"It Glides As Softly as a Cloud!"

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From the Seattle Times:

At the same time the Seattle Monorail Project is trying to reduce spending on design and construction on the proposed Green Line, the agency is paying millions of dollars for promotional advertising.

Monorail officials plan to spend $2.6 million through May for print, radio and television ads, and a similar amount in the second half of this year, according to agency figures.
…..
Executive Director Joel Horn called the ad campaign an "educational program" to improve public knowledge about the monorail, which would connect downtown to Ballard and West Seattle by 2009.

Critics say the ads are meant to distract attention from serious problems with the project. "The advertising that they're doing right now is simply to convince the people, as well as the City Council, that they have everything under control, which they do not," said Faye Garneau, a North Seattle property owner…..

They should have just hired Lyle Lanley….

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  1. As someone who lives in Seattle, I’ll comment. This is a town so full of pompous NIMBY-ism that we have special interest groups devoted to stopping the monorail construction–after it’s been passed by voter initiative three times now.

    Three times.

    Progress of any sort is not foremost in these people’s minds, many of whom are hippies with flowergarden lawns who bicycle to work, and like to pretend that the quiet little town their parents were born in isn’t now a small metropolis. The reason the monorail developers have to spend millions on PR is because there are groups trying to force a ballot to scrap the project completely. Did I mention it’s been passed, in slightly different forms, 3 times now?

    For the record, this is a project that is mostly locally funded, by an electorate who chose to tax themselves. Seattle’s traffic sucks, and they decided it was worth the cost. Many of the “critics” are people whose view will be blocked by an elevated station. Seattle is the home of the professional protester.

  2. Somehow I don’t think meep will convince the denizens of H&R.
    I may be wrong.
    But I doubt it.

  3. “Their celebrity was *gasp* Gallagher!”

  4. But if what meep says is true, then it’s their choice, no?

  5. Just to be clear, it was passed once – under false cost projections. Previous votes were for money to study the monorail’s feasability. Why the courts haven’t stopped the monorail comission from using the money approved to build the monorail to simply restudy it and promote themselves, I have no idea.

    The monorail makes no sense whatsoever. Over 90% of the projected ridership already rides the bus. The traffic within Seattle is not bad at all, until you try to get on or off the highway, which is a problem the monorail will do nothing to solve.

    Also, I can’t remember the Seattle electorate ever voting down a tax increase or spending project (aside from the asanine latte tax). Have you been to either of the new $500M ballparks located *across the road from each other*? (In a city of 500,000 which already has the 70,000 seat UW stadium) Or the newly refurbished (to the tune of $80M) operahouse?

    I can’t wait for the 14 mile, $2.4B light rail project.

  6. Even worse than the asinine monorail is Seattle’s Sound Transit system. They are planning to spend at least 2x what the voters approved, despite huge voter resentment, and their first little train project (which has been up and running for months) is currently subidizing each passenger to the tune of $38 per trip. At that cost, the voters could have easily bought them each a taxi ride – and that’s just the operating costs, not including capital investments!

  7. Also, I can’t remember the Seattle electorate ever voting down a tax increase or spending project (aside from the asanine latte tax).

    The Seattle electorate voted down Paul Allen’s pet stadium several times before he finally managed to ram it through. I still remember that prick Michael Medved gloating on the radio when the measure finally passed — his commitment to limited government apparently ceasing when the beneficiary of the subsidies is a multimillionaire.

  8. JDM: the city government wants Seattle to become the west coast New York. A lot of residents want it to remain the quiet little port city it stopped being 20 years ago. That’s the tension. But for those who recognize that the city isn’t going to get any smaller or less dense, non-bus rapid transit options are important. Big cities need them. The real debate here isn’t about the merits of monorail, it’s about whether the old ways (sound transit, buses) are suffcient for the future. And they’re not.

    Of course the monorail isn’t going to serve everyone right away, or reduce I-5 traffic by 50% the day it opens. Neither did the systems in New York, London, or Tokyo–but those systems are fundamental today.

    What mystifies me are the people who demonize the monorail (which has a fixed price tag to taxpayers–the contractor pays for overruns), then praise the ridiculous light rail project, which is operated directly by city government, and thus is guaranteed to double its price tag before it’s halfway finished. H&R opinion should be pretty clear-cut between those two options.

