"Washington Mutual has placed their self-interest above the common good--which is the need for a rapid transit system in this city," Drago said. (WaMu's headquarters are on the proposed monorail route. WaMu's landlord, Chicago-based Fortune 500 company Equity Office Properties, has also lined up against the monorail, donating $60,000 to the anti-transit cause.)
Not only is WaMu pledging cash to the anti-transit obstructionists, but on October 1, the $18-billion company--the largest banking institution on this year's Fortune 500--sent an e-mail to its 9,000 local employees. The e-mail, written by WaMu lobbyist Suzanne Estey, encourages WaMu's employees to "participate in our nation's unique democratic process and exercise their right to vote" and then it tells them exactly how to vote: "yes" on I-83, the anti-monorail initiative.
While it's maddening that yet another deep-pocketed business has lined up to kill the monorail, WaMu's anti-monorail missive unwittingly (and laughably) confirms that the so-called "recall" isn't legit. (The 2002 pro-monorail vote did give voters the option to recall the project if critics could show just cause, like "serious financial difficulty.") Far from offering that evidence, though, I-83 supporters simply want a revote on the basic concept of a monorail (something voters already approved--three times!) This is not a recall on a project gone astray (which the monorail hasn't), it's a fourth vote.
The WaMu e-mail acknowledges that the current project is exactly what voters approved in 2002. WaMu's lobbyist writes, "The monorail, a planned 14-mile transit system extending from Ballard to West Seattle, is estimated to cost $1.6 billion and would be paid for by an annual [MVET] tax of 1.4 percent." That's exactly what voters approved.
What WaMu's lobbyist didn't mention is that the monorail will carry 69,000 rides a day, as promised, run trains every three to eight minutes, as promised, and cost $150 million less than the original price tag. Admitting that WaMu is advocating a revote and not a legit recall, the e-mail concludes, "Washington Mutual is supporting the voters' right to re-vote on the monorail." Thanks, WaMu, for giving us permission to drown in more voting and process.
Consider this my memo to Washington Mutual customers who are tired of anti-public transit obstruction: March down to your WaMu branch and, like Council President Drago, yank your account. I'll be at the downtown branch (1201 Third Ave) on Friday October 22, at noon, closing my WaMu account. Hope to see you there.