A pro-B7 flyer depicts this image.

I suspect it wouldn’t have taken long to manifest, but at long last, the great East Link War has begun to deteriorate into ideological nonsense.  Back in May, I specifically warned that this kind of rhetoric would have no place in planning for a key infrastructure project like Link.  On Tuesday, my plea was thrown under the bus (no pun intended) by B7 supporters at the East Link workshop.  There was no shortage of anger seething among those who were unhappy with the 112th Avenue option.  Martin Paquette, who I quoted in the recap of the previous workshop, had this to say about Tuesday’s meeting:

[Tuesday’s] session, which built on the previous one, was all about the 112th Avenue alignments.  It was a very negative evening, and Surrey Downs was overwhelmingly present, [it] mostly stayed on task, discussing the technical specifics and Sound Transit kept their cool.  However, the audience attitude (not surprisingly) was typified by the one fellow who said, “you’re giving us a bunch of lousy options so that we’ll just have to go with the lesser evil,” and also probed into whether Claudia Balducci was in a conflict of interest situation being both on Council and Sound Transit; and Betsy Blackstock, who stood up out of turn and accused them of withholding answers to the very critical question they all wanted answered (subject immaterial, as far as I’m concerned).

Here’s the real stinger:  Geoff Bidwell, a pro-B7 resident, decided that public testimony wouldn’t satisfy his frustration, so he was kind enough to distribute these flyers (PDF) out at the workshop and throughout South Bellevue neighborhoods. Notice anything unusual?  More below the jump.

Yikes.  It doesn’t bother me so much that people are speaking their mind about a B2M alignment.  After all, this is a free country, right?  What does bother me is that they’ve begun ascribing substance to ideology.  So all of sudden, Sound Transit is akin to a man who was responsible for the persecution and execution of not only ethnic minorities but his own officials as well?  I can’t help but be reminded that this is not so different than the things we’ve seen from LaRouche PAC.

As far as I’m concerned, the flyer also has plenty of misinformation in it as well.  So to add insult to injury, we have a lot of one-sided talk coupled with a nice big picture that pretty much says “Sound Transit = Stalin” (Bidwell also couldn’t have forgotten the nice little American flags next to “Bellevue” in the title).  A few of the flyer’s points are considerably misleading:

Sound Transit Board Members are NOT elected by the citizens of the City of Bellevue. Out of 18 members only 1 is from Bellevue (and that 1 person is not appointed by the City of Bellevue).

The Sound Transit Board is compromised of region-wide elected officials that were appointed by the King County Executive, also an elected official.  The Board’s duty is to see Link in it’s true context: a regional system, not through the lens of one small faction.  I’m also not sure what Bidwell means that that “1 person” isn’t appointed by Bellevue.  Claudia Balducci is an elected official that was voted in by a majority, just like everyone else on the council.

The Bellevue City Council has voted for the l-90 | l-405 light rail alignment (called B7) to protect our established neighborhoods and Mercer Slough and to save the taxpayers $$$.

The Bellevue City Council has divisively voted 4-3 for B7 to act as a preferred alternative.  The DEIS was fairly clear that B7 would have equally or more damaging impacts on the Slough and neighborhoods, unless the Mercer Slough/Brookshire Condos are somehow not at the elite level of “established neighborhoods.”  And can taxpayer money truly be the issue when the more expensive tunnel alternative has been the darling of downtown alignments among Bellevue residents?  What about the 200K commissioned by the City to study far-fetched options like relocating the South Bellevue P&R?

Sound Transit is requiring Bellevue to pay for a $150 million Down Town tunnel. Seattle’s tunnel was paid for by Sound Transit.

A more accurate statement would be that the City of Bellevue has agreed to help pay for a tunnel.  As we’ve stated very clearly before, the tunnels that we got in Seattle are because the alternatives would be much harder to construct and much more impactful.  Under subarea equity, any tunnel would be funded by Bellevue taxpayers whatever the means.

Let City Council and Sound Transit know that you support B7 and remind Sound Transit that we live in a democracy.

We do live in a democracy.  Therefore, the 56% of residents that voted for ST2 in Bellevue’s primary legislative districts should get a light rail stop at South Bellevue Park and Ride– a station clearly marked on Prop. 1’s map in the 2008 voter’s pamphlet (page 97).

