Disingenuous vs Bad Faith: Arguments and the Way We Receive Them

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A mailer for Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell. (Credit: PAC for Bruce Harrell)

Recently, I got called out in a discussion where I labeled something a “bad faith” argument. We were talking about the last Seattle City Council election between Dan Strauss and Heidi Wills for District 6. I said one reason it was wholly appropriate Wills lost because she made a bad faith argument that the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link should be replaced with an elevated bikeway. Someone took me to task on labeling Wills’ concept — and by extension Wills — was acting in bad faith.

A bad faith argument is one thrown out to obscure a hidden agenda, coming to the negotiation table with no intent of reaching an outcome. Tossing off lazy words about an elevated bike lane carries a hidden agenda of torpedoing the project. Seattle is notoriously cheap when it comes to bike infrastructure and the Missing Link has been the most contentious segment of the Burke-Gilman Trail for decades now. Make it more expensive? That’s trying to dunk the whole thing.

But does it rise to the level of bad faith? Or was the idea simply disingenuous, something that was an insincere solution to an honest argument. Wills spent time on the city council, and more than a second paying attention would inform her that any bike lane was contentious, much less one at ten times the price. But she was engaging in the discussion about the Burke-Gilman Trail. A bad faith argument would not have gotten that far. 

Disingenuous arguments versus bad faith arguments. They’re both misrepresentations. But the focus of the lie is different. And its impact on the listener is different. Those are vital as we come into the final days of this election, where misinformation abounds.

The Focus. It’s not me, it’s you.

Disingenuous arguments are a lie about the person making them. It’s being dishonest that the person making them is capable of seeing complexity in the situation. 

A good example of this is the City Council Position 8 race. Candidate Kenneth Wilson proposes to re-open the West Seattle Bridge before it’s structurally fit. His solution includes shaving down the bridge’s concrete barriers and opening one lane in each direction to cars. From his website, “I have difficulty understanding that with 100,000 vehicles per day why the West Seattle Bridge had not been similarly prioritized for some level of opening.”

An ad shows a photo of man wearing glasses and a blue shirt. The text reads elect Kenneth Wilson for Council 8, professional civil and structural engineer, open bridge access now. Plan smart, dream big.
Besides being a demonstrably terrible campaign sign, Kenneth Wilson’s argument to reopen the bridge is a disingenuous argument for an engineer to make.

It is a disingenuous argument because it engages the debate about the bridge on legitimate terms, then misrepresents Wilson’s ability to come to grips with the complexity of the situation. As an engineer, he’s fully capable of recognizing that more goes into the decision to reopen a bridge than just the weight it carries. There’s traffic diversion, enforcement, monitoring, and completing further repairs. As well as the outstanding question of what if the calculations are a little off and the bridge collapses with people on it? Competent engineers can recognize the peril.

Compare that to the underlying misrepresentation of a bad faith argument. It’s a lie against the discussion itself and you, the listener, for thinking that the issue is important. Bad faith arguments are just to occupy the debate and turn it into an energy sapping argument. Bad faith goes beyond straw men and red herring debate stylings because it’s not a rhetorical device. It’s a straight up attack on having the discussion.

Keeping the Promise of the Garfield Super Block

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A photo of a tall tree and a paved area next to a large playfield.
A view of the site that will make up the future Garfield Super Block. (Photo by author)

Come out to celebrate the future Garfield Super Block on October 23rd, 12-4pm, at Garfield Park.

If you visit Garfield High School in Seattle’s Central District today, nearby you’ll see a large playfield flanked by a walking path that extends out to Cherry Street where it terminates in a plaza between a community center, parking lot, and playground. There’s a small community garden and voting drop box as well. Overall, it’s a remarkable spot because of the density of public services and amenities it offers. Other nearby amenities include an indoor public swimming pool, teen center, and auditorium, all located in a compact campus area. But the park itself doesn’t attract attention and the walking path simply exists as a means to get from one destination to another.

For almost two decades, however, residents of the Central District of have dreamt transforming this public space into a showcase for local history, culture, and art. Now with $500,000 in funding awarded by the City of Seattle, the long-held of vision the Garfield Super Block project is on its way to becoming reality.

This Saturday the Garfield Super Block is teaming up with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways to host a party in the future park. Attendees will be able to participate in a public art project, eat food, listen to music, show off their skills at a Parkour pop-up workshop, and learn about allied organizations like Africatown.

A flyer announcing "paint the park"  a day to hangout and build community, October 23rd 12-4pm at Garfield Park,  with activities for all.

