After I made Estey's e-mail public in this column three weeks ago--and subsequently organized a citywide WaMu account recall that's now approaching $1.4 million in closed accounts (!)--Estey has had to defend WaMu's anti-monorail position to angry pro-mass transit customers.
This is where Estey's credibility unravels.
The most substantial reason WaMu customers shouldn't believe Estey is this: She probably doesn't believe her anti-monorail shtick herself. Estey is a board member for Transportation Choices Coalition (TCC), a local environmental nonprofit group that bangs the drum for mass transit. TCC, in fact, came out against I-83 at endorsement time and even sued the anti-monorail folks last May, arguing that the initiative violated the state's Growth Management Act. TCC's position should be no surprise to Estey; she took her TCC board position soon after the group endorsed the monorail the last time around.
The other reason you shouldn't believe Estey is that her e-mails are inconsistent. She tells customers that WaMu opposes the monorail because the company supports light rail. In addition to being a non sequitur (monorail is an inner-city rapid-transit system and light rail is a planned regional commuter system), Estey's defensive e-mails criticize the monorail on grounds that are more applicable to light rail. For example, she writes that the monorail "will not deliver to voters what was promised." Huh? While the monorail was set to deliver exactly what it promised (a 14-mile line from Ballard through downtown to West Seattle serving 69,000 riders a day--and for $150 million less than originally proposed), light rail is coming in one-third short on its route, two-thirds short on ridership, and $1.7 billion over budget--a 68 percent increase for taxpayers. (Estey did not return my calls.)
So, what are WaMu customers supposed to make of Estey's e-mails? How about this: Washington Mutual has no integrity or class. I don't know which is less impressive, a local company that pays back the community by pushing a potentially illegal anti-mass-transit initiative to undo three previous public votes, or a lobbyist who kisses CEO Kerry Killinger's ass to the point of betraying her own civic activism.
Though the election is over, I see no reason to take the heat off WaMu. A letter I got last week read: "Today I went down to my branch and closed my account. I deprived the bank of $165,000 (add that to your total). I sent them an e-mail telling them what I did and why."
That e-mail was directed to WaMu's front person on the issue, Estey. If she had any courage she'd forward it to her boss, Kerry Killinger. I'm not holding my breath.