Category Archives: Rethinking and Reframing

Wondering why King County doesn’t have more snow routes? Remember, Tim Eyman initiatives have consequences

Rethinking and Reframing

February 2019 is going to be remembered up and down the I-5 corridor as the month that much of Western Washington turned into a winter wonderland resembling C.S. Lewis’ fictional land of Narnia under the rule of the White Witch, Jadis.

Two walloping snowstorms have already upended normal life in and around the state’s largest urban centers of Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett, which normally see mild winters thanks to the influence of the Pacific Ocean. And more snow is on the way.

The wintry conditions are making travel difficult. Many people have wondered on social media why the state and local governments don’t have more resources available to deal with the snow and ice and keep the roads clear. On the snow and ice page of its website, King County’s Department of Transportation has an answer to this question:

Why are there fewer snow routes?

King County crews respond to weather events that affect the bridges and roads of unincorporated areas – the network that keeps communities connected. In past years, the county was able to plow and sand critical snow routes. But the county is no longer funded to plow and sand as much as it used to.

Unfortunately, nearly three decades of annexations, declines in gas tax revenues, and the effects of voter initiatives have led to the chronic underfunding of the local bridge and road system.

Fewer resources means fewer staff to perform work during inclement weather as well as year round, resulting in significantly reduced service levels for maintaining roads and bridges in unincorporated areas including plowing and sanding services. Key transportation routes for public safety will be plowed, however, in the past we were able to open secondary routes. The county used to plow and treat 30 percent of county-managed roads, but this year there are only resources to plow 15 percent of the county’s 1,500 miles of roads.

Read the Strategic Plan for Road Services (SPRS) update and the Line of Business Plan.

For a longer discussion of this topic that offers much more context, see: Must-read article: King County struggles to fund roads and bridges.

Must-read article: King County struggles to fund roads and bridges

Rethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

Journalist Aaron Kunkler has written an excellent article for Reporter Newspapers that nicely summarizes King County’s rural roads funding crisis, a problem rooted partially in the implementation of several Tim Eyman initiatives just after the turn of the century.

It’s a must-read:

Funding for roads and bridges in King County has been dwindling for years, and despite warnings as far back as 2014, money for capital investments in unincorporated areas is still set to run out within the next six years.

The scope of the problem has been well documented in various studies, including the 2017 annual bridges report released last August. The county owns or maintains 182 bridges that range in age from 10 to 100 years old, with the median age being 65 — or 15 years older than their typical useful lifespan.

Due to declining revenue between 2012 and 2018, no new standalone bridge replacements have occurred since 2014, and work is focused exclusively on daily safety and maintenance work, the report found. King County Local Services department public information officer Brent Champaco said when money for capital improvements runs out, other basic maintenance and operations services will be reduced to stay within budget.

The article goes on to talk about Republican King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert’s long running effort to draw attention to the crisis. Lambert represents the 3rd District, a mix of suburban and rural communities in northeast King County.

The 3rd includes a significant swath of rural King County, including the town of Skykomish, which is accessible only by travel through Snohomish County. The other predominantly rural King County Council district is the 9th, represented by Reagan Dunn.

Lambert has been on the Council for decades and has seen the impact that Tim Eyman’s destructive initiatives have had on her constituents, particularly these three measures, which Eyman got past voters early on his career:

  • Initiative 695 (passed in 1999, struck down in 2000, and reinstated that same year): Gutted the statewide motor vehicle excise tax
  • Initiative 747 (passed in 2001, implemented that same year, struck down in 2007, then almost immediately reinstated): Artificially caps property taxes
  • Initiative 776 (passed in 2002, partially upheld in 2003): Repealed the local motor vehicle excise tax collected by King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Douglas counties

Implementation of all three of these initiatives significantly reduced funding for essential public services in Washington State, including rural roads.

I-695 repealed an estimated $1.1 billion in the 1999-2001 biennium and $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 biennium. Before the motor vehicle excise tax was gutted, 24% of the revenue it was generating was going to local governments like King County, 29% was going to local transit agencies, and 47% was going to state-level transportation needs, according to the Office of Financial Management’s I-695 Fiscal Impact Statement.

When I-747 came along a short while later, it began a long and tortuous cycle of death by a thousand cuts that continues to this day. Cities and counties are still hurting from the combined one-two punch of I-695 and I-747 more than a decade and a half later.

