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Friday, July 27, 2007

Della Trashes Ex-Monorail Chief, Then Asks Him For Money

posted by on July 27 at 17:30 PM

David Della was a longtime, staunch opponent of the monorail, voting and speaking out against the now-scuttled project every chance he got. A Della press release issued two weeks ago once again trumpted his opposition to the project, trashing Della opponent Tim Burgess for accepting the endorsement of former Seattle Monorail Project board chairman Tom Weeks.

Under Weeks’ tenure, the monorail lost public support and was cancelled because of a flawed financing plan that ballooned to $11 billion over 50 years.

“Presenting Tim Burgess, from the people who ran the monorail into a financial sink hole,” said Della campaign consultant, Michael Grossman. “Now I understand why Tim thinks the mayor’s tunnel is such a bargain.”

Della, in other words, has hardly been shy about his disdain for the monorail and its erstwhile leaders. Which is why Weeks found it odd when Della called him—twice!—to request a donation and Weeks’s endorsement. Weeks says that Della called personally both times; the first time, he got Weeks’s answering machine, the second, his wife, Deb, who politely declined Della’s request for their support.

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I do wish when we were voting originally on the SMP that the public was told about the downside potential of the financing plan. I remember well when the details came out finally, and we were told about the "financing plan that ballooned to $11 billion over 50 years."

Anywhoo, what is the estimate for the Sound Transit + RTID financing plan, over 50 years? $100 billion? I'd feel betrayed if that ballooned several times over a couple of years after the vote.

I must say, I haven't read many details about the financing plan ST has up its sleeve. Anyone know how many years the current ST taxes and also the new sales tax from ST would last? Same with RTID. Black box financing is it? Hmmmm.

Posted by dispassionate | July 27, 2007 5:38 PM

Heck, I've been called for donations twice by candidates I stood up at meetings announcing how bad they were and how people should vote for someone else.

They get donor lists of people who have given money - you were probably on the list of people who gave more than XX amount to a city race, and a list of people who thought the underwater tunnel was crap, so they thought you could be hit up.

All I know is that monorail plan sure is looking good compared to the RTID plan this fall. So we have to wait a bit to do a revote for ST2 - that's the consequences of bundling unneeded extra roads for single-passenger cars that create more pollution and more global warming. Life's tough sometimes.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 27, 2007 5:47 PM

I miss the monorail. *sniff

As for not voting for the RTID plan because it includes cars, don't you think that may be a little irresponsible?

I'm as much a proponent of rail and transit-oriented development as anyone, but RTID really gives people what they want and where they want it. It gives us Seattleites more rail, Eastsiders more pavement, and gives those level-headed Eastsiders a viable and reliable rail option across the lake.

How long are we going to wait for this damn system to get built? Want to wait another 2 years to get this started? I sure as hell don't. The closer to today light-rail comes, the happier I am.

Posted by Cale | July 27, 2007 6:00 PM

@3: Voting yes in November won't "get this started." Read the ST2 plan. The first thing that will happen is that "project plans" will be submitted within a year AFTER the vote.

What will be on the ballot in November is bloated, and unformed. They need to tighten things up a bit, decouple from roads, rely less on sales tax, and impose some limits on how much the board can spend. Those are reasonable changes, and Will's right: think of a No vote as tough love.

Posted by Arnold S. | July 27, 2007 6:08 PM

"It gives us Seattleites more rail, Eastsiders more pavement,"

It doesn't give me rail I can use with any regularity, and the northern extension wouldn't come on line for 20 more years. NO thanks.

Plus, this is from HA today, and this shows what an absolutely bad deal for Seattle RTID is ---


RTID would funnel billions of Seattle tax dollars to road building from Bellevue to Renton and the Sammamish Plateau. The breakdown of what RTID money gets spent where is on pages 30-32 of the RTID blueprint for progress, at The amount of revenues raised during the first 20 years is shown on page 88.

RTID is a crap deal for everyone in Seattle in particular. For some reason King County as a whole would fare poorly under it as well, compared to Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

The taxes and bond debt that would be the responsibility of King County over the 20 years would total $8,503 million. The expenditures on projects would be $5,380 million over that period. These are “YOE” or nominal dollars.

The comparable figures for Pierce are: $3,030 million and $2,047 million, respectively.

The comparable figures for Snohomish are: $2,967 million and $2,092 million, respectively.

As can be seen, the ratio of money spent to tax/debt obligations is significantly worse for King County.

