Category Archives: Election Postmortem

Voters across Washington saying yes to revenue for essential public services in 2017 local elections

Election Postmortem

This morning, serial public disclosure law violator and disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman sent out an email claiming that the outcomes of this year’s crop of I-960 mandated advisory votes push polls show that Washington voters are in an anti-tax mood.

“Voters last night had the right to vote on this year’s crop of tax increases. And they rejected all of them,” Eyman wrote.

Actually, they didn’t reject any of them — because none of Eyman’s push polls are legally binding. The outcomes of the push polls are completely meaningless and lawmakers are free to ignore them as they have in the past. The questions voters saw on their ballots were designed by Eyman to prompt voters to vote a certain way, which makes the results totally worthless for the purposes of measuring public opinion.

What is legally binding, though, are the results in the 45th Legislative District, where Democratic Senator-elect Manka Dhingra has about a ten point lead over her Republican rival Jinyoung Lee Englund.

Dhingra is winning having been attacked by Republicans as a tax and spend librul for months. Dhingra’s victory will put an end to Republican management of the state Senate and open the door for consideration of sorely needed progressive ideas.

Republicans — including Eyman — tried to set the stage for a Jinyoung Englund win by launching a “Manka Means Taxes” campaign that encompassed mailers, robocalls, and even yard signs. Tim Eyman soft-launched the campaign in a series of late spring emails in which he harshly denounced the Democratic candidate.

“Manka Dhingra, is just another income-tax-loving, car-tab-gouging, Sound Transit Seattle Democrat,” sneered Eyman in one of the emails, sent on May 31st, previewing what would become a common refrain in forthcoming Republican-financed ads.

But the ads backfired spectacularly. Dhingra went on to win easily in the August Top Two election. Leading up to the general election, Republicans proceeded to spend millions of dollars more attacking her, but Dhingra once again has a comfortable lead over Englund.

Also legally binding are the results of dozens of local propositions in communities across Washington State. Returns for these ballot measures show voters want to invest in Washington’s future.

In community after community, voters are saying yes to proposals to increase revenue, sustain revenue, or authorize bonds to pay for essential public services.

For example:

  • In King County, a proposal to renew and expand the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy is overwhelmingly passing, with a yes vote of 66.06%, despite a call by KVI talk show hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur for its rejection.
  • In Kitsap County, a proposal to raise funds for maintenance and operations of the Kitsap Regional Library system (which includes nine locations) has the support of 62.64% of voters participating so far. In a press release issued back in July, library trustees explained they submitted the property tax levy request to voters because Tim Eyman’s I-747 has been slowly starving the library system of money.
  • In Clallam County, voters are approving (59.69% yes vote) a proposal to raise the sales tax to fund juvenile justice services. “Juvenile Justice’s responsibilities have expanded in recent years beyond simply managing truancy and incarceration for juveniles,” noted proponents in their voter’s pamphlet statement. “Its staff treats mental health, drug and alcohol problems; arranges for employment training and education; manages a teen court, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Child in Need of Services and community-service diversion projects.”
  • In Mukilteo, where Tim Eyman lives, voters are currently saying yes (52.68%) to a proposal to increase the sales tax to invest in street, sidewalk, trails and bicycle improvement projects identified in the City of Mukilteo Transportation Improvement Program. “We can’t afford to delay because investing now in our streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes will prevent big bills later,” proponents argued. Eyman was the sole author of the opposition statement in the voter’s pamphlet, but his arguments are being rejected by a majority of his neighbors who have weighed in so far.
  • In nearby Mountlake Terrace, voters are backing a proposal to authorize bonds pledged to property tax revenue to construct a new city hall and expand the police station by a two-to-one margin (67.07% in favor).

In addition, a large plethora of levies and levy lid lifts to fund public safety are doing well, with only few exceptions.

The threshold for passage for some of these propositions is a 60% yes vote and a minimum turnout of 40% of the jurisdiction’s electorate.

Below is a list of public safety levy propositions currently receiving at least a majority vote of support in key counties throughout Washington State. To pass, a levy must meet any supermajority or minimum turnout requirements applicable to it upon certification of the election, which will take place on November 28th for this cycle. Note that most levies on this list are currently receiving a YES vote well in excess of 60%.

