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October 2005


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PRT Is a Joke
Is A Joke v.2!

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Posted October 28, 2005
Scooterific (Friday roundup)


Libby: Five count indictment
False statements, perjury
Explaining the charges

Fitzgerald isn't done investigating Rove. Well undoubtedly. There's any number of roads Fitzgerald can travel: yellow cake, TANGgate, Jeff Gannon, election fraud, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan—and on and on. But you have to expect that even now Rove is using every trick in his bag to try to wriggle away. There must be a tremendous game of chess going on behind the scenes.

Here's a prediction. The neocon media is going to reach deep, deep into their asses and pull out this rationalization: "This and other indictments weaken the Administration; the Administration is fightin' the war on terror; by weakening the war on terrror, the indictments help the terrorists."

Let's preëmpt this notion right now.

The indictments are the worst news possible for Osama, Mullah Omar, Zawahiri, and any other insects out there under rocks. Because by holding Libby and whoever else responsible for VIOLATING THE LAW, the world can see that our system will, ultimately, hold corrupt, treasonous, fascist criminals responsible for their crimes, even if they occupy the highest positions of power.

This is counter to the message al-Qaida is putting out to its recruits and the Islamic world. It proves that, although we still have a long way to go in terms of being a responsible superpower, the U.S. is not irredeemably corrupt or irretrievably lost as a positive force in the world.

Cheney adviser indicted (WA Post)
The indictment
The recitation starts p.11 (Smoking Gun)
Explaining the charges
(WA Post)
Rise to power crashes
(AP)
Resigns
(Reuters)
Hannah, Wurmser & Bolton dealing
(Raw Story)
Rove still under intense scrutiny... Fitzgerald on the yellowcake trail
(Raw Story)
Also: Coin-gate indictment charges Noe with funneling illegal donations to Bush

Today's Funny: If Fox News Had Been Around Throughout History

The Stranger article about cub monorail-booster Christian Gloddy pretty much sums up what is wrong with the Green Line and the SMP. That the project's biggest supporters are non-experts speaks volumes to blinders the general public wore when they voted for monorail all those times. Those most fully-on-board with the monorail (1) were fundamentally hobbyists, or (2) pinned expectations on the technology that it could not deliver. Because the hopes were basically faith-based, it skewed the process in favor of monorail: Seattle did not seriously look at the various alternatives that are out there.

People are busy, I know. Not everyone has time to become a transit expert. But the almost-spiritual nature of transit planning even comes through in today's Denny Westneat column. He's now critical of monorail, which is easy at this late date. But his disappointment is like a vacuum, and as you near the end of his second paragraph, you can practically feel the whoosh of Westneat's transit-faith being sucked toward light rail. Get a load of the cognitive dissonance going on here:

It's Seattle's first light-rail station... part of the light-rail system voters approved nine years ago. At $223 million per mile, interest included, it's among the most expensive transit lines ever built in the U.S.

Is there any doubt we wouldn't be building it if we'd known beforehand what it would cost? Or how long it would take?

Yet today, Sound Transit is the oasis in our transportation desert. It's widely supported and eagerly awaited. As I envisioned trains whisking from downtown to the airport, I had to admit: Boondoggle it may be, but I'd sure be sorry if it wasn't being built. Source

Late. Overpriced. Boondoggle. Sold! And Westneat then goes on to dream "Why not send light rail the rest of the way" to West Seattle. "It'll be cheaper than the monorail," he writes, "a fraction of the monorail's cost." Well yeah: $223 million/$400 million is a fraction all right. But there's the tunneling to the U-District to consider that will add to the system-wide cost. And will the West Seattle high bridge take light rail? When does the fraction become too close to 1/1 that you'll give up and look for an alternative? What Westneat has are the major-purchase jitters: I really want it! But wait-- I can't afford it. But if I don't buy now it might not be available later! It won't do what I need it to do-- but it's so cool!

It's true that the decision to build rapid transit needs to be made, and that decision is just one point in time (or five if it's monorail), then we must move on. But the pain lasts as long as the financing period. How many decades of debt service AND operational subsidies are in Seattle's comfort zone? How much are we willing to pay, in return for how much transit service?

If we're going to spend billions, shouldn't we at least consider alternatives that utilize modern service concepts, rather than ones a century old or more? Shouldn't the investment result in a rapid transit system convenient for everyone who is paying for it, rather than just convenient for those who live near a station? Shouldn't it be possible to build something affordable that offers fast service to every part of the city? Twenty-four hours a day? With few or no transfers, or waiting?

We're still going to have congestion whether we build train systems or not. I would just as soon wait a few more years while other countries invest in, develop and prove the new Personal Rapid Transit technologies. In the meantime, we'll still have buses. Not sexy, but adequate. And I'll have my Cannondale commuter bike.

PRT
Blarchives:Transit's High Frontier
Transit High Frontier II

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Posted October 27, 2005
Sliced bread

Look at what's come in the mail. A taxpayer-paid mailer from Seattle's Department of Transportation.

Advertising planned improvements to North Seattle's horrorshow Aurora Avenue.

And I don't even live in the project area, it ends one neighborhood over.

Wow, continuous sidewalks. Wider lanes. Bus lanes. Raised medians. Crosswalks. The greatest thing since Ohioan Otto Frederick Rohwedder's invention.

Who do the lucky folk who live by that part of Aurora have to thank? Oh look. Mayor Nickels's picture, and a quote about how wonderful the improvements will be. And a great picture it is, too... three possibilities: he's using a headshot circa 1989; several hours of Photoshopping; he's had his neck, lids and jowls lifted.

Only 12 days until the election? Coincidence!

Hey Seattlites: what other "official" City announcements have arrived in your mail this week?

He's So Fined
Mailer deflated potential opposition

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Posted October 25, 2005
Movie Trailer Soundtrack Cinema:
"In A World..."

Coming soon... to CNN!

Title: A Patrick Fitzgerald Production

A courageous 'young' investigative journalist...

Editor: Judy! Judy! I can't find find Judy, she's somewhere out in the middle of the tornado-like leak investigation!

