On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Deconstructing The (Supposed) Arguments For I-912

Steve Neighbors has written a piece in which he accuses those against I-912 of spreading "mistruths, myths and outright lies". The problem is it is hard for him to make such a point when that's in fact what Steve himself is doing most of the time.

Let's go through his arguments one by one.

Keep Washington Rolling, the official name of the well financed campaign to bash the I-912 initiative of the people, is spending millions of dollars in slick TV advertising...
Millions? How many millions? Steve will let us know much later. For now you are left to believe it is considerably more than two million. Slick advertising? I'll take that to mean the advertising is first rate.

...trying to convince the voting public that if I-912 passes there will be no money to spend on fixing the transportation problems of the state. They are fanning the flames of fear on myths, mistruths and out and out lies. Let's discuss a few.

Misleading Myth #1
The anti 912 side tries to portray I-912 supporters as opposed to spending money on transportation. We are greedy - unwilling to pay for needed transportation infrastructure improvements. We want something for nothing.

The Truth
No one is opposed to improvements in transportation.
Clever omission of the words "spending money" here Steve. While you can easily state that "no one is opposed to improvements in transportation", that's not the same as "no one is opposed to spending money on improvements in transportation". I, for one, have never said that I-912 supporters are greedy, but you're right, I certainly have said that they want something for nothing. As we'll see further down, judging by Steve's own arguments, they also have a fundamental lack of understanding about the urgency of the safety issues the transportation plan seeks to address, and the huge costs to address the full scope of projects needed throughout the state of Washington.

Everyone knows the state is mired in transportation problems...
In no small part due to initiative's like I-912 that have squeezed the funding available to deal with the problems.

...and citizens are demanding solutions to those problems. What we tend to differ on are the fundamental ways to solve the most pressing problem that most citizens want fixed: traffic congestion. People are tired of sitting in gridlock,...
Obviously not tired enough if they are willing to vote for I-912.

...wasting time that they could be spending with their families. And businesses want to be able to get their people, goods and services to work and to market in a timely cost effective manner. Yet 83% of the small businesses polled in Washington State oppose the transportation funding package that Democrats forced through in 2005.
Try as I might, I could not find a source for Steve's 83% polling number. Steve himself does not provide a source, nor does he qualify what constitutes a small business.

In 2003 the legislature passed a transportation-funding package that we've come to know as the "nickel package. " That package passed with bipartisan support.
As did the 2005 bill, with 18 Republicans voting for it. Let me list the names for you, so we are quite clear on this:

House:

Glenn Anderson (5th District)
Tom Campbell (2nd)
Jim Clements (14th)
Richard Curtis (18th)
Larry Haler (8th)
Shirley Hankins (8th)
Bill Hinkle (13th)
Fred Jarrett (41st)
Mary Skinner (14th)
Rodney Tom (48th)
Beverly Woods (23rd)
Senate:

Alex Deccio (14th)
Bill Finkbeiner (45th)
Mike Hewitt (16th)
Joyce Mulliken (13th)
Dave Schmidt (44th)
Dan Swecker (20th)
Joseph Zarelli (18th)
Steve continues:

And a citizen's initiative was never mounted to oppose that funding package. Why?

The nickel package was a very different bill than the one rammed thru the legislature this year.
Rammed is not an accurate characterization. This was a bill that was three years in the making and was much delayed this year in part by Republican stall tactics.

Let's take a look at the Nickel bill from 2003, and compare it to the transportation bill from this year.

In 2003 bill ESB 6062 got its first reading on April 2. In 2005 bill SB 6103 got its first reading on April 4.

In 2003 bill ESB 6062 was passed in the state senate and the house on the same day, April 26 - a Saturday. In 2005 bill SB 6103 was passed in the senate on Wednesday April 20 and then in the house Sunday April 24.

Hardly different timelines for consideration and passage of these bills.

