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The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Friday, November 29, 2002

More on SAP(tm) Laureate Maggi Fimia of Seattle

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

"Truth passes through three phases: 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident." Albert Schopenhouer

From the Cabalmaster:

We've received information that SAP(tm) laureate Maggi Fimia, a former King County (WA) council member, would like you to forget one of her less astute remarks: "I'm a woman, and I have concerns about going underground." Referring, of course, to underground rail transit. We've checked with our FOC(s) / CAP(s) on site, and they confirm: Dorky as this comment sounds, Fimia actually gave it to the Seattle media. Why anyone would say something like this within earshot of a reporter for the Seattle Times, the Seattle P-I, The Stranger or (worst of all) KOMO TV-4, is beyond us.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

DeLay, Lanier and Light Rail (Houston Newspaper Blunder)

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

"Truth passes through three phases: 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident." Albert Schopenhouer

From the Cabalmaster:

Here is a true "gem" of an item obtained off the Houston Chronicle website www.houstonchronicle.com. The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal claims "fair use" of this item, since it is so revealing of the truth from a Houston political insider.

Nov 20, 2002, 6:43PM

A Houston odyssey: DeLay, Lanier and Light Rail

Next November, voters in the city and across the Metropolitan Transit Authority service area will cast a truly important vote: They will decide whether Metro should be permitted to expand our rail system beyond the 7 mile South Main line.

There isn't a more critical local issue on the horizon. I propose a series of editorials, editorial cartoons and Sounding Board columns leading up to the rail referendum, with this specific objective: Continuing our long-standing efforts to make rail a permanent part of the transit mix here.

The timing, language and approach of the paper's editorials would, of course, be the decision of the Editorial Board. But I suggest that they could be built upon and informed by a news-feature package with an equally specific focus: Telling the story of rail here by examining the long-term relationship of the two key players in the local transit wars -- Rep. Tom Delay and former Mayor Bob Lanier. For better or worse, (mostly worse, I would argue) no two have had a more significant impact on transit decisions here. Our readers deserve to know how they've operated to back, fund and promote an anti-rail agenda for the past two decades. This would be vital information for the voters as they come to their decision on rail. It would also be a highly entertaining read.

We in Houston have our own version of the "Chinatown" story of early 20th century Los Angeles, when the currency of power was water: Who controlled it; who received it; where it came from; and where it went at what price. Since World War II, Houston's currency of power has been concrete -- millions of cubic yards poured for freeways.

DeLay and Lanier have been the two central characters in our local drama. This urban-suburban, Republican-Democrat odd couple is bound by the belief that highways and poured concrete are the path to a profitable future for this area; and its converse -- the belief that mass transit must be stopped in its tracks.

The broad elements of the news/feature package could include:

The story of how the Lanier-DeLay relationship began (in the early 1980s when Lanier was chairman of the state Highway Commission and DeLay was a young congressman).

Lanier the land man: Through his privately held Landar Corp., Lanier has long shown prescience in purchasing land where roads would ultimately go. Where are his holdings? Specifically, where are his holdings along the Grand Parkway? How has he benefited by the building of roads?

DeLay's steady rise to power in Congress. How it come about and, more importantly, how it was funded (by the highway lobby).

Lanier's rise to political power. His rift with former Mayor Kathy Whitmere that turned into a determination to run her off (he did; she has never been heard from again); his controversial shifting of transit funds into the city budget in the much to discussed "Metro transfer."

Bob Lanier, political kingmaker. For almost a decade, the path to public office in Houston has wound through Lanier's den. Mayoral and City Council hopefuls, congressional candidates, would-be Texas legislators and county commissioners -- all come to kiss the great man's ring and bid for his approval. What is the protocol? What makes the introductions? What is the quid pro quo? And, the $64 question: How has Lanier managed to promote himself as patron saint of inner city Houston while working with DeLay to promote relentlessly suburban/freeway/anti-rail funding agenda at all levels of government?

Ground Zero for November: The campaign led by DeLay and Lanier to defeat rail expansion. Who is doing the funding? What is the history of the San Antonio-based think tank (the "Texas Public Policy Foundation") doing research to discredit rail?

Any number of sidebar topics also come to mind:

The Fort Bend mayors who are bucking DeLay and Lanier to bring commuter rail to thousands of Fort Bend residents who work in the Medical Center.

