NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Tim Eyman reveals that his old buddy Kemper Freeman Jr. is bankrolling I-1125

When Tim Eyman announced a few weeks ago that he would be attempting to qualify a measure for this year’s ballot, we were immediately sure that he had convinced somebody to put up a lot of cash to hire mercenary petitioners (because Tim doesn’t do volunteer signature drives). On May 1st, I wrote the following:

As for Eyman’s initiative, I-1125, it’s dead on arrival unless Eyman has found a wealthy benefactor to fund it. Maybe his buddy Kemper Freeman, Jr. agreed to give him half a million bucks. Or maybe Michael Dunmire has agreed to resume filling Eyman’s coffers with cash. We’ll know soon enough.

As it turns out, NPI was correct on every single count.

A few weeks ago, we learned that Eyman’s old sugar daddy Michael Dunmire had made a $100,000 contribution to Eyman’s personal compensation fund (Help Us Help Taxpayers). Eyman subsequently transferred this money to his campaign committee (Voters Want More Choices).

Now, Dunmire’s contribution may have been made to help Eyman reduce his debt (Dunmire previously wrote checks to cancel out Eyman’s loans for I-985 and I-1033) but it’s possible Eyman temporarily used the money to jumpstart the I-1125 signature drive. If that’s the case, then Dunmire’s money has been indirectly propping up I-1125, even if it was intended to erase some of the I-1053 debt.

Today, we learned that the real bankroll for I-1125 is Eyman’s other buddy, the guy who owns the Bellevue Collection and has been doing everything he can to destroy Sound Transit’s East Link project: Kemper Freeman Jr.

Hours ago, Eyman purposely preempted his own treasurer’s report for May to the PDC and announced that Kemper recently made a donation of – and no, I’m not jokinghalf a million bucks to the I-1125 effort.

So that analysis from May 1st was really spot on.

And just to be clear, we didn’t know who was behind I-1125 (or what the amounts of the checks that had been written were) before I wrote that post. (It’s not like Tim Eyman ever calls us to fill us in on what he’s up to).

It was simply an educated guess, based on years and years of experience. NPI’s Permanent Defense has been watchdogging Eyman for years.

When he makes an announcement, we’re pretty good at interpreting and parsing the meaning. We took the unveiling of I-1125 to mean that Eyman had found somebody to fund a signature drive. We were correct.

Today’s news destroys any last bit of doubt people might have had about I-1125 making the ballot. We’ve known for some time that the signature drive is happening and that Eyman had the cash lined up to make it successful.

So, once again, we’ll have a Tim Eyman initiative to work against this autumn. Having to deal with these schemes is getting pretty old.

And unfortunately, there’s no end in sight. As long as Tim Eyman can pay to play, and as long as he has friends with deep pockets, he’ll have something on the ballot. Year after year after year. Not since the 1990s has there been a spring when Tim Eyman wasn’t trying to qualify an initiative for the November ballot.

That’s how long he has been in business.

It’s time the progressive movement in this state discarded the pretense that he will someday go away, and started putting into place meaningful infrastructure to combat his destructive initiatives. What we do through Permanent Defense is important, but it’s not enough. PD is only meant to be a first line of defense.

Our common wealth and our plan of government will always be threatened as long as Tim Eyman’s initiative factory is running. We need to make stopping Tim’s initiatives a top priority that we think about and work towards year-round.

Adjacent posts

5 Comments

  1. Good morning: You call yourselves the NW Progressive Institute. I also call myself a Progressive. The dictionary definition for progressive means “favoring progress or reform.” There is no partisan meaning of the word.

    Supporting light rail is by definition a regressive policy. The private automobile replaced public transit 100 years ago. By supporting mass transit, you are by definition regressives.

    That is why I no longer vote Democrat. Like Kemper Freeman, I favor progress in regional transportation. We need more freeway lanes in order to increase vehicle speeds. This increases gas mileage and decreases our dependence on foreign oil. It also saves commuters hours of time each week, when we could be working or spending time with their families.

    Therefore, by definition anyone like myself who favors increasing our freeway lanes, and using gas taxes exclusively for this purpose, is progressive. Anyone who favors not building more lanes, or even removing them and replacing them with 19th century trains is regressive, by the dictionary definition.