In King County:

  • YES vote for Vashon Island Fire And Rescue Proposition No. 1 Authorizing Restoration of Previous Property Tax Levy Rate: 64.87%
  • YES vote for King County Fire Protection District 20 Proposition No. 1 Levy of General Tax for Maintenance and Operations: 68.88%
  • YES vote for King County Fire Protection District 43 Proposition No. 1 Authorizing Restoration of Previous Property Tax Levy Rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of Assessed Valuation: 57.16%

In Pierce County:

  • YES vote for DuPont Proposition No. 1 Renewal of Six-Year Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Levy: 83.53%
  • YES vote for South Prairie Proposition No. 1 Property Tax Levy Proposition for Emergency Medical Services (Reauthorizing the Previously Existing Levy): 76.60%
  • YES vote for Pierce Fire Protection District No. 5 Proposition No. 1 Six-Year Levy Lid Lift: 61.64%
  • YES vote for Fire Protection District No. 18 Proposition No. 1 Excess Property Tax Levy for Maintenance and Operation Expenses: 65.42%
  • YES vote for Fire Protection District No. 21 Proposition No. 1 Six-Year Levy Lid Lift: 55.13%

In Snohomish County:

  • YES vote for Snohomish Fire District 10 Proposition No. 1 – Emergency Medical Services Property Tax Levy: 70.26%
  • YES vote for Fire District 17 Proposition No. 1 – Lid Lift Restoring EMS Property Tax Levy: 66.49%
  • YES vote for Fire District 25 Proposition No. 1 – Re-Authorizing of Regular Property Tax Levy: 70.80%
  • YES vote for Lake Stevens Fire Proposition No. 1 – Lid Lift Restoring EMS Property Tax Levy: 63.81%
  • YES vote for Bothell Urban Emergency Medical Services District Proposition No. 1 – Emergency Medical Services Tax Equalization Levy: 66.99%

In Spokane County:

  • YES vote for Town of Spangle Proposition No. 1 Fire Protection Service Excess Levy: 85.37%
  • YES vote for Town of Spangle Proposition No. 2 Police Protection Service Excess Levy: 82.50%

In Clark County:

  • YES vote for Washougal Proposition No. 7 Emergency Medical Services Regular Property Tax Levy: 66.90%
  • YES vote for Clark Fire Protection District No. 3 Proposition No. 2 Proposition Authorizing the Restoration of Existing Property Tax Levies: 61.54%

In Yakima County:

  • YES vote for Yakima Fire District #6 Proposition No. 1 Property Tax Levy for Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services: 72.02%

“Not every revenue request submitted to voters in this election is passing,” noted Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “But most of the levies we tallied are presently enjoying strong support.”

“The initial results of this election underscore that Washingtonians of all political stripes agree with the idea that we are stronger when we pool our resources… an idea that has served us well since statehood. By working together as taxpayers, we can afford infrastructure and services that enhance our communities’ quality of life.”

NPI to Governor Inslee: Congratulations on your reelection; let’s get to work on progressive revenue reform

Election Postmortem

Though many ballots remain to be counted, it’s apparent that Washington Governor Jay Inslee has easily earned a second term this year, having convincingly defeated Republican challenger Bill Bryant. Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve released the following statement on the results of the November 2016 gubernatorial election in Washington.

“Congratulations to Governor Jay Inslee on resoundingly winning a second term as our state’s chief executive,” said Villeneuve. “We are honored to have the opportunity to work with Governor Inslee to raise our state and region’s quality of life for another four years. Nationally, the election was a catastrophe in many respects, but not here in Washington, where progressives causes and candidates did very well.”

Villeneuve urged Inslee to make progressive revenue reform an immediate and urgent priority, noting the Governor unveiled a number of compelling ideas two years ago in advance of the 2015 legislative session, including a capital gains tax.

“The people of Washington want our public schools fully funded, and they want the Legislature to raise revenue to ensure that happens,” Villeneuve said.

“We also badly need to invest in our mental health system, to ensure that people are getting the care they need. Poaching money from other essential public services for schools and mental health is not an option. Our research shows the people of our state understand the need for progressive revenue reform and want their elected representatives to act without further delay.”

Last June, a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute found that 63% of likely voters agree that public schools are underfunded and that new state revenue is needed for public schools, while 65% support a capital gains tax on the wealthy to fund public schools and make Washington’s regressive, upside-down tax code fairer. (View the questions, the responses, and the methodology on NPI’s Cascadia Advocate).

More recently, the KCTS9/Crosscut Washington Poll asked a school funding question of its own, which mentioned the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, unlike our question, which deliberately left out any mention of the court’s ruling.

The Washington Poll asked: “In January 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund K-12 public education by 2018 by providing a total of $4 billion dollars in funding. Do you agree or disagree that the state Legislature should provide more funding to education?”49.1% of respondents said they strongly agreed, while 28.2% said they somewhat agreed.

