Category Archives: Election Postmortem

Two out of three corporate initiatives passing easily, including Tim Eyman’s I-1053

Election PostmortemRethinking and Reframing

As expected, the two corporate initiatives that public interest advocates failed to effectively organize and mobilize against – Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 and the American Beverage Association’s Initiative 1107 – are passing handily in the first returns to be reported.

The success of I-1053 and I-1107 deals Washington’s fragile common wealth a devastating blow at a time when many families are especially in need of vital public services, particularly the state’s safety net.

It’s clear from the big margins that both I-1053 and I-1107 are getting that voters didn’t comprehend the true consequences of either when filling out their ballots. They didn’t realize that I-1053 sabotages our cherished tradition of majority rule, and has caused legislative gridlock in states like California. They didn’t realize that I-1107 destroys revenue that has been helping to keep our safety net from being eviscerated. And no wonder: Few progressive organizations put any resources into telling the story of the harm 1053 and 1107 would — and now will — cause.

The word feeble doesn’t even begin to describe the efforts against 1053 and 1107, which were a failure in every respect. The consultants tasked with coming up with a plan for responding to the initiatives were resigned to what they felt was an inevitable defeat from the beginning. They created a self-fulfilling prophecy by opting against responding aggressively. The broad-based coalition against 1053 and 1107 thus existed in name only, and accomplished very little.

The lessons of the past were forgotten, opportunities to take action were squandered, and the decisions that did get made lacked input from the people actually in the trenches trying to defend our common wealth.

The result is a travesty. The Legislature’s efforts to responsibly close the most recent budget deficit have been undone, and worse, Article II, Section 22 of our Constitution has been sabotaged again, preventing the House and Senate from democratically acting to raise revenue to protect our common wealth in the future.

If we’ve learned one thing from this campaign, it’s that the state of paralysis and the mindset of resignation are our greatest enemies. Permanent Defense will work to overcome both in 2011 by attempting to build an unprecedented first line of defense against the next crop of right wing initiatives, including Tim Eyman’s next scheme to wreck government. We pledge to do our best to ensure that activists, citizens, and legislators who want to fight have the ability to do so, and are not marginalized by the indecision and defeatism of others.

Eyman invites supporters to join him in crashing Dino Rossi and Dave Reichert’s Election Night party

Ballot WatchdoggingElection Postmortem

Unwilling to organize an Election Night party of his  own – either because almost nobody would come, or because he’s just too lazy to go to all the trouble of putting together an event – Tim Eyman has invited his supporters to join him in crashing Dino Rossi and Dave Reichert’s Election Night party at the Bellevue Hilton.

In an email, Eyman says:

Join us at the taxpayers’ victory celebration at the Bellevue Hilton (300 112th Ave SE) on election night (several other campaigns are going to be there too, making it much easier for all our supporters — having one big party is better than having lots of little ones). We’ll get there around 7:45 pm, polls close at 8:00 pm and our victory speech will be given at 8:05 pm.

In typical Eyman fashion, Tim makes it sound like he was responsible for creating a grand taxpayers’ victory celebration that other campaigns are participating in. The reality is, he’s crashing the biggest Republican Election Night party in King County, just as he has for the past several years.

What we want to know is, why didn’t he take advantage of  his friends at BP, Shell, Tesoro, ConocoPhillips, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and get them to pony up some moolah for a nice big party? What’s the use of having wealthy corporations as allies if they can’t at least underwrite a rockin’ party?

Pierce, Benton counties flip to NO on Initiative 1033

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

The victory over Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 continues to get bigger.

Yesterday evening, Benton County… which is a reliable vote for Eyman’s anti-tax initiatives… flipped to the NO side, joining much of the rest of southeast Washington in defeating Eyman’s latest scheme to kill jobs and wreck our common wealth.

And today, Pierce County has become the latest to flip. NO on I-1033’s lead in Pierce as of 5 PM today is almost a thousand votes. If the trend continues, that will leave Mason as the only county touching Puget Sound to vote in favor of Initiative 1033.