I guess never mind what I said about resorting to ideological nonsense.  Never mind that the community interests are greater than just those coming out of say Surrey Downs.  If people are resorting to immature tactics, ideological ad-hominems, and other forms of distasteful rhetoric, it says much more about them than it does Sound Transit.  I wouldn’t disagree that ST has been less than angelic in carrying out ST2, but I would have never expected NIMBYs to go this low.  For those of us who have favored rational debate, this is a complete and utter shame.

70 Replies to “Editorial: B7 Supporters Resort to Ideological Nonsense”

  1. I’m also not sure what Bidwell means that that 1 person” isn’t appointed by Bellevue. Claudia Balducci is an elected official that was voted in by a majority, just like everyone else on the council.”

    She was appointed by the County Executive and approved by the ST council. While it’s nice that Bellevue finally has some input (after the ST council has already decided on the route) she was not appointed by the Bellevue City Council and is in fact out of step with the majority sentiment.

    1. The majority of the council, but not a majority of the voters in the city. The city council elections were not a referendum on ST2.

    2. Bellevue had a representative on the ST board before Claudia Balducci. Connie Marshal, the former mayor, was on the board during a lot of the time that East Link was being developed. She even served as the Vice Chair for a while.

  2. I think it’s great that he attempts to portray Sound Transit as Stalin on his flyer, it completely undermines his credibility to the casual observer. Most people tend to ignore extremists.

    1. Hard to say. The political milieu that we find ourselves in today is so full of vitriol and hyperbole. Those of the conservative spectrum are resorting to this infantile extreme lathering of fear mongering partly because they don’t really know any better and partly because after 50+ years of experience, they find that it often works. (see George Lakoff – “Moral Politics” for a discussion of this concept) What is also sad is that those of a more erudite character who think that such infantile behavior shouldn’t be taken seriously are they themselves mistaken for not understanding the tactics of the right which are more substantive than they appear. Those that use such tactics know that a certain percentage of the electorate are motivated by fear and lack the motivation to separate the truth from fear laden fiction. Spread enough fear uncertainty and doubt and you can derail any good idea or measure of progress.

      If you really want to have this debate be about the best alignment and the best decision making process for EastLink then in the face of such bad behavior, at every opportunity you have, you should call that side into account for this behavior. Because these folks just like bullies on a schoolyard will often back down when a serious challenge is laid to them. When it is clear that “the emperor has no clothes” then and only then can a rational debate truly begin.

  3. A totally ridiculous flyer filled with misinformation. Anyone who promotes the idea that “ST = Stalin and Bellevue = America (or whatever)” is clearly in need of a time-out in the corner.

    That said, it should be pointed out that Seattle (with some help from N.King) most certainly did pay for the Beacon Hill tunnels – under sub-area equity those tunnels can only be funded by the North King sub-area, and that is 90%+ Seattle.

    I find it interesting that the Eastside is now complaining about the affects of sub-area equity when it was really the Eastside that insisted on it as a condition for approving ST. Remember how they were afraid that their tax dollars would go to infrastructure in Seattle? Well now we have sub-area equity and that means that the Eastside will need to live with the consequences. In this case, they will need to figure out a way to live within their sub-area budget or add in more local funds.

    I don’t have any problem with that.

  4. “The Board’s duty is to see Link in it’s true context: a regional system, not through the lens of one small faction.”

    And it was the Federal Highway Administration’s duty to see the interstate system in its true context: a means of facilitating commerce and increasing the personal mobility and economic opportunities of millions of Americans. It sure is a good thing that local concerns were ignored back in the 60s. Just think what our region would look like today if the NIMBYs had gotten their way.

    1. I think Tony is being tongue-in-cheek. But in any case, the interstate routes completely ignored local concerns, took out thousands and thousands of houses and businesses, and considered poor/minority neighborhoods worthy of demolition. There wasn’t even a freaking sidewalk on 520, or on the north side of Denny Way or Pine Street. Sound Transit has worked hard to choose a route with least impact, without compromising its regional goal. It has also worked hard to gather community input and consider design changes.

