The Let's Move Forward election-night party at The Stranger's penthouse offices erupted in cheers as the Referendum 1 results came in last week. "Drill, baby, drill!" the staff of The Stranger and other revelers spontaneously chanted as champagne corks bounced off the high ceilings, city council member Sally Bagshaw disrobed and took a bath in the chocolate fountain, and news editor Dominic Holden wiped away a few well-deserved tears of joy. It was a long, hard slog, but together with a ragtag team of governors, legislators, council members, labor bosses, business leaders, high-priced political consultants, multibillion-dollar international tunnel contractors, and other disenfranchised outsiders, we managed to move public opinion and miraculously win the day.
Not since our tireless effort to defeat the harebrained monorail has The Stranger led the way to such a critical and gratifying public-policy victory.
Of course, it wasn't an easy path, and it was always an uphill fight, but while other news organizations pandered to the mayor's office or parroted the conventional wisdom of powerful transit-lobby shill Cary Moon, we bucked the trend and stuck to the cold, hard facts. But then, as we consistently argued, the truth was always on the tunnel's side.
Let's face it: No major city has ever managed to tear down an urban freeway without creating endless gridlock and economic havoc, and with gas prices plummeting and the housing market booming, downtown traffic is only destined to get worse. Where the fanciful surface option would have dumped tens of thousands of greenhouse-gas-spewing cars a day onto city streets, the tunnel will speed them effortlessly and cleanly underground, dramatically reducing traffic congestion through the downtown core, along the waterfront, and on I-5. And at only $4.1 billion for a two-mile stretch of road, plus a $5 one-way toll, the tunnel would be a bargain at twice the price, let alone the piddling $7 billion it might cost once financing is factored in. Hell, the tunnel project even pinky-swear promises to fund enhanced bus service! What's not to like?
That's why The Stranger chose to set aside our customary impartial editorial tone and put our faith in the scientific experts at the Discovery Institute who first proposed the widest diameter deep-bore tunnel ever: Because drilling through miles of unstable and poorly studied soil using a custom-built boring machine on a scale never before attempted for the sake of a car-only infrastructure that does nothing to help public transportation is simply too important to the future of our city not to warrant the most passionate advocacy possible.
As election night came to a close and we were licking the foie gras off our fingertips while peering through our floor-to-ceiling windows at the panoramic waterfront view from the Stranger penthouse, we couldn't help but feel a little pride at how we once again helped to reshape our city. Some will remember the tunnel debate as a bitter and divisive fight, others as an emblem of Seattle's endless dithering, but we at The Stranger will always choose to remember this night as yet another victory.
So thank you, Seattle, for moving our city forward. And thank us for leading the way.
A Look Back at Our History
• Endorsing George W. Bush
One of our proudest moments, the first election of President George W. Bush ushered in eight years of prudent foreign invasions, responsible economic stewardship, and eloquent speeches. He was our kind of American. Though we stumped hard for him, we must acknowledge that his stunning victory—and strong showing in normally far-too-blue Washington—was greatly aided by our Eastside news affiliate the Seattle Times.
• Rejecting the Monorail
Can you imagine anything sillier than spending billions of dollars on a risky transportation megaproject through downtown that connects to West Seattle and Ballard? We can't. "There remain concerns about the project's finances and impacts as a whole," Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin said to voters, who heeded his and our concerns in 2005, wisely rejecting the monorail.
• Preventing a State Income Tax on the Very Wealthy
Standing up for the defenseless 2 percent of the state's population who earn over $200,000 a year, we fought hard to block the ill-advised Initiative 1098 in 2010. Collecting income taxes from the wealthiest people to buy health care and a public education for the poor? Sounds like a beeline to socialism. Our friends Steve Ballmer, Frank Blethen, and Paul Allen agreed.
• Cheerleading Gregoire's Medical Marijuana Veto
If we had to pick between comforting bureaucrats and comforting the ill, we'd pick bureaucrats every time. That's why we agreed with Governor Chris Gregoire when a medical marijuana bill came to her desk. Even though there was no precedent in the United States of Feds hassling state employees for administering a medical marijuana program, Gregoire said the Feds "would" prosecute. So she vetoed the bill, making bureaucrats feel safe and making sick and dying patients more vulnerable to arrest than ever before under the previous law. But dying people are the definition of a lame-duck constituency, so who cares?
• Ushering in the Chihuly Museum
In 2010, Space Needle LLC announced plans to construct a for-profit glass museum at the Seattle Center dedicated to the works of living genius Dale Chihuly. The Stranger stumped hard for the visionary project at City Hall, even though critics argued that it would supplant a public park. Tourists will not pay $15 per head to walk through a park, we argued, but they will to stare at glass. Parks are for the birds.
• Keeping Liquor Stores in State Hands
Washington State's system of doling out liquor drop by drop has been in place for 70-plus years, and there could never be any legitimate reason to change that, as no one has ever driven drunk in our state. Alcoholics all reside in California, where liquor is retailed in the private sector and where it is required by law that you take a shot before getting behind the wheel.
• Launching Tim Eyman's Career
While the rest of us merely pontificate on public policy, former Stranger news intern Tim Eyman has taken the advocacy lessons learned at Dan Savage's knees out into the real world, where he's made a true difference. Like a proud parent, we've watched our little Timmy grow into Washington's most powerful advocate for responsible, right-sized governance: From his anti-affirmative-action I-200 (funny story: It was Mudede's idea) to his budget-crippling tax-cutting initiatives, no one has done more to turn Olympia into the well-oiled machine it is today. So keep up the good work, Tim, and thanks for the dozens of dollars Stranger staffers have collectively saved on our car tab fees.