Four counties, including King County, were dealt a third punch in 2002 with Tim Eyman’s I-776, which eliminated the local motor vehicle excise tax.

Seattle Times reporter Keith Ervin described the impact of Eyman’s I-776 on the county’s rural roads in an article published on November 12th, 2003. Here’s an excerpt:

A staff report to the Metropolitan King County Council yesterday said the ruling has made County Executive Ron Sims’ proposed roads budget “inoperable.” The Supreme Court last month upheld the constitutionality of voter-approved I-776, which rolls back car tabs to $30 a year.

The measure shuts off a yearly $4.8 million revenue stream for King County.

Sims has placed on hold his earlier proposal to set $11.3 million in road money aside as an incentive for cities that agree to annex unincorporated urban areas. The county also may postpone or scrap the sale of $80 million in bonds that would have sped up long-awaited road improvements.

Budget director Steve Call said yesterday the impact will be more severe than the initial revenue loss suggests because the county road fund is used to finance bonds and obtain matching funds from the federal and state governments. On bridge projects, the federal government pays up to 80 percent of the cost, Call said.

Among the projects at risk are expansion of Coal Creek Parkway and Novelty Hill Road on the Eastside, and an improved intersection of Benson Road and Carr Road near Renton.

“We all need to sit back and go back to the drawing table and figure out where our construction projects are,” Call said. “This has put a huge hole in the region’s ability to address transportation needs.”

While officials haven’t precisely calculated the impact of several voter-approved tax cuts, County Council budget analyst Rebecha Cusack said the road-construction fund might be reduced by 20 percent over the next six years.

The County Council’s budget chairman, Larry Phillips, D-Seattle, said the county’s ability to improve roads fund will be “devastated” by I-776 and by Initiative 747, which caps the growth in property taxes to 1 percent a year.

While elected leaders across jurisdictions have tried gamely to backfill budget holes caused by destructive Eyman initiatives like I-695, I-747, and I-776, they have not been able to restore funding levels to a sufficient level for all services. That has resulted in facility closures, deferred maintenance, and failure to replace aging structures.

Arguably no public service has been harder hit than rural roads.

While cities like Seattle have secured voter approval for transportation levies like Bridging the Gap and Move Seattle, small unincorporated communities have been left bereft of needed investments. Many of these communities are represented by Republicans who are reluctant or unwilling to speak out publicly against Eyman’s bad ideas (and the harm caused by his past initiatives) for fear of retribution by Eyman’s small but vocal band of right wing activists, which includes many Republican PCOs.

Not content with the damage he has already caused, Eyman has proposed Initiative 976, which would repeal funding for Amtrak Cascades, freight mobility, Sound Transit 3 system expansion, King County Metro service hours, and yes, road maintenance and street repairs in sixty cities. Eyman makes it sound in his talking points like he’s only targeting Sound Transit, but that’s a lie. Rural roads are once again going to take a hit if Eyman’s Initiative 976 isn’t defeated this November.

To learn more and join the coalition fighting Eyman’s latest awful initiative, visit no976.org.

Tim Eyman’s tax increase figures don’t belong in anyone’s reporting

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

This morning, Tim Eyman sent out an email which claims that the Washington State Legislature has “recently imposed $24 billion in higher taxes”.

Don’t be fooled: These and other figures Eyman included in his email are misleading numbers that do not belong in anyone’s reporting.

The statistics Eyman sent are derived from the ten year projections that a Tim Eyman written law requires the Office of Financial Management to produce.

When Eyman says the numbers came from OFM, what he’s not telling you is that OFM only publishes these ten year revenue projections because they’re required to by self-serving language that Tim Eyman repeatedly put in his initiatives.

Here’s the provision that requires them (RCW 43.135.031):

For any bill introduced in either the house of representatives or the senate that raises taxes as defined by RCW 43.135.034 or increases fees, the office of financial management must expeditiously determine its cost to the taxpayers in its first ten years of imposition, must promptly and without delay report the results of its analysis by public press release via email to each member of the house of representatives, each member of the senate, the news media, and the public, and must post and maintain these releases on its web site. Any ten-year cost projection must include a year-by-year breakdown. For any bill containing more than one revenue source, a ten-year cost projection for each revenue source will be included along with the bill’s total ten-year cost projection. The press release shall include the names of the legislators, and their contact information, who are sponsors and cosponsors of the bill so they can provide information to, and answer questions from, the public.