      What strikes me most about the Interstate system was Eisenhower’s opposition to putting freeways through cities. He expected them to go around cities or between cities, as in Canada and Europe. But apparently his DOT lied to him on that point.

      1. He expected them to go around cities or between cities, as in Canada and Europe.

        Didn’t know that. Kind of funny then (in the sad way) that the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway cuts Chicago in half.

      2. Well, kinda funny, I think most people in Chicago are farther away from an Interstate than most people in Seattle/Bellevue area.

        Although I’ve been living a few blocks from Lakeshore Drive which sorta counts for a freeway, I have to drive for about 7 miles to get to I-90/94.

      3. @Mike Orr – it wasn’t the DOT in the mid-1950s (that would come a couple of decades later) it was the DOD – remember that the highways were also to be used for moving troops and armaments to fight the deadly invading communists and other enemies of the US

      4. Another contributor to the freeways-through-cities decision was downtown business interests. They feared that building freeways around cities would fuel development on the fringe and kill downtown, while building them through the heart of cities would feed downtown and allow it to prosper. Whoops.

      5. Well, North Bend downtown took a big hit after the last traffic light was removed and I-90 no longer went through town. If I-5 had originally taken the 405 route the eastside would have grown much fast than it did. And ugly as it is Seattle still has an issue with I-5 and north south in general capacity. If I-5 had taken it’s current route past Port of Tacoma (closest port to Base Lewis/McChord) and missed Seattle it would have been devastating to the Port of Seattle.

  5. “The Bellevue City Council has voted for the l-90 | l-405 light rail alignment (called B7) to protect our established neighborhoods and Mercer Slough and to save the taxpayers $$$.”

    Don’t forget that B7 would cost us taxpayers more than B2M.

    I was at the meeting, and wow were the B7 supporters an angry and vocal bunch. This flyer makes me want to slap the guy for intentionally filling it with that much misinformation.

    1. DEIS page ES-6. B3 $520M, B7 $510M even with the ridiculous added cost for property acquisition that was silly (furniture store station). Of course ST white washing the side of the barn and rewriting the rules is nothing new (RV take 2).

  6. The flyer is absurd. The B7 alignment is a poor one by the measures against which the regional light rail system will be judged in 5, 10, 20 and 50 years from now. How is it that NIMBYs aren’t self aware? I’d be interested to find out what percentage of Surrey Downs B7 supporters actually plan to ride light rail when it begins service. I’d also be surprised if Surrey Downs real estate values actually go down – I would think the 112th alignment would ultimately help them.

    Sherwin, you’re right – this approach to fighting the 112th alignment smacks of ideology and misrepresentation of facts. Its an attempt to incite an emotional response, thus distracting what could otherwise be a constructive conversation and community decision-making process. Don’t let it!

  7. So what, if any, countermeasures are necessary and appropriate? Surely there are rational, level-headed arguments that trump this ideological grandstanding, but are they even necessary? Is it possible for Sound Transit to cave to such an irrational campaign? I could see the NIMBYs winning if they persisted with rhetoric about the impact to land values or other exaggerations of plausible effects, but surely the duly elected and appointed officials in charge of this regional project won’t be swayed by outright lies and propaganda?

    1. Guess we need to start showing up at the workshops too and voicing our preferences.

    2. I’ve seen it happen before. People are so bought into “the Seattle Process” of reasoned input from all parties that they don’t realize that opponents of progress will use these tactics to derail legitimate debate.

      When the opponents of the Seattle Commons said “We can’t afford it!” there was just stunned silence from the proponents.

      Every time Tim Eyman puts out a cockamamied initiative, where are those that will call him on his bulls**t?

  8. We may be bashing NIMBY’s here, but how many of you suddenly become NIMBY’s when something this big is proposed in your neighborhood? “I love ____, but not around here.” Happens all the dang time.

    1. I have a freeway and a gravel mine in my back yard, they can replace either with light rail any time they want to.

    2. To a degree, you’re right. I have a feeling most of the readership of this forum would go very NIMBY if a freeway was proposed 50 feet from our kitchen windows, but if it were a proposed LINK train, you might get a different response.