Lanier's involvement in the lawsuit brought by former Houston City Councilman Rob Todd to hold up the South Main light rail project.

Elyse Lanier: From jewelry salesperson to Houston political insider.

The Greater Houston Partnership and the clean air saga. When the Environmental Protection Agency put clean-air deadlines on the Houston region in the early 1990's, the Partnership resisted mightily. The thinking was: We have the political connections in Washington -- from George Bush and Bill Archer to DeLay and Lloyd Bentsen -- to stall and stonewall until this all goes away. What went wrong? What was the Chronicle's role in supporting this approach?

A primer on highway building, Houston style: Why the Southwest Freeway turned south and west rather than continuing due west (developer Frank Sharp had a hand in this).

Why Texas highways have frontage roads (a key to economic development) in the first place. Sam Rayburn added them to the language in President Eisenhower's landmark legislation creating the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. At whose bidding?

This is a story in urgent need of telling, and an editorial position of equal urgency. Voters deserve to know the history of how Houston came to be a city of freeways well before they decide about rail's future next November. They need to know who has wielded the power to pour concrete, who still wields it and to what lengths the concrete pourers will go in order to stop rail.


The Chronicle subsequently removed the document and posted this apology:


Nov. 21, 2002, 11:05PM

Document mistakenly posted to site

An internal Houston Chronicle document was mistakenly posted to the editorial/opinion area of the Web site early Thursday morning. We apologize for any confusion it may have caused.


Monday, November 18, 2002

Tim Eyman of Washington State, a New SAEP(tm) Member

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

"Truth passes through three phases: 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident." Albert Schopenhouer

From the Cabalmaster:



Now: back to our newly-inducted SAP™ (we'll return to I-776 in a moment):

Three years in the public eye have provided Tim Eyman with ample opportunity to demonstrate his true character. He's done so. Connect the dots, and spell "S-H-A-M-E-L-E-S-S C-O-N A-R-T-I-S-T-E." It amazes us that more people haven't caught on -- must be that "something in the water." (All kidding aside, the problem stems as much from the . . . dare we say, "laziness" . . . of the Seattle media as from Eyman. There are exceptions; see www.seattlepress.com/article-9460.html, but too bad that this type of writing is totally "un-Seattle.")

After I-695 passed, Eyman created "Permanent Offense," a political action committee and therefore subject to Washington State's strict public-disclosure laws. However, at the same time, Eyman also created "Permanent Offense, Inc.," a for-profit political consulting firm. The long-standing relationship between the two is documented by the PDC (www.pdc.wa.gov ; use internal search engine).

At the height of the scandal mentioned above, Eyman was quoted as saying that he hoped to get rich from his initiatives (he's still trying, but more on that below). We'll give him the benefit of the doubt and speculate that he set up "P.O., Inc." as a legitimate way to receive compensation for time dedicated to his initiative projects -- a "personal foundation," if you will. Within strictly-defined limits, there is absolutely nothing illegal about doing this. (We do suggest that you keep contributions to your PAC strictly separate from those to your "personal foundation.") However, Eyman evidently got greedy and skimmed PAC donations for his own personal use.

We Opinionated Ones think that we can convince you that Eyman is still trying to get rich with initiatives. He's even come up with an apparent new strategy: bogus initiatives!

No, no, no, a thousand times no, we are not making this up! Read on:

P.O. (renamed "Voters Want More Choices" after the financial debacle mentioned above) has submitted I-800, which would require a 75 percent legislative "supermajority" for any tax or fee increases. Your Favorite Transit Pundits have not been able to find the text of this scheme, so we can't confirm the media reports that this would also apply to county and city councils.

There's only one problem: the Washington State constitution specifies that all bills require only a simple majority in both houses of the legislature to pass, except for bond issues and expansion of gambling, which require 60 percent. Phil Talmadge, a former state senator and state Supreme Court Justice who is currently running for governor, explained this recently < a href="http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/95328_eyman13.shtml" target="_blank">seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/95328_eyman13.shtml, and added that any changes would require amending the constitution. This cannot be done through the initiative process in Washington www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/procedures.aspx. So there you have it: a bogus initiative!

Whether or not Eyman knows about this is beside the point: it's of no concern to him. Not convinced? Okay, then think of 1.) the amount of money that will pour in over the next year, in the form of campaign contributions, and 2.) the percentage that will go to Eyman (he's said that he will accept a "salary" from the campaign). So what if it gets struck down after the election?