    I think it is time for a progressive party (encompassing folks who think like myself), to compete with the Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, and Tea parties, neither of whom I would ever give a dime to.

    Whenever I am stuck in traffic, I look to the side of the freeway to see how many new lanes could be built. I’ve done this my entire life. That’s because I favor progress. That’s because I’m a progressive.

    Light rail will only reduce vehicle trips by 5%, as estimated by the Puget Sound Regional Council and Vision 2040. In contrast, just 6% more vehicle lanes will decrease congestion by 36%. You can read more about this from the engineering studies of Dr. William Eager and others.

    I have posted some of these along with Kemper Freeman’s video on my web page. These traffic studies are from experienced Civil Engineers, not urban planners. They will play a key role in the I-1125 election this fall.

    You may review and let me know if you agree that building more freeway lanes, and decreasing time stuck in traffic, is a progressive idea. You may let me know if you think that light rail is a regressive idea, since as Kemper and Dr. Eager explain, it will do nothing to solve congestion. The evidence is clear that Gridlock will get significantly worse with mass transit, and get 36% better with only 6% more freeway lanes.

    # by Tom Lane :: June 11th, 2011 at 6:05 AM
    • Hi Tom… Thanks for stopping by. Your comment is one of the more entertaining I’ve read in a long time, because you sound exactly like a libertarian, but here, you are calling yourself a progressive – and suggesting that we are not. That would make about as much sense as if any of us went to a right wing website and left a comment claiming to be a real conservative.

      On your own website – which you linked to and encouraged other readers to visit – you actually admit that you are neither conservative nor progressive because you share both worldviews:

      I am an Independent, and generally conservative and “Neoliberal” on economic issues, and very liberal on social issues (i.e. I value ethnic diversity, religious freedom, womens’ rights, gay rights, and national health care). I am also an environmentalist, favoring private organizations that purchase land for purposes of building hiking and mountain bike trails. I have very little in common with today’s Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians.

      You say you are not a libertarian – and maybe you don’t identify as one – but libertarians hold conservative views on economic issues and liberal positions on social issues. It’s that mixture of views that makes libertarianism its own distinct ideology.

      Progressives strongly support mass transit because mass transit gives people a choice, a way to get around without a car. As George Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute stated in Thinking Points, we believe that everybody should have access to transit, so they are not forced to drive to get to where they want to go:

      Transit for all means expanding and improving public transportation at the local, regional, and federal levels. It means investing in bus and light rail in urban areas to create clean, convenient, reliable, and accessible webs of transportation. It means investing in high speed rail, to move people, goods, and services from city to city. Moving within urban cores and connecting urban and suburban hubs, these webs would extend to all auto-dense areas.

      Transit for all is about values. Improving public transportation is about giving all Americans the freedom of equal access to social and economic opportunities that enhance our quality of life. Investing in alternative transportation is using the common wealth for the common good. It is an expansion of freedom, creating more diverse transportation.

      Cities and regions that dismantled their public transit systems decades ago at the behest of car and oil companies have come to the realization that they made a very costly mistake. If they had kept their streetcars, as San Francisco did, they wouldn’t need to be spending so much money now to lay rail.

      I’m not sure how much commuting you do during rush hour, Tom, but if you’ve tried to get around this region in a car during rush hour, you have undoubtedly noticed that you can’t get anywhere fast.

      That’s because so many people are driving at the same time. Because our transit system isn’t as good as it should be, many people have no other way to get to and from work except by car. So they drive. And the result is gridlock. Too many people trying to get somewhere at the same time.

      Building more lanes on our highways will only make congestion worse. As the authors of Suburban Nation explain:

      The simple truth is that building more highways and widening existing roads, almost always motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing to reduce traffic. In the long run, in fact, it increases traffic. This revelation is so counterintuitive that it bears repeating: adding lanes makes traffic worse.

      This paradox was suspected as early as 1942 by Robert Moses, who noticed that the highways he had built around New York City in 1939 were somehow generating greater traffic problems than had existed previously.

