NPI applauds legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-976

In the Courts

Today, a coalition of local governments plus the Amalgamated Transit Union and a resident of Thurston County jointly filed suit in King County Superior Court alleging that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 is unconstitutional on multiple grounds. The plaintiffs seek an injunction barring I-976 from being implemented following the certification of the November 2019 general election and an order declaring I-976 unconstitutional.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve welcomed the filing of the legal challenge and wished the plaintiffs well.

“The fight against I-976 continues in a different arena with the filing of this necessary, timely legal challenge,” said Villeneuve.

“Tim Eyman intended for Initiative 976 to be a wrecking ball aimed at our multimodal transportation investments, which he ideologically opposes. If I-976 is ever implemented, that is certainly what it would be. But there’s a good chance it will never go into effect, because the measure itself is a blazing dumpster fire.”

“Like previous Eyman initiatives, I-976 is loaded with constitutional defects. For instance, it violates the single subject rule as well as the subject in title rule. The NPI team agrees with the plaintiffs that I-976 simply cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny. The courts should protect our plan of government and toss I-976 in the scrap heap of Washington State electoral history where it belongs. Then, our Legislature should promptly act to address the concerns that many Washingtonians have about our reliance on a needlessly complicated, multi-layered system of vehicle fees to fund the essential transportation improvements our communities need.”

“The Legislature must also make an initiative reform a top priority. Ridiculous abuses that open the door to deception, like ballot title shopping, need to be ended. A more robust process adopted for developing ballot titles that seeks and utilizes community input must be instituted as well. The title is the only language voters see on their ballots, so its content is of vital importance.”

“It’s irresponsible and immoral to ask voters to decide the fate of a proposed law using dishonest, poorly phrased, one-sided language. If voters are to pass an informed judgment on an initiative, the question they are asked must accurately represent what is being proposed and summarize the potential impacts. That was not the case with I-976. Loaded questions will always yield loaded answers.”

A few thoughts on the November 5th, 2019 initial election results

Election Postmortem

Initial results in the November 2019 general election suggest that the outcome of many races, including the two statewide initiatives, will probably be decided by late ballots. Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve issued the following statement on the initial results.

“Tonight, three weeks of voting in the November 2019 general election came to an end. But this election is not over. Until all the ballots are counted and the results certified, this remains an election in progress. There are many, many ballots left to count, and it looks like many people may have voted late. So tonight is not an appropriate juncture to start drawing conclusions about everything that’s on the ballot.”

“One thing we do know: Tim Eyman’s prediction that 65% of voters in every county would back Initiative 976 was wrong. I-976 is failing in several counties and passing only modestly in others. Eyman will not achieve the result that he boasted that he would get. Regardless of the voters’ final verdict on I-976, our efforts to defend Washington’s freedom of mobility and multimodal transportation infrastructure will go on. We must survive Initiative 976. Our state’s future depends on it.”

“We are pleased to see that Gig Harbor and Duvall voters are passing their transportation levies, and pleased to see that Federal Way voters are passing the Stable Homes initiative. We’re happy the King County Medic One levy is passing with a big margin. We’re also tracking parks levies, fire levies, and school levy/bond measures around the state, and we’re seeing positive results for a significant number of those local propositions. These levies would not be passing if people weren’t willing to invest in each other to build better communities. Some of the levies are passing by enormous margins, and that’s very significant to us.”

“We’ll have more analysis of this election in the hours and days to come. Tonight, we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many people and organizations to defend the values that Washington State was founded upon. Tomorrow our important work continues.”

It’s a clean sweep! Washington newspapers are united against I-976

From the Campaign Trail

As the campaign against Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-976 draws to a close, our team at the Northwest Progressive Institute is feeling grateful.

Grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many people and organizations against this grave threat to Washington’s mobility, from the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State to All Aboard Washington to the Sierra Club’s Cascade Chapter… all organizations that answered NPI’s call to join forces against a measure that would roll back bipartisan, voter-approved transportation investments that our state needs.

Grateful to the business community and the labor movement for providing Keep Washington Rolling (the coalition against I-976) with the majority of the resources needed to wage a proper and effective NO campaign.

And grateful to all of the newspaper publishers and editorial boards that have weighed in urging a NO vote on this measure.

As of yesterday, NPI had tallied fourteen editorial boards in opposition to I-976 and zero in favor on our Editorial Scoreboard.

Special kudos goes to The Seattle Times, which has editorialized against I-976 not just once, but repeatedly… and every single editorial published on the subject has been a gem. Thank you, Seattle Times!

The editorials excerpted below against I-976 remind us how important newspapers are to our civic health and well-being.

Even in this digital media age, characterized by fragmentation, concentration of ownership, and the decay of once dependable business models, newspapers are still essential.

