Jim Ellis, and the rail system that passed us by.

If anyone knows just how important a ‘yes’ vote is this fall, it’s Jim Ellis.

He goes back to the 1968 transit vote that was part of another Ellis legacy, Forward Thrust, and one of his bitterest losses.

“We were ahead in the polls, right up to the last three weeks,” he said. “Then, some very clever ads came out, and one day General Motors showed up with a large trailer-truck. It had a huge window and inside was a chrome-plated jet engine, and the sign said something like, ‘This is the engine of the future. It will make buses faster than trains!’

“No one would ever put a jet engine in a bus, but people didn’t know that and we slowly lost the vote for transit. That was in 1968. If the people had voted for it — eventually it would have been 80 percent paid by the federal government — the system would have been finished in 1985, at three times the size of the one before voters this November. And the last payment for it would have been in 2008.”

Instead of General Motors, we have Ron Sims pushing the “buses instead of rail” idea. To think, we could have a 22 year-old rail system up and running today, if only the folks back in ’68 had had the foresight to make that investment.

My grandfather voted against Forward Thrust’s rail measure back in ’68. Why? It didn’t run a line from his home in White Center to the Renton Boeing plant. Not seeing the big picture, pops said “no” to Senator Magnuson’s free money. There’s still no rail from White Center to Renton. Maggie’s money, and our rail system, was put to good use.

In Atlanta.

Maybe pops thought they’d come back to the voters with another package a year later. Of course, they never did.

Comments

  1. 1

    rtidstinks spews:

    This isn’t 1968, its 2007. Nor is this simply a transit measure, it is also a 5% expansion of our highway system, which will lead to significant increases in global warming pollution. http://www.sightline.org/daily.....s-and-ghgs

    With everything we know about global warming, why would we spend billions of dollars on highways that make global warming worse?

    We passed Sound Transit alone, we passed Transit Now alone. It’s not 1968 anymore for transit in this region. With light rail being built, the public will demand expansion.

    And highways are on their last legs, that is why the pavement gang in the legislature is holding Sound Transit hostage, and kept it from going to the ballot in 2006 (when it would have passed easily). It is their only hope to get new roads.

    The only thing letting them get away with this is our very understandable desire to have light rail. If the legislature told us we had to build a new coal plant every time we built a new wind farm, every liberal blogger would skewer them for the absurdity of that approach. That is essentially what the legislature did with transportation. In order to get light rail we have to accept climate changing highway expansion. Yet the bloggers have become establishment apologists.

    It’s hard not to respect Jim Ellis. When he saw something needed fixing, he took a stand.

    Well, global warming needs fixing, and it is time for this generation of leaders to take a stand. Thank goodness for Ron Sims and the Sierra Club, who have the guts to stand up to the establishment, and tell the truth about the global warming impacts of these new roads.

  2. 2

    spews:

    stinks @1,

    Keep dreaming. We’re gonna replace the 520 bridge, and we’re gonna widen 405, and we’re gonna do half the other things in the RTID package, regardless of whether it passes or not. That’s a fact. No politician is willing to let 520 fall into the lake.

    What we won’t get if Prop 1 fails, is rail. We won’t get another shot at the ballot because we won’t be given another shot. We’re gonna get regional governance “reform” which will dilute the power of Seattle voters and give commissioners from Pierce or Kitsap counties veto power over any measure.

    It’s a cliche, but… the perfect is the enemy of the good.

  3. 3

    M spews:

    Nice Post Will…but don’t forget the 1970 bond proposal that failed as well…so your pops had to only wait 2 years to vote again (probably to vote against it once more)!

  4. 5

    spews:

    @ 4

    You’re right.

    I guess the whole “let’s go back to the voters in two years with a better package” thing doesn’t always work!

  5. 6

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    Failed vision in 1968? But wasn’t that Ted Van Dyke’s great generation that was generous, visionary, self-sacrificing, valiant, upright, and…..perfect? Obviously the failure was the work of communist saboteurs.

    @1: RTID is a clusterfuck, but it’s the best clusterfuck we have. Hold your nose and vote “yes”.

  6. 7

    I'm ashamed of the Sierra Club too spews:

    Will-
    You left out the most powerful quote from Jim Ellis:

    “I’m ashamed of the Sierra Club.”

    That pretty much sums it up.

