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September 2002 General Membership Meeting Minutes

September 2002 General Membership Meeting Minutes


Meeting Minutes September 14th, 2002

Meeting Place: Grand Chinese Buffet, Seattle

OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS PRESENT: Paul Scott, Hans Mueller, Bob Lawrence, Tony Trifiletti, Eleanor Stewart, Jim Hamre, Jim Cusick, Chuck Mott, Warren Yee, Rocky Shay, John Carlin, J. Craig Thorpe


OTHERS: Roger Mumm, Paul Cory, Robert Rohrer, Zack Willhoite, Bev Maier, Bill Myers, Steve Spear, Jim Holley, Susan Sauer, Darlene Thomas-Flem, James McIntosh, Dr. Hal Cooper, Dale Menchhofer

President Tony Trifiletti called the meeting to order at 1:01 PM and reviewed the agenda. He mentioned Dr. Hal Cooper’s trip to Alaska to explore a possible railroad project there. He said WashARP will make a presentation on the 605 corridor to a legislative group.

Mr. Trifiletti also reviewed progress on the recent weekend effort at train stations around the state. It has brought nine new members so far.

Mr. Trifiletti also reviewed the procedure for filing for the upcoming Board of Directors election.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Secretary Rocky Shay called the roll of the board, finding a quorum of ten members present.

Chairman Chuck Mott convened the Board, then called for approval of the August meeting minutes. Mr. Carlin moved. Mr. Trifiletti seconded. Mr. Flem sought a change in "9-Eleven" notes to be referred to as "Campaign of 7/8". With this change agreed to, the minutes were approved unanimously.

There was then discussion on Initiative 276, leading to a motion. Mr. Yee proposed that we oppose the initiative. He described it as a roads-only measure that could kill the Cascades trains. Mr. Hamre worried about the initiative pitting Amtrak against education. Mr. Mueller suggested a newsletter article. Mr. Mott said that wouldn’t be part of the motion. Mr. Carlin said the Newsletter Editor should work out the wording of the article. Mr. Rohrer sought and received clarification on the timeline for qualifying the initiative. Mr. Mott called the question. The motion was approved unanimously.

Mr. Yee then moved that WashARP formally oppose Initiative 776. Mr. Scott seconded. Mr. Yee explained the flat 30-dollar tabs initiative, which would kill state money for Sound transit. Brief confusion over whether we had already dealt with this was resolved. Mr. Yee said it could hurt buses and commuter rail. Mr. Flem said the initiative was on dubious constitutional grounds, allowing a state vote to override a local one. Mr. Hamre said it would cut some highway money, too and open carpool lanes to what he called "SOV’s". Mr. Trifiletti mentioned that the initiative cannot legally interfere with light rail money, because of bonding obligations and opined that Mr. Eyman is worried about his own pocketbook, not policy. He urged our newsletter to call 776 what it is. Mr. Mott called for the question. Approval of the motion was unanimous. Mr. Trifiletti said he would write an article on 776 for the newsletter.

Chairman Mott then adjourned the Board.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT: Mr. Flem will analyze the 7/8 station campaign for all those interested and make recommendations. He reviewed procedures, urging a more direct approach to prospective members. He said WashARP volunteers found little knowledge of Referendum 51, moderate interest in WashARP, and little hostility. He read several volunteer reports. He recommended better organization with captains in each city, nametags and banners, and seeking help from Amtrak agents. Mr. Trifiletti said he’d make the nametags. Mr. Mott then thanked Darlene and Lloyd Flem and Susan Sauer for putting the campaign together. The three received applause. Mr. Flem said we do things most ARPs don’t do, like visit Congressional offices when in Washington, DC. Mr. Hamre asked about pictures for our display tables.

Mr. Flem said President Bush got an icy response when he suggested getting the government out of the passenger train business, and the situation in DC is getting better. He added that WashDOT’s Ken Uznanski thinks Congress will give Amtrak what it wants in Fiscal 2003 with a modification of the Hollings bill is part of TEA 21. But there could be a continuing resolution. Mr. Flem thanked Bob Lawrence for writing letters to members of Congress, and gave quick letter-writing instructions. He reminded members that WashARP itself can’t endorse candidates.