Newspaper op-ed pages provide a place for the issues of the day to be discussed and debated civilly, with effective moderation.

Newspapers also provide a space for deep dives written by journalists who can help people understand an issue from many angles.

What is published in a newspaper is far more likely to be accessible to a researcher decades from now than a blog post or social media screed. It is essential that we figure out as a society how to sustain the newspapers that we have left. They are just too valuable to lose.

Washington State newspapers are united against Tim Eyman’s I-976

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT EYMAN’S LATEST SCHEME TO MESS WITH OUR MOBILITY

The Seattle Times
Nothing about I-976 is a good idea, in terms of responsible governance or prudent money management. Eyman asks voters to buy a falsity that there’s some miraculous way to fund our state’s backlog of bridge, road and transit needs. Because the courts cannot end this toxic nonsense quickly enough, voters must reject I-976 themselves.

The News Tribune of Tacoma
There’s no question that reliable roads, bridges and public transit are essential to Washington’s economy and quality of life. So there’s no question that voters should reject I-976 in the November 5th election.

The Kitsap Sun
Hastily cutting out $4 billion over the next decade, which is what I-976 is estimated to do, would have a serious effect on that progress for state-managed corridors like Highways 305 and 16, but also for municipalities.

The Yakima Herald-Republic
Eyman’s measure undermines three tenets of conservative governance: local control, designating funds for specific purposes, and user fees in which those who use a service pay for it… With transportation a top-of-mind issue in the state, Initiative 976 is exactly what we don’t need.

The Tri-City Herald
If you care about safe roads and bridges, a strong Washington State Patrol, public transportation services for the elderly and disabled, and a reliable way to get goods from Eastern Washington to shipping ports in Western Washington, then you should oppose I-976.

The Stranger
Basically, this measure is the script for an asteroid-hitting-the-planet movie, except we’d be voting for this asteroid to hit us. And it would be a handout to the 1 percent, making the car tabs on a $300,000 Ferrari cost the same as those on a $3,000 Honda.

Walla Walla Union Bulletin
A dramatic cut in transportation funding statewide and locally is simply not acceptable. We urge voters to reject I-976.

The Columbian of Vancouver
Passage of I-976 would short the statewide transportation budget, including highway construction and the Washington State Patrol, by an estimated $4 billion over the next decade. In Vancouver alone, the city would lose more than half the $9 million it spends annually to carry out its street funding strategy; it also would miss out on transportation grants that require local matching funds.

The Herald of Everett
 I-976 will add to the package of regressive taxes in this state that demand more as a percentage of income from lower- and moderate-income families than from those with higher incomes, in effect a tax break for those who can afford luxury vehicles in the Puget Sound region.

The Spokesman-Review of Spokane
Washington’s vehicle registration fees provide a large portion of the funding for repairing roads and bridges as well as public transportation. Initiative 976 would slash those fees, costing state and local governments more than $4 billion over the next six years.

The Islands’ Sounder
Don’t fall for the shiny $30 tabs and the promise of “saving money” at the expense of yourself, your neighbors, your ferries and the safety of your roads. Vote no on I-976.

Lewiston Morning Tribune
As you drive on those banged up highways, your meager savings from reduced car tabs will evaporate quickly to pay for realignments, new struts or even tires. Passing I-976 may reinvigorate Eyman’s sagging political fortunes, but it’s a loser for you. Vote no.

Ritzville Adams County Journal
Ensuring that our bridges and roads are safe and that the trains and buses run on time is crucial to keeping Washington’s economy on the right track. And for one of the most export-reliant states in the country, it is critical that the goods and supplies from Washington’s farms and businesses can move as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The University of Washington Daily
The Daily Editorial Staff believes that voting no on I-976 is of the utmost importance during this election to keep improving our statewide public transportation. 

Permanent Defense goes up on Spanish language radio to oppose I-976 and support I-1000

From the Campaign Trail

As part of our final push to defeat this year’s crop of right wing ballot measures, NPI’s Permanent Defense PAC is pleased to announce the launch of two ads on Spanish language radio outlets that urge a NO vote on Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 and an APPROVED vote on Initiative 1000, the Washington Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act.

Although not all voters speak English or use it as their first language, very few campaigns make any effort to create materials in languages other than English.

At NPI, inclusion is one of our core values. So is practicing what we preach. That’s why we’ve created these ads. We want to make sure everybody understands the importance of voting “NO” on I-976 and “Approved” on I-1000 — even if they don’t speak English.

