Opposing Rail = Opposing Public Transit?

Yesterday afternoon I was excoriated in an eblast from someone whom I’ve never met before and who clearly has no idea of my involvement with government reform efforts (which were not invented by Jim Lane) in Scottsdale.

This person characterized me as being anti-public transit because I oppose light rail. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve included the original email at the very bottom of this article for your reference.

First, let me say that I believe my personal opposition to light rail is in alignment with the majority of voters in all of Scottsdale (not just the north) who don’t want to see it do to us what it did to Apache Blvd and Central Ave.

Having said that, however, I will also say that opposition to light rail is categorically NOT the same as opposition to public transit. In fact, I believe that light rail cannibalizes funding from other transit options, and that’s exactly what happened to the 510 route that was recently killed off.

The bus system here is a mess. Rail won’t fix that. It will only make it worse by competing for funding. I’d rather spend the money we have for public transit on the bus system because I think it is more flexible and more cost effective than light rail. We could spend hours chatting about just that sub-topic, but my days are very long. Such is the life of the grassroots candidate.

Over and above the bus-vs-rail discussion, I think there are many other improvements we can make to public transit. I hope I get a chance to implement some of them.

The only way to do that, however, is to get rid of the dead wood on the City Council. Everyone else will fall in line with better leadership.

Fortunately, several people who received the original email responded with the facts. Here’s one:

I have already voted and John Washington was my choice simply because Lane is so pro-development, developers, and contractors and will do all he can to change the general plan.

I am not against development. We need development, especially in my area of the McDowell corridor but development must retain the unique character of Scottsdale.

John Washington believes in listening to the people of Scottsdale first and moving forward to create jobs and reasoned development. I don’t know anyone who likes or is in favor of high rise buildings in our city.

John reminds me of Drinkwater. Let’s have good development. Just one person’s opinion.

Here’s another:

John Washington has been OUR city council meeting and commissioner hearings voice for multiple southern neighborhoods being impacted by traffic changes, high rise dreams of developers (Bristol Lofts on Miller Road/Osborn), alerted us to millions of dollars to the Cultural Council arts group that is not carefully audited, stood up to council when they failed to request a FAA ruling on building two apartment complexes next to our airport and supported keeping our downtown and neighborhood trolleys when cuts were proposed.

You know what Lane is doing TO us. You need to know what Mr. Washington has done FOR us.

It’s good to have friends who pay attention!

For your reference, here is the original eblast and a follow-up email I received a little later in response to my attempts to defend my record:

Re: Check out this candidate for Scottsdale Mayor – against light rail & public transportation!!

Can you guys believe this – read what he has to say:

http://www.scottsdalecitizen.com/2012/07/22/light-rail-in-other-places/

The follow-up message from the same sender:

Mr. Washington:

I represent a group of over 75 long time south Scottsdale residents who recently lost our main method of transportation to downtown Phoenix when our 510 Express bus was recently eliminated. We tried to work with Scottsdale Transportation Dept., (also Phoenix, Veolia, Valley Metro, City of Tempe) to save our bus, to no avail.

We are professionals who have worked for the City of Phoenix, The State, Maricopa County, Federal Government, the County, Superior, Federal & Municipal Court Systems, ASU teachers and students, T-Gen, and other downtown employers. I have ridden the 510 for over 12 years. It has been a lifeline for many of us for over 20 years.

We believe very strongly that reducing the congestion in our streets and highways and doing our part in decreasing the awful air quality in our valley is vitally important. To say nothing of the savings to us in gas, car insurance, wear and tear on our cars & nerves and parking fees.

There seems like a class war is going on in Scottsdale, the North Scottsdale element who vote against Light rail or mass transit in their streets, and the south Scottsdale working class who have watched our neighborhoods deteriorate, businesses shuttered, McDowell become a deserted scar of empty lots and dealerships.

We cannot understand why so many people cannot see the potential revitalization of downtown and south Scottsdale with the Light Rail.  A single extended up Galvin Parkway, passed the Zoo, Botanical Garden and Papago Park, then east along McDowell Rd. bringing tourist, ASU students and downtown convention attendees to Fashion Square, and the downtown night life. Sending tourists in the Scottsdale hotels and resorts to these beautiful tourist locations, and opening up the city?

We hope that someday, Scottsdale politicians will do what is right instead what is desired by those with money who support their favorite development or horse arena agenda.  Are you one of those people? You are new and relatively untarnished.  Are you willing to disagree with the norm, and speak out?  This is a sad situation for Scottsdale, when we are cut off from Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix. We used to be the West most Western Town, looks like we are becoming the West most backward town.

How do you see this problem? What can we as citizens do to open the eyes of the Transportation Dept, the Council and Mayor? Our Group South Scottsdale voters would like to know?

Thank you,

SB for the The 510 Bus Buddies

In spite of the acrimony with which this thread began, I commend the sender for interest in this vital issue. I hope this can be a point of dialog going forward to try to improve real public transit options in Scottsdale.

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