Saturday, August 7, 2010

Roger Valdez, Tunnel hater, is this week's Seattle upzone cheerleader

Roger Valdez has written an article over at, "Tunnel debate is redefining Seattle politics", where he basically argues that the Alaska Way deep-bore tunnel opponents are some kind of coalition, or they could, or should be a "positive" coalition. I guess he has the vision thing.

There's a lot to debate about whether I have cast these protagonists appropriately. But it's hard to dispute that tunnel opposition has created some strange bedfellows. The problem with tunnel opposition is that it doesn’t necessarily form a coherent basis for a positive political movement. Opposition doesn't always make the most fertile ground for a for the seeds of positive change.

Imagine if environmentalists, preservationists, homeless advocates, and neighborhood density advocates turned their opposition of the tunnel into a positive movement. Could the anti-tunnel urge form a kind of opposition party against the seemingly dominant group that is pushing the tunnel? Are we ready for partisanship in Seattle or are we too nice? The question is, can tunnel opponents find common ground to move beyond the tunnel and, for example, elect a slate of new like-minded members of the city council next year, when there will be five seats up for grabs. Do they even want to?
, Tunnel debate is redefining Seattle politics,

The answer is no, the tunnel opposition can not find common ground. There are the Dan Bertolet and the "Surface+HopethereisTransit" proponent group, and the rebuild/replacement Viaduct proponent group. They mainly agree in their opposition to the tunnel. It breaks up at that point. No matter how you (any of you) move the pieces around you will not end up with a majority of proponents.
The ONLY thing a majority of people will agree to is that they want something for nothing, or even the hint that it could cost them something (cost overruns).

Let's be completely unfair to Roger Valdez, I don't know him, don't care to, but he's an idiot.
What has been the most effective argument against the tunnel?
There could be cost overruns if the legislature passed another bill to put Seattle area tax payers on the hook. The bad news is that this is true of any option.

Where the "Friends" are really going is that we are about to commit tax capacity and bonding authority to something that does not directly benefit the upzone corridor (see map of West Side light rail, uh, well, there isn't a map, not a real one.
Mike McGinn is not interested in saving anybody money, get that straight, he wants to spend it where his benefactors want it.

Valdez, Bortolet, McGinn, Friends of Seattle, Party of the Future, Great City, Hugeasscity (now part of, this is a parliament of political whores. (no dishonorable mention of the Stranger's Dominic Holden, water carrier)

There isn't a majority of anything in Seattle, except in opposing any single replacement for the Alaska Way Viaduct, that's it.

In my opinion, and I've stated this other places, the answer may be most of the above:
I was a Surface proponent but that thing got wider and wider, and had all those stoplights, pedestrian friendly stoplight timing, that a bypass tunnel looked like a needed thing. In fact, I was, and to a great degree still am, a believer that we will end up with both (of some sort).
I-5 "improvements" means eliminating a downtown exit. That may be something we look at having to do in the future anyway.

What we are not ever going to get from the state is a through-tunnel after a surface option has been developed.
What we would get with going surface is the State always having a say in anything we run on the surface, anything.

Bury the state through-tunnel first, work on surface transit next, make getting through Seattle completely the state's problem. That is the last thought, or statement, that I have had on this subject.

Well, who is Robert Valdez (not that it really matters)?

Crosscut missed a few facts about Roger Valdez. I wanted to know what vested interest Roger Valdez has. It looks like he touches many of the same organizations that Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was either a direct part of, or was endorsed by, or in some way advocated for Mike McGinn in the past. It looks like they are still on the endless campaign team.

Research Associate at Sightline Institute
CEO at Bricoleur LLC

Seattle Great City Initiative
(past and future clients)

He was a sometime HugeAssCity writer, check out this gem from 8/23/2009:
First, everyone will incessantly ask about it. “Why are you so focused on the tunnel?” The answer is “I have to. If this City commits $900 million dollars (which is sure to become $1 billion) we won’t have money to do any of the other critical things this city needs done. We are essentially committing to a decade of our resources into essentially will be a Viet Nam like quagmire. How can we focus on crime, sidewalks, transportation—all things our City is supposed to do—when a years worth of City budget dollars are going to be pumped down a hole for less than two miles of tunnel, with no exits in or out of downtown, not enough capacity and no ability to accommodate transit.”

The second and more practical reason is that it focuses attention on McGinn and keeps it there. McGinn will win because everyone will be talking about McGinn and the tunnel. Malahan will kind of just disappear. And the more we talk about the tunnel and the more people realize what a horrible boondoggle the thing is the more people are going to think it’s a bad idea.