      Since then, the phenomenon has been well documented, most notably in 1989, when the Southern California Association of Governments concluded that traffic assistance measures, be they adding lanes, or even double-decking the roadways, would have no more than a cosmetic effect on Los Angeles’ traffic problems. The best it could offer was to tell people to work closer to home, which is precisely what highway building mitigates against.

      Furthermore:

      The mechanism at work behind induced traffic is elegantly explained by an aphorism gaining popularity among traffic engineers: “Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt.” Increased traffic capacity makes longer commutes less burdensome, and as a result, people are willing to live farther and farther from their workplace.

      Building more lanes is thus a complete waste of money. It will make congestion worse, not better.

      The only way to effectively reduce congestion is to give people options so they are not forced to drive. Fewer solo drivers means less gridlock. This is what light rail is all about: Giving people a choice.

      When University Link is completed in 2016, it will be possible to go from downtown to the University District in just a few minutes, no matter what the weather or traffic is like. I-5 could be completely and hopelessly gridlocked, and still, somebody taking Link light rail will be able to go from Westlake Center to Husky Stadium in less than ten minutes.

      People will leave their cars behind and happily choose rail transit if it takes them where they want to go. Many solo drivers say they would use light rail if it only served their community. When we expand Link, it will serve more communities, and more people will be able to ride it. I am looking forward to the day when I can step onto the train and be in Seattle in less than a half hour.

      The statistics that you offered in your comment are worthless because they don’t reflect reality. We know that building more lanes will not make congestion better, because it’s been tried in places like Atlanta and Los Angeles.

      Progressives believe strongly that people should have choices. Spending money only on highways and forcing people to drive is not the American way. We owe it to ourselves to invest in more mass transit.

      # by Andrew :: June 11th, 2011 at 11:52 AM
  2. Hi Andrew … Thanks for your comments … You wrote:

    “Hi Tom… Your comment is one of the more entertaining I’ve read in a long time, because you sound exactly like a libertarian, but here, you are calling yourself a progressive – and suggesting that we are not.”

    Indeed, 90% of what you find on the net critical of “smart growth” and “light rail” is from Libertarians and Republicans. However, I am an Independent with progressive viewpoints, and not a Libertarian, since I favor national health care, stronger anti-pollution regulations, and tax credits for electric cars and passive solar, etc. etc.

    However, I am NOT suggesting that you are NOT a progressive. You and I probably agree on more that we disagree, since we are both progressives. Yet on light rail, we just disagree over whether or not building more freeway lanes is a “progressive” concept or not.

    Moving beyond these definitions, you continue:

    “Progressives strongly support mass transit because mass transit gives people a choice, a way to get around without a car.”

    I’m all for building several transportation networks at the same time, and giving people a choice. However, in contrast to you, I also favor more freeway lanes. And, it’s clear from the Puget Sound Regional Council that light rail is not cost effective, since it will only take 5% of all trips by 2040. So, instead of light rail, I’d love to see more buses, along with bus rapid transit, bike lanes, and gravel bike paths.

    Therefore, light rail is not the only option. It has been given too much attention by the media, whereas these other methods have not been well publicized.

    And regarding regional gridlock, you write:

    “Building more lanes on our highways will only make congestion worse.”

    According to Dr. William Eager PhD – civil engineer – a 6% increase in freeway lanes will DECREASE congestion by 36% (from the link above). He’s the engineer, so I trust his numbers.

    You wrote:

    “The simple truth is that building more highways and widening existing roads, almost always motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing to reduce traffic. In the long run, in fact, it increases traffic. This revelation is so counterintuitive that it bears repeating: adding lanes makes traffic worse.”

    How can adding more lanes make traffic worse, when you are increasing the ratio of pavement, to the total footprint of all the cars on the road?

    “This paradox was suspected as early as 1942 by Robert Moses, who noticed that the highways he had built around New York City in 1939 were somehow generating greater traffic problems than had existed previously.”

    Do you have a reference for this? and also this?

    “Since then, the phenomenon has been well documented, most notably in 1989, when the Southern California Association of Governments concluded that traffic assistance measures, be they adding lanes, or even double-decking the roadways, would have no more than a cosmetic effect…..”