A timeless family classic...

Judy: Scooter... I don't think this is just inside the Beltway anymore.

All your favorites are here, just as you remember them. There's the pundits:

Right Wing Bloggers: We represent
The right wing blogs, the right wing blogs, right wing blogs
And in the name of the blogosphere
We repeat these talking points
Repeat these talking points, tra la la la
If you put them in print
You'll be famous, famous, famous

Liberal Bloggers: We represent
The liberal blogs, the liberal blogs, the liberal blogs
And in the name of the blogosphere
We spit on your talking points
If you put them in print
We'll call you on your shit

The drama...

Arianna Huffington: I'll get you, my Judy, and your little cabal too. Judy: I found another notebook! But I can't read my own handwriting!

The friendship...

The Scarerove: I am the president's brain
I manipulate the press pack,
Schemin' with Scottie Mac,
Threatenin' moder-ates.

The Arteriosclerotic Cheney: If I only had unclogged veins...
The Jittery W: If I only had cocaine...

The spectacle...

Ari Fleischer: Bring me my morning gaggle! I'll call the
Winged Gannons to create me a smokescreen!

And Judith Miller as 'Judy':

Judy: Sommmmmewherrrre in the Mid East
W... M... D
East, west, south, north of Tikrit
Where can they be?
Sommmmmeonnnne 'I can't remember'
Outed a spy
Who was my source?
C H E - N - E ... Y

So join us:

Judy: "Follow the yellow cake trail"?
Liberal Bloggers: Follow the yellow cake trail!
Follow the yellow cake trail
Follow the yellow cake trail
Follow follow follow
Follow the yellow cake trail

We're off to find the Leaker,
The Treasonous Leaker of Plame.

Right Wing Bloggers: If you try to ask us who
You're playing the blaming game...

"The Treasonous Leaker of Plame", no later than this Friday at 2pm Eastern, 1 Central, here on... CNN.

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Posted October 24, 2005
Monday Unwelcome Wagon

The Neo Nazis' newest pop tarts (susse torten?) may be headed this way. Let's put out the big Go Away mat at the California-Oregon border, shall we?

Thirteen-year-old twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede have one album out, another on the way, a music video, and lots of fans.
...
     Known as "Prussian Blue"... the girls from Bakersfield, Calif., have been performing songs about white nationalism before all-white crowds since they were nine.
     "We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," said Lynx. "We want our people to stay white ... we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."
     Lynx and Lamb have been nurtured on racist beliefs since birth by their mother April. "They need to have the background to understand why certain things are happening," said April, a stay-at-home mom who no longer lives with the twins' father. "I'm going to give them, give them my opinion just like any, any parent would."
     April home-schools the girls, teaching them her own unique perspective on everything from current to historical events...
...
     Songs like "Sacrifice"—a tribute to Nazi Rudolf Hess... show the effect of the girls' upbringing. The lyrics praise Hess as a "man of peace who wouldn't give up."
...
     Since they began singing, the girls have become such a force in the white nationalist movement, that David Duke... uses the twins to draw a crowd.
...
     April had decided that Bakersfield was not "white" enough, so she sold her home, and hopes that she and the girls can find an all-white community in the Pacific Northwest. Source

Indictment Watch:

Death Watch at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Bad timing for Rove, Bush
Final Stretch

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Posted October 22, 2005
Mr_Blog/Weekend:
You can't have parking without "park"

The controversy over the planned parking garage at Woodland Park Zoo is one in which both sides, the Zoo management and the neighbors, should both go to their rooms and think hard about what they've done.

The Zoo.  It formerly operated under the ponderous, impenetrable but ultimately benign bureaucratic inertia of the Parks Department. But the City agreed to a management change in 2001, handing over Zoo operational responsibility to the lean, decisive, impenetrable but ultimately benign bureaucratic inertia of the private, nonprofit Woodland Park Zoo Society.

That's right, the people of Seattle own the Zoo, but private WPZS manages it. What this "Nonprofit Management Agreement" did is somewhat complicated, but basically it swapped the year-to-year budget uncertainty of municipal funding (supplemented by voluntary donations) for the year-to-year budget uncertainty of voluntary donations (supplemented by an annual fixed City appropriation and an 8-year levy).

Much of the Zoo's internal workings and internecine controversies remain shielded from general public knowledge, but hey—that's private management for ya. Take it up with the City Council. The objective of the management change was to give the Zoo the capacity to modernize as a scientific, education and public gathering place, and stay that way for the forseeable future. In this the WPZS has, so far, been reasonably successful—witness the phenomenal Jaguar Cove (2003), the transition to no-contact elephant handling (2004), and current construction of the "Zoomazium" education center. Yes, the Zoo already has an education center by the South Gate, but that's boring education (how it came to be is a long, long, uninteresting story).

While it's true that for several years Zoomazium was a placeholder in search of a facility in search of a purpose, eventually they found/lucked into an incredibly talented person with vision and the motivation to carry it out. When finished, Zoomazium will be a zoomazing place for kids.

The neighbors.  The Zoo is a magical place, but that's not the kind of magic the neighbors are asking for. Can you say inconsistent? They have four central, conflicting grievances about the Zoo: traffic takes up all the street parking, it is becoming too commercial, they are going to build a garage, they are not building a garage where we wanted them to.

Yesterday they held a protest outside a forum for City Council candidates. The demonstrators' position can be seen as cut the frills, take care of the animals, keep the zoo the way it is. But anyway you spell it it comes out NIMBY—albeit a very specific kind.

One protester said, "You don't have parking garages in parks." Actually, you can have significant parking and still have nice parks: witness Discovery, Magnuson and Carkeek Parks, the Arboretum and Seattle Center.

Another demonstrator was dressed as a jaguar. Yet another said money "should go to improving the animal habitats." But more exhibits like Jaguar Cove and its education and conservation adjuncts would not be financially feasible without high Zoo attendance. Because history has shown that not enough people are willing to support the kind of state of the art animal facilities that the Zoo needs.  An unambitious, no-growth Zoo is one less able to move animals out of outdated exhibits like the old Jaguar cage.