If you'd like to peruse other Eyman projects, check out this link: www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/legislature.aspx. These are proposed initiatives to the legislature. If the required number of signatures is gathered by the deadline, they would go first to the legislature, then to the voters if the legislature does not act. (We wonder who will help pay to gather signatures to qualify that initiative to wipe out the state's ergonomics legislation . . .) This include Initiative 267, which would require that state sales taxes on motor vehicles be used for state and local highway purposes, rather than going to the general fund (about $750 million per year). It would also mandate the opening of HOV lanes to all traffic during non-peak hours.

Back to I-776. State and federal constitutions prohibit governments from taking actions that interfere with a contract, such as bond covenants. Sound Transit has issued $350 million in bonds, backed by its MVET revenues. Contrary to what the polls predicted, I-776 was approved, but (as we've reported previously), it received a 58 percent "no" vote in King County.

Prior to the election, the state Department of Licensing said, in effect, that it agreed with opinions by King County attorneys that I-776 was unconstitutional. DOL officials said they would continue collecting the tax on behalf of Sound Transit, unless and until ordered to do otherwise by a court.

That will not happen anytime soon. Washington state Attorney General Christine Gregoire advised the legislature that the taxes which back bond issues by Sound Transit and King County must remain until the bonds are retired seattlepi.nwsource.com/transportation/96001_licensetab16ww.shtml. The "well-established" constitutional principle cited by Gregoire dates back to the time of Thomas Jefferson, and so any court challenge would be doomed to failure. Eyman announced that he does not plan to try (he doesn’t have the money) seattlepi.nwsource.com/transportation/95487_tl214.shtml. He called on Gregoire to enforce "the law" (that is, I-776), and added that he expected a "public backlash" to fuel his I-800 campaign if Gregoire does not act.

Hey! More loot for "The TOT," in the form of campaign contributions!! Are you convinced yet???

If you'd like to see graphics-mode evidence that Eyman is an utterly shameless publicity seeker, check out www.permanent-offense.org/initiatives.html.

Don't take our word that Eyman is greedy and selfish! Get it from The Stranger!! www.thestranger.com/2002-02-07/city4.html.

Then, read an interview www.seattleweekly.com/features/0241/news-parrish2.shtml in the Seattle Weekly; sadly, the graphic of him towering over the fair city of Seattle is no longer available -- nor is a variation, showing Eyman as Adolf (yes, THAT Adolf) in the following week's issue. But at least you can read the rants (and occasional rave) www.seattleweekly.com/features/0242/letters-readers.shtml.

Now check out the "Initiative Revolt Against Tim Eyman" site www.puppetslounge.com/iratetext.html; the proposal is to bar Eyman from sponsoring any more initiatives . . . through the initiative process, of course! Check out this Eyman quote:

"I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it."

Are you convinced yet??

If you're not all "Eymaned" out, check out www.puppetslounge.com/iratetext.html.

We'll conclude with the following quote from Phil Talmadge:

"Mr. Eyman is an acknowledged liar with respect to his personal financial dealings in initiative campaigns. He has shaded the truth, to say the least, as to the substance of his initiative measures." www.talmadgeforgovernor.com/Opinions/firefighters.html.

Now imagine what an interesting place Washington State will be if Talmadge is elected governor in 2004 -- and Eyman chooses not to accept political asylum in some other state. It certainly will not be Oregon, where voters passed Ballot Measure 26, banning payment to initiative signature gatherers, by a 75% yes to 25% no margin. This measure was apparently at least partly aimed at Oregon's answer to Tim Eyman, Bill Sizemore, who is effectively now out of business thanks to Oregon voters.

Come to think of it--why can't Washington voters "Sizemore" Eyman, similar to what voters did to Bill Sizemore with Measure 26 in Oregon? ;-)

Friday, November 15, 2002

Quips from FOCs (Friends of the Cabal):

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

"Truth passes through three phases: 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident." Albert Schopenhouer

From the Cabalmaster:

If there were such a country as “Obscurastan,” Wendell Cox would be the Transport Minister!

(idea brazenly ripped off from San Francisco Mime Troupe’s name for a new show they’re putting on in S.F., San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 2002).