  7. 8

    rtidstinks spews:

    @2

    405 expansion is not inevitable. Nor is 167, the cross base highway, 509 extension, or the expansion of other highways. As long was we are talking history, Seattle and the region have defeated highways in the past. See the exits to nowhere off 520, the freeway through South Lake Union to connect 1-5 to the Viaduct, a freeway running through the Arboretum and down the east side of Seattle, I-605 east of the urban growth boundary, the highway around Mt. St. Helens. I am sure there are more. Yes, we will replace 520, but how we replace it still matters, and passing RTID reduces leverage for a good road design that doesn’t harm the Arboretum. And I can’t accept a lid over 520 through Medina, the wealthiest community in the state, is an inevitability.

    When Sound Transit was beat the last time, it came back a year later and passed. Transit Now last year was transit only.

    Of course the proponents of this thing are telling you light rail won’t come back, that is their strategy to get us to vote yes for climate changing highways. But Gregoire and the other regional elected officials risk major political backlash if they kill light rail. 80% of the voters, according to an Elway poll, expect the roads and transit portions to come back separately. In fact, under current law, Sound Transit is entitled to come back to the ballot alone in 2008. Perhaps you could share with us the Democratic legislators who have taken the public position that they want to change that legislative authority? It would be nice to know which ones have the guts to publicly say they want to kill light rail in 2008.

    Finally the attitude that we have to give up on fighting highway expansion is pretty darn defeatist. What you are saying is that we are locked into ever rising automobile use, which according to the experts, (see smartgrowthamerica.org) means we cannot hope to reduce global warming emissions from transportation, the single largest source of global warming pollution in the region. So, the plan is not good, it is bad because it makes global warming worse.

    Join Ron Sims and the Sierra Club and take a stand on global warming. It is our job as progressives to hold elected officials accountable to our goals, to not let them define the debate in ways that mean defeat for our goals. There is no bigger goal right now than global warming. In a democracy, if the public demands better solutions that reduce global warming, the politicians will have to come back with a better plan. Given the realities of global warming, that is our job. Stop a bad plan that makes global warming worse, and demand a better plan. If you care about global warming, standing by and doing nothing is not an option.

  8. 9

    rtidstinks spews:

    Ron Sims publicly commended the Sierra Club for their courage in telling the truth about global warming, and saying vote no on RTID.

    Of our elected leaders, none has shown the leadership of Ron Sims in the fight against global warming, and his praise means the most.

  9. 10

    michael spews:

    I’m posting pre-coffee…

    I’m really quite convinced the days of the Big Road Builders and suburban sprawlers are numbered, as much from demographics as anything else.

    I’m willing to wait this one out.

  10. 11

    scott spews:

    Can the Sierra Club point to one elected official in Olympia that supports their transit only ballot measure?

    They keep praising Ron Sims. Well Ron Sims has about as much leverage in Olympia right now as the Sierra Club. Ron just pissed off nearly every member of the legislature for going back on his word. And you think this guy is going to be able to pull together enough support for your dream transit only plan?

    Sure thing guys.

  11. 12

    spews:

    Goldy and Will …

    OK I respect both of you. Yet, why is it that the questions raised by Sims and others never get answered? Why doesn’t Gregoire make a real statement?

    I want transit. I want regional transit. I understand the needf or deal making. BUT, I am really worried by the lack of answers and the shifty stance of thise who do support this.

    Goldy,

    Isn’t it possible to find some dispassionate pair to discuss this?

  12. 13

    spews:

    Crosscut Seattle – Two cheers for Ron Sims: “And things have changed in the transit world, in at least three important ways that Sims (virtually alone among our leaders) was able to grasp. First is the imperative of global climate change and the need to walk the talk locally, rather than just feeling better by beating up on President Bush. Sims makes the sensible point that if you are going to add lanes to badly congested Interstate 405, they should be tolled lanes. Second is the growing case for bus rapid transit, a less-costly version of moderately speedy transit that is proving itself in other cities, particularly in South America, and is likely to be tried here (if rail transit doesn’t take all the money). Third is variable tolling as a way to reduce a lot of discretionary auto trips, now starting to prove itself in some European cities. Add these factors up, as Sims rather plausibly concluded, and our rail transit plan is not exactly wrong but just overextended (largely for political reasons) and ought to be scaled back by defeating it now and resubmitting it shortly afterward. ‘I never saw a big money issue that failed that wasn’t very quickly modified and resubmitted,’ Sims told me over coffee last week. So fine. Hear the man out. We’re grownups who can handle some substantive debate. …..

