WASHINGTON ASSOCIATION OF RAIL PASSENGERS
August 12th, 2002
Meeting Place: 13307 104th Ave. Ct. E., Puyallup, Washington
Home of Newsletter Editor Jim Hamre
OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS PRESENT: Stuart Adams, Tony Trifiletti, Jim Neal, Warren Yee, Eleanor Stewart, Robert Lawrence, Chuck Mott, Hans Mueller, J. Craig Thorpe, Jim Cusick, Dr. Ron Sheck, Rocky Shay, Jim Hamre
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Lloyd Flem
OTHERS: Susan Sauer, Darlene Flem, Ray Allred, Dr. Hal Cooper, Steve Spear, Jim Langston, John Stewart, Dena Hollingbeck, Barbara Hollingbeck, Lenzee Mortensen, Rebecca Caron, George Benson, Zack Willhoite, Mary Jo Mott, Jim Longley, Roger Mumm, Jim McIntosh, Rita Neal, Steve Donaldson, Jo Donaldson, Marilyn Sheck, Mary Mueller, Carolyn Hamre
President Tony Trifiletti called the meeting to order at 1:38PM, following lunch.
Mr. Trifiletti said Tim Eyman is back, but WashARP had a long session with the Seattle Times Editorial board. He then reviewed the agenda and introduced the new members from Lewis and Thurston Counties.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Secretary Rocky Shay called the roll of the board, finding a quorum with 12 of 15 members present.
Chairman Chuck Mott introduced a resolution for the election of directors. He said candidates will submit letters of candidacy to the Secretary. He then showed a sample ballot. John Carlin will serve as Special Elections Officer, as he is not seeking re-election to the board. Jim Neal moved to approve the resolution. Dr. Ron Sheck seconded. Approval was unanimous.
Mr. Mott then introduced a resolution for a meeting with the Legislative Transportation Committee on the Cascade Foothills Corridor. Mr. Trifiletti, Dr. Cooper and others have been invited to make a presentation. J. Craig Thorpe has offered to do graphics for up to 500 dollars. Mr. Mott sought authorization. Dr. Sheck moved to adopt the resolution. President Trifiletti seconded. In discussion, Mr. Trifiletti said the graphics should be billed to bequest funds. Mr. Hamre asked who would own the graphics. Mr. Thorpe said he would license them, but would keep the right to use them himself. Mr. Hamre suggested making the funding method part of the motion. The money will come from the Tom Martin fund. Mr. Neal called for the question. Approval was unanimous.
Mr. Mott then brought up the last two months of meeting minutes for approval. Mr. Lawrence moved to approve the minutes, Mr. Neal seconded. Mr. Lawrence noted a reference to a deceased WashARP member in the July minutes. He said a check of records revealed no member with that name. Secretary Shay agreed to remove the name. With that done, approval of the minutes was unanimous.
9-ELEVEN: Mr. Trifiletti said we must commemorate the date. Mr. Mott said we should consider the serious position of Amtrak and the argument between President Bush and Congress about money and concentrate on lobbying Congress. He proposed a WashARP table at every Amtrak station in the state to get people to write and gather new members. He credited a number of WashARP women for the idea. Darlene Flem showed a list of stations and urged members to help. Mr. Hamre urged phone calls to members and volunteered himself and Mr. Willhoite for Wenatchee. He also urged the new Lewis County members to help.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT: Mr. Flem said Amtrak and DOT will help with 9-Eleven all they can and he would coordinate and prepare giveaways for volunteers and position points for people getting on and getting off trains. He offered several other suggestions.
Mr. Hamre suggested briefing volunteers for questions on Referendum 51. Mr. Shay asked if we share lists of names. He was told only with NARP, though NARP has shared lists occasionally. Mr. Yee was told we should inform people of rail money in 51. Bob Lawrence asked for a one-page summary. Mr. Hamre suggested a format. Responding to a question, Mr. Flem said he’d also prepare a sample letter for legislators. Dr. Cooper said we should think about running an initiative with other groups if 51 fails. Mr. Longley suggested a regular program to support rail and "anti-Eymanism".
