Not long ago, Tim Eyman began promoting a new “Yes on 1125” website that appears to have been commissioned by his No. 2 all-time wealthy benefactor Kemper Freeman, Jr., the man responsible for more than eighty percent of the money behind Initiative 1125. I say appears to have been commissioned by because its text bears all the hallmarks of something written by Kemper and his operatives. Their productions have a distinctive style… as do Eyman’s.
Having worked against Eyman for much of his career, we’re pretty familiar with his writing, and how he chooses to portray himself. Eyman has long been in the habit of falsely implying or claiming that his initiative factory is grassroots, when in fact it is not. We have repeatedly pointed out that Eyman’s mill would grind to a halt were it not for his wealthy benefactors. His operation is wholly dependent on big money. And he knows it. But he pretends otherwise.
Kemper Freeman, Jr., on the other hand, appears to be more of a straight-shooter, at least in terms of disclosing his involvement. Have a look at these two paragraphs from the “Myths vs. Facts” page on the “Yes on 1125” website.
Initiative 1125 was filed by Tim Eyman on behalf of Bellevue Businessman, Kemper Freeman. Mr. Freeman and others want voters to be aware of very serious policy changes coming out of Olympia. These new policies will have a tremendously negative impact on automobile drivers totally changing the way we live and lessening our quality of life. Mr. Freeman believes that voters are being kept in the dark on these changes and that they deserve an opportunity to reaffirm or reject these ideas.
Kemper Freeman paid for the initiative 1125 signature drive to give voters an opportunity to reaffirm long-standing principles of tolling and gas taxes, or to reject them, as they wish. He did so, too, so that the 97% who drive their cars everyday will understand the coming policy of “system wide” tolling all roads.
This has to be the first time that I can remember that an Eyman benefactor has admitted, upfront, to having paid for the signature drive for an Eyman initiative on the campaign website for said initiative. It’s too bad that almost nothing else on the website is accurate. In addition to putting dozens of apostrophes in the wrong place, the person who authored the “Myths vs. Facts” page somehow managed to figure out how to unfairly slam transit in pretty much every passage.
Freeman may not realize it, but every time he talks or publishes something, he provides further evidence for the view that all he seems to care about is destroying and defunding transit — and widening highways. Freeman likes to dismiss transit activists as zealots, but he’s the real ideologue… an uncompromising road warrior from decades past who believes that if we just pave over more terrain, we’ll all be able to happily drive our cars wherever and whenever we want.
In reality, gridlock can only be solved by getting people out of their cars and providing transportation choices. True freedom of mobility means being able to get around without a car. If Freeman understood this, he’d be an enthusiastic supporter of transit, rather than an unrelenting critic.
Andrew, you wrote:
“In reality, gridlock can only be solved by getting people out of their cars and providing transportation choices. True freedom of mobility means being able to get around without a car. If Freeman understood this, he’d be an enthusiastic supporter of transit, rather than an unrelenting critic.”
Well, I consider myself a progressive who will vote YES on 1125. And, I drive, bike, hike, and walk. I am tired of traffic congestion. So in my view, true freedom of mobility involves the personal automobile.
However, did you know that Kemper actually supports bike lanes, bus rapid transit, and free transit ridership? See this: http://navigatekingcounty.com/blog/light-rail-off-track/76/
So why do I support 1125? For several reasons. First, voters approved the 18th Amendment to the State Constitution in 1944. This happened after the Legislature started using the gas tax for non-highway purposes. The 18th amendments was on the ballot to protect gas taxes for highways only, and it passed by 70%.
However, today, Sound Transit wants to violate the State Constitution and use gas taxes for non-highway purposes. I cannot support a state agency who advocates something that’s illegal. For the same reason I support Rob McKenna suing over Obama’s health care plan. Nevertheless, as a progressive, I support universal health care, if it was legal, and we had the money to pay for it.
Second, I am a fiscal conservative in addition to being a progressive (i.e. favoring progress and reform), so I want the most transit for the money. That’s what you get with the very progressive approaches of bus rapid transit, bike lanes, and bike trails. We have so much open land in the suburbs; we need to widen our 4 lane boulevards to accommodate bus rapid transit and bike lanes all over the eastside. Search John Niles, Richard Harkness, and Jim MacIsaac, all of Seattle; three bus rapid transit engineers.
Andrew, you continue:
“Mr. Freeman and others want voters to be aware of very serious policy changes coming out of Olympia. These new policies will have a tremendously negative impact on automobile drivers totally changing the way we live and lessening our quality of life. Mr. Freeman believes that voters are being kept in the dark on these changes and that they deserve an opportunity to reaffirm or reject these ideas. Kemper Freeman paid for the initiative 1125 signature drive to give voters an opportunity to reaffirm long-standing principles of tolling and gas taxes, or to reject them, as they wish.
I don’t have a problem with rich philanthropists such as Mr. Freeman paying for initiatives. He also gives his money to Overlake Hospital. Indeed, I am grateful for Mr. Freeman advocating to protect our gas taxes to build more freeway lanes. And, Mr. Freeman wants to ban variable peak time tolls, i.e. congestion pricing.