Animal care standards, exhibits, conservation research, and environmental education are things that only a small portion of the public wishes to support—and they do, with donations and Zoo memberships. To complete the Zoo's funding you need broad, general revenues. Mass appeal exhibits, concerts and events that brings in more visitors drive revenue. And you need facilities like a garage and an events center to accommodate these functions and people, and their dollars.   But all those dollars need places to park, thus the need for a parking garage.

True, a garage on the west side of the Zoo may not be pretty—but you never know. The Zoo already has a massive water tower nearby, and past generations got used to that.

The squawking smacks of insincerity, since the neighbors were OK with the garage when it was planned to be underground, at the south end of the Zoo, closer to routes to I-5. And millions of dollars more expensive. Which would mean less money for animal care, conservation and education. There would be a need for even more visitors and dollars.  

While the WPZS transgressed by moving the garage project late in the game, with little fanfare, they followed the environmental impact process (for an update to the Zoo's revolutionary 1975 Long Range Plan, of which the garage is one project).  The neighbors scored a minor victory, getting a City hearing examiner to force the Zoo to perform a traffic study.  But after it was done the City Council still approved the Zoo's plans.

So what we've got are really two sides where each is wrong in some way. But the Zoo is less wrong than the neighbors.

That the City did not have the wherewithal to carry out much of the 1975 Plan is a reason the Zoo was turned over to nonprofit management. WPZS thinks it does have what it takes, although the jury is still very much out on that question. But they still deserve the opportunity to attempt to finish what they've started.

The Zoo needs to lose what I know to be the bunker mentality, as well as the totally unnecessary carousel plan. Be less insular and more transparent.

Certain neighbors need to swallow their pride, and bile, and get used to it. You live next to the ZOO, not a nuclear power plant.

Zoo neighbors protest projects
Council endorses zoo's 20-year plan
(10/12/2004)

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Posted October 21, 2005
Transit High Frontier, Part II

I arise from my sickbed to bring you the following. Some confirmations have come in on the information we received last week about overseas Personal Rapid Transit development projects (Transit's High Frontier, 10/11).

The first concerns the Heathrow Airport project: the British Airports Authourity has finalized an agreement with Advanced Transport Systems Ltd., maker of the ULTra system. It will begin with a two-mile starter system with 18 vehicles serving Heathrow's Terminal One, to open in 2008. If successful, it could be expanded to a 30-mile, 500-vehicle system in 2012.

ULTra: BAA release
ATS release
ULTra Journey
(new mpeg video)
Swedish ULTra simulation
(cool mpeg video, product of European Union study)

Confirmation Two comes from a source with the Advanced Transit Association. Word is that the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) will seek a company to design and build a PRT system within the 1.2 km-wide complex. Space has already been left inside the DIFC buildings for the PRT guideway to run through. The PRT network will be connected to a planned light rail station by moving walkways.

DIFC will issue a tender in November for what is expected to be a $100 million+ contract (which includes maintenance). They have concluded that automated electric PRT will be less costly to power and maintain, while being quicker than buses.  Construction and testing should take about two years. The consultant is Systra (France).

Dubai and Heathrow will be competing to see which can be the first fully-functioning commercial application of PRT system anywhere in the world.

Why not make Seattle the third? Instead of a Green Line, how about a Green PRT Network at $10-$15 million per mile?

May I recommend... the fried chicken at the Providence Market, 17th & E. Jefferson; the Seasonal Omelet at Crave.

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Posted October 20, 2005
Drip

Yesterday's NY Daily News story about Bush allegedly rebuking Karl Rove and other staff in 2003 was remarkable for two reasons. First was the unquestioning way the News ran the information. Since it came from "a presidential counselor" it was immediately obvious the White House was leaking disinformation to distance Bush's presidency from possible likely indictees. That the News practiced this rip & read style of journalism is astonishing, especially in light of how aggressively it pursued the federal role in the recent phony subway terror scare.

Second, this has got to be the lamest leak in recent memory. Is this a preview of Bush After Rove? The leak assumes we've forgotten that, after the alleged rebuke, Bush continued to publicly support Rove and, deny he personally knew of anyone in the White House who had done anything against Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. This new leak requires the official Administration position to be that Bush was lying all along. Such a clumsy attempt at revisionism couldn't possibily have been approved by Rove.

Or maybe it is. It could be just another case of Bush ignoring the historical record—never mind what I said about WMD/weapons inspectors/tax cuts/jobs created/etc. etc., history is what I say it was. He never looks back. Traitorgate is just background noise. As he said just this morning, Bush always moves forward. Like a shark.

Slow-Pitch. Speaking of weak journalism, on Monday I had the chance to pick up a copy of the Beacon Hill News/South District Journal. Now, I grew up with the BHNSDJ around the house—Grandma_Blog was a subscriber—so I know it's more about positive stories about commerce, community events and high academic achievers than it is about hard-hitting news.

But Mona Lee's (I hope that's not Mona Lee Locke) Oct. 12 interview with Mayor Horizontal was - I have to use the word astonishing again - in how limp and uncritical the nature of the questions Nickels was asked. Get a load of some of Lee's questions [and my comments]:

  • "What is your plan to get Seattlites out of their cars?" [A: standard platitudes mixed in with nonsense about tall skinny buildings - avoiding the term density - and Paul Allen's streetcar.]
  • "What is your plan to assure that our children will be able to live in Seattle?" [A: tax breaks for developers and public assistance for homebuyers, but nothing about good jobs at good wages, or the root causes of unaffordable home prices]
  • "Do you regulate to assure that buildings are not shoddy and poorly designed?" [Give me a freakin' break]
  • "I've heard some people say that your policies are friendlier to developers than to working people. How would you respond to that accusation?" ['Spin it however you want, Mr. Mayor!' Nickels invoked 9/11 on unemployment, then said he'd created jobs but didn't say if they were good-paying. And then for some strange reason he mentioned impact fees for parks. Lee had no followup question.]
  • "Has all your job growth creation been through building and development?" [A: "No, we work with companies." And then his examples are WaMu building a new office tower providing construction jobs, and a nebulous, unsupported, mention of "quality, high-paying jobs".]
  • These were just on the front page, three more lightweight questions followed on page 5. Nickels had one disquieting answer about homelessness, in which he said he wanted to shift funds away from services for immediate needs like food, shelters and health, and toward medium and long term services. Again, Lee failed to ask a follow-up, not even nothing can be done to avoid impacting food, shelters and health?