The nickel package had specific projects written into the bill. We knew exactly what was being funded.
This is simply not true. Read the text of the bill. It states that "the proceeds shall
be available only for the purposes enumerated in section 1 of this act
", referring to section 1 that reads:

In order to provide funds necessary for the location, design, right of way, and construction of selected projects or improvements that are identified as transportation 2003 projects or improvements in the omnibus transportation budget, there shall be issued and sold upon the request of the transportation commission a total of two billion six hundred million dollars of general obligation bonds of the state of Washington.
Now read what SB 6103 says:

Sec. 104 A new section is added to chapter 46.68 RCW to read as follows:
(1) The transportation partnership account is hereby created in the state treasury. All distributions to the account from RCW 46.68.090 must be deposited into the account. Money in the account may be spent only after appropriation. Expenditures from the account must be used only for projects or improvements identified as 2005 transportation partnership projects or improvements in the omnibus transportation appropriations act, including any principal and interest on bonds authorized for the projects or improvements.
Both documents refer to a separate list - and the same one at that. The 2003 bill refers to the 2003-2005 Omnibus Transportation budget. The 2005 bill refers to the 2005-2007 Omnibus Transportation budget, and subsequent budgets as detailed over the next 16 years.

The 2005 bill is different - the DOT has a list of intended projects but these projects are not written into the text of the bill.
Well we've seen this is not true. There is nothing different about how the project list is referenced. In fact, there is far more information available about the 270 projects.

You can't be sure what will get done. This list then becomes a WISH LIST.
It only becomes a wish list if I-912 passes, at which point we can be sure little would get done.

Citizens know they've just given DOT a blank check to spend on whatever suits them.
That's all three Steve: a mistruth, a myth and an outright lie. Projects have been clearly defined, costs have been clearly stated.

Plus, look at the list. You will be hard pressed to find any projects on that list that result in what citizens are begging for - new general purpose lane miles that will reduce congestion.
So now you admit there is a list of projects. Let me point people to it: The List. But not all citizens fall for the argument that more lanes means less traffic. People who drive the roads know that the problem is at the choke points where roads meet, or funnel. That's where a lot of the congestion projects rightfully focus. Width is added where it is needed, but you can't just add lanes and expect that will solve all problems. Citizens are also begging for safer roads and bridges. They don't want to be caught in an Alaskan Way Viaduct sandwich during an earthquake, or dumped into Lake Washington were it to fail in a bad storm.

The opposition website boldly states that this funding package is not about increased capacity - it is about safety improvements. Certainly honorable - but NOT the highest priority of the voters stuck in traffic everyday or for businesses with goods landlocked on freeways not at the docks or in customers hands.
Which is why we are thankful the safety of our roads is the top priority of people we elected to Olympia, for without their leadership, our roads and bridges would be even more neglected than they already are. These are critical safety needs on critical state road arteries, and rightfully the top priority of this legislation package. And by the way, this funding package is about safety and congestion, with a necessary focus on safety.

The 2003 nickel package is finite - that is, when the projects are complete the tax goes away.
Which is a fact I-912 supporters conveniently fail to take into account when determining the effect on long term gas taxes. But I digress.

The 2005 package never goes away - it runs for perpetuity. DOT says that this funding package will raise roughly $8 billion over 16 years. But this tax does not end in 16 years. Its like the energizer bunny - this tax just keeps on going and going. It simply raises the DOT budget. Forever.
Not in realityland. The gas tax merely returns the gas tax rate to levels we were last at in the early 1990s – and then only temporarily as inflation continues to eat into the gas tax rate, and the purchasing power to pay for ever increasing construction costs of the dollars raised. That's just a sad fact of life: over time, prices go up. We need to the make sure our taxes don't lag dangerously if we want to do more than just patch pot-holes.

I-912 Supporters are not opposed to spending money on transportation improvements if they reduce congestion. But this bill does little to improve congestion.
That's simply not true. Three billion dollars in this bill will go to projects that will help relieve congestion, including 125 new lane miles of roads, such as along Highway 9 in Snohomish County, along the I-405 corridor between Bothell and Bellevue, Highway 12 between Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities, and in Clark County.

Voters are opposed to giving DOT and government leaders a blank check.
Once again, this is not a blank check, no matter how many times you say it. Projects have been defined that, should I-912 pass, will not have the funding they need to be worked on.

