Buses and service to the needy and people with disabilities are becoming more important as gas prices increase. The public needs smaller buses, flexible routes and changes to respond to our changing world.


The accountability of an election to renew this tax every four years brings out the best performance possible in this essential service. Without the accountability of a sunset provision, the STA has no incentive to improve service and make changes that we need to improve public transportation. Waste and mismanagement characterized STA before the passage of the current 0.3 percent transit tax increase. It was important this increase was made subject to voter reapproval in five years.

The downtown Transit Plaza is a monument to the poor decisions made by the STA when it had limitless funds and no accountability. This organization has powerful special interests that oppose change and efficiency. . .


Our sheepdog, Dick Adams, guardian of the public treasury has these comments in a letter to the editor running in today’s S-R:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Letters to the editor

Don’t fall for STA stunt

I hope the citizens recognize that the administrators of the STA are asking voters to increase the amount of money they receive every year from now on. In my opinion, the STA has been a cash cow for most of the 25 years I’ve lived in the Lilac City. Talk about reckless spending habits.

Take note of the names listed on the STA plaque inside their building and you’ll see former elected Spokane city officials who also voted to finance the River Park Square mall and parking garage. We can thank them for strapping the residents of Spokane into debt for the next 25 years for a garage and had the audacity to sign off on the reckless spending binge to build an obsolete STA Plaza building.

Vote no on the STA ballot. Show the administrators we’re not suckers. These characters even placed the STA ballot question on an early spring ballot so if it fails they will merely put it on the ballot this fall. The usual bureaucratic stunt – I think it shows arrogance.

Dick Adams


Matt Monroe a semi regular on the Mark Fuhrman Show wrote the LTE to the S-R.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Letters to the editor

Remember the Plaza

In response to Public Policy and Parking Manager Andrew Rolwes of the Spokane Downtown Partnership’s May 3 letter, “Transit needs permanent funding”:

Mr. Rolwes, it boggles the mind how you can honestly state, “STA is an effective steward of public funds,” considering the STA Plaza cost $20 million-plus in 1995 dollars and is not worth $3.5 million in 2008 dollars. Perhaps this is why no other transit authority in Washington state has conditional funding; none has a $20 million monument to stupidity in downtown Spokane. Granted, STA has made strides since 2004 but not to the degree that deserves no voter oversight. The sunset clause on the 2004 authorization funds is exactly what made STA more responsive to riders and taxpayers.

Without a sunset clause, STA will quickly devolve to its wasteful pre-2004 policies. Mr. Rolwes, if you truly wish STA to prosper, join me and thousands of others and vote no on your ballot. The STA board has already indicated that sales-tax reauthorization will be before the voters by July 2009 if defeated. Maybe this time, a wiser, humbler STA board will include a healthy sunset clause to nourish a healthier STA.

No sunset, no accountability; no way, STA.

Matthew W. Monroe