In an email this morning, Donald Trump admirer Tim Eyman — who campaigned against Inslee’s reelection — sent out an email falsely claiming the election results show “there’s no public support — none whatsoever — for any tax increase, large or small.”

Eyman’s email today conveniently omitted any mention of any result that would contradict his narrative — such as the success of Sound Transit 3 or Spokane’s Public Transportation Benefit Area’s ten year plan. Both are passing, and both authorize increases in revenue to fund a useful and valuable public service — transit for all.

“Reporters who have been covering state politics for any length of time know that Tim Eyman can be counted on — in the wake of each and every election — to say ‘voters don’t want their taxes raised’, even while voters are doing precisely that,” said Villeneuve. “We have seen that voters in communities across our state will enthusiastically vote to sustain or raise state and local revenue when they can see where it is going and how it would be put to work to improve their lives.”

“Sound Transit 3’s approval nicely complements the passage of Connecting Washington last year. Governor Inslee and legislative leaders have acted on transportation and the voters have just given their work in that area a big thumbs up. Now we need to make raising revenue for our public schools our top priority. It’s our paramount duty and our kids have been waiting far too long for the Legislature to get its act together. No more excuses. We need progressive revenue reform now.”

“Eyman claims I-1464 and I-732 went down because one would have repealed a tax exemption and the other would have levied a carbon tax while reducing sales and B&O taxes, but what he’s not telling you is that a lot of people and organizations voted against those initiatives for completely different reasons.”

“At NPI, we urged a NO vote on both, having concluded that each had too many flaws to merit our support. I-1464 and I-732 were well intentioned, but didn’t meet our high standards, so we campaigned for their defeat. We still need to put a price on pollution and strengthen our campaign finance laws in addition to investing in our schools.”

“We look forward to seeing Governor Inslee’s proposed 2017-2018 budget and ask the Governor to once again call on the Legislature to levy a capital gains tax on the rich to fund our schools. The Legislature should also explore enacting a homestead exemption to reduce property taxes on low and middle income families while raising them slightly on wealthy households, to correct some of the imbalance in our tax code. And tax breaks that cannot be justified should be repealed to recover revenue for our state treasury.”

I-695’s devastating impact is no laughing matter

Election PostmortemRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Irked by a letter to the editor published by The Herald of Everett, initiative profiteer Tim Eyman this morning sent out an email to his followers ridiculing elected representatives and civic leaders over their opposition to I-695 (on the ballot in November of 1999), which wiped out billions of dollars in funding for public services following its implementation by the Legislature in 2000.

“[F]or nearly a decade, our initiative was blamed for most everything. ‘Heavy rainfall in Seattle caused by I-695’ — ‘I-695 spurs riots in LA’ — ‘Earthquake in East Timor exacerbated by I-695’. Our opponents couldn’t get enough of it. But eventually, their silliness eventually dissipated,” Eyman wrote in his email.

To NPI’s knowledge, no one opposed to I-695 has blamed it for out-of-state civil unrest, bad weather, or earthquakes abroad. However, Eyman’s I-695 has been blamed — and deservedly so — for having made our tax code more regressive and weakened the vital public services which our tax system funds.

The devastating impacts of I-695 are no laughing matter, nor were they overstated by Lynnwood’s Jerry Fraser in his letter to the editor.

Before I-695 was reinstated by Governor Gary Locke and lawmakers, the state-level MVET was projected to bring in more than one and half billion dollars during the 2001-2003 biennium, as noted by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) in its 1999 fiscal impact statement:

In the aggregate, I-695 would reduce motor vehicle taxes and fees by up to $1.1 billion in the 1999-01 Biennium and by up to $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 Biennium… As detailed on Table 1, the initiative would eliminate up to $1.1 billion in state revenues in the 1999-01 Biennium and up to $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 Biennium, which currently support transportation, criminal justice, public health, and other programs.  It also repeals the statutory method for the valuation of vehicles, as well as the distribution formulas for MVET revenue.

OFM’s analysis went on to offer a list of major public services funded by the state MVET:

  • Local transit districts
  • County public health account
  • Distressed county assistance account
  • Ferry capital construction account
  • Ferry operations account
  • Motor vehicle fund
  • Transportation fund
  • City & county sales tax equalization
  • Municipal & county criminal justice

Prior to its repeal, about 47% of the statewide MVET went to state transportation, while 29% went to local transit agencies and 24% went to local governments.

Below is a compendium of four fact sheets documenting the impact that I-695 was projected to have on a selection of county and city governments throughout the state:

Passage of Tim Eyman’s I-695, and the Legislature’s subsequent decision to reinstate it after it was struck down by the State Supreme Court in the ATU case had huge ramifications (like delayed/lost bond sales), and ushered in an era of backfilling at all levels of government that went on for years.