“Electroferrophobia microensis” (from the Latin - "Fear of light rail transit")
A complex syndrome found in upper middle class neighborhoods, and particularly prominent among unimmunized golfers; thought to be induced by excessive exposure to SUV emissions. Inspired by the opposition to LRT by the snooty Columbia Country Club of Bethesda & Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Then there is this “conference” that all friends of the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal SHOULD NOT MISS, if only for its entertainment value!


ATTEND THE CONFERENCE!! www.ti.org/amdream.html


(Each one of them noted, authoritative and unbiased!!!)

(preliminary list of blowhards and b.s. artists...)

Jon Caldara, Independence Institute /i2i.org/Caldara
John Charles, Cascade Policy Institute www.cascadepolicy.org/StaffDetail_2_8.asp
Wendell Cox, publicpurpose.com www.publicpurpose.com (definately the lead b.s. artist, not a Sophist per se, also Lead Jackass)
Peter Gordon, University of Southern California www-rcf.usc.edu/~pgordon/ (probably more a Sophist than b.s. artist, per se)
Steve Hayward, American Enterprise Inst. www.aei.org/scholars/hayward.htm
Robert Nelson, U. of Maryland www.puaf.umd.edu/faculty/people/nelsonm.html
Randal O'Toole, Thoreau Institute www.urbanfutures.org/otoole.html
Alan Pisarski, author, "Commuting in America" www.senate.gov/~epw/Pisarski_031902.htm
Robert Poole, Reason Foundation www.rppi.org/robert.html
Thomas Rubin, consultant www.tppf.org/transit/trans_report_exec/about_authors.html
Peter Samuel, Toll Roads Newsletter www.tollroads.com/index.htm#newsletter
Sam Staley, Buckeye Institute www.buckeyeinstitute.org/ABOUT.HTM (definately more a Sophist than b.s. artist, given BI's recent postings on the Cincinnati LRT election)
And many more! (Joy!?)


Gain media attention. Win the war of words.

Critique a density plan. Critique a light-rail line.

Influence regional planning. Reduce regional congestion.

Protect valuable open space. Maintain affordable housing.

Promote competitive transit systems . "Improve" federal transportation policy.

Insure neighborhood self-determination (yeah, keep "them" out!).

Clean the air without expensive regulation.


"Congestion, unaffordable housing, and restrictions on property rights increasingly threaten the American Dream of mobility and homeownership. This conference will bring together dozens of experts with scores of professionals and activists working to protect freedom, mobility, and livability in their home cities and regions.

"The conference will help you effectively oppose rail transit boondoggles, high-density urban zoning, restrictions on rural property rights, and other so-called "smart-growth" policies. The conference also aspires to start a new national movement aimed at Preserving the American Dream of mobility and homeownership."


"Professionals whose work contributes to urban mobility and livability, including:
--Commercial developers
--Transportation builders
--Highway users

"Opponents of 'smart-growth' plans such as:"
--Rail transit boondoggles
--Neighborhood densification
--Urban-growth boundaries
--Traffic "calming" and
--Other intrusive planning policies
--Experts on urban land-use and transportation issues;
--National, state, regional, and local elected and appointed officials who want to protect the livability of their regions by minimizing congestion, maintaining affordability, and reducing the cost of urban services.


The Buckeye Institute www.buckeyeinstitute.org/
The Cascade Policy Institute www.cascadepolicy.org/
The Heartland Institute www.heartland.org/
The Heritage Foundation www.heritage.org/
The Reason Foundation www.reason.org/
The Thoreau Institute www.ti.org/

The Charlotte and Walter Kohler Charitable Trust (Sheboygan, WI)*
The Sarah Scaife Foundation (Pittsburgh) www.scaife.com/sarah.html

*Walter Kohler, Jr., a businessman turned politician, served three terms as (Republican) Governor of Wisconsin between 1931 and 1957.


"The conference will be held at the Wyndham City Center Hotel www.wyndham.com/hotels/DCADC/main.wnt (scroll down), 1143 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037. This is an excellent facility located within walking distance of the Farragut North eg.washingtonpost.com/profile/795712 and Dupont Circle eg.washingtonpost.com/profile/795708 Metro stations." (but you better not want good public transit in your town, YESSIRREE!! or you will be seen as some sort of liberal leftwing commie or something very similar!! You have been warned!)