For advocates like Robert Stevens Jr., this day of celebration has been a long time coming. Stevens, who has lived in the Central District since the late 1950s, was one of the founders of the Garfield Park Super Block back in the early 2000s and kept the concept alive in the years that followed. When I first reached out to the current Garfield Super Block project team, they were quick to refer me to Stevens as the best person to speak to about the project’s history and vision.

Vaccination Surge Shows Employee Mandates Work

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A health worker vaccinates a man wearing a face mask in a gymnasium.
Vaccination rates have increased following the issuance of employee mandates in Seattle and King County. (Credit: King County Public Health)

The City of Seattle and King County released their final Covid vaccination rates this week as Governor Jay Inslee’s October 18th mandate deadline went into effect, and virtually every department surpassed the 90% mark.

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) remains the laggard, but not nearly as badly as had been feared. The agency has reached 92% vaccination rate and City employees 94% overall, the Mayor’s office reports. Only 68% of sworn officers had submitted their forms as of October 10th, but a late surge in paperwork closed the gap. This suggests fewer than 100 officers will face termination for refusing to comply with the vaccine mandate — perhaps much fewer if officers ultimately come around to the benefits of vaccination, if not to themselves and their communities, at least to their livelihoods.

The Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Parks have each reached 95% vaccinated, the Mayor reported, and Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Public Utilities sit at 93%. Overall, 4.6% of the City workforce, which is approximately 11,250 strong, is seeking an accommodation rather than demonstrating proof of vaccination.

King County Metro hits 92% vaccinated, Sherriff’s office at 86.7%

Meanwhile, 96.8% of the county workforce compiled with the mandate, with 92.3% reported fully vaccinated, according to figures release by the County Executive.

“I am pleased to announce that 97% of employees complied with my Executive Order by becoming fully vaccinated or being in the accommodation process. Approximately 4.5% of these are going through the accommodation process,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said.

That leaves 3% who refused to comply with the requirement to either prove vaccination or prove grounds for an exemption, such as religious or health reasons. 14,280 County employees are covered by the mandate, Constantine spokesperson Chase Gallagher said. “This updated number does not include 396 employees on extended leave who will need to comply upon return to work,” he noted in the release.

Fears of a severe driver shortage at King County Metro due to the mandate appear to have been assuaged. Ninety-six out of 2,614 Metro operators refused to comply and 119 sought an exemption. That equates to a vaccination rate of 92%.

“Seattle has the lowest cases, hospitalizations, and deaths of every major city while having one of the highest vaccinations rate because we have followed the science and advice of public health officials. Vaccines keep our children, colleagues, and community safe,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement.

Most City employees had extra incentives (including eight hours paid time off) to prove they were vaccinated by October 5th, because their respective unions bargained for these perks, but the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) refused to accept the deal that every other major public sector union accepted. That means those benefits do not apply to police officers — unless SPOG does belatedly sign a deal. Excepting the SPOG-represented, employees who submitted their proof after October 5th still qualify for significant benefits, including up to 80 hours of supplementary Covid-related sick leave. Additionally, frontline workers on staff after Aug. 1, 2021 and performing in-person work could get a one-time payment of up to $1,750. The Seattle City Council approved the benefits package last Monday and the Mayor signed the legislation.

Last chance to comply and police force impacts

Both the Mayor and County Executive said employees who refused to comply risk termination. The Mayor’s office did suggest unvaccinated employees may be given one more chance to get the jab to avoid losing their jobs.

Everett Takes Stock of Findings on a Possible Transit Merger, Charts Next Steps

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An electric Everett Transit bus turning off of Broadway in Everett. (Credit: Photo by author)

A merger of Everett Transit with Community Transit that would significantly increase transit service in the region may still have legs. Everett policymakers have decided that a coordinated effort between the two transit agencies, which would need to be approved by Everett voters, should move ahead. Next steps include determining how a merger could proceed and developing scenarios for local transit service. Two fallback options remain if a merger between the two transit agencies fails to garner enough support, but results from a public survey indicate Everett residents are supportive of transit expansion.

The decision to move forward with the merger was informed by a presentation to the Everett City Council this past June in which transit agency management shared public outreach findings on the potential merger and two alternative scenarios. City councilmembers also received additional context on where Everett Transit stands in the interim given current funding and what service improvements the agency could achieve with additional financial resources and a merger.

