Three important things to know about Tim Eyman’s Initiative 947

Ballot WatchdoggingRethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

1. Initiative 947 is really about gutting Sound Transit, not lowering vehicle fees

Just as with Initiative 776 in 2002, the main intent of I-947 is not actually to lower vehicle fees, it’s to sabotage the work of Sound Transit.

As far as Eyman is concerned, the lower vehicle fees are a welcome side effect. Eyman’s real aim is to nullify the 2016 Sound Transit 3 vote. And he’s now starting to openly admit that with his new slogan: “Let’s stick it to Sound Transit!”

Eyman has been nursing a deep grudge against Sound Transit for years, as is evident from his email today in which he rants at length against the agency, even falsely accusing it of having every law firm around on its payroll.

Eyman has previously contended that “voters are smart” and that the typical voter is perfectly capable of listening to the arguments made by ballot measure proponents and opponents, then making up their minds on their own. But Eyman clearly doesn’t believe that himself, as he is once again trying to overturn their will. Every time you get the chance, ask Eyman, “Why are you trying to overturn the will of the voters?”

Read more about Eyman’s obsession with taking out Sound Transit and how it inspired the creation of NPI’s Permanent Defense project — and later NPI itself.

2.  Eyman is trying to raise money for I-947 while also trying to raise $600,000 to pay legal bills

The cost of getting on the ballot exclusively with hired help runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even more money is needed when the initiative sponsor wants to arrange to receive illegal kickbacks from the company providing the signatures.

Those kickbacks and other serious public disclosure law violations are the basis for four — yes, four — lawsuits filed by the State of Washington against Tim Eyman.

Like his idol Donald Trump, Eyman is claiming to be the victim of a “witch hunt”. He recently sent out an appeal for money via the United States Postal Service, writing, “I need help, a lot of help…. For the past five years, the AG has been investigating me and it has been incredibly stressful, burdensome, and costly to me and my family.”

“I implore you. Please help me get through this,” Eyman adds.

He says his goal is to raise $600,000 for his legal defense — about what a signature drive would cost minus the kickbacks Eyman has received in the past. Eyman says he has seeded his own legal defense fund by taking out a loan against his house.

How is Eyman going to manage to raise over half a million for a new initiative at the same time he’s trying to raise over half a million for his legal defense? That’s a lot to ask, even of his wealthy benefactors, who have been less and less generous since 2015.

3. Initiative 947 is actually Eyman’s sixth attempt to slash vehicle fees, not his third

Some of the accounts of Tim Eyman’s “announcement” from yesterday have portrayed Initiative 947 as Eyman’s third attempt to set vehicle fees at thirty dollars. It is actually Eyman’s sixth attempt to do so. Eyman doesn’t like talking about his many failures, which is why he painted an incomplete picture yesterday.

Here’s a rundown of the prior initiatives:

I-695, 1999: Voted on in November of 1999. Gutted the statewide motor vehicle excise tax, eviscerating funding for ferries, roads, bridges, transit, and a host of other local public services. Declared unconstitutional by the courts; partially reinstated by the Legislature. Read more about the impacts of I-695.

I-776, 2002: Voted on in November of 2002. Repealed local motor vehicle excise taxes in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Douglas counties and also revoked Sound Transit’s authority to collect vehicle fees. I-776 ended up not applying to Sound Transit because the vehicle fees were used as the basis for bond sales. Read more about the impacts of I-776.

I-917, 2006: Failed to qualify to the 2006 ballot. Using Michael Dunmire’s money, Tim Eyman hired petition crews to gather signatures for I-917, but he didn’t buy enough to qualify the measure. It took the Secretary of State the rest of the summer to check all of the I-917 signatures. In September of 2006, the office announced I-917 had not qualified for the ballot. Read more about the spectacular collapse of I-917.

I-1421, 2016: Failed to qualify to last year’s ballot. In February of 2016, Tim Eyman made a similar announcement to the one he made yesterday, saying the time was ripe for another initiative to slash vehicle fees. He summoned reporters to a morning press conference, made a big show of being the first to sign, and then send out a flurry of fundraising emails. But I-1421 didn’t go anywhere. It turned out there wasn’t much interest. Only a few months later, Eyman was forced to acknowledge I-1421 had been abandoned.

I-869, 2016: Failed to qualify as an initiative to the 2017 Legislature. After the failure of I-1421, Eyman started over with a clone, I-869, rebranding the effort as “We Love Our Cars”. But it was no more successful than I-1421. In December of 2016, it died a quiet death, without so much as passing obituary from Eyman.

Given that Eyman’s last three attempts to qualify an initiative slashing vehicle fees have ended in failure, we should all be skeptical that I-947 is going anywhere until Tim Eyman shows us the commitments from his wealthy benefactors. Eyman has not gotten on the ballot with mostly volunteer labor since 1999. His initiative factory relies on big money to function — it’s not a grassroots operation. Without sizable commitments from the likes of Kemper Freeman, Jr., Kenneth Fisher, or Clyde Holland, Eyman will not be able to get a signature drive going for I-947.