Peak time tolls are unfair to the poor, since they have to pay more to drive than the rich. And, a Los Angeles study from Dr. Peter Gordon found that people don’t drive on freeways during peak commute hours, and drive on the city streets instead — wasting gas mileage in stop and go traffic.
Is it really fair for the poor to have a longer commute on city streets so they don’t have to pay tolls? Cars get horrible gas mileage in stop and go traffic, compared to 60mph on freeways. Cars also emit more CO2 and other pollutants in gridlock speeds under 30mph, compared to 60mph, as studied by Dr. Matthew Barth at UC-Riverside.
So the progressive and environmental thing to do is to build more freeway lanes, so that our traffic runs at 60mph all the time, to reduce air pollutants including greenhouse gases.
“This has to be the first time that I can remember that an Eyman benefactor has admitted, upfront, to having paid for the signature drive for an Eyman initiative on the campaign website for said initiative. It’s too bad that almost nothing else on the website is accurate.”
Well, that’s not fair. Please be specific as to what else isn’t accurate on the web site. In fact, if all of us for 1125 are not accurate, then please let us know immediately before the election. You can tell me what’s not accurate about mine, if anything — you can post comments on my Kemper Freeman You Tube Video Page — “If You Drive, Vote Yes on 1125.”
Enjoy the videos — Mike Ennis, Bruce Nurse, Tim Eyman, Kemper Freeman, Doug MacDonald, John Niles, etc. — they’re all there — Very good people trying to make a difference, easier for the Working people who have to drive on clogged highways. And, folks like Niles advocate bus rapid transit, such as the Rapid Ride. If you drive, vote YES on 1125. ‑Tom Lane
Tom, you’ve got a case of mistaken identity. Saying you are a progressive does not make you a progressive, no more than my saying I am a conservative would make me so.
No progressive would ever claim that widening highways is good for the environment. That’s actually a false statement, period. Adding lanes encourages people to take more trips, which makes gridlock worse, not better. What’s more, more trips and more traffic means not only an increase in carbon dioxide emissions, but other air pollutants as well, leading to a huge decrease in regional air quality. When people drive less, air quality improves.
Wider highways also perpetuate sprawl. We need to return to traditional town planning and build livable neighborhoods with proper street grids. We need communities where people can live close to where they work. And we need choices for people who still need to commute some distance to get to work. That’s where rail transit comes in.
Transit for all, including rail transit for all, is a key progressive policy direction. As George Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute wrote in Thinking Points:
Now, it is true that not every progressive embraces every progressive policy direction. But it’s clear from your comment that you are not a progressive. You call yourself a “fiscal conservative” — no true progressive activist would say they are conservative on any issue. In fact, progressives believe there is no such thing as “fiscal conservativism”. Reality supports this view. When conservatives have been in power, they have run up America’s debt. They have made government (specifically, the police state) bigger. They have enacted tax cuts for the wealthy and launched immoral occupations of other countries paid for with our nation’s credit card. Their irresponsible decisions have given us a higher debt and a lower quality of life.
You may agree with some of what I’ve just said. But again, that doesn’t make you a progressive. If you agree with some progressive policy directions, but not others, and if you agree with some conservative policy directions, but not others, then you are a biconceptual… somebody who uses both the progressive and conservative value systems in different areas of their political thinking. A great many Americans are actually biconceptuals, so you’re in pretty good company.
Most of what Kemper Freeman, Jr.‘s people published on the Yes on 1125 website is inaccurate information. To thoroughly debunk all of it would take hours, and probably wouldn’t satisfy you anyway, but there’s a specific point you want to discuss, feel free to raise it.
What Andrew wrote above in the final paragraph of his post, “In reality, gridlock can only be solved by getting people out of their cars and providing transportation choices. True freedom of mobility means being able to get around without a car,” is bedrock faith of many political progressives.
But going back to the plain English meaning of words, however, it’s an incredibly conservative thing to write, because urban citizens universally getting around without a car mimics a throwback to pre-automobile times in American cities a century ago.
Andrew is not alone. So far as I can tell, there is a wide yearning for a future Seattle laced with streetcar and interurban electric rail lines, the regional environment of 100 years ago. For reference, I have posted a map of Seattle’s street railroad network as of 1916 at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/SeattleStreetRailwayMap1916.pdf . This network is what many political progressives in Seattle would like to see again, if the money could be found.
There is little recognition in this viewpoint of the ongoing, massive worldwide effort to change radically the shape of point-to-point personal mobility with smaller, lighter, cleaner, efficient, collision-proof vehicles running on the existing, ubiquitous, and necessary road network that also supports police, fire, ambulances, and refuse pickup.
Note the progressive (plain English) futures described in “Automakers Debate Visions of the Future of Clean Urban Transport” from GreenBiz.com at http://grn.bz/pJCDi1. This report covers car-sharing and electric buses as well as smaller personal vehicles.
Getting transit priority for the next 100 years by turning perfectly good roadway lanes into train tracks (like Sound Transit’s plan for I‑90) is a very conservative (plain English) and ultimately radical (plain English) idea.
