August 23, 2011
Compromise legislation worked; more needed
Last week, government worked, and it was an amazing thing to behold.
King County Council members worked together to create bipartisan, compromise legislation to impose a $20 car tab fee to keep Metro bus service at its current level of service.
This is the way our elected leaders are supposed to work.
We in this state and region have become accustomed to holding a referendum on just about everything, sending every little tax to the voters. Fear of voters blaming state legislators and County Council members keeps them from making the tough decisions.
For all our throwing around of the word democracy, we don’t live in one. This is a republic. The citizens are supposed to elect leaders to actually lead. Leaders are supposed to make grand decisions about what to do, and then do it. Don’t like what they did? That’s what elections are for.
In this case, the County Council actually managed to pass the fee increase, using old-fashioned bipartisan compromise politics and a lot of creativity.
County Executive Dow Constantine, a Democrat in a nonpartisan office, and County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, a Republican in a nonpartisan office, both of whom represent the Issaquah area, and the rest of the council are to be congratulated. They showed that they are not mere ideologues but are willing to work for what they believe are in the best interests of their constituents and the county.
We were opposed to the $20 fee, and still are, but the compromises worked out in the deal — an end to the Seattle free-ride area and 24 free bus passes for everyone who pays the car tab fee — certainly improve the bill and make it better public policy.
And that’s really the whole idea. Bipartisan compromise leads to better policy pretty much every time.
We hope our state and federal officials are watching. Sure, in the grand scheme of things $20 to save some bus routes isn’t exactly as challenging as figuring out how to save Social Security. But working across the aisle to get something done is a lesson all politicians should model.