“The scope of this accomplishment gets more breathtaking by the day,” Northwest Progressive Institute Executive Director and Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve said. “The coalition that united to beat back 1033 worked into the final days and hours to turn out the vote, and those efforts are clearly being reflected in the results we’re seeing.”

“The people of Washington State deserve a giant pat on the back for thinking beyond the ballot title and recognizing the consequences of this ill-conceived initiative.”

Statement on apparent defeat of Tim Eyman’s I-1033

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

The Northwest Progressive Institute, Permanent Defense’s parent organization,  released the following statement on the apparent defeat of Tim Eyman’s I-1033 tonight.

“We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief tonight with the apparent defeat of Initiative 1033,” said Villeneuve. “I-1033 would have trapped our state in a permanent recession, making an economic recovery impossible.”

“Tonight’s victory over Tim Eyman is a testament to the many organizations and people that came together to create the NO on I-1033 Coalition. We at the Northwest Progressive Institute are incredibly proud to have been part of such a diverse and determined effort to protect our quality of life.”

Villeneuve noted that I-1033 is currently failing in many counties across Washington, both east and west.

“We worked aggressively during this campaign to get the word out about the harmful consequences of this initiative in every corner of the state. That’s why we’re seeing counties like Asotin, Garfield, and Columbia turning this scheme down. Tough times have already forced local governments there down to bare bones. Initiative 1033 would have gutted what was left. Fortunately, Washingtonians have said no to greed and yes to a sustainable future, sparing our communites from a devastating blow.”

The defeat of Initiative 1033 marks the first time voters have turned down a Tim Eyman initiative in an odd year, and it is the first time voters have consecutively rejected Eyman initiatives two years in a row on the ballot.

Statement on the overwhelming defeat of I-985

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Today the people of the State of Washington sent a loud, clear message to perennial right wing initiative sponsor Tim Eyman: We’re sick of traffic and we don’t agree that the solution to our transportation mess is diverting money from our schools to pay for bigger and wider highways.

“We’re thrilled with the results,” said Andrew Villeneuve, Executive Director of the Northwest Progressive Institute (and Chair of Permanent Defense). “We’ve been working tirelessly over the last few months to educate voters about the consequences of this ill-conceived initiative. Today all that hard work paid off with an incredible victory.”

“We congratulate the people of Washington for making a wise and forward-thinking decision.”

FOIA filed to expose potential audit mischief

Election Postmortem

One of the major reasons we opposed Initiative 900 two years ago was because we feared the potential for abuse of the performance audit as a tool to ensure good government.

Today, suspicious of the gleeful rhetoric used by opponents of transportation agencies such of Sound Transit expressing their happiness that audits will be released right before an election with a major package on the ballot (Roads & Transit) David Goldstein filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out if auditors have been communicating with those opponents (Tim Eyman, Ted Van Dyk, etc.) behind the scenes, leaking information:

Performance audits are not comparable to financial audits in either scope or purpose. You don’t just bring in a third party to examine the books in search of waste, fraud or abuse, but rather, you observe and analyze the performance of an agency and its procedures for the purpose of recommending changes that could lead to greater efficiencies. While in a worst case scenario a performance audit could conclude that an agency does not fulfill its mission at all, it is mostly meant as a productivity tool, and as such requires the full cooperation of the management and staff being audited if it is to be effective. If instead, performance audits are used as a means to politically punish and embarrass an agency — including, say, influencing elections — then future audits on other agencies will never gain the inside trust and cooperation necessary to conduct them.

Yes, voters deserve to know how well Sound Transit and WSDOT are spending our money before we vote them more of it, but if these audits are perceived to be politically motivated hatchet jobs, their reports won’t be worth the paper they’re written on. And if officials within the auditor’s office or the outside contractors have been improperly communicating with opponents of the Roads & Transit measure, soliciting their input and leaking results, then I can’t see how these so-called “performance audits” can be understood to be genuine performance audits at all, let alone impartial and unbiased.

The FOIA results should be telling – we’ll be waiting to see what gets disclosed.

