(re)Agonizing the Defeat of Prop 1

They're still kicking the Prop 1 dead horse over on Horse's Ass. Lee writes:

I can't even begin to understand what the hell the Sierra Club was thinking when they actually convinced themselves that siding with Kemper Freeman to kill this plan would somehow lead to less roads (and therefore less global warming, as their "logic" went).

We left-wing opponents didn't side with Kemper Freeman Jr. We opposed a bad plan. Unclear scope of work. Unending taxing authority. Regressive taxation. Starting work that'd need more funding to finish.

Sorry, but no thank you.

That Kemper agreed with us just shows that even a stopped watch is right twice daily.

The problem is that the roads are going to be built no matter what...

Fine. But why should I have to pay for them? It's like buying an alcoholic a six-pack and pleading "This is it. After this, no more. It's time for you to start acting reasonable. Okay?" Classic enabling behavior. What's required here is some tough love.

Seattle is the tax base for the region, for the state. We already subsidize most everyone else's standard of living (both the eastside and Eastside). We enable the sprawl.

Most rural and suburban dwellers think they carry us. It's an amazing, shocking amount of ignorance.

Our reward for this largess?

They hate us liberals.

I say fine, cool by me. The rest of the state can pay for their own roads (and ferries).

You want to drive your gas guzzlers? Fine. Knock yourself out. Gas prices will continue to rise. This, ultimately, will be a self-correcting problem. You want to rot in traffic and be a stranger to your family so that you can have two acres and a mule? Fine. That's your choice.

I used to be a utopian. For social justice, economic, and environmental reasons. Public transit for the masses. And happy to pay for it.

Now I'm selfish. I'll support any plan that directly and solely benefits Seattle. I'll support any plan where the partner meets Seattle as a good faith negotiator. For instance, if the Eastside wants to build their rail to our city limit for a link up.

In fact, everywhere else can do whatever they want, just so long as I don't have to pay for it.

Meanwhile, Seattle will continue to build ever more urban housing. People will vote with their feet. They'll choose to work where they live. They'll choose healthy lifestyles over long commutes. That's the open market at work. And the employers will have to follow.

What scares me the most about how the Sierra Club, and certain other anti-roads folks, approached this issue is that it was eerily reminiscent of the neocon mindset.

I don't even know what to make of this. It's like a new form of Godwin's Law. Agree with me or I'll call you names. How petulant.

There's a lyric that applies, from the Sneaker Pimps (I think):

Just because I understand doesn't mean I care.

We left-wing opponents get it. We're just no longer willing to forfeit a kidney on the hopes that someone else gets out of their car.

In general, I have some advice for proponents for public and mass transit:

  • First, neutralize or buyoff the beneficiaries of sprawl. Like Quadrant, Behring and Kemper. They'll always scuttle any plan which threatens their racket.

  • Second, address the root causes of the problem: urban areas subsidizing sprawl and land use codes.

  • Third, first a little, then a lot. Make the projects modest. Incrementally improve the image of civic works. Small stuff, like how the design/build team for I-90 was given financial incentives for being on time and under budget.

  • Lastly, and this will be the hardest one for everyone to accept, top-down centralized solutions no longer work. Sorry. This is the 3rd millennium. You'll have to find new innovative strategies.

That's all.

< Hate Will Not Live Here | Facing up to Stop Loss; it can't hold - it isn't holding. Put this topic into Presidential Debates >
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I agree, zappini, that there's no call for people to judge each other for their decisions on this.

I supported Prop 1.  I voted for it. I am disappointed it didn't pass.

And I wish it had not been put to a vote of the people.  

For 3 years people on all sides of the transportation issue worked together for the best compromises they could find that would address all the most pressing needs.  Many of these people were immersed in these issues.  Frankly, they know a hell of a lot more than I do -- just stepping in now.  

And, being forced to work together, they were not making decisions on the basis that I know many of my neighbors were: 'but do I get a new bus line in my neighborhood?'

Prop 1 involved momentous & incredibly complicated issues of transportation, finance, governance, climate change, etc.  I read quite a bit on it, spent quite a bit of time thinking about it, and never got my mind around a context that could help me constructively understand all the little pieces of it.  I'd planned to write a series of supportive posts on it -- but found that the deeper I got, the more questions I had.  

I think that this issue is too complicated for voters to decide on.  At the very least, only people who took a class on it -- and committed to the process of understanding some of the many issues and tradeoffs involved -- should have been allowed to vote on it.  I'm not joking here -- there are models for this kind of decision-making, citizen councils where people without a stake are brought into an intensive process of learning about an issue to come to a decision.  

As for the roads part of this...

There was comparatively little roadbuilding proposed in terms of new miles of roads in this package.  Much of that part of the package would have accomplished much needed efficiencies like hooking up the fast lanes on different highways so that people would no longer have to get out of the fast lane on 167 N, for example, switch over to the slow lane on 405 S, and then switch back to the fast lane.  What a waste!  And speaking of climate change -- what a contributor to that.

There's no way that we can throw up our hands and say we can no longer invest in roads because of climate change.

Washington is one state.  Urban and rural, we're in this together.  So I don't buy that there should be segmentation of roads and transit, urban and rural, tough love, etc.  We've got to figure this out together -- in a practical, problem-solving way that respects everyone's differences of opinion and situation.  

I'm really sad that Prop 1 didn't pass. But perhaps something good will come of it.


by noemie maxwell on Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 01:01:05 PM PST

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  • Thoughts by zappini, 11/21/2007 09:24:29 AM PST (none / 0)
  • Alternatives by zappini, 11/21/2007 10:02:41 AM PST (none / 0)
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