Mr. Flem said WashARP has joined the Coalition for Safe Highways, to help freeze truck sizes, and that Doras Briggs is trying to get the American Association of Retired Persons to take on the Amtrak funding issue. He also mentioned the Commerce Corridor Group.
He added that we must remind people that Washarp is not rail-only.
Mr. Flem reviewed a hearing in Wenatchee of the Senate Transportation Committee. Jim Neal of WashARP and Jim Slakey of DOT testified on rail issues. Mr. Flem sent a praise and push letter. He also mentioned the successful Seattle Times Editorial Board meeting.
Mr. Flem said he wrote new Amtrak President David Gunn, praising him and thanking him for appointing former Amtrak West CEO Gil Mallery to help with partnerships. He said Pat Halstead has been making media contacts.
Mr. Flem will be offering a guest editorial to the SeattleTimes soon and seeks input. He will tell voters of R-51 rail money.
Mr. Flem said the larger League of Women Voters bumped WashARP from the pro-R-51 argument in the Voters Pamphlet. He is urging the League to tell larger 51 supporters about us. He is also writing environmental and transit groups who won’t support 51.
Mr. Flem also mentioned the new Eyman Initiative 266, which removes non-road alternatives in 51. Mr. Langston asked for fact sheets on both. Mr. Hamre suggested we concentrated on Initiative 776 this year, and 266 next year. He thinks 266 is designed to confuse people on R-51.
Mr. Flem also said it’s good that we’re helping fund Tim Gillespie’s work at NARP. Mr. Mott added that President Bush has signed the 205 million dollar supplemental appropriations for Amtrak, but next year’s funding will be tough, despite supportive polls.
Mr. Flem discussed the Hollings Amtrak bill in the Senate and the "Youngerstar" bill in the House, with concern for the 125 mile per hour speed requirement in the latter. Dr. Cooper noted Representative Young exempted his state of Alaska from that!
Mr. Flem also plans to attend a Brian Baird for Congress fundraiser and has been promised time with Representative Oberstar. Jean Pierre Ruiz of Talgo will try to get him to back speed off from 125 to 110 to cut costs and help our corridor. Mr. Flem then urged WashARP members to work as individuals for friendly candidates He has voting records of incumbents. Mr. Neal said not to let Eastern Washington get lost in the "Youngerstar" bill.
President Trifiletti then recessed the meeting for dessert at 2:42PM. He reconvened it at 2:55PM.
Mr. Trifiletti then conducted the auction of the J. Craig Thorpe poster. Members had to guess a day. Mr. Allred won, buessing October 20th.
Mr. Flem showed railroad items to go on tables.
FREIGHT RAIL: Mr. Allred said Amtrak President Gunn has said the express business has two months to turn around or it will be history. Mail, however, is safe. Some progress has been reported on express.
Mr. Allred said there is strong perishable business in California and we will have 12 cars in Wenatchee by September, with reassessment due in November. Only ½ of 1 per cent of market share so far, but a transload facility is now set up in Wenatchee. He said a study by WashARP member Duane Carley said we must work more with receivers back East, and must open Pasco to get at the bigger Yakima Valley agricultural market. Also, 2-level cars will work with apples, 3-level cars won’t.
In discussion, Mr. Neal said he has suggested to Mr. Gunn running express trains without passengers, urging a change in Surface Transportation Board rules to allow it. Dr. Cooper urged Lloyd to talk to Oberstar about a South line train based on perishables. Mr. Mott mentioned operational problems with express. Mr. Hamre was told big produce cars may be dead, and the express business does generate political support. Dr. Cooper was told Washington State is working to see what might be done with short-haul intermodal.
KING STREET PROJECT: Dr. Sheck said the OTAC consulting firm is on board and the budget for short-term remodeling looks good…with more info coming next month. Project will involve work on expanding the baggage area, saving the floor, cleaning up, installing new lighting for the tower, restroom remodeling planning, a new roof, removal of old microwave equipment, and security. There is also a joint Amtrak-Sound Transit solari board and food service, which Amtrak is resisting because of competition with food on trains. The will also be work on the Jackson Street parking lot and entrance. Mr. Spear received clarification on the Jackson Street parking area. Mr. Hamre said he’s learned there will be no long-term parking improvements for now. They are still negotiating with
BNSF for a lease, and working on environmental clearance to free money for restroom work by Amtrak. Heating will be redone. Nitze Stagen, the developer, will donate old Union Station benches and urges WashARP members to take on restoration.