When you look at the numbers for spending in Seattle vs. the amount of RTID taxes Seattle taxpayers would have to pay, and the debt Seattle taxpayers would need to pay off, numbers becomes astoundingly bad. But trolls can’t deal with numbers . . .

On page 31 of the RTID Blueprint for Progress there is a breakdown of what would get spent by RTID in Seattle. Taking half of the SR 520 and I-90 spending ($537 million), and adding in the “Seattle Mobility Project” plus the Lander St. overpass and the South Park Bridge (total: $547 million) gives a figure of $1,084 million.

That’s it for Seattle spending by RTID. That isn’t going to help inter-city vehicle congestion in the slightest. So Seattle taxpayers would be on the hook for paying half of King County’s tax obligations to RTID, and tax obligations to retire half of King County’s share of RTID bonds. The YOE cost of those items to Seattle taxpayers would be $4,252 million. In exchange, what would Seattle get in the way of road upgrades? Only $1,084 million in project spending. Way to fuck Seattle, guys.

Not only did everybody in Seattle get ripped off with Seattle monorail, now RTID turns out to be a massive ripoff for Seattle.


So why should we vote for RTID, Cale?

And if you don't know what the total tax costs of BOTH ST2 and RTID would be, you definitely shouldn't vote for them.

Posted by weezer | July 27, 2007 6:20 PM

Will in Seattle:

All I know is that monorail plan sure is looking good compared to the RTID plan this fall. So we have to wait a bit to do a revote for ST2 - that's the consequences of bundling unneeded extra roads for single-passenger cars that create more pollution and more global warming. Life's tough sometimes.

Let's see, someone who supported building a new, 50% larger viaduct now wants to see Sound Transit 2 go down in flames at the polls. Somehow I'm not surprised.

Will in Seattle, I'm sorry to see you didn't get your expanded, single-passenger vehicle waterfront freeway at state taxpayer expense. Yeah, life's tough sometimes.

Anyway, Erica, great reporting on the Tom Weeks angle. So David Della is now throwing about "the M word" the way Joe McCarthy threw about the word "Communist." Again, somehow I'm not surprised.

Posted by cressona | July 27, 2007 6:23 PM

I'm curious as to what you mean by "tighten things up?" And also, where would they get the money if not from sale's taxes?

Also, I'd rather be looking at "project plans" next year than two years in the future.

And what is the point of a publicly imposed, arbitrary spending limit on an agency who's work has such elastic costs?

I always viewed this vote as an establishment of a holistic approach to fixing a massive problem. It seems silly to me that anyone could possibly know exactly how much it's going to cost.

Posted by Cale | July 27, 2007 6:31 PM

As for the spending amount in Seattle-

Doesn't it make sense that more is being spent on roads on the eastside? I mean have you DRIVEN over there lately? They are completely fucked! Congestion is way worse over there. I think there is nothing wrong with the roads we currently have in Seattle. We certainly don't have room for more. That's why we are getting more light rail spending in Seattle no?

I think it's perfectly acceptable that the eastside gets more road spending: they love their cars and they have the room to build it. It makes sense that we help foot the bill because our regional economy is massively based in Redmond and Everett!

The one thing I agree on is the timeline for the rail. 20 years is absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by Cale | July 27, 2007 6:42 PM

Della's never been the sharpest, or the least disingenuous, pencil in the box.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | July 27, 2007 7:34 PM

Grant you are so lock step city hall insider - and so hip as to how intelligent this Asian guy is not. Blah.

Smart aggressive and on target campaign, and he is going to cream Burgess.

Except for Cressona. SHE?HE? Wants us to vote for an ex cop who believes the future of the Democratic party should be working more closely with religious communities, i.e. his now famous guest piece in the Times in 2005.

JUST THE FOR SURE DAMN FINE FIT for Stranger readers, an ex cop all puffed up about organized religion and all its political potential ... whew.

Sure does not fit the editorial voice. Do I read all these paeans to church and cop ... day after day.... hardly, or maybe I missed a major reformation of the Strangers writers for God and Law and Order.

Burgess has laid no foundation for my progressive vote .... rad Asian worker guy, very intelligent but a bit plain spoken, much more to my taste.

Maybe Della is not wearing the right color shirt or the downtown shoes with a tassel on them from Bally of Swiss fame, 800.00... I'm voting and sending money to Della ...

Posted by Jack on the Hill | July 27, 2007 8:53 PM

#10: You make Della sound so exciting. I wish he was that exciting.