Here’s our I-976 ad (M Radio Live version):

If you’d prefer to read it, here’s the copy:

NW Como americanos juntos tomamos decisiones sobre nuestro futuro a través de elecciones. En ocasiones tenemos la oportunidad de votar en propuestas de leyes nuevas. Este año una propuesta de Ley llamada Iniciativa 976 amenaza nuestro futuro. Esta ley recorta el financiamiento para arreglar puentes inseguros, crear nuevas vías de tren a lugares como Federal Way, y provee servicio de transporte publico del que dependen nuestras comunidades. La Iniciativa 976 agravara la vialidad, dejándonos un tráfico paralizado y alejados de nuestra familia. Aprende más sobre los altos costos de la Iniciativa 976 en www.No976.org. Vota NO en la Iniciativa 976 antes del 5 de noviembre. Este anuncio es pagado por Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921 en Redmond.

If you don’t understand Spanish, here’s an English language translation:

As Americans, we make decisions together about our future through elections. Sometimes we even get to vote on proposed new laws ourselves. This year, a proposed law called Initiative 976 threatens our future. It cuts funding to fix unsafe bridges, build new train lines to places like Federal Way, and provide bus service our communities rely on. 976 would make traffic worse, stranding us in bumper to bumper gridlock and keeping us apart from our families. Learn more about the heavy costs of 976 by going to www.no976.org. Then, vote NO on Initiative 976 by November 5th. This ad was paid for by Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921, Redmond, WA 98073.

Here’s our I-1000 ad (M Radio Live version)::

If you’d prefer to read it, here’s the copy:

Como americanos juntos tomamos decisiones sobre nuestro futuro a través de elecciones. En ocaciones tenemos la oportunidad de votar en propuestas de leyes nuevas. Este año debemos decidir entre aprobar o rechazar una propuesta de ley llamada Iniciativa 1000. Esta ley permite a las agencias publicas dirigirse a las comunidades como la nuestra para darnos información de oportunidades de trabajo en gobierno y contratos gubernamentales. Si pasa la Ley 1000 estaremos mas cerca de la equidad de pago para las mujeres y ayudará a los veteranos a encontrar trabajo cuando regresen a casa a nuestro estado. Aprende más sobre la Iniciativa 1000 antes del 5 de noviembre. Este anuncio es pagado por Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921 en Redmond.

If you don’t understand Spanish, here’s an English language translation:

As Americans, we make decisions together about our future through elections. Sometimes we even get to vote on proposed new laws ourselves. This year, we must decide whether to approve or reject a proposed law called Initiative 1000. 1000 allows public agencies to reach out to communities like ours to tell us about opportunities to apply for jobs and government contracts. Passage of 1000 will get us closer to equal pay for women and help veterans find jobs after they return home to our state. Learn more about 1000 helps all of us by going to www.wafairness.org. Then, vote APPROVED on Initiative 1000 by November 5th. This ad was paid for by Permanent Defense PAC: PO Box 2921, Redmond, WA 98073.

These ads will be on the air through Election Day on terrestrial and online stations.

Debunking Tim Eyman’s I-976 whoppers: Car tabs actually *do* pay for bridges and roads

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

The last few years have been littered with setbacks and defeats for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman. From 2016-2018, Eyman failed to qualify anything to Washington’s general election ballot despite half a dozen attempts.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has been working tirelessly to hold Eyman accountable for his willful and blatant violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, dealing Eyman loss after loss in court.

Eyman is counting on an electoral victory in November to revive the fortunes of his flailing initiative factory. He has declared that his Initiative 976, a measure that would gut $4.2 billion in transportation funding over the next six years, will pass overwhelmingly in all thirty-nine of Washington’s counties and even pass in Seattle, which has consistently rejected his destructive schemes for twenty years.

If we look at what Eyman has said in response to questions about I-976’s fiscal impacts, though, we can see Eyman’s not confident about winning in November. Why else would Eyman feel the need to lie about the extent of the damage that his measure would cause?

The whoppers Eyman has been telling about I-976 deserve to be called out and debunked.

In the last three weeks, perhaps out of irritation with Keep Washington Rolling’s television ads, Eyman has aggressively peddled a particularly egregious lie that can be easily demonstrated to be an utter falsehood.

EYMAN CLAIM: “Car tab taxes don’t pay for bridges or roads – gas taxes do.” (Source: Eyman’s Facebook Wall, October 6th, 2019).

Eyman also repeated this fabrication in an interview with KREM 2 News of Spokane:

Tim Eyman lies to KREM 2 News

Statement from Tim Eyman: “Gas taxes pay for highways and roads, car tab taxes do not. Not a penny of the car tab tax goes to roads — the government spends car tab taxes on non-road stuff.”

Ironically, this lie appeared onscreen during a segment entitled “Verify”. The lie was not subsequently debunked by reporter Tim Pham — though it should have been.

THE REALITY: Vehicle fees — or “car tab taxes”, in Eyman parlance — do in fact pay for bridges and roads. At the state level, many vehicle fees are deposited in accounts that benefit our roads and bridges, including the Motor Vehicle Fund. At the local level, more than sixty cities have formed what are known as transportation benefit districts to levy vehicle fees, primarily for street maintenance and road repairs.

