In a statement to the city council last week, anti-monorail leader Liv Finne lectured council members about preserving views. "How can we consider building 600 new concrete columns and elevated concrete guideways for a monorail when it will destroy views?" Finne asked. The obvious answer is that voters considered the idea--for the third damn time--in 2002 and decided, for a third damn time, that they wanted to live in a real city and build elevated mass public transit.

Finne's sermon on "views" makes it clear that the anti-monorail campaign is not a legitimate recall on a faltering project; it's a brazen attempt to rehash the same old issues on mass public transit in general. No wonder we can't get anything built in this town.

A monorail recall, as mandated by the 2002 vote, should only be triggered if the opposition can show "significant financial difficulty." The anti-monorail campaign would have a hard time showing that. The monorail bid came in well under the project's original $1.75 billion estimate, and the monorail project is on budget to build the Ballard to West Seattle line, projected to provide 69,000 rides a day. The monorail, in other words, is no Sound Transit, which came up two-thirds shy on ridership or one-third short on mileage.

The real reason we're voting again is because some rich people didn't get their way in the 2002 election, so they bought their way onto the ballot this year for a poor-sport rehash of the 2002 vote. It's knee-jerk Seattle backpedaling on the very idea of elevated mass public transit--not a legitimate recall on a project gone awry.

That's what happens when rich people don't get their way. And I do mean rich people. The anti-monorail campaign has been bankrolled by downtown property owner Martin Selig. Selig has contributed $188,000 (almost 75 percent of the campaign's money), which financed a $76,000 paid signature-gathering effort. Selig owns $79 million worth of property along the proposed Second Avenue monorail route.

As for Finne, her Queen Anne home is valued at $620,000 (about $350,000 above the Seattle median sale price). Her fellow anti-monorail campaign officers are cut from the same cloth. Tim Wulf's home was valued at $834,000 in 2004. And Hummer-drivin' anti-monorail leader Fred Kettlewell has a home valued at $1.1 million. He owns property along the route as well.

During her statement in front of the council, Finne unwittingly betrayed this point when she doth protest too much about her group's class status. Unprompted, Finne defensively offered, "I stand here before you as a volunteer and as a stay-at-home mother. I'm not a wealthy downtown business interest. I do not own property along the line." The disingenuous implication was that her cause is something other than a privileged-class temper tantrum.

josh@thestranger.com

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