And here is the page OFM maintains in compliance with that RCW.

According to OFM, there were three hundred and eight bills passed in the 2018 session. Just seventeen were classified as tax or fee bills. See OFM’s session summary page.

Eyman simply loves ten year projections because they have lots of zeroes in them. They’re big numbers. Take Eyman’s number for 2018… $13,384,000. That is the amount of revenue that Senate Bill 6269 (see text) was projected to generate over a ten year time period. In 2018, the amount of revenue generated was only $280,000. For 2019, the oil spill response tax authorized by Senate Bill 6269 is forecast to generate $1.37 million.

Anyone can play the game Eyman is playing here. It’s easy. Any amount sounds more impressive when you take it out over ten years.

For example, how much money will you make in the next ten years? Probably a lot more than you’ll make this year or the next two years. How much will your retirement account grow over the next ten years? Probably a lot more than the next one or two years (unless something really bad happens to the markets over the long term).

Budgets, however, are written for one or two years as opposed to ten years. Taxes are collected at the time of sale, or monthly, or quarterly, or annually, or bi-annually… not in ten year increments. Attempting to look ahead ten years (or further) can be useful as a planning or thought exercise, but that is not what Eyman is doing here. Instead, he is trying to deceive the public and press with misleading statistics.

Eyman has no interest in sound governance or long range planning. His objective has always been to wreck government so it can’t work the way it’s supposed to. He is a destroyer, not a builder.

There has never been a Tim Eyman initiative to address homelessness, clean up Puget Sound, spur economic development development in rural communities, or anything else worth doing to improve our state… and there probably never will be, because Tim Eyman is just not interested in strengthening our communities.

Eyman ascribes to the philosophy of Grover Norquist, who told NPR in 2001: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”


From Tim Eyman’s email this morning:

In early 2013, the state supreme court reversed 20 years of judicial precedent and overturned the voters repeated decision to require the Legislature to pass another tax increase with a 2/3 vote.

What’s happened since then?

  • In 2013, they did 5 tax increases costing us $ 877,500,000.
  • In 2014, they did 2 tax increases costing us $ 26,201,000.
  • In 2015, they did 4 tax increases costing us $ 5,173,000,000.
  • In 2016, they did 2 tax increases costing us $ 2,000,000.
  • In 2017, they did 3 tax increases costing us $17,600,000,000.
  • In 2018, they did 1 tax increase costing us $ 13,384,000.

So WITHOUT the 2/3 rule, those 6 legislative sessions cost the taxpayers $23.692 billion (as calculated by OFM, the state’s budget office).

One final note: the State Supreme Court did not break with precedent when it struck down Eyman’s two-thirds scheme for revenue in 2013. Quite the opposite… the Court’s decision was entirely in keeping with its prior rulings, like the Gerberding decision. The Washington State Constitution is clear: bills pass the House and Senate by majority vote. Majority means greater than fifty percent: no more, and no less.

A supermajority is not a majority, just as a submajority is not a majority, because in either case, the outcome is in the hands of a few as opposed to the many.

Our Founders understood this, and that’s why they created Article II, Section 22.

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.

Oh, the hypocrisy: Well paid politician Tim Eyman doesn’t want our elected representatives to get pay raises

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

It’s hard to think of a politician who more powerfully epitomizes the word shameless than Tim Eyman, especially when it comes to matters of dollars and cents.

The fifty-two year old has been a full time politician for almost twenty years and is so obsessed with profiting from politics that he has orchestrated illegal schemes to steer more of his donors’ money into his own pockets without their knowledge.

But while Eyman loves helping himself to his donors’ money, he doesn’t think our elected representatives’ pay should be increased, declaring this week that he wants to subject the salary increases proposed by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials to a statewide referendum and overturned.

Eyman’s mantra is “Give Them Nothing”, which implies our elected representatives shouldn’t be paid anything at all, let alone the increases the Commission has proposed.

“At NPI, we’ve lost track of how many times we’ve heard Republican candidates and right wingers like Eyman insist that government should be run like a business,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to destructive Eyman schemes for nearly seventeen years.