“We’re not even close to filling the holes,” State Representative Hans Dunshee told The Seattle Times a few months after the 1999 general election. “The largest impacts of I-695 will be unaddressed. That’s going to take more working and more thinking.”

Times editors felt the fallout from I-695 was so significant and newsworthy that they established a special section on to chronicle developments.

To replace the sudden, giant funding loss resulting from I-695, state agencies and local governments across Washington were forced to resort to drastic emergency measures.

Washington State Ferries was forced to hike fares dramatically (because funding for operations decreased by 58% and capital funding decreased by 70%).

The City of Mountlake Terrace stopped providing animal control.

Washington State University instructed its extension offices to begin preparing for massive budget cuts.

And the laudable goal of reducing class size and putting more money into schools fell by the wayside as the Legislature struggled to backfill the loss of MVET money.

In some cases, voters were asked to approve tax increases to replace lost funding.

In Longview, voters were asked to approve a flood control levy (and they said yes). The success of the levy mitigated one problem, but basic and essential public services still took a big hit in a Longview. The Daily News reported on November 16th, 2000:

The loss of motor vehicle excise taxes with last year’s passage of Initiative 695 hit Longview hard, and will reduce city revenue by about $1.4 million in 2001-2002, [Longview finance director Kurt] Sacha said. All city departments took cuts, and Longview police lost five officer positions in 2000.

King County Metro also went to the voters to gain back lost funding (and again, the voters said yes). Unfortunately, in Metro’s case, the mechanism the Legislature came up with to allow the agency to backfill from I-695 was an increase in its sales tax authority.

So even though the voters said yes to Metro’s request, the dot-com bust wiped out the projected revenue, as this 2010 King County Metro “System Overview” presentation explained on Slide 19 (“Funding Issues”):

  • 1999: I-695 approved. Metro’s funding reduced by $110 million per year (29% of budget)
  • 2000: Transit sales tax authority raised by Legislature to 0.9 percent
  • 2000: 0.2 percent Metro sales tax approved
  • 2000: Dot com bust: The projected sales tax growth to fund most of the service adds in the plan is lost
  • Plan became largely unfunded, but included the revised allocation policy of “40-40-20

In Snohomish County, Community Transit initially responded to I-695 by laying off dozens off bus drivers. Here’s how the Seattle Times reported it:

You’re a mean one, Mr. Eyman. All the bus drivers in Whoville say so.

Whoville, of course, is where the Grinch stole Christmas. And Community Transit (CT) drivers in Snohomish County who received layoff notices on the eve of the holidays want everyone to know that Initiative 695 sponsor Tim Eyman is their Grinch.

They gathered yesterday at the Labor Temple here to tell how Eyman – and the state’s voters – took their holiday cheer.

Pink slips were handed to 90 CT drivers and other employees earlier this month, announcing layoffs effective Feb. 6. Thirty other employees will be cut from full- to part-time status. The move was made in response to a projected loss of $18.7 million, 30 percent of CT’s budget next year.

Community Transit subsequently reversed some cuts to bus service using temporary funding. County leaders warned residents at the time that the service restorations might not be permanent. And sure enough, they weren’t. Sunday service went away that same year. It was brought back in 2002, then indefinitely suspended again in 2010 along with paratransit for disabled Snohomish County residents.

Five long years went by before Community Transit brought back Sunday service.

The motor vehicle excise tax used to be a stable revenue source that transit agencies could count on. After the statewide MVET was eviscerated, transit agencies became heavily dependent on sales taxes. As anyone with a basic understanding of public finance knows, the sales tax yields less revenue during economic downturns. Downturns, however, are precisely when many people rely on public services the most.

Community Transit, Metro, Sound Transit, and other transit providers will be facing the same predicaments they’ve grappled with in the past as soon as another recession occurs. Sales tax funding will go down, and that will jeopardize essential service that people rely on.

This is one of the many long-term consequences of I-695 that Tim Eyman never wants to talk about. He may not ride the bus, but hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians do. To them, the prospect of not being able to get to their job on Sunday, or utilize paratransit service to participate in community functions, is very scary.

Tim Eyman can pretend the real and serious consequences of I-695 don’t exist, but neither we nor our elected representatives can afford to live in his fantasyland.

Washington is home to more than seven million people. By working together and pooling our resources, there is much we can accomplish. To move forward and raise our quality of life, it’s imperative that we reject Tim Eyman’s destructive agenda and reaffirm that we believe in the values that Washington was founded on. We call upon our elected representatives at all levels to work with us to undo the harm caused by Eyman’s past initiatives as well as defeat any new schemes that Eyman comes up with.

