Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Get A Grip

Back in 1970 I voted against the proposed subway, because it was 'a conspiracy to benefit the rich' etc etc. Of course, in those days the Highway Department had quite literally and illegally conspired against the citizens to build freeways, city departments and unions conspired to give the shoreline away to businessmen, and, in violation of the Shoreline Management Act, Roanoke Reef was under construction with permits illegally issued by the Building Department.

As the years passed and government was cleaned up, conspiracy theories became more a general misguided do-goodism, occasionally whipped to a froth by demagogues like John Fox. The Sierra Club opposed rail transit because "it would encourage sprawl", and citizens voted a height limit on buildings for reasons I never understood.

Eventually the reaction to non-existent conspiracies reached a nadir when Seattle hipsters were led around by the ring in their nose by the unholy trinity of John Fox, a used car dealer, and a suburban chain of free 'alternate' newspapers opposing the Seattle Commons proposal. Every nattering nabob of negativity climbed on board to defeat the evil proposal to build a park, but the only Seattle institution saved by their opposition was the civic fear of conspiracies.

That this civic fear is alive and well was illustrated recently by several blogposts suggesting Gregoire had wickedly promised improved bus service and was now reneging, and in the most recent form, by a post at Seattle Transit Blog suggesting that a central waterfront park in Seattle could be too big.

In the case of Gregoire and the buses, let's remember that Ron Sims promised Gregoire that King County would supply bus transit for commuters to downtown, and, depending on that promise, Gregoire announced a downscaled effort by the state to provide capacity for traffic bypassing downtown. Now Sims is off to the other Washington, to spread his pro-bus-anti-rail agenda, and Gregoire is left to deal with Frank Chopp and his merry band.

It hardly seems any more realistic to imagine a waterfront park that is "too large" in an area that even a wheezing asthmatic can traverse on foot in about three minutes. But this is hardly the last dark foreboding that will emerge in the Seattle Process, and commenting on them often bears more resemblance to a game of whack-a-mole than reasoned discourse. Informed observers will have noted that John Fox is back, now fighting increased density around rail transit stations, as part of his tireless but ineffective demagoguery for low-income housing.

Enough already! The next time you feel like they're all out to get you, grab some old issues of the Helix and find out what real conspiracies look like. Conspiracies? We had 'em. But now, not so much.

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