  9. …then there was the Paul Allen “Seattle Commons” project that also got shot down my the Seattle electorate. And of course, there has been popular support for Tim Eyman’s anti-tax initiatives. And I do recall a couple of the monorail votes being very close, like just a couple of precentage points difference.

    The only value I can see the monorail having is not even going to happen. When I take flights out of Sea-Tac International, I don’t want to have to deal with parking. Too bad the monorail won’t get me there!

    Many of us “hippies” here in Seattle are for progress while we tend our gardens and bicycle to work. How many other cities the size of Seattle has mandated their law enforcement to make marijuana the lowest enforced priority? Now thats progress and ending this lame war on drugs!

  10. “A town with money is like a mule with a spinning wheel”

  11. “How many other cities the size of Seattle has mandated their law enforcement to make marijuana the lowest enforced priority? Now thats progress and ending this lame war on drugs!”

    I certainly applaud that initiative, but it is spineless. As reported recently in the weeklies: pot arrests are down but prosecutions have stayed the same–and the city is refusing to allow access to the records needed for outside review (citing privacy concerns–hah!). Not to be snide, but my definition of ‘progress’ relies more on results and less on unenforceable decrees.

    Here’s a suggestion: how about if everyone opposed to the monorail got a part time job, and instead of protesting or signature-gathering or flyer-distributing or sitting around blogging about it, spend the time earning money. Then donate all that money to the monorail authority. It’s perfect. The city gets a monorail, and budget concerns are alleviated. Everyone’s happy. Unless your opposition is somehow ideological or dogmatic, rather than practical…

    For those spectating–yes, this is the state of Seattle political debate. I’m sorry you had to witness it.

  12. The Simpsons already did it.

  13. Oh, hey, a Simpson’s reference. Didn’t see that one coming.

    While we’re at it, without looking it up at snpp, who knows what letter Bart uses to save the monorail…?

  14. Even though I support the MR. I wish they could get a station a little closer to my house, but oh well. Its something Seattle needs to remain a world class city. I for one dont believe that anything can be done about traffic on the I-5 and I-90 unless there is drastic change in people who insist on driving their cars by themselves the few miles from Northgate to Downtown. I have a 15 minute commute on the bus and laugh all the time at the morons stuck on the corridor. The biggest issue about Seattle traffic though is the viaduct. The monorail will for sure help out that situation if the rebuid the viaduct or not.

  15. Ahh, sticky keys lead to sp errors…

  16. Jesse,

    I believe it was the King County electorate that voted down both of the stadiums before our beloved elders decide to build them anyway since, well, they know better. Less than a third of King county lives in Seattle. (I know that’s the case for Safeco field, a quick search didn’t turn up and answer for that swell present I’m still helping buy for Paul Allen.) At least they didn’t give Safeco away to Bill Gates after building it.

    Also, the same is true of the Eyman initiatives. They lose big in Seattle, and win big everywhere else, then the state supreme court voids them because well, they just know better or something.

    “What mystifies me are the people who demonize the monorail (*which has a fixed price tag* to taxpayers–the contractor pays for overruns)”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH!! DID YOU SAY “FIXED PRICE TAG!”

    Please. You’re killing me. At least you realize that the light rail project is an even bigger waste. Although your “get a job and work for the city” comment seems so bizarre to me that I can’t even understand what you’re trying to get at.

    “Its something Seattle needs to remain a world class city.”

    The sorry state of Seattle political debate indeed…

    Maybe if the Seattle city council wanted it to become the New York of the West Coast, they shouldn’t have built a $300M conference center stradling I-5 with the *stated intention* of limiting future growth in the area.

    I moved East, across the lake from the People’s Republic of Seattle a couple of years ago.

  17. Never fear, Highway: I have boundless faith in the Baltimore city government’s ability to lose money, mismanage money, and divert money into personal slushfunds.

  18. Say what you will about the wisdom of (snicker) monorails, but at least it’s designed to pass through residential and business districts that have appropriate density for successful rail transit.

    Unless it’s very badly done — which usually entials rail that shares roads or single-track rail — rail is faster and more appealing to ride on than buses and is a better way to lure people from cars. Call it expensive, call it anathema to the libertarian dream of jetpacks and flying cars, but when it’s done right and the initial capital expenditure is forgotten, residents and commuters tend to like it a whole lot.