Opposition to Eyman’s I-1366 surpasses 60% in King County

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Opposition to Tim Eyman’s I-1366 crossed the sixty percent threshold today in King County after Elections released its 3:58:14 PM report, reaching 60.59%. This is the third consecutive day that the share of the vote against I-1366 in Martin Luther King Jr. County has significantly increased; on Election Night, the NO vote was 57.54%.

Northwest Progressive Institute/Permanent Defense founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve made the following statement following the release of King County Elections’ Friday, November 6th count.

“All of us at the Northwest Progressive Institute would like to express our gratitude to the people of King County for voting so overwhelmingly against Tim Eyman’s awful, hostage-taking I-1366,” said Villeneuve. “While we are not winning statewide, to be prevailing so decisively in King County is a blessing. We are also grateful to voters in Thurston, San Juan, and Jefferson counties for recognizing that I-1366 is bad public policy, and for likewise rejecting the militant, destructive politics of hostage-taking.”

“This morning, Tim Eyman had the audacity to attack The Olympian for its praise of King and Thurston voters’ decision, quoting from the editorial and then sneering to his followers, ‘Not enough father-knows-best condescension for you?’ He also falsely assailed us, his opponents, as contemptous of voters.”

“If Eyman wants to talk about contempt, why don’t we talk about his contempt… for our Constitution, for our system of government, for our elected representatives, and anyone who disagrees with him.”

“Tim Eyman may be in a gloating mood, but we stand resolutely prepared to continue the fight against I-1366 and any other bad ideas he comes up with in the months to come. Eyman is sorely mistaken if he thinks we regard what is happening in this election as anything more than a setback. We are committed to maintaining a permanent defense against his schemes to wreck our government, as well as going on offense to raise Washington’s quality of life.”

“As the Supreme Court has ruled, we are badly underfunding public education. I-1366 would make an already grave problem much, much worse. It must not stand. We urge the Supreme Court to strike it down without delay and uphold our Constitution.”

“Tim Eyman loves to talk about the wisdom and the will of the voters, but he disregards the voters’ will when the people of Washington do not vote in accordance with his wishes. He operates by a double standard.”

“It is worth noting that most of Washington’s nearly four million voters did not even participate in this election. They stayed home. Of the few who turned out, only a narrow majority are approving I-1366. An increasingly large minority are saying NO, including a supermajority (three-fifths) of voters in King County.”

“It’s no secret that Eyman doesn’t take repudiation well. We have no doubt his losses in King, Thurston, San Juan, and Jefferson counties have left him very annoyed, because he can no longer claim that Seattle is the only place where there is a majority opposed to sabotaging Washington’s cherished tradition of legislative majority rule.”

With election results certified, the failure of Tim Eyman’s I-517 sets a new record

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Today, elections officials from Washington State’s thirty-nine counties certified the results of the 2013 general election. The final results show that Tim Eyman’s I-517, one of two statewide initiatives on the ballot, was defeated with 62.71% of the vote, which is the biggest-ever defeat of a Tim Eyman initiative, percentage-wise.

The old record of 61.54% was held by the No on I-892 campaign, which opposed Eyman’s 2004 scheme to put electronic slot machines in every neighborhood of the state and use the increased tax revenue to lower property taxes.

I-892 was overwhelmingly defeated by voters.

Although 2013 was a low turnout election, more than one million Washingtonians voted to reject I-517.

In King County, the no vote climbed above 70% as counting went on, and it nearly reached 72% by the time most ballots had been tabulated. The No campaign, which NPI’s Permanent Defense worked to help organize, won with a majority or supermajority of the vote in all of the state’s key swing counties, including Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Whatcom, Clark, Thurston, and Spokane.

“In overwhelmingly rejecting I-517, the people of Washington have reaffirmed that the purpose of the Seventh Amendment to our state Constitution was to create an initiative process, not an initiative business,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve.

“Proponents of I-517, including Tim Eyman and Eddie Agazarm, claimed during the campaign that I-517 was about making it easier for grassroots groups to get on the ballot. But in reality, they wrote and promoted I-517 to help themselves. They profit from qualifying initiatives, and they were looking to make their business even more lucrative with I-517. Thankfully, they failed.”

Tim Eyman and Eddie Agazarm have each previously admitted that they love making money from initiatives and want to make even more.

