February, 2006

Statement of Write-In Candidacy

My name is Richard Loomis. I am 58 years old, and have been a resident of Scottsdale for 54, living in my current home in South Scottsdale for the past 45 years. I’m a veteran: I spent 3 years in the Army from 1969 to 1971, in the Signal Corps, serving in Hawaii. I graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in accounting.

I started my own business designing and selling games while in the service, and have operated it out of my home for the last 20 years. (I sell Weapons of Mass Destruction - a card game I invented last year! We have a website at www.flyingbuffalo.com for more details on my business.)

I am currently the president of an industry trade association, the Game Manufacturers Association, (www.gama.org) and was president of the YMCA Church Softball League when we had a YMCA in South Scottsdale.

My platform is: Scottsdale should give serious consideration to “SkyTran” to help solve our present and future transportation problems.

I have listened for some time to people discussing whether Scottsdale “should” or “should not” have Light Rail, but no one seems to be discussing any genuine alternatives for “Light Rail or nothing”. I’d like for people to at least DISCUSS some other possibilities like SkyTran instead of fixating on technology of the 1800’s (railroads). SkyTran is like an overhead monorail, except with individual cars instead of trains. It would be cheaper to build than light rail, cheaper to operate, more convenient for passengers, safer, and faster. Since it would be overhead, it wouldn’t take up part of our street for a roadway, wouldn’t block traffic, and wouldn’t get involved in accidents. It has the potential to be SO much better than light rail, I can’t believe we aren’t having serious investigations into it. (You can read about SkyTran at www.skytran.net.

SkyTran would be the perfect thing to connect ASU, SkySong, Old Town Scottsdale, the Waterfront project, Fashion Square, The Borgata, and the Scottsdale Airport. Just one single line down Scottsdale Road from ASU to the airport would cost less than the Light Rail boondoggle, and it would make Scottsdale internationally newsworthy. Tourists would come to see it from all over the world, and isn’t SkySong supposed to be about technology?

I understand there is about $5 million in Prop. 400 funds set aside for a "commuter rail study." Commuter rail faces the same problems that light rail does, particularly at-grade railroad crossings and high capital costs. I recommend that a portion of that $5 million (perhaps 10-20 percent) be allocated to SkySong to conduct an independent study (that is independent of MAG) of the feasibility of SkyTran (Personal Automated Transit -- PAT) service between ASU Main and SkySong.

I am aware of the difficulty in getting elected as a write-in candidate, and I don’t really expect to be elected. My primary purpose is to get some discussion going of a project that would REALLY make Scottsdale’s image that of being forward-looking and modern. However, should anyone actually be considering voting for me, I would like to point out that I have ties to this town from before I was born. My grandfather, Ernest Allgood, moved to Scottsdale back in the 1920’s. He was a farmer (his farm was roughly at the corner of Granite Reef Road and Macdonald Drive, where I lived for 9 years), and he served on the Board of the Salt River Project. My uncle, Delbert Pierce, was (I think) on the School Board when Scottsdale High School was originally built. I have always (since 4 yrs old) considered Scottsdale my home, and since I have run my own small business for 35 years, would be a spokesman for small businesses. I have been a member of the Scottsdale United Methodist Church for almost 50 years. I am beholden to no one, and will always be straightforward with the public and the press.

Richard F Loomis 480-945-6917

Campaign finances:
As I understand it, I am under no obligation to report my campaign expenditures as long as I spend less than $500 (and take in less than $500 in donations.) I am not at this time asking for donations, as I don't plan to spend much money. But since I have nothing to hide, I'm going to report my spending here.

As of Feb 2, 2006, spent $1.08 printing copies of my "campaign statement".
Feb 9, 2006, $35.10 at CopyMax for more campaign statements, plus 2000 business cards that say "Write in Richard Loomis"

Campaign Blog:
I have run for election (and been elected) in various small organizations before, but this is my first run for actual public office. I'm going to keep a little journal right here, just in case something interesting happens!

As I've said in my campaign statement, my main purpose in starting this campaign is because no one is even DISCUSSING alternatives to Light Rail such as "SkyTran". After reading in the Scottsdale Republic that the only requirement to run as a write-in candidate is to file some forms at the City Clerks office, I decide, what the heck, maybe it will get a discussion going. I find out from the City Clerk that there are usually NO write-in candidates, but because of the publicity this year they made up 12 information packets, and all 12 are already gone by the time I drop by at about 1pm on the final day to file. They make one up for me as I wait. I sort of half expected a pack of reporters waiting around to see who else is going to file, so I have a dozen campaign statements with me. No one is around, no one seems to notice. I am a bit disappointed.

Next day, Feb 3, I get a fax inviting me to participate in a question and answer session Monday Feb 13th. This is more like it! A chance to tell people about SkyTran. I send an email to all my friends and family, telling them of my decision. As expected, most write back wishing me luck. Turns out one of my friends, unbeknownst to me, is on some kind of Transportation Committee for the city, and she sends me several useful and interesting web links. I've got some studying to do. Also several meetings that I won't be able to attend due to business trips. I get a call from another friend who tells me that while researching his next novel, he has been visiting the two Scottsdale strip clubs that are part of the current controversy about new "Adult Entertainment" legislation. Asks me my views. I tell him the city has no business trying to drive legitimate businesses out of business, just because they "don't like" them. He agrees. Suggests I print up some business cards stating that view, and he'll hand them out to patrons of the clubs. Sure, why not? Maybe I won't come in last after all. This will be my first real campaign expenditure.

Feb 4 I get a letter from the City asking me to participate in a Candidate Orientation on friday, Feb 10.

Feb 7, Scottsdale Republic sends me a questionairre giving me a couple opportunities to talk about SkyTran.
Feb 7, 11pm, I get a phone call from Washington DC. Gentleman who says he is from the Green Party says he read about my candidacy on a gaming website. (Well, I did tell all my friends about my campaign. And most of my friends are gamers. We're talking boardgames here, not gambling.) Says since I am advocating non-polluting mass transit, the Green Party wants to support me. My first endorsement! Not official, but he offers me some phone numbers and is encouraging.

Feb 8 I get an email from the Grayhawk Scottsdale Airport Traffic Committee asking me to tell them my opinions about the airport. Don't really have any opinions about that. People who buy a house near an airport gotta expect some noise. Can I suggest that if we get SkyTran going from Scottsdale to the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, that perhaps fewer people will need to use the Scottsdale Airport?
Feb 8, I get a request for a photo from the Scottsdale Republic.
Also Feb 8, at my weekly softball game, find out from one of my players (I coach a men's b-league softball team) that I've already missed one candidate forum no one told me about.

Feb 9 the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors sponsored their annual "Candidate Forum" which was televised live on the local cable tv channel (the one no one watches!) which will be repeated several times a week until the election. It was fun, and I don't think I put my foot in my mouth! I got a chance to mention SkyTran once or twice.

Turns out one of the incumbent councilmen is actually familiar with the term Personal Rapid Transit and seems favorably inclined. Also after the event, one of the officials of the SAAR came up to me and asked for some materials on SkyTran, and I gave him some of the stuff Doug emailed me earlier.

Looks like I chose the perfect year to do this. They are taking all the write-in candidates seriously. (It's enough to give me a swelled head - everyone wants my opinion!) The city has even written me a letter telling me that they will put up a sign at EVERY voting place on election day, listing all the write-in candidates.

One of the incumbents told me after the above event that he spends 60 hours a week on city business. We'd better hope that I don't win! I won't have time to sell Nuclear War! Ideal result would be to come in 4th, so my candidacy will be talked about after the election, but I don't actually have to try to govern this city!

Friday Feb 10th. City invites me to a "Candidate Orientation" from 8am to noon. I show up late - don't figure I really need to be "oriented" if I haven't a chance in heck of winning. They are serving rolls and juice - wish I'd known that! The presentation is impressive. The head of each city department gives a 10 minute talk on his/her department, what their budget is, how many employees they have, what their priorities are right now. All fascinating stuff and of course they run over time. At the end they give each of us a 50 pound box of material I haven't had time to look at yet. I hope the 2003 "Transportation Plan" is included. Do they do this every year?

Saturday Feb 11th I missed a campaign opportunity. Yesterday someone faxed me an invitation to show up for a morning "meet and greet" for the 900+ residents of their residential complex. Our fax line comes into a computer and we print out what we want. I tell Chuck to print it out for me, and go off to a meeting. I get back to a note from Chuck that somehow between putting the fax on a disk, carrying the disk to the next room, and trying to print it out, the fax got lost! I didn't even write down the phone number so I can't call and ask when and where it is. (sigh!) I need a campaign manager!

Also on Saturday I get an email from the city telling me they have put a mailbox for all of the write in candidates at city hall, and suggest I check it a couple times a week. They will be putting in it all the routine info they give the council members before every council meeting. I guess they want to show us how much work it's going to be if we should happen to win.

Feb 28 at 10am:
I got to take a look at the Scottsdale/Tempe Transit Corridor Study which is now in Phase Two. Phase Two is only considering busses and light rail, all others being eliminated in Phase One. In Phase One they actually considered Monorail, Mag-Lev, and PRT. As I feared, what happened was that certain initial assumptions were made that automatically eliminated any consideration of SkyTran whatsoever. Unfortunately I don't know whether these initial assumptions were created by the study group, handed down by the City Council, or created in some other manner. It is these initial assumptions that must be examined if we are going to get anywhere with SkyTran in the City of Scottsdale.

(1) The first is that Scottsdale does not want to be a pioneer/innovater in the area of Rapid Transit. One of the ten critical criteria is "Proven Technology in Revenue Service", and of course no one yet has set up a fare-collecting overhead mag-lev monorail in the US. This is actually one of the main reasons I *want* this for Scottsdale. ANY innovative technology is going to be "unproven".

