The July 10 meeting of the monorail board was so contentious that one member stormed out. No, they weren't debating whether to run the line along Fifth Avenue or Second; they were debating the future makeup of the Elevated Transportation Company board--namely, should it be elected or appointed? Right now, there's a proposal on the table to have the current interim board appoint five new ETC board members and provide recommendations to the mayor and council for four additional appointments. Essentially, there'll be unelected board members appointing an unelected board.

Like most of the current board, ETC board member Harolynne Bobis supports an appointed model, because she thinks elected officials spend too much time chasing and listening to donors.

This doesn't sit well with monorail activists like Curt Firestone. "They do not want direct or indirect public accountability. They do not want the city council to have the right to appoint or remove any monorail board member," he says. "They do want $1.4 billion tax dollars to build the first monorail line."

This one's a no-brainer, folks. The monorail is being built to address the most pressing issue in Seattle: transportation. The public is deeply engaged in this issue. (Heck, the public rammed the monorail down the city's throat... twice!) And so the public should have a direct say in who manages the monorail project. This ain't the sewer board, where the impulse toward hyper-democracy does seem a bit comical. We're talking about the group who will be implementing one of Seattle's most populist ideas: the monorail. Given the maddening lessons of Sound Transit, the more accountability, the better.

I attended the follow-up ETC board meeting on July 11 to see if there'd be more fireworks. What I found, however, was a long discussion that had moved beyond the elected/appointed debate to the finer points of how a future board could remove derelict members. How should the removal process be set up so that legitimately dissident board members aren't railroaded out by a tyrannical and misguided board? Good question. (Can someone say "Rob McKenna"--the hawk-eyed Sound Transit board member who daylighted that agency's fuzzy math before he was cordially disinvited?)

The discussion was interesting, but the irony was impossible to miss. The way to remove bad board members and promote good ones is to elect them. Lord knows McKenna would have been reelected to the Sound Transit board if Sound Transit's board held elections.

It's interesting to note that of all the public meetings the current monorail board has held about routes and technology, they've never held a public hearing on governance issues. Coincidentally, while coming up with good routes, they've come up with a bad recommendation for governance. They will decide the issue on July 22.

josh@thestranger.com

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