Posted by snoozeville | July 27, 2007 9:02 PM

...and I wish he was running a better campaign.

Posted by Mr. X | July 27, 2007 10:01 PM

Della just received the full endorsement of the King County Labor Council - in which they mentioned Burgess running as a good democrat who donates to republicans.

The best defense to the whisper smear from downtown - not smart - not exciting - not polished speaker - etc. to nausea - is to kick their butts in the election.

He will do just that.

Posted by Jack on the Hill | July 27, 2007 10:32 PM

anyone who runs his campaign hard on one issue, is handed on a platter a position of leadership on that issue, and turns it down will never get my vote.

Posted by della is a coward | July 27, 2007 10:34 PM

I wish they would do their homework before making their endorsement and donation cold calls. Two different candidates called and explained to me in great detail, and with high authority, a certain issue that I litigated and am intimately familiar with, thank you! To them the election is just a numbers game with no substance. It's the same yadda yadda yadda we've heard a million times. At least with Della, we know what we're getting, which is a follower, and quite an ineffectual one at that. But I don't know if Burgess is any better. None of the candidates are people I would want my children to emulate, except maybe Rasmussen who's principled and not afraid to stand out from the pack.

Posted by atomic | July 27, 2007 11:55 PM


rather a narrow criteria - I take it you were in love with sweet Heidi?

Posted by andrea | July 28, 2007 2:47 AM

Cogswell's right... Della ain't that bright.

Posted by DOUG. | July 28, 2007 7:27 AM

#14 - Let's see Della runs a web site called RateHikeHeidi knowing full well that the problems preceded her and were cause by mad woman Pageler and then he refuses to take the job. Yes, that is reason enough to oppose him.

And although Heidi was/is sweet with a certain personal space violation issue - I didn't particularly like her but Della and his henchman Grossman ran a Rovian campaign and Della has shown not only to be dull of mind but equally stubborn.

Why aren't the Surface Transit people running Cary Moon or Erica Barnett or Grant Cogswell or Peter Steinbruek or ? against this dullard viaduct supporter? I know Grant claims he's moved.

Posted by whatever | July 28, 2007 8:36 AM

@18 That would be quite a tough group of opponents if elections were held on the Slog, but Della would kick ass on any of those folks citywide (not counting Steinbrueck, who could have simply run for an easy reelection to his own seat). If the "City Light Committee" bit is the best thing you have on Della, you may as well pack it in--he'll grab another four years easy. What else have you got?

Posted by J.R. | July 28, 2007 10:35 AM

Sheesh people, this isn't about the monorail v. Sound Transit. It's about Tim Burgess cozying up with slime balls like Tom Weeks. Tom Weeks, former close friend of Greg Nickels and Tim Ceis. Until Greg/Tim killed the monorail. Yeah yeah yeah, with the able help of the truly evil (keep secrets from the Monorail Board) Weeks and truly incompetant (how many popular projects can you implode) Joel Horn.

Back to Burgess, who recently bought himself a Prius and paid more than $1,000 to get himself up front and close to Barack Obama. Talk about shameless opportunist. Burgess trying to sell himself as a liberal is like Mitt Romney trying to sell himself as a firm believer. Burgess has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to right-wing causes, including Bush-Cheney and that Safeco (sorry about that hurricane, we have to deny your claim) guy, Mike McGavick, who ran against Maria Cantwell.

Burgess will have the same result as McGavick: he'll go down in flames.

What makes no sense is why the sometimes-bright Erica Barnett is so enthralled with Burgess. Erica, are you secretely conservative? Are those Sugarland Texas roots getting to you? Or is your hatred for the viaduct overwhelming all reason? Don't forget that the viaduct got a lot more votes than the tunnel, a tunnel supported by Burgess.

Maybe Burgess is going for that tunnel vote crowd? He'll rack up a whopping 32% of the vote with that. Whooeee. Let me wipe my brow.

Maybe Burgess is trying to show his support for billion dollar boondoggles? Maybe Burgess is trying to suck up to Nickels? After all, Burgess shares so much with that fat fucker: the same fundraiser, consultant, donors....maybe it's really about the fact that Della doesn't bow down before Nickels?

Erica, do you bow down? Or do you do it on your knees? Which does Burgess prefer? How about Nickels?