Mr. Flem thanked members for their help with his meeting with Congressman Brian Baird, calling it a 100 per cent success. He praised Ken Uznanski and Talgo’s Jean Pierre Ruiz for their work on producing arguments for Baird on incremental growth, as opposed to an immediate jump to TGV’s. He praised Amtrak’s Gil Mallery for his presentation, then reviewed a later meeting with local port officers. He said Mr. Baird thanked us for attending and praised he Talgos. He wants us to urge Minnesota’s Congressman Oberstar to be more flexible on urging higher train speeds.

Mr. Flem then gave details of a recent meeting involving WashARP, Talgo, BNSF and UP. UP showed up late and left early, but is doing better on produce. He also said ports are willing to help with produce. He also said state DOT officials wants rail, not just passenger train, advocacy.

Mr. Flem then said if Referendum 51 wins, we must be alert to possible raids on rail money.

He then noted that 40 per cent of the State Senate is up for re-election. He suggested individual 25-dollar contributions to pro-rail candidates, and said BNSF has given 15 thousand dollars to candidates so far. Watch for ad blitzes soon.

Mr. Flem again noted teamster opposition to bigger trucks.

CONGRESSMAN LARSON MEETING: Mr. Mott attended a recent meeting in a Teamster Hall, where drivers told of triple-trailer control problems. There is 90 per cent opposition in polls. Congressman Larson will oppose legalization. We are listed among opposing organizations.

Mr. Mott said Transportation Secretary Doug McDonald has warned of the huge challenge of educating new legislators. We are involved. We have also discussed alternatives to Referendum 51 based on the idea that an all-roads program won’t work. Mr. Mott urged all WashARP members to talk up the rail component of 51 wherever possible.

DISCUSSION: Mr. Scott asked about Sound Transit improvements. Mr. Hamre said the third Sounder train was about to come on. Mr. Mott said CTC fiberoptics are going in. Mr. Hamre gave some details of coming construction. Commuter rail and Transit Chairman Jim Cusick promised details at his next committee meeting. Mr. Flem mentioned that Congressman Oberstar loves the paintings of J. Craig Thorpe, plus the non-Thorpe Talgo poster. Mr. Hamre updated the afternoon’s Husky score for Mr. Flem.

Mr. Trifiletti asked for an update on King Street Station. Mr. Mott criticized the BNSF Real Estate Department for delay, but said Dr. Ron Sheck believes a deal is a few weeks away. The project starts with restrooms by the end of the year and said the station will be on a 99-year lease. Mr. Mott gave a brief history of railroad leases.

Mr. Trifiletti then thanked Mr. Menchhofer for arranging to cut the music in our meeting room and said he hoped the coming new owners wouldn’t reinstate it. He noted the passing of WashARP member Ollie LaFreniere and his strong interest in opera and chess.

MEMBERSHIP AND MARKETING REPORT: Chairman Bob Lawrence noted the PI Piece on Mr. LaFreniere. He then showed new brochures. Ms. Stewart asked about using old brochures and was told to do so. There are 14 new members, largely from the NARP list. He mentioned new memberships from the August barbecue meeting and thanked the Hamres for again sponsoring it. He reminded the group of the Everett meeting, criticizing the high rent at the new station. Congressman Rick Larson is invited, as he’s on Oberstar’s committee. Mr. Lawrence is also thinking of inviting someone from Amtrak.

Mr. Scott mentioned a possible big delay on moving Amtrak in Everett, but Mr. Flem and Mr. Mott said the problems have been resolved and the move should occur in late October or early November.

Mr. Mueller said he would talk to the new owner of the Grand Chinese Buffet. There was a brief discussion of whether we should make other plans for November and of the next regional NARP meeting. There was then an offer of a White Pass and Yukon video to help pay 8 dollars of our room charge. Mr. Menchhofer bid 8 dollars. Mr. Trifiletti served as the auctioneer. Mr Scott said his brother IS an auctioneer!

Mr. Lawrence then mentioned he had brochures in his car. They were passed out later.

Mr Flem said a Bellingham restaurant to host one of our meetings. Mr. Trifiletti said that would be next year. But Darlene or Lloyd Flem will check it out.

COMMUTER RAIL AND TRANSIT REPORT: Mr. Cusick said there would be more on Sounder at the Thursday Commuter Rail meeting.

He then suggested registering for a small amount to carry our Website. Mr. Mueller suggested Mr.Yee look into it. A brief discussion followed.

MORE DISCUSSION: Mr. Trifiletti then recognized Susan Sauer, who suggested use of local fire department facilities for meetings, but was unsure of lunch possibilities. Mr.

Trifletti assigned the matter to Membership and Marketing.