“It sure is a frequent refrain in their discourse. In the private sector, though, compensation is considered very important to the recruitment and retention of high caliber candidates for executive positions. If right wing Republicans like Eyman really want government run like a business, shouldn’t they be willing to pay top dollar to attract the very best people to serve in our Legislature, judiciary, and executive department? How do you get competent government if your mantra is ‘Give Them Nothing’?”

Eyman has some nerve railing against pay increases for politicians considering his own long-running obsession with profiting from politics.

Seventeen years ago, Eyman famously professed to be working on initiative campaigns for free, when he was in reality transferring large sums of money out of his campaign committees to pay himself, and then lying about it.

Northwest Passage Consulting principal Christian Sinderman and others suspected what Eyman was up to, and in early 2002, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an investigate report about Eyman’s suspicious money transfers. Eyman continued to deny what he’d done until his guilty conscience caught up with him. He called up The Associated Press’ David Ammons and confessed, saying “it was the biggest lie of my life”.

“The fact is, it is true that I made money in past campaigns and planned to make money on future campaigns,” Eyman told Ammons in a rambling confession. “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.”

“I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it,” Eyman added. Seventeen years later, it’s quite apparent that this particular statement is one of the few Eyman has made that can be called entirely truthful.

After he was caught lying in 2002, Eyman began openly paying himself a salary out of campaign funds and also raising money for what he called his “compensation fund”.

But that was not enough.

The ever-greedy Eyman concocted a scheme with one of his vendors to receive kickbacks from them that were not reported to the Public Disclosure Commission. Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is trying to get to the bottom of this concealment scheme, but has been stymied by Eyman’s refusal to cooperate. Eyman remains in contempt of court and on the hook for $500 daily fines for refusing to turn over records in the case.

The Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials has a constitutional obligation to examine the salaries of our elected officials and propose adjustments to those salaries. Created by a vote of the people in 1986, it is one of the few commissions of its kind. Its salary changes can be overturned by referendum as provided for in Article XXVIII of the Washington State Constitution, but the pay increases the Commission has proposed for 2019-2020 are entirely reasonable.

“I have yet to hear Cougar alum Tim Eyman complain about how much Washington State University is paying Mike Leach to coach their football team,” said Villeneuve, who noted that Leach and UW head football coach Chris Petersen make far more than anyone serving the people of Washington in the statehouse.

Leach is set to make $3.5 million alone this season… more than the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Commissioner of Public Lands, Insurance Commissioner, and Superintendent of Public Instruction combined. Petersen is making even more than Leach; he took home $4.125 million last season. The Huskies and Cougars each have many additional coaches who make more than what anyone serving in the statehouse makes.

Villeneuve noted that while statewide elected officials’ pay is enough to support a family on, Washington’s legislators are not well compensated for the jobs that they do.

“Most of our lawmakers currently receive a salary of $48,731,” Villeneuve pointed out. (Certain lawmakers receive higher salaries due to holding leadership positions.) This is below the 2014 median income of a Washington State household, which is $61,366.

“We, the people of Washington, are paying our lawmakers a part time salary while expecting them to do full-time work,” Villeneuve said.

“The Legislature may not be in session year-round, but being a well-informed lawmaker is nevertheless a full-time job. There is no ‘off season’ for lawmakers. When one session ends, the preparation for the next session begins. Lawmakers meet with constituents, conduct research, attend committee days, participate in work sessions, and go on fact finding trips during the months they aren’t in session.”

“These salary increases are overdue and entirely justified,” said Villeneuve. “For 2019, the Commission is proposing a base increase in legislator pay to $53,024, to be followed by another increase in 2020 to $57,425. These are good first steps, but we should be increasing legislator pay to an even greater extent to encourage more Washingtonians to consider running for office. Right now, legislative service simply isn’t a realistic option for many people because it doesn’t pay enough to raise a family on.”

“I believe we would get a Legislature that looks more like our diverse state if we provided a more appropriate level of compensation for our legislators. If red state Alaska can afford to pay their legislators a higher salary — and they do — then we certainly can, too.”

In the event Eyman or anyone else is serious about mounting a referendum campaign to overturn the Commission’s salary adjustments, which are entirely reasonable, NPI will work with other organizations to develop a campaign to educate the public about the need for appropriately-compensated elected officials.