  • On February 3rd, 2002, Tim Eyman called up David Ammons of the Associated Press and confessed to having taken more than $150,000 of his own supporters’ donations for his personal use… and then lying about it for months. “This entire charade was set up so I could maintain a moral superiority over our opposition, so I could say our opponents make money from politics and I don’t,” Eyman told Ammons. Eyman admitted that going forward, he wanted to be well-paid:  “I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it.”
  • On April 18th, 2012, in an email to petition crew chiefs, Eyman associate Eddie Agazarm addressed complaints that petitioners were not being paid to collect signatures for I-517 by claiming that the inevitable passage of the initiative would make the signature gathering business more lucrative, and that this would be good for the very petition workers he exploits. He wrote:  “Somebody said that they’d have to be asking their people to work I-517 for free. That is definitely not the case as ALL petitioners and ALL managers will get paid very handsomely once I-517 passes. Think of the extra money we ALL make when we can work big turf ALL the time. Think of the money we can ALL make when we have petitioning year round. Think of all the extra petitions we can carry. Oh… we are gonna get paid for sure.”

The Public Disclosure Commission continues to actively investigate a complaint filed by Sherry Bockwinkel in August of 2012 that alleges numerous public disclosure laws were violated by Eyman, Agazarm and their associates during the I-517 signature drive, including failure to timely report contributions and expenditures.

NPI is monitoring the status of the investigation and urging the PDC to thoroughly investigate all of the allegations.

Statement on the defeat of Initiative 517

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Initial returns from Washington’s thirty-nine counties this evening indicate that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517 is headed down to a big defeat. NPI founder and NO on I-517 steering committee member Andrew Villeneuve thanked the people of Washington for overwhelmingly rejecting I-517, which would have made it easier for Eyman and his associates to manipulate our state’s initiative process and profit from it.

“Congratulations to the people of Washington for having the good sense and wisdom to reject Tim Eyman’s self-serving I-517,” said NPI founder and NO on I-517 steering committee member Andrew Villeneuve. “Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked hard to help voters understand that I-517 would have infringed upon our constitutionally guaranteed free speech rights and property rights, giving petitioners special privileges that no one else would have. We’re thankful that our efforts were successful. The rejection of I-517 is a victory for the initiative process over the initiative business.”

I-517 was opposed by a broad and diverse coalition that included progressive organizations like NPI, retailers like Safeway, Fred Meyer, REI, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart, as well as labor unions like the Carpenters and the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific and sports teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders. Opposition was also bipartisan: Former gubernatorial rivals Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna each took a stand opposing I-517, as did the Washington State Democratic Party, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State, former State Auditor Brian Sonntag, and former Secretaries of State Sam Reed and Ralph Munro.

The Yes on I-517 campaign remains under investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission for violating Washington State’s public disclosure laws during its signature gathering stage. The PDC acknowledged last month the investigation would not be completed ahead of the election.

NPI will be monitoring the status of the investigation in the weeks to come.

“Ending abuse of our state’s initiative and referendum process is a priority for us,” Villeneuve said. “We’re strong believers in the initiative and referendum and we want to return these instruments of direct democracy to their roots. It should be easier for grassroots activists to put together an initiative campaign, and harder for powerful interests to simply arrange a vote so they can purchase laws favorable to them.”

“In 2014 and beyond, we will working to end the exploitation of petition workers by outfits like Citizen Solutions that profit from qualifying initiatives while failing to comply with our worker protection laws,” Villeneuve added.

“We will also urge the Legislature to put a stop to the practice of ballot title shopping and require that petitions be more transparently laid out, so people have a clearer understanding of what they are being asked to sign.”

Tim Eyman’s Mukilteo neighbors voted down Initiative 1125, official results show

Election Postmortem

A couple of weeks ago, county canvassing boards across Washington State met to finalize the results of the November 2011 general election. The certification of the election means that we finally have official results that we can analyze and study.

(It doe take a long time to count all of the votes under our vote-by-mail system – which does not have a separate deadline for postmarking ballots, unlike Oregon – but the wait is well worth it, in our view).

Prior to the deadline for returning ballots (November 8th, at 8 PM) Initiative 1125 sponsor Tim Eyman was predicting a close outcome for his own measure, only a few weeks after having boasted that it was “leading in Seattle”. On October 25th, Eyman sent out an email update to his followers, requesting that they contact as many friends and family as possible to “push I-1125 in these final days”:

RE: We need your help to push I-1125 in these final days

Even though our internal polling among likely voters shows I-1125 ahead, we know it’s gonna be close. So we need your help to push I-1125 in these final days. Email your friends and encourage them to vote for I-1125. Call your relatives and prod them to support I-1125. Talk with your co-workers and encourage them to pass I-1125.