"Washington is conveniently served by three airports: National www.mwaa.com/national/index.htm, Dulles www.metwashairports.com/dulles/index.htm, and BWI www.bwiairport.com. National is the most convenient , but BWI is usually less expensive, so you may wish to check airfares for all three airports. National is directly served by Washington's $10 billion Metro rail system www.wmata.com/default.cfm; BWI has a non-stop bus to the nearest Metro station www.bwiairport.com (click "BWI Express Metro Bus); while Dulles requires an Airporter bus www.washfly.com to Washington."

The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal does not necessarily oppose "smart-growth" plans, but we ARE unalterably opposed to "rail transit boondoggles"**

So, we consider ourselves invited, and we'll be there! (See you in D.C., Wendell!!)

**for example, see members.aol.com/alavanca/lrb.html. An example closer to home: "No one should logically have expected the Lee County Central (Illinois), a line from Amboy (pop. 1,900) through Lee Center (pop. 250) to an electric pole at a crossroads labeled Middlebury, to have earned a profit." (Hilton, George W., and John F. Due, The Electric Interurban Railways in America, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1960.)

Friday, November 08, 2002

Score Another Big Road Defeat!

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

"Truth passes through three phases: 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident." Albert Schopenhouer

From the Cabalmaster:

From www.planetizen.com:

Fresno Voters Reject Road Tax

Fresno, California--home of the 3rd worst air in nation--rejects Measure C, a controversial 1/2 sales tax measure which would have been used primarily for road projects.

01:00 pm PST, Nov 08, 2002 - California

Contributed by Dan Zack

"Yes on C leaders pinned the blame on those pesky little signs, equating the measure with asthma and air pollution. Tax-extension opponents, said measure chairman Gordon Webster Jr., scared voters and caused them to vote no "for the wrong reasons." That comment shows how out of touch the Measure C crowd is. We need better roads, sure. But we also need to invest heavily in mass transportation. Our air matters. Our health matters. Quality of life is measured by more than Bulldogs tickets and an affordable mortgage."

See www.planetizen.com/news/item.php?id=7828


"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

From the Cabalmaster:


The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal is pleased to announce that Maggi Fimia, former Seattle-Land(tm) politico, (see www.thestranger.com/2000-12-21/other_news.html) has been awarded a lifetime membership in the Society for the Abolition of Effective Public Transport. Fimia was elected to the Metropolitan King County (WA) Council in 1993, later chaired its Transportation Committee, but retired from office at the end of 2001. She becomes the first female Sap(tm) laureate.

Fimia was one of the organizers of the anti-light-rail organization, "Sane Transit" (which has little to do with sanity, or with transit: www.peopleformoderntransit.org/Articles/Saev010001_Cont.html. Sane Transit has filed suit against the Seattle regional transit agency, Sound Transit (Sane Transit v. Sound Transit . . . get it? get it?). Sane Transit's own website, www.sanetransit.org, is not operative and may have been hacked; the web address leads one to "online casinos".

Fimia was also an organizer of the Coalition for Effective Transit Alternatives www.effectivetransportation.org. Its mission statement:

"CETA is a coalition of Puget Sound citizens and groups calling on Sound Transit to immediately cancel its ineffective and prohibitively expensive 14-mile surface light rail project and begin shifting the $1.4 Billion of local and $500 million of federal taxes to help fund a range of high quality services which could include: frequent, all day, comfortable, express bus service; monorail; vanpools; and other innovative, cost effective, safe, community friendly transportation options."


The regional transportation plan, "Sound Move," including the light-rail component, was approved in November 1996. Even if the Sound Transit board wanted to cancel the rail element, it could not do so as a practical matter without going back to voters archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=pence10&date=20001110&query=%22Maggi+FImia%22+light+rail. The alternative program above might -- just might -- have won voter approval late in 2000 or early in 2001, when Sound Transit was under fire for cost overruns and poor management. But not today, hence all that shouting of the Sap(tm) slogan.

As we've noted before: It's relatively easy to qualify an initiative for the Seattle ballot -- remarkably so if there's strong community interest. It's even easier in smaller suburban communities given the small number of signatures that one has to collect. It's not likely that the Sound Transit plan could be modified through the initiative process, but that's beside the point. If anything would trigger a light rail meltdown faster than a "no confidence" vote -- a non-binding request by voters that Sound Transit scrap light rail -- we Opinionated Ones can't imagine what it would be. Such a vote would be significant even if confined to Seattle. Companion measures in other cities would deliver the coup de grace -- creating intense political pressure that the Sound Transit Board could probably not resist.