    We’re not Kansas anymore…

    The roads-and-transit levy has been a classic illustration of the Seattle style. Endless logrolling. Something for everyone who could make trouble, and then some. No really accountable body to make the hard decisions. And then a kind of ham-handed, all-for-one and one-for-all oath among the exhausted participants. This is no way to build a railroad, but only Ron Sims has had the guts to say so. (The bigger question: Since we don’t have a good way to build a railroad, should we perhaps take the best pork-filled package we’re likely to get? It doesn’t exactly fill me with pride to say that’s what I’m going to do.)”

  13. 14

    Piper Scott spews:

    A fatally flawed process cannot produce other than a fatally flawed product.

    The Piper

  14. 15

    spews:

    SeattleJew @12,

    Most of Ron’s questions have been answered. In his column he actually brings up very few real alternatives, and if you go to the Sound Transit website you’ll find white papers and other reports on a wide variety of alternatives that were studied and dismissed. It’s not like Ron is suggesting anything new, that hasn’t already been explored. It’s not at all comparable to say, suggesting a surface alternative when only a tunnel or replacement viaduct is being debated.

    I don’t agree with Ron’s goal, but I think politically he has made a huge mistake. Keep in mind he’s not talking about splitting ST2 from RTID and coming back for a vote. He’s talking about scrapping most of ST2 and emphasizing “Bus Rapid Transit” instead on most of the route. He’s talking about different routes where we do build rail. This is not a package that can be put together in a year. And Ron sure as hell isn’t the guy that’s going to be able to put together a consensus on a transit alternative… not after he’s pissed off Sen. Murray, the governor, most of the Dems in the Legislature and just about everybody involved with ST/RTID who he promised he would stay neutral.

    I stand by what I said in my earlier comment. If Prop 1 fails, many of the most “crucial” elements of the RTID package will be built. 520 will be replaced. 405 will be widened (unlike some of the other examples Stinks raises, there is little or no local opposition to widening 405.) And there are many other smaller projects that need to be done.

    But you can’t build just a little bit of rail. You have to commit to big system all at once, so while politically it will be possible to fund individual road projects, it will be much more difficult to come back with a rail proposal whose costs go up a billion dollars a year.

  15. 16

    spews:

    I am now fully convinced that environmentalists are the neocons of the left. In the same way that the neocon’s paranoid belief that moderation and realpolitik are weaknesses in combatting radical Islam has actually made radical Islam much stronger, the Sierra Club’s paranoid belief that moderation and realpolitik are weaknesses in dealing with climate change is going to leave us with a situation where it will be even more difficult to build transit over roads.

  16. 17

    michael spews:

    @16

    Huh? Have you tried showing up at a couple of Sierra Club meetings? I’ve been involved with the Sierra Club and that comment (and so many others that have been posted on here ) just doesn’t match what I saw.

    A no vote says nothing more than you don’t think what is offered will work. Or that you don’t want what’s offered, nothing more. HA is reading way too much into what a no vote means.

    The Sierra Club wants the same smart growth type stuff that you all seem to want.

    http://www.sierraclub.org/spra...../index.asp

    You folks really need to get out of King County more often.

  17. 18

    Aaron spews:

    @13:

    You forgot what I think what the most important part of Brewster’s essay:

    (The bigger question: Since we don’t have a good way to build a railroad, should we perhaps take the best pork-filled package we’re likely to get? It doesn’t exactly fill me with pride to say that’s what I’m going to do.)

  18. 19

    Piper Scott spews:

    @16…Lee…

    Wow! Neocons of your very own! Who said life isn’t fair?

    Will there be an adequate supply for holiday gift giving?

    Shouldn’t you properly call them NeoGreenCons? Do they go hunting with Dick Cheney?

    Fascinating insight, and it opens the door of imagination as to possibilities and scenarios.

    Thank you, Lee!

    The Piper

  19. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I see you’re back with your “This Month Only Going Out Business Sale!” pitch, Will.

    Bullshit. This transportation package is deeply flawed and should be defeated. It is a first draft that needs extensive revision and never should have been put on a ballot. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against greater investment in mass transit — rationally done. But RTID/ST2 contains:

    Too many pork projects
    Too much gold plating
    Only partial funding for 520
    Unfair taxes

    And, as I’ve argued before, it’s imprudent to make massive additional investments in Sound Transit before any of the system is operational; we should wait to see how well Phase 1 works and what the ridership is before committing to a multi-billion-dollar expansion of the system.

    When someone tries to rush you into a buying decision with pressure tactics, it usually means there’s something wrong with the product — and the salesman knows rational people won’t buy it if they take some time to think about it.

