Thou Shall Not Increase Traffic

In the closing days of the 1986 U.S. Senate race in California, then-Senator Alan Cranston asked if there was anything else he could do to ensure his reelection. A brash young aide replied, “Is there any way you can reduce the voters’ commute time by 15 minutes?” The Senator laughed out loud. If he could, he would.

There are few issues that move voters more than traffic. In Santa Clara County, voters have continually supported new taxes if the money would go to reduce traffic. Promising the electorate that BART would come to San Jose and help relieve future traffic congestion led to the passage of measures that required 2/3 of the vote.

High-speed rail passed because of the number of people it would take off the 5 in Los Angeles. Google, Apple and other Silicon Valley firms provide their own buses. Corporations subsidize their employees who take BART and CalTrain, and many provide shuttles to their job sites.

NIMBYs regularly cite traffic issues to defeat potential projects, whether they’re residential or commercial. Even though many developers are required to improve traffic as a part of a project, the NIMBYs ignore this truth. The theory that traffic must get worse if any new homes are built—regardless of the improvements a developer proposes—is close-minded.

So, woe to any politician—ahem, Chris Christie—who deliberately causes a traffic jam, such as. The George Washington Bridge in New Jersey is the most heavily travelled bridge in the nation. Closing it in an effort to damage a political opponent is beyond stupid. Imagine the short lifespan of any California politician who would purposely shut down the Bay Bridge for no reason. Simply take note of the public reaction to potential BART strikes. It isn’t pretty.

The public has a short memory regarding scandals, but there are three transgressions voters will never forgive. You can cheat on your spouse, smoke crack, instant message your junk (just don’t do it again), drive drunk, duck military service, not vote in previous elections, go bankrupt, lie on your resume, plagiarize another’s work, cheat on an exam, blatantly lie to voters, smear your opponent and commit numerous other sins. What you can’t do is steal from the public, engage in the sexual exploitation of children or purposely causing a traffic jam.

The presidential race is still not until 2016, but here’s one prediction that can be made with relative certainty: There won’t be a President Christie.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


  1. So using this logic would you say that Sam Liccardo has shot himself in the foot by advocating for his new bike lanes, snarling traffic (especially on Heading Street) and increasing commute times?

    • Great point Michael. Unfortunately, Liccardo’s urbanization lobbyist at SPUR, Leah Toeniskoetter, and his other election campaign contributors would rather have the sheeple sit in gridlock on 10th street than have an efficient exit out of filthy downtown.

      The sheeple wake slowly, but as Christie is learning in New Jersey, some angry shepherds can turn the herds against the hands that fleece them.

  2. Good point. Esp since although he is an attorney he totally screwed up on the Pension Reform decision to go before the voters, saying it was legal, despite being advised against this by the San Jose City Attorney.

  3. Setting aside the fact that “NIMBY” is a pejorative term for someone who might more reasonably be classified as “Concerned Citizen”, Robinson’s enduring enmity for this group is puzzling when one considers that were it not for them his role (and the large paycheck he “earned” for it) in smoothing the way for the construction of the fracking friendly, greenhouse gas spewing Metcalf Energy Center would have been unnecessary.
    If not for his hated arch enemies, the “NIMBYs”, Rich’s professional resume would be bereft of the one meager claim to fame of which he is SO proud, leaving a legacy consisting solely of ambulance chasing and pimping for pandering Progressive politicians.

    • As part of the agreement between the city and Calpine, they promised residents (Rich’s NIMBYs) to install two air monitoring stations North and South of the Metcalf Energy Center.  More than ten years after the plant was approved, the city and Calpine still have not delivered on their promise.  Mr. Kalra went so far as to send out campaign letter desperately listing the installation of the Northern air monitoring station as one of his “accomplishments” of his first term.

  4. Robinson must be shilling for some sort of tax increase to fund something transportation related.

    I think Robinson is full of it.  The issue is abuse of power.  That’s what people get worked up about.

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