Misleading Myth # 2
The opposition will tell you that those who signed the initiative petition and those who vote for I-912 are mind numbed robots, blindly following the rantings of conservative talk show hosts like some cult followers drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. They say we are the "NO to everything" crowd.

Truth
These were thoughtful citizens moved to action by their concerns.
By their concerns... that their guy Rossi lost the governorship.

They were willing to step outside of complacency and the "go along - get along crowd" to do the right thing.
So I guess they believe that becoming obstructionists to transportation infrastructure improvements is the right thing. That's just plain upside-down thinking.
This is not a partisan issue. What we see is bipartisan support for the initiative. Democrats, Republicans and Independents signed the 912 initiative petition in record numbers.
Does the I-912 campaign therefore have the stats on just how many Democrats signed petitions versus Republicans and Independents? Didn't think so, so you cannot back up such a statement.

Democrat legislators knew voters would not like this legislation so rather than draft legislation acceptable to the people they attached an emergency clause to it. The emergency clause eliminates the citizens' right to a referendum. Referendum petitions require only one half the number of signatures that initiatives require to be validated and put on the November ballot. Organizers only had 30 days, to get at least 225,000 signatures to validate the initiative. Much to everyone's surprise, this initiative hit such a strong and vibrant chord with the citizenry that over 420,000 signatures, nearly twice and many as were needed, were gathered in just 4 short weeks - from unpaid volunteers. This is simply unheard of.
The reason for the emergency clause was that the too long neglected safety needs are an emergency. This was not done to preclude a citizen's vote, and I-912 is proof that a vote was always possible. This line of argument is nothing but bunk. However, while projects have been put on hold as the bill stands in limbo because of I-912, $66 million will have been lost that could have paid for many projects. Brett Bader, I-912 mouthpiece, calls this a "few dollars". If you drive on Route 202 between Sahalee Way and SR 520, you'll notice the road work that will be widening that congested stretch of roadway. Price tag: just under $64 million. Just a "few dollars" to Bader. Yet these delays due to I-912 would cost the state one such project. How would you feel if that was a project you directly benefitted from?
The transportation funding bill was a moving target when it passed. Two competing bills were being thrown around by the majority Democrats, changing from minute to minute. Something was going to pass because the Democrats were in control and had the votes in the legislature to make it happen.
Steve, however, conveniently neglects to mention it first had to pass the senate, which it did 26-22, on the strength of seven Republican senator's votes. As for the timeline, I've already mentioned that before.

It came up for a vote on Saturday, one day before the Sunday end of session. It purposefully failed, but in so doing the Democrats learned what they needed and who they had to lean on to make it happen. Sunday was filled with changes and back door deals and promises. I doubt anyone outside the Democrat caucus had a full understanding of the details of the bill when it was slammed through at the last minute on Sunday night as the session ended.
Once again, weekend votes at the close of a legislative session are hardly exceptional. As for the rest of Steve's assertion, is he inferring that Republicans were ignorant of the contents of the bill? That they could not read it? That Republican co-sponsor Dan Swecker was strongarming his fellow Republicans into voting for the bill, including people like Joyce Mulliken, who had never voted for a tax increase in her 10 years in Olympia?

When citizens take the time to wade through the fog and confusion the opposition has created surrounding this transportation package and actually look at what was passed by the partisan legislature they quickly become advocates of I-912. That's what happened to me.

As a fiscal conservative, I was initially torn between supporting a tax increase (which I nearly always oppose without corresponding efforts to cut or prioritize spending) and the need for more money for transportation dollars. I bought the line that "we have to do something!" and that since the tax was essentially a user fee it was at least a tax that only affected those who use the roads and those users were treated equally. But as I stepped back to look at the bill that had secretly morphed its way through the legislature in its last minutes I saw the reality of what passed. This was a bad bill.
Steve is entitled to coming to whatever conclusion he wishes about the bill and how he'll vote for or against I-912. At issue are the arguments he uses to convince others to do the same.
This is a bad bill and wise watchful people know it. That's why they support I-912.
So how do you explain why people like Swecker, Mulliken and Finkbiner voted for the bill after changes were made to it, the week before. And Swecker didn't vote for it until the final reading in the senate – a bill he co-sponsored. This was not a rail-roaded bill.