    Will sounds more like a real estate salesman peddling overpriced vacation home lots in Coyote County every day.

  20. 21

    spews:

    @19
    It was actually making fun of you too. Not that you’re smart enough to figure that out.

    @17
    The Sierra Club is opposing this measure on the basis that it will harm the environment. What I’m saying is that the real result of what will happen if this doesn’t pass this year will be worse for the environment (more roads-less transit in the future).

  21. 22

    Piper Scott spews:

    @20…RR…

    First…aren’t there a lot of rabbits in Coyote County, and what you really want to do is seek to prevent humans from going there via ST and disrupting their dens?

    Second…whether we agree on exactly why you think as you do on this package, you nevertheless think soundly.

    A proposition is a proposition…whether from a hooker or a politician. Both subject you to the serious risk of losing your money and contracting all sorts of fatal or near-fatal communciable diseases.

    Too many pigs, too many pokes, too much pie in the sky, too little experiential proof, too much pandering, too little principled thinking.

    The Piper

  22. 23

    michael spews:

    @21

    How many of the Big Road Building crowd are under 40? Where do people who are under 40 want to live? How do they want to live? What do they do for fun? What does the next generation of social, political and economic look like?

    The babyboomers are retiring in droves. The next generation of leadership in Washington aren’t in love with the burbs’ or cars. Gas prices will continue to rise (AAA says the total cost of driving a mile is around 55 cents right now).

    The next package will be put forward by the next generation of leadership and I really doubt it will contain more roads and less transit.

  23. 24

    spews:

    @23
    How many of the Big Road Building crowd are under 40? Where do people who are under 40 want to live? How do they want to live? What do they do for fun? What does the next generation of social, political and economic look like?

    As I’ve gotten older (I’m 32 now), I’ve seen a lot of my friends move out to the suburbs and start families. My wife and I are planning to move from North Seattle to Kent soon. Younger people generally live in cities, but tend to move away to quieter communities when they get older and have kids. In Philadelphia, where I grew up, you could take the train from the suburbs into the city. With the Sounder, I’ll be able to do that from Kent. But we still have very little of suburbia that has good train or bus access to downtown Seattle or to the other main central commercial districts (Bellevue, Redmond, Renton). Until that point, people of all ages who work in these places will demand more roads and wider roads.

    The babyboomers are retiring in droves. The next generation of leadership in Washington aren’t in love with the burbs’ or cars. Gas prices will continue to rise (AAA says the total cost of driving a mile is around 55 cents right now).

    I agree that gas prices will have a huge effect, but I think that effect will be more in terms of the kinds of cars we drive rather than whether we ride transit. And I say this as someone who has not had a car of my own in almost 5 years.

    The next package will be put forward by the next generation of leadership and I really doubt it will contain more roads and less transit.

    The one major point that you seem to be missing is that the road improvements that the Sierra Club is concerned with can be done without a package. It will just be done by the legislature without our approval. This is the “realpolitik” part I’m talking about. The specialized way that this proposition was put together was not for the sake of preserving the roads part of the package, it was put together as a way to pass the transit part. It’s much easier (and politically beneficial) for the folks in Olympia to just keep fixing roads. They know that transit needs to be done, but they don’t feel any heat by sitting around and not doing it. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be, and the more likely it will be passed down to the next generation to deal with.

  24. 25

    Ira Sacharoff spews:

    So…is Ron Sims taking the position he’s taking because he’s a committed environmentalist and responsible county exec, or does he sense that Prop 1 is going to fail, and wants to be on the side that’s winning?

  25. 27

    michael spews:

    @24

    “It will just be done by the legislature without our approval.”

    I doubt it. Again look at the make up of the state Ledg. The Big Road Builders are starting to retire and we’re getting people that are more interested in things like rail. I’d also counter that one of the reasons we have Prop 1 is an unwillingness by the leg to pass big big spending bills on their own.

    If this fails we will most likely see tolling (something that I don’t like, but can live with) used to pay for smaller improvements on the roads being tolled.

    I’m off to work.

  26. 28

    Over_21 spews:

    The babyboomers are retiring in droves. The next generation of leadership in Washington aren’t in love with the burbs’ or cars.