NPI’s Permanent Defense ready to fight Eyman’s latest attack on Sound Transit — if there’s money behind it

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman said today that he will again attempt to defund Sound Transit, Puget Sound’s regional mass transportation authority, telling reporters in front of Seattle’s King Street Station that he’s “excited” to launch a new attack on the highly successful agency, which continues to build out a voter approved network of light rail lines, Sounder commuter rail runs, and Express bus routes.

“Let’s stick it to Sound Transit!” Eyman sneered in an email distributed to his followers immediately after his appearance.

The Northwest Progressive Institute stands ready, through its Permanent Defense project, to once again take on Eyman and win — should he actually have commitments from his wealthy benefactors to finance a signature drive this time around.

“The people of Puget Sound have voted repeatedly, by clear margins, to authorize Sound Transit to build the mass transit network our region needs to ensure we all have the freedom to liberate ourselves from auto congestion,” said NPI founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives for fifteen and a half years. “That investment must be protected.”

“Ridership on Sound Transit’s system is soaring. People want the freedom that rail and frequent bus service offer. It’s important to note that Link light rail has just surpassed two million boardings per month. And more service is on the way: Sound Transit is on track to extend light rail north to Northgate by 2021 with three new stations.”

“Tim Eyman admitted today he has no respect for the voters’ will and remains obsessed with destroying the crucial investments in regional mobility that they have approved. The team at NPI stands ready to provide the vigorous opposition his destructive scheme deserves should his wealthy benefactors be on board. And we won’t be alone. We’ll be working to re-mobilize the coalition that successfully advocated for passage of ST3 and defeated Eyman’s 2008 and 2011 attempts to mess with our transportation system.”

It remains to be seen if the measure Eyman announced he’s doing today is going anywhere. Eyman has now failed to make the ballot for two years in a row because he could not get his wealthy benefactors to pony up the hundreds of thousands needed to hire petition crews to collect the 330,000 signatures required to pass a random sample check.

The gears of Eyman’s initiative factory cannot turn without money, and at present, money remains in short supply. Eyman’s fundraising to date in 2017 has been anemic, and the Mukilteo-based pitchman recently disclosed that he’s taken out a second mortgage on his house to raise money to defend himself against the four lawsuits filed against him by the State of Washington for serious public disclosure law violations.

But, as Eyman considers initiatives his business, he must always have one to sell, even if there is no prospect of it actually qualifying.

Eyman’s last four consecutive announced initiatives have all turned out to be fakes, including I-1421 and I-869, which Eyman tried to qualify last year as initiatives to the people and the Legislature, respectively. I-1421 and I-869 closely resembled I-947, the measure Eyman said today that he’s printing petitions for. I-1421 was announced in February of 2016 and acknowledged as abandoned three months later. It was succeeded by I-869, which met its demise six months later without so much as a word from Eyman.

When is Tim Eyman going to stop asking his followers to donate to an initiative he knows is dead?

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Eyman’s initiative factory has now itself become a deception. This is the fourth consecutive initiative that Eyman has committed to qualifying to the ballot that didn’t go anywhere. The money Eyman is raising through these emails is being used not to run a signature drive for I-1550, but to cover living expenses and overhead.

Keep reading

Right wing petitioners using county measure that would ban safe injection sites as lead-in for statewide anti-transgender initiative

Ballot WatchdoggingThreat Analysis

What does a county-level initiative that would ban safe injection sites have to do with a statewide initiative that would roll back transgender rights? Answer: It serves as a nice lead-in for out-of-state petitioners who have been given the sheets for both.

Yesterday, NPI leadership documented right wing petitioners in action, photographing a crew camped out in front of a QFC in Renton.

Petitioners were seen approaching voters to sign I-27 (the county-level measure) first– and then going for a second score by flipping their boards to present petitions for I-1552, the statewide initiative that would wrongly prohibit transgender individuals from using washrooms designated for the gender they identify as.

Because petitioners in Washington State are paid by the signature, they have a strong incentive to lead with whatever they’ve got that people are most receptive to. Banning safe injection sites (which don’t yet exist) is proving to be an easier sell in King County than forcing a public vote on the rights of transgender individuals.

Petitioner next to a QFC sign about unsanctioned petitioningManagement of the Kroger-owned QFC where the petitioners were operating wasn’t pleased about the signature gathering activity taking place at their store entrance, and placed a freestanding sign right outside the doors informing patrons the petitioners were operating without the company’s blessing.

The sign read:

To Our Customers:

Petitioners are on QFC property without our permission.

QFC is not associated with this petitioning activity.

We apologize for any inconvenience this activity may cause.

