September 13, 2005
Monorail Propaganda Campaign
The Seattle Monorail Project is engaged in a desperate, full-throttle propaganda campaign for survival. In today's Seattle Times, an op-ed from Kevin Phelps, who was brought on as an "independent financial-policy analyst" to the SMP board in July:
Having played a similar role with Sound Transit, I understood I'd be asking tough questions, pushing for systems and controls to assure financial accountability and working to eliminate lower priority elements of the agency's plan.
But documents recently obtained by Monorail watchdog group OnTrack
reveal that Phelps is not an "independent financial analyst", but just another spin doctor. See p. 204 in this file of correspondence between Phelps and the SMP
. Regarding the August Town Hall meeting:
"Has there been a strategy developed for what SMP hopes to communicate at this meeting? Not to dive too deep, but I think every message coming from the Board/SMP in the next few weeks/months should have a direct purpose to re-establish credibility with the public and the media. I saw a couple of missed opportunities at last Wednesday/s board meeting that from my perspective could have been taken advantage of. I don't want to overstep my purpose for the Board, but would be glad to discuss this with you . . . ."
As today's Seattle Times editorial
Phelps is not a lawyer. He is not a budget analyst. His degree from Washington State University was in journalism, and by trade he is a politician.
And State Auditor Brian Sonntag isn't impressed with the Monorail board
, or its spin on his unenthusiastic report.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at September 13, 2005
08:47 AM | Email This
If politicians were paid according to what they were worth......not many would want the job!!
WELCOME TO A KEVIN PHELPS FREE TACOMA !
2. Obviously the "Independent" Mr. Phelps has become hopelessly addicted to the Kool Aid. He clings to the monohole's projected 6.1% increase in auto registrations and says they can also save big bucks by reducing the earthquake standards for the concrete support columns. It is time to fold up the torn and tattered monotent for good.
3. My, my. This particular local government appears very difficult to kill. I'm not sure the Mayor is man enough for the task. I'll bet SMP keeps on taxing for quite a while, until the whole thing becomes so ridiculous even the union guy and the retired Metro guy on the board throw in the towel.
Since we're clearing the air - let's look at the facts.
On Track is not a monorail watchdog group - it's an anti-monorail advocacy group backed by large downtown property owners.
The 6.1% projected annual increase in value of car registrations is lower than the historical average over the last decade or so.
I could not care less whether Phleps qualifies as an "independent financial analyst." What I do care about is finding transportation alternatives
that provide a way to move people from home to work that does not involve paving every square inch of the puget sound region. That's why I support the monorail.
5. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned tarring and feathering? I think we'd have far fewer people screwing around and spinning facts to blindside the public.
We can't latch onto any half-baked idea that will bankrupt the city just because it's sold as a transportation alternative. Hiring people who are labeled as independent is false advertising. At least On Track makes no bones about where they're coming from. They have nothing to be embarassed about.
Just curious - where does your info come from regarding the historical increase in car tab revenue? My recollection is that the 6.1% projections is higher than historical amounts, but I can't find a source right now.
I should have looked harder. 6.1% is actual rate for the period 1991 and 2004, but a variety of factors, mostly population growth and cars/household trends, indicate that this can't be sustained.
Here's a link that supports a finding that the 6.1% projected increase is conservative by historical standards.
This might be the same analysis that you linked to, but it clearly shows that the historical ratee of increase is much higher than the projected 6.1% rate of increase used by the SMP. Some analysts have argued that the 6.1% is unsustaniable, but it is based on historical data. Projections like this are inherently tricky, but they form the basis of almost all commercial lending transactions. You can always find a professional to offer a counter opinion, but I am comfortable that the 6.1% rate of increase is realistic.
9. bobbie: Glad you are comfortable with 6.1%. What do you think about SMP putting its project where its mouth (K Phelps) is? Phelps says 39 years of MVET should be enough. If SMP thinks Phelps is such hot stuff, why doesn't it provide some protection for taxpayers based on his 39 year estimate? OK, the SMP board should just pass a resolution NOW saying it will not collect the MVET after 39 more years have passed. Then SMP can go to Wall Street, and say "OK, lend us the two billion, and we'll collect the MVET for 39 years only. If that is not enough for you, that is too bad. Our consultant Mr. Phelps says it is enough." Do you think Goldman Sachs and Citigroup will lend two billion to SMP based on Mr. Phelps' (and your) comfort level with 6.1% and 39 years? No way, my good man. The 39 years Phelps is talking about is nothing more than a wild ass guess that does not have to hold up to reality -- SMP's financing plan is for the tax to continue for as many years/decades as it takes to pay off the debt. If 39 years is not enough, SMP's plan is to just keep on taxing for as many years as it takes -- fifty or more years is not out of the question at all.