    Furthermore:

    “When University Link is completed in 2016, it will be possible to go from downtown to the University District in just a few minutes, no matter what the weather or traffic is like. I-5 could be completely and hopelessly gridlocked, and still, somebody taking Link light rail will be able to go from Westlake Center to Husky Stadium in less than ten minutes.”

    Yes indeed, note that Dr. Eager’s plan calls for two more lanes in each direction on I-5, from Lakewood to near Everett.

    “People will leave their cars behind and happily choose rail transit if it takes them where they want to go. Many solo drivers say they would use light rail if it only served their community. When we expand Link, it will serve more communities, and more people will be able to ride it.”

    The problem is low population density at about 2500 persons per square mile in the Puget Sound area. There are not enough people concentrated near light rail lines. The puget sound regional council says that just 5% of all trips will be completed by light rail in 2040.

    “I am looking forward to the day when I can step onto the train and be in Seattle in less than a half hour.”

    And, I would look forward to the same time frame, but instead, by way of either bus rapid transit, or the personal automobile.

    “The statistics that you offered in your comment are worthless because they don’t reflect reality.”

    Well, actually the stats that I offered are from Dr. William Eager PhD who is an internationally famous traffic engineer and educator.

    “We know that building more lanes will not make congestion better, because it’s been tried in places like Atlanta and Los Angeles.”

    Here’s a 2008 example where it worked, SR-67 parallel to I-15 north of Salt Lake City, the Legacy Highway, where congestion on I-15 was reduced by 20% due to the new parallel arterial.

    “Progressives believe strongly that people should have choices. Spending money only on highways and forcing people to drive is not the American way. We owe it to ourselves to invest in more mass transit.”

    I could not agree more with giving people more choices. I do not feel that light rail is cost effective. Other choices are much cheaper and can carry more people – such as more frequent bus routes, bus rapid transit, and more freeway lanes.

    In terms of air pollution and peak oil, I favor natural gas vehicles, doubling of gas mileage standards, and tax credits for electric cars. Therefore, given my advocacy of government intervention into fuel sources, I am far from being a Libertarian.

    As Bob Brinker repeatedly says, we are importing 12 billion barrels a day from countries who don’t like us and want to blow up Israel. We need to become energy independent.

    # by Tom Lane :: June 12th, 2011 at 1:58 AM
    • When discussing our road system, we prefer the term highway rather than freeway. Freeway implies that highways are free to use – and that is simply not true. Road maintenance alone requires a huge amount of money. The more pavement we put down, the bigger our road maintenance budgets have to be.

      The Puget Sound Regional Council has never said that building light rail is not cost effective. In its own Transportation 2040 plan, the PRSC endorses Link light rail, and calls for the implementation of “an aggressive transit strategy”. Here are the PSRC’s stated goals, as outlined in the executive summary:

      Complete Sound Transit 2 projects and additional Link light rail extensions to Everett, Tacoma and Redmond. Increase local transit service by more than 100 percent in peak periods and over 80 percent in the off-peak, while achieving operational efficiencies to reduce costs. Additional local transit service should be added to keep up with increasing population and job growth if it can be financed through operational efficiencies and tax base growth to offset increases in arterial delay. Provide additional all-day service with high frequencies (generally every 15 minutes).

      If you’re familiar with the details of the voter-approved Sound Transit 2 plan, then you know it includes money for expanded bus and commuter rail service along with funding for extending Link light rail.

      I have followed media coverage of Sound Transit for a long time. The media has given plenty of exposure to Sound Transit critics, especially light rail opponents. The reason light rail is in the media so much is precisely because light rail opponents continue to try to stop Sound Transit from building the system the voters approved. They’re trying to create controversy where there shouldn’t be any.

      You have put a lot of faith into the numbers of one person. I trust the conclusions reached by the broader engineering community about induced traffic.

      As I explained, the reason that adding lanes makes traffic worse is that it encourages more people to drive. It encourages people to make more trips. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the authors of Suburban Nation phrase it:

      The question is not how many lanes must be built to ease congestion but how many lanes of congestion you want. Do you favor four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour, or sixteen?

      The condition is best explained by what specialists call latent demand. Since the real constraint on driving is traffic, not cost, people are always ready to make more trips when the traffic goes away. The number of latent trips is huge – perhaps thirty percent of existing traffic. Because of latent demand, adding lanes is futile, since drivers are already poised to use them up.