    Interesting point, if true. But, the data would seem to indicate that the burbs are growing, while the big city is not. In 10 years, Seattle will constitute maybe 15% of King County’s population, down from just under 30% today. The growth is going to happen in the suburbs. It has been steadily moving that direction for years. Families don’t want to live in Seattle. And if you think people on the Eastside are going to sit around and watch 405 turn into a parking lot 24×7, you are wrong. 405 will be expanded, RTID or not. We have the votes.

  27. 29

    Piper Scott spews:

    @23…M…

    “The next generation of leadership in Washington aren’t in love with the burbs’ or cars.”

    I invite you to come out to the ‘burbs and see the development taking place out here to meet the demand of both newcomers to the area and those who, like Lee, are leaving the city for reasons of their own.

    While I can’t speak for Lee (I don’t dare…he’d whack my ass and it would make him sick to his stomach)as to why, I do know that middle-income families with kids are leaving the city in droves because it’s become very unfriendly to them.

    Housing costs, the mess that’s Seattle schools, a desire to live in something other than a cramped cubicle are all contibuting factors.

    The ‘burbs will continue to grow and expand, eventually swallowing up out of human necessity much of what’s left of unincorporated King County.

    People do and go what people do and where people go…

    The Piper

  28. 30

    michael spews:

    “the data would seem to indicate that the burbs are growing, while the big city is not.”

    Seattle is growing, just not as fast as other areas in King County. Part of that is due to how we’ve chosen to develop over the last 30 years. We can choose to develop differently over the next 30. I’m not arguing that everything needs to be built in Seattle, but that we’re still sprawling, that Prop 1 wont stop the sprawl and that there are a lot of old people in government and politics that wont be there 5 years from now. The next generation of leadership will be far less road happy.

    Despite Seattle’s population growth it is using about the same amount of water and electricity that it used a decade ago. The same can not be said for unincorporated King County. You need to think about how all those houses are going to get water, electricity, deal with sewage Etc. It’s cheaper and easier to do that by increasing densities.

    We need make sure that as we grow the burbs become more dense, rather than just spreading. Pierce County is doing awful at this and Prop 1’s road component will funnel growth that needs to go into Tacoma and its first tier burbs (I live in one of those) out to the boonies.

    Tacoma isn’t fully built out even using current low density standers, yet Prop 1’s road package works to send growth to the hinterlands of Pierce County. Use Google Maps Hybrid feature to take a bird-eye tour of Tacoma, there’s lots of room for growth.

  29. 31

    ArtFart spews:

    Long before the new 520 bridge is paid for, it’s going to become the most expensive foot bridge in history.

  30. 32

    michael spews:

    @30

    Gack! That post was about half finished. I hit submit by accident. I need to get back to work and don’t have time to fix it.

  31. 33

    michael spews:

    http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Res.....007028.asp

    “Growth rate doubles from 1980s.
    Since 1990, the City of Seattle has grown by about 47,000 people, or 9 percent. This rate is twice as fast as the city’s growth between 1980 and 1990 and close to the national increase of 10 percent growth in central cities.

    2000 population caps twenty year growth spurt.
    The current growth continues a trend since the 1980 census, which reversed a period of population loss. From 1960 to 1980 Seattle’s population declined 11 percent.”

  32. 34

    spews:

    @29
    While I can’t speak for Lee (I don’t dare…he’d whack my ass and it would make him sick to his stomach)as to why, I do know that middle-income families with kids are leaving the city in droves because it’s become very unfriendly to them.

    Housing costs, the mess that’s Seattle schools, a desire to live in something other than a cramped cubicle are all contibuting factors.

    My wife was initially more interested in moving to the suburbs than I was, but I’m actually looking forward to it because of something that Michael said here:

    @30
    We need make sure that as we grow the burbs become more dense, rather than just spreading. Pierce County is doing awful at this and Prop 1’s road component will funnel growth that needs to go into Tacoma and its first tier burbs (I live in one of those) out to the boonies.

    I agree with this completely and I’m hoping that Kent becomes more “urban” in that sense, now that it’s on the train line into downtown. I will definitely be buying a car once I move down there, but I still hope to be able to get around without it as much as I can.

    And I’m extremely excited about having the T-Birds move down there.

  33. 35

    fatass spews:

    “So…is Ron Sims taking the position he’s taking because he’s a committed environmentalist and responsible county exec, or does he sense that Prop 1 is going to fail, and wants to be on the side that’s winning?”

    Could be both. Wouldn’t bet against it. Just hope this thing goes down the crapper.

    There’s better ways to pay for light rail. Patty Murray is on the Appropriations Commitee. Slade Gorton is a top-drawer lobbyist. Put those two on the job, and we should get lots of Federal funding for light rail, JUST LIKE EVERYWHERE ELSE. This reliance on sales taxes exclusively is fucked up . . . .