I am so convinced of this that if Mallahan was my friend I would advise him to abandon his pro-tunnel stand, maybe even just say he’d be willing to rethink his position. The basis of McGinn’s candidacy would effectively be threatened because the issue that animated his resurgence would be gone. All that would be left is a fundraising knife fight which he would be almost certain to lose. But it is highly doubtful that the interests arrayed against reconsidering the tunnel option will allow Mallahan to double back on his position.

How To Win In November

Oh, a little bit of irony there, that he guessed the wrong guy would "double-back".

But wait, there's more!

Endorsements for McGinn for Mayor
Roger Valdez - CEO, Bricoleur LLC

McGinn for Mayor, endorsements

Mmmm, looks like his Crosscut article is a rehash from a Hugeasscity article from last December.

What Just Happened?: The meaning of McGinn’s win
. . .
So what did happen? My theory is that the people of this city are ready for a new story. They are rejecting the Forward Thrust vs. Lesser Seattle, Spy versus Spy, conflict which has defined politics in our town since the 1970s. These two parties were pretty clear, the latter focused on big capitol projects the former focused on keeping Seattle a small town dominated by fishermen and descendents of pioneers. One group supported the Nordstrom Parking Garage (remember that one) and the other opposed it, for example. The Thrusters saw the garage as supportive of growth which would create economic development and the Lessers saw it as another attempt to pretty up Seattle for Yuppies and people from out of town.

What Just Happened?: The meaning of McGinn’s win

Here, Dan Bertolet sings the "Part of the Future" meme song:

The Party of the Future

Preface: To waste some time I wrote the riff below with the deluded idea that I might get it published in the Seattle Times, but upon submission was told they don’t publish op-eds that tout one candidate over another. Except their own, apparently. The “Party of the Future” meme was inspired by local brainiacs Alex Steffen and Roger Valdez, and isn’t mind-shattering stuff for the HAC bubble, but my big fat blogger ego compels me to post it anyway.

But if you believe that the reigning political establishment is unlikely to fulfill Seattle’s potential to become a city that will prosper in the face of serious future challenges; if you believe Seattle needs to step up and passionately respond to a rapidly changing world; and if you believe that these challenges and changes actually present inspiring opportunities, then please consider voting for Mike McGinn and the party of the future.

Mike McGinn is running a campaign that is almost entirely powered by volunteers, and funded primarily by small contributions from individual donors. And the promise of a McGinn mayorship is a future in which the establishment is compelled to follow the will of the people. As in when McGinn bucked conventional wisdom and led a campaign to reject a 2007 transit funding ballot measure because it was tied to excessive funding for roads. McGinn believed that enough people wanted light rail for it to stand on its own, and the passage of Proposition 1 in 2008 proved him right.
Hugeasscity: Party of the Future

And then there are the "Friends of Seattle", not actual friends, but a euphemism for lobbyist, Roger Valdez is a founder and active member of Party of the Future a project of the Friends of Seattle.

Tight circle.

What does Roger Valdez have to say about himself?
Roger Valdez is the bricoleur behind Bricoleur LLC.

Roger Valdez has worked as a campaign manager, lobbyist, legislative aid and program manager. Most recently he was legislative aide for City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck. He was the manager of the Tobacco Prevention Program at Public Health Seattle King County and served as Regional Health Officer for Seattle. As a Neighborhood Development Manger for the South West Sector in the City's Department of Neighborhoods, he worked on implementing neighborhood plans.
About Roger Valdez [Google].

Roger Valdez, not doing magic.

Lastly, what does Crosscut say about Roger Valdez?
Roger Valdez is a founder and active member of Party of the Future a project of the Friends of Seattle. Party of the Future is an informal group of active Seattleites creating dialogue about the City Council and its decisions going into the 2011 City Council elections. Most recently they conducted a poll of Seattle voters on a variety of issues including the tunnel, alternative transportation, and land use, and how these issues might play into voters' decisions.

Tunnel debate is redefining Seattle politics ||

What is this about?
Well, ever week the Seattle City Council has had a meeting on the deep-bore tunnel. So, every week the opponents have to keep the opposition campaign alive with some seemingly random voice. This week it is Roger Valdez (guess it can't be Cary Moon every week).

Where the entire tunnel vs. some imagined alternative "debate" falls down is that there is an argument over the mode of commuting from "livable communities" to living wage jobs. The train lovers argue that an 18th century transportation system is the solution to a 20th century transportation "problem".
Lot's-o-talk about how people must commute, not much on why.

Why don't these walkable communities have living wage jobs within walking distance? The people that can afford these upzone condo-munities have to travel to some other place to make enough money to afford this lifestyle choice.

Until that "why" question is asked and studied in a meaningful way we will not know we have the best "how" answer in the commute/sprawl/density debate.