      They add:

      While the befuddling fact of induced traffic is well understood by sophisticated traffic engineers, it might as well be a secret, so poorly has it been disseminated. The computer models that transportation consultants use to not even consider it, and most local public works directors have never heard of it. As a result, from Maine to Hawaii, city, county, and even state engineering departments continue to build more roadways in anticipation of increased traffic, and, in so doing, create that traffic. The most irksome aspect of this situation is that these road-builders are never proved wrong; in fact, they are always proved right: “You see,” they say, “I told you that traffic was coming.”

      These excerpts are from The American Transportation Mess, Chapter Five of Suburban Nation (The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream), pages ninety and ninety-one.

      For more on the impact of Robert Moses’ highway projects, I would recommend reading Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and The Power Broker by Robert Caro.

      For more on the fruitlessness of adding lanes in California, read “39 Million People Work, Live Outside City Centers” by Carol Jouzatis. This was published in USA Today on November 4th, 1997.

      Finally, about the “percentage of trips” metric that you keep using. As I said previously, it’s worthless. I’ll let two pro-transit conservatives, the late Paul Weyrich and Bill Lind, explain:

      [S]ense and experience, those two great conservative tests, tell us transit is important. The statistics that count total trips, even total urban commuting trips, tell us it isn’t. What gives?

      What has to give is the unit of measurement. The seeming contradiction stems from the fact that counting total trips (or total commuting trips) does not effectively measure the present impact or potential of public transit. The anti-transit studies are applying the wrong yardstick. They are, in effect, trying to measure flour with a ruler, or count inches with a spoon. Their numbers are correct, but the meaning they draw from them isn’t. To measure transit’s current worth or future potential, we need a different measurement.

      They go on to say:

      A measurement that allows us to calculate better the importance of transit – present and potential – is transit competitive trips. We need to ask not what percentage of total trips transit carries, but what percentage it carries of trips for which it can compete. Measuring transit by counting trips it cannot compete for is like asking how much orange juice you can get from a bushel of apples. More precisely, counting total trips is measuring how much orange juice you can get from a bushel of mixed fruit, only a portion of which is oranges. The fraction will always be small, but the problem is the question, not the answer.

      So there you have it. I might add that not all trips that drivers make today are essential trips. For instance, somebody that chooses to go out on errands several times during the day instead of combining their errands is choosing to take more trips, and spend more time out on the road competing for space with other vehicles.

      In terms of measuring spending on transportation projects (to determine cost effectiveness) the correct measurement for cost comparison is revenue passenger miles. This is what planners use to properly compare modes of transportation (train/automobile/airplane) against one another.

      Research has shown that people who will not leave their cars at home to take the bus can be persuaded to do so if train service is available. This is one reason why it makes so much sense to build light rail. It really gets people out of their cars. In cities like St. Louis, many people who ride the train own automobiles and have a choice in how they get to work, whereas a large percentage of bus riders are transit-dependent.

      Since light rail gets people out of their cars, it does not cannibalize bus traffic as light rail critics claim. And it greatly alleviates congestion, by providing a reliable alternative to driving. Those who continue to drive see the benefits, too, because there are fewer solo drivers competing with them for space.

      This region has made a commitment to light rail. Light rail is a wise investment that we simply must make. The debate over whether we build a rail backbone for this region needs to be over. I-1125 is an ill-conceived initiative that seeks to overturn the will of the people by sneakily interfering with the state’s plans to transfer part of the Homer M. Hadley Bridge to Sound Transit. I-1125 should be rejected.

      # by Andrew :: June 13th, 2011 at 4:39 PM
  3. First, I would like to state that I appreciate both of your well informed comments, and an educated argument is one that I can not only listen to, but respect. I have been living in Phoenix for the past four years, and the typical argument for or against transit and/or more freeway lanes is “you suck” and “you’re dumb.” So, it just makes me long for the Puget Sound area even more.

    Tom – You note that the general population density in Puget Sound is 2500 persons per square mile, which is pathetic even by American standards. That is taking into account the region as a whole. When you look at this map http://tiny.cc/mhew3 you’ll notice that the area has done a particularly exceptional job at focusing high density growth in strategic locations (downtown, West Seattle, and key areas around freeways.

