Category Archives: Rethinking and Reframing

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.

 

Reality check: Petitioning disclosure bill was crafted to be constitutional

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and Reframing

Contrary to what Tim Eyman has claimed, there’s nothing unconstitutional about requiring ballot measure campaigns to report within ten days when they have hired a signature gathering company to circulate petitions for them or requiring companies to keep accurate, up to date records about their workers for their protection and the public’s protection.

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Lawmakers are discussing levying a capital gains tax because most Washingtonians want progressive tax reform

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Next Friday, the House Finance Committee will be holding a hearing on Representative Kris Lytton’s HB 2967, which would levy a capital gains excise tax on the wealthiest Washingtonians and use the revenue to partially offset recent property tax increases.

The prospect of a capital gains tax (which Oregon and Idaho already have) terrifies disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who selfishly wants Washington’s tax code to remain as upside down as possible so there will always be an appetite for future anti-tax initiatives sponsored by him and his buddies Jack and Mike Fagan.

Accordingly, Eyman has taken a break from bashing lawmakers over the prospect of initiative process reform (which also terrifies him) to launch a broadside against the bill, in which he compared taxes to heroin, and legislators to heroin users.

“The first injection of heroin is a rush, but after that the user needs more and more and more to get that same feeling,” Eyman wrote. “It’s like that with politicians and taxes — they love the feeling of euphoria that comes from imposing a new tax, but they need to increase it again and again and again to maintain their high.”

This is utter nonsense, of course — anyone who has reported on the Legislature or followed the Legislature for any length of time knows that revenue bills are huge lifts that can require years of work, even when there are Republican lawmakers who are willing to vote aye — but the more important point here is that lawmakers are contemplating a levying a capital gains tax on the wealthy because the people of Washington want one.

NPI’s statewide research surveys have consistently found robust majorities in support of the idea of a capital gains tax on the wealthy. In 2015, when we first asked about the idea, 55% of respondents answered favorably. Last year, when we surveyed 887 likely November voters, the percentage in support of a capital gains tax was 57%.

Here’s the question we asked:

Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose taxing the capital gains of wealthy individuals to help pay for public schools, colleges and universities?

Answers were as follows:

  • Support: 57%
    • Strongly support: 44%
    • Somewhat support: 13%
  • Oppose: 41%
    • Somewhat oppose: 12%
    • Strongly oppose: 29%
  • Not sure: 1%

Conducted by the respected firm Public Policy Polling, the aforementioned survey of 887 likely 2018 Washington State voters was in the field from June 27th-28th, 2017; all respondents participated via landline. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence level.

“Washington has many strengths as a state, but our tax code is not one of them,” noted NPI founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “Our regressive tax code requires those with the least to pay the most as a percentage of their income. That’s upside down. Levying a capital gains excise tax would enable us to take a step towards correcting this imbalance. A just tax system should be based on ability to pay, and ours isn’t. This is a problem Washingtonians want to see their elected representatives address.”

The fiscal note for HB 2967 is available from the Office of Financial Management (OFM). The fiscal note assumes that approximately 48,000 taxpayers would pay capital gains taxes (for taxes due in 2020) if the bill were adopted in its current form. $824.5 million would be raised in Fiscal Year 2020, and $447 million in Fiscal Year 2021.

The state also created a ten-year fiscal projection for HB 2967 as required by Tim Eyman’s I-960, which Eyman linked to in his email. NPI would like to remind you that ten-year fiscal projections only exist for the purpose of allowing Tim Eyman to throw around really big, misleading numbers when he sends out his anti-tax email missives.

Anything sounds much more impressive when you take it out over ten years. Multiply your current annual wages by ten, for example, and you’ll end up with a much bigger number.

That number ostensibly represents how much you’ll be paid  — but for the next decade as opposed to the current year. It’s highly misleading, because your compensation is very likely to change over the next decade. You may even change jobs or employers, and end up with a different salary or pay structure. It is a well understood precept of forecasting that the farther out a forecast goes, the more likely it is to be in error.

The ten-year fiscal projections Eyman’s I-960 stupidly requires for revenue bills are no more useful than ten-year compensation projections, and should be ignored.

NPI plans to offer testimony in support of HB 2967 at next Friday’s hearing of the House Finance Committee. Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve will be available before or after the hearing for interviews.

Tim Eyman admits defeat with scheme to “stick it to Sound Transit”; I-947 becomes his latest failure

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

For the third time in twenty-four months, Tim Eyman has failed to qualify an initiative to sabotage funding for Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades.

The disgraced initiative promoter admitted in an email this morning that Initiative 947 is kaput, writing, “I’m really disappointed to announce that we didn’t make it.”