    Lee's final question? "How does it feel to be headed into the election without any serious opposition?" So I guess it's on to the inaugural ball.

    I wonder what it feels like to get the chance to get to interview a major local leader—and totally blow it.

    The one thing Nickels couldn't spin was the photography accompanying the story: two poor-contrast black & whites, with his head cocked at an angle that only reinforces how much his head has become cube-shaped over the years.

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    Posted October 18, 2005
    100.4° and climbing

    Mr_Blog has the non-Avian flu. Filling in today is correspondent Tim Snide, with The Slam Book®


    Good morning blogosphere, the Book is open.

    Judith Miller testified again before the Traitorgate grand jury, about the contents of her recently discovered notebook containing notes of a June interview with Scooter Libby. However, she claimed it was not Libby who gave her Valerie Plame's name, and couldn't remember who did. On the courthouse steps afterward, Miller told reporters, "look, I can't remember everything, I'm very busy stepping on other Times journalists, evading editorial policies, and preening. As soon as I can remember who I went to prison to protect, you'll see that me and my good friends Karl and Scooter had nothing to do with disclosing Ms. Plame's identity. And you can take that to the bank, or my name isn't Janice Milner."

    Miller also said if she remembered who the leaker was, she would have to consider the national security implications. "I have to abide by the terms of my military security clearance which no one can remember giving me," Miller said.

    The only thing lower than Judy Miller's credibility is the President's job approval rating. In expectation of another science First for the Bush Administration, the National Science Foundation and NASA are using sophisticated electron microscopes to monitor the rating closely. Researchers hope to observe the President's rating lose so much heat that all molecular motion will cease.

    Today's New York Daily News reports a "secret snitch" is cooperating with Leakgate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald—and the target may be Dick Cheney. No joke here, I just like the way "the target may be Dick Cheney" rolls off the keyboard.

    Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers sees a right to privacy in the Constitution. So says Judiciary Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, who met with Miers for two hours on Monday. "Ms. Miers assured me she supported the Court's decisions in Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird," said Specter, referring to two cases establishing privacy rights for couples using contraception. "Ms. Miers also said a government could never get her to unlock her Xena: Warrior Princess diary and reveal its contents, and she would defend to the death that right for all Americans," Specter said. "Harriet Miers and Privacy are BFFs, be certain of that."

    Tropical storm Wilma has been upgraded to hurricane status. Wow, so many storms that they've almost reached the end of the alphabet. Not to worry though, if they get to Z the National Hurricane Center will go to the Greek alphabet starting at Alpha. And if they run out of Greek letters? The hurricane center says they would go back to female names.  But, in a bid to improve Franco-American relations, the names would be French and hyphenated. So live in fear of Hurricane Zoë-Véronique.

    The Seattle Monorail Project now plans to build only a 10 mile-long monorail line. This means the financially-troubled "city-wide" transit system, if re-approved, won't go to North Seattle. Damn, now West Seattlites won't be able to take the Green Line to Mike's Chili Parlor—and wasn't that really the whole purpose?

    In sports: Seattle Seahawks defensive back Ken Hamlin is in serious but stable condition in the intensive-care unit at Harborview Medical Center, following a Monday morning fight outside a Pioneer Square nightclub. Hamlin was admitted with a skull fracture and bruised brain tissue. A Seahawks spokesman said that Hamlin went into the fight well prepared, but that things just went the other guy's way. "Ken's just taking this season one fight at a time," said the spokesman.

    Finally, in the biggest marketing controversy since New Coke, the reformatting of TV Guide seems to be receiving a chilly reception, with one reader opining, "It sucks!"  Now THERE'S a slogan for ya. Meanwhile, millions of email users braced for the inevitable wave of spam, subject lined "Survey: Old TV Guide or New TV Guide?"

    That's all for now. Until next time, this is Tim Snide saying, "Get well soon Mr_Blog." And to everyone else out there: wash your hands frequently.

    Blarchives: The Slam Book®

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    Posted October 17, 2005
    The Anti-Drug

    Mr_Blog has to go to a workshop today, so no news commentary. Instead, the following item from the war on drugs, courtesy of compadre Agent_Moldy, by way of Erik of The Generik Brand: Click

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    Posted October 14, 2005
    Bill Clinton For Mayor (Friday roundup)

    What's a progressive urbanite to do? Swallow hard and vote for Mayor Horizontal? Or former history prof Al Runte, whose claim to fame prior to this year was unsuccessful litigation against the UW?

    Nickels. His plan for making Seattle wealthy and prosperous seems to involve making it too expensive for anybody but the wealthy and prosperous to live here. His plan to make Seattle vibrant is to make it crowded. His transportation plan is to blow most of our cash on a waterfront tunnel, a hub-and-spoke light rail plan with only one spoke, and a Frill Ride trolley that will carry 30-35 riders per hour (6/15 and 5/25).

    Runte. He's a mystery, a mystery that doesn't speak in specifics. The mystery is wrapped in a shroud, obscured by a veil, inside a cloud of blandness. Where is he on the issues? His priorities are neighborhoods, infrastructure, planning and neighborhoods. Did I mention neighborhoods? The Stranger called Runte "pompous"—which is hi-larious in light of their editorial board making Nickels their Chosen One.
           He's stated the obvious by calling Nickels too cozy with developers and ignoring neighborhood concerns. But incumbency is a weapon, and Nickels has ignored the developer charge, rolling out a plan for more police, firefighters, street repair and sidewalks. Though the fine print on the sidewalks is that there is only $500,000 in the request which, a nearby neighborhood activist tells me, will only pay for 12-24 blocks of sidewalks. Just the sidewalks, not the curbs or gutters.
           Runte is also a rail fan, the author of a book about vintage national park trains. Great, another choo-choo fan for City Hall. What's more, he's saying we shouldn't give up on the monorail. So, more symbolism than action. But he would try to get the First Hill Link station restored, and cancel the South Lake Union Frill Ride, so at least he's a rail fan with some common sense. Some.