10. Monorail. Mononeucleosis. Same thing. A pestilence on us. Dose 'em. Kill it. Badda-bing.
If you wanna pay $800 a year for your car tabs, go ahead. My tabs in Mill Creek were $57 and I don't give a damn if gas is $5 a gallon or $50 a gallon, I am NOT riding one of your buses, light rails or monorails. For one thing, I'd have to walk about 3.5 miles to the nearest busstop
I heard a story on KOMO 1000 (sorry, Kirby was playing commercials at the time) that said the monofail got a GLOWING report from the state auditor. Ya mean I can't trust ANY media in this town?????
Hey SnoCo Voter,
Mass transit is not for everyone, but it certainly benefits everyone in the form of lower air pollution, less dependance of foreign sources of oil and less demand for highway usuage. It sounds to me like you have no choice but to drive (3.5 miles is way to long to walk to a bus or train stop). So you, of all people, should be supporting mass transit, if for no other reason that the prospect that it will lessen traffic congestion.
PS - If you live in Mill Creek why do you care how much people pay for car tabs in Seattle or whether they build a monorail?
Prediction, yep, I predict it will rain in Seattle next week.
And, well... if all the predictions that were made in the past on a lot of things came true...
I cannot believe the faith being placed on these assumptions.
I care because I work in Seattle. Our small company has a vehicle which we register in Seattle (because it's the right thing to do - it's owned by the business, and the business is in Seattle). Our tabs are just over $650 a year.
Mass transit would be a wonderful thing, but we can't even get the buses right. If we could get the bus system to actually WORK, heck, I might be a little more open to light rail or even the pie-in-the-sky monorail.
But not today...and sadly, probably not in my lifetime.
Kevin is a real good businessman but he never should have made the mistake of letting the Monorail call him an "independent" consultant. He is a Monorail cheerleader and he is out of his league.
Monorail is a waste primarily because it duplicates service in the state's biggest job center and highest rent districts that will already be provided service by light rail - and it will never connect to anything. It can't. Far better to end the duplication and build one rail system that can connect the whole city and the region.
Who is to blame? The legislature (GOP and Democrat) and Governor Locke. They all championed to Monorail's authority and allowed it to proceed before other more important things got done. In case anyone was paying attention, the GOP controlled Senate approved the Monorail authority under the leadership of Jim Horn - who had a huge ax to grind against light rail. Governor Locke compounded the problem by vetoing a provision of law that would have required the Monorail to wait until other more important priorities were fixed (like all of our roads) before going to the ballot for funding.
The legislature can prove in 2006 whether they are adults and capable of fixing all the problems they've caused by ending the authroity they granted the Monorail. They can also demonstrated whether they deserve re-election by either stepping up on transportation (regardless of what happens on I912) to make sure the roads are fixed, or by granting more authority to locals fix the roads while assuring that every gas tax dollar raised here, stays here. If I-912 passes, this region will export roughly $2 billion in gas tax recepts to the rest of the state over the next 10 years - unless Olympia stops the faucet.
Phelps is back???? NO!!!!!!!!!!! The guy is a total crook and Tacoma never had a better day than when Corpuz and Phelps both quit within 12 hours of each other. Phelps has more tribal cash sticking out of his pockets than any former or present politician from Pierce County.
The man has no credibility. And to call him a capable business man is a stretch.
17. one train,one jerk with blue hair in the doorway,a morning off for every govt employee--what a way to go! The Ballard bridge up during the commute will be a welcome sight.
18. Bobbie, if you have to force people to accept it, it's not a benefit to those people. And it surely isn't democratic.
Let those who STILL support the monorail pay for it THEMSELVES.
Although it defies logic, I'm sure there are still tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of diehards in Seattle that still dream of a monorail. Let's simply privatize the monorail project and sell shares. Then these diehards can dip into their own savings accounts, take out a second mortgage, borrow from their parents, or whatever it takes to raise the necessary money to get in on the ground floor of what is sure to be the first mass transit project in North America to actually turn a profit.
Just let me off this ship of fools.
What is the background between Joel Horn and light rail?