Initiative 900 rears its ugly head

Election Postmortem

Via Strange Bedfellows comes word of a new performance audit released by the State Auditor’s office and conducted by Ernst & Young, who declared in their report that “Washington State Ferries provides a level of service above what traffic volumes demand.” The audit says this unnecessary service will cost the state $100 million over the next 10 years.

The state Department of Transportation has responded to the audit, noting:

“The Department agrees that some sailings have space available during off peak hours…However, several factors will affect how the Department addresses this recommendation.

“As a mass transit provider, there must be a balance in accommodating peak demand periods with providing some level of connection and usefulness to customers in off-peak hours. In the manner that highways are not closed during hours of low utilization, canceling off-peak ferry sailing mush consider factors in addition to utilization.”

[…]

“While this finding is worthy of further consideration, it is premature to assume cost savings of almost $10 million (per year) from service cuts.”

While performance audits have the potential to be useful and helpful in identifying modest cost savings, what we don’t need is auditors and accountants running state government agencies. The foremost goal of the state ferry system should be to provide quality service to the people of Washington State, not transport humans as cheaply as possible.

We opposed I-900 in 2005 because it gave too much power to the auditor’s office and went beyond what was needed and appropriate.

At some point in the future, I-900 will have to be revised, repealed, or amended to curtail abuse or prevent the possibility of abuse, because the initiative’s language practically invites it.

Checks and balances were apparently not a concept that Tim Eyman learned when he was in high school.

2006: A year of victories for Permanent Defense, a year of defeats for Tim Eyman

Election PostmortemRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Following yesterday’s Supreme Court decision which affirms that Sound Transit may continue to collect the local motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) it has levied for years, a tally of developments indicates that 2006 is very likely Tim Eyman’s worst year – ever. Among Eyman’s losses, defeats, and setbacks this year:

  • He failed to qualify Referendum 65 in June
  • He saw I-747 ruled unconstitutional in June
  • He failed to qualify Initiative 917 in September
  • He opposed Mayor Nickels’ Seattle roads package, but it passed anyway
  • He lost the court battle against Sound Transit over collection of the MVET

These are merely at the top of an earlier string of defeats from immediate years past, including the failure of I-912 (the gas tax repeal, which Eyman strongly backed publicly but otherwise didn’t have a hand in) the failure of I-892 (legalization of electronic slot machines plus tax cuts), I-864 (property tax cuts), I-807 (spending limits), and I-267 (controlling how transportation funding is spent).

Despite his recent slump, his lousy overall track record, and his unprofessional conduct towards the press (remember “Feel like you’ve been duped? Well you have!”), he is still considered relevant and treated with a reverence he doesn’t deserve.

The Associated Press has mistakenly continued to call Eyman a guru. Guru, as defined by the dictionary, means wise leader, intellectual, or mentor. Eyman is none of those. He’s a false front: looks big, thanks in part to undeserved media attention, but hasn’t had a meaningful impact.

And given his incompetence this year, when he was expected to have no trouble qualifying at least Initiative 917, but still failed to do so, the label of guru is even more inaccurate.

Tim Eyman is not a guru. Nor is he a king, or a champion, or a populist. He does not enjoy wide support. Voters are sick and tired of his stale assortment of tax cuts and spending limits.

He could be accurately described as simply an activist (and a well paid one at that).

A better fit would be zealot.

A majority of the electorate clearly wants effective government, government that works. That’s why they have been voting down the right wing initiatives that have been on the ballot in the last few years (including this year’s Initiatives 933 and 920).

But Tim Eyman offers only anti-govermentism.

Just consider that close to 80% of Initiative 917, the most recent flop, was funded by one man – Eyman’s sugar daddy, Michael Dunmire – and it’s plainly evident Eyman is no populist. For Tim, it’s about making money. Whether he gets a ballot measure qualified or not, he’s been asking his supporters for a personal reward year after year after year. Any supporter who donates to him now is compensating him for failure.