    The primary over, Runte scored a minor coup by chalking up one endorsement and two non-endorsement endorsements from Democratic district organizations. But those seemed more the result of overconfident complacency on the part of Nickels's campaign.

    Does Runte have a snowball's chance? No one seems to think so, even Runte said as much to the Times. What we need is a Mayor who can lead and inspire, speak from the heart, juggle multiple issues big and small, see the big picture as well as command facts and figures, and respond to crises with genuine compassion as well as compassionate solutions. And propose new initiatives that are not blatant reëlection ploys.

    Where, oh where can we find such a person? Where, I ask you? Does such a politician even exist? With a wife named Hillary?

    As The Door Revolves. Is it a secret that Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis plans to take his leave of City Hall after his boss is reëlected? Oops. Sorry 'bout that. But not to worry about how he's going to make a living. My source Deep Broadmoor tells me the Timster has spent the first term networking with property developers, for whom he will become an influential and well-compensated consultant.

    Over the e-transom. Here's something charmingly weird (and really well done): video of "alien" plants (.mov). More.

    Ballard's Ed Pottharst is running as an Independent in County Council District 4. The incumbent is the extremely tan Larry Phillips, who was my pick for Hero of the Gubernatorial Litigation (12/22). What's interesting is that Pottharst is a progressive with experience in neighborhood issues, won the Muni League's highest rating, and is Deaf. I'm all for diversity on the Council, and a Deaf councilman would be a plus for the County.
           The downsized Council looks headed for a 5-4 Democratic majority (assuming Shirley Gaunt-Smith loses to Raygun Dunn). Ordinarily I wouldn't want to endanger this majority, but Phillips is a shoe-in with no Resmuglican opponent. I say go ahead and give Pottharst some encouragement this time, so he'll make a future run for some other office. Like Mayor.

    KPTK ratings climb. Audience of the Air America Radio affiliate has doubled in the past year. KIRO weaker but still the leading AM talk station, while the wingnuts duke it out for second place.


    Radio & Records, 9/23

    Whacked in Northern VA? Wayne Madsen reports (10/14, 2nd item) on the death of former SEC lawyer Eric N. Miller, and two other strange deaths linked to the Administration. Also see the item on developing neocon efforts to smear Patrick Fitzgerald.

    Sibling Rivalry. Overheard at 22nd & Olive:

    6 year old girl: Don't you hate the baby?
    5 year old girl: Who?
    6 year old girl: The baby. Don't you just hate it?

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    Posted October 11, 2005
    Transit's high frontier

    Seattle light rail is creeping along and the Green Line is fading fast. While those were sold to us as "new" and "innovative," they are really just variations on the age-old train. Meanwhile, other countries are looking at technological innovation that constitutes a paradigm shift.

    PRTs: Skyweb Express
    ULTra

    The innovation is Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), which longtime readers of Mr_Blog will recognize because I'm constantly yammering about it (and because this site devotes an enormous amount of space to it).

    Essentially a fleet of horizontal elevators on a small elevated rail, PRT has the potential for increasing transit's share of daily travel because, being cheaper per mile, we could afford to build it to serve more destinations. By serving more destinations it becomes more attractive, more often, to take PRT instead of driving.

    It is also on-demand like a taxi, meaning that when you walk into a station, a PRT car is waiting for you. It will be faster, because it takes you nonstop to the station closest to where you want to go, bypassing stations along the way. High hourly ridership levels can be achieved, because capacity is a fleet-wide aggregate of the number of 35-40mph trips each PRT car can make (in fact, our own Washington House of Representatives voted 97-0 in the last session to recognize PRT as high capacity transit).

    PRT is also greener than current transit modes, since a PRT car weighs less than 1000 lbs., only moves when somebody needs one, and only accelerates and brakes at the start and end of each trip.

    In July, the European Union released a summary of its "EDICT" PRT program, which they consider part of Europe's urban sustainability policy. Last week brought news from Finland concerning that country's flavor of PRT, which they call "Automated People & Goods Movers" (Even the Finns, 10/7). And today Mr_Blog's  sources send two other tidbits about PRT overseas:

    :: The UK's airport agency (BAA) will definitely install a PRT system at Heathrow Airport.

    :: After entertaining proposals for months, Dubai in the UAE plans to have a PRT system serving its new International Financial Center—not a question of if, but which PRT supplier will be chosen.

    Finally, a little data mining unearthed this interesting story from the Arab Times:

    Firm Outlines Plans for Urban Rail Project (6/9/2005)
    Kuwait City-- Kuwait may shortly join Dubai to start on urban rail projects that will release their cities from rush-hour chokehold... Parsons Brinckerhoff International regional manager Glen J Thorn ... at the request of the Minister of Public Works Bader Al-Humaidi reviewed the Urban transit issue.
    ...
    "Once you get a person out of the car you must supply car-to-destination service, a park-and-ride," said Thorn. One solution Parsons Brinkerhoff has for this is the futuristic Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). A "very light-rail system", akin to a monorail, PRT is basically a fleet of personal two or four-seater cabins that travel between major buildings in the city - ...can all be connected via an elevated track.

    "You go up a flight of steps, catch the next cabin, push a button to tell it where you want to go, and it will take you to that location, air-conditioned substation to air-conditioned substation, without having to step outside." "No other city has this, because the technology has only matured in the last ten years." Full Story

    What's amazing about this is that Parsons Brinckerhoff is one of the world's biggest promoters of light rail. A sweet deal: it goes around advising cities to build trains, then turns around and bids on the contracts to design the systems. In one notorious case Parsons, in order to eliminate PRT from consideration by the Cincinnati OKI planning agency, invented its own badly-designed PRT as a straw man.