I-947, like I-1421 and I-869 before it, sought to cripple Sound Transit’s voter-approved third phase of expansion (ST3) by repealing the agency’s authority to levy vehicle fees. But the harm wouldn’t have ended there. I-947 also attempted to eviscerate vehicle fees at the state and local level, imperiling funding for Amtrak Cascades and wiping out the funding that Seattleites authorized to finance a much-needed expansion of Metro bus service.

Thankfully, I-947 is now dead. It is Eyman’s fifth consecutive failed initiative.

Eyman waited until seven hours before the deadline to submit signatures to break the bad news to his followers. As recently as Tuesday, he was was exhorting them to mail any petitions they had to Spokane “right away”, telling them, “With every volunteer signature drive we’ve ever done, it all boils down to what comes in at the end. Stay tuned.”

Eyman actually hasn’t attempted — let alone successfully pulled off — a successful volunteer signature drive in eons. With the exception of I-695 in 1999, Eyman’s recipe for qualifying initiatives has involved finding a wealthy benefactor or two to underwrite the cost of buying a spot on the ballot using paid signature gatherers.

As the Public Disclosure Commission discovered when it investigated a citizen complaint regarding Eyman’s dealings during 2013-2015, Eyman figured out how to make those paid signature drives very lucrative. Eyman arranged a kickback scheme with his associate Eddie Agazarm to ensure that he would profit twice from every signature drive he orchestrated: once by taking a salary for himself and again by getting a cut of the funds supposedly earmarked for compensating paid signature gatherers.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson is now seeking to hold Eyman accountable for his lawbreaking ways with a series of four lawsuits. Eyman has tried to postpone his day of reckoning in the courts by stonewalling in the extreme, but has been unsuccessful in getting anything on the ballot during that borrowed time.

Eyman was unable to qualify I-947 despite having the backing of the Republican Party (which circulated his petitions at its fair booths) and right wing talk radio hosts like John Carlson and Dori Monson (who promoted the measure through their shows).

“Last year, we had a vigorous debate over whether we should expand light rail, commuter rail, and bus service in our region,” noted Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “The voters chose to enthusiastically approve Sound Transit’s third phase of expansion. Sound Transit is working hard to deliver for them. ST3 projects will liberate countless commuters from stewing in auto gridlock.”

“But Tim Eyman and Republicans like Steve O’Ban simply refuse to respect the will of the voters. They don’t want these projects to be built. That’s why they have spent pretty much all of 2017 running a second NO campaign against Sound Transit 3.”

“But, aside from the sympathetic media coverage they were able to generate, they have nothing to show for their efforts. Sound Transit 3 remains intact and the planning is proceeding at full steam. That’s great news for our region.”

As part of their campaign to overturn ST3, Republicans tried to make vehicle fees a defining issue in the special election in the 45th District, instructing their candidate (Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund), to campaign on overturning ST3. Englund ended up getting clobbered by Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra… not once, but twice. Thanks to Dhingra’s victory, the Washington State Senate is back under Democratic management.

Republicans then excitedly latched onto Eyman’s I-947, which Eyman kept claiming (in email after email and video after video) would be wildly popular. I-947 has now imploded and Eyman is pivoting to hawking something different for 2018.

“For nearly sixteen years, NPI has fought to defend our state and region’s investment in transit and we’ll continue to do so,” said Villeneuve. “We’re thrilled that I-947 has failed. This is a great day for Washington State and for commuters across Puget Sound, who are anxiously awaiting the day that light rail expands to serve more neighborhoods.”

So much for “sticking it to Sound Transit”: Tim Eyman appears ready to abandon I-947, says he’ll push for ban on taxing wealth

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Tim Eyman signaled today that he’s ready to abandon his current initiative to defund Sound Transit and pivot to hawking a new scheme that would prohibit Washington from taxing wealth, thereby keeping the state’s tax code permanently upside down.

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Tim Eyman rips state budget he previously called a “mega victory for taxpayers”

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

This week, disgraced initiative promoter and serial public disclosure violator Tim Eyman appeared in front of the Snohomish County Council to assail Executive Dave Somers for proposing a modest property tax increase that would ensure the fast-growing county can meet its public safety needs. (The additional revenue Somers is seeking would avert cuts to law enforcement while also allowing five more sheriff’s deputies to be hired.)

During his remarks — a portion of which were aired on KIRO’s evening newscast — Eyman harshly denounced the Washington State Legislature for having raised property taxes on Snohomish County homeowners like him, telling the Council:

Taxpayers have been ravaged by Sound Transit and ST3. Skyrocketing car tab taxes, highest in the nation sales taxes, plus a massive new property tax. All of you have been hearing about the sticker shock from ST3. And then, just a few months later, just as taxpayers were trying to catch their breath, those taxpayers got ravaged by this year’s Legislature that compounded ST3’s burden by dramatically raising property taxes THROUGH THE ROOF.

