Why Didn't You Know?
"Monoreality" [March 3] was a welcome story. It's about time the media stop tiptoeing around and see the monorail as being the monstrous intrusion into our cityscape that it will be! But I challenge the Weekly for now innocently asking "who knew?" that the monorail is going to be ugly as hell and "who knew?" that its stations and switching platforms are going to eclipse the sun from the streets below, among other serious aesthetic and environmental questions. You should have known! Over the last several years, there have been plenty of articulate naysayers—architects, urban designers, and others whose job it is to know—refusing to go along with the kid-glove treatment the monorail received from newspapers and politicians and accurately describing and predicting exactly what you now lament about the monorail.
Rick Anderson stumbles over his own facts when criticizing the monorail ["Monoreality," March 3]. He waves the cost-overrun flag, but then admits that we approved a $1.75 billion monorail and the board is bringing it home at $1.6 billion. He claims the monorail will be shorter—only 13.7 miles instead of 14 miles. That's only 1,584 feet! He exaggerates the property losses due to stations and rights of way, then admits owners are being offered fair market prices and relocation fees. He even exposes the lawyers who, like vultures, have been soliciting clients to file frivolous lawsuits. He criticizes the Delridge route, when it was created specifically at the neighborhood's request. He claims that hundreds of parking spaces will be lost on the basis of the same specious guesswork of which he accuses the monorail board. The only thing Anderson got right was his quote by a City Council staffer who said that at City Hall, "the thinking is speed kills." No disagreement there.
Janice Van Cleve
I am happy that Rick Anderson has kept on the monorail beat, getting behind the salacious slogans that garnered a razor-thin victory ["Monoreality," March 3]. He exposes a project that will have negligible effects on transit, cause major disruptions to neighborhoods, and have serious visual impacts on downtown. The lack of park-n-ride facilities and mounting engineering problems are only a few red flags.
But we can thank Sound Transit's light-rail project for setting the bar so abysmally low. One could contend that the monorail only passed because it purposely misled voters into believing it was an alternative to our ineffective light-rail system. How "populist" is a project that only serves two of the city's neighborhoods and yet represents a sizable 30-year-plus tax for residents everywhere?! Light rail will be a benefit for those who want to take scenic tours of the Rainier Valley; likewise, the monorail will be enjoyable for those in West Seattle who don't want to take their cars when frequenting the pubs in Ballard.
Our region once had an excellent reputation for our nationally acclaimed bus system. Rather than build on our strengths or use monorail technology rationally, we continue to spend good money after bad. In an area that shows strong support for public transportation, this is a tragedy.
Rick Anderson's article did a great disservice to the community ["Monoreality," March 3]. There was scarcely a positive word about the monorail project, which has set a high standard for the quality of community communications and management effectiveness of public works projects. Instead, he has written as though several preliminary design concepts are "done deals," when in fact they're still being worked out between the project people and community groups. He has resurrected old issues (such as the disposition of the old monorail) that have effectively been put behind us. He has given continued credibility to those who have been opposed to the project from the beginning and now seem to seek to bog it down in subtle and not so subtle ways. The silliest example of this mentality is the movement to have a revote on the monorail. Long-standing monorail opponents can now use this article to demonstrate how unresponsive the project has been to broad community interests, when in fact the opposite is true.
Rick Anderson suggests that the dream of a 58-mile, five-line monorail system is something our children can deal with, and that our immediate concerns are how to shoehorn the Green Line into our well-developed cityscape and how many years we will be paying for it ["Monoreality," March 3]. There's just one problem, also ignored by the monorail designers as they plan phase two: How will we pay for a citywide system?
Additional tax revenues for the monorail will be hard to come by. Even if voters decide to shell out more for transportation, there's an obvious pecking order: Alaskan Way Viaduct, Evergreen Point bridge, I-405, I-5. The total cost for these mega-projects is enormous and will tie up available revenues for years to come.
The monorail authority may well have to plan any expansion beyond the Green Line within the limits of its current tax base. Simple arithmetic (five lines times 30 years) suggests that a citywide system will not be affordable until our great-grandkids' kids come of age. And if the money won't be there until they start paying vehicle taxes, then why are we embarking on this problematic journey?
WHo you calling a Scofflaw?
Rick Anderson's March 3 story on the monorail ["Monoreality"] was first-rate, but I dispute his characterization of those who choose not to pay the monorail car tax as "scofflaws" and "evaders." When Seattle approved the monorail and the car tax, state law didn't require vehicle registration at the primary residence. Nor did the measure include any way to enforce registration within city limits. In short, the tax approved was voluntary. Presumably monorail promoters chose not to propose an enforceable tax because they believed voters would reject it. Even so, the monorail passed by the thinnest of margins.
As Anderson's report notes, it appears that the only way the monorail authority can deliver any monorail is by making changes that violate the contract with the voters—one rail instead of two, elevators instead of escalators, etc. The attempt to change the tax from voluntary to mandatory is just the latest switch.
