In the Hall
Reading the website for "No to Proposition 1," the campaign against this November's light-rail expansion measure, you might believe the campaign had the full support of the environmental community. The site's front page mentions the Sierra Club, twice, as one of the proposal's key opponents. Which is true—except that the Sierra Club opposed last year's Prop. 1, not this year's. They believed, as The Stranger did, that the measure was too roads-heavy and did nothing to address global warming.
But the truth doesn't matter to the "No to Proposition 1" campaign. Claiming that "not much has changed" about the measure, the campaign site quotes the 2007 voter guide statement opposing the measure. "This is not a balanced plan. Only 10% funds roads," the voter statement complains. "That's why leading Democrats, Republicans, and the Sierra Club all oppose Proposition 1. Don't be fooled—AGAIN."
This year's Prop. 1, so (confusingly) named because it's the only item on the ballot in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, consists entirely of transit and transit-supporting improvements, including 36 new miles of light rail and expanded bus service. So it's a no-brainer that the Sierra Club would support the new Prop. 1 after opposing the old one.
James Irwin, the Sierra Club's local conservation program coordinator, calls the campaign's use of the group's name "dodgy" and "disingenuous," but says there may not be much the group can do about the site. "Technically, what they're saying is accurate—we did oppose 2007's Proposition 1—but they're definitely trying to use our name and influence to get people to vote against this." Irwin says the Sierra Club is "committed" to getting Prop. 1 passed this year.
This year's anti-Prop. 1 campaign is backed, like last year's, by Bellevue mall developer Kemper Freeman—a frequent Republican donor whose biggest campaign contributions have been to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a mall PAC—Republican attorney general Rob McKenna, and Republican candidates Dino Rossi, John Carlson, and Mike McGavick.
You won't read anything about Freeman on No to Prop. 1's website, however. They know they lost last time because people want more transit, not more roads. Polls after last year's election showed that voters would have passed Prop. 1 if it hadn't included roads—if, in other words, it had looked like the measure that's on the ballot in November. Now they're trying to deceptively hang an anti-transit victory on the Sierra Club's environmental coattails.
Irwin may not be able to prevent the "No" campaign from using his group's name, but he did do one thing to set the record straight. Previously, visitors to the No to Prop. 1 campaign's website who clicked on the Sierra Club link were taken to last year's anti-Prop. 1 website. Now they go somewhere else: www.masstransitnow.org.