Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Seattle Votes on Passenger Rail Transportation

Why Can't We Vote Too?

Cincinnatians for Progress thinks you must be some kind of crack-head if you believe in voting on passenger rail tranportation. Who do you think you are, wanting to participate in charting the future course of your own city? You're supposed to leave that to the experts...their experts. And they'll tell you what to like and what not to like. They don't think you're smart enough to have your own opinion.

Seattle doesn't have that problem. Their leaders respect the citizens and consult them about major public policy beforehand.
  • In November 1996, 57% of Puget Sound voters approved a $3.9 billion mass transit plan including light rail, commuter rail, and regional express bus network. This was Seattle's fourth try at winning approval for rail transit development.
  • A 1968 heavy-rail proposal for Seattle's King County attracted a 51% "yes" vote, but state law requires a 60% majority for bond issues.
  • A similar plan in 1970 received only 46% in favor.
  • King County voters endorsed rail development in 1988 by 69% in favor, but this advisory referendum had no specific plan or financing proposal.
  • RTA, created in 1993, attempted to secure approval for a regional LRT, commuter rail and express bus plan in March 1995, but this attracted only 47% of the vote. A revised, scaled-down version of this plan was successful.
  • In July 2006 Seattle constructed their 1.3 mile, $52.1 million "South Lake Union Trolley" (commonly known by its acronym) which required no money from the general fund for either capital or operating expenses. Property owners adjacent to the line paid more than half the costs through a special property tax assessment, with the balance from Federal, State and other sources. The city consulted all 750 property owners about the proposal. All but 12 had no objection. It wasn't a formal ballot, but a vote by any other name accomplishes the same thing; the people were involved.
  • In November 2008 Seattle voters approved Proposition 1 to build the $140 million "First Hill" streetcar line, which is planned to open in 2012.
Clearly, voting on passenger rail transportation isn't unusual, or dysfunctional, doesn't hinder state or federal funding, and it won't lead to Timothy McVeigh-style truck bombs. So tell CFP to shove their so-called "progress" up their crack-pipe and smoke it.


  1. It's very easy to understand. Other cities that have voted on passenger rail have done so because a TAX INCREASE was involved. There is NO tax increase associated with the Cincinnati Streetcar.

  2. ^You obviously missed that "advisory referendum" in the 4th bullet point. That was neither binding nor taxable. Leaders just wanted to take the public's temperature before proceeding.

    Some of the other votes didn't involve new taxes either, but were approval votes on how to spend previously authorized tax revenues.

    Over and over again we see that successful transit systems have a culture of respect for the voters. And places with little or poor transit view voters as "obstacles to progress."

  3. Over and over again we also see that successful transit systems and the city's they can be found in DO NOT have bogus special interest charter amendments in place.

  4. "So tell CFP to shove their so-called "progress" up their crack-pipe and smoke it."

    Wow, way to take the high road their COAST. What a joke.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. "So tell CFP to shove their so-called "progress" up their crack-pipe and smoke it."

    This - along with other language used on this blog - is very unprofessional and insulting to pro-streetcar advocates.

    You don't see this same behavior from them. Should people really be following such fanatics?

  7. You mean like, "anti-progress charter amendment" and "Ballot initiatives, the crack cocaine of democracy". And besides, we all know that COAST and it's members have been treated with the utmost respect and courtesy over the past few years.

  8. Nice job cutting-and-pasting whatever materials the CATO institute gave you. COAST has done virtually zero original research on any of these matters, and none of them have traveled to Portland to see the system we are modeling ours after. If you had taken any of the Alliance trips, you could have met with Portland politicians, engineers who actually designed Portland's streetcar.

    Do all of you teach your kids to remain ignorant of what you hate?

  9. Notice how every "voter choice" campaign you cite is one in support of rail projects.

  10. ^Bravo! Great point. You starting to see a pattern?

    Lots of votes. Lots of failures and false starts. Decades of working and reworking transit and taxation plans until the people and their government arrive at something they can both live with.

