Opponents confront Tim Eyman in Olympia during submission of signatures for I-892

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On Sunday, June 27th, 2004, Tim Eyman announced that he had 235,000 signatures on hand to turn in to the Secretary of State’s office this morning for Initiative 892, his scheme to expand gambling in every corner of the state. The minimum requirement for the 2004 ballot is about 198,000 signatures.

To counter Tim’s lies and deceitful statistics, Permanent Defense’s Andrew Villeneuve journeyed to Olympia with fellow activists David Goldstein and Steve Zemke to talk to reporters and confront Eyman at his press conference for I-892 at the Secretary of State’s Elections Annex.

We were were successful in throwing Eyman off script as he attempted to go through his rehearsed sales pitch. Although Eyman refused, and still refuses to admit it, the initiative is primarily about an expansion of gambling. It places 19,000 slot machines into neighborhood bars, bowling alleys, and restaurants.

Eyman ignored questions about I-864, the other initiative he claims to be attempting to be qualifying for the ballot. He completely disregarded questions from reporters, brushing them off and attempting to shut them down. The press refused to be daunted, however, and continued to ask questions.

Eyman was interrupted during his press conference by Zemke, who heads Taxpayers For Washington’s Future, an ally of Permanent Defense. Eyman had propped up a graph showing a general rise in property taxes since 1980 and was complaining about the increase in taxes to the press.

But Tim’s graph didn’t take into account inflation, or population growth, or new development (which causes an increase the number of properties assessed by the state). Steve correctly pointed out that Eyman’s graph was worthless because it did not make apples-to-apples comparisons.

More people means more public services, which requires money. More properties means more revenue for the state. And any economist knows that inflation is a continual increase in the cost of products and services, which is a factor that influences the entire economy- including property values.

Tim’s claim that his initiative has wide popular support is also a myth. Tim hasn’t run a campaign powered by volunteer supporters in years. All of his initiatives since 1999 have relied on paid signature gatherers to get on the ballot. I-892 is no exception.

There is no broad-based movement in the state of Washington agitating for these anti-tax initiatives. But there is an alliance between Tim Eyman and the gambling industry, with the goal of swindling voters into believing that I-892 is a good initiative because they’ll save a few bucks on their property taxes. I-892 is the most massive expansion of gambling in state history.

Alone on Monday with no sidekicks in tow, Tim Eyman himself reminded us all he’s just become a mouthpiece for the gambling industry. For the past fifteen weeks, Eyman has paid himself to the tune of $3,100 a week. That’s more than many Wal-Mart employees make in a month.

The backers of I-892 are giant gaming and gambling conglomerates, like Great Canadian Gaming of British Columbia, which is accused of allowing loan sharking in its Canadian casinos and not keeping true to an investment made jointly with Allegiance Capital of Texas. The investment was a floating casino, a “cruise ship” of sorts, which now sits off of Taiwan and is a den of prostitutes.

Other backers include Michaels Associates of Nevada, which was recently fined $50,000 by the WSGC for lax oversight that resulted in a $250,000 embezzlement, and Washington Gaming, the third largest donor, which is currently more than $900,000 delinquent in state taxes.

Washington Gaming co-owner Tim Iszley is a leading member of the Entertainment Industry Coalition, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on paid signature gatherers to get 892 on the ballot.

The initiative was financed by out of state, foreign gambling interests, and its signatures were collected by out of state workers from California and other areas.

I-892 was sold to Washingtonians by petitioners as an initiative to cut their property taxes. Petitioners conveniently failed to mention that the initiative would bring about the biggest expansion of gambling in state history.

Washington voters will vote no on I-892 in November because they will know the initiative is bad for their communities. Permanent Defense remains dedicated to its mission of opposing Eyman and will continue to fight against I-892 until its defeat in November.

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