The Transportation Fairy Wishes Away Your Car

The “rehearsed” participants wanted to: regulate car drivers, raise gas taxes, increase parking costs and eliminate public parking. Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission facilitators leaned toward rail transit and away from cars.

Felton – Santa Cruz County, CA
May 2006

The meeting was facilitated by Eileen Goodwin to the minute. She blew a whistle when it was time to stop talking. It felt like kindergarten.

She waved a “magic wand” and wanted us to do the same. Eyes rolled. You can see short video of it here.

There were 7-8 tables in the room each made up of 1 facilitator, 1 note taker and at least 2 pretend citizens who were obviously rehearsed. They had pre-typed name tags with first names only and when I went to http://www.ecoact.org/ I recognized many faces as the pretend citizens. There were 2 real citizens at my table who were clueless about the predetermined outcome. The real citizens had handwritten name tags with first and last names.
 
There were 3 main topics:
1. Problems to be solved in your neighborhood, community and region.

2. Solutions for your neighborhood, community and region (cars – BAD! bikes and trains – GOOD!)

3. Funding options you would find acceptable (the rehearsed citizens at our table favored taxing merchants, homeowners and car drivers).
 
Our “impartial” table facilitator nudged us toward embracing the Roaring Camp Felton to Santa Cruz rail line when we neglected to bring it up ourselves. We did not concur and were puzzled by the whole concept. Most residents in Felton would not be in favor of converting Roaring Camp to a rail line.
 
People at each table took 1 minute turns giving data to the note taker who would write his/her version on a large piece of paper. Then when the kindergarten whistle blew, the note taker went up to the head of the class and read the notes to Karena Pushnik of the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission (http://www.sccrtc.org/) who would translate it into pre-determined rote terminology:
More Law enforcement
More Bike access
Need  for rail line
Too many cars

Particularly egregious was a representative from (http://www.utu.org/) who got her table to announce:
Regulate car drivers
Raise gas taxes
Increase parking costs
Eliminate public parking
 
There was much communication breakdown between the real citizen, the note taker and the note translators at the front of the room. I suspect this was intentional. Lots of confused looks from the real citizens when they saw that the notes at the front did not remotely resemble actual discussion at the table.
 
I later spoke with one of the task force members who admitted to me that the whole thing was a set-up and that since the task force was made up of folks with such diverse interests, only the rail and bicycle people felt that it was a success.

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Yes folks, there really IS a transportation fairy, and he or she is coming to YOUR home town, if not already there.

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