Posted by Nota Dime | July 28, 2007 11:12 AM

Shouldn't ever story by the Stranger have a big fat asterik? It should be that bold face apology that we were so stupid about the Monorail. "The Simpsons" episode had it right. And were are sorry for knifing anyone who raised a question about that fiasco. Oh, and special pancing of Josh Feit, for his Walter Cronkhite vanity turn.

Till you guys run the "we blew it" (and we're not talking about that, Dan), you have zero credibility. An essential ingredient of service to readers is a little bit of humble pie. Here's your forks. Start eating.

P.S...and then mull the question why only dullards run for the city council.

Posted by The unbearable stupidity of Josh, Dan etc | July 28, 2007 12:12 PM

JR as dense as Della. Of course the S/T people would lose sans Steinbruek because S/T only had about 20% support at election time. See, it was to point out that the "great winners" in the viaduct vote can't get one of their heroes to run.

The monorail had a finacing issue - the revenue from the MVET was about 20% below estimates. The costs of the project went up about 20% much better than the 200 to 300% that Link has gone up and ST doesn't even have the route plans to the U Dist. finished 10 years after the vote. As Trahant of the PI said "But when it comes to moving people through a dense corridor there will come a time again when we wish we had a system with true grade separation. Monorails don't get stuck in traffic."

Don't like either candidate but if Burgess cozied to Weeks wouldn't that make Della an attempted cozier?

Posted by whatever | July 28, 2007 12:34 PM

@22 OK, on rereading the comment at 18, I caught your sarcasm this time around. Never mind.

Posted by J.R. | July 28, 2007 12:52 PM

The Monorail made three mistakes:

1.) Not being regional in scope.

2.) Caving to downtown development for a route that was - at best - questionable through belltown.

3.) Relying on the MVET for funding. Typical starry-eyed Seattle Naivite (sp?). My partner and I both registered our cars in Seattle, as we are Seattleites. We paid the ridiculous MVET for the Monorail. Our Hippy-Dippy neighbors, who profess to be liberals and great transit fans, registered theirs at the address of one of their mother's house in Olympia. So did a lot of others. Thus we saw the true support for the Monorail.

It was a dud kids. Face it. The sort of thing a taxi driver would think up and sketch on the back of a cocktail napkin.

Posted by Catalina Vel-Duray | July 29, 2007 12:32 AM

Just curious what taxes would you have use Cat?

The only options were MVET, Car fee (flat rate), and Property (requiring 60%) - yes the SMP should have prioritized making registering at a false address specifically illegal - but most of the shortfall resulted from using the North-KC subarea from ST as a guide which turned out to have 6 zip codes that should have been in South-KC inflating the N-KC area by 16-18%.

Yes, people that pretend to support transit did evade the tax. Even one of this paper's transit proponents was nailed for not paying tabs.

Posted by whatever | July 29, 2007 3:47 PM

My point, whatever, is that cities - even affluent, self-satisfied cities, full of big thinkers like Seattle - can not build major infrastructure projects like the Monorail on their own. It doesn't work that way, no matter how good your intentions are, or how smart everyone tells you you are.

It was poorly thought out, and all the pretty websites and rose-colored rearview mirrors can change that.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | July 29, 2007 10:47 PM

Well, great, that will get me to vote for a roads plan that only pays for 40 percent of the 520 bridge and builds a non-HOV freeway over wetlands.


oh, wait, sorry, had my sarcasm key on.


Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2007 12:31 AM

Jeez... The monorail gets taken out back, shot in the head, and some people still can't get over trashing it?

Let's keep some in perspective:

1) The $11 billion plan was dollars spent over time -- not the cost of the contract. It was a worst-case scenario plan. And it was never submitted to the Monorail Board and approved.

2) Unlike Sound Transit's projects, the Monorail had a fixed-price contract from the bidder. Cost overruns would have been paid for by them, not us taxpayers.

3) ST went to court to win on the argument that they can continue to tax us for as long as they feel like, and make as many changes as they want to the projects, AFTER we vote.

4) ST is ridiculously over-budget, and several years behind, on completion of a shortened light rail line, and they expect us to approve extensions of that project BEFORE it's even open and running?

Y'all like to be lied to and screwed over by the MSM and certain political leaders in this area, don't you?

Posted by Mickymse | July 30, 2007 11:54 AM

Can anyone tell me what Della has done for Seattle besides raise his hand occasionally for a vote? As I consider Burgess and Della I am hard-pressed to find an issue, legislation, or cause that Della has been a leader on. We need leadership in Seattle!

Posted by Speechless in Seattle | July 31, 2007 2:19 PM

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