On Phase 2, the city is trying for 70 million dollars in the regional transportation package and matching money, maybe next year. There are regular meetings with SeaTran’s Crunican on this.
SOUND TRANSIT UPDATE: Dr. Sheck reported good progress on costs and reviewed Sounder progress in the South end. More pedestrian overpasses and parking are coming. Tacoma Sounder construction starts after the first of the year…double track, except on the trestle North of Freighthouse Square. Mr. Mott received clarification on some details. In Seattle, there is grading for the BNSF mainline relocation East of the maintenance base. Renton talks are proceeding. They are trying to get Sounder and Amtrak together on a permanent station in Tukwila. There was a brief discussion of the problems in Renton and the city’s unfairness. Announcement on third Sounder train due in two weeks.
Dr. Sheck also said three Sounder trainsets are at Virginia Railway Express, and CalTrain cars in the Seattle yard are going to CalTrain. Also, Tacoma light rail vehicles are coming, and trains will go through the new convention center.
EVERETT STATION UPDATE: Dr. Sheck said contracts will be let soon for rail platforms. Still negotiating with BNSF. Amtrak should move in around November.
MAINTENANCE BASE UPDATE: Mr. Hamre said progress is slow. Dr. Sheck said things are speeding up, but we need to help Amtrak get more money, as there are problems for the base in the legislature.
DISCUSSION PERIOD: Mr. Mumm brought up the heavy grade for Sounder trains going South from Freighthouse Square. Dr. Sheck said that’s a long way off.
Dr. Cooper asked about the recent sale of Freighthouse Square and development plans, but Dr. Sheck said no clear details are available.
Dr. Sheck said he and his wife took a long Amtrak trip and found a full Pennsylvanian despite the midnight departure from Chicago, thanks to a 6-hour-late California Zephyr.
TREASURER’S REPORT: Mr. Lawrence reviewed financial situation (see separate report).
MEMBERSHIP AND MARKETING COMMITTEE: Chairman Robert Lawrence said the October meeting will be at Cookie’s Café in Everett, the old Milwaukee Freighthouse, near the new Everett station, served by S-T Regional Express buses. The owner is seeking train memorabilia for decorating.
Mr. Lawrence then reviewed membership.
He then and praised Louis Musso’s work and thanked him for picking up the gratuity on the Ellensburg meeting, which made WashARP 200 dollars. The September meeting will be in Ballard.
Mr. Lawrence is also working on a new brochure.
Mr. Lawrence also said he has contacted Congressman Rick Larson, who sits on Congressman Young’s committee and Congressman Quinn’s subcommittee. He says Larson thanked him for the invitation to the Everett meeting.
FRITZ HOLLINGS IMMITATION: Mr. Hamre impersonated South Carolina Senator Ernest Hollings’ blast at Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta before Senator Murray’s subcommittee…for Mineta’s lack of attention to Amtrak while lavishing money on airlines without question. The first-of-its-kind performance by Mr. Hamre drew frequent laughs and strong applause at the end. Mr. Shay wondered why Mr. Hamre had hidden this talent from us.
COMMUTER AND TRANSIT COMMITTEE: Chairman Jim Cusick said he couldn’t get a BNSF commuter official for the last commuter rail meeting because the official and his wife were having a baby!
Mr. Cusick wants to do a WashARP commuter rail flyer. He said Sound Transit is vague on rules, but will probably allow leafleting. He heard the anti-rail, pro-bus group Sane Transit was leafleting in the bus tunnel recently. Dr. Sheck and Mr. Hamre suggested asking the new Sounder director to a Commuter and Transit Committee or regular WashARP meeting.
There followed a show of applause for the Hamres for again hosting the annual August picnic meeting.
President Trifiletti adjourned the meeting at 3:57PM.
Rocky Shay, Secretary
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