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Monday, April 14, 2008

Setting the Record Straight

posted by on April 14 at 14:28 PM

In yet another tiresome anti-tax screed (“Enough With the Levies Already,” yawn), P-I columnist Joel Connelly takes me to task today for being one of those “nanny state” liberals who wants to tax and spend good, decent working-class folks like Louise, a woman he ran into in the grocery-store parking lot, out of the city. (Louise complained that she would always need more grocery bags than the single canvas bag the city has said it will provide for free once the 20-cent bag tax goes into effect; somehow it never dawned on her OR Connelly that she could buy her own reusable bags for a buck at Trader Joe’s or Value Village and never pay a single penny in bag taxes.)

Calling this year’s levies, including a potential $6 billion Sound Transit levy, “wretchedly excessive,” Connelly writes that the region’s leaders should consider replacing some of the light rail in the plan with buses (duh, they have—that’s why all the levy proposals on the table for 2008 are so much smaller than 2007’s)—a proposal being shopped around by former state transportation secretary Doug MacDonald.

It’s when he starts talking about me that Connelly goes beyond mere kneejerk anti-tax polemic and ventures into outright untruths.

Connelly writes: “MacDonald has tried to strike up a dialogue with Erica Barnett, the eco-absolutist who covers City Hall for The Stranger. No luck. Light rail has transcended public policy to become a cultlike cause.”

Huh? MacDonald wrote me last week saying many of the same things he says in Connelly’s column. I wrote him back, suggesting that we talk this week, and asking him several specific questions about the issues he has with Sound Transit. I signed off by saying, “It’s always nice to hear from you.” (True). MacDonald responded by saying he was busy, but that we should talk later this week. I dunno, Joel—that sounds like a dialogue to me. Moreover, it’s a dialogue Connelly would have been more than aware of had he bothered to contact me before making statements of fact about my reporting.

Connelly is on vacation outside the country, according to his autoreply to my email. Additionally, I have an e-mail in to MacDonald to see if he told Connelly anything to give him the impression I hadn’t responded; somehow, based on previous columns in which Connelly has taken gratuitous swipes at me, I doubt it.

Furthermore: A “cultlike cause”? The Stranger actually ran an endorsement AGAINST the “roads and transit” ballot measure in 2007, despite the fact that it included 50 miles of light rail. If our devotion to rail was indeed “cultlike,” we would have supported roads and transit wholeheartedly despite our reservations about the 182 new miles of roads in the plan. Instead, we wrote:

No one in his right mind looks at the environmental realities we’re currently facing and says, “Let’s build hundreds of miles of new roads!” But that’s exactly what this package would do—152 new miles of new general-purpose lanes, 30 miles of HOV. If we pass this package, we’ll have wasted our last chance in a generation to do light rail right. Yes, we’ll get light rail to Microsoft and Tacoma (by 2027) but we’ll also get a 43 percent increase in miles driven in this region. The new roads will just fill up, as roads do; they’ll contribute more to global warming than light rail takes away; and they won’t do anything to reduce congestion without further investments in transit in the future. But we won’t be able to make those investments, because we’ll be committed to paying for a compromised light rail system for the next 50 years.

How a “no” endorsement on a light rail package (an endorsement I helped to write, and with which I concurred) translates to a “cultlike cause” is beyond my understanding.

RSS icon Comments




Posted by blank12357 | April 14, 2008 2:46 PM

So Erica, does that make you a priestess of the Cult of Transit? If so, I think we should stop drinking the blood of Republicans at our gatherings but continue with offering unfettered abortions and bible/flag burning.

Posted by Andrew | April 14, 2008 2:50 PM

You can't see it because you are blinded by batshit fake outrage.

But, it's fun to watch so keep up the good work!

Posted by Jeff | April 14, 2008 2:51 PM

Connelly is a transit expert. He has a lot of time to think about it as he sits in his car on the way to Seattle from Whidbey Island.

Posted by lorax | April 14, 2008 2:58 PM

You're so busy getting wet over the idea that you've been noticed by a writer in a big-time paper that your manufactured outrage falls flat.

Posted by typical ecb | April 14, 2008 3:03 PM

The sexual tension between the two of you is almost unnerving.

Posted by StrangerDanger | April 14, 2008 3:05 PM

What you do is not reporting, Erica. You are not a reporter, and you are not a journalist. You are a propagandist and a shill. Some of us, certainly including Joel Connelly, know the difference.

Posted by ivan | April 14, 2008 3:10 PM

Wow, that article is terrible. I had no idea Connelly was such a dick.

Let the peons ride on buses!

And here I thought the PI was such a decent little newspaper.

Posted by Cale | April 14, 2008 3:15 PM

I remember Connelly as the fat newspaper guy who said that the monorail was doomed to fail because no-one would want to walk a few blocks to the station.