Fast-developing technology in vehicles and traffic management will provide mobility for the masses sooner, better, and less expensively than Sound Transit’s East Link plan to spend three billion dollars for 50,000 daily transit riders, only 10,000 of whom would be new transit riders who parked their cars in favor of the new train, according to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
This EIS also reveals via its energy data that the carbon emissions to build this line are not going to be compensated by the carbon emissions saved by those new transit riders.
I think Kemper Freeman is very sensible to throw harpoons at East Link light rail (paraphrasing Joel Connelly), even though I‑1125 is in a bundle of harpoons I won’t vote for.
No mistaken identity. I am anti-war, pro-national health care (although not Obama care), pro-gay rights, pro-womens’ rights, pro-raising the minimum wage, stricter regulations on air pollution, etc.
However, some progressives are also fiscally conservative, for smaller government in general, and personal mobility with the automobile. We can agree to disagree about the size of government along with 1125 and still agree on many other things.
Progressive simply means favoring Progress and Reform, in any direction. There are progressive Republicans, and progressive Democrats, and progressive Moderates.
I’m probably a “radical progressive centerist.”
We have too many regulations on private property rights, and our planners have not built enough freeway lanes or bus rapid transit, since they’ve spent too much on streetcars and light rail (As John Niles has said).
And, widening roads to increase capacity decrease air pollution since vehicle speeds increase. See this info on air pollution levels with my photos of seattle area smog — These photos are horrible, comparing Clear Days under high pressure to smoggy days -
Also in terms of Conservatives, you say they enacted tax cuts for the wealthy. That is not 100% correct. Both JFK and Ronald Reagan both were fiscally conservative. They cut tax RATES, not TAXES. They cut tax *RATES* on all incomes, including the poor. With Reagan, many poor people stopped paying taxes. Reagan had a fair, progressive tax structure compared to Obama. You can hear Mark Levin and Mike Rosen talk about Reagan and JFK cutting tax *RATES.* Levin is more of a Progressive than the Pelosi and Harry Reed types.
May I suggest that you do de-construct the YESON1125.org web site, or my multiple posts covering light rail and I‑1125. Otherwise, by not doing so, I don’t know what specific objections you have to I‑1125.
The positions you’ve just outlined confirm what I previously said: You a biconceptual. You are progressive in some areas, and conservative in others.
There is nothing wrong with being a biconceptual — many Americans are. But you can’t claim to be a progressive when you’re not. That word has a meaning. It refers to a shared worldview, a moral system. You do not consistently use the progressive moral system in all areas of your thinking. So again, you are not a progressive.
Andrew: You also mentioned City design; consider that most Americans, when surveyed, prefer large lots even if it means a longer commute.
You can go to the top of my web site and click the two smart growth surveys, from the City of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and also from the National Association of Realtors.
Large towering condos are not selling in the various regional growth centers in the Seattle area (i.e. some but not all of these are designated as “transit oriented developments.”)
Many politicians in cities such as Richmond Beach, Normandy Park, and Black Diamond, are fighting these Puget Sound Regional Council smart growth projects.
While you may favor higher density, I am a modernist favoring spreading out with 1 acre lots, with natural vegetation instead of concrete and gravel, in the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright … where everyone has their own garden and schools have class sizes of 10 or less …
Did you see that Corvallis is #1 for cycling and bicyling commuters nationwide? That’s proof that your idea of more bike lanes works.
But on the other hand, the US Census found that the only towns (except one) that had high cycling and walking percentages were small college towns, with lots of young people. I’m still young but if I was 70 I wouldn’t be biking around Corvallis! So, it only works for small cities like Corvallis, Boulder, and Ithaca, NY.
That’s why we need Bus Rapid Transit and more fuel efficient vehicles. Smart cars, electric cars, and bus rapid transit can all allow the current suburban structure, that people prefer in these polls, to continue to exist sustainably. See Corvallis and photos of other Oregon cities and their bike lanes and trails:
A progressive refers to someone who does not favor the status quo. For 20 years in Seattle, the status quo has been an urban growth boundary, tiny yards, high density, with a focus on mass transit connecting so-called “transit oriented developments.” (TOD’s)
However, most Americans when surveyed prefer single family housing with private yards. You can find these studies at the top of my web site, along with articles from Dr. Peter Howley from the Professors’ Page on my site, who found the same thing when surveying those who lived in high density environments in Dublin, Ireland.
Therefore, a progressive would look for methods of “Sustainable sprawl.” Our visions may differ on “smart growth” and “TOD’s,” since I envision a future of our current suburban structure, connected with bus rapid transit, bike lanes, bike paths, and using alternative fuel sources instead of foreign oil for the private car.
If you think about it, the suburbs are not going away. What is going away is Oil — Peak oil is imminent. We need alternative fuel sources for private cars, and that is a progressive approach. Light rail is too expensive, compared to natural gas powered cars and bus rapid transit.
I think we can agree to disagree. Thank you for your responses. Tom Lane
Honesty from the right wing, for a change…
[…] I‑1125 wouldn’t even be on our ballots except for Kemper Freeman Jr.’s money. Even the Yes on 1125 website, written by Kemper’s operatives, admits that Kemper paid for the .… […]