Editor’s note | We asked readers to share their thoughts about Seattle Times editorial columnist Brier Dudley’s recent Traffic Lab columns on regional transit spending and nonprofit transparency. Here is a sample.
There needs to be a public-advocacy group to expose and monitor Transportation Choices Coalition’s secretive and self-supportive activities. Having had the leader of a very large construction company (CH2M/Jacobs) that does Sound Transit construction on TCC’s board is clearly a conflict of interest.
Much more needs to be done to rein in this unregulated monster. It is a jobs program using naive taxpayer funds to defraud the very people it purports to serve. It will never collect enough rider fees to cover its excessive expenditures.
John Verrilli, Seattle
Get cars off roads
Thank you for highlighting the impressive work that Transportation Choice Coalition has done to bring transit to the region.
I moved here two years ago and was shocked and appalled at how car dependent the Puget Sound region is, contrary to its reputation as a progressive stronghold. I’m so glad voters like myself have agreed to tax ourselves to pay for much-needed investments in transit and that watchdog nongovernmental organizations like TCC are following the cause closely for those of us who can’t dedicate as much of our time and energy to pro-transit advocacy.
Here’s hoping we’ll have congestion pricing and other carrot-and-stick measures in the near future to get more cars off the roads.
Gregory Scruggs, Seattle
Transportation Choices Coalition must immediately be made to register properly as a lobbying organization and must lose its tax-exempt status. It no doubt deserves to be fined as well for misleading the public. We taxpayers are being bilked.
Christine Ryland, Seattle
As one of the 46 percent of voters who did not support Sound Transit 3, I found the report on Transportation Choices Coalition highly disturbing but also self-validating.
As a recent retiree, I am very concerned about what this will do to my property taxes, and for what, a system that is already outdated, and a likely dinosaur in 25 years when projected to be online? Even without delays and cost overruns (a hallmark of Sound Transit projects), those dollars would have been far better spent on education.
Transit proposals have traditionally been a hard sell in Seattle and the Eastside. Back in the 1970s and ’80s, we could have had light rail 80 percent funded by the feds, and still it failed.
I’ve wondered how Sound Transit managed to get this one passed. Looking at the diagram of “who’s who” in charge of spending, it is not reassuring.
We all lament the mind-boggling traffic issues facing the region, which is all the more reason to scrutinize and ensure our limited public dollars are being used judiciously.
Marilyn Boyden, Sammamish
AG should investigate
State legislators who blocked the passage of legislation to update the outdated, and inaccurate, modeling system for taxing automobiles should be embarrassed now.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson should investigate Transportation Choices Coalition’s covert efforts not to fully disclose its funding sources. At the very least, the nonprofit’s status as a 501(c)(3) should be suspended until its reporting and financial matters are corrected and conform to eligibility standards.
My first thought after reading The Seattle Times report was that TCC was acting like Russian soldiers invading Eastern Ukraine without identifying patches on their uniforms. TCC switched uniforms from a 501 (c)(3), principally a nonpartisan agency, to a political action committee advocating for its legislative agenda.
Clifford Louie, Seattle
Nonprofits are vital
Charitable nonprofits work in partnership with government to deliver services that raise Washington state’s quality of life. As they work in communities, nonprofit leaders develop a deep understanding of community issues and are in a position to suggest effective policy solutions. Because of this, nonprofits deserve a seat at the table in the policy process and a voice in our democracy. Communicating with legislators, their staff and the public in a nonpartisan manner is a legally protected right for nonprofit organizations that more agencies should exercise with pride.
Advocacy and lobbying are vital tools for charitable nonprofit organizations to serve their communities and work toward their mission. Most hold themselves to high ethical standards and are diligent in segregating funds given for specific purposes. Regrettably, most charitable nonprofits have limited resources for public-policy work, if at all.
Washington Nonprofits agrees with Seattle Times editorial columnist Brier Dudley on the importance of disclosure and transparency, and we advise agencies to review the IRS and Public Disclosure Commission lobbying rules so that they are in compliance with existing laws.
Laura Pierce, executive director, Washington Nonprofits, Seattle