  34. 36

    Piper Scott spews:

    @34…Lee..

    Somewhat reasonable…save that the more ubanized a suburban area becomes, the more those who moved to it to escape urbanization seek to move that much further out.

    The fact of density, more control, congestion, and other baggage urbanization brings will spur further migration into heretofore undebeloped areas. This isn’t new, either; there’s an age-old process at work.

    Too bad about the Phillies…

    The Piper

  35. 37

    spews:

    @36
    That’s certainly true and no amount of urban planning will ever change that fact. Many people want to live in an area where they are remote and will trade off a certain amount of interdependence in order to do so. My in-laws live in Covington and they saw their fairly remote plot of land become not so remote over the past 10 years. My father-in-law (who is retired and builds AE generators for people to move off-grid) would love to move out to one of his cabins in eastern WA now. I have no qualms about that, so long as we all recognize that a lot of public investment in road infrastructure in the American west is what has made those kinds of lifestyles possible.

    I’ve been a Phillies fan for a long time. Disappointment is the status quo.

  36. 38

    Piper Scott spews:

    @37…Lee…

    No question that publicly funded infrastructure makes such access possible. Even so, people will up and move for as many different reasons as there are people moving.

    You say the T-Birds are moving to Kent? I’m not a hockey fan, so I wasn’t aware.

    I did jury duty once at the Regional Justice Center, and that courthouse is a real boon to Kent.

    The Piper

  37. 39

    spews:

    @38
    You say the T-Birds are moving to Kent? I’m not a hockey fan, so I wasn’t aware.

    Yep, probably for the 2009-2010 season as the arena isn’t scheduled to be done until early 2009. Having a local rivalry between Kent and Everett will be a lot of fun.

  38. 44

    jsa on commercial drive spews:

    Piper @ 29:

    Housing costs, the mess that’s Seattle schools, a desire to live in something other than a cramped cubicle are all contibuting factors.

    Housing costs, etc. are a result of market forces. Obviously, since housing costs in the city are going up, someone wants to live there. If they didn’t, the prices would be going down.

    Schools are complicated, and outside the scope of this discussion. I can start throwing links at you to prove the point, but the long and short is that people who say the Seattle schools are awful don’t really know what they’re talking about.

  39. 45

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    jsa,

    Agree. Both your points deserve further explanation. Especially to the wingnuttiae here who are smitten with the quaint notion that they are ‘wealth producers’ and that this attribute provides justification for the high price they recieve for their ‘labor’ (broadly defined).

    Ironically, this puts them broadly in agreement with Marx’s “labor theory of value”, probably the most discredited aspect of Marx’s work. More irony there, no doubt.

  40. 46

    jsa on commercial drive spews:

    Here’s some fun with links.

    Start here:

    http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa......LinkId=100

    Push the Search button.

    (there are 3 to choose from. One works as well as the next).

    When the search page comes up, the second field says “Schools within”

    Select Seattle Public Schools and check the box left of it.

    In the Demographics section. The second field reads “Free/Reduced price meals”. Check the box left of it.

    Set a nice low number. 0 to 10 percent.

    Push submit.

    Click on the names of the schools to get the WASL results, etc.

    Wow! Well-fed kids have nice high test scores, even in dysfunctional Seattle schools!

    Now pick some higher numbers. 40 to 100 percent, and repeat the exercise.

    Yuck! Is our children learning? I think not.

    Here’s the secret. I can repeat that little trick with any school district in the state of Washington and get exactly the same results. Bellevue, Lake Washington, Issaquah, you name it.

    The only difference in Seattle is that we have poor people. They got zoned out of the suburbs. We forgot to build low-income housing on the Plateau! Oooops! Our bad.

    Being the sappy-assed liberal I am, saying “Well, if you’re poor, you’ll underperform in school” isn’t a good answer. More has to be done. But suburban parents patting themselves on the back and saying they’ve chosen good schools when all they did was make sure their neighbors are all as well-off as they are is disingenuous in the extreme.

  41. 48

    OneMan spews:

    @46: I can promise you that my well-fed, well-off children are doing just fine in Seattle public schools.

    Here’s a little clue for some of you: parent participation (including checks for “enrichment” programs) is a MUCH better predictor of the effectiveness of a given school than money. If parents are too busy keeping body and soul together to be able to spend the time on the PTSA or any of the bajillion other committees their school has going, then their kids and the rest of the school will be the poorer for it.