Here’s an example of a Washington State vehicle registration renewal bill, circa 2019:

Fees and Donations
Registration License – Renewal $30.00
Vehicle Weight $25.00
Registration Filing $4.50
Registration Service Fee $8.00
License Plate Technology $0.25
Department of Licensing Service $0.50
State Parks Donation $5.00
RTA Excise Tax $67.00
Total $140.25

Notice the first line item… “Registration License — Renewal”. That thirty dollars benefits the Washington State Patrol, Washington State Ferries, and the Motor Vehicle Fund.

RCW 46.68.035 directs how the funds from that line item are to be invested:

Disposition of combined vehicle license fees.

The director shall forward all proceeds from vehicle license fees received by the director for vehicles registered under RCW 46.17.330, 46.17.350(1) (c) and (k), 46.17.355, and 46.17.400(1)(c) to the state treasurer to be distributed into accounts according to the following method:

(1) 22.36 percent must be deposited into the state patrol highway account of the motor vehicle fund;

(2) 1.375 percent must be deposited into the Puget Sound ferry operations account of the motor vehicle fund;

(3) 5.237 percent must be deposited into the transportation 2003 account (nickel account);

(4) 11.533 percent must be deposited into the transportation partnership account created in RCW 46.68.290; and

(5) The remaining proceeds must be deposited into the motor vehicle fund.

It says right there in the law that vehicle license fees (car tabs) must be deposited in accounts that provide funding for the State Patrol, Washington State Ferries, highway projects authorized by the Legislature, and the Motor Vehicle Fund.

The state’s Motor Vehicle Fund “shall be for the use of the state, and through state agencies, for the use of counties, cities, and towns for proper road, street, and highway purposes,” according to RCW46.68.070. (Emphasis is ours).

State vehicle weight fees, meanwhile, benefit the Freight Mobility Multimodal Account and the main Multimodal Account. These accounts fund all transportation modes, including our highway system as well as the state’s rail initiatives. See RCW 46.68.415.

And most cities levying vehicle fees are using them for street maintenance. Like Spokane, Sedro-Woolley, Prosser, or Vancouver.

So, again, when Tim Eyman says car tabs don’t pay for bridges and roads, he’s lying.

Why does Eyman lie so brazenly?

Because he knows that as satirist Jonathan Swift once observed, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on.

Eyman’s idol Donald Trump, the Liar-in-Chief, knows this too, and takes full advantage.

At NPI, what we do when we read an Eyman email missive, see an Eyman Facebook posting, or hear a clip of Eyman is speaking is assume that everything Eyman has said is false until it can be proven true. This is not our normal practice; we like to assume that people mean well as opposed to assuming hostile, malicious intent.

But with known con artists like Tim Eyman, it’s absolutely necessary to invert the default.

Otherwise, the con artist succeeds in their aim of conning people.

Our advice to anyone covering I-976 or any of Tim Eyman’s activities is this: Trust nothing Eyman says. Nothing. If you ask Eyman for comment out of fairness, and he lies — as he so often does — call him on it. You can say: “Mr. Eyman told us this, but it’s actually not true… here’s what we found when we followed the facts.”

If media outlets allow Eyman’s lies to go unchecked, they spread. And that’s bad for Washington’s civic health. It promotes cynicism and mistrust in government.

As taxpayers, it’s important we connect the dots between the taxes and fees we pay and the services we get in return. We should all understand the workings of our government to the best of our ability. After all, these services are ours. We pay for them.

They belong to us.

Debunking Tim Eyman’s I-976 whoppers: There is no multi-billion dollar surplus available to backfill I-976 cuts

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

The last few years have been littered with setbacks and defeats for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman. From 2016-2018, Eyman failed to qualify anything to Washington’s general election ballot despite half a dozen attempts.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has been working tirelessly to hold Eyman accountable for his willful and blatant violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, dealing Eyman loss after loss in court.

Eyman is counting on an electoral victory in November to revive the fortunes of his flailing initiative factory. He has declared that his Initiative 976, a measure that would gut $4.2 billion in transportation funding over the next six years, will pass overwhelmingly in all thirty-nine of Washington’s counties and even pass in Seattle, which has consistently rejected his destructive schemes for twenty years.

If we look at what Eyman has said in response to questions about I-976’s fiscal impacts, though, we can see Eyman’s not confident about winning in November. Why else would Eyman feel the need to lie about the extent of the damage that his measure would cause?

The whoppers Eyman has been telling about I-976 deserve to be called out and debunked.

For example, last week, when contacted for comment by television stations like Seattle’s KING5 and Spokane’s KREM in response to the Keep Washington Rolling coalition’s autumn kickoffs in Spokane and Seattle, Eyman dishonestly asserted that there is a free lunch available to people who vote yes on I-976.