    So what's changed Parsons's mind? Could it just be a rich government finally noticed that buses and trains can't do it all? After 40-odd years since an engineer named Donn Fichter first defined the desirable characteristics of PRT—and 10-15 years since computers, composite materials and magnetic motors made PRT feasible—could it really, really have just been about vision and money?

    And lest you wonder why other countries are getting all the good stuff, the Arab Times also reported that—

    "PB is also currently considering this system as a transit solution for a North American city."

    So is the day far off when you can ride a PRT to run errands, or get to & from the light rail station? Cross your fingers.

    And remember: PRT is not a flying car, so it's not "like the Jetsons".

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    Posted October 10, 2005
    America Nervosa

    I've been catching up on my reading lately, on the bedside table right now are "Fluke" by Christopher Moore, "Pattern Recognition" by William Gibson, and "Body Betrayed" by Kathryn J. Zerbe.

    A large part of Zerbe's book explores the role of parents in shaping daughters who have eating disorders, as well as depression and other emotional dysfunctions. The description of damaging parent-child relationships made me wonder about a parallel with our national political identity.

    Have Resmuglicans given America and its leadership a political eating disorder? For three decades the party has played the role of unsupportive, hypercritical parent to post-Great Society America, intent on controlling, shaping and living vicariously through its child. A variation on the analogy is that America's parents got a divorce; daddy Liberal moved out and mama Theocrat got custody. She's dating Pat Robertson, and the happy couple is poisoning America's mind against her father.

    Are tax cuts like anorexia? Is massive deficit spending like binge eating? Are no-bid contracts like bulimia? Is our goal to become so thin that Grover Norquist can drown America in the bath tub?

    Forget for the moment popular culture's obsession with appearance (and junk food, both literal and figurative), and see symptoms in the imagemaking and expectations surrounding the current and previous Presidents.

    In addition to harping on Clinton for not measuring up to the level of his predecessors, of being a pretender to the Bush family throne, the Right wing and its tamed media also mocked 42 for his waistline and love of junk food.

    The expectations even extended to those around Clinton: Hillary wasn't deferential enough, so of course there were whispers she was a lesbian; sweet but gawky Chelsea was mocked relentlessly (like awkward Amy Carter, who still doesn't give interviews); though HWP, Monica was 'fat.' But in Dubya's presidency, the very-thin Jenna and Barbara are lusted after by Young Republicans (3rd from bottom). And despite not falling far from the presidential timber behavior-wise, the mainstream press goes easy on them—photographs of drunken girls-nights-out always drop quickly from the headlines. Why, because they're conventionally attractive?

    Dubya partisans once hailed him for 'bringing back dignity' to the Presidency—remember 'the grownups are in charge again'? But he's childish about signs of 'respect' ("who're you talking to?"), and he acts out by flipping off reporters.

    And what other classic anorexia symptom does Bush have? A relentless focus on fitness and exercise. He's always riding that bike and, more than any other recent President, playing up how trim and fit he looks, as well as the results of his annual physicals. Here's the official White House line from three years ago:

    Physicians report Bush in 'unbelievable' condition
        President Bush, a 56-year-old fitness fanatic, is so competitive that his excellent health report last year evidently wasn't good enough. Bush, whose condition ranked him in the top 2% for men older than 45 last year, made it to the top 1% this year.
         Results of his annual physical exam Tuesday showed that his aerobic capacity, cardiovascular fitness, heartbeat rate, cholesterol levels, body fat and blood pressure readings are all better than average. Some hit "superior" ratings. Source

    And that was before a 28 day vacation.

    Likening this President's problems to an eating disorder puts Dubya's tantrums, depression and use of pharmaceuticals in a new light. Not the result of living the spoiled frat boy/country club life, but rather an outcome of an inability to live up to the impossible, conflicting expectations of his political "parents": greedy neocons and Puritan fundamentalists. Unable to measure up where policymaking is concerned, he focuses on the one thing he can control: his body.

    Could it be that when Dubya choked on the pretzel, it was on its way up?

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    Posted October 7, 2005
    The post with Marion Zioncheck (Friday Roundup)

    Yesterday's New York subway threat alert: What was interesting was the lack of mention  in the initial reports of federal intelligence sources in uncovering the threat. Only later did the DHS come in, but only to differ with New York on how specific the threat was. Strange, DHS didn't seem to have a problem hitting the NYC panic button when there was a Democratic Convention to distract from—even when it meant blowing an actual ongoing investigation (Aug. 4 & 9). Where is the payoff from the vaunted consolidation of U.S. intelligence under John Negroponte? Instead, credit goes to local authorities. Send your kudos to the dedicated professionals at NYPD Intelligence.

    Update: Arrests contradict DHS doubts. Prediction: "It was all part of our clever plan," Chertoff said. Meanwhile, Congress plans to slash first-responder funding for 2006.

    Post-speech scorecard:

    President Bush on Thursday [said] the United States and its allies have disrupted at least 10 Al Qaeda terrorist plots against the West... But several senior law enforcement officials... said that authorities had not disrupted any operational terrorist plot within the United States since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. L.A. Times, 10/7/2005

    Their people will call his people. While he's awaiting trial, Karl Rove can pick up some spare change as the new TV & print celebrity spokesman for Target.

    We paid to develop it, but why should the USA still have final say over the World Wide Web? In light of many countries relying so heavily on the Internet for information, commerce and tax revenues, a new European-led initiative on managing the Internet only makes sense:

    in June [the US Department of Commerce] stated... it would retain indefinite control of the internet's foundation - its "root servers", which act as the basic directory for the whole internet.
         A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused. ...the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.
         Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the "historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the internet.
         But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control.
    ...
    Nitin Desai, the UN's special adviser on internet governance [said] "There is clearly an acceptance here that governments are not concerned with the technical and operational management of the internet. Standards are set by the users." Source

    Even the Finns are interested in developing small-vehicle personal mass transit.