Eyman has been railing all year against ST3, even though it was handily approved by voters in last November’s presidential election. But it wasn’t so long ago that Eyman was describing the agreement reached by legislators to keep state government open and steer more revenue into Washington’s public schools as “a mega victory for taxpayers”.

Here’s a longer excerpt from Eyman’s June 29th email:

The final budget deal is a mega-victory for taxpayers.

With tax-obsessed Jay Inslee as Governor and tax-salivating Democrats in charge of the House, our legislative successes aren’t measured by what proposals are passed but are instead measured by what proposals are blocked.  In this case, in the face of non-stop pressure by Inslee and the Dems to impose an income tax, capital gains tax, carbon tax, and business taxes, we worked really hard over the past six months and our efforts paid off: the GOP stopped them all.

Later on in the email, Eyman gave a nod of approval to the property tax increase that Senate Republicans insisted on as the budget’s revenue mechanism, saying: “The final watered-down levy swap lowers property taxes for most property owners.”

At no point in his email did Eyman criticize the Senate Republicans for having struck a deal with Democrats that resulted in higher property taxes for urban and suburban Washingtonians — even though he had harshly warned them not to pursue such a course of action just two years prior, during the 2015 legislative session.

In fact, at the end of his June 29th commentary, Eyman called the budget a victory for taxpayers a second time: “So don’t just look at what’s included, look at what’s excluded to recognize the tremendous victory that taxpayers scored with this final budget deal.”

That was then. Summer has now given way to autumn, and Tim Eyman has a new position to go with the new season. What was previously a “mega victory for taxpayers” and a “tremendous victory that taxpayers scored” has somehow, inexplicably, morphed into a defeat… of the worst kind. Taxpayers “got ravaged by this year’s Legislature”, Eyman now says, declaring that property taxes have gone “through the roof”.

Apparently the levy swap wasn’t “watered down” after all.

And apparently it doesn’t matter that some Washingtonians are getting their property taxes cut because others will be seeing an increase… including Eyman, who resides in Mukilteo in the safely Democratic 21st Legislative District.

In addition to blasting the Legislature’s budget in front of the Snohomish County Council, Eyman is urging his followers and anyone who will listen to him to participate in his push polls (the “advisory votes”) by voting “Repealed” to signify their displeasure with the budget.

“Tell next year’s Legislature that you’re against them raising taxes by voting ‘REJECT’ on Tax Advisory Votes 16, 17, and 18 on the November statewide ballot,” Eyman wrote in an October 27th email, forgetting that his Initiative 960 actually dictates that the wording of the two choices in the push polls be “REPEALED” and “MAINTAINED” — as opposed to the more neutral and widely used dichotomy of APPROVED/REJECTED.

Unlike Tim Eyman, state lawmakers and local leaders like Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers have a responsibility to govern. Most of them understand a truth Eyman consistently refuses to acknowledge: Our state and its many vibrant communities could not function or even exist without taxes.

Taxes pay for police and fire departments, emergency medical response, schools, colleges, and universities, parks, pools, hospitals, roads, bridges, mass transit, water and sewer infrastructure, ports, courts, and countless other public services.

As our state’s population grows and as new neighborhoods are developed, the cost of public services goes up. And because we have an upside down tax code, state revenue isn’t keeping pace with the economic growth we’re experiencing. That’s hurting the ability of local governments and state agencies to meet the needs of the people.

Executive Somers recognizes that a growing county like Snohomish can’t afford to ignore the people’s needs. It’s why he’s proposed a modest property tax increase as part of his budget. But what Snohomish County and every jurisdiction across Washington really need is for the Legislature to pass legislation implementing progressive tax reform.

Local governments only have the options that state government gives them. If we start taking serious, meaningful steps to fix our upside down tax code, everyone will benefit.

Everyone, that is, except Tim Eyman. Tim needs our tax code to stay broken so that there will always be an appetite for his initiative factory’s destructive anti-tax initiatives. If lawmakers begin taking steps to make our tax code more equitable and just, that might just put the kibosh on Eyman’s already flailing business.

Three important things to know about Tim Eyman’s Initiative 947

Ballot WatchdoggingRethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

1. Initiative 947 is really about gutting Sound Transit, not lowering vehicle fees

Just as with Initiative 776 in 2002, the main intent of I-947 is not actually to lower vehicle fees, it’s to sabotage the work of Sound Transit.

