Shnelvar Wrestles with TREX

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Shnelvar Wrestles with TREX

by Ari Armstrong, September 21, 2002

Ralph Shnelvar, the Libertarian candidate for governor, debated transportation issues with Rollie Heath and Ron Forthofer in Denver September 19. Shnelvar's introductory speech is reproduced below.


Shnelvar greets Forthofer and Heath.

Heath didn't make much of a substantive contribution. "We're at a cross-roads," he said. We don't want "four more years of falling behind." Let's "get Colorado moving again." Yawn. Heath said he wants more taxes spent on health care, education, mass transit, and agriculture. He wants to hold a "summit" so Coloradans can figure out how to solve their water problems. "I'm going to roll up my sleeves," he said.

Forthofer was more interesting. His goal is to "try and find ways of reducing the need for transportation." He wants the government to be more involved in housing, zoning, health care, global temperature, mass transit, and agriculture. Forthofer believes all that is needed for his socialistic plans to work is a politically interested populace. The "voices of the people" are not being heard. Let's "try and solve problems together." "Under democracy, people can make a difference." How quaint!

Shnelvar and Forthofer agreed they wanted to end corporate welfare, including subsidies for housing developments. Against Forthofer's socialism and Heath's socialism-light, Shnelvar defended free markets and voluntary solutions to social problems. Zoning itself created many of our "sprawl" problems by preventing people from living near their places of work. We need vested water rights to prevent waste and encourage efficient use. Tax-funded transit is a waste of money: "60% of the dollars [for the I-25 project] are going to 4% of the transportation." Shnelvar said of his opponents, "They think they know how to spend your money better than you do."

All three candidates blasted Owens for not attending the forum, as did Denver City Councilor Kathleen McKinzie and State Senator Doug Linkhart, both of whom helped organize the event.

Kevin Flynn wrote a September 20 story for the Rocky Mountain News about the event. The sub-head above the continued story read, "Transit: Libertarian blasts funding of light rail."

On September 19, the Denver Post published a 500-word essay by Shnelvar titled, "A vote for Libertarian ideals." Shnelvar blasted Owens for supporting a bill to increase state spending, signing Amendment 22 to expand gun registrations, and opposing medical marijuana for sick people. Shnelvar supports low taxes, the right to bear arms, and the legalization of marijuana. He wrote, "I have a vision of freedom, prosperity, racial harmony and peace that my Libertarian philosophy gives me." Forthofer was given equal space to review his goals.


[Ralph Shnelvar delivered the following speech September 19 in Denver at a forum concerning TREX and transportation.]

H.A.M. It's easy to remember.

H.A.M. stands for Health, Arrogance, and Money.

H is for Health:

I have here in front of me the Environment Impact Study Volume I. Let me say that I am not pleased.

I have managed to dig through all of this - and a lot of other information - and have found that there are two health risks that are not addressed: Ozone and cadmium.

Ozone is a lung irritant. It is nasty stuff. The EPA considers ozone levels above 80 parts per billion to be in non-compliance.

Car emissions produce ozone. Even if the light rail line weren't there, we would expect 30% more ozone just because of the increased traffic.

One of the things not studied, though, is the amount of ozone that will be generated by light rail. Everyone in authority seems to think that the catenary arcing - that is, the electrical arcing - will generate zero ozone. I have a degree in electrical engineering. I can tell you that arcing occurs in big electrical motors and when electrical contacts are made and broken.

I can tell you that a lot of ozone is going to be generated.

Indeed, the overhead transfer points where the arcing occurs are made of cadmium and they wear out. The cadmium goes into the environment somewhere - I cannot tell you where. In May of 2000, the Department of Health and Human Services released the Report on Carcinogens 9th edition and they say that Cadmium and cadmium compounds are "Known or Reasonably Anticipated Human Carcinogens".

So here we have increased levels of traffic and to this we will add light rail generating a lot of ozone and then on top of that we add an additional sixteen feet of noise walls. Ozone is heavier than air and will stay in a bowl until it decays. What we have is the I-25 corridor acting as a bowl. With traffic estimated to be as bad at the end of construction as it was at the beginning - but with an additional two lanes of traffic in each direction - and with the additional light rail generating ozone, I can assure you that I would not like to be sitting in traffic, riding light rail, or living nearby.

No one knows how much ozone light rail will generate. The problem is conveniently swept under the rug.

Whether you are for light rail or not, our state government - our governor - should have done a much better job of informing you of the risks. If I, a private citizen without resources, can spend the time to look at this, certainly our governor could have, too.

The "A" in H.A.M. is for arrogance.

It is simple arrogance on the governor's part not to directly meet with the people most affected by the largest public works project controlled by the state of Colorado in Colorado's history.

I believe that I, Ralph Shnelvar, am the only gubernatorial candidate to take the time to meet with and talk to representatives of the various community groups affected by TREX. I cared enough to find things out directly. My opponents did not.

I found out many things but I do not have time to even list them all now. For instance, I found out from merchants in the area that they are really concerned with the sound walls. They fear that people will not see that there are businesses in the area as they drive down I-25. I sympathize with the people who pay most of the taxes. None of the other candidates seemed to care.

And then, of course, it is simply arrogant for the current governor to not even bother to attend this forum.

Finally, "M" is for Money:

The Bible says that, "The love of money is the root of all evil." I can tell you: "The love of spending other people's money is the root of political corruption."

When Owens budgeted for TREX and the transportation bond, he committed every single dollar of federal highway funds for the next twenty years.

He was fiscally irresponsible. The federal government, in an attempt to balance its own books, is cutting back on federal highway dollars. The chickens are coming home to roost

The state is going to have to make up those dollars and we don't have any extra funds at all.

Libertarians care deeply about the environment. We like clean air and water, too. To us, a polluter is a person who hurts a lot of others. The purpose of government is to punish those who hurt others and I will severely punish polluters.

As governor I will see to it that the environment will be cleaner for everyone.

So we are back to ham. We are back to pork-barrel spending.

Our current governor knows how to act ham handed. He knows how to spend other people's money, recklessly.

I'm Ralph Shnelvar. I won't ham it up. I won't act ham handed with the voters. I'll tell you what you need to know and I'll provide principled leadership for this state.

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