The three options

Looking at its transit future, Everett has three general options to choose from:

  • Current Funding – This is the do nothing alternative, which relies on continuation of a 0.6% sales tax to fund transit operations and capital investments. It provides little in the way of making measurable improvements to the system.
  • Sustainable Growth – This is an alternative where Everett Transit continues to be the system operator but is able to grow. It relies upon Everett voters approving a measure to increase the sales tax to 0.9%. In the course of ten years, annual bus service hours could reach 140,000 in the city.
  • Growth through Consolidation – This is an alternative where Everrett Transit merges with Community Transit. It relies on Everett voters approving a measure to annex into Community Transit’s taxing district and authorizing an increase in the sales tax to 1.2% (this is Community Transit’s current rate). In the course of two years, annual bus service hours could reach 140,000 in the city — and likely go much higher in the following years.

The survey results

Everett ran a survey on the different options. There was a strong consensus that the status quo Current Funding approach is not desirable. Instead, people were generally supportive of Growth through Consolidation as a first choice, though many Everett residents also supported the Sustainable Growth option.

Surveyed people who chose the different options tended to reflect certain types of views. People who highly ranked the Current Funding approach tended to reflect anti-tax opinions and suggested fare increases whereas people who strongly supported Sustainable Growth expressed unfounded fears, such as loss of local control, local transit, and paratransit. Conversely, people who supported Growth though Consolidation indicated that it would improve regional connections, create a more efficient network, increase frequencies, and encourage more people to ride transit who don’t already.

The interim for Everett Transit

The outlook for Everett Transit is not very ambitious given that the agency is poorly funded. However, pandemic relief funding from the federal government has come through in three rounds so far, the latest being the American Rescue Plan of 2021. That’s provided another $12 million to the agency. The agency had already received funding $14 million from the other two Congressional emergency appropriations made last year.

The spate of federal pandemic relief funding will allow Everett Transit to increase some service levels this weekend. That could be followed by another small increase in March, but the agency has warned that it won’t add service that cannot be sustained. Service increases will primarily be focused on weekends, evenings, and other off-peak periods where existing bus fleet levels can support growth.

The future of transit in Everett

During the June meeting, Everett Transit Director Tom Hingson posed a big question for city councilmembers to center their thinking around. “What is the best decision for Everett as it becomes a light rail community?”

Build Link Light Rail Right: Send Trains into Tacoma’s City Center

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A map showing a light rail alignment running from Federal Way through Fife, East Tacoma, and the Tacoma Dome. The line terminates in central Tacoma after Union Station.
A proposed alignment for light rail into Central Tacoma. (Map by author)

Let’s consider the lunacy of the journey foisted on public transit users: after riding at least 80 minutes from Capitol Hill or Downtown Seattle in order to reach Tacoma, riders must disembark Link light rail and await an untimed transfer with the T streetcar line — for an additional 15 to 25 minutes of travel time — all to reach the UW Tacoma campus, the city’s premier museums, key bus transfers, inner-city neighborhoods, and the workplaces of the downtown.

To any reasonable person unfamiliar with the current rail arrangement in Tacoma, this would be deeply illogical rail planning. And yet this will be Tacoma’s rail transit future, the consequence of early 1990s urban planning for a then-stricken community, financed in 2016 for a city on the rebound, then not opening for service until 2032 (or later) for a city that has since been utterly remade.

A map of the proposed Link routes in Tacoma and stations.
The above Link light rail map shows where service will terminate at the Tacoma Dome. A connection with the T Line streetcar planned to transport passengers from the Tacoma Dome to Old City Hall where the Hilltop Extension light rail service resumes. (Credit: Sound Transit)

Sound Transit should strongly consider extending Link light rail into Central Tacoma. The agency should advance such an alignment not only because it makes the most sense from a community and transit-planning perspective, but also because rail investments of this sort clearly have a dramatic impact on their adjacent neighborhoods. Tacoma is primed to accept new urban development and continue to grow into a regional urban showcase—as long as the rail facilities are provided.

However, Sound Transit’s Tacoma Dome Link Extension (TDLE), a conceptually dubious megaproject already beset by a two-year realignment delay and steadily rising costs (now approximately $340-million per mile), marches inexorably forward with a fatal flaw. While corridor planning continues within the larger DEIS (draft environmental impact statement) framework, which is to be released in mid-2022, none of that work will actually allow for trains to travel into Central Tacoma. The current TDLE alignment alternatives will forever preclude an extension into Downtown, bringing urgency to the selections now under review.

