I’m just going to say it right now. This press release is the greatest thing in at least the English language, and probably other languages too. All words are obsolete once you read it.
It’s Benton 1, U.S. transportation secretary 0 in Columbia River Crossing debate at Capitol
I like so much about that title, that it’s tough to know what’s the best: Is it that he gave himself a score and then bragged about the score he gave himself as if it’s objective? Is it that even by his own reckoning, he only won the meeting by 1 point? Is it the fact that the title implies that this is the beginning, rather than the middle of a process that has been going on for years? Is it that the Federal government is offering to give his district money, and he’s complaining about it? Is it that he describes an ostensibly closed door meeting as a debate? Is it that Secretary LaHood probably didn’t even know that there was a game afoot?
Those are all good choices to be sure, but I think the best is that he never defines the scale that 1 to 0 is on or how one earns a point. So here is some speculation:
- Score half a point per guest you treat like a jerk
- The number of goats each brought to the meeting
- One point per person videotaping someone without their permission (more on that later in the piece)
- On a scale of 0 to 10 who Senator Benton likes the best
- A scale of 0 to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 and the numbers were pulled randomly
- A scale of -5 to 5 who polkas the best
- Whoever left the meeting with the most smug satisfaction gets a point
- 1/3 of a point each time you masturbate to your own press release
- Smallest penis gets a point
- One point if you’re scared of the idea of public transportation
Oh my God, we’re not even into the meat of the press release yet. Courage. Here we go.
Sen. Don Benton says there’s no question that the people of Clark County came out ahead this morning when he and members of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus went toe-to-toe with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood over the Columbia River Crossing project.
That’s a rather fancy way of saying I sat across a table with a guy who offered me a bunch of money to help build a bridge, but I wanted to build a different bridge, and probably more money. Also, no question? If you asked everyone in Clark County there would be 100% agreement on this opinion?
“I’ve been working hard to keep our coalition members informed about the many significant flaws in the CRC project, so we were ready with questions when Governor Inslee brought Secretary LaHood in to lobby our coalition this morning. As a result, it wasn’t even a fair fight. I’d say we schooled the transportation secretary in a way he couldn’t possibly have expected,” said Benton, R-Vancouver, noting LaHood’s visit is part of a CRC propaganda blitz at the Capitol today.
I should say here I don’t really have an opinion on the Columbia River Crossing. Still, imagine if a Seattle legislator acted this way to the Secretary of Transportation over, say, Highway 99. The outrage from the people who are perpetually outraged that Seattle exists would be amazing. I mean the meeting was of the Majority Caucus and not the GOP ostensibly in part because Seattle’s legislators are too arrogant.
“I guess the governor thought he could strong-arm the Senate Majority Coalition into rolling over by bringing the D.C. folks in to give us the same ‘this bridge or no bridge’ lecture he’s been delivering. Instead, the transportation secretary had his hat handed to him, and I have to believe I will find even more support now for my efforts to force a redesign of the CRC project.”
I guess they were hoping that saying, “we have a fuckton of money, here take it” would at least keep the Majority Coalition from whining like a bunch of little babies. That was obviously incorrect.
Benton said he and other coalition members let LaHood have it on the whole range of CRC concerns: how the bridge height would cost Clark County thousands of permanent jobs, how replacing the Interstate 5 bridge without addressing the corridor as a whole would fail to reduce commute times from Clark County to Portland by more than one minute, the financial liability that would go with including an extension of light rail from Portland, and more.
I have no idea, again, if those are valid concerns. But anyone who is opposing getting light rail in the same sentence he worries about commutes into Portland is an idiot. Light rail will obviously help Vancouver commuters.
Project supporters want the Legislature to authorize a $450 million allocation, which would serve as Washington’s share of the $3.5 billion CRC project; with less than three weeks to go in the 2013 legislative session, Benton said, the writing on the wall is becoming clearer.
There is literally no cliche that this press release won’t include.
“I was very proud of how our coalition joined me in standing up for the people of Clark County,” said Benton, who is the coalition’s deputy leader. “The governor and the CRC supporters are obviously getting more desperate by the day; they see how time is running out to get the Legislature to go along with this boondoggle.”
They’d like to spend money in your neck of the woods. You can disagree with if and how, but come the fuck on.
“The best thing the governor can do now, after seeing that his federal emissary couldn’t sell this boondoggle to our coalition, is to agree to a redesign of the project.”
Because a meeting went poorly (in that people who wanted to act like asses acted like asses) we have to start over. Obviously.
Anyway, I wasn’t the only person to notice that this is an embarrassment. Jim Camden of the Spokesman-Review has a great take on it (I think the S-R has a limited number of clicks, but I’ve never hit it). Really, sometimes you need to just write in disbelief like I’ve been doing for several paragraphs now, but sometimes the journalistic prose is the way to go.
When LaHood and Inslee stopped by the Senate Republican Caucus room to urge them to pass a transportation budget in it with money for the bridge, and thus allow the state to get its hands on lots of federal money, he was, to put it mildly, rebuffed by opponents like Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver. All while someone was videotaping the exchange.
Later that day Inslee and LaHood held a press conference in the governor’s conference room to make a public appeal for the Legislature to vote for money for the bridge. As soon as they left, Benton emerged from the back of the room to hold a counter press conference to say that it shouldn’t. The senator’s office later circulated a press release exclaiming he had “schooled” LaHood on the bridge and declared the score “Benton 1, transportation secretary 0”. the caucus sent out a link to a YouTube clip of their discussion in the caucus room.
This appalled Senate Democrats, who thought a cabinet secretary should be treated with a greater modicum of respect, and shouldn’t be taping conversations without his permission. Senate Republicans promptly took the video clip off YouTube, and Majority Leader Rodney Tom of Medina later teol [sic] the Seattle Times it had been inadvertently posted, although how it could be edited with an intro, sent to YouTube, a link created and connected to a tweet isn’t immediately clear.
And that’s what winning 1-0 looks like.