Misleading Myth #3
Opponents of the initiative will tell you that if this initiative passes, we'll have no money to fix our transportation problems. Christine Gregoire says she has no plan B if this initiative passes.

Truth
This is extremely and intentionally misleading.
What is misleading is Steve's characterization of this. What opponents are actually saying is that $5.5 of $8.5 billion (60%) will be lost.
This initiative only addresses the gas tax portion of the funding package. It does not affect other portions of the bill - new vehicle weight fees, nor increased license fees for light trucks, nor increase fees for motor homes, nor increased fees for drivers licenses, nor increases in diesel fuel taxes. In short over 40 % of the funding coming from this funding package will remain - over 3.2 billion dollars remain unaffected by this initiative - roughly the same amount of money raised by the 2003 nickel package. And we see 2003 nickel package projects just beginning all around us. Despite the misleading TV commercials of the anti 912 campaign - there will be a lot of money - $3.2 billion (yes that's Billion with a B) that will be left to spend on targeted projects to relieve traffic congestion.
However, this is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $30 to $40 billion worth of project needs statewide. Steve's financial thinking must be stuck in the 1960's. Without the gas tax money from this bill, we're dealing with more than just a mere flesh wound.

If they will do the right thing and PRIORITIZE.
The top two priorities would eat up $2.5 billion of that money, leaving only $1 billion to cover 269 other projects. I-405 work alone, mostly congestion work, will cost $1 billion. What about all the other projects all over the state? Few of these could be funded. So many projects will not see the light of day, and it is likely that the majority of these would be safety and congestion projects outside of the Puget Sound area. The irony is that the majority of the people the I-912 camp expects to vote for the initiative come from Eastern Washington, yet that's the area that will undoubtedly suffer the most should I-912 pass.

So this initiative is not really about taxes at all. People will support taxes if they believe they will get what they need for their money. People are not opposed to paying for roads. They are opposed to diverting their money away from general purpose road pavement to pay for 11 ft wide bicycle lanes, sound walls, overpasses for animals, and pork projects like a commuter train station in Stanwood where a commuter train doesn't even go.
Steve, of course, makes no mention of safety – which is no surprise seeing as that wouldn't make for as good a sound bite. Meanwhile, if you had 10 lanes of roads rushing past your home, you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the need for sound walls, and if you've ever hit a deer that was crossing I-90, while you were driving 70 mph, you'd not scoff at the need to provide a passage way for the animals over or under I-90.

This initiative is about stewardship.
Oh please. This initiative may be many things, but stewardship is not one of them.

About removing some of the funding so that transportation leaders have to PRIORITIZE which projects are most important to achieve the mandate of the people: the goal of reducing transportation congestion.
Let me get this straight: vote for I-912 because that will take money away from transportation projects, which will mean that there will be more money for transportation projects. Say what?

Given blank checks...
Once again, this is not a blank check.

...government never prioritizes. This initiative, when it passes, will hopefully require government to prioritize and listen to the will of the people.
"Hope" isn't good enough. "Hope" isn't a policy this state can steer by. This is just another reason I-912 does nothing but eliminate a much needed source of funding, while providing no alternative plan, leaving drivers stuck in traffic or on unsafe roadways.

Misleading Myth #4
There is a specific list of projects this money is targeted to fund and they will be completed on time and under budget because the new DOT Director is all about accountability. Besides, there is $3 million in the bill for performance audits.
Actually that's $4 million for the period from July 1, 2005, until June 30, 2007 - but why bother with being accurate. Better for you to be misleading when trying to talk about something you wish to portray as misleading. The performance audits, and the past performance of the WSDOT on recent Nickel projects was the reason many legislators, including Republicans, voted for this bill.

They keep waving the list. A partial list is posted on the DOT website and in the anti I-912 campaign literature.
Actually it is a full list on the WSDOT Web site, found in multiple documents.

Truth
First of all, as already noted, the list is not in the bill.
Once again, a meaningless argument. This project list is tied to the bill in the same way past project lists have been tied to past bills, including the Nickel tax bill.