    The new cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil comes with an interesting dilemma for our friends in the theocracy party. It must be given to young people before they become sexually active. Are they going to be more anti-cancer (which would also be pro-life), or more in denial about premarital sex? Or maybe they'll withhold the drug and find comfort in the CDC report that increasing numbers of teens are already avoiding the cervix.

    Another generation discovers Zioncheck. Former Stranger writer Phil Campbell has a new book about his days managing Grant Cogswell's unsuccessful 2001 city council campaign. Campbell interweaves Cogswell's story with that of idealistic Depression-era US Representative Marion Zioncheck, a Polish immigrant who became a lawyer and left-wing Democrat working for the common people.

    I discovered Zioncheck back in the early 80s while doing some busywork research on the history of the state congressional delegations for then-Seventh District Rep. Mike Lowry. Buried under the layers of information on the Rosellinis, Jacksons, Magnusons, Bones, Mitchells, et al was Zioncheck, a congressman from 1932-36 who I had never heard of. Here's his bio at HistoryLink. I looked up all the articles on him I could find—this was on microfilm rolls, mind you—and I was hooked. He wrote moving, worshipful things about how privileged he felt to be an American, about the natural beauty of the Northwest, of his hopes for working people.

    The media, however, was fascinated (can you imagine???) with his drinking, driving fast, carousing and womanizing. A sort-of famous incident had him and his new wife in New York, about to depart on a honeymoon cruise, the town's yellow journalists gleefully snapped the couple's picture as they scandalously splashed—shades of "La Dolce Vita"—in a fountain. There was also an amusing story of the time when Zioncheck (who exhibited all the signs of manic depression) appeared at the White House, drunk, wanting to wish FDR a Merry Christmas. Later Zioncheck checked himself into a sanitarium for observation—and then escaped over the wall while giving a statement to reporters.

    It all ended when Zioncheck took a header out his office window at the Arctic Building. There's a macabre newspaper photo somewhere of the front of the building, a large arrow tracing his downward trajectory. There was a rumor, never confirmed, that he jumped just after having been paid a visit by Magnuson, at the time the County Prosecutor .

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    Posted October 6, 2005
    Tso now what?

    A message for the people at NOWWHAT.COM:  I don't know who you are or what you're selling but, speaking as a member of the bicycling community, when I pull up to a City-owned bike rack I expect to find space to lock-up my bike, not your lame marketing gimmicks cluttering things up. I mean, come on—I didn't even buy the premise. A 16-inch trailer wheel? A flimsy cable lock like that? Attached to a corporate logo? Why didn't they steal that too was my second thought, which came right after That's annoyingly suspicious. Thank you for finding a way to commercialize litter and abandoned property, thank you - so - bloody - much. Anyway, a pox on you, your gross revenue, your descendants, and the gross revenue of your descendants for all time.

    New indictments rumor comes with its own distraction.

    Seeds on the march. So, basically, after four years of brilliant leadership which has led to a mission accomplished and a remarkable success story in Iraq, with peace, rebuilding, women in birkas, and one or possibly three battalions of Iraqis ready to defend their land, Bush came before the American people this morning to proclaim perpetual war. And to do it President Freddy Kreuger did his best to scare the hell out of as many people as possible, with talk of

    "global borderless terrorist organizations,"
    "other militants are found in regional groups,"
    "local cells,"
    "Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches,"
    "they have endless ambitions of imperial domination"
    "Iraq as the central front in our war on terror"
    "radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia"
    "other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot,"

    Never mind that the enemy has been strengthened through Bush's own bungling, just watch for a 3-5% bounce in his approval rating this weekend. But the big lie is still at the heart of the failed policy:

    "I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, and Al Qaida attacked us anyway,"

    as though Al Qaida was in Iraq. And he didn't once mention the elephants in the room: oil and Halliburton.

    Dissent? That's a symptom of Avian Bird Flu; we can expect Dubya to appoint General Tso and Colonel Sanders to a Presidential Commission that will coordinate the military quarantines. That coincidentally on purpose will center on primarily Democratic counties of Florida, Ohio, New York, California, Illinois, and the Puget Sound. So what if the experts say it's the birds, and not people, that are supposed to be quarantined; smart people don't know everything. Remember, this is the most brilliant man Harriet Miers has ever met.

    We can only hope that Bush moves slower than Ronnie Earle, Patrick Fitzgerald, the DeLay/Abramoff investigation, and the 2006 electoral cycle.

    Bush speech: "unprecedented detail" = few hard facts

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    Posted October 5, 2005
    Live! with Al & Kathy Lee

    Al Franken is coming back to Seattle for another live broadcast of his Air America Radio morning show. Well, "live" and "morning" in other parts of the country, because KPTK now delays Franken to afternoons. So Al will be able to do the show, have a long lunch, and then go back to the hotel and listen to himself on the air.

    This is how Seattle does liberal talk radio: a station signs up as an AAR affiliate, but then bumps the network's biggest shows out of their time slots in favor of non-network programming (Stephanie Miller's morning zoo and Ed Schultz, which more and more is becoming a sports-talk show). Make Marc & Mark fans wake up at 3 am. And cap it all off by airing Randi Rhodes, increasingly the best and angriest issue-driven program, on tape delay from 6 to 10 pm when everyone's having dinner and watching TV. Thank god for streaming audio.

    With Kathryn Lanpher's departure from the program, it will be a big challenge to find another co-host who can handle Al's outbursts of cranky outrage with such aplomb. Who's available? Maybe Sue Ellicott would come back, now that the network is on firmer financial footing. Or they could go the opposite way—does Paris Hilton need a gig? Jessica Simpson? "Right wing politicians? I didn't know politicians had wings!"

    Hey, what about Arianna? Al and the Greek Goddess were always entertaining in their old Strange Bedfellows routine. Okay, I've sold myself on it. Let the Draft Arianna campaign start now.


    Mr_Blog is brought to you today by Sound Transit.