    That's how great systems evolve. Cut the people out of the loop and try to shove passenger rail transportation down their throats, and you'll wind up with a failed system.

    Embrace the ballot box. It'll be your best friend in your quest for rail.

  11. >Cut the people out of the loop and try to shove passenger rail transportation down their throats, and you'll wind up with a failed system.

    What the hell are you talking about? The people of the District of Columbia or Virginia or Maryland never directly voted for construction of the DC metro, and they have the finest rapid transit system in the country outside New York City. 700,000 people ride the Metro every day and the system was designed and funded when Washington had the metro population Cincinnati has now.

    The people of New York never voted directly for the New York City subway. It was largely built by private companies, then taken over by the city after the government got into the expressway and parking garage business. The current extension of the #7 and new 2nd Ave. lines were not voted on directly by NYC citizens. New York has a huge transit system and is the world's greatest city. COAST is the most dangerous organization in Cincinnati -- fighting to keep Cincinnati the largest city in the United States sans Detroit without rail transit.

  12. "COAST is the most dangerous organization in Cincinnati"

    Nope, no namecalling here. Jake you sure are a tolerant liberal.

  13. Don't kill the messenger, take an honest look at yourselves. It's not my fault you guys (and the media) don't know Cincinnati history, the history of american cities, or the history of government's involvement in roads and public transportation. It's not my fault you guys were suckered into the car mentality by GM, a company run into the ground by unions you despise and run by a president you despise. It's not my fault you guys stooped to kissing Smitherman's ass and the asses of other democrats in order to give your suburban-minded charter any hope of passing in the city. If he was still alive, you'd be kissing Buddy Gray's ass too.

  14. "Really Nati Life? Let me give you a small sampling of the insulting comments from the pro-streetcar folks on this and other blogs:"

    I'm not talking about the posters in the "comments" section, we all know the kind of jabs that occur there. I'm talking about official positions from the COAST organization itself. It's immature to have that kind of language and name-calling to come from a PAC. I mean, really. It's one thing to have that on some individual's blog, but to have that be the official stance of your organization is borderline appalling.

  15. ^ You know what, when you're right, you're right. I call on all my fellow streetcar supporters to be civil toward COAST. I'm not saying don't disagree or necessarily refrain from calling out COAST on inaccuracies, outright misleading information or flawed thinking, but inappropriate inferences and language only gives them more firepower.

    That said, I still believe COAST's own language and inferences are not justified (what would your mother think?!). And I believe your thinking is flawed on the entire issue.

    Now I agree with your cause's overall stance on government spending (I really do). But I think that capital projects and transit are EXACTLY the kind of projects that local government should be spending money on, along with basic services. I'm not a hippie, an idealist or even one who pretends we have all the cash in the world. But I believe that this is a project that will benefit the city in the short- and long-run, and that if the Federal government will pay for a significant chunk of it, we can't afford to pass it up.

    I've seen first-hand streetcar systems and the development that follows, and believe it is applicable here. I highly recommend checking out a streetcar system if you can and then make an informed decision.

  16. The Nati Life -
    Thank you for your last post. That is the kind of reasoned discussion we ought to be having on the streetcar. I wholeheartedly disagree with your position on this particular issue, but respect your point of view. Thank you for taking part in the debate.

  17. Bris, you haven't actually engaged in the debate yourself. If you want an honest debate perhaps you should refute one of his arguments or make one of your own. Your "wholehearted" disagreement hardly qualifies as "debate".

  18. UC Student,
    I've made many, many,many arguments against the streetcar. The fact that you don't like them doesn't mean they don't exist. I know you'd prefer that there be no dissent on this issue, and that it just be advanced Soviet-style, but you're out of luck.

  19. Exactly my point, when you don't have an argument you just start throwing grenades, "Soviet-style", "socialist", even your moniker. If you had a clear viable argument to make you should, I don't care about your alleged "many, many, many" arguments that you claim to have made. When the opportunity for honest debate arises you don't engage in it.

  20. "I don't care about your alleged "many, many, many" arguments that you claim to have made."
    - That is clear. You and your ilk have no interest in hearing the other side. Never have, and never will.