And this WISH list...
Sorry, I'm not going to let you mis-frame what this list is.

...of projects to be funded is extremely Seattle centric - including two major mega projects - replacing the 520 floating bridge and the Alaska Way Viaduct.
These two projects were recognized by legislators as the top two priorities for the state. Let me quote Dan Swecker on this:

"The accompanying legislation has over 200 projects throughout the state. During the 16 years that it takes to complete those projects it's estimated that we will generate 35,000 to 40,000 new jobs, construction jobs, family wage jobs, $120,000,000 in sales tax revenue alone that will enhance the general fund budget. So my feeling is, if we're going to spend public money on anything, this is the exact right time to do it.

"That doesn't even speak to the issue of needs. The first thing we addressed in the Legislature was the failing structures in the Seattle metro area, the Alaskan Way Viaduct and 520 Bridge. If either of those were to fail it would have a devastating effect on the economy. We decided to fund a little less than half of those projects and have the region come up with the rest. Even with that, the tax will only come up with a portion of those projects, so to pay for the rest of the projects around the state, this incremental tax will help us finish these projects. The most inefficient thing to do for transportation is to start a project and not finish it. Projects can get out-of-date very quickly and then you need to start over, so getting them done is paramount."
Back to Steve:

Neither of these replacement projects add any new general purpose lane miles by the way...
Actually they do. The AWV includes tunnel plans that add capacity. The 520 bridge replacement project adds HOV lanes that relieve congestion caused by the funneling of existing lanes as they approach the bridge. Details, details.

... - they are simply replacements of already over capacity roads.
No, they are also replacements of roads that are dangerously close to failing, or do you not give a damn about the safety of drivers on these roads?

Let's not even talk about 520 for a moment - let's just talk about Alaska Way.

One of the reasons you can tell that this is a WISH list is that 5 months after the bill was slammed thru the legislature, no one has determined yet how the Alaska Way Viaduct project will be done. If the viaduct is replaced as Christine Gregoire is suggesting they are estimating a 2 billion dollar price tag. But Seattle government leaders are drooling and wiping their chins at the thought of tapping into that transportation money.
Spare us the sensationalism and cartoon visuals.

If a tunnel is built, as Seattle mayor Nickles hopes, the price tag jumps to $4 billion - about half of the total amount that is projected to be raised by this funding package.
Actually, the Alaskan Way Viaduct gets the same money from the gas tax either way: $2 billion – additional funding for a more expensive project would be paid for via other means.

Seattle, of course, would like this option because the tunnel could be used to replace a deteriorating seawall and they believe it could be a boon to economic development and tourism on the Seattle waterfront.
And these are bad things? The tunnel option also adds 2 lanes of additional capacity – isn't that a good thing? A replacement Viaduct cannot add more lanes due to footprint restrictions – or do you propose tearing down buildings in Seattle to make room for a for a new wider road?

Of course, what citizens want is congestion relief not another new restaurant or curio shop on the Seattle waterfront.
Now you digress.

If the bridge is simply repaired seismically for safety the cost drops to around $800 million - 5 times less than the tunnel plan.
This is not an option say the engineers:

The state decided that repairing the viaduct would cost at least 80 percent of the rebuilding cost. And when finished, the structure would be so stiff with all the bracing that an earthquake could cause various sections to crash into each other.

"A lot of people are drawn to the notion of a cheap fix," Dye said. "There is no cheap fix for the viaduct."

He said a retrofit would give the structure an additional 35 to 50 years of useful life, compared with 75 to 100 years for a new one.

The state hired engineers in T.Y. Lin International's Olympia office in 2001, shortly after the Nisqually quake, to look at viaduct-replacement options. David Goodyear, an engineer with the firm, said the review determined it wasn't wise or cost-effective to try to retrofit the aging structure.

"If you had a 20-year-old car with rust on the side, the floorboard coming out and the tires bald, is that the time to go out and spend $400 on new tires for a car that's worth $150?" Goodyear asked.

"The viaduct, under normal service loads, is losing concrete and has large cracks," he said. "If you want to do a minimalist repair to postpone the inevitable you can do it for much less, but it's not a comprehensive solution."

