Prop 1 proponents, stop blaming county residents for your failure | My turn

Greg Allmain - File photo
Greg Allmain
— image credit: File photo

Proposition 1, the ballot measure that would have allowed King County to create a "Transportation Benefit District" (TBD) to fund King County Metro and address road issues throughout the county, failed to pass. In the wake of that failure, it's anticipated that Metro will cut 550,000 service hours, eliminate 74 routes and revise or reduce a further 84 routes.

Prop 1 proponents took to social media, especially Twitter, using the #Prop1 hashtag to express their discontent at this outcome. Much of their discontent seemed to be aimed at King County residents, who showed an overwhelming no vote, according to data compiled by the county. From here in South King County out to East King County, the demarcation was quite clear. The county overwhelmingly voted no, while Seattle and some of its closest suburbs overwhelmingly voted yes.

Unsurprisingly, Prop 1 proponents attacked the outlying regions of the county, apparently thinking they voted no because they didn't want to have to pay an extra $60 on car tabs or an additional .01 in sales tax. In short, the county's "richie rich" kicked the poor people of the region squarely in the crotch with their no votes.

Unfortunately, for the Prop 1 proponents, their vision does not reflect the reality of King County anymore. While there are a few pockets of money in the outlying parts of the county, the trend in recent years has been money flowing out of the suburbs and rural communities of the county and directly into Seattle itself.

Interestingly enough, the yes/no map tracks quite closely to a map showing the "percent below 200 percent poverty by census tracts." While there are some large gaps where there doesn't appear to be much poverty at all, I would argue those areas probably represent where there aren't many people at all. But, the lower the poverty rate, the greater the likelihood that voters checked yes for Prop 1, when looking between these two maps.


















The thesis that the money has flowed out of the county and into the city is also supported by more data compiled by King County itself. In a PowerPoint report still accessible at kingcounty.gov, a few slides are very instructive as to the demographic reality of King County these days. One states it simply -- Number of persons below poverty: now primarily in the suburbs. It has a corresponding bar graph showing that in 2010, more than 140,000 people below the poverty line lived in King County. In Seattle itself, that number has steadily grown since 1989, according to that same data set, although the jump was far more noticeable in the county.


















The data continued to confirm the reality that poverty is now in the county to a large extent, with another slide in that same PowerPoint presentation titled: Poverty rates increased, especially in the suburbs. Once again, the same trend held true -- an increase in poverty for the county over the past 20 years, with a noticeable jump after 2009. According to that slide, the poverty rate in 2010 in the county was between 11-13 percent.

















The demographic reality of King County in 2014 is likely why Prop 1 lost, and it's disingenuous to try and place blame at the feet of any given community or area of the county for the loss. For all intents and purposes, the residents of King County are hurting, and have been for a while now. You can make the argument that those who voted "no" hurt the poor, etc., etc., etc., but you need to realize that many of those who likely said no, are part of that group. Demography is destiny, and if you had studied it a little better, you probably could have foreseen the destiny of your ballot measure, Prop 1 supporters.

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