Mr. Trifiletti then recognized Robert Rohrer, who spoke of rail travel and discussed Referendum 51, quoting Shakespeare and complaining the rail money is not guaranteed.

Mr. Flem said there are numbers, but the legislature could change them. Mr. Mott said the Blue Ribbon Commission recommended specificity and R-51 has it. Mr. Mott said rail will give faster payback. He criticized 1000 Friends of Washington and Transportation Choices for shortsighted opposition. But he said the funding tide is turning toward rail. Mr. Hamre noted the DOT Website with its list of rail projects and their funding.

Mr. Trifiletti then recognized Mr. Yee for a discussion of regional transportation improvement districts. Mr. Yee worries about too much road money in the bill. Mr. Mott said negative publicity on rail caused that and there’s worry about killing King Street Station money. He described funding possibilities. Mr.Yee reported testifying at a hearing in Tacoma and criticizing the road emphasis. He described some projects over-budget and short on rail and said we may have to oppose. He mentioned an October 10th meeting in Snohomish County. Mr. Lawrence said the R-T-I-D’s may die if R-51 fails, but Governor Locke vetoed the linkage of the two. Mr. Hamre noted that the 405 project could die. Mr. Cusick noted that the R-T-I-D here had "additional funding" for projects like 405. Mr. Hamre and Mr. Yee discussed that further. Mr. Mott asked about us writing a letter, but Mr. Yee said the decisions are made. Mr. Mott still wants the letter, but will wait. Mr.Yee agreed. Mr. Mott said an "all-roads" regional plan will fail. He said people could approve the Monorail plus rival road projects. He said road lobbyists kill the will of the people and complained about special interests with deep pockets.

Mr. Yee then said he would monitor the Kemper Freeman freeway plan.

Mr. Lawrence discussed a jail tax plan in Snohomish County that makes it harder to raise sales tax for trains. Mr. Hamre reviewed that problem in Pierce County. Mr. Lawrence elaborated further on Snohomish County.

Mr. McIntosh noted light rail proposals for the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Mr. Carlin was skeptical. Mr. Flem said he’s trying to convince R-51 backers that pushing rail will help get it passed. Mr. Mott noted that the ad agency doing the campaign for R-51 has never lost in 26 campaigns. Mr. Lawrence showed a new R-51 flier, very specific on funding, from the R-51 Website. Mr. Hamre wondered if rail unions like R-51.

OPEN MIC: Mr. Yee said a monorail debate was coming with KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross moderating. Ms. Stewart mentioned a monorail meeting at the Nordic Museum. Mr. Carlin reviewed bus transit to the October meeting. Mr. Yee verified the 12:45pm start.

Mr. Scott sought and received instructions on going between the old Everett Amtrak station and the new.

Mr. Trifiletti then introduced Bill Myers of Anacortes and welcomed him to his first WashARP meeting. He’s on the Skagit Transit Citizens Advisory Committee. Mr. Lawrence credited a flyer with bringing WashARP to Mr. Myers’ attention. Mr. Mott also introduced a new member.

Mr. Rohrer asked a money question and was referred to the Treasurer’s Report. Mr. Mott gave a verbal review of the matter. Mr. Lawrence showed an Empire Rail Museum article on the late Ward Kimball. Mr. Rohrer asked about Gil Mallery’s position with Amtrak and Mr. Hamre clarified. Mr. Mott said Mr. Mallery wants to be based on the West Coast. Mr. Hamre said Mallery wants to renegotiate all state contracts to match those on the West Coast, since ours are more expensive, but more fair. Mr. Rohrer was also told that the

S-B-U’s are gone.

Mr. Hamre mentioned concerns about long-distance trains being handled by three divisions. Mr. Mueller said there are pros and cons. Mr. Mott said marketing may be Amtrak President David Gunn’s only known weakness, but operations are more important now. He said Mr. Gunn won’t market until problems are fixed. Mr. Hamre also said Mr. Gunn is scheduled to address the upcoming NARP meeting in Emeryville.

Mr. McIntosh spoke of some Oregon lines and said environmental groups should work on rail-based initiatives, even for Eastern Washington.

Mr. Hamre mentioned the new multi-billion dollar high-speed rail bond issue in California with nearly a billion dollars for Amtrak. On the other hand, Mr. Yee said Oregon may be about to cut a round trip.

President Trifiletti adjourned the meeting at 3:06 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Rocky Shay, Secretary

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Last Update: 11/24/02
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