Document 32: Speech Against METRO

Nicholas A. Maffeo, "Speech Against ‘Metro,'" 20 February 1958. Seattle—Metropolitan District, Vertical Files, Periodicals Division,
Seattle Public Library, Main Branch.

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By Nicholas A. Maffeo
Seattle Attorney
(President of the King County Taxpayers League Against “Metro")

The King County Taxpayers League Against Metro is not against progress

Indeed we are for:

  1. Unpolluted waters

  2. A new rapid transit system

  3. Coordinated planning

but we are definitely against the proposed “metro”. We have two basic objections against “metro”. The first is that the proposed “Metro” would create a new government with huge governing powers which would destroy our historical form of local self-government, and (2) would simultaneously place a staggering financial and tax burden upon us. “Metro” would solve the “so-called” pollution problem in Lake Washington and on the Sound, by creating a new layer of government which would be superimposed by the City of Seattle and some 15 other cities and towns, as well as our King County government, some 20 odd sewer districts and govern over an area nearly half the size of King County.

This new super-government would be governed by the “Metro” Council, which would consist of 14 local elected public officials, eight from the central city of Seattle, one each from the cities of Bellevue and Renton, and one representing twelve other growing cities and towns. In addition thereto, there would be one King County commissioner and one appointee for each commissioner district, and one for the north district and one for the south district. These 14 would in turn elect a chairman. The Council would be dominated and controlled by the eight elected local Seattle officials, the Mayor of Seattle and seven Seattle City Councilmen, which would deny effective representation to the other 15 incorporated cities as well as the large growing unincorporated areas. This Council is an un-Democratic Council in that it is not directly elected by you, the people, and therefore is not directly responsible to the will of the people. . . .

When the “Metro” council exercises these vast legislative powers what voice will you have in this Council to protect your interests, your home, your pocketbook? Whom will you complain effectively to, or petition, to obtain redress for any wrong or injustice done you? Can you vote them out? That is our great American privilege but with “Metro” you can't vote for or against the 8 Seattle Council members unless you live in Seattle, and the people of Seattle can't vote out the other Council members unless they live in their respective communities. The Council is thus removed from the people it governs. If you live in Seattle you can only vote for Seattle members. Here is the great device for political subterfuge.

In Seattle the members of the “Metro” Council at a local election will state they did no wrong, it was the other members of the “Metro” Council who were voted in by the other cities and communities, and vice versa.

My friends, the proponents of “Metro”, in their haste to solve a grossly over-exaggerated pollution problem, have attempted to create a new super-government which would remove the safeguards of freedom placed by our ancestors at the local level. The seem to have forgotten the age-long and bloody controversy that our forefathers xxxx waged against tyranny and the great heritage of freedom that they left us at the local level. This freedom consists in precisely that our elected representatives must be made directly responsible to the people for their actions at regular elections where their conduct shall be passed upon by the people. This safeguard was placed by our ancestors to prevent corruption and to speedily correct the evils as they arise. I wish to say, my friends, in all earnestness that if it came to a choice between “loss” of Lake Washington or the loss of any part of our great American heritage of freedom, I would personally chose to lose Lake Washington, but there is not need to lose our liberty, there is no need to lose our lake. This then brings us to the so-called pollution problem. We find that the City of Seattle is dumping 70,000,000 gallons of raw sewage per day in the Sound, contaminating and polluting the beaches. If the City of Seattle had built proper sewage treatment plants the problem of pollution on the Sound would not exist. . . .

In conclusion, my friends, the solution that the proponents of “Metro” would have us adopt would destroy our historical form of local self-government and would simultaneously impose upon us a huge tax and financial burden at the Local Level of government which would exceed the sum of one billion dollars. The interest alone divided among the 200,000 families in King County could be in the sum of $300.00 per year, and all of this without any necessity whatsoever.

My friends, at this precarious time in our national existence, when we are faced with a national debt of 275 billion and the ever-necessary federal taxes to protect our freedom from dangers abroad, with a mounting deficit at the State level and with the threat of new taxes, it would seem the height of folly to add to this a gigantic indebtedness at the Local Level.

I believe, my friends, that you will agree that the only safe and sound course for us is to defeat “Metro” at the polls and in so doing remove this threat of a new financial burden to be imposed upon us and to preserve our local liberties.

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest