BlatherWatch has taken issue many times with the bright but brittle Dan Sytman, Michael Medved's producer and the host of his own talk show on early mornings on KTTH (Saturday 6-8a) which is a great favorite of area milkmen, drunks coming in after a Friday night run and and Dan's own mother.
We kid Dan Sytman, but we love it when he agrees with us and puts his considerable brains and talents into a political issue that really shouldn't be cast as left vs. right.
In a straight-forward, reasoned and well-written op-ed in Monday's Seattle Times, Sytman makes the conservative case against the roads-busting I-912.
We usually won't condone the use of the word, "moreover" by anyone untenured or under the age of 65, but we can't help but overlook that and shriek here! here! in that undisciplined, overly emotional way we liberals have that gets us in trouble but also gets us laid more often than conservatives.
Sytman gives a litany of "liberal" transportation issues and projects he's railed and voted against such as Sound Transit, the Monorail, and HOV lanes. He voted for every one of Tim Eyman's anti-car tab taxes because, he says: "It punishes me progressively based on the value of my car instead of how much I drive."
But, he continues, brilliantly: "While rightly trying to kill that obnoxious tax, the people of this state drained money from the agency that does one of the most important things government does: build roads. So when I'm asked to replace a progressive tax — the vehicle excise — with a user tax that supports the building of roads, it would be hypocritical of me to refuse."
He points out that voter approval of the regressive I-912 would nix what conservatives have been trying to do for years:
"We've been demanding roads, not transit. Well, now they're building roads and using one of the fairest kinds of taxes to do so — and we're going to try to stop them? Unfortunately, I think many I-912 advocates have not realized the hypocrisy of their dubious position on transportation taxes.
He's not the only conservative, who's against the roads-monkeywrenching initiative:
" [It] was passed with support from about one-third of Republicans in Olympia, including highly respected conservatives like Sens. Bill Finkbeiner, Joseph Zarelli and Dan Swecker, who voted for the package because it includes projects not just for infrastructure-needy King County, but for all 39 counties. They voted for the gas tax along with an audit feature that will help enforce wise spending."
We might add some other Republicans opposing this clunker: Attorney General (and local conservative hero) Rob McKenna, former Senator Slade Gorton, former Governor Dan Evans, King Co. Executive candidate Dave "Mama's Bad Little Boy" Irons, and Senate candidate Mike McGavick, though he's been a little slippery on I-912 lately (a preview of how he might govern?).
Sytman says that the Republican party has deserted their traditional allies in the business community. We've heard Boeing bitching about these anti-transportation tax revolts for years, mainly because it's become harder and harder to get freight in and out of the area and takes workers longer and longer to get to work. Boeing is slip-sliding out of the Puget Sound region and our regional tendency to avoid clear transportation decisions is certainly a major factor--they've said it many times.
If a post-I-912-era earthquake brings down the viaduct or sinks the Evergreen Point Bridge, who do you think people are going to blame? Keep in mind that the Washington State Republican Party has officially taken a position against its traditional allies in the business community by supporting I-912. It doesn't take a wild imagination to predict where the blame will fall if Washington suffers from a bridge- or viaduct-breaking catastrophe.
As much as we'd love to have a major catastrophe to pin on the GOP, when push comes to shove, we'll take the repairs. We've heard over and over again from conservatives, that maintaining the infrastructure is the role of government, if nothing else is.
Dan Sytman told Dave Ross (KIRO, m-f, 3-6p) Monday: "As as conservative, it's tempting to poke Washington state government in the eye: it's tempting to poke Christine Gregoire in the eye, but what we're doing by supporting this initiative is cutting our nose off to spite our face."
We couldn't have said it better. For Sytman to come out both on his show and in the dreaded "liberal" press wasn't easy in the company he keeps; and though it galls us to say it, we salute him for his prinicipled stand.
This really isn't liberal vs. conservative--it's a responsible vs. irresponsible. The I-912 campaign plays to anger, cynicism, and the worst impulses of the voters. The trend in this campaign, however, is that the more the voters find out about the transportation package, the more of them are rejecting this ill-considered initiative that would quash it.
We're praying that good sense and more information will reach critical mass before election day.