      This is why a regional governing body (ST) will make the alignment decision, not the Bellevue City Council, which must posture to NIMBYs so they don’t have to worry about losing those votes in the next election.

      1. I’d oppose a freeway full stop. It has little to do whether it’s next to my house or on the other side of town.

        There are people that don’t think light rail is a good idea at all. Those people aren’t being NIMBYs per se, they just support bad policy.

    3. I’m upset that the Streetcar might not get an Aloha stop. I guess that makes me WNIMBY (Why Not In My Back Yard).

    4. Light rail in my neighborhood? Hell, if it runs in my front yard, I wouldn’t care, especially if there’s a station nearby

  9. I can see light rail that is 2 miles (as the crow flies) away from my house (on the other side of the airport), and every time I see the trains going by, I am jealous and dissapointed I can’t walk to a station.

  10. I’d bet Stalin would have a big grin on his face if he were driving a LRV.

  11. Unfortunately, a drawing or photo of Robert Moses (who built the New York City parkways and freeways on his wish alone, ignoring pleas of those who got in way), would not draw the same response from the other side of the political spectrum.

  12. I think you’re playing into their game by paying attention to this rubbish.

  13. How long before those opposed to B2M start playing the race and class cards? You know things like saying Link will bring crime to the neighborhoods it passes through, etc.

  14. Oh, one more. Sound Transit’s District has about 3 million residents, represented by an 18 person board. Bellevue has 120,000 people, or about 4% of the total population. that it has 5.6% of the representation on the council means it’s overrepresented.

    1. O man I’m on a roll today. Sound Transit paid for Seattle’s Tunnel in the North Subarea, which is 89% Seattle residents. Asking the entire Eastside to pay for Bellevue’s tunnel (which is what requiring Sound Transit to foot the whole bill would mean) would be making more than 75% of east side residents pay for a tunnel on the whim of the council of fewer than 25% of the residents.

      How’d that be fair and democratic?

      1. Hold on, ST wanted a great big tunnel to start with but when they got up to the register they realized they didn’t have enough money to pay for it.

    2. Everett is smaller than Bellevue but guaranteed a seat on the ST Board. Redmond has a population 49,548, Issaquah a population 24,057. If you really want to talk over represented Sumner has a population of 8,504. Combined these three mayors represent less than the population of Bellevue. Of course the entire King County representation to the Board of Directors is hand picked by Dow Constantine and Ron Sims who’s base of support are primarily Seattle.

  15. Through days dark and stormy
    when great Lenin led us
    our eyes saw the bright sun of Freedom above
    and Stalin our leader
    with faith in the people
    inspired us to build the land that we love.

    1. Mr Bidwell-
      It is always so helpful to introduce “The Leader of the Peoples and Friend of Children” into the debate.
      Guarantees a levelheaded discussion of the issues and a reasoned exploration of differences of opinion.

  16. So, i’m getting a little confused:

    Is the segment between SE 8th and the Downtown tunnel being debated by the Surrey Downs neighborhood, along with the segment between I-90 and SE 8th?

    With Bellevue getting angry about everything, i’m confused about which segments of Sound Transit’s approved initial routing is also approved by Bellevue.

    1. Bellevue City Council doesn’t have to “approve” anything, remember. They just get to state their opinion.

      But yeah, Bellevue doesn’t like anything from I-90 all the way to downtown.

    2. The majority of us Bellevue residents are angry at Surrey Downs, not Sound Transit

      Heck, with a Kemper Freemon bought-and-paid-for City Council, it’s a wonder anything transit gets done :(

      1. Kemper’s old. He’ll die soon, and his children are even more [ad-hominem] than he. Like their father, they never had to work to earn anything: Grandpa founded the empire on the stolen wealth of Asians who were interned during the war. A good inheritance tax will finish them off.

        New Bellevue should just ignore the dinosaurs and move into the future.

    3. The two are inter-related. The B3 Modified as proposed by Bellevue included continuing to Wilburton P&R and coming into DT essentially along I-405; thereby avoiding Surry Downs Park and the Bellevue Club impacts as well as the future plans for Main. Bellevue does have a lot to say about approving construction permits, hours of work, use of staging areas, cost for taking City ROW, etc. ST can take it to court but that costs time and money and could well sink the entire project. Bellevue has a lot more ability to lawyer up than RV. Remember Tukwila ended up rerouting Central Link; not where they wanted but a reroute none the less.

