History can be cruel because it remembers politicians for their mistakes. Think of Nixon’s Watergate, Carter’s Iran crisis, Reagan’s Iran Contra Affair, Clinton’s Lewinsky affair, George W. Bush’s Second Iraq War, and so on.
What will Dave Earling be remembered for? I predict that he will be remembered as the Viaduct Mayor.
I admire the tenacity with which he defends bad decisions. In a recent Op-ed, “From the Edmonds Mayor: Great projects,” he listed the Edmonds Viaduct as one of his “great projects.” He wrote: “The Waterfront Connector is a $27 million project intended to provide emergency-response access for our community at those times when both the Main and Dayton Street rail crossings are blocked, as has happened for extended periods seven or eight times since I have been in office, and occurs daily for shorter periods. During these periods, emergency response to the Waterfront is entirely cut off.”
This was an interesting piece of wordsmithing because it does not tell if there was any incident that required an emergency response. Indeed, on February 2019, before the Council vote on this project, the Viaduct Mayor noted, “It’s not about how many incidents we have to date. It’s not about how many incidents we have this year. it’s about the future.” Spend $27 million on a viaduct because we might have such cases in the future! It seems that Edmonds has a lot of surplus cash and no other policy priority.
The spin does not stop there. The Viaduct Mayor also puts an economic spin on his project. The Beacon reports: “Addressing the council directly about the need for the Waterfront Connector project, Earling said that hundreds of people visit the waterfront daily, thousands weekly and millions yearly. In addition, beyond the cumulative land value, the waterfront’s buildings and improvements are valued at ‘upwards of $50 million,’ he said.”
Who hoo! Mayor Viaduct has revealed an important secret: Edmonds is the new Italy with millions thronging its beaches (with apologies to Rick Steves). And the Viaduct is necessary for the tourism industry. But more good news is on the way. We are told that the Viaduct will increase property values! Really? Is there a Mayor-appointed consultant who has produced a report to support this claim?
Question: might these millions of visitors flocking to Edmonds beaches use a pedestrian bridge (constructed at a fraction of the cost) somewhere else? Or, think of the alternative scenarios (as a professor, this is what I ask students to do). Might the sight of an ugly Viaduct spoiling Edmonds’ scenic views dissuade them from visiting our beaches?
You might say. Ok, I get it. The Viaduct is a lousy idea. But what can I do?
People, you can do a lot. You probably take a stroll (or maybe even power walk) on the Sunset Boulevard. I have seen you looking at the Viaduct site, shaking your head in disgust and muttering curses under your breath. Do not stop there. If you want to stop the destruction of your beloved Edmonds, join the fight to stop this fiscal, aesthetic and ecological monstrosity.
Let the Viaduct issue drive your 2019 city election votes. The Viaduct is the canary in the coal mine because it reflects the deeper malaise in the City Hall. It shows that politicians are willing to irresponsibly spend almost $27 million to solve a future problem that could be solved at a fraction of the cost and would not destroy the Brackett’s Landing beach, the marine park, and the Boulevard.
You need to demand that all candidates running for any city-level position clearly show their hand on the Viaduct. And vote only for those who categorically oppose it. Don’t let them get away by saying, I will look into the facts.
There is also a new trick in town: “let us maintain civility in discourse.” This seems to have emerged as the party line of the Viaducters. It seems asking tough questions is now uncivil. See through this charade.
Attend every public meeting and ask pointed questions. Organize and participate in public demonstrations that are peaceful and lawful. Imagine dozens of people standing at the intersection of 100thand Edmonds Way and holding signs, No Edmonds Viaduct (I bet the Viaducters cannot mobilize people carrying signs: build the Viaduct). Do the same in downtown during the farmer’s market. May be print T-shirts and baseball caps that say: No Edmonds Viaduct.
Continue with the “no waterfront connector” signage. But also create your own signage. Ask your neighbors to display them.
We can win against special interests. All of us came together to protect the wider setback for the Edmonds Marsh. Recall the fight. It was a 4-3 vote in the City Council: Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Diane Buckshnis, Kristiana Johnson and Mike Nelson supported the wider Marsh buffer and setback, while Neil Tibbott, Dave Teitzel and Tom Mesaros opposed it. Dave Earling actually wrote a letterto the Department of Ecology to support the narrower buffer. And, of course, now he portrays himself as the Marsh savior. George Orwell’s 1984 is getting played out in Edmonds!
The Marshpavers are now the Viaducters. Issues might change, but the characters remain the same. If the Viaducters win here, what comes next? New taxes to finance the Viaduct? Relax height restrictions and allow for high rises? Turn Edmonds into Ballard?
The 2019 election should be about the “People of Edmonds versus the Viaducters (and the Marshpavers).” Whose side are you on? You succeeded in preserving the ecological integrity of the Edmonds Marsh. Do you want to protect Brackett’s Landing beach, the Marine Park, the Sunset Boulevard and the character of Edmonds? If so, do vote and vote sensibly.
And don’t stop here. Start emailing your representatives in Olympia and the Congress. Express your opposition and ask them about their position. In 2020 they will ask for your vote, and this is your leverage. People get the government they deserve. I hope we can do better than what we have now in Edmonds.