Posted by Tiktok | April 14, 2008 3:35 PM

Joel bitches about buses that never come, but I bet he doesn't ride the bus. I was at a friend's house in West Seattle on Saturday night, completely lost track of time. At 12.30 I wandered down to Delridge and rode the bus home to Madrona - no problems. Yeah, I didn't have a seat warmer or a sub-woofer, but so what.

Posted by blank12357 | April 14, 2008 3:37 PM

Whenever anyone suggests replacing light rail with buses, it takes all I can do to suppress the urge to haul off and pop the SOBs right into the middle of my world where they couldn't even begin to cope.

Look, if you want to make a six or seven hundred dollar car payment, that's up to you, but don't imposed your fucked up values on people who (1) are civic-minded and (2)need to get around Seattle as quickly and as efficiently as you do.

Posted by Bauhaus | April 14, 2008 3:40 PM

You called him a knee-jerk anti-tax polemicist and he called you an eco-absolutist.

I disagree: I see him as more of a knee-jerk anti-tax absolutist and you as more of an eco-polemicist. Just a matter of semantics.

But more seriously, thanks for setting the record straight on the MacDonald conversation. When I read Joel's column this morning, my bullshit detector went off over that line.

Posted by Joe M | April 14, 2008 3:47 PM

Connelly is another one of those boomers who needs to die off.

Posted by Boomers suck | April 14, 2008 3:53 PM

I see the No on Prop. 1 vote as evidence of the Stranger's eco-absolutism: you suggested a no vote because it wasn't purely light rail and didn't live up to whatever impossible standards you hold for a transit system.

Posted by joykiller | April 14, 2008 3:59 PM

Connely's the epitome of the out of touch columnist. He talks about the Death with Dignity initiative like it creates an SS like organization to hunt down and murder old and sick people, talks about transit like an oil exec, and talks about taxes like Grover Norquist. How the fuck is he still employed?

Posted by Gitai | April 14, 2008 4:38 PM

Erica complaining about someone not contacting a source to get the full story? That's rich.

Posted by tomcat98109 | April 14, 2008 4:48 PM

Wow, her name was really Louise? And does she, by any chance, have a husband named Harry?

Posted by David | April 14, 2008 4:55 PM

Someone please coin the term "Borrow and Spend Republicans." It's long overdue.

Posted by booji boy | April 14, 2008 5:11 PM

This was on my RSS feed and without seeing the title or writer, I knew after one paragraph it was ECB.

Also, this is Joel Connelly. What honestly do you expect out of the played-out fish-hack? He's like Knute Berger with a paycheck.

Posted by Gomez | April 14, 2008 5:16 PM

Erica, many people, when they can't make a rational argument start attacking an individual instead. It's easier, and generally a cop-out. You might want to look out for it in your own writing. It certainly was a technique the Stranger uses from time to time.

Posted by guest | April 14, 2008 6:19 PM

Joel Connelly is so sloppy and unthoughtful in his work, it's hard to take him seriously. It might be different if he had a shred of humor, because then we could actually enjoy his personality and his writing. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

At least that's how he came off two years ago, which is the last time I read his work.

Posted by me | April 14, 2008 6:45 PM

Two scorpions going after each other.

Quick, big foot! Squash 'em both!

Posted by Editor's Note | April 14, 2008 9:37 PM

@18 I personally like Slash-and-Burn Republicans

Posted by vooodooo84 | April 15, 2008 12:02 AM

Joykiller @14.

Well duh. But logic doesn't enter the minds of eco-absolutists. OK, I hate that term now that I've written it. But, lets use this as evidence:

we’ll also get a 43 percent increase in miles driven in this region.

As Homer Simpson once said,

Awwwww, anybody can use statistics to prove a point, Kent. Forty percent of the people know that.

Posted by TheMisanthrope | April 15, 2008 7:05 AM

Joykiller @14.

Well duh. But logic doesn't enter the minds of eco-absolutists. OK, I hate that term now that I've written it. But, lets use this as evidence:

we’ll also get a 43 percent increase in miles driven in this region.

As Homer Simpson once said,

Awwwww, anybody can make up statistics to prove a point, Kent. Forty percent of the people know that.

Posted by TheMisanthrope | April 15, 2008 7:06 AM

Connelly doesn't want rapid transit to increase density in Seattle and get people around in the city. That would actually free up space on the roads for the suburbia SUV's.

The suburbanites would rather pay an extra 50 bucks a month for a 3rd seat, 4 wheel drive they never will need and seat warmers in a relatively warm climate. Their short sighted thinking means I have no sympathy for those who spend days of their life each year stuck on 405.

Posted by Dave Coffman | April 15, 2008 8:06 AM

#26: "Connelly doesn't want rapid transit to increase density in Seattle and get people around in the city."

Stop it!! There is no plan to build any more light rail within the city of Seattle besides the inevitable Northgate extension that even Connelly supports.

Posted by stop it | April 15, 2008 8:47 AM

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