WE'RE CRAZY about the monorail. In fact, we're so crazy, we're obsessed. Hell, we're paranoid! So, we've put together our own Nixonesque monorail enemies list. Oh, and there are a few nice people on our side, too.
When the city council president attempted to repeal I-41, her office was buried in e-mail and phone calls from irate voters. A few days later, Pageler went on KUOW and described herself as a "long-time monorail supporter." Don't believe it. Pageler, who pushed Heidi Wills to propose gutting the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC), is still looking for a way to kill the monorail plan approved by voters.
If Margaret Pageler is the monorail's most lethal enemy on the city council, transportation committee chair Richard McIver is the monorail's most irrational critic. Whenever City Council Member Richard McIver--who recently scuttled a Sound Transit grant and instructed a city worker to shut off the ETC's phone service--is confronted by an angry pro-monorail voter, McIver says he asks the voter a question: "I reply, 'Do you really want to spend $95 million a mile in taxpayer money?'" The taxpayer, according to McIver, changes his or her mind when confronted with the costs of building a monorail system.
Where does this number come from? "I did some research and talked to several people across the country--engineering types," says McIver, who claims to have looked at monorail systems "all over the world." McIver, however, won't tell us the names of these engineer types, or give us their phone numbers, or tell us which monorail systems "all over the world" he's studied. The average cost per mile of actual monorail systems that have been constructed is $41 million, not $95 million.
When she was running for office, Heidi "Whitey" Wills said she was a supporter of the monorail plan approved by voters. Since being elected, "Whitey" Wills has refused to meet with monorail supporters, has introduced a bill to kill the ETC, and has supported Margaret Pageler's plan to repeal voter-approved I-41.
Mayor McOneTerm Wonder helped kill a Sound Transit grant to ETC, which the city had encouraged the agency to go after. Schell's solution to Seattle's transportation crisis? Cab vouchers for two-car families. Do we really have to wait until next November to vote this moron out of office?
THE SEATTLE TIMES AND SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
The hostility of both daily papers to the monorail plan--and to Seattle voters--is as baffling as it is rabid. Our two daily papers, which have never met a public-private partnership they didn't love, have been calling for the demise of the monorail plan since the day voters approved it.
CHRISTOPHER BEER, PATRICK BRICK, AND DAVID HUBER
Attorneys Beer and Brick successfully sued the city on behalf of David Huber, a private citizen outraged by the city's anti-monorail stance. Beer and Brick are both monorail supporters who've donated their time. Interestingly, Huber voted against the monorail initiative in 1997. "For David," says Beer, "the motivating factor is respect for the democratic process."
The only positive pieces about the monorail to appear in either of Seattle's daily papers were written by Seattle P-I columnist Susan Paynter. "I got over a hundred e-mails after that first column," says Paynter, "and 50 after the second, along with 40 or 50 phone calls. Only two people I heard from were anti-monorail. The interest out there is just amazing. And people are sick and tired of being ignored." Paynter wouldn't say whether she personally supports the construction of a monorail, but she does think the plan should be looked at closely. "There's a seductive side to the monorail," she says. "People in cars stuck in traffic would look up and see people whizzing along overhead. People would say, 'Gee, I wanna be up there,' and get out of their cars."
Greg Nickels, a King County Council Member from West Seattle and candidate for mayor, is the only elected official willing to go on the record as pro-monorail. "I think the monorail has some real potential applications," says Nickels. "To me the monorail makes sense on long hauls, like getting to West Seattle, Ballard, or Lake City. I don't think we need a downtown circulator as much as we need to connect different parts of the city."
The only reliable pro-monorail vote on the city council, Licata believes the city should fund a full study of the citywide monorail plan approved by voters in 1997.
On KUOW's Weekday program, former Washington State Governor and U.S. Senator Dan Evans came out as a monorail supporter. "[The city council has] stiffed the initiative supporters and the people who voted for the monorail," said Evans. "They're saying, 'Well, the people didn't really know what they were voting for.' I'm not so sure they didn't. You know, I'm a monorail fan.... And the one thing about a monorail, you neither have to dig an expensive tunnel to avoid traffic, nor do you have to have grade crossings or stoplights. It's one that can really be, if done right, a speedier system than any other we're likely to get."
PETER SHERWIN AND CLEVELAND STOCKMEYER
Sherwin and Stockmeyer are the transportation activists who filed a new monorail initiative last week. If their initiative makes it onto the ballot and passes, the ETC would have the funds it needs to devise a monorail plan, which would then automatically go to the voters for approval. Sherwin and Stockmeyer's new monorail initiative would cut the city council out of the loop.
DICK FALKENBURY AND GRANT COGSWELL
Falkenbury is the cab driver who, along with writer Grant Cogswell, organized the successful monorail initiative campaign back in 1997. Falkenbury was appointed to the ETC in 1998, and has been working to get "his monorail" built ever since. Cogswell took some time off after 1997, and lately has been doing a lot of music writing for this paper. Falkenbury isn't active in the latest effort to put the monorail before the voters. "We already have this law that says to the city, 'Build this thing!' We should be holding their feet to the fire," Falkenbury says. If the city council repeals I-41 or guts the ETC, Falkenbury says he will get on board with the new monorail initiative. Cogswell actively supports the new initiative. "I'm encouraged by what they're doing," he says. "It advances what we put forward in '97."
TOM CARR & KRISTINA HILL
Carr chairs the ETC, and Hill is vice chair. A lawyer in private practice, Carr has put hundreds of unpaid hours into the monorail plan, as has Hill, a professor at the University of Washington. "We came into this naively," says Carr. "We assumed just having a good idea was enough. We've been surprised by the resistance to the monorail." Carr says he has concerns about the new monorail initiative, but plans on signing a petition and voting for it regardless. "I wish it hadn't come to this," he says.
HEY! While it’s always fun to sit around and gripe, it’s even more exciting to get off your ass and do something! If you want to help get the monorail (a.k.a. “will of the people”) built, join up with the folks pushing for the new Seattle Popular Transit Initiative, which would fund a real, live feasibility study for a monorail system (you know, the study the city council refused to fund?). Just call 632-8140, visit their website, www.riseaboveitall.org., or go down to their offices at 2108 North 55th St. Remember, they only have four months to collect 37,000 signatures!
Meanwhile, head down to the monorail public hearing on Thursday July 27, 6:00 p.m., at City Hall. Citizens will get a chance to weigh in on current city council proposals. To see these proposals on the web, go to www.cityofseattle.net/council (anytime after July 17).