You’re supposed to scream when you hear the word of the day (according to Peewee), but whether you want to scream hooray or scream in anquish will depend on what today’s word means to you. If you live in Seattle and have voted for the Monorail the last 5 times then anguish is definitely going to be your emotion of choice today and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make vocal those feelings as this week’s Stranger Monorail wrap-up uses “gridlock” nigh on a zillion times. You’ll scream quite a bit in their discussions of what went wrong with the project, in the accounts from monorail board members of the internal battles lost (or never fought at all), and in the unfortunately true assessment of the city’s political unwillingness to accept voter-initiated change. More than anyplace else, however, you’ll scream whenever you hear the name “Mayor Gridlock”, and for more reasons that just the word of the day. The phrase that 2045 Seattle coined to describe Mayor Greg Nickels was – despite the disappointing truth behind it – not enough to tear down the political walls he’s built up with talk of Kyoto and a mass transit solution for Seattle that – as is quite obvious now – he never truly believed in.
It’s a deeply disheartening Stranger this week, inducing an emotional commute that – for this reader, at least – started in Shock And Dismay County, passed into Frustrationtown, sat in traffic for a bit outside Motivated Activism Plaza and finally just gave up and parked at Disgusted Apathy and walked the last few blocks to Jaded Bitter Misanthrope. I pay licensing on two vehicles in this state and I would *happily* have paid the 1.50/week per vehicle in extra fees for the next ten years for the promise of a better connected, more urban Seattle. It is with a heavy heart that, after reading what the Stranger has printed today, I resign any remaining hopes of elevated mass transit here and settle in for the onerous commute, dirtier air and continued suburban sprawl that are apparently our unshakable destiny.
What’s most upsetting, i think, is not that this much-beloved yet continually-beleagured project has finally lost its last bit of propelling steam, but that a troublesome question has been answered, and that answer is “no.” No, voters are not steering this ship that we’re all riding in, and initiatives from the people – no matter how well-intentioned or woefully overdue – are no match for the political agendas of our elected officials. Somewhere along the way we have dropped the reins – we, us, the citizens, you and me – and what’s worse, it’s apparently been so long since we’ve been in control that even heroic attempts to retreive them and point this buggy in a new direction result in zero progress, and a citizenry that’s even worse-off for the effort. I’m not sure what’s left for us to do, besides sit meekly and await the robot overlords. Hopefully the robot killing machines will – like the buses, trolleys and light rail – be terrestrial in nature, as that should buy us a little time while they’re stuck in the gridlock (and… cue the screams).