In 2002, another team of engineers, from the American Society of Civil Engineers, studied retrofitting the viaduct. The engineers found that a "comprehensive seismic retrofit might achieve a level of safety comparable to a new structure ... " their report said.

But the engineers went on to say that "the eventual deterioration of the current structure due to aging would exact a greater sum of financial resources for maintenance and be less reliable than a new structure built to current seismic design standards."

The team looked at the Gray and Twelker report and found that some of the ideas had merit but concluded that the retrofit proposed by the two engineers would not work.

"It may be effective in keeping certain sections of the viaduct intact, but it will not serve the purpose of making the structure safe overall," the engineers said. "Even if one section fails, it means the end of the structure's usefulness."

Ted Bell, who chaired the civil-engineering group, said he agreed that a retrofit would cost almost as much as a new viaduct. "From the foundation up to the columns to the beams to the decking, everything was in very poor condition," he said.

When the viaduct was built a half-century ago, the standards weren't as stringent, Bell said. The steel used was not adequate and welds had come undone.

"If you're going to redo it, it should be redone with something that serves traffic today," he said.

Further, Bell said, any work on the viaduct would have to include a large part of the seawall because if the wall collapsed, that could take out the viaduct.
Meanwhile, Steve goes on:

If the goal was relieving congestion - more lanes would be added. That's not even in the cards.
Once again, it is in the cards unless you ignore the tunnel option, otherwise to bitch about that is to ignore reality.

If its really safety, as the Keep Washington Rolling campaign website claims - a faster, simple $800 million retrofit should be the highest priority. But that hasn't even yet been determined. DOT will make that decision.
Firstly, there is no guarantee that would be faster, and secondly, getting cars off the road so a replacement can be built should be a higher priority. Meanwhile, Steve's $800 million price tag appears out of thin air, but once again Steve doesn't bother to provide a source (in fact for a Web based document his argument is oddly devoid of any external link references - I wonder why that is). Finally, no decision on the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be made outside of the financial and political realities that surround this, just like on any other project.

By passing I-912 and limiting funds leaders will be required to prioritize and do what businesses and private individuals have to do everyday - find solutions with the highest cost/benefit ratio that will meet their goals.
Once again, upside-down logic: Steve advocates that by starving the WSDOT of funding they will achieve more, and that more projects can be completed.

And whether their goal is safety or relieving traffic congestion - it does not include diverting transportation dollars to fund city of Seattle development projects.
Now that's just completely misleading and a huge lie. No money raised by the gas tax, or any other funding source for the transportation bill, will be going into a development project for Seattle. But I guess all the other arguments are so poor you have to resort to such fabrications to have any kind of argument at all.

If the WISH list...
Sorry - still not a wish list.

...were anything but that DOT would have a concrete plan.
With respect to the AWV, do you have any concept about the process of investigating alternatives, pricing them out first, and then lobbying for support of one project over another? As for the vast majority of projects on the list, these are well defined known projects with concrete plans.

The initiative will force DOT and leaders to reset priorities to accomplish the goals of the people - congestion relief.
No, it will simply make the options narrower, and limit the number of projects that can be worked on, neither of which are what people want. People want action. The transportation bill promises 270 projects worth of action. I-912 promises nothing but inaction, more gridlock and crossed fingers that structures won't collapse or fail, as they inevitably will do - it is just a matter of time.

Closing remarks

The Anti I-912 campaign has raised over 2.5 million dollars...
Just $2.5 million? When you earlier stated "millions of dollars" that sounded like so much more.

...to try to defeat this grassroots initiative. Where did this money come from? Who are these people who are opposed to this initiative? Those opposed to the initiative are the usual suspects when it comes to raising your taxes: BIG GOVERNMENT, BIG BUSINESS, BIG LABOR BOSSES and CONTRACTORS WHO WOULD BENEFIT ECONOMICALLY FROM THE CONSTRUCTION.
Don't forget the boat load of average people who vote and pay taxes, who also have contributed to the anti-912 campaign.

