Tim Eyman admits defeat with scheme to “stick it to Sound Transit”; I-947 becomes his latest failure

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

For the third time in twenty-four months, Tim Eyman has failed to qualify an initiative to sabotage funding for Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades.

The disgraced initiative promoter admitted in an email this morning that Initiative 947 is kaput, writing, “I’m really disappointed to announce that we didn’t make it.”

I-947, like I-1421 and I-869 before it, sought to cripple Sound Transit’s voter-approved third phase of expansion (ST3) by repealing the agency’s authority to levy vehicle fees. But the harm wouldn’t have ended there. I-947 also attempted to eviscerate vehicle fees at the state and local level, imperiling funding for Amtrak Cascades and wiping out the funding that Seattleites authorized to finance a much-needed expansion of Metro bus service.

Thankfully, I-947 is now dead. It is Eyman’s fifth consecutive failed initiative.

Eyman waited until seven hours before the deadline to submit signatures to break the bad news to his followers. As recently as Tuesday, he was was exhorting them to mail any petitions they had to Spokane “right away”, telling them, “With every volunteer signature drive we’ve ever done, it all boils down to what comes in at the end. Stay tuned.”

Eyman actually hasn’t attempted — let alone successfully pulled off — a successful volunteer signature drive in eons. With the exception of I-695 in 1999, Eyman’s recipe for qualifying initiatives has involved finding a wealthy benefactor or two to underwrite the cost of buying a spot on the ballot using paid signature gatherers.

As the Public Disclosure Commission discovered when it investigated a citizen complaint regarding Eyman’s dealings during 2013-2015, Eyman figured out how to make those paid signature drives very lucrative. Eyman arranged a kickback scheme with his associate Eddie Agazarm to ensure that he would profit twice from every signature drive he orchestrated: once by taking a salary for himself and again by getting a cut of the funds supposedly earmarked for compensating paid signature gatherers.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson is now seeking to hold Eyman accountable for his lawbreaking ways with a series of four lawsuits. Eyman has tried to postpone his day of reckoning in the courts by stonewalling in the extreme, but has been unsuccessful in getting anything on the ballot during that borrowed time.

Eyman was unable to qualify I-947 despite having the backing of the Republican Party (which circulated his petitions at its fair booths) and right wing talk radio hosts like John Carlson and Dori Monson (who promoted the measure through their shows).

“Last year, we had a vigorous debate over whether we should expand light rail, commuter rail, and bus service in our region,” noted Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “The voters chose to enthusiastically approve Sound Transit’s third phase of expansion. Sound Transit is working hard to deliver for them. ST3 projects will liberate countless commuters from stewing in auto gridlock.”

“But Tim Eyman and Republicans like Steve O’Ban simply refuse to respect the will of the voters. They don’t want these projects to be built. That’s why they have spent pretty much all of 2017 running a second NO campaign against Sound Transit 3.”

“But, aside from the sympathetic media coverage they were able to generate, they have nothing to show for their efforts. Sound Transit 3 remains intact and the planning is proceeding at full steam. That’s great news for our region.”

As part of their campaign to overturn ST3, Republicans tried to make vehicle fees a defining issue in the special election in the 45th District, instructing their candidate (Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund), to campaign on overturning ST3. Englund ended up getting clobbered by Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra… not once, but twice. Thanks to Dhingra’s victory, the Washington State Senate is back under Democratic management.

Republicans then excitedly latched onto Eyman’s I-947, which Eyman kept claiming (in email after email and video after video) would be wildly popular. I-947 has now imploded and Eyman is pivoting to hawking something different for 2018.

“For nearly sixteen years, NPI has fought to defend our state and region’s investment in transit and we’ll continue to do so,” said Villeneuve. “We’re thrilled that I-947 has failed. This is a great day for Washington State and for commuters across Puget Sound, who are anxiously awaiting the day that light rail expands to serve more neighborhoods.”

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