FURTHER READING: How Much Should State Legislators Get Paid? by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux for FiveThirtyEight

Let the people vote? Nope! Tim Eyman calls for I-1639 to be blocked from ballot

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

This afternoon, in an email sent out to his followers and the press, Tim Eyman did something we haven’t seen him do before… something which makes it laughably, ridiculously clear that Eyman’s longtime rallying cry of Let the people vote is a total and utter crock. He publicly called on Washington’s judiciary to issue an injunction blocking an initiative that he opposes (I-1639) from appearing on the statewide ballot.

The measure in question, sponsored by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, would raise the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic firearms, impose new safe storage requirements, and set up an enhanced background check system. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Alan Gottlieb have separately filed suit to block it from the ballot on procedural grounds.

“Tomorrow this judge should boot the billionaires’ anti-gun-rights initiative off the ballot,” Eyman wrote. “It’ll send a message that even billionaires have to follow the law. And besides, because they have unlimited resources, they can sponsor it again next year (and next time they’re likely to follow the law). So voters won’t be ‘robbed’ of their right to vote on this initiative, their vote will just be delayed.”

Three years ago, when a coalition of progressive organizations sued to block Eyman’s billionaire-funded I-1366 from the ballot on scope grounds in Huff v. Wyman, Eyman’s response was to scream Let the people vote incessantly, to accuse his opposition of having a total lack of trust in the voters, and to assert that the people’s First Amendment rights would be violated if the courts ruled against him.

Here’s a few snippets of what Eyman said then:

If you can’t win a vote, you try to cancel it or block it.”

— Tim Eyman, July 31st, 2015

“We are very confident the voters will get to vote on I-1366. Why? Because in our state’s 100 year history, the courts have never — not once — prevented the people from voting on a statewide initiative that turned in the required signatures and was certified for the vote by the Secretary of State. And there have been 2 unanimous state supreme court rulings — in 2005 and 2007 — that rejected lawsuits just like this one, making clear that the voters’ First Amendment right to vote on qualified initiatives would not be violated.”

— Tim Eyman, August 14th, 2015

“Because opponents of I-1366 can’t win the vote, they’re desperate to stop the vote. The voters will be completely disenfranchised and their First Amendment rights negated if opponents succeed at blocking the vote on I-1366.”

— Tim Eyman, August 14th, 2015

“Opponents of I-1366 clearly don’t trust the voters and believe the people aren’t smart enough to understand our measure. We do. We trust the citizens to make this decision and we’re confident the people ‘get’ why I-1366 is necessary.”

— Tim Eyman, September 4th, 2015

All emphasis in boldface is ours. While Huff v. Wyman was before the courts, Eyman also repeatedly circulated this statement from his pal State Senator Pam Roach:

No one is harmed by a public vote on an initiative. It is the voters who will be irreparably harmed if Initiative 1366 is removed from the ballot and blocked from a vote because it will prevent the voters from expressing their views on the measure. It is the 339,236 voters who signed petitions who will be irreparably harmed if Initiative 1366 is blocked because they signed those petitions to ensure a vote. … I urge that the court not take the unprecedented and undemocratic step of preventing the people from voting on a qualified statewide initiative.”

— Former State Senator Pam Roach, now a Pierce County Councilmember (amicus brief submitted during the Huff v. Wyman case, 2015)

Again, emphasis is ours.

Whatever happened to “Let the people vote!”? Whatever happened to trusting the voters, who are smart enough to understand a measure like I-1639? Whatever happened to “no one is harmed by a public vote on an initiative”?

And what about the First Amendment rights of the hundreds of thousands of voters who signed I-1639, which according to 2015 Tim Eyman’s logic, would be violated if I-1639 were to be blocked from the ballot?

As we can see, none of that matters… not to 2018 Tim Eyman, anyway… because I-1639 is not a right wing initiative. I-1639 is a progressive initiative that Eyman opposes.

Is it any surprise that Tim Eyman’s loyalty is to his friends who are suing to keep I-1639 off the ballot, not to the initiative process that he claims to love so much? Not to us. We’ve always believed that for Eyman, initiatives are a means to an end, which is getting rich while wrecking our government so it can’t work the way our Founders intended it to.

Eyman’s argument that the voters won’t be harmed if I-1639 gets blocked from the ballot because I-1639 has proponents who are rich enough to fund another signature drive next year is deeply illuminating.

