Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« By the Numbers | Quick Talk with Sherman... »

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Report from the Pro-Prop 1 Party

posted by on November 6 at 21:27 PM

I’m sitting at the Westin Hotel, trying to cool down from the slam-packed room that hosted the pro-Roads and Transit party. With the measure failing by a strong margin (about 44 to 56 percent) in all three of the region’s counties, it was a grim scene, reminiscent of the pro-R-51 party in 2002, when that roads measure failed in part because of opposition from environmental groups. This time, of course, enviro groups were divided.


Pierce County Exec John Ladenburg spoke first. He told the crowd that he was “certainly not conceding defeat at this point—a couple of years back at this point, Gore was president.” But he acknowledged what everyone in the room was thinking: The measure appeared to be sunk. “The question is, what now?” he said. “Well, now you’re going to get up in the morning and you’re going to be stuck in traffic, and that’s going to go on for a while.” He called opponents of the measure, who include both some environmentalists and some light-rail opponents, “aginners”—“they’re against everything. They don’t have a plan, they don’t have a solution, but they’re agin’ it.” Ladenburg, of course, was the official who most strongly supported the Cross Base Highway in Pierce County that was so hated by environmentalists—one reason groups like the Sierra Club opposed the roads and transit proposal.

The question “What next?” was palpable. The environmental community has been divided on roads and transit, and proponents of the measure have spent so much time saying it’s our last chance to get light rail that it’s hard to imagine them turning around and stumping for a new package next year. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what some elected officials, including King County Council members Larry Phillips and Julia Patterson seemed to suggest should happen. “I’m just concerned that if we don’t keep this coalition going.. we won’t get anything done,” Patterson said. “We need to roll up our sleeves and come back and do it again.” Phillips, who thought voters were rejecting the package because of the cost and the possibility of tolls on some of the roads it would pay for, said that although it would be politically difficult to get something on the ballot next year, “I think there’s a good chance we could win in a presidential year” like 2008. Governor Christine Gregoire (who was not here) reportedly doesn’t want any tax measures on the ballot in 2008, when she will be up for reelection.


Transit supporters seemed divided between sanguine and pessimistic. Bill LaBorde of Environment Washington said he didn’t expect to have a problem getting together with environmental groups that opposed the package and uniting in support of a new proposal. He said he was intrigued by King County Executive Ron Sims’s proposal to pay for roads and transit improvements with tolls and congestion pricing, but added, “I’m pretty skeptical that you can get voter approval” for it. “If it’s viable, that’s great.” Ric Ilgenfritz, communications director for Sound Transit, was more gloomy. “There is no Plan B,” Ilgenfritz said. “Our job is to be something about the transportation problem, and the transportation problem is going to be there tomorrow, just as it was today.”

RSS icon Comments


OK, all you opponents of Roads and Transit: now what?

I'm waiting to see and read about YOUR alternative, now that you have (apparently) prevailed tonight.

Posted by Perfect Voter | November 6, 2007 10:02 PM

Perfect Voter, allow perfect cherry picking.

Split the roads into one proposition, the transit into another, and then put both on the ballot.

Posted by Anon | November 6, 2007 10:37 PM

@1 Gimme the transit without the roads, or at least with no new lanes, and I'll vote for it.

Posted by Gitai | November 6, 2007 10:55 PM

There is no plan B, except to let folks suffer as oil prices skyrocket and they have no other commute options.

The fact is that the Stranger, which used to pride itself for challenging the Seattle consensus, has now gone native. They will find any excuse to prevent meaningful change.

Forward Thrust in 1970...Sound Transit in 1995...Monorail in 2005...Prop 1 in 2007. At every key moment, this region fails to embrace mass transit, and the acolytes of a new urbanism, like the Stranger, have continued that ugly trend. They've become everything they used to criticize.

Posted by greenlake | November 6, 2007 10:55 PM

@3, in her post from the anti-Prop 1 party, Erica explains that the Sierra Club will author a new measure...that will include roads.

Something does not add up here.

Posted by greenlake | November 6, 2007 10:56 PM

It will include "maintenance and safety" improvements on EXISTING roads, NOT addition of any NEW roads.

Learn to read, fer chrissakes.

Posted by COMTE | November 6, 2007 11:15 PM

As a pretty solid pro-Prop-1 agitator, I sure hope you guys are right, that a substantially similar transit measure can go on the ballot and pass quickly.

If not, we're screwed.

Posted by MHD | November 7, 2007 7:08 AM

Just use the backup plan you always had.

The negotiations already started a week ago. You know what that means.

ST2.1 (considering dropping the Pierce County segment which makes no sense until the Tacoma grid expands in dense to moderate density areas)

RTID - dead. dead. dead.

Critical existing bridge/roads/highways repair and replacement - coming back, probably Snohomish and King county only - because Pierce County Exec refused to play nice and so will live in a world of hurt for a while.

Next time don't bring a knife to a gun fight. The personal attacks you did on me and others were beyond the pale and didn't help you. Your basic ideas wouldn't sell and you failed to realize that.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 7, 2007 10:14 AM


I'd appreciate you distinguishing me from others like Cressona. I specifically avoided personal attacks against you or anyone else, and if there's a counterexample you can provide, I'd apologize for it.

I hope you're right about 2.1, not that "I" always had one. I also hope that an electorate that clearly distrustful of new taxes and all local government institutions will pass it.

Posted by MHD | November 7, 2007 10:51 AM

ST2 will not pass, Will, especially if the key funding will come from a MVET. Voters have a long memory, and they'll only remember voting this and the monorail down. They hate taxes and they're not fond of trains.

You have shown absolutely no understanding of why Prop 1 failed.

Posted by Gomez | November 7, 2007 11:19 AM

This is great. A year from now when we're not voting on a new light rail package, I hope someone remembers to drop a flaming bag of dogshit on the Stranger's front stoop.

Posted by Judah | November 7, 2007 11:41 AM

Thanks, MHD. Sorry that so many felt it necessary to do Karl Marx Rove personal attacks when they were losing the arguments - it didn't help you win the battle of ideas, and I've been in a lot worse, so it's a pretty useless tactic.

And ST2.1 will pass. As will the critical bridges and roads that our county (and maybe Snohomish) will vote on.

But for Pierce County - nothing. They burnt a lot of bridges in this battle and people know it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 7, 2007 12:11 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).