    All data below from: http://tinyurl.com/3ohwzu
    For a better idea of the Seattle density, the Seattle Metro Area ranks 746th on population density worldwide with 2,800 persons per square mile while ranking 25th in land consumption. To be fair, a large amount of the included land consumption area is farm and forest land. Meanwhile, since 1950 the suburban growth of the city has increased by approximately 3+ million people while the central city has grown only about 100,000 (http://tinyurl.com/3nvp7t8).

    What you run into is the level of VMT is increasing exponentially compared to the amount of freeway lanes being introduced into urban areas. The FHA also recommends traffic management as an effective way to increase freeway capacity rather than building new freeways. (http://tinyurl.com/3dpvx4z). This runs into a problem with two of your statements:

    “Light rail will only reduce vehicle trips by 5%, as estimated by the Puget Sound Regional Council and Vision 2040. In contrast, just 6% more vehicle lanes will decrease congestion by 36%. You can read more about this from the engineering studies of Dr. William Eager and others.

    The Livable Region also conducted a study in Vancouver when an additional lane was added to a bottleneck corridor (a bridge) where it showed increased traffic. (http://tinyurl.com/3ju7dvn).

    So what do we do about this? LRT? BRT? While I agree completely with the principles espoused by that increasing freeway lanes will increase congestion, what I am most concerned about with the construction of more freeway lanes is it will lead to further sprawl. The sprawl of US cities is a direct cause of the freeway revolution, and reduces the effectiveness of public transportation. That which you personally advocate, public transportation relies on density to make it financially feasible. What you see is in cities like Chicago and New York where density is intense and public transportation is a preferred alternative to the gridlock of the local streets and freeways, is that the farebox recovery ratio is higher (http://tinyurl.com/42778mc and http://tinyurl.com/3n7zyxa) compared to those of sprawling environments such as Puget Sound and Portland (http://tinyurl.com/6xgnl5n and http://tinyurl.com/3jnrb47).

    In summary, the real crime is that freeway expansion encourages sprawl. The LRT system is not a perfect system, and I see it as a form of regression as well, but rather than regression to a negative, it is more of a regression to the mean. What I mean by that is the current trajectory is unsustainable and LRT is a currently available and accepted form of transportation that encourages higher density growth en route to higher capacity transit alternatives.

    Just for fun, check out this link (I know I’ve posted a lot of them – this is the most important): http://tinyurl.com/3rqy4cl. What it shows is the housing plus transportation affordability index of the Puget Sound region. What you’ll notice is that freeway expansion has increased the housing affordability throughout the region, but has increased transportation costs that exceed the recommended H+T costs in more areas. You’ll notice that locations closer in which boast higher housing costs than those outside public transportation options overall cost less on average than locations that are vehicle dependent. What High Capacity Transit does is encourages intense, high-density development. Freeways have done nothing but encourage low-density growth which will only increase living expenses. This doesn’t need a link.

    Imagine a house/apartment located nearby a HCT line around Tukwila. Now imagine a house in Shoreline. Each household has a member that is employed within a 10 minute drive, and one member employed downtown Seattle. They are both located on the freeway, and thus can easily access Seattle, or wherever, by car. Each is located 10.7 miles from downtown. The Shoreline household owns two cars with $300 payments and $90 insurance premiums. The Tukwila household owns one car. The savings in Tukwila is $390 immediately per month. The commute time is 35 minutes from Shoreline and 26 minutes via Link from Rainier Beach Station to University Station. Of course you save money, it costs $2.25 to take the Link as opposed to $2.00 to drive.

    I’m not perfect, I’m not a know it all. But I do know that in addition to costing cities and states infrastructure costs by sprawling outward, freeways are costing people money, costing the environmental burden of land consumption, and costing cities and counties money for infrastructure capital and maintenance costs.

    Regardless of the political label you put on yourself, you’re wrong for all the right reasons. Increasing transit capacity in the city is the only way to grow in a positive economic and social direction.

    # by Anthony A. :: June 12th, 2011 at 9:38 PM