Without question, Sane Transit, CETA and so forth have everything it takes to do this -- and more: organization, resources, media skills.

So, why haven't they? To paraphrase the late Argentine boxer Oscar Bonavena:

"Because they're chicken! Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!"

(Few boxers attempted to return Muhammad Ali's weigh-in taunts in kind. Bonavena did; his televised performance was masterful.)

Seattle rail foes know that a "no-confidence" vote or an actual "re-vote" would be theirs to lose, and that a loss would evaporate whatever credibility they have.

The opposition, not daring to take this risk, is attempting to slay the light-rail dragon using the "death by a thousand cuts" strategy. "Cuts" include: lawsuits www.effectivetransportation.org/sane/, /www.effectivetransportation.org/cfm, op-eds archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=fimia22&date=20011022&query=%22Maggi+FImia%22+light+rail, articles by sympathetic columnists seattle.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2002/10/21/editorial3.html, "dezinformatsiya" campaigns, and so forth.

Other "cuts" include attempts to "spin" a "Yes" vote for Seattle's monorail plan, or for Initiative 776 (initiative guru Tim Eyman's latest effort) as a "No" vote on Sound Transit light rail. (We're not certain, but: passage of I-776, which appears unlikely, MIGHT invalidate the monorail-financing measure, passage of which also appears unlikely.)


(with apologies to Rod Stewart / Martin Quittenton www.codehot.co.uk/lyrics/qrst/rodstewartmaggie.htm, The Knickerbockers www.lyricsfreak.com/k/knickerbockers/16645.htm, Dennis DeYoung and Styx)

Believe it or not, we respect Seattle's rail-transit foes; they're a motivated, savvy bunch; they may be the "best" (so to speak) in the country -- and they seem to rely relatively little on . . . shall we say, "outside assistance." But the current "thousand cuts" strategy may be hazardous to their credibility.

Fimia has been at the forefront of the anti-rail p.r. effort archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=sane08m&date=20001008&query=%22Maggi+FImia%22+light+rail.

While still on the King County Council, Fimia commissioned a study by DMJM+Harris that purports to demonstrate that buses could handle the same traffic volume as four-car light-rail trains www.peopleformoderntransit.org/Articles/BTuA112001.html. Fimia commissioned the study for $1 less than the threshold that requires a full council vote www.peopleformoderntransit.org/Articles/BTuA112001.html.

At mid-2002, the opposition tried its best to block an agreement between King County and Sound Transit for joint use of the downtown transit tunnel seattlepi.nwsource.com/transportation/75945_tunnel25.shtml. Fimia's various unfounded claims included perhaps the most creative version "STOP BUILDING RAIL SYSTEMS, DAMMIT" that we've heard. She explained her opposition to light rail tunnels as follows:

"I'm a woman, and I have concerns about going underground."

Hearing this, a "Cabal Associated Person" (one or more of the following: TransitCabalist, FOC, spouse, family member, friend) remarked:

"I'm a woman, and I don't know what she's talking about."

(Fimia, who claims to be a regular bus rider, lives in a north suburban community linked to downtown Seattle's by tunnel bus. The bus tunnel, which was very underground the last time we checked, opened in 1990.)

Seemingly unconcerned that such statements and actions tend to make one look like . . . well, like a Sap(tm) . . . Fimia continues as media pointperson, attempting to convince the Federal Transit Administration to heed the Seattle region's collective shout:


Thus far, the Feds have been unimpressed. This may have something to do with, um, that 57 percent "yes" vote in 1996.

Fimia's latest propaganda effort has stirred considerable ire among Seattle rail supporters. This is not difficult to understand, but something much more important is at hand. Fimia and her co-author, community activist Ruth Korkowski, have demonstrated that Sappy(tm) thinking tends to lead to creeping, insidious marginalization. The poor Sap(tm) either fails to notice that no one is listening -- or does notice, and cranks out ever-increasing volumes of fudge.

For once, your Favorite Transit Pundits find ourselves at a loss. We cannot provide you with a link; in fact, we can't even find a reference to "the" op-ed. We do not know the date of publication; we don't even know the title!