In the end, the election didn’t up being that close – and I-1125 did not end up ahead. More than 53% of Washingtonians voted against I-1125, including majorities in key swing counties like Snohomish, where Eyman lives. Eyman may well have expected to lose Snohomish County – it’s been consistently turning his measures down in recent years (with the exception of I-1053 last year) – but what about his own neighborhood?

If Eyman is walking his talk, shouldn’t he at least be winning on his home turf… even if he’s losing greater Snohomish County?

After all, selling initiatives is his full-time gig, and it stands to reason that nowhere is it easier for him to go door-to-door than in his own precinct.

We were curious to know the answer to this question. So we checked the official results, which are broken out at the precinct level. And, as it turns out, not only did Eyman lose his own precinct (Mukilteo 18) he lost it handily. More than 54% of his civic-minded neighbors gave I-1125 a thumbs down.

Amazingly, that’s a higher percentage than the cumulative vote against I-1125 in Snohomish County (51.66%) and statewide (53.21%).

I-1125 also failed in every other Mukilteo precinct except Mukilteo 15, where it passed. Here’s the breakdown for all of Mukilteo’s precincts:

Precinct Turnout Yes on I-1125 No on I-1125
Mukilteo 1 65.16% (686 voters registered, 447 voted) 45.41% (193 votes) 54.58% (232 votes)
Mukilteo 2 59.23% (753 voters registered, 446 voted) 44.94% (191 votes) 55.06% (234 votes)
Mukilteo 3 59.92% (474 voters registered, 284 voted) 48.51% (130 votes) 51.49% (138 votes)
Mukilteo 4 62.81% (406 voters registered, 255 voted) 40.83% (98 votes) 59.17% (142 votes)
Mukilteo 5 55.39% (789 voters registered, 437 voted) 48.33% (203 votes) 51.67% (217 votes)
Mukilteo 6 53.59% (599 voters registered, 321 voted) 46.62% (145 votes) 53.38% (166 votes)
Mukilteo 7 66.11% (419 voters registered, 277 voted) 39.10% (104 votes) 60.90% (162 votes)
Mukilteo 8 64.61% (373 voters registered, 241 voted) 43.10% (103 votes) 56.90% (136 votes)
Mukilteo 9 54.25% (553 voters registered, 300 voted) 46.53% (134 votes) 53.47 (154 votes)
Mukilteo 10 43.09% (427 voters registered, 184 voted) 46.33% (82 votes) 53.67% (95 votes)
Mukilteo 11 46.35% (561 voters registered, 260 voted) 44.62% (112 votes) 55.38% (139 votes)
Mukilteo 12 60.52% (775 voters registered, 469 voted) 40.00% (182 votes) 60.00% (273 votes)
Mukilteo 13 64.52% (589 voters registered, 380 voted) 42.23% (155 votes) 57.77% (212 votes)
Mukilteo 14 55.18% (685 voters registered, 378 voted) 45.30% (164 votes) 54.69% (198 votes)
Mukilteo 15 33.13% (323 voters registered, 107 voted) 59.22% (61 votes) 40.78% (42 votes)
Mukilteo 16 54.78% (785 voters registered, 430 voted) 41.29% (173 votes) 58.71% (246 votes)
Mukilteo 17 48.06% (826 voters registered, 397 voted) 46.07% (176 votes) 53.93% (206 votes)
Mukilteo 18 54.74% (780 voters registered, 427 voted) 45.85% (188 votes) 54.15% (222 votes)
Mukilteo 19 60.18% (447 voters registered, 269 voted) 45.42% (119 votes) 54.58% (143 votes)
Mukilteo 20 44.81% (770 voters registered, 345 voted) 47.60% (159 votes) 52.39% (175 votes)
Mukilteo 21 55.10% (343 voters registered, 189 voted) 43.42% (76 votes) 56.57% (99 votes)

Thanks to the Snohomish County Auditor’s office for this data.

It’s reassuring to know that even Tim Eyman’s neighbors had the wisdom to see through his most recent scheme. I-1125 was a poorly written, thoughtlessly conceived initiative that deserved to be defeated. And thankfully, it was.

Statement on the apparent defeat of I-1125

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Following the release of the first returns for the 2011 general election, NPI’s Permanent Defense published the following statement, reacting to the apparent defeat of Tim Eyman’s I-11125.

Many long months of working to educate voters about the cost and consequences of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1125 thankfully appear to be paying off tonight.

Although many ballots have yet to be counted, early returns suggest that when the election is certified, Washington will have rejected yet another senseless Eyman scheme to paralyze transportation planning and wreck government.