    If you’re an immigrant and english isn’t your primary language, your kids might struggle.

    Seattle Schools does an excellent job given the demographics of their student population. I deeply wish we could find a way to help out the poorer schools and support everything the district is trying but it ain’t easy.

    And I’m with JSA that smug self-congratulation by residents of the ‘burbs isn’t helpful. Please also note that Kent public schools is rapidly headed in the same direction as South Seattle schools, given the large poor and immigrant population influx. I know…a relative is a teacher there.

    -OM

  42. 49

    spews:

    @48
    Please also note that Kent public schools is rapidly headed in the same direction as South Seattle schools, given the large poor and immigrant population influx. I know…a relative is a teacher there.

    This is definitely a concern of mine (with my impending move to Kent, although I don’t have kids yet), and somewhat ironic considering that when I was in high school, some kids were known to be claiming a relative’s address as their own and taking the train out from the city to attend my suburban school.

  43. 50

    palamedes spews:

    The rumor regarding Sims’ position is that he is under pressure from a friend of his at the Cascade Bicycle Club to not support Prop #1, and has decided to bow to the request.

    I suspect Sims figures that he’ll be on the short list for Secretary of Commerce if the Dems win the Presidency in 2008, so he probably figures he has nothing to lose by being contrary. (And if that all falls down, who do the Dems have to run for KC Executive as an alternative in 2009? None of the the Dems on the council will run against Sims, and you’d have to look hard for someone outside of the council who would take on the challenge.)

    I could deal with Sims’ position a lot better were it not for the fact that he was a major force behind the RTID’s creation, has had multiple opportunities to object or get modifications in place, and pretty much has kept quiet until now, out of the blue.

  44. 51

    palamedes spews:

    @49

    FWIW, the Kent school district is still considered one of the highest quality districts in south King County in terms of student accomplishments. The Tahoma school district may be catching up to Kent, but the latter is still the best place to put kids in public school in the south end.

    I would just make sure that your children-to-be are in a challenging elementary school. (And maybe Montessori preschool before that.) Don’t just look at the numbers, but talk to some of the teachers within specific schools to get a feel for things.

    As long as the funding doesn’t decline and the district is willing to respond to the demographic changes happening (and I can tell you from personal experience that while south King County is seeing more of what South Seattle schools are dealing with, no area, including where I live on the Eastside, should consider themselves immune), being aware of what’s going on in Kent will help you figure out what works best and what doesn’t.

    My two bits…

  45. 52

    busdrivermike spews:

    In reference to the original post. I will be happy to vote for more rail transit when the federal government picks up 80% of the tab.

    I think RTID2 will pass, but I think it is a complete shaft for City of Seattle taxpayers.

    When the vote is over, and the developers are at the table, there will only be scraps left over for rail. There is no accountability in our system, and the real power in this County is with land developers. I forgive those who have not lived here long enough to understand that fact.

    That is the reason Ron Sims and the Sierra Club are against this. They know politics in this town. Voters who think they will actually get 50 miles of rail, including some over water and some in tunnels, are smoking an opium pipe full of fairy tale dreams and political hype.

    $10 billion dollars for 50 miles of rail? You gotta be effin kidding me! The people in power who thought of this must have laughed their asses off when they thought of this promise. Hell, if you see a guy in a Rolls Royce on 5th ave. chuckling to himself he is probably remembering the moment they thought of that at the Rainier Club’s monthly meeting.

    Suckers!

  46. 53

    Puddybud spews:

    michael says: You folks really need to get out of King County more often.

    Damn Michael: Twice in two weeks I agree with you. But, if these “people” venture out of King County, the sun will shine on the real world. These “people” are not prepared for that!

  47. 54

    Puddybud spews:

    I have an idea. Put buses on these rail lines. Instead of building rail for rail cars which ends nowhere habitable, build rail for buses. Hence a person can ride the rail to point a, the bus converts to roads, gets off and he/she/it can take the bus to the nearest transit center. Hence the Buses from Everett use the rail lines to get downtown, and the bus then converts to it’s electric powered version and off it goes. And the reverse happens. Buses can be converted to rail riding and then the buses are an extension of ST because it all meshes together.

    I know it’s far fetched but hey, let’s think out of the box for a change.

  48. 55

    jsa on commercial drive spews:

    OneMan @ 48:

    Here’s a little clue for some of you: parent participation (including checks for “enrichment” programs) is a MUCH better predictor of the effectiveness of a given school than money.