EYMAN CLAIM: “With the state having a $3.5 billion net surplus and record revenues, politicians threats, lies, and scare tactics are particularly unbelievable and absurd… There is more than enough revenue to backfill any affected government program.” (Source: King County leaders: $30 car tabs would be ‘catastrophic’ for transit projects — 09/18/2019)

THE REALITY: Wrong. What’s hard to believe is that Tim Eyman is still making outrageously false statements like this when he knows he can be fact checked.

Then again, perhaps he figures if Donald Trump can get away with it, so can he.

There is no ‘net surplus’ that can be used to backfill the revenue that would be lost if I-976 were to be implemented. It simply doesn’t exist.

And the comment that Washington is seeing ‘record revenues’ is meaningless.

The Washington State of today cannot be compared to past periods using absolute dollar figures, which Tim Eyman sometimes plots onto charts and trots out in support of his incorrect arguments about ‘record’ taxation.

To draw comparisons between different time periods, economists use a metric like income or expenditures per $1,000 in personal income.

As OFM’s data shows, in the 1990s, both income and expenditures per $1,000 in personal income was higher than it is today. That means that the extent to which we are investing in public services overall has actually decreased. In other words, taxes were higher twenty-five years ago than they are today. Even if Eyman’s mythical $3.5 billion existed, it wouldn’t be enough to offset the revenue I-976 would eliminate.

The Office of Financial Management has analyzed that I-976 would eliminate $4.2 billion in funding at the state and local levels over the next six years.

The impact is even worse over ten years… Eyman’s favorite time period.

Sound Transit has analyzed that the loss of the motor vehicle excise tax revenue would blow a giant hole in its financing, jeopardizing as much as $20 billion in transit expansion funding that voters already approved.

Senior Northwest Progressive Institute boardmember Gael Tarleton, who serves as Chair of the Finance Committee in the Washington State House of Representatives, says it’s vital that Eyman’s false claims be fact checked so voters aren’t misled by his lies.

“Tim Eyman talks about budgets as if he knows what he’s talking about. He’s lying,” said Tarleton. “There is no multi-billion dollar ‘net surplus’ available for the Legislature to tap if I-976 is implemented.” She elaborated:

Presently, there are two main sources of transportation funding in our state: the fuel tax and vehicle fees, which are supplemented by tolls and ferry fares in specific corridors.”

Fuel tax proceeds can only be used for highway purposes in accordance with our state constitution. That leaves vehicle fees as the sole major funding source for multimodal projects that empower pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists to get where they want to go. State-level vehicle fee revenue pays for Amtrak Cascades intercity rail service, keeps our Washington State Patrol troopers on the beat, supports freight mobility infrastructure, and vital services like vanpools and transit grants for rural communities.

If we don’t defeat I-976, Eyman’s latest scheme, countless essential projects will be delayed or canceled, because the state doesn’t simply have any money sitting around to replace the lost billions. The cuts I-976 would necessitate will set back our efforts to invest in safer roads, earthquake-resistant bridges, and higher quality transit by two decades.

Despite the confidence he projects, Tim Eyman is clearly nervous about losing this campaign. That’s why he is lying to the public about the destruction I-976 would cause when he does interviews with the press.

Debunking Tim Eyman’s I-976 whoppers: This measure is no “haircut”

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

The last few years have been littered with setbacks and defeats for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman. From 2016-2018, Eyman failed to qualify anything to Washington’s general election ballot despite half a dozen attempts.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has been working tirelessly to hold Eyman accountable for his willful and blatant violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, dealing Eyman loss after loss in court.

Eyman is counting on an electoral victory in November to revive the fortunes of his flailing initiative factory. He has declared that his Initiative 976, a measure that would gut $4.2 billion in transportation funding over the next six years, will pass overwhelmingly in all thirty-nine of Washington’s counties and even pass in Seattle, which has consistently rejected his destructive schemes for twenty years.

If we look at what Eyman has said in response to questions about I-976’s fiscal impacts, though, we can see Eyman’s not confident about winning in November. Why else would Eyman feel the need to lie about the extent of the damage that his measure would cause?

The whoppers Eyman has been telling about I-976 deserve to be called out and debunked.

Let’s start with a claim he made a month ago on KIRO Newsradio: that I-976 would only rob Sound Transit of “a small percentage of money”.

EYMAN CLAIM: “The fact is Initiative 976 is like a haircut when it comes to Sound Transit… We’re only talking about a small percentage of money.” (Source: Can Washington survive $30 car tab measure if it passes? — 08/16/2019)

THE REALITY: Wrong. Implementation of Tim Eyman’s I-976 would leave in ruins plans to deliver light rail expansion to Everett, Tacoma, Ballard, West Seattle, and Kirkland/Issaquah, as well as deploy bus rapid transit on Interstate 405 and expand Sounder commuter rail to DuPont and Tillicum. That’s because Sound Transit would lose an essential major revenue source, which would in turn severely impair its ability to borrow money, jeopardizing an estimated $20 billion in funding overall.