Thursday, November 07, 2002

"Gadgetbahns" and "Innovative" Transit Technologies

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

"Truth passes through three phases: 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident." Albert Schopenhouer

From the Cabalmaster:

An FOC has this to say about the intense interest generated in this country by monorail, personal rapid transit and other "innovative" transit technologies:

"All these goofy ideas [are] proposed because we pathetic Americans want a 'break-through' that the United States can claim as THE answer to transportation and it's all ours. That would justify our years of ignorant, short-sighted neglect of practical solutions that the rest of the world have made to work. (and, boy, aren't we glad we waited until just the right solution came along...!) It would also provide the transportation panacea for our ridiculous 60-year love affair with auto-based development."

Make That FOUR Transit Victories, 2 Transit Defeats, and SIX! - - SIX! Road Meaures Get Clobbered

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

"Truth passes through three phases: 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident." Albert Schopenhouer

From the Cabalmaster:

THIS JUST IN ! regarding transportation votes that we've reviewed.

New Georgia governor kills "Northern Arc" Beltway proposal in Atlanta! See


Another case of anti-expressway sentiment playing a role in electing a new governor: Article excerpt:

"During a telephone interview with Star 94's Steve and Vicki, Perdue said he has no plans to pursue the controversial Northern ARC, opponents of which are believed to be one of the groups that helped defeat (incumbent Governor) Barnes Tuesday. Perdue said improving north metro's secondary roads would be "cheaper, faster, better."

Also this from the Oakland, CA, Tribune:


Published Thursday, November 7, 2002, in the Oakland Tribune

Measure AA saves AC Transit service

Passage of parcel tax will raise enough money to keep bus service going without cuts

By Sean Holstege

The 236,000 people who board AC Transit buses every day can expect service to continue without cuts next year, following passage of Measure AA on Tuesday.

Voters in northern Alameda and western Contra Costa counties passed the $24 annual parcel tax by a 68 percent margin, according to unofficial final results. That's enough to raise $7.5 million each year for next five years, and avert threatened cuts to weekend and night service."

For rest of article, see link.

For a nationwide discussion of transportation measures, see www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/2002-11-07-transportation-usat_x.htm.

3 Transit Victories, 2 Transit Defeats. 5 Road Measures Get Clobbered

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

From the Cabalmaster:

Proposals to increase taxes for new bus and rail transit projects around the nation drew a mixed response from voters at the November 5th midterm elections. The results of the Seattle monorail proposal are still unknown due to late absentee ballots. In contrast, major proposals to expand highways in Virginia and Washington were dealt decisive defeats. Voters were generally reluctant to increase taxes, particularly for roadway expansion. Opposition to highway expansion also appears to have contributed to a Democrat being elected governor of Tennessee.

The most stunning transit victory was in Miami-Dade County, where voters approved a 1/2 cent sales tax for a series of rail extensions and bus service improvements, in an area that had suffered many transit funding defeats over the past two decades. Voters in suburban Denton County, Texas northwest of Dallas overwhelmingly approved connections to the DART light rail system, along with local bus improvements. In contrast, Cincinnati region voters rejected funding for regional transit improvements that would have included a 60-mile LRT network. Similarly, a proposal to expand bus and paratransit service in the Little Rock, Arkansas area was rejected as part of a program of non-transit projects, such as jail operations, “infrastructure” (presumably roads), and workforce development programs.

A statewide road-financing package in Washington was decisively defeated, as were two regional measures in Virginia, in the Hampton Roads (Norfolk) and Washington, D.C. suburbs.

Washington State

Referendum 51 ("R-51"), the mostly road-financing package including a 9-cent per gallon gas-tax increase, was rejected by 63 percent statewide. Backers admitted before the election that it would need to win big in Seattle-area suburbs. But it was rejected by 58 percent in King County.

Initiative 776 ("I-776"), sponsored by Tim Eyman, attracted a 54 percent "yes" vote statewide. However, this measure had little practical effect outside of the Sound Transit district (and one other county which has imposed a "local-option" license-tab fee). Anti-rail factions have attempted to "spin" this into a vote against Sound Transit's LRT plan. Takes a lot of spinning: I-776 attracted a 58 percent "No" vote in King County, which accounts for the large majority of the population within the Sound Transit service district.

