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Updated Monday, February 18, 2013 at 10:58 AM

1-90 tolling: Mansion-ringed Mercer Island wants a free pass

By Ron Judd
Seattle Times staff columnist

Those crafty Mercer Islanders have come up with a whole new twist on the something-for-nothing revolution.

For years, local anti-tax whiners have pushed the notion that user fees — people paying a la carte for public services they actually use — were the epitome of fairness, a seawall holding back the creeping tides of socialism.

Now, some of those same folks are demanding a lifetime free pass for any new tolls on the Interstate 90 floating bridge — essentially expecting everyone but them to pay for a service that they benefit from more than anybody.

Otherwise, life on a toll-bridged, mansion-ringed Mercer Island, one resident memorably opined, will be “a little bit like Alcatraz.”

And a lot like a coop for chickens coming home to roost.

Not everyone on Mercer Island is rich, and residents have a legitimate point about access to basic services. But you have to wonder how many of those penny pinching island dwellers gleefully voted to toss out the former system that paid for highways by charging local Tesla and Maserati owners a lot more for highways through vehicle-excise taxes.

Pay-as-you go is a great concept, it seems, until you actually have to pay to go.

More plaintive wailing:

Some Things You Can Count On: February. Rain. Wind. Snow in the mountains. Seahawk linebacker Leroy Hill arrested on four counts of domestic violence.

Some People Call Them the Space Cowboys: The state reportedly is looking for qualified, experienced ganja-distribution consultants. Uh, do they need a map to Granite Falls or Carnation?

Moon, Howl, Etc.: A number of goofy bills seeking to control the state’s growing wolf population popped up in Olympia. Our favorite was the one that would punish predatory wolves by dispatching state Sen. Pam Roach, R-!&$#@, to hunt them down and verbally browbeat them into submission.

Capitol Offenses: Apologies to editors for turning in this column a couple hours late. Mr. Wrap had to stop off at his state representative’s porch to drop off his weekly dry-cleaning bundle.

Speaking of Which: If you call your state legislator to complain about needless public spending, and the message gets kicked to voice mail on a publicly paid cellphone, might the universe simply collapse upon itself right then and there?

Sounds Like a Song to Us: You work your whole life in journalism just for the chance to write a single lead like this one from Associated Press: “Randy Travis pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated Thursday in a case that began last summer when the country music star was found naked after crashing his Pontiac Trans Am.”

Speaking of First-World Problems: It was enlightening to see four talented reporters from The Seattle Times and Sacramento Bee put their heads together the other day for an hourlong web chat in which they ultimately concluded that the NBA is likely to do whatever the hell it wants, whenever the hell it wants, to taxpayers in both cities.

And Finally: The Labrador retriever is the Seattle area’s most popular dog, the American Kennel Club says, mirroring a national trend. To which Cooper, Mr. Wrap’s loyal yellow Labrador recliner, replied: Duh.

Ron Judd’s column appears each Sunday. Reach him at rjudd@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8280.


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