This is not an accident; it’s by design.

Tim Eyman is well aware that the loss of Sound Transit’s motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) revenue would blow a giant hole in Sound Transit 3. He’s counting on it: his goal is to sabotage Sound Transit 3’s voter approved projects so they don’t get built.

He’s previously admitted his true intentions to friendly audiences.

In 2016, when Eyman was trying to qualify a measure almost identical to I-976, he pitched it as the “NO on ST3” campaign in an address to the Eastside Republican Club in Bellevue, on March 1st, 2016. Said Eyman in his remarks:

I love the idea of every voter in the state being able to register their vehicle for a flat-rate, easy to understand $30, but what gets me giddy is the idea of ripping the heart out of Sound Transit. This agency is so unaccountable, so rogue, so completely devoid of any reality that this is our one chance to be able to gut them like a pig, and that’s what I really love about this initiative.

Emphasis is ours. Listen to the audio here.

The next time Eyman tries to dismiss the impact of I-976 as giving Sound Transit “a haircut”, just remember that we have Tim Eyman on tape saying that the primary objective of doing a new initiative to cap vehicle fees at thirty dollars is to rip the heart out of Sound Transit and gut the agency like a pig.

That’s a far cry from “a haircut”. Eyman’s August 16th statement is compelling evidence that he’s worried that if voters know the truth about the damage I-976 would cause, they’ll decide to fill in the oval next to NO on the ballot.

Despite the confidence he projects, Eyman is clearly nervous about losing this campaign. That’s why he is lying to the public about the destruction I-976 would cause when he does interviews with the press.

Tim Eyman hit with additional sanctions and ordered to report $766,447 in personal ‘gifts’ as campaign contributions

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Today, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon granted Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s motion to impose additional sanctions on disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who has consistently tried to evade accountability for his violations of Washington’s public disclosure law through a legal defense strategy we’ve dubbed “stonewalling in the extreme”.

Dixon ruled that contributions Eyman has previously received as personal ‘gifts’ qualify as campaign contributions and affirmed that Eyman remains in contempt because he has failed to comply with the Court’s discovery orders.

Dixon also awarded the state attorney’s fees.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve called the ruling a significant development in the case that brings Eyman closer to his day of reckoning.

“The barricades that Tim Eyman has thrown up to shield himself from accountability are crumbling,” said Villeneuve.

“For years, Tim has tried to pretend that the fundraising he does for himself is separate from the fundraising he does for his initiative committees. But that is a fiction. The truth is that money given to benefit Tim Eyman benefits his initiative factory, and money given to whichever scam Eyman happens to be hawking at the moment benefits Eyman.”

“Just look at how I-976, Eyman’s latest initiative, got onto the ballot. The lion’s share of the money that paid for signature gathering came from Eyman himself; Eyman claimed he cashed out his and his wife’s retirement fund in order to make the signature drive a reality. The PDC reports for I-976 make it look like Eyman is his own biggest donor. Except he’s really not, because he doesn’t have a way of supporting himself without the continuing generosity of wealthy supporters like Kemper Freeman, Jr., who stated in a deposition that he wanted to make sure Eyman had enough ‘grocery money.'”

“There is simply no separation between Eyman’s personal and political funds anymore because he has mixed them so thoroughly.”

“It is entirely appropriate that Judge Dixon has found that the ‘gifts’ Eyman has been soliciting are really campaign contributions and are subject to public disclosure. If Eyman won’t comply and file the requisite reports, he’ll find himself in even more trouble.”

Backgrounder: Voters to see twelve “advisory votes” (Tim Eyman push polls) this year

Ballot Watchdogging

In less than a month, elections officials throughout Washington will mail out ballots to military and overseas voters, kicking off the November 2019 autumn general election in Washington State. This year, voters in every part of the state will see an unprecedented number of “advisory vote” measures on their ballots… three times as many as ever before.

Conceived by disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman, these measures masquerade as legitimate ballot measures when they are in fact a form of push poll, similar to the widely hated malicious telephone attack campaigns classified as a “DIRTY TRICK” by Safire’s Political Dictionary.

Our team at the Northwest Progressive Institute has prepared the following Q&A to provide answers to commonly asked questions about “advisory votes”.

We hope this discussion helps you make sense of this year’s ballot.


What are “advisory votes”?

Conceptually, an advisory vote is a nonbinding plebiscite… a kind of ballot measure that asks voters to weigh in and express an opinion on an issue, but which does not change public policy.

However, at the state level in Washington, “advisory votes” are actually a form of push poll concocted by disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman to load up Washingtonians’ ballots with anti-tax propaganda.