A photo of a five story brick building.
The University of Washington Tacoma campus bookstore in Downtown Tacoma. (Credit: JoeSouthernCA, Creative Commons)

After spending vast sums of public funds to route a rail corridor into the South Sound, Link light rail will miss its economic and cultural heart. Instead, the TDLE will terminate in a suburb-focused transfer center that is within walking distance of large swaths of permanent surface parking and a drive-in movie theater. Places ignored entirely by the rail line include the transformative University of Washington Tacoma urban campus, a sophisticated museum center and pedestrianized waterway, a revitalized Downtown with the largest office center in Washington State outside of Seattle or Bellevue, and innumerable local transit connections. TDLE proposes to mandate transfers to access these critical points of interest that, for any other sensibly planned rail corridor, would be on the main line.

Midweek Video: Common Design Flaws in Bike Lanes

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Many bike lanes include flawed designs. Cheddar looks at this issue and some ways to make them better and safer for people biking.

Sound Transit Proposes South Tacoma and Lakewood Station Access Improvements

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A train is waiting at Lakewood Station. (Credit: Sound Transit)

Sound Transit has opened an online open house and survey on proposed station access improvements for Sounder commuter rail stations in South Tacoma and Lakewood. These are the last two stations on the S Line until Tillicum and DuPont Stations open in 2045 and are served by seven Sounder trips in each direction on weekdays. The access improvement projects are to be funded as part of the Sound Transit 3 program and implemented by 2030.

Potential projects have gone through a screening and rating process. Sound Transit worked with peer agencies to identify the potential projects and used a series of evaluation criteria based on access, environmental, passenger experience, partnership opportunities, and cost to rate projects. Through the evaluation criteria, projects were then separated into three categories: higher-performing (potential improvements), middle-performing (possible alternatives), and lower-performing (not proposed for further consideration). Higher-performing projects are the most likely candidates for funding and construction, but the open survey could affect decision-making about projects to be selected for further consideration.

Projects that seem to rate best according to the criteria were walk, biking, and some transit enhancements near the stations.

South Tacoma candidate improvements

Higher-performing projects for South Tacoma Station are noted with colored dots and lines in this map. (Credit: Sound Transit)

Sound Transit is recommending several buckets of improvements around the South Tacoma Station. As outlined on the map, these include a new bicycle pathway on S 56th Street (pink), bicycle lanes and connections on other local streets (green), a mix of other bike, pedestrian, and accessibility improvements near the station (blue and orange), and bus and bus stop improvements (mustard) — like transit signal priority, transit shelters and lighting, and bus stop relocation. In the immediate station area, Sound Transit is also recommending a bunch of new features, including:

  • Improved wayfinding materials;
  • A new public address system;
  • Tactile pavement for accessibility;
  • A new transit shelter for people with disabilities;
  • Safer pedestrian crossings of railway tracks; and
  • Micromobility parking for scooters and bikes.

NPI Poll Finds Uphill Fight for Progressives in Seattle General Election

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A photo shows a man with greying black hair and mustache on the left side of the screen and a woman with shoulder length black hair and a red shirt beneath jacket on the right side of the stage.
Mayoral candidates M. Lorena González and Bruce Harrell debate. (Credit: Seattle Channel)

A poll completed by Change Research for the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) indicates plenty of reasons why supporters of progressive candidates in Seattle’s general election should be worried as election day approaches. Previously tight races have seemingly swung in favor of more conservative candidates if the poll is accurate, with some distinct trends related to age and gender emerging. Change Research estimates its poll has a modeled margin of error of 4.1% at the 95% confidence interval.

Harrell takes the lead in mayoral race

According to the poll, Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González is trailing former City Council President Bruce Harrell by 16% in the upcoming mayoral election. Harrell received strong support from older voters, as well as voters who identified as people of color.

A graphic reads polling finding: Bruce Harrell has a sixteen point lead over Lorena Gonzalez as of 10/15.
(Credit: Northwest Progressive Institute)

Age emerged as the strongest determining factor in the poll results for the mayoral race with 66% of voters ages 65 and older saying they are voting for Harrell compared to 20% for González. However, younger voters did demonstrate a strong preference for González, with 49% of voters ages 18 to 34 supporting González and 30% supporting Harrell.

A strong margin of voters of color (56%) say they are voting for Harrell, while just 30% say they are voting for González. Twelve percent of voters of color say they are unsure who they will vote for. While respondents are asked to identify their race in the poll, because of the small sample population size, Change Research is unable to share data that gives a racial breakdown of results among people of color groups. They do, however, engage in targeted recruitment of poll respondents to ensure that the poll’s demographics are representative of the voting pubic in the study area.