The same could have been said about his I-1366 three years ago: billionaire hedge fund manager Kenneth Fisher is one of the richest men on Earth, and real estate developer Clyde Holland is quite wealthy too.

Both of them could have easily afforded to bankroll another Eyman initiative that was not outside of the scope of the initiative power, and in fact, Eyman was counting on them funding a follow-up to I-1366 no matter what the courts decided.

But they chose not to, and consequently, Eyman was not able to qualify anything to the ballot in 2016… or 2017… or this year.

As Eyman emphasized three years ago, Washington’s courts have long been reluctant to block a statewide initiative from the ballot. The only statewide initiative to have ever been invalidated by the Washington State Supreme Court was a measure that impermissibly sought to amend the United States Constitution. In Philadelphia v. Gregoire, the Court ruled that measure could not move forward (it had not received a ballot title).

If I-1639 deserves to be blocked from the ballot on procedural grounds, then past Tim Eyman initiatives also should have been blocked on scope and procedural grounds. However, Washington’s courts have repeatedly chosen not to void measures like Eyman’s with a sufficient number of valid signatures from appearing on the ballot, no matter how serious their defects were.

2018 Tim Eyman nevertheless wants the judiciary to take the “unprecedented and undemocratic step” of preventing I-1639 from heading to the ballot for voters to consider.

Let the people vote? That’s so 2015!

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.)

Don’t get scammed! Washingtonians, shun Tim Eyman’s I-977

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Well, that didn’t take long.

After failing to interest his wealthy benefactors in a proposal to force a vote on the idea of banning taxes on wealth — and after failing to convince Cooke Aquaculture to give him money to run a referendum campaign to force a vote on the state’s new law phasing out the farming of invasive fish — disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman has a new con.

Eyman revealed in an email this morning that he’s picked a new scheme to hawk that he hopes will return his initiative factory to relevance in 2019: Initiative 977, a measure that would apply the Public Records Act (as currently written) to the state Legislature.

Back in December, Eyman told KOMO 4 News and NPI that his initiative for 2018 would be a ban on capital gains taxes and income taxes.

But as we said at the time, that initiative was dead on arrival unless Eyman found wealthy benefactors to pony up the money to finance a signature drive. He didn’t, and has now given up any pretense of qualifying that scheme to the November 2018 ballot.

More recently, Eyman tried to interest Cooke Aquaculture in giving him money to front a referendum campaign that would have subject State Representative Kris Lytton’s bill phasing out the farming of invasive fish to a public vote. But Cooke’s Joel Richardson made it clear that’s not going to happen, telling The Undercurrent and The Seattle Times the company had no interest in being associated with Eyman — to Eyman’s deep disgust.

Having failed to get either of those schemes off the ground for 2018, Eyman appears to have thrown in the towel on making the November ballot this annum, which would mean that for the third consecutive year, Washingtonians will not see any initiative on their general election ballots with Eyman’s name on it. That has not happened since the 1990s.

Instead, Eyman is trying for 2019 with Initiative 977, an initiative to the Legislature. Eyman is apparently hoping that he can rebound with a measure that will appeal to a wider spectrum of Washingtonians than his usual destructive tax-cutting and tax-limiting schemes, which he has had no success trying to get on the ballot the last few years.

But no one should be fooled. Tim Eyman is not doing I-977 because he believes in the cause of open government. He’s doing it because he’s desperate to regain relevance, and he’s willing to latch on to any cause that might attract volunteer signature gatherers.

“I-977 is a scam that all Washingtonians should steer clear of,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has over sixteen years of experience organizing opposition to Tim Eyman initiatives. “Nothing good can come from working with Tim Eyman, no matter how noble the cause may seem.”

“Tim has proved, repeatedly, that he is unworthy of anyone’s trust. He lies with impunity to the press, the public, and his own supporters on a regular basis. He has taken money given to him for one initiative and secretly used it on another. He has steered money he said would be used on initiative campaigns into his own pockets for his personal use. And he has refused to cooperate when the authorities showed up to investigate.”

“Eyman’s I-977 petition design contains a headline that screams ‘What are they hiding?’ We could ask the same question about his initiative factory. What’s he hiding?”