      1. It doesn’t have to go to court, its already been ruled on. The Tukwila re-route is what spurred the court case to begin with. Light rail has been ruled an essential public facility and under the GMA no local government can deny its siting. Sure Bellevue could hold it up by being slow in the permitting process, but all that would do is cost the Eastside more money and increase the length of construction impacts.

    4. Ok, thanks for the clear-up!

      And yeah, I understand the City of Bellevue pretty much is just venting their opinion, and that the ST Board has the FINAL say (thank God).

      It’s just annoying how some NIMBYs can be…

      1. “it is part of ST’s disinformation process”

        ST has a difficult balancing act to perform here. While I’ve been pushing for the B2/B3 routing to serve South Bellevue, I’m also wary of ST creating a noisy nuisance in somebody’s back yard. As the process has unfolded, when I ask about noise issues or trying to preserve the Winters’ house, ST representatives have been very candid with me. They have discussed the challenges but also have come up with good ideas to mitigate impacts – The retained cut by the Winters house is an excellent example.

        The reality is this: B2/B3 runs near a neighborhood but so does B7. I’d argue that the B7 line’s impacts are higher since the trains would be running at higher speeds within 50 feet of people’s bedrooms. More people are impacted by a B7 routing since *all* of the effected households are within condominium complexes. But I’m sure you’ll just waive that off as a “disinformation” tactic.

        Since there will be impacts either way, I’m going to choose the route with the most ridership and highest potential for linking to bus routes. Sound Transit has rightly chosen this routing and is now attempting to get feedback on how to mitigate the impacts of that line. Does anybody think that Stalin would do the same?

      2. . I’d argue that the B7 line’s impacts are higher since the trains would be running at higher speeds within 50 feet of people’s bedrooms.

        So what you’re saying is that Link will be noisier than the existing freeway. Instead of running it along the ROW which already has the noise and was there when the condos were built we should route it through a relatively quite area and affect both side of the ROW and screw up the Cities plans for Main.

      3. Bernie, where do you live? Not 118th, I’d presume. I-405 has a noise wall that does an adequate job of shielding the Mercer Slough condos from freeway noise. My presumption is this: B7 is far more damaging to those homes, than B2/B3 is to West Bellevue homes; this makes the former more vulnerable to property value fluctuations that result from light rail. I rather hate the argument that Link should go where the tracks already are; that right-of-way wasn’t built for transit. That alone is quite obvious.

      4. I believe Bernie has said before that he lives in the Bridle Trails area.

  17. Gotta love extremists. Stalin! Sound Transit! One and the same!

    I love people who think a democracy is a something that makes sure they get everything they want regardless of what anyone else thinks.

  18. This is why you shouldn’t have “community meetings”. The only people who show up are cranks and idiots.

    Just decide on the route, declare eminent domain, and be done with it. Fifteen years from now, Surrey Downs will be gone, or at least unrecognizable, anyway – who cares what they think? Times change

  19. I think I remember reading somewhere that Stalin was responsible for a lot of trolleybus expansion- like the fifty mile long line between Yalta and Simferopol in the Crimean region of Ukraine. So maybe ST’s brutal aggression against Bellevue is only a diversion from the real menace: a trolleybus line to Spokane!

    Mark Dublin

    1. … and to think less than 60 years ago we once had not one but two railways powered by electricity over the Cascades…

      1. …and the Yesler and Madison cable-cars were shut down during Stalin’s time in the Soviet Union. Think of what a boon to tourism they would be today!

  20. Sherwin, Sherwin, Sherwin. You can’t have things both ways. If people are speaking emotionally they are wrong, if people get facts and intellect behind their thoughts they are wrong….

    While there is NO WAY that I ever support Jeff Bidwell and I don’t appreciate the histrionics of the Stalin picture however what he has said in the flyer is all true, no matter how much you don’t like it.