    This is a transit thread, not a schools thread, so I’d like to end it, or carry this to an open thread, but I agree with you. Involved parents produce well-educated and successful kids.

    I am a quantization freak. We do not reliably track parental participation in schools in a way that can be tied to academic success (or WASL scores). We do track poverty. The correlation is staggering.

  49. 56

    jsa on commercial drive spews:

    Pud @ 54:

    Your idea is intriguing but I’m missing something here.

    Rail and buses are very different technologies. Are you saying you want to build the rail right-of-ways so they can be used by buses as well? (hence the buses won’t get stuck in traffic I s’ppose).

    You can do that, but you’re still building rail right-of-ways, with all the time that involves.

    You can do bus-only lanes. That requires a bucket of paint for two yellow lines and a willingness by drivers to put up with a loss of road capacity.

    Do you want trains to run on roads? I’d have to put this to a transport engineer (I know a few), but I think the trains are just too heavy. It seems to be subverting the good part about using rail (namely that you can move a lot of people at once), in the name of flexibility. It makes a lot more sense to just have more buses feeding into the train stations, than to run more small trains that could jump on the roads.

    Perhaps I’m just not understanding you correctly.

  50. 57

    CandrewB spews:

    Rail AND the expansion of roads seems not to be just a compromise, but an ideal. Like it or not, single (or double or triple) occupancy vehicles will always be the standard. I am all for public transit, but I am pretty sure rail will not take me out to Crystal. Global warming? Sure, but the question then should be why use gas? In ten to twenty years our cars are going to run on a lot of things (bio, electricity, water, etc…) that are mostly carbon neutral. Don’t kill the idea of the car because you think it will always run on gas; it won’t.

  51. 58

    Don Joe spews:

    Piper,

    Lee’s got the bags packed and a rented car runnin’…

    See, now. That’s the problem with Republican thinking–making invalid assumptions in lieu of conducting an unbiased investigation into the facts. It’d be way out of Lee’s way to give me a ride.

  52. 59

    Puddybud spews:

    JSA: Some people want rail. Others like bus. So I was thinking why have hybrid-rail buses which work on both systems and will allow full utilization of all transportation systems.

  53. 60

    GS spews:

    Heh what’s 160 Billion more in transit taxes to you tax happy goons..

    Vote Yes and empty your pockets into ths boondoggle!

  54. 62

    michael spews:

    @53

    “Damn Michael: Twice in two weeks I agree with you.”

    It scares me as much as it scares you.

  55. 63

    michael spews:

    @ the comment about using federal funds, what ever # that was.

    Exactly.

    Salt Lake City got the first part of their rail line as an Winter Olympics souvenir.

  56. 64

    jsa on commercial drive spews:

    Pud:

    Sounds interesting.

    Sometimes I like TCP traffic. Sometimes I like UDP.

    Can we create a hybrid TCP/UDP packet? It oughta rock the hizzy.

  57. 65

    mwb spews:

    Where the proponents get it wrong, on a couple of levels is this:

    To build transit that no-one will use is a waste of energy… not the kind that we use to live, but the kind that it takes to build light rail ~ smelting steel, digging channels, pouring concrete and the like. Put the same amount of energy into something 95% of the local population will use, generating less of a global footprint than building rail makes more sense, not to mention that my child’s (a 9 year old) children’s children will still be paying for a decaying public transit that was never used and we will still be building roads.

    Global Warming while it is a fact that the earth is getting hotter, my guess is that countries like China and India building thousands and thousands of miles of highways yearly, using coal fired energy plants to electrify a country 10 times larger than ours with a population 4 times larger make a much greater impact on global warming than a country the size of the US ever could, let alone a state the size of Washington… Aren’t we a bit Egocentric to think this “RTID package” of the State of Washington alone would actually impact the world? The only thing the RTID Will Impact is our wallets.

  58. 66

    SierraClubStinksLikeDiesel spews:

    “Keep dreaming. We’re gonna replace the 520 bridge, and we’re gonna widen 405, and we’re gonna do half the other things in the RTID package, regardless of whether it passes or not. That’s a fact. No politician is willing to let 520 fall into the lake.”

    Goldy, keep in mind: rtidstinks and his Sierra Club SUPPORTED $8.5 billion worth of freeways lanes (including 520 and 405) with next to ZERO transit less than 2 years ago. Like Ron Sims, these clowns can’t point their boat in one direction for very long.