“For years, Eyman has tried to obstruct the State’s investigation into his lawbreaking by withholding documents and records sought by the State to establish the truth as to what really happened. This pattern of obstruction continued even after the State filed four actions against Eyman in Superior Court following investigations by the PDC and the AG’s office, and it has now resulted in Eyman and his associates being held in contempt of court by Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon.”

“Fortunately, Washington already has organizations like the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) and the Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington working on the cause of open, more transparent government,” Villeneuve noted.

“Tim Eyman is about the least qualified person in our state to helm an initiative that aims to make government more transparent.”

“Before and during the 2019 session, there will be opportunities for media, lawmakers, and activists alike to meet and propose ideas for making the Legislature’s business more transparent. That process, not Eyman’s I-977, is the way forward,” Villeneuve said.

Panicking Tim Eyman tries new gimmick to stop initiative reform: Impersonating Secretary of State Kim Wyman

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and Reframing

Bipartisan legislation that would address abuse of our state’s initiative and referendum powers by combating issues like signature fraud and petitioner misconduct continues to progress closer to becoming a reality in Olympia, thanks to the new dynamic in the statehouse created by Manka Dhingra’s victory in the 45th District last year.

That’s welcome news for Washingtonians, but not for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who is in full-blown panic mode over the prospect of the bill’s passage.

This week, following the Senate’s overwhelming passage of ESSB 5397, Eyman tried to convince Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman to publicly oppose the bill by instructing his followers to email her at both her official and nonofficial email addresses, and to copy him on those messages. But Wyman hasn’t budged. She’s chosen to be neutral.

Frustrated, Eyman decided today to send out an email with a false premise and false subject line… one that made it sound like Wyman had come over to his side (Sec of State Kim Wyman’s heroic & courageous opposition to anti-initiative bill).

“In the Legislature, ninety-nine times out of one hundred, powerful special interest groups call the shots, politicians bow to their will, and the voices of grassroots citizens are completely ignored. That’s what makes what Sec of State Kim Wyman did today so unique. Don’t you find this statement inspiring?” the email began.

Eyman then proceeded to impersonate Wyman in a lengthy statement that made a lot of bogus and erroneous arguments against ESSB 5397.

Only at the end of his message did Eyman concede the whole thing was a fabrication made up by him, sulkily admitting: “Too bad Kim Wyman didn’t send out that statement. Instead she skipped yesterday’s hearing [in the House State Government Committee] and just sent out an email this morning saying she’s neutral on the bill.”

Eyman did not bother to include the text of Wyman’s message from her Legislative Relations Director stating her actual position. But we’ve included it below for reference.

Sadly, this kind of duplicitous communication is par for the course for Eyman, who has a long history of resorting to inappropriate stunts and gimmicks in an attempt to attract media coverage and dupe people into backing his agenda.

NPI’s Permanent Defense project has now worked for sixteen years to counter Eyman’s misinformation and remains committed to ensuring that Eyman gets the vigorous, unceasing opposition that he deserves.

Kim Wyman’s actual position on ESSB 5397

Thank you for reaching out to the Office of Secretary of State to communicate your concerns regarding Senate Bill 5397.

To be clear, this bill does not change or alter the process in which the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s office certifies an initiative or referendum, nor does it create any additional requirements for volunteer signature gatherers.

It would, however, require entities [campaigns] that hire petition signature gatherers to disclose to the public the identities and other information of those [companies] who employ paid signature gatherers. The bill places those disclosure processes with the Public Disclosure Commission.

Both the initiative and referendum filing and certification processes would remain unchanged by this bill. The State Elections Division checks every signature sheet submitted for evidence of fraud and also checks suspect petition signatures against signatures in the Washington State Voter Registration Database. The courts have found that our signature-checking process is the most effective way to prevent fraudulent signatures from getting an unqualified measure on the ballot.

The Washington State Constitution guarantees citizens the right to initiative and referenda – a right I fully support and do not want to see diminished. I also support transparency in the elections process, which is critical to maintaining the integrity of the system and upholding the public trust.

For these reasons, and because this bill has no impact on [legitimate] petition signatures, does not change the initiative and referendum process, nor does it change my office’s role in certifying a submitted ballot measure, I have taken a neutral position on Senate Bill 5397 and its companion, House Bill 1537, throughout this legislative session.

I encourage you to contact your representatives in the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives and share your concerns, as they will ultimately determine the fate of this legislation.

 

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