Controversy Erupts Over Seattle's Light Rail Party Planning Expenses
"In all, taxpayers spent $858,379 for Sound Transit’s March 19 grand-opening party for the Capitol Hill and UW stations," reports Mike Lindblom.
Of that bill, $209,436 went to crowd management, $29,520 went to police overtime, $260,000 went to event management, and $130,198 went to a multi-media advertising campaign. In all, planning for the event took a year's time.
Inspiring the Seattle Times' coverage is the organization Smarter Transit, whose co-founder is quoted in the article talking about how the party was designed to launch the campaign for the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.
Prior to Lindblom's critical take on the event's costs, the reports on the new light rail line had only been positive—noting the project's on-time and under-budget delivery, as well higher-than-expected ridership in its early days.
The Capitol Hill Seattle blog was quick to push back on Lindblom's article, noting that Sound Transit spends a lot of money for advertising, including a lot of money to Lindblom's Seattle Times. Capitol Hill Seattle blog's argument is that the Seattle Times coverage cherry-picked its evidence in the pursuit of a specific, anti-transit argument.