The campaign to qualify I-27 to the King County ballot in November is being spearheaded by Bothell City Councilmember Joshua Freed, who says he’s quite pleased with signature gathering efforts so far.

“We’ve had over 600 volunteers reach out to us and collect signatures,” Freed told KIRO Radio in an interview on June 6th. “Today, we’re at 20,953 signatures. Our required goal is 47,443 by July 31. So, we are very well on our way.”

Freed failed to mention that his group is benefiting from the services of out-of-state signature gatherers, who have been deployed around King County with I-27 petitions. (One of the petitioners in front of the Renton QFC admitted to NPI leadership when asked that he isn’t a King County resident and is here to make a few quick bucks petitioning.)

The I-1552 campaign started back in the winter, but has struggled to catch fire. Backers are running out of time. Their submission deadline is early in July, as opposed to the end of the month, and their petitions need to contain at least 330,000 signatures or the measure will be at risk of failing a signature check. The campaign announced yesterday it had surpassed 100,000 signatures, but that’s less than a third of what they need.

The existence of the I-27 campaign is rather convenient for the struggling I-1552 campaign, because petitioners for hire haven’t got much of an incentive to come to King County just to carry I-1552 sheets. (A high number of voters in King County support LGBT rights, making refusals or lack of interest a barrier to getting signatures for I-1552.)

But by piggybacking on the I-27 effort, the I-1552 campaign can partly work around this problem. Since petitioners from out of state are already in King County to work I-27, the I-1552 campaign is making sure their paper is made available to those petitioners.

Considering how poorly their drive has gone so far, however, it could be futile. I-27 may well qualify for the November ballot in King County, but I-1552 is floundering, and won’t make the statewide ballot short of a last ditch signature gathering bonanza.

Anti-transgender initiative campaign still struggling to gather signatures as deadline nears

Ballot WatchdoggingThreat Analysis

A theoconservative effort to qualify an initiative that would roll back transgender rights in Washington appears to be going nowhere, although its backers have yet to concede defeat.

With less than a month to go until this year’s signature gathering deadline arrives, proponents of I-1552 have issued a fresh plea for donations and volunteers in which they tacitly acknowledge that they’re not getting the support they had hoped for. I-1552 is a do-over of I-1515, which failed to make last year’s ballot.

What comes to your mind when you hear the number “23?” The greatest basketball player who ever lived? The number of chromosomes each human receives from each parent? The beloved Psalm in the Bible?

Here at JWP headquarters, 23 means one thing and one thing only – the number of days remaining to qualify I-1552 for the November ballot. That’s not much time at all.

Are we going to make it? Please take a few moments to watch Joseph’s video update to find out. If you do, you’ll learn that we have over 92,000 signatures in hand already and that we received over 170,000 signatures during the final two weeks of last year’s campaign. This is good news.

Good news, perhaps, for the opposition, but not for the I-1552 campaign. To qualify for the ballot, they must submit around 330,000 signatures. That’s the minimum they need. If they’ve truthfully reported what they have in hand, then they’re in bad shape. They only have a third of what they need with only a few weeks to go… and the clock is ticking.

I-1552 backers are counting on there being a sudden surge of activity at the end of their drive to propel them to the ballot.

But even if they get their wish, it’s unlikely to be enough, because they’re entering into the home stretch of the signature gathering season in such a weak position.

On May 19th, the campaign reported to its supporters that it had 50,000 signatures in hand. I-1552 promoters Joseph Backholm and Kaeley Triller Haver sent repeated appeals urging their followers to enlist church congregations to participate in a “Signature Sunday” event on June 4th to bolster the campaign’s position.

It appears the “Signature Sunday” event didn’t yield very many signatures.

By the campaign’s admission, around 42,000 signatures have been added to the tally since the 19th. That’s an average of around 2,211 signatures a day. If the campaign continued to gather signatures at the same pace, it would wind up with around 50,853 more signatures than it has now — which is less than half of what is needed.

Even if the campaign was able to collect 170,000 signatures during the final two weeks of this year’s drive — something it claimed it did last year — that still wouldn’t be enough to qualify. 92,000 + 170,000 = 262,000, and the campaign needs to submit at least 330,000 or it’s at risk of failing a signature check.

The I-1552 campaign has expended some funds to hire signature gatherers, but has said it is counting on volunteers to deliver most of what’s needed (200,000 of 330,000 signatures). It doesn’t appear that either the paid drive or the unpaid drive are going very well. And that’s great news for Washington. Hate has no place on our ballot. Our transgender population is not a public safety threat. In fact, transgender individuals are more likely to be the victims of harassment or assault than the typical person.

The demise of I-1552 would not guarantee that transgender rights are safe from being overturned. But it’s hard to see a third effort succeeding next year when two previous efforts failed. If anything, grassroots support for the cause may wane further due to the collapse of I-1515 and I-1552 and the shifting political landscape.

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