    …And when it’s plopped down along routes with insufficient potential ridership and inadequate density, you end up with Detroit’s or Miami’s laughable, white elephant passenger rail systems.

    Once it’s there I hope y’all will stick to your principles and rent cars or take cabs when you visit Seattle. You will, won’t you?

  19. “Why do so many people continue to flock to this area if its seen as the “People’s Republic of Seattle”?”

    The people heading into King county are mostly moving to the Eastside, which is growing much faster than Seattle. That’s my point. People used to flock here for the mountains and the high tech jobs in the suburbs, not the opera house.

    Also, the flocking has stopped. The tech boom is over, and Seattle can return to the decline it was experiencing before Microsoft (which is also heading toward decline, though not actually in one yet) became the biggest thing since Boeing (now located in Kansas.)

    In the mean time, keep throwing away money by the hundred million. Monorail and light rail are cool, and it will make you feel cool to live in a “World Class City.” There will never come a time when anyone needs that money for something more useful than a childish dream. New York might be out of reach, but if you keep pursuing “World Class City” status, by 2020 or so people will be calling Seattle the Detroit of the West Coast.

    “Once it’s there I hope y’all will stick to your principles and rent cars or take cabs when you visit Seattle. You will, won’t you?”

    Until they run a line out to the North Cascades, or Crystal mountain, I won’t be riding the monorail, cool though it may be. When I go into Seattle, which I will do rarely, since the high tech company I work for is relocating from Seattle to Chicago this month, it will be by car.

  20. I should mention, cabs in Seattle aren’t allowed to pick up passengers except in a few locations (like in front of some hotels) unless you call for it on the phone. They were competing with the city buses, and so were outlawed.

  21. I believe it was the King County electorate that voted down both of the stadiums before our beloved elders decide to build them anyway

    Oh — geez, you might be right about that. Now I can’t remember whether it was the city or county that voted on it.

    I have this fond idea of an alternate history where Charlie Chong got elected mayor in ’97 and Seattle dropped all this “world class city” nonsense. Then I drift back to reality, and reflect that at least I had the good fortune to move to a less pretentious town. Say what you will about the Baltimore city government, but at least it isn’t pretending to rule a misplaced borough of New York.

  22. Lyle Lanley. Lionel Hutz. Troy McLure. Bill Clinton. Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. Without Phil Hartman, flagrant dishonesty just isn’t the same.

    Jesse, in your alternate Seattle history, are Nirvana and Soundgarden still together?

  23. JDM
    “Also, the same is true of the Eyman initiatives. They lose big in Seattle, and win big everywhere else, then the state supreme court voids them because well, they just know better or something.”

    It could’nt be that they were against the state constitution? hum…

    “Maybe if the Seattle city council wanted it to become the New York of the West Coast, they shouldn’t have built a $300M conference center stradling I-5 with the *stated intention* of limiting future growth in the area.”

    It seems that you have taken that out of context. Limiting growth in one area of the city in no way negates the exponential growth and expansion of other areas in a LARGE city. Your beloved eastside is no exception.

    “The sorry state of Seattle political debate indeed…”

    What is the debate then? Remaining as a backwater hick town where funding for arts and city upkeep is seen as personal afront to anyone who doesnt live in Seattle proper?

    What revenue base does the Stadiums, Opera House and convention center bring in? What about standard of living? Why do so many people continue to flock to this area if its seen as the “People’s Republic of Seattle”?

    “Mariners – $56,211,000 revenue: Government owned staduim.

    Benaroya Hall – http://www.seattlesymphony.org/benaroya/about/history/

    Convention center –
    Last year, 111,333 out-of-state convention visitors spent $128 million in King County.”

    Your out of touch and out of step. The fortunate thing is the Monorail will be built as well as a light rail system and Seattle will continue to be a “World Class City”. Maybe you havent moved far enough east yet!?!
    😉

  24. Jesse, how about we say the city of Baltimore is trying to rule out where millions of dollars in school funding were misplaced. 😉

    Also, wasn’t Safeco Field the park that was built using ‘Emergency’ funding? I thought I remembered seeing a Reason.com story about that a while back.

  25. I’m just an ignorant liberal who can’t even make change when someone hands me an evil dollar bill for a soy shake down at the co-op, so I’ll need one of you geniuses to set me straight…

    Is it unusual to advertise a product prior to rollout, in order to increase its visibility and desireability to the public?

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