Three days ago, on Tuesday, the Seattle Times rewarded Eyman with yet another guest column on their opinion page, while the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reprinted an Associated Press article about Eyman’s unimportant 2007 plans in its morning edition. KOMO gave Eyman prominent billing on its website. Other media outlets carried the non-story as well.

Regrettably, it seems Eyman is still being taken seriously by too many members of the traditional media. Given that he is a proven and admitted liar, given that he continues to insist his initiatives are “wildly popular” when in fact they’re not, and given that he has squandered and frittered away all of his credibility, it is surprising and disappointing he is still given column space, wire stories, and airtime.

There’s no excuse for this any more. The Tim Eyman media circus needs to be over – his very long hour of fame is up. There are other issues more deserving of coverage and other individuals whose work is more deserving of recognition.

Permanent Defense and its founder realized this over three years ago, acknowledging their broader civic interest when a new parent organization was created with a much more extensive and encompassing focus on political thought and political action – the Northwest Progressive Institute.

Permanent Defense has remained an important division of NPI, but is now only a small part of the larger organization’s endeavors.

Victory! Four for four against right wing initiatives in 2006

Election Postmortem

Yesterday, Permanent Defense won an astoundingly incredible victory that can hardly be described in words. It was historic, it was monumental, it was titanic in size and scope. It was in almost every respect a complete rout of the regressive right wing agenda and a victory for progressives and Democrats.

Anti-tax zealots are reeling after the massive rejection of Initiative 920 (which would have repealed millions of dollars for public schools) and the approval of additional revenue increases to pay for more bus service in King County and infrastructure improvements in Seattle.

And the right wing’s out-of-state funded Initiative 933 is, without a doubt, completely dead as well. Voters across Washington State said “no thanks” to jeopardizing land use protections that preserve the quality of life in our communities.

Meanwhile, Initiative 937, which will help secure our clean, green energy future, has passed. We swept the initiatives this year and gave the other guys a sound beating they won’t soon forget.

On the federal and state levels, Democrats swept to victory on a blue tidal wave that washed across America and splashed into every region in the country.

There are now more Democrats in both houses of our own state Legislature, which is very exciting news. In the upcoming legislative sessions we will be working closely with many of the newly elected legislators to fight for tax reform and a fairer tax structure.

These victories all come on top of Tim Eyman’s earlier failures to qualify Referendum 65 and Initiative 917 for the ballot. Eyman is mired in a losing streak which we have helped make possible. His losses this year top earlier defeats in previous years such as I-864, I-892, I-807, and I-267.

He is a powerless ideologue — and Washington State has had enough of him.

Eyman, who attended the Republicans’ election night party in Bellevue, was forced to concede that his ideology had suffered a major repudiation, calling the series of losses “brutal.”

Eyman today told his supporters they need to “fight back with an aggressive proposal” in 2007 and whined about Christine Gregoire and the Legislature’s revenue increases from recent legislative sessions. Of course, he failed to note that the taxes were sanctioned by voters with the rejection of I-912 (keep the gas tax) and I-920 (keep the estate tax).

Voters are not interested in gutting public services to reward wealthy Washingtonians with tax cuts.

We will continue to vigorously oppose Tim Eyman and defeat him, as we have this year and in the past. Our organization is stronger than it has ever been.

With your help and your support we will stand strong against right wing initiatives in 2007 and in the years beyond.

Dunmire props Eyman up with big bucks

Election Postmortem

The AP has an “exclusive” article up on the wire tonight announcing that Tim Eyman and his initiative factory partners (Mike and Jack Fagan) will split a salary fund of $209,000.

Roughly half of the $209,000 came from Eyman’s multimillion dollar backer, Michael Dunmire of Woodinville, an investment banker. Eyman thrives on media attention and special interest money. He is completely disconnected from the people of the state of Washington.

Eyman is truly nothing without Dunmire’s money. Dunmire provided about 80% of the funding to get Initiative 900 on the ballot.

Eyman is not a populist and he does not represent the people. He only represents special interests and conservative multimillionaires.

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