As of early Thursday morning, Seattle's monorail financing plan had a 52 percent "yes" vote. However, the outcome is far from certain. The measure led by a slender margin of 4,500 votes out of more than 105,000 votes counted. And there are a lot more votes to count.

As of early Thursday morning, an estimated 500,000 absentee ballots had yet to be counted statewide. King County had received 190,000, and another 70,000 were thought to be in the mail. In other words, up to 250,000 absentee ballots remained to be counted in King County. Seattle accounts for slightly more than 35 percent of all registered voters in King County. Up to 88,000 ballots cast by Seattle absentee voters may await counting -- or more, if the monorail controversy generated a higher turnout than in King County overall.

The monorail proposal would have to attract at least a 47 percent "yes" vote to assure passage, assuming that 80,000 absentee ballots remain uncounted.

Those of us in the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal consider the above results to be a TRANSIT VICTORY and a MAJOR, MAJOR ROAD DEFEAT. First, due to the decisive rejection of the statewide road plan that gave only token amounts to transit. Second, though the Eyman proposal won statewide, King County voters decisively rejected it, a show of support for Sound Transit. Should the Seattle monorail measure pass, we would consider it a TRANSIT VICTORY since voters support transit funding, but we are still highly critical of the unneeded technology options chosen.

Miami/Dade County, Florida

Voters overwhelmingly approved a 1/2 percent sales tax increase for Metrorail and major bus expansion. The measure passed overwhelmingly, more than making up for a string of transit funding defeats over the past two decades. This is a MAJOR TRANSIT VICTORY, perhaps the biggest of 2002. By all accounts, this was the “surprise of the night” for transit supporters around the nation.

Denton County, Texas

This rapidly growing suburban area northwest of Dallas gave overwhelming approval to a transit plan that includes a rail connection to the Dallas DART light rail extension to Carrolton. This clearly is a TRANSIT VICTORY.

Tennessee Governors Race

Controversial highway proposals in suburban Knoxville may have tipped the governors race to the Democrats – see www.knoxnews.com. We Transit Cabalists count this as a ROAD DEFEAT that hopefully will improve the political prospects for light rail (Memphis, Nashville) and other transit projects in the Volunteer State.

Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia voters rejected a half percent (55% no to 45% yes) sales tax for highway and transit construction, substantially more $$ for roads than transit (but they supported bonds for university capital improvements)

This is obviously a ROAD DEFEAT, since most money would have gone toward new sprawl-inducing highway projects. A higher proportion for transit expansion in the measure’s spending plan would have probably given victory in Arlington and Alexandria, where large “yes” margins are needed to offset no votes in more tax-wary exurban areas. Certainly this measure will be on the ballot again, hopefully with a larger transit share.

Hampton Roads, Virginia

Hampton Road area (e.g., Norfolk, Newport News, Virginia Beach) voters decis – 1 cent increase mostly major roadway expansion, including a third freeway crossing of the harbor. An insulting, token amount was also set-aside for unspecified transit projects We opinionated Cabalists savor this as a MAJOR ROAD DEFEAT.

Little Rock, Arkansas

As proposed, a 1/4 percent sales tax in the Little Rock, Arkansas, region would have been allocated to bus and paratransit expansion. This proposal was one part of a 1 percent sales tax package in Pulaski County and City of Little Rock for a grab bag of projects, including “infrastructure,” (mainly roads) jail operations, and workforce development.

All measures were soundly defeated; voter turnout was very low. Us opinionated Cabalists rate this one as a ROAD DEFEAT. This item also rates as a TRANSIT DEFEAT, given voter reluctance to spend an entire new one percent sales tax on a smorgasboard of local government spending proposals.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Voters decisively rejected a 1/2 percent tax for a comprehensive Cincinnati regional transit proposal, including 60-mile LRT system. This is obviously a TRANSIT DEFEAT. This is the first time that Southwestern Ohio voters were presented with a ballot measure including LRT. Area leaders need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a less ambitious LRT plan for now, plus a greater emphasis on bus expansion.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Comment of the Week

"It is the unfortunate destiny of the ridiculous to be subject to ridicule."
James Howard Kunstler

From the Cabalmaster:

A FOC ("Friend of the Cabal") has the following to say about the highway engineers' view of facilities to increase pedestrian safety:

"Traffic engineers (often) find out that it is not 'practical' to accommodate pedestrians. Better to kill them off."