“We’re pleased to see that I-1125 is failing both east and west of the Cascades,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve, observing that the initiative was losing in counties like Whitman as well as King, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Island counties. “Tonight, Washingtonians are thoughtfully saying yes to safe roads and no to Tim Eyman’s plot to slap handcuffs on the wrists of our transportation planners. This is a significant victory for our common wealth and for the common good.”

“For months, we’ve been working alongside many friends and allies to ensure that I-1125 received the opposition it deserved,” Villeneuve added.

“We’re delighted that those efforts have paid off. We’re especially grateful to each and every activist that helped phonebank, put up yard signs, knock on doors, and distribute literature. Getting out the vote requires a big time commitment, but it’s crucial. Donations of time are just as important as donations of money.”

“We thank the voters for considering the concerns that we raised, and ultimately agreeing with us that Washington simply couldn’t afford I-1125.”

Voters in King County never demanded “$30 car tabs”

Election PostmortemRethinking and Reframing

Still mad over King County Executive Dow Constantine’s successful efforts to patch Metro’s funding shortfall, Tim Eyman is now asking his supporters to print out and hang up an eight and one half by eleven inch poster which accosts King County Councilmembers Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert as liars, Councilmember Julia Patterson as a sell-out, and Councilmember Bob Ferguson as… wait for it… Switzerland (because he didn’t say at the outset of the debate how he would vote).

In his email announcing the poster, Eyman complains:

“Whatever happened to our $30 car tabs?”  We hear it all the time from citizens. Voters have twice approved $30 car tabs and required that anything higher than $30 requires voter approval. It’s what the voters demanded and what the politicians promised (after I-695 was rejected by the courts — Governor Gary Locke said “Regardless of the court’s ruling today, $30 tabs are here to stay.”).

While Initiatives 695 and 776 (which Eyman is referring to) did pass statewide, they both failed in King County. In other words, King County actually voted against $30 car tabs… twice. So, in choosing to raise vehicle fees to save Metro, King County’s leaders were actually not only taking a just and moral action to protect a vital public service, they were respecting the will of the people they represent.

(Initiative 695, on the ballot in 1999, failed in King County by a vote of 53.34% to 46.66%. Initiative 776, on the ballot in 2002, failed in King County by a vote of 59.57% to 40.43%. Neither outcome was close).

Memo to the Seattle Times: Majority vote means fifty percent plus one – no more, no less!

Election PostmortemIn the CourtsRethinking and Reframing

The following is the text of the letter to the editor sent by NPI to the Seattle Times in response to the Times’ Sunday editorial urging the state Supreme Court not to strike down I-1053 if it receives an opportunity to do so.

In your Sunday, June 5th editorial (State’s two-thirds rule on taxes should be retained), you contend that Tim Eyman and BP’s Initiative 1053 (which violates Article II, Section 22) could pass constitutional muster:

The constitution does say a majority, but it uses negative language. It says, ‘No bill shall become a law’ without a majority. The state’s Republican attorney general, Rob McKenna, argues that this sets a minimum standard, and that the voters, through the initiative process, may temporarily raise it.

A similar argument was made by proponents of a 1053-like measure in Alaska several years ago, and rejected by Alaska’s Supreme Court in Alaskans for Efficient Government v. State of Alaska (2007). “Other courts interpreting constitutional language have wisely refrained from attributing any automatic significance to the distinction between negative and positive phrasing,” the Court ruled.

Referring to the proponents (Alaskans for Efficient Government), the Court added:

AFEG’s logic would just as readily compel the anomalous conclusion that section 14 was meant to set a ceiling but not a floor — that a majority vote would be the maximum needed to enact any bill, but the legislature would remain free to specify a sub-majority vote as sufficient to enact laws dealing with specified subjects, as it saw fit.

Majority vote means fifty percent plus one. No more, no less. There is no minimum standard. There is only the standard the founders intended – the only standard that makes sense in a democracy.

Our founders knew when it was appropriate to use supermajorities to protect minority rights from mob rule. Wherever a supermajority is required, the Constitution spells it out. But there is no reference to supermajorities in Article II, Section 22. That’s because the founders intended for a majority vote to decide the fate of all bills – not just some bills.

Initiative 1053 is a slippery slope. Unless it is struck down, we will not be protected against future copycat measures that undemocratically tie lawmakers’ hands and prevent our republic from functioning as it was designed to.

The Times gravely errs in attempting to justify its support of an initiative that dangerously undermines our plan of government.

POSTSCRIPT: The Seattle Times has published this letter online.

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