Henry Aronson can’t lose. Can he? The anti-monorail campaign leader won a court order this month requiring monorail proponents to include more details about the proposed monorail on the ballot title that will go before voters in just two weeks. His efforts helped force monorail proponents to admit that their plan contains no explicit limit on how much the 14-mile monorail can cost. And this week, his Citizens Against the Monorail (CAM) won a court order requiring the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) to turn over reams of documents, including e-mail, related to the proposed plan, including some that only exist on ETC staff members’ private computers.
The ETC had two days—until midday Wednesday, after Seattle Weekly went to press—to appeal the order by King County Superior Court Judge James Doerty; if they lose, they’ll have to turn over the e-mails, plus private computers “within the control of any ETC staff member or ETC board member,” according to the order. But Aronson and CAM were already declaring victory. “The ETC had their hand slapped pretty significantly,” Aronson says.
That the ETC should have to open its records, even to monorail opponents, isn’t really in question. As a public agency, the ETC has to make its records available to anyone who wants to see them—even representatives of an opposition group like CAM, whose request was so general the monorail could well be built before they finish poring over the 700,000 pages of documents they’ve received since September. The question was whether the ETC could withhold some of those records by claiming attorney-client privilege, which ETC executive director Harold Robertson says exempts the documents from public-disclosure laws. “The public has paid $300,000 for the provision of legal advice. Don’t we have the right to see what that is?” says CAM attorney Judy Endejan, referring to the ETC’s legal costs so far. . . .
Last week, two copyright-infringement complaints had monorail opponents hopping, though neither made it anywhere near a courtroom. First, Fox Broadcasting Corp. sent a cease-and-desist letter to CAM, demanding that they stop using Marge Simpson’s likeness to advertise a campaign screening of the Simpsons episode “Marge vs. the Monorail” and that they even call off the Oct. 29 screening itself. (As of Tuesday, it was still on.) “While we acknowledge that you have the right to express your political and social views, Fox has not authorized your use of the episode and Fox’s intellectual property for that purpose,” the letter reads. (The network didn’t feel quite so proprietary when city staffers watched the episode last May.) Then, the Monorail Society complained that CAM had illegally posted several of its copyrighted photos of the Las Vegas monorail on their Web site. When it was clear they didn’t have a legal leg to stand on, CAM took the photos down, though not without comment: “They don’t want anyone to see the Las Vegas photographs, and well they shouldn’t—they’re monstrous,” Aronson said. Taste is a pretty subjective thing, so to judge for yourself, go to www.monorails.org and follow the links to the Las Vegas monorail page. . . .
Erica C. Barnett