(2) The second one is in two parts: one is that an overhead system cannot be made aesthetically pleasing, and the other is that aesthetic considerations are critically more important than any other consideration such as safety, traffic congestion, right of way (eliminating existing traffic lanes or existing businesses) or speed of service. The criteria listed is "Visual Impact".

(3) The third is that whatever system is chosen must mesh with the technology already in place in surrounding communities. This criteria alone eliminates everything except the three "preferred" options. Obviously an innovative system such as an overhead monorail isn't going to "mesh" with what is already in place in Phoenix or Mesa. What this criteria does is absolutely require that we cannot be innovative or do anything the others aren't doing. And who's to say that getting off the monorail at a bus station or train station in order to "cross over" is any harder than getting off a bus at a rail station or airport? People do it all the time. (And of course the ultimate idea of SkyTran is to eliminate the need for busses and passenger trains all together!)

PRT is also ranked "poor" in several other criteria, in which I believe they are mistaken in their assumptions about PRT (or at least, SkyTran's version of PRT).

Travel Time Competitiveness: The description of PRT in the document says "PRT refers to relatively low-speed systems designed to provide personalized service" and "PRT would have limited capacity". I believe SkyTran is intended to be much faster than considered in this paragraph, especially since being above grade, it won't have to compete with traffic. And the higher speed increases the capacity as the user won't need the car for very long.

Capital and ROW cost: It would indeed cost more to build an overhead monorail than to buy a couple of busses. But they ranked Light Rail as "fair" and PRT as "poor". I believe SkyTran will actually be cheaper than Light Rail. I don't know where they got their idea of the cost of PRT.

Operating and Maintenance Cost: Again they rank PRT as "poor" and Light Rail as "good". Doug will have to come up with numbers to refute these claims in this criteria and the previous one. Also both of the above two assumptions also assume that the City will be paying for this transportation system, and that it cannot be built as a profit making enterprise.

Ridership Attraction: PRT is listed as "Poor(unknown)". Once again PRT is eliminated from consideration because it has never been done before. At what point were these people told that Scottsdale did not want to be innovative? In the description of "Ridership Attraction" they say that "Urban Rail technologies (except streetcar/trolley) generally "good" due to distinctive image and modern design." ?? And something like SkyTran won't have a distinctive image and modern design? At any rate, I believe their assumption on Ridership Attraction is unnecessarily harsh, and probably completely wrong. Something like this would certainly attract tourists, and the convenience of "Ride on Demand" would attract local riders and commuters. I also note that the fact that it is overhead will give a nice view to tourists.

As far as aesthetic considerations go, I agree that an overhead freeway, rail line, or bus route would be ugly. But I don't think an overhead PRT system would be as intrusive, or as ugly as they seem to think. (Could perhaps the poles that hold up the rail be made to look like saguaro cacti? And perhaps the stations where you go up to catch a car be made to look like mountain peaks or indian pueblos? I know people would laugh and call it a "kiddie ride" but again I think this would be something that would attract tourists. We'd get a LOT of national publicity!

The critical paragraphs in the study: Paragraph 7.1.9: "PRT refers to relatively low-speed systems designed to provide personalized service. This experimental form of AGT (Automated Guideway Transit) would provide point-to-point transportation along a grade-separated guideway with off-line stations. Service could be operated on demand, with small (four to eight person) vehicles summoned to a stop by the rider. This technology is envisioned to compete with the automobile by providing a non-stop trip between origin and destination in small "private" vehicles. PRT would be most suitable for serving compact activity centers. with several distinct origins and destinations, operating much like a horizontal elevator system. PRT would have limited capacity and would require an extensive network of elevated guideways. No true PRT systems carry passengers anywhere in the United States; plans to implement a demonstration project in Rosemont, Illinois were abandoned several years ago."

And Paragraph 7.2: "The qualitative Tier 1 evaluation criteria were applied to each alternative using a matrix format. Each modal alternative was rated "Poor", "Fair" or "Good" relative to each criterion, with "Poor" indicating substandard performance in the Scottsdale/Tempe urban context. ... Modal alternatives rated as "Poor" on any of the criteria were eliminated from further consideration...

The MagLev and AGT alternatives (including Monorail and Personal Rapid Transit) have no history of large-scale revenue operation in the United States. These technologies also have high capital costs, which are likely to result in low cost effectiveness. Each requires construction of an elevated guideway, which would have significant visual impacts abe difficult to implement because of the lack of public acceptance in some areas. "

So there it is: under no circumstances can we be innovative or do anything different from Phoenix. And the fact that undoubtedly someone would complain that an overhead rail is "ugly" absolutely prohibits us from trying to educate them of the value of the additional speed, safety and convenience.

EMAIL: rick@flyingbuffalo.com