The average donation to their campaign is over $9,000!
Well, Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates have a way of bloating averages with their contributions don't they – but there are other groups, made up of average citizens coming together in a grassroots manner against I-912.

On the other hand, the initiative is supported by thousands of average voters who understand the economics and logic of the initiative - the average donation to the YES on I-912 is $38.
If they understood the economics so well they'd not spend almost as much to try to repeal the gas tax, as the gas tax would cost them were they driving a car that got 40 mpg. But, of course, they don't tend to drive cars that get that kind of mileage, which makes you question their understanding of economics, and their commitment to conservation and savings.

This is a classic David versus Goliath, small guy against BIG guy struggle.
Indeed it is: the goliath Hummer drivers vs. the Toyota Prius crowd.

In September the state of Oklahoma had a very similar gas tax repeal initiative pass by an over whelming margin of 87 - 13%.
What a surprise in a "red" state.

Projections in this state predict that I-912 will pass by nearly a 60 % margin
Let's face it, no one knows.

A KING 5 poll taken in September showed that only 41 % of likely voters would vote no on this initiative and that 70% of likely voters believe the state will not spend the gas tax money responsibly.
Yeah, and an Elway poll showed 7% more voting "no" on I-912 than "yes" with 11% undecided – so who do we believe?

I urge you to consider the facts.
As do I.

I urge you to vote your conscience - to do what is right...
As do I.

... - make DOT prioritize and focus their dollars on projects that do what voters overwhelmingly want...
That might be a nice concept except I-912 doesn't do that, while the transportation bill does.

... - build projects that relieve traffic congestion

There you go again, as Reagan used to say.

Steve's arguments are an exercise in irony. The I-912 crowd he is part of has offered up nothing but their own mistruths, myths and outright lies. Faced with the facts so readily available for all to read, his arguments crumble like a house of cards.

It is imperative that such thinking be countered because we risk a greater problem should I-912 pass: doing nothing in the face of looming catastrophe should our crumbling infrastruction fail, and kill people in the process. This is not alarmist talk, this is reality, and it is our responsibility to face it head on with real solutions such as the landmark transportation bill.

Vote "no" on I-912!

3 Comment(s):

Comment by: Anonymous Steve

sigh. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into your analysis of the pieve, and your comments upon it. I really do. It's true that I see your comments as misguided and misleafing, but that comes as no shock to you, I am sure.

For instance. Republican stalling tactics. The FACT of the matter is that the Ds controlled all three branches here. Even you can't dispute that. And, they didn't need a single Republican vote to pass this bill. Toutint all the Rs that voted for it does nothing but give cover. And, that's much along the lines of thinking of the Ds back in Feb/Mar, who stated clearly that they wouldn't vote for the package unless the Rs did. Hey, an impetus to toss a couple of bones, make a couple of threats, and get that cover, which by my observation happened. (Not that I excuse the Rs, for they went along with the program and caved)

If you can't be honesta bout that one part, when it's so obvious, so spoken about in the press, and so well known among the political class, then doesn't it hurt the creditibility of the rest of this?

Unlike European bred, midwest formed people, I am a native. Grew up here. Lived here. Love here, for the beauty it was and is. I know these roads, I know these people, I know these communities. I am a son of this great State. I know it's history. I know it's issues. I am a part of this state, just as it's a part of me. Not to say that I am ill informed, for I have traveled the world. Observed. Interacted. Learned. And, I bring back that experience to enhance my state, my land, my native home. Others seem to come in and arrogantly attempt to change the unique identity of this land to some vision external, to get the local hicks to comply with their vision of utopia as defined in some far off place. For all the people that have moved here for the beauty, and attempted to show us how stupid we are, little has benefitted or embraced the history and culture that is Washington. It is disrespectful, and a shame that people choose not to treat the people of this state in the manner to which they are due.


I have yet to figure our your motives in this. Perhaps you stand to financially benefit from this. Perhaps, given the amount of parroting of the 'line,' you already are, in some fashion. Maybe it's just an arrogance from walking amongst us hicks, knowing that you are far more well bred and enlightened than those of us here. Maybe it's an ego thing. I don't know. Perhaps you are a 'true believer' that is doing his part to advance the agenda of the far left among the remote villages. Spreading the word that we need 5 dollar a gallon gas, 50% tax rates, social engineering, and all the benefits that come with it (for the political class). A missionary, if you will, for the religion and faith that is the matriarchial state that is utopia.