    As for Betsy Blackstock insisting on Sound Transit actually answering questions that are before the audience? These are the people whose lives and livelihoods Sound Transit is trying to change. These are the people to whom Sound Transit is responsible and they have an absolute obligation to accurately answer all questions posed to them. Part of the reason that the relationship between Sound Transit and just about everyone in the world is so contentious is that they sidestep questions. ST does not give out reliable information yet they come through an area like a swarm of locust, change peoples lives and leave. Talk to anyone in the neighborhood along the airport line. The noise is horrendous and it is getting worse. The more that ST “fixes” noise issues the worse the noise gets. These folks are now considering just walking out on their homes because they can’t sell them and they can’t stay in them. Clearly ST does not know what they are doing.

    All along the Eastlink lines people have watched this go on and you think they should eagerly welcome that into their city and into their lives. Our homes are our single most important financial investment and again and again ST has ruined people’s financial lives.

    Shame on you Sherwin for not standing up for the families and businesses and citizens who bravely stand up to the ST steamroller.

    1. Everything, every NIMBY qualm that you have had about a Bellevue Way/112th alignment is equally applicable to those who live along 118th. Don’t try to twist it any other way.

      1. Equally clear is that while there has been a lot of noise against B2 or B3, not much substance has been thrown behind reasoning for B7. Surrey Downs has waged a campaign either declaring a) Sound Transit is bad, b) any alignment ST favors is bad, or c) Bellevue likes B7. I’ve heard little on why the latter is.

    2. It’s clear to me that emotions are driving the kind of rationale that you are purporting, Cindy. Your comment alone shows that you are no longer targeting an alignment, but Sound Transit itself. The agency and City have moved beyond the B3/B2-B7 debate and as very evident, are attempting to mitigate the impacts the 112th alignment would have. This is a perfect opportunity for Surrey Downs to jump in and address the very issues that they have complained about, but lo and behold, nothing but a far-fetched cry against the Stalinist Sound Transit.

  21. Why is the freeway alignment (I-90 and I-405) in Bellevue very bad when the freeway alignment in north Seattle (I-5) is so good? What’s really sad is that the ex-BNSF railroad corridor is a free corridor having already been purchased by the port and would create far less construction impacts upon the motorists of Believue. It is surprising to see from afar that the ex-BNSF railroad corridor is the preferred alignment between Believue and Renton, but not between Believue and Seattle?

  22. Ronald,

    I-405 has a dense downtown skyscraper district to serve, with lots of riders who would like to walk onto the light rail system. Why does Surrey Downs want to stop all these people from being able to walk onto light rail?

    Its bad enough that Bellevue High has already been pushed out of the opportunity to access light rail. I still think Bellevue Way would have been a better alignment, with stations at the west and east end of downtown Bellevue. Why would we want to cut out nearly all of downtown Bellevue by moving the stations entirely out of downtown? (as Kevin Wallace wants to do)

    The I-5 corridor in north Seattle has much less of an opportunity. It has Northgate Mall to the east, and North Seattle Community College to the west of the freeway. NSCC has a lot of potential ridership that would walk on if they could access the station from the west.

    But in the case of Bellevue, the East Link line will serve the other side of the freeway by actually hopping across it and having a station serving a somewhat major destination: Overlake Hospital.

    I do agree that North Link should have been designed to hop over to another major arterial (probably Highway 99), but things didn’t turn out that way. The lemonade being made out of the bad decision to run North Link along I-5 is that Mountlake Terrace Station will be finished years early as a place for the half-full Community Transit commuter buses to transfer their passengers into fuller ST express buses and have everyone be able to go either to the U-District or downtown Seattle, and maybe even the option of getting onto an express bus that goes to the south end of downtown and works its way north.

    As for reducing congestion, that was never the point of Link. The point is that people can get on Link, and ride right past the congestion. But it does have the side effect of reducing congestion by reducing the number of people driving, as well as drastically increasing the people-carrying capacity of the road it serves.

  23. The lesson, again, is that democracy is about who shows up. If you live in Magnolia or Queen Anne, and have been letting the automobile supremacists have their way at your neighborhood association without you showing up or speaking up, then shame on you!

    Queen Anners, did you notice your community council unanimously backed the right of automobiles to speed at 50 mph through the middle of Seattle Pacific University, instead of supporting pedestrian safety?

Comments are closed.