Category Archives: From the Campaign Trail

RE: Ensuring “balanced and fair” media coverage of Tim Eyman’s I-976

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

This morning, Tim Eyman sent out an email grumbling about a story that KING5 ran on its website yesterday regarding the fiscal impact that his latest freedom of mobility destroying initiative would have on Sound Transit’s voter approved projects. Although the story was accompanied by a clip of an earlier KING5 segment that extensively featured Eyman and framed the issue in his favor, Eyman nevertheless cried foul.

Wrote Eyman: “Someone forwarded me a KING5 story after-the-fact about Sound Transit putting out something on our Initiative I-976. The story had nothing from the other side. That’s unfortunate. In the interests of balance and fairness, I would ask folks in the media to please call me and email me and allow me opportunity to respond.”

Actually, what’s truly unfortunate is that a not insignificant percentage of the coverage of I-976’s final signature turn in and qualification has lacked any opposition perspective at all, resulting in extremely favorable, one-sided stories benefiting Tim Eyman.

For example, this article, which appeared on the websites of many local newspapers around the state (Lake Chelan Mirror, Lewis County Chronicle, South Whidbey Record, Sequim Gazette, etc.) did not offer any opposition perspective or analysis of the impacts of I-976 whatsoever:

‘Bring Back Our $30 Car Tabs’ Initiative Could Be on November Ballot

By Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

“Bring Back Our $30 Car Tabs,” an initiative that would limit annual motor-vehicle registration fees to $30 except for voter-approved charges, was sent to the Legislature for consideration by the Secretary of State.

Initiative 976 received enough signatures to potentially make it to the November 2019 ballot. The initiative can take three different pathways by either being approved as is by Legislators, by Legislators passing on the initiative and it being voted on by the public, or by Legislators passing an alternative, in which case voters would choose between the two versions in November.

I- 976 also would repeal, reduce, or remove the ability to impose a variety of vehicle taxes and fees except for those that are voter approved. It would also require the use of Kelley Blue Book values as a basis for vehicle taxes.

Tim Eyman is the lobbyist behind the initiative, who has been proposing and passing a variety of initiatives since 1999 with Initiative 695: Washington Voter Approval for Tax Increases. I 695 limited license tab fees to $30 and was overturned by the Washington Supreme Court in 2000 because it was not limited to one subject, a requirement of all initiatives.

Eyman wants I- 976 to pass “so that every vehicle owner in the state of Washington would write a check for 30 dollars each year to register their vehicle and cap it so that state government can’t jack it up and local government can’t jack it up,” he said.

According to Eyman, 61 cities in Washington have imposed vehicle fees.

Eyman has proposed a host of bills that all get at one issue. “Big picture, it’s less about the money and more about respecting the decisions voters make,” said Eyman.

Meanwhile, Tim Eyman’s friends on talk radio (like Dori Monson and John Carlson), have neglected to seek out an opposition perspective, even after having Eyman as their on-air guest many times to promote his initiative.

Monson and Carlson may be commentators as opposed to reporters striving for objectivity, but why not afford their listeners an opportunity to hear the case against Eyman’s proposal?

The public will never hear an accounting of the impacts from Eyman because his position is that there just wouldn’t be any.

Eyman’s “Chicken Little” sneers notwithstanding, I-976 would wipe out billions in funding for transportation projects at every level (state, regional, and local). All Washingtonians would be negatively affected.

Our one page, downloadable fact sheet summarizes the many essential services that would take a hit with implementation of I-976.

The team at the Northwest Progressive Institute and the NO on I-976 Coalition (which includes a growing list of organizations like All Aboard Washington, The Urbanist, and 350 Seattle) greatly appreciates all the reporters and media outlets who have tried to incorporate the perspectives of both sides into their reporting instead of just Eyman’s side… like Drew Mikkelsen and Kipp Robertson of KING5.

For Washingtonians to cast an informed vote on I-976 in the coming general election, they need to hear more than just Tim Eyman’s deceptive slogans and talking points.

It is absolutely essential that everyone understand that Eyman’s intent with I-976 is to wipe out funding for transit, local roads, ferries, freight mobility, and multimodal infrastructure… not save drivers money.

Consider that Eyman could have chosen to target tolls or fuel taxes with his latest initiative, which many drivers pay every week or even every weekday. He didn’t. Instead, he’s focused on vehicle fees. Why? Because vehicle fees are a major revenue source for non-highway transportation projects in Washington… projects Eyman (a zealous “road warrior”) doesn’t believe in since they don’t give him more pavement to drive his car on.

Then consider Eyman has been trying to qualify I-976 for three years running now. Sound Transit is, by Eyman’s own admission, his white whale. He’s obsessed with its destruction.

He’s openly admitted this when speaking in front of friendly audiences. For instance, in a March 1st, 2016 appearance before the Eastside Republican Club in Bellevue, Eyman said:

“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.

Eyman was unable to qualify an initiative in 2016 or 2017 to rip the heart of Sound Transit, but he didn’t stop trying.

With I-976 destined for the November ballot, it’s imperative that we have a substantive conversation about the impacts so everyone understands how our communities will lose if this measure is implemented. We encourage reporters, editors, and producers to study the measure carefully and ensure that audiences are aware of the damage I-976 will inflict in places that are far away from Sound Transit’s jurisdiction, especially communities in central, eastern, and southwest Washington.

Statement in response to qualification of Tim Eyman’s I-976

From the Campaign Trail

This afternoon, Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976 has qualified as an initiative to the Legislature for 2019. According to Wyman’s office, 19,738 petition sheets were submitted for I-976 bearing 352,093 signatures. (The current requirement for qualification is 259,622 valid signatures; sponsors are advised to submit at least 325,000 signatures to offset duplicate and invalid signatures.)

I-976 seeks to repeal vehicle fees at the state, regional, and local levels, which would devastate funding for essential services like Amtrak Cascades (a joint service funded by the people of the States of Washington and Oregon, which provides Washington’s only rail link with Vancouver, British Columbia) and freight mobility.

I-976 also attempts to imperil Sound Transit’s voter-approved ST3 system expansion package by repealing one of ST3’s three funding sources. This could result in light rail, commuter rail, express bus, and bus rapid transit projects being reduced or scaled back.

The destruction wouldn’t stop there, I-976 further seeks to repeal the statutes that allow ferry districts and transportation benefit districts to levy vehicle fees for local projects. Sixty cities of all sizes on both sides of the Cascades currently rely on vehicle fees for projects our communities need.

Most of those cities (for example, Anacortes) use their vehicle fee revenue to fund road maintenance and street improvements. Seattle, the state’s largest city, uses its voter-approved fee revenue to fund King County Metro service hours that are helping riders cope with the current closure of State Route 99 through the city’s downtown core.

Northwest Progressive Institute Founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve — who has seventeen years of experience organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives — issued the following statement in response to the announcement that I-976 has qualified as an initiative to the Legislature for 2019.

“Tim Eyman’s I-976 is a recipe for horrific highway gridlock, derelict roads, and stranded travelers,” said Villeneuve. “It would eliminate essential services that Washingtonians depend on, especially in rural areas, jeopardizing freedom of mobility and eliminating good paying jobs in construction and the building trades. This initiative is a wrecking ball aimed squarely at the vital multimodal transportation infrastructure we’ve been working hard to build.”

“If we don’t stop I-976, then the bipartisan progress we’ve made over the last decade and a half towards better connecting Washington will be halted and reversed. We simply cannot afford this destructive initiative.”

“Fortunately, a broad and diverse coalition is forming to give Eyman’s I-976 the vigorous opposition it deserves. We invite Washingtonians of all political affiliations who value freedom of mobility and good roads to join us in working for the defeat of I-976. Every day, we hear from more people and organizations who are gravely concerned about the impact I-976 would have, and are ready to take action to protect the essential services it seeks to harm. We’re encouraged by this response and believe that by working together, we the people of Washington can defeat I-976.”

For additional information, please visit no976.org.

Washington State Democratic Party takes position opposing Eyman’s I-976

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign TrailThreat Analysis

Good news: The Washington State Democratic Party has formally declared its opposition to Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to wipe out transit funding at the state, regional, and local level. The party yesterday went on record against I-976 at its autumn meeting in Spokane.

The motion unanimously adopted by the party’s governing central committee — which consists principally of two individuals from each county and two individuals from each legislative district in the state — reads as follows:

RESOLVED: That the Washington State Democratic Party take a position opposing Tim Eyman’s I-976, an initiative to the Legislature for 2019, which seeks to wipe out funding for Amtrak Cascades and Sound Transit 3 plus transit service and multimodal projects at the city level, and urges all Washingtonians to decline to sign if approached by a petitioner.

I-976 is Eyman’s fourth attempt in three years to gut voter-approved transit projects he’s obsessed with destroying, chiefly Sound Transit’s Link light rail expansion. However, Eyman’s I-976 wouldn’t just hurt Sound Transit. It would also rip away funding for sidewalks, road improvements, and bus service at the city level. The state’s largest cities (Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma) all utilize vehicle fees for transportation improvements within their boundaries, and so do small cities like East Wenatchee and Clarkston.

Eyman has until January 4th, 2019 to collect and turn in signatures for the measure. NPI expects it to qualify and is working to ensure that it goes down to defeat should it appear before voters in October/November of 2019.

Tim Eyman gets a gift from NPI’s Permanent Defense at his roadside press conference

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

Tim Eyman didn’t have petitions to submit today to qualify an initiative to the November 2018 ballot, but the lawbreaking initiative promoter decided to show up at the Secretary of State’s Elections Annex anyway in a bid to garner attention for I-976, his fourth attempt in three years to wipe out transit investments across Washington State.

Stationed in front of a pickup truck adorned with a banner and tubs of I-976 petitions, Eyman kept a steady stream of commentary coming to any reporters who would listen about the I-976 signature drive as well as the Alliance for Gun Responsibility’s I-1639, which Eyman opposes and which is likely headed to the ballot.

To signify and reaffirm our dedication to vigorously opposing and defeating I-976, we provided Eyman and his associate Mike Fagan (a Spokane City Councilmember) with a token of our commitment to protecting our vital transit investments. Each received a copy of the mini-poster below depicting Link light rail vehicles in action.

Link is our newest transit mode and is liberating an increasing number of riders from gridlock in one of our state’s most crowded, congested corridors. It is being expanded north, east, south,  and west simultaneously thanks to voter approval of Sound Transit 2 in 2008 and Sound Transit 3 in 2016.

We Love Our Light RailEyman claims to have collected 202,172 signatures for I-976 so far, which for all we know could be a made up number. He needs 350,000 by January 4th, 2019.

As it so happens, almost exactly twelve years ago, Eyman appeared on that very same Olympia street in a Darth Vader costume to announce that he had collected 142,613 signatures for I-917, which, like I-976, was an attempt to slash vehicle fees. A few weeks later, Eyman returned for his turn-in event, this time dressed up as Buzz Lightyear.

Not long after, the Secretary of State revealed that an insufficient number of signatures had been submitted to allow the initiative to pass a random sample check.

A subsequent complete check of all signatures found that the initiative did not have enough to qualify. Consequently, I-917 never appeared on the ballot.

Eyman declared publicly that he had submitted enough signatures to qualify, and alleged (without foundation) that some of the I-917 petitions had been “pilfered”.

In an attempt to prop up his baseless claim, Eyman circulated a letter that purported to show the weekly signature totals for I-917. Hilariously, the total for the week of Eyman’s event in Olympia contradicted the number that Eyman had given to reporters, prompting us to ask: Was Eyman lying then, or is he lying now? (Either way, Eyman lied.)

Western students sound the alarm about I-976 in guest editorial

From the Campaign TrailThreat Analysis

If you’re approached by a petitioner hawking Tim Eyman’s I-976, decline to sign!

NPI’s Permanent Defense has been sounding the alarm over Eyman’s latest attempt to wipe out transit funding for several weeks now. Today, we got a boost from Western students Giovanna Orecchio, Anna Kemper and Rosa Rice-Pelepko, who wrote a guest editorial echoing that call to action for the Associated Students Review:

I-976 is the brainchild of conservative anti-tax activist Tim Eyman. Eyman makes his living off filing ballot initiatives, and is hardly the guy from whom we should take public policy advice. This year, he’s decided to gut the prime source of funding for the biggest public infrastructure project in the state: light rail.

Sound Transit 3 (light rail) gets most of its funding from car tab fees which are calculated based on the value of your car. If you drive a fancy new Mercedes, you pay more. If you drive a 2003 used Honda Civic, you pay less. All in all, it’s a decently equitable system. Instead, I-976 would make everyone pay a regressive flat fee of $30.

At the end of the day, I-976 will cut car tab fees for people with fancy cars and slash funding for our light rail expansion. That’s not fair, not smart, and not what we voted for. We encourage you to stand up for jobs, mass transit, and the will of the voters: don’t sign I-976!

A big thanks to Giovanna, Anna, and Rosa. We appreciate your efforts to educate your fellow Washingtonians about the grave threat this initiative represents to our communities. It is important to note that I-976 would also destroy funding for Amtrak Cascades, local bus service, and transportation projects at the city level in dozens of cities across the state.

Tim Eyman continues to blatantly flout Washington’s public disclosure laws with I-947

From the Campaign TrailStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

During the past twelve months, the State of Washington filed not one, not two, not three, but four lawsuits against Tim Eyman and his associates alleging serious violations of our public disclosure laws, acting on complaints filed by organizations like Washingtonians For Ethical Government and Keep Washington Rolling.

Yet, Eyman and his crew continue to brazenly violate RCW Chapter 42.17A with impunity, acting as though the law simply doesn’t apply to them.

Last month, Eyman launched a new effort to “stick it to Sound Transit” (Initiative 947) which he has been regularly promoting on talk radio with the help of KVI’s John Carlson and KIRO’s Dori Monson. I-947 is essentially a redux of two initiatives that Eyman tried to get on the ballot last year (I-1421 and I-869) but which everyone seems to have forgotten about — probably because neither got off the ground.

Eyman is hoping I-947 will be different.

Although he still doesn’t appear to have commitments from any wealthy benefactors to hire paid petitioners, Eyman is gamely trying to run a signature drive anyway, relying on volunteer assistance. In addition to receiving free publicity from Carlson and Monson (who, like Eyman, loathe Sound Transit), Eyman is also getting help from the Washington State Republican Party and its locals. Republican Party organizations have been seen hawking petitions for I-947 at public events like The Evergreeen State Fair in Monroe.

The I-947 campaign began many weeks ago, but Eyman and his associates have yet to properly register their campaign with the Public Disclosure Commission as the law requires. Journalists: you can see this for yourself by doing the following:

  • Go to www.pdc.wa.gov, navigate to View Reports, and run an Advanced Search for the ballot number “947”. Nothing will turn up.
  • Browse to the latest filings for Voters Want More Choices, the committee Eyman is collecting I-947 donations through according to his website. You won’t see an updated C1-PC among them.
  • The last C1-PC filed by Voters Want More Choices dates back to February, when Eyman was trying to qualify an initiative to cut property taxes. This is it. (It wasn’t correctly filled out, so Voters Want More Choices is listed under Continuing Committees as opposed to Initiatives — 2017.)
No Documents Found for Ballot Measure "947"
No Documents Found for Ballot Measure “947”

In its instructions to campaigns, the PDC is clear: File a C1-PC “within two weeks of when the committee is organized or within two weeks of when the committee first expects to receive contributions or make expenditures, whichever is earlier.”

Many weeks have elapsed since Eyman first expected to receive contributions or make expenditures for I-947, but he hasn’t registered the campaign with the PDC. At the end of last month, Washingtonians For Ethical Government notified the Attorney General and King County Prosecuting Attorney that it will bring a lawsuit against Tim Eyman and his associates for failing to file if they choose not to. A month has gone by since that notice was sent, but Eyman’s crew hasn’t filed their C1-PC.

There’s more. NPI and WFEG have reason to believe Eyman has failed to report all of his campaign-related expenditures.

On August 9th, Eyman’s treasurer Barbara Smith filed monthly reports for Voters Want More Choices, including a C4 and C3s. The C4 states that Eyman spent $328.19 on petition printing from Adpro Litho, on July 24th, 2017. That’s the only expense for petition printing listed for July. Here are the others reported expenses and vendor names:

Report DATABAR 7/25/2017 $4,232.62 EDGEWOOD WA 98371 POSTAGE AND MAILING
Report ADPRO LITHO INC 7/24/2017 $328.19 MUKILTEO WA 98275 PRINTING OF PETITION SHEETS
Report FAGAN JANET 7/24/2017 $270.00 SPOKANE WA 99207 DATA ENTRY
Report VERIZON 7/21/2017 $292.36 ACWORTH GA 30101 TELEPHONE CHARGES
Report DATABAR 7/21/2017 $50.05 EDGEWOOD WA 98371 POSTAGE AND MAILING
Report E INNOVATIONS NETWORKING 7/21/2017 $29.92 SPOKANE WA 99220 MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR ON COMPUTER
Report PAY PAL 7/19/2017 $84.54 SAN JOSE CA 95131 PAY PAL CHARGES
Report DASE BARBARA 7/13/2017 $75.00 SEATAC WA 98168 TYPESETTING
Report RUNTIME 7/10/2017 $100.00 MEAD WA 99021 WEBMASTER
Report EMPS 7/3/2017 $45.45 HAGERSTOWN MD 21740 CREDIT CARD CHARGES

Evidence suggests Tim Eyman has spent a lot more than $328.19 on petition printing for Initiative 947. Last month, Eyman sent out a flurry of emails in which he urged his supporters to contact him to participate in the I-947 signature drive.

In one such email, dated July 26th, 2017, Eyman wrote:

Send me an email and let me know how many petitions you want, your address, and your phone number. I will find an Office Depot, Staples, or Kinko’s near you, order the petitions for you, and all you need to do is pick them [up]. It is a petition distribution revolution that nearly 100 supporters have done already. 

Emphasis is ours. Aside from the payment to Adpro Litho, there are no other itemized expenses for petition printing for the month of July 2017, and Voters Want More Choices listed no expenses of fifty dollars or less either.

If Eyman is printing up petitions for followers through office supply stores, and if more than a hundred people have taken him up on this offer, where are those expenditures, and why aren’t they being reported? Eyman’s offer implies that he will pay for the petitions (“all you need to do is pick them up”) and says more than a hundred people have done it.

Even in the event Eyman’s not paying, the expenses still need to be reported as in-kind expenditures. The law requires it; free or reduced cost printing is explicitly listed by the PDC as a type of expenditure that needs to be disclosed. But Voters Want More Choices hasn’t reported a single in-kind expenditure for 2017.

“The whole point of requiring campaigns to register and to report their contributions and expenditures in a timely fashion is so the people can see who is trying to influence their vote… or get their signature,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Tim Eyman’s initiative factory for over fifteen years.

“Tim Eyman is deliberately obscuring the activities of his I-947 campaign from the public. He has been active in politics for over twenty years; he can’t claim he’s ignorant of the law. He is choosing not to comply with the reporting requirements, while at the same time pathetically whining about being the victim of a ‘witch hunt’ by Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The truth is, Eyman’s legal woes are self-inflicted. He brought the litigation he’s presently facing on himself. And he can expect more liability in the future if he continues his ugly, stinky, and disgusting behavior.”

Statement on the Supreme Court’s order in Huff v. Wyman

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsFrom the Campaign TrailIn the Courts

This morning, the Washington State Supreme Court rendered a preliminary verdict in Huff v. Wyman, the scope challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-1366. The Court has ruled unanimously that plaintiffs’ request for an injunction should be denied, which we understand means that I-1366 will appear on the November 2015 ballot.

“While we are disappointed in this order, this outcome was not unexpected, and we have continued all summer to lay the groundwork needed for an autumn campaign in partnership with NO on I-1366 coalition staff,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve, who posted a first read of the Court’s order to NPI’s principal publication, the Cascadia Advocate.

(The Cascadia Advocate is a sister project of Permanent Defense).

“I-1366 is the most destructive initiative Tim Eyman has ever proposed,” Villeneuve said. “It would wipe out $8 billion in sales tax revenue over six years unless the Legislature agrees to a constitutional change that would sabotage the Constitution’s majority vote requirement for passage of bills — which dates back to statehood.”

“I-1366 represents an attempt by Tim Eyman to blackmail a significant number of our state’s lawmakers into voting against their values by taking Washington’s youth as hostages. I-1366 is an outrageous abuse of the people’s initiative power, and we are committed to mounting a strong campaign to defeat it in November. We’re ready to bring Washingtonians together to uphold our Constitution and protect the values our state was founded on.”

The growing coalition against I-1366 now includes AARP Washington State, OneAmerica Votes, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington, Washington State Democratic Party, League of Women Voters of Washington, NAMI Washington, and dozens more. An updated list is available from the NO on I-1366 coalition.

In a separate development, Jerry Cornfield of The Herald reported last night that state attorneys have filed a motion in Snohomish County Superior Court seeking to compel Eyman to cooperate with the Public Disclosure Commission’s stalled, long-running investigation into Eyman’s I-517, the 2013 “initiative on initiatives” that Washington voters overwhelmingly defeated. The investigation stems from a complaint filed by activist Sherry Bockwinkel in August of 2012.

“We are pleased to see that Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is assisting the PDC with its investigation into Tim Eyman and his associates’ wrongdoing,” said Villeneuve. “This complaint is over three years old and should have been resolved long ago, but it’s evident that Tim Eyman and his associates have not been fully cooperating with investigators — despite what they told The Herald. Eyman has a long history of flouting our public disclosure law. It heartens us to see that the PDC hasn’t given up on this case and is pursuing it with the help of our state attorneys. We look forward to seeing the investigation completed.”

AARP Washington State, OneAmerica Votes join coalition fighting I-1366

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

As of today, we are just two months away from the November 2015 general election. While we remain hopeful that the Washington State Supreme Court will spare us all the time and expense of having to vote on Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-1366, which is well beyond the scope of the people’s initiative power, we continue to make preparations to fight I-1366 in the event the Court does not invalidate it.

The team at NPI and the staff of the NO on I-1366 campaign continue to reach out to potential partners (as we have throughout the summer), and we’re pleased to report our efforts are meeting with success. This week, we’re delighted to welcome AARP Washington State and OneAmerica Votes to the NO on I-1366 coalition.

They join an increasingly long list of organizations and individuals committed to protecting Washington from the devastating short-term harm that would be caused by the loss of $8 billion in sales tax revenue over six years (Scenario 1 of I-1366) or the extremely damaging long-term harm caused by sabotaging our Constitution to allow a submajority of seventeen senators or thirty-three representatives to veto any attempt to raise or recover revenue for our state treasury (Scenario 2 of I-1366).

I-1366 is also opposed by the Washington State Democratic Party, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State, the League of Women Voters of Washington, the Tri-City Herald, and dozens of other organizations. The evolving list can be viewed at the NO on I-1366 website.

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