    "My daily commute was impossible. The drive to the office put me in a bad mood all day. And the drive home made me want to burn the dog and kick dinner. But that was before I discovered Sound Transit. With its Express Bus service, Sounder commuter trains and Tacoma Link light rail, there are all sorts of alternatives to congestion! Now after work I get on a Sound Transit Express bus, sit back and enjoy the ride. Before I know it, I'm at the park & ride. Then it's just a relaxing 45 minute drive home!"

    Sound Transit. Ride the wave!


    Comin' Off the Sidebar. I've been looking for ways to drive more traffic to Mr_Blog, so you may have noticed the changes to Search & Rings at right. It's an interesting process, looking up possible index sites and navigating the registration process. What I've found so far is that I like the ones that list me without actually having to mess around with registering, such as NW Progressive's PNW Portal. Also good are fast-response pages like Seablogs;

    I guess my preference is settling on geography-based indexes. I really don't have time for sites that merely list a blog, but provide no way to search feed content—exactly what service are they providing that any search engine doesn't?

    Ah hahahahaha. Those who had hoped to reap the South Lake Union Trolley's gentrifying whirlwind are now shocked, shocked they are, at their portions of the price tag for the 30-35 riders-per-hour frill ride. Excuse me, but the $25 million local portion has been known for months. Do they think a little well-placed outrage will shift even more of the burden onto us taxpayers?

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    Posted October 4, 2005
    It was either that, or
    Lex Luthor Takes Over

    Jeff Gannon seems to have landed on his feet. His picture currently adorns the web page of King County Emergency Services- Hold on just a sec, according to the site it's not Gannon, but someone named Eric Holdeman. But there is a link to a Seattle P-I op-ed, in which 'Holdeman' writes about his 'big one.'

    But seriously. Few people may know that in the state of Washington, emergency management is under what is known as the Military Department. My day job gave me reason to visit their web site recently, and if you do too, I advise you avoid the Site Map. About 90% of the links I tried are Dead—just like we're going to be if the big earthquake hits Blue King County (65% Kerry) before Dubya and Cheney get impeached.

    Avian flu, war protesters... whatever. Dubya kicked off the scary Halloween season this morning:

    In a wide-ranging news conference, Bush said he was considering whether the U.S. military should be used to help quarantine part of the country in the event of a pandemic of Avian bird flu. "I'm not predicting an outbreak," he said. "I'm just suggesting to you that we need to be thinking about it."
          Then Bush mused out loud: "...who is best to effect a quarantine?" the president asked. Then he answered: "One option is to use the military." Source: AP 10/4|0845 PDT

    Can't you almost see him rubbing his hands together?

    Resmuglican chairman Ken Mehlman:

    yesterday held a conference call with conservative leaders to address their concerns about [Harriet] Miers. He stressed Bush's close relationship with Miers and the need to confirm a justice who will not interfere with the administration's management of the war on terrorism Source

    What is the Seattle Monorail Project's latest strategy for dealing with its financial and political problems? Take on yet another contractor, this time a PR firm, PRR Inc.. Who knew monorails have spin problems? Maybe they need to install some gyroscopes...

    Eek An Apologist. Finally, one observes the Seattle Times' Eric Devericks has drawn Dr. Ev- Tom DeLay as a cute, harmless, itty bitty little mouse. Is Devericks saying the $190,000 was in cheese?

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    Posted October 3, 2005
    Seattle Night Time begins (Oct. 3-Apr. 17)
    Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head

    "The group who spoke here the other day did not represent the American ideals of freedom, liberty and spreading that around the world. I frankly don't know what they represent, other than blaming America first."
    Sen. Jeff Sessions, (R-Alabama)

    Un-American Things I Did Last Week:


    • Animal abuse: Petted and fed cat; re-filled bird feeder.
    • Drug use: Double espressos.
    • Attacked the oil industry: Rode bike.
    • Lazy: Rode bike to work.
    • Typical clueless liberal: Sought support for charities.
    • Undermined democracy: Read news on the Internets.
    • Played the Blame Game: Blogged.
    • Taxed & Spent: Ate lunch in a cafe (9.3% sales tax); FICA.
    • Added to Big Government: Used e-mail instead of Postal Service.
    • Hypocrite: receive DVDs in U.S. Mail from NetFlix.


    I'm ready for my closeup, Sen. Specter
    So Harriet Miers has been nominated to the Court. What makes interesting fodder for speculation is Nina Totenberg's explanation of Miers's role as Dubya's Staff Secretary: to review all the documents crossing the President's desk. Some notes for Leahy, Kennedy and Biden:

    :: "Ms. Miers, did you see Executive Order 13303, granting immunity to any American who might do something illegal in connection with Iraqi oil? Did you have any reaction to that?"
    :: "Ms. Miers, did you see the Aug. 6, 2001 President Daily Briefing, "Osama bin Laden determined to strike in U.S."? What did you think about that at the time?
    :: "Ms. Miers, did you see any memos relating to the legal status of enemy combatants? Permissable interrogation techniques? Did you seek any explanations?"
    :: "Ms. Miers, did you see the State Department memo identifying Valerie Plame as a CIA operative? Did you tell anyone?"

    Greg Nickels is in hot water with the Ethics & Elections Commission over a February mailing touting his accomplishments. While I've found Nickels to be a huge disappointment as Mayor, I have to take his side in this ethics investigation. That was six months before the primary, and being an unabashed publicity hound is not illegal.

    Blarchives: Stop the spam
    Heart Of Glass
    Mayor Has Gas Worries
    (June 13)
    'Nickels to make Seattle greener'
    (June 7)

    23:5 I'm not really big on these meme things, but one I picked up at Nightcap With Jyl is interesting. Give it a try:


    1. Go into your blog's archive.
    2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
    3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
    4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

    "It reflects some of the things
    I believe in as a Democrat with
    Green sympathies."
    Blarchive, 4/16/2004

    What are buses, chopped liver? The SMP's Cindi Laws says,

    "It's now or never... Vote yes, or don't have transit at all in your lifetime." Source

    Metro transit drivers must really appreciate the sentiment.

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