Category Archives: Rethinking and Reframing

Why does Tim Eyman keep getting special attention from the media?

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

This organization – the membership and leadership of Permanent Defense – is getting pretty tired of the special treatment that Tim Eyman keeps getting from Washington State media outlets. Today, Tim has a column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, entitled “2006 initiative: Save our $30 tabs.” Just yesterday, the Everett Herald ran the very same column for Tim, entitled: “Politicians should be held to their word on $30 tabs”. Why are media outlets going out of their way to give Eyman special treatment?

The staff of this organization would like to know why.

It’s been said that the media is not very good at telling people what to think, but is good at telling people what to think about. The power to set the agenda. To decide what is “buzz” and what is not. We are fairly confident that the media understands who Tim Eyman is and what he wants.

His goal is to destroy government. And his philosophy (if you can call it that) is well summarized in this quote from national right wing activist Grover Norquist, who famously stated: “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years – to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Eyman’s initiatives are all attempts to reduce the size and scope of government in some way. Not just state government, but local government, too. Most of his initiatives have been proposals to drastically cut back taxes, which has an immediate and significant effect on the ability of government to deliver quality public services to its citizens.

Year after year, editorial boards and commentators across Washington have opined against nearly every one of these initiatives, concluding that they will not lead to a healthier Evergreen State.

Despite this, Eyman keeps getting the attention he wants and needs to remain influential.  In fact, Tim  has probably received more media exposure than any other politician in the state, save for the Governor.

Whenever Eyman wants to “announce” a new initiative effort, the Associated Press usually has an article about it. Whenever Eyman calls a press conference in Olympia, the major TV stations (KOMO, KING, KIRO, KCPQ) usually send their cameras over to the Capitol campus to cover it, and then those stations run the clips during their five o’clock broadcasts. When Eyman submits columns to newspapers, they usually get printed. We know because we keep seeing them.

Last May, our Chair wrote a post for the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate (the blog of Permanent Defense’s parent organization) taking to the traditional media to task for fawning over Eyman. This post still rings true today.

It is time that regional media outlets stopped giving Tim Eyman so much special attention. There is no good reason why he should be awarded with column after column after column. There is no good reason why the press needs to feel obligated to cover him every single time he wants to announce a new initiative effort.

Why not instead put a greater emphasis on giving more people, especially those active within their neighborhood communities, a chance to express their views? The Evergreen State is home to about six million people.

There are surely many Washingtonians (and many issues) that are far more worthy of the attention than Tim Eyman. The media should be diversifying its political coverage instead of catering to him.

No On I-900 Voters’ Guide Statement

Rethinking and Reframing

Everyone wants government to operate efficiently, and performance reviews are a tool to achieve efficiency when done wisely and with common sense. But, this initiative lacks common sense:

1. Local citizens and their locally elected officials should establish their own goals and priorities, not Olympia;

2. Local governments will have to spend scarce staff time and local taxpayer dollars to collect data for the audits;

3. One size does not fit all. There are over 2,000 units of local government, from large metropolitan cities and counties to small rural mosquito control and irrigation districts. They all have different purposes and responsibilities. Is it really appropriate to compare a unit of government of 300 to a unit of government of 300,000?


The 2005 legislature passed two performance audit bills, one for Department of Transportation programs and another for state agencies. Many local governments already provide accountability by conducting their own performance reviews. This initiative is an unnecessary duplication that would add another layer of government and cost tens of millions of tax dollars.

Before you vote, ask yourself – Would you really trust one partisan elected state official to tell your local government what to do?


Eyman’s phony view of reality

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

In a email to supporters yesterday (copied to the media), Tim Eyman again extended his electronic tin can, asking supporters to make a contribution to his “Help Us Help Ourselves” compensation fund.

He also didn’t waste an opportunity to make a number of feel-good statements about his activities, presenting a phony view of reality.

So, therefore, we ask you to think carefully and consider the following:

Mr. Eyman claims that he and his supporters take on huge challenges every year. But how challenging is it to get an initiative on the ballot when you have one multimillionaire donor (Michael Dumire) who is willing to provide over $300,000 to pay signature gatherers for collecting signatures? Getting on the ballot is no challenge if you have deep pockets. A last look at PDC reports shows that Mr. Dunmire provided a whopping 76.5% of the funding for Eyman’s “signature drive”.

Eyman initiatives do not solve problems. They create problems or make them worse. Almost all have been designed to wreak havoc on government revenue without regard to any of the consequences. They result in budget crunches and cripple valuable local public services.

Initiative 900 does not and will not “end a 40 year prohibition against independent performance audits of state government.” The state legislature already did that with the passage of EHB 1064 earlier this year (the bill was signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire). Eyman had absolutely nothing to do with the bill or its passage, either. State Democrats had previously passed such legislation, and with Democrats assuming control of the state Senate in 2005, the legislation finally made it through both houses.

Eyman also crowed about his involