Category Archives: From the Campaign Trail

Danny Westneat assails Tim Eyman’s secret war on light rail

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat has a blistering must-read column in today’s edition of the Seattle Times, taking Tim Eyman and Kemper Freeman Jr. to task for quietly trying to stop Sound Transit’s East Link project through a sneaky provision buried in I-1125, which is intended to kill East Link, but doesn’t actually mention the project or even include the words “light rail”.

When Tim Eyman went before the Bellevue City Council recently, he handed out a sheet describing what his latest idea, Initiative 1125, would do.

It’s what was missing from the sheet that got the most attention.

“I’ve never seen an initiative quite like this, where its intentions are masked from the people who will vote on it,” says Grant Degginger, a Bellevue City Council member and former mayor.

“If you’re trying to kill light rail, just come out and say so.”

It’s not just that the words “light rail” weren’t in Eyman’s handout that day. They also are not in the Voter’s Guide statement for the I-1125 campaign. Nor in any of Eyman’s campaign news releases. Nor in recent op-eds written by Eyman and the initiative’s financier, Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman.

The words “light rail” aren’t in I-1125 or in Eyman’s campaign materials because Eyman and Freeman apparently don’t want to be seen as trying to overturn the will of the voters. (The phrase will of the voters is one of Eyman’s favorites). Both Eyman and Freeman opposed Sound Transit 2 when it was on the ballot three years ago, but they lost. In fact, they didn’t just lose, they lost big.

As Westneat notes:

[P]utting light rail across the Interstate 90 bridge is already voter-approved, by a 57 percent vote in the 2008 election. Brochures from that campaign show a rendering of the bridge with light rail running on it, along with before-and-after drawings of how the traffic lanes would be altered. So it’s hard to argue people didn’t know what they were voting for. Then, anyway.

Of course, in Tim Eyman’s mind, a vote of the people only counts when it goes his way. Eyman views his own losses as temporary setbacks, but he demands that his opponents recognize his victories as permanent. It’s quite the double standard.

Please join us in voting NO on I-1125 this autumn. Keep Sound Transit’s East Link project on track, keep our roads safe, and keep Washington rolling.

The Columbian: I-1125 “threatens greater harm” to our transportation system “than any proposal we’ve seen in years”

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

The Columbian has joined the list of newspaper editorial boards opposed to Tim Eyman’s anti-tolling, anti-light rail I-1125. In an editorial published today, the Vancouver-based paper denounced I-1125 as “inedible soufflé was cooked up by professional initiative chef Tim Eyman and leavened with expensive dough: a $1 million donation from Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr.”. The editorial went on to criticize several of I-1125’s thoughtless provisions.

The worst of I-1125’s many flaws would be its mandate for Washington to do something that not one of the 50 state does: politicize the setting of tolls. All states correctly place that function in the hands of experts in transportation, finance, planning and management. In Washington state, we have an independent, bipartisan commission that sets tolls. Eyman and Freeman, however, want that job turned over to the Legislature, to be ground up in the partisan turbines of politics.

Washington State actually has a long tradition of having an expert commission set toll rates. We agree – it makes no sense to change that approach. It has always worked for us and it can continue to work, so long as we reject I-1125.

Vote NO on I-1125 this autumn and keep our roads safe.

The News Tribune: I-1125 is “a monkey wrench aimed squarely at the state’s efforts to keep cars moving”

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

The campaign against Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1125 continues to gain momentum. Across the state, editorial boards are universally coming out against I-1125, because it jeopardizes transportation projects that Washington needs to replace and repair unsafe roads and bridges. The latest paper to oppose I-1125 is the News Tribune of Tacoma, which called I-1125 “a monkey wrench aimed squarely at the state’s efforts to keep cars moving on overcrowded roads.”

As the News Tribune observes, there are lot of “dumb things” in I-1125.

It would forbid variable tolling, a strategy designed to relieve rush hours by encouraging people to make unnecessary trips before or after. This would also threaten plans to finance the replacement SR 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way tunnel in Seattle, among other projects.

The initiative also contains a payoff to Kemper Freeman Jr., a Bellevue real estate magnate who opposes light rail. An innocent-sounding provision in the initiative would have the effect of sabotaging a planned extension of Sound Transit’s light rail system across Lake Washington to Bellevue on the Interstate 90 bridge.

Why should a state initiative tell Puget Sounders they can’t have the light rail system they voted for? Here’s a guess: It might have something to do with the more than $1 million Freeman paid to bankroll I-1125.

Section 2 of I-1125 is proof that Tim Eyman only cares about the will of the voters when voters agree with him. Each time he has tried to play transportation planner (like with I-745 in 2000, or I-985 in 2008), voters have said no. But Eyman isn’t listening.

It’s time once again to say no to another counterproductive, thoughtless Tim Eyman measure. Vote NO on Initiative 1125 and keep Washington rolling.

Everett Herald: I-1125 is a “formula for more gridlock”

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

The Everett Herald yesterday became the latest newspaper to declare its opposition to Tim Eyman’s ill-conceived I-1125, highlighting some of the initiative’s destructive consequences in a fairly-well written editorial. A couple key snippets:

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1125 isn’t just one bad idea, it’s a bunch of them.

Their cumulative effect would severely damage the state’s ability to build and maintain the roads and bridges necessary to support a vibrant economy and good-paying jobs. We strongly encourage voters to reject it this fall.

The Herald goes on to say:

It is soundly opposed by the state’s major business groups and employers, including Boeing and Microsoft, for good reason. They know that with per-capita gasoline consumption dropping, and gas-tax revenue along with it, alternatives are needed to pay for our road infrastructure and keep commerce moving. Viable tolling options must be one of them, especially for major projects. I-1125 would wipe out the truly effective ones, leading to more traffic delays throughout the region.

Defeating I-1125 is key to keeping vital projects like the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge or Sound Transit’s East Link light rail on track. That’s why Keep Washington Rolling – an extremely broad coalition of businesses and organizations with very different views on major issues – has come together to fight I-1125. Join us in ensuring that our roads are safe… vote NO on Initiative 1125.

Seattle Times calls I-1125 “a mess too large”

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

The Seattle Times, which has enthusiastically supported two of Tim Eyman’s last four initiatives (and firmly opposed the other two), has made public its stance on Initiative 1125. In an eight paragraph editorial, the paper, owned and controlled by the Blethen family, urged voters to save road projects and vote no.

By restricting the state’s management of its highways, including tolls, Initiative 1125 would make it more difficult to build needed roads and bridges.

The whole state has an interest in this. Tolls are a way to help pay for expensive parts without dipping too heavily into the common pot. Without tolls, the biggest projects either would not get built, or would guzzle all the other road money. That is how a toll on the Highway 520 bridge-replacement project in Seattle protects money in Yakima and in Spokane.

The editorial ends by listing some of the projects that would be jeopardized by I-1125: the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, the Columbia River Crossing, and Sound Transit’s East Link light rail system. All of them would be “messed up”, the editorial says, proclaiming I-1125 to be “a mess too large”.

It looks like most, if not all, of Tim Eyman’s fair-weather friends have abandoned him this year. Only his closest followers and sympathizers have come out in favor of I-1125, while the opposition has become more and more widespread.

Bellevue Chamber of Commerce: NO on 1125

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

Following in the footsteps of many local chambers of commerce around Washington State, the Bellevue Chamber has taken a strong NO position on I-1125. The endorsement is significant because Bellevue is the home of Tim Eyman’s No. 2 all-time wealthy benefactor, Kemper Freeman, Jr. Freeman owns Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place, and Lincoln Square (which his company dubs “The Bellevue Collection”).

Freeman has not hesitated to part ways with business groups that do not rigidly adhere to the ideology he believes in. He previously left the Bellevue Downtown Association due to “differences of opinion” that “could not be resolved.”

“We appreciate the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to Initiative 1125,” said Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable. “The Chamber understands that our state’s recovery and future vitality are  dependent on trade, agriculture and innovation – and that requires a transportation network that moves goods and workers efficiently.  I-1125 is the wrong prescription for Washington State’s economy.”

The Bellevue Chamber also took a position supporting Costco’s I-1183, a right wing proposal to privatize liquor, which NPI strongly opposes.

Wenatchee World urges NO vote on I-1125

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

One of the more widely read newspapers in Eastern Washington has declared its opposition to the latest scheme to come out of Tim Eyman’s mill. The Wenatchee World, published from the heart of central Washington, urged voters this weekend to say NO to Initiative 1125. Here’s a key excerpt from their editorial:

I-1125 will make it more difficult to set and raise highway tolls. It will restrict who sets tolls, how toll revenues are spent, where they can be collected and for how long. That might bring temporary satisfaction to some, but it will shut down an important means to finance big highway projects. It will strain the already-limited resources for transportation funding, put upward pressure on the gas tax once again, and make it certain that more taxes from here will go to pay for the big projects over there. Projects delayed will increase costs and congestion and add to business and building expense everywhere. Initiative 1125 is an exceptionally bad trade.

This is a solid analysis. It is no accident that I-1125 would prevent Washington State from flexibly using tolls as a funding mechanism for rebuilding crumbling bridges and highways. Nor is it an accident that I-1125 contains a provision intended to prevent Sound Transit from ever bringing light rail across Lake Washington. This is all by design.

For more than a decade, Tim Eyman has sponsored initiatives intended to paralyze public services, destroy our common wealth, and wreck government. I-1125 is just the latest bad idea from his initiative factory. It must be rejected this November if key projects like SR 520 or East Link light rail are to be kept on track.

Vote NO on I-1125.

Faith leaders speak out against Tim Eyman’s I-1033

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign TrailStatements & Advisories

Earlier this week, the NO on I-1033 Coalition held a press conference featuring four religious leaders opposed to Initiative 1033. The event was covered by KING5, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, NPI, and was mentioned by The Seattle Times.

The NPI Advocate has been publishing the full statements of each of the faith leaders who spoke as part of a special series on Initiative 1033. Many more faith leaders have also signed onto a letter opposing Initiative 1033 which can be viewed at the Washington Association of Churches’ website.

Highlights from Wednesday’s media event:

Reverend Chris Boerger, Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: “We cannot, for the sake of a few people whose greed has gotten in the way, decide to make public policy on the basis of greed. We need to make public policy on the basis of what would best serve the public, and 1033 does not do that.”

Rabbi Janine Schloss, of the Washington Coalition of Rabbis: “Judaism teaches us to speak up and it requires us to live our lives according to the highest values. And so, as someone who takes my faith seriously, I cannot vote for Initiative 1033. Because I will not be responsible for hurting let alone myself, but for hurting more importantly, my neighbors, my community, and all those who share the blessing of living in the State of Washington.”

Reverend Greg Rickel, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Olympia: “It is smoke and mirrors, designed to make people who are already suffering believe they will benefit, when in fact, they will not. Ultimately, no one will. 1033 is, at best, laziness on the part of leadership and social Darwinism at its worse. ”

Rev. Joyce Martin Emery, Transitional Synod Executive, Synod of AK/NW Presbyterian: “1033 guarantees more cuts that would be made in healthcare and education and social services. So we just cannot sit still, but must speak against this, because the gap between the rich and the poor would widen, and it would harm those that are vulnerable.”

Governor Gregoire says I-1033 would “devastate” Washington

From the Campaign TrailStatements & Advisories

At the Washington Conservation Voters’ annual Breakfast of Champions this morning, Governor Chris Gregoire made a special appearance to urge activists to do everything possible to defeat Tim Eyman’s jobs-killing Initiative 1033, which freezes services and budgets at current levels, locking in cuts, and redirecting future sales taxes to pay for a special property tax cut for the rich.

Gregoire described I-1033 as the “one thing that will ensure we devastate the State of Washington”, forestalling any hope of economic recovery.

Emphasizing the extroadinary nature of the threat I-1033 represents, Gregoire said of her speech, during her remarks: “I don’t do this very often. In fact, I don’t recall ever having done it as governor. I come here from the bottom of my heart to tell you, I will not stand by, I will not be silent, as Washington State faces yet another [destructive] initiative. ”

The governor attacked I-1033 with intensity, saying she found Tim Eyman’s efforts to fool the public into believing there’s a free lunch “incomprehensible”. “The proponent of 1033 says there will be no cut in services. I just don’t get how you can suggest that,” Gregoire said.

Read a full transcript of Gregoire’s remarks at the NPI Advocate.

Permanent Defense challenges Tim Eyman to reschedule carpool lane “victory lap” if I-985 passes

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Over the last few weeks, more and more voters have been taking a closer look at Initiative 985… and they don’t like what they see.

Sponsored by Washington’s version of Grover Norquist,  Initiative 985 is a recipe for transportation disaster. If enacted, the measure would open high occupancy vehicle lanes during rush hour in Puget Sound, paralyzing the bus system, slowing emergency response vehicles, and potentially forcing the closure of federally funded transit access ramps on highways.

(I-985 would also steal hundreds of millions of dollars away from the general fund, which pays for our schools and first responders, making our state’s projected deficit far worse and canceling some of the savings implemented by Governor Chris Gregoire).

Several weeks ago, the Seattle Times reported: “Eyman is so certain voters will approve the initiative in November’s election he’s planning a ‘Freedom Drive’ on Dec. 4 with a sign on his pickup saying, ‘Drive in this lane. You paid for it.'”

In the event that Initiative 985 is approved and takes effect – which remains a possibility, albeit one that has been diminishing in likelihood with every passing day – the Permanent Defense team challenges sponsor Tim Eyman and his cohorts to reschedule their convoy for the next day – December 5th, 2008, at 6 PM, on SR 520 in Bellevue.

That’s when the westbound carpool lane, restricted today to vehicles carrying three or more people, would be open to everyone – and subequently filled.

During the middle of rush hour.

If Tim Eyman and his friends accept our challenge, we promise to show up to provide publicity. We would be more than happy to station ourselves on the pedestrian overpass near Evergreen Point and take video/pictures of Eyman’s convoy as it waits in the infamous Lake Washington Line, crawling towards the water.

Though it would be cold and dark, we would have our cameras ready as Eyman’s pickup slowly rolled under us, foot by foot, trapped behind a packed Sound Transit bus that’s running behind schedule because it’s been stuck in traffic.

For that is the future of the commute for thousands of people in Puget Sound who are certain to end up spending more time in their cars and less time with their families if Initiative 985 passes and takes effect.

We urge voters to reject that future, and reject Tim Eyman’s selfish, thoughtless, me-first approach to public policy. Our high occupancy vehicle lanes – like the parking spaces we’ve set aside for disabled Americans – are a valuable resource that encourages people to commute together. Taking that resource away would unfairly punish people who are already doing their part to reduce gridlock.

Just as it wouldn’t make sense to open federally-mandated parking spaces for the disabled to everyone most of the time, it doesn’t make sense to allow solo drivers to use our HOV system during Tim Eyman’s incorrect definition of “off peak hours”.

It would be tantamount to paying people to drive.

Traffic is already bad enough. Our projected budget deficit is already bad enough. And our schools are already underfunded.

Washington State just can’t afford Initiative 985.

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