    By the way, they're not alleged. Look back at this blog over the past several months and you should easily find them. It's not my job to repeat myself because you're too lazy or close-minded to hear other points of view.

  21. Just keep proving my point. You throw grenades, "because you're too lazy or close-minded to hear other points of view", because they're just a distraction from discussing the merits of the issue. If you had a viable argument you'd make it.

  22. UC Student -
    Thanks for continuing to prove my point about your own closemindedness. No "grenades" there. I don't want to hurt your feelings.

  23. My feelings aren't the issue. You continually fail to make an argument for your position. Instead you hurl insults and attacks to avoid honest debate. I'm calling you out to have the "reasoned discussion we ought to be having on the streetcar".

  24. From COAST Blog - May 19, 2009

    Bris Chortz said...
    Randy -
    The streetcar is a risky investment by any standard. There is a possibility that it may spur investment, but there is much debate about how much, if any.

    The only thing we know for sure is what the proponents' plan tell us - that the streetcar will have a huge operating deficit very single year. Millions of dollars in the hole each and every year it operates.

    Was I "hurling insults" there UC Student? That's just one of many posts by me. A quick search of this blog alone will show dzens and dozens on insult-less posts. I call you out for being lazy, and rest my case.

  25. You had to go back to May to find a civil post, doesn't that speak for itself? I'm not interested in researching the ever devolving arguments you make against the streetcar over the last few months. No one is, people are debating you on this blog to counter the misinformation that you may be spreading to the readers. It isn't because they are interested in what a "Bris Chortz" thinks about the streetcar.

    Everyone seems to talk about Cincinnati as if it is some exception, some how totally unique and not representative of a midsize city. Cincinnati will see similar results from its investment in rail as others have experienced. That being considered, I'd hardly call it a risk. If you go to portland, they'll tell you that they love the streetcar but that they do pay for it. I'm fine with that. We'll see if the majority agrees in November.

  26. You had me until the Timothy McVay comment. It sounds like you are condoning what he did as some sort of justifiable effect of people not liking their government. I am disgusted.

  27. COAST was being compared to Timothy McVeigh by a poster on a pro streetcar blog. We in no way condone his terrorist actions and certainly don't think we should be compared with him for excercising our right to peacefully petition our government.

  28. Keller did you even bother reading the entry where McVeigh was mentioned? It was quite clear that statement came from a pro-streetcar supporter who compared COAST to McVeigh.

    Does it disgust you that a streetcar supporter is referring to streetcar opponents as a bunch Timothy McVeighs on the loose? It sure disgusts me. I think streetcar advocates should be more respectful of other opinions.

  29. "You had to go back to May to find a civil post, doesn't that speak for itself?"
    - I didn't have to go back to May, I just picked that one randomly. I could certainly find more, but there's no point. You see what you want to see. Just last night your argument was that I had never taken part in civil debate. Now that you've been proven wrong about that you want to move the bar a little. I'm not interested in researching your ever devolving arguments either.

    Moving right along.....

  30. No Bris, I haven't said that you "never" engage in a civil debate, but you must know that the exception doesn't make the rule. I could care less whether you want to know my personal position on the streetcar, that is not the point. My only purpose is to counter the misinformation that you spread. Take offense if you want, call me names, label this a "vast conspiracy" if you want. Those all cover up your deficiencies in making a valid argument against the streetcar.

  31. >The streetcar is a risky investment by any standard.

    Actually suburban auto-oriented ones are doomed, since cheap oil will be depleted within 10-20 years. We're already spending hundreds of billions in the middle east, funding a force of 100,000, to keep the cheap oil coming.

    >There is a possibility that it may spur investment, but there is much debate about how much, if any.

    With the suburbs doomed, it's a certainty. The transition to electric cars will bankrupt the highway trust fund and we will move to a GPS-type mileage fee system that means the government will know your every move.

    >Millions of dollars in the hole each and every year it operates.

    More than offset by the revenues of tens of thousands of new residents and employees -- none of whom will ever take COAST seriously.


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