In her article, Judy Clibborn seems concerned about protecting Mercer Island residents and appears to be doing something about it. However, a closer look shows her efforts are nothing more than a deceptive tactic to divide opposition and get the toll passed.
If we can be convinced to save our own skins and let everyone else pay the toll, then we have in effect become advocates for tolling I-90. If we fall for this bribe, Judy will have divided opposition by buying off the leadership with a hollow promise. Other opposition to the I-90 toll will be substantially weaker, and passing the tolling legislation will be more likely.
Besides the strategy designed to deceive Mercer Islanders, her stance is laced with contradictions. First, she claims that only the floating portion of the bridge is in the current tolling plan, then she states that she is sponsoring a bill that compels WSDOT to consider options that would give Islanders a free direction off the Island. Either we have a free direction in the current plan or we do not. Her bill to compel WSDOT makes no sense.
The third option she proposed may have the most appeal to MI residents. It would toll only those who cross the entire span between Bellevue to Seattle. As fair as this might seem to those on Mercer Island, it will never pass muster with the rest of the state. Could Judy Clibborn actually ask her fellow Olympians to support her proposal to toll their constituents and at the same time vote for her other proposal to exempt her constituents? This scenario is unlikely and even an attempt to push it will be perceived as a special deal for a privileged class. It will never get passed, and I believe Judy knows this.
Could you imagine the headlines if it were passed: “State Tolls Those Least Able to Pay, Gives Mercer Island Free Pass.” This idea that Mercer Island residents will get a special deal is a deceptive ploy to erode opposition to tolling. Once tolling is passed, Mercer Island residents do not have a chance of escaping the toll.
Spending some money now to fight tolling based on a strong legal justification is not only best for Mercer Islanders, it is best for everyone else in Washington state. We need to lead a coalition of concerned communities to fight this toll. Together we can be toll free; divided we will be tolled.