As far as Eyman is concerned, the lower vehicle fees are a welcome side effect. Eyman’s real aim is to nullify the 2016 Sound Transit 3 vote. And he’s now starting to openly admit that with his new slogan: “Let’s stick it to Sound Transit!”

Eyman has been nursing a deep grudge against Sound Transit for years, as is evident from his email today in which he rants at length against the agency, even falsely accusing it of having every law firm around on its payroll.

Eyman has previously contended that “voters are smart” and that the typical voter is perfectly capable of listening to the arguments made by ballot measure proponents and opponents, then making up their minds on their own. But Eyman clearly doesn’t believe that himself, as he is once again trying to overturn their will. Every time you get the chance, ask Eyman, “Why are you trying to overturn the will of the voters?”

Read more about Eyman’s obsession with taking out Sound Transit and how it inspired the creation of NPI’s Permanent Defense project — and later NPI itself.

2.  Eyman is trying to raise money for I-947 while also trying to raise $600,000 to pay legal bills

The cost of getting on the ballot exclusively with hired help runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even more money is needed when the initiative sponsor wants to arrange to receive illegal kickbacks from the company providing the signatures.

Those kickbacks and other serious public disclosure law violations are the basis for four — yes, four — lawsuits filed by the State of Washington against Tim Eyman.

Like his idol Donald Trump, Eyman is claiming to be the victim of a “witch hunt”. He recently sent out an appeal for money via the United States Postal Service, writing, “I need help, a lot of help…. For the past five years, the AG has been investigating me and it has been incredibly stressful, burdensome, and costly to me and my family.”

“I implore you. Please help me get through this,” Eyman adds.

He says his goal is to raise $600,000 for his legal defense — about what a signature drive would cost minus the kickbacks Eyman has received in the past. Eyman says he has seeded his own legal defense fund by taking out a loan against his house.

How is Eyman going to manage to raise over half a million for a new initiative at the same time he’s trying to raise over half a million for his legal defense? That’s a lot to ask, even of his wealthy benefactors, who have been less and less generous since 2015.

3. Initiative 947 is actually Eyman’s sixth attempt to slash vehicle fees, not his third

Some of the accounts of Tim Eyman’s “announcement” from yesterday have portrayed Initiative 947 as Eyman’s third attempt to set vehicle fees at thirty dollars. It is actually Eyman’s sixth attempt to do so. Eyman doesn’t like talking about his many failures, which is why he painted an incomplete picture yesterday.

Here’s a rundown of the prior initiatives:

I-695, 1999: Voted on in November of 1999. Gutted the statewide motor vehicle excise tax, eviscerating funding for ferries, roads, bridges, transit, and a host of other local public services. Declared unconstitutional by the courts; partially reinstated by the Legislature. Read more about the impacts of I-695.

I-776, 2002: Voted on in November of 2002. Repealed local motor vehicle excise taxes in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Douglas counties and also revoked Sound Transit’s authority to collect vehicle fees. I-776 ended up not applying to Sound Transit because the vehicle fees were used as the basis for bond sales. Read more about the impacts of I-776.

I-917, 2006: Failed to qualify to the 2006 ballot. Using Michael Dunmire’s money, Tim Eyman hired petition crews to gather signatures for I-917, but he didn’t buy enough to qualify the measure. It took the Secretary of State the rest of the summer to check all of the I-917 signatures. In September of 2006, the office announced I-917 had not qualified for the ballot. Read more about the spectacular collapse of I-917.

I-1421, 2016: Failed to qualify to last year’s ballot. In February of 2016, Tim Eyman made a similar announcement to the one he made yesterday, saying the time was ripe for another initiative to slash vehicle fees. He summoned reporters to a morning press conference, made a big show of being the first to sign, and then send out a flurry of fundraising emails. But I-1421 didn’t go anywhere. It turned out there wasn’t much interest. Only a few months later, Eyman was forced to acknowledge I-1421 had been abandoned.

I-869, 2016: Failed to qualify as an initiative to the 2017 Legislature. After the failure of I-1421, Eyman started over with a clone, I-869, rebranding the effort as “We Love Our Cars”. But it was no more successful than I-1421. In December of 2016, it died a quiet death, without so much as passing obituary from Eyman.

Given that Eyman’s last three attempts to qualify an initiative slashing vehicle fees have ended in failure, we should all be skeptical that I-947 is going anywhere until Tim Eyman shows us the commitments from his wealthy benefactors. Eyman has not gotten on the ballot with mostly volunteer labor since 1999. His initiative factory relies on big money to function — it’s not a grassroots operation. Without sizable commitments from the likes of Kemper Freeman, Jr., Kenneth Fisher, or Clyde Holland, Eyman will not be able to get a signature drive going for I-947.

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