I share with you my inability to pin you down, for I honestly don't have enough information. Others are much easier to understand in their motives than you. But I shall, over a period of time.

Me, on the other hand, I am sure that it's easy to pin me down. I am a native son, who loves his community, state, and nation. Who knows that with the influx of people, came the influx of higher gas tax collections at the same rate. Who knows that property tax collections have gone through the roof. Who reads the budget and dedicated money line items, and knows that if there was a deficit in transportation funding, that reprioritizing those same line items would fund more than enough transportation to avoid raising the tax. Yeah, I may be a hick, but certainly not an uneducated one.

I bid you a good day, Sir. Don't know how much time I will devote to your blog going forward. I mean, if we can't even be at least honest enough to acknowledge that the Ds didn't need a single R vote to pass this, I am not sure that we can ever have a productive dialogue. And that's a shame, for you are obviously an intelligent and travelled person who would have had a lot to say.

Be well

10/30/2005 7:25 AM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous Anonymous

Ah, now Steve's true colors come out with ad-hominem, quasi-fascist attacks on Dan's underlying motivations.

Classic bully tactics. When the you can't compete on the facts, switch over to personal attacks and/or straw-man arguments.

It would be really sad if our public safety weren't at stake.

10/30/2005 12:02 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

Steve - Let me first respond to the only part of your comments that relate to I-912 and the transportation bill.

Yes, the Democrats control the senate and the house. No one is disputing that. However, we live in a state where each legislator gets their own vote. They don't always vote as a block, which may surprise many Republicans out there. Independent thinking - what a wonderful concept.

You cannot deny that it is very significant that Republicans who did not have to vote for this bill, who by voting no could have killed the bill, didn't. If the 18 Republicans who voted for the bill hadn't done so, the package would have failed.

But they did vote for it.

People like Finkbiner who represents a district where constituents and companies are clamoring for the road work the bill supports and funds.

People like Mulliken who had never seen a tax increase she could support before she supported this one.

People like Schmidt who recognized the need that was in his own back yard to fund work to improve traffic on Highway 9.

Legislation is always a matter of give and take. To suggest that this bill was passed any differently than any other bill is disingenuous.

As for your comments about myself, I cannot make up for the years I was not living here in time, but I have certainly done my share of doing so in passion.

Unlike people who have lived here all their lives, I moved here by choice. I wanted to live here. I see the area's beauty and have a context in which to place it, comparisons I can make to other places that don't match up in so many ways.

I also deeply respect this area. I am in many ways a guest, and as such I respect the land I proudly call home. Our native American brothers and sisters understand this relationship best. They understand what it means to be stewards of the land we live on.

My motives with regards to I-912 are simple: I believe it is a grave mistake, ill-conceived, short-sighted, and will ultimately be exceptionally costly for Washington state should it pass. I've been saying so for many, many months, well before many others decided they would do so as well.

Do not belittle the issue by trying to frame me as someone who disrespects the people of this great state, or views people who support I-912 as "hicks". Others may resort to such tactics, but I have not.

Nor am I a blindly "blue" voter. My past voting history has seen me voting for Republican and Independent candidates (even for President) as well as for Democrats. I vote for people, not robotic party liners. Unfortunately our two party system tends to undermine independent thinking, and polarize debate.

I am willing to accept that the transportation bill was not the "bestest" bill in the world, but it was a good bill, an important bill, forged within the political and economic realities of our state. It addresses a ton of important safety needs and congestion bottlenecks. It is a bill that will move us in the right direction, and help us make a dent in a huge list of projects that need to be addressed. It is a bill that provides for performance audits and addresses accountability.

I-912 is a hatchet job initiative that does nothing but turn back the clock. It offers no solutions and promises us more gridlock, while gambling with our safety. It ignores the realities of our predicament, and the economics of doing business in a state with crumbling infrastructure.

10/30/2005 1:37 PM PT  

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