Thank you so much for Knute Berger's column on how to win this year's election [Mossback, "Attack! Attack! Attack!" March 3]. I couldn't agree more! The reality is that we're in a battle: a battle for the soul of our nation. And you don't win battles by acting as though you're "above that type of behavior." When they punch, we have to punch back immediately, twice as hard and twice as long. And when the bad guys are reeling from our last counterattack, we'll put them on the defensive by making them answer questions that will knock them down to the mat again.
A lie that goes unanswered is a lie that sticks. We have to do what works.
I loved Knute Berger's article [Mossback, "Attack! Attack! Attack!" March 3]. Here's an example I like: Say BushCo brings up, "In 19[68–89] John Kerry did such and such." Answer: "Well, in that same year, Bush was sprawled out stinking drunk on the floor, crashing from his cocaine high."
Come back with this every time, tie it in with "deluded, incompetent, no real experience" lines, and you can be sure they'll stop trying to dig up past scandals very quickly.
Knute Berger advises John Kerry to be as vicious as the Republicans [Mossback, "Attack! Attack! Attack!" March 3]. That is, more vicious than Howard Dean, who was eviscerated by the media, and more vicious than Ralph Nader, whom Berger ridicules.
Great strategy. The lesson of the treatment of Dean by the media is that truly aggressive Democrats will be punished, severely, for "gaffes" that flood daily from the mouths of any top Republican. And what Dean had to say made perfect sense; it wasn't the sort of dumb wedgie junk Berger advises. (Actually, because Berger is mostly about the pose, a shallow windbag—"knee in the groin," "ride in my Corvair," etc.—I have no idea what specifically he thinks Kerry should do, even after a whole column putatively devoted to the subject.)
Kerry made it into the top spot by presenting a watered-down version of Dean's message to an electorate that has convinced itself that it knows what will be "electable," which is both sad and scary—I trust the prognosticative powers of the masses a lot less than their collective conscience. But that's how Kerry got the job, and for him to all of a sudden turn hard-core rabid dog would be a rank absurdity. Berger counsels extremism in the support of centrism; why should we care? The Democrats can't match the Republican's budget and therefore cannot match their NOISE, either. The horrible truth about the Bush years, repeated calmly, convincingly, and consistently, will have to do.
Ojo Caliente, NM
Much Ado About Wiecking
Too bad that Tina Landau's energetic, inspired, and profound interpretation of The Time of Your Life (at the Seattle Rep) left Steve Wiecking sputtering in the dust of his own stodgy assumptions [Opening Nights, Feb. 25]. His review of her brilliant production was pinched, mean-spirited, and far more revealing of his own limited scope than any limitation the play could have possibly suffered in Landau's hands. He calls it "high-minded hoo-ha," but this gutsy take on William Saroyan's play about American optimism—however mired in the muck and brutality of capitalism—is a celebration of the absolute joy at the heart of freedom and equality. Landau declared independence of anyone's expectation in this production, but Wiecking calls her deconstructed staging and Jeff Perry's stunning performance "affected." What is this guy doing reviewing theater? He might use his ink to enrich and enliven the art form instead of writing Much Ado About Wiecking (to turn his own phrase). And, yes, there is symbolism in that girder that makes a diagonal cut above the set, but it would be lost on Wiecking. Let's just say instead that it's about the size and shape of item that it would take to fall on the cynical hard little heads of reviewers of Wiecking's ilk to wake them up to the fact that they are so busy "bookkeeping" for the hip-pose posse that they miss the party. That this bold and vital theater experience could come into being at all in the current acidic nonprofit arts economy is nothing short of a miracle. Landau is doing her part to keep audiences alive to the shimmering essence of the live theater experience, whether or not they watch HBO or SNL. Is Wiecking?
Don't Forget Talmadge
Thank you for Rick Anderson's story detailing the billions of dollars the state hands out in corporate tax breaks ["$64 Billion Falls Through the Tax Cracks," Feb. 18]. The article asked some hard questions that any newspaper or public official should raise.
Why am I the only gubernatorial candidate committed to addressing tax reform and the $64 billion of public money unnecessarily given away through tax exemptions? For months I have called on the state to repeal the $3 billion break it gave Boeing last year because the company has made no commitment to creating jobs in Washington. My opponents' response has been to damn the citizens and give Boeing whatever it wants, which is pretty poor public policy.
How much longer is Olympia going to turn its back on our needs? No wonder so many middle-class people feel government does not serve their wishes. No wonder Tim Eyman appeals to such persons disserved by our present tax structure. No respectable governor would allow the state to bleed money like this while we have a health care crisis, teacher strikes, and freeways that look like parking lots. Once elected, I will only support tax breaks that create jobs and that can be shown to improve Washington's economy. I will insist that the government periodically review all corporate tax exemptions and repeal those that burden the state. We can no longer afford to give big business a free ride.
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