Why do you call the “advisory votes” push polls, and why do you put “advisory votes” in quotation marks?

We call “advisory votes” push polls because that is what they really are.

“Advisory votes” is not an accurate descriptor, so we put it in quotes.

A push poll is generally understood to be a type of campaign tactic that attempts to influence public opinion by pretending to measure it.

For example, a candidate who wants to undermine support for a rival might pay a political operative to call voters with a script that dishes dirt on the rival candidate and then asks the voter for their opinion of the rival candidate. The poll itself is meaningless; the question being asked suggests its own answer. Consider the following script:

John Doe is running for city council this year in Anytown, Washington. John Doe was recently caught speeding by our local police department and ticketed for going too fast in a school zone. John Doe’s neighbors have also complained that his animals are aggressive and a threat to kids playing in his neighborhood. The police have been called many times to John Doe’s home to deal with complaints made against him by his neighbors. Knowing these facts, are you more likely or less likely to support John Doe’s candidacy for city council?

Notice the script ends in a question, but any data resulting from question responses is totally worthless because it is preceded by information meant to bias the listener against John Doe. That’s actually not a problem for the poll’s creator, though, because the poll itself is a mechanism for the dissemination of information that could harm the prospects of John Doe.

The results are irrelevant… by design.

Eyman’s push polls work the same way. Their language and format was conceived by Eyman, and dictated by Initiative 960, which Eyman wrote.

Each push poll follows an identical format: highly misleading information is offered about a House and Senate action that raised state revenue (beginning with the words “The Legislature imposed, without a vote of the people…”), and then voters are asked to render a verdict on the tax increase by checking one of two ovals: “Repealed” or “Maintained”.

Voters are not told that regardless of how they vote, the law will not be changed. The only hint that they’re participating in a con is in the heading, which says “Advisory Vote”.

But don’t “advisory votes” still have some value, even if they’re not binding?

No. They don’t have any value whatsoever.

In fact, they have negative value: they waste tax dollars and confuse voters. Legislators can’t draw any conclusions from an “advisory vote” result, because the questions voters are being asked are not neutrally written.

Bad inputs produce bad outputs.

As a programmer working at Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, or countless other tech companies might say: garbage in, garbage out.

You wouldn’t consider a poll that contained negative information about one candidate and positive information about another as credible; it would not be deserving of a news story. Similarly, legislators cannot use any of the data produced by the “advisory votes” to inform their future decision making. The data is garbage. It simply cannot be relied upon.

Where did “advisory votes” come from? How’d we end up with them?

The RCW establishing “advisory votes” first came into being with the narrow passage of Eyman’s I-960 in 2007.

Initiative 960 was a measure that principally attempted to reinstate an unconstitutional scheme to require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue, in violation of Article II, Section 22 of the Washington State Constitution, which says that bills shall pass by majority vote.

“Advisory votes” are not a form of ballot measure provided for by the Washington State Constitution, so we believe they are likely unconstitutional, like that two-thirds vote requirement was.

The Constitution spells out three kinds of measures: initiatives, referenda, and constitutional amendments, all of which are binding.

  • Initiatives (see Article II, Section 1) are laws proposed by citizens. An initiative can either go to the people or to the Legislature for consideration. All initiatives originate from citizen petitions. Petitions must contain signatures bearing the marks of a number of voters equivalent to eight percent of the total who turned out in the last election for governor.
  • Referenda (see Article II, Section 1) are votes on actions taken by the Legislature or by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. Usually, the action is a bill, but it could also be a salary schedule or an initiative passed by the Legislature. A referendum can be triggered in one of two ways: by majority vote of the Legislature, or by citizen petition. Petitions must contain signatures bearing the marks of a number of voters equivalent to four percent of the total who turned out in the last election for governor.
  • Constitutional amendments (see Article XXIII) are proposed changes to the state’s plan of government. To pass, a constitutional amendment must first earn the support of two-thirds of the members of the Washington State House and Senate, then a majority vote of the people at a general election.

The first “advisory votes” appeared on ballots seven years ago, at the 2012 general election. Although Eyman’s push polls date back to December of 2007, when I-960 initially went into effect (part of it would later be struck down as unconstitutional in League of Education Voters v. State of Washington), no one remembered that they existed until several years later… not even their creator Tim Eyman.

How many “advisory votes” have appeared on Washingtonians’ ballots to date?

There have been a total of nineteen, from 2012 through 2018.

And how many will voters see this year?

Twelve. That’s three times as many as voters have seen at once before.

There are so many Eyman push polls in 2019 that important local races for county, city, port, and school board positions will be pushed to the back of the ballot.

Why are there so many this year?

Because Eyman set up his push polls to be automatically triggered any time the Legislature takes an action that raises state revenue, and the Legislature this year did more to reform our tax code than in any other recent session.

The Legislature could have nixed this year’s crop of push polls by passing Senator Patty Kuderer’s SB 5224, as The Herald’s Jerry Cornfield recently explained.

The bill cleared the Senate, but it did not get out of the House due to opposition from former Speaker Frank Chopp.

The bill remains alive and we are working to pass it in the 2020 legislative session.

As part of its efforts to create a budget that could meet the state’s needs, the Legislature adopted a slew of bills that increased state revenue. For example, the Legislature adopted a more progressive real estate excise tax (REET) which replaces the old flat REET. The new REET is graduated, so will result in some Washingtonians paying less tax, but the passage of the bill nevertheless triggers an “advisory vote” because the new REET increases state revenue overall.

The twelve bills that are fodder for this year’s push polls are:

This list is available on the Secretary of State’s website. Each link goes to the text of the bill the Legislature approved.

Despite what Tim Eyman has claimed, these revenue reforms are pretty modest.

The taxpayers most affected by the Legislature’s actions are large corporations that can easily afford to pay more to support Washington’s public services, like the Wall Street banks that lost a lucrative tax break.

What else is on the statewide ballot this year?

There are three legitimate statewide measures that are binding (meaning, their outcomes will influence public policy).

  • Tim Eyman has an initiative to gut transportation funding at the state, regional, and local levels, impairing Washingtonians’ mobility (I-976).
  • There is also a referendum that would reinstate Tim Eyman’s I-200 (R-88) and prohibit state agencies from undertaking affirmative action projects.
  • Finally, there is a constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 8200, concerning the purposes for which the state’s emergency powers can be invoked.

Because fourteen of the fifteen measures appearing on the 2019 ballot are Eyman-related (SJR 8200 is the only one that isn’t), we’re calling it “the Eymallot”.

Are there costs associated with the presence of Eyman’s push polls on the ballot?

Yes. As The Herald of Everett recently reported:

In previous elections, each measure soaked up two pages in the voter pamphlet and the cost per page ranged between $12,000 and $15,000 depending on what else was in the pamphlet.

Final figures for this year won’t be known until September. If they’re in line with the past, these measures will require 24 pages at a cost of up to a half-million taxpayer dollars.

The costs associated with Eyman’s push polls go far beyond pages in the voter’s pamphlet statement, however. The push polls also increase the cost to Washington’s thirty-nine counties to print, send, and tabulate ballots. Quantifying these additional costs is neither simple nor easy, because the counties do not typically break down elections costs by jurisdiction and category.

However, in odd-numbered years, the counties do bill the State of Washington for state-level items, under an arrangement that dates back several decades. And in 2017, in most counties, the only state level items on the ballot were “advisory votes”, because there were no initiatives, referenda, or constitutional amendments on the ballot that year. That gives us a better idea of how much the “advisory votes” cost on their own.

As we explained to the editors and fellow readers of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, our research at the Northwest Progressive Institute found that Walla Walla County billed the state of Washington $11,438.52 for costs associated with the “advisory votes.” That was the bill for just one of the state’s thirty-nine counties in one year!

We have compiled a spreadsheet that documents the cost to the counties of the 2017 crop of “advisory votes”. It can be downloaded from Permanent Defense’s website.

Where can I find additional information about the “advisory votes”?

Referendum 88 certified; voters to decide whether to keep Initiative 1000 or not

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

As expected, the right wing has succeeded in forcing a vote on Washington’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act (Initiative 1000). Adopted by the Legislature on April 28th, 2019, I-1000 would empower state agencies and institutions of higher learning to conduct outreach to disadvantaged populations and underrepresented constituencies.

After the conclusion of session, the right wing mobilized to mount a referendum campaign against Initiative 1000, using a bevy of lies to convince voters to sign their petitions. The campaign began turning in its signatures several days prior to the deadline.

“Sponsors had ninety days to collect at least 129,811 signatures of Washington registered voters. 213,268 signatures were submitted during the week leading up to the July 27th deadline,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office said in a news release. “The Office of the Secretary of State verified that R-88 had been signed by enough registered voters to meet constitutional requirements to make the November ballot.”

Referendum 88 is the second right wing measure to qualify for the November 2019 ballot, following Tim Eyman’s I-976. Twelve Eyman push polls will also be on the ballot, but unlike R-88 and I-976, they are not binding.

If R-88 is approved, Initiative 1000 will remain in place and go into effect as intended by the Legislature. If I-1000 is rejected, it will be repealed.

NPI is working with business, labor, and civic groups to build a strong coalition to Approve Referendum 88 and uphold Initiative 1000 this autumn.

We believe Washington’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act is worth defending, and we’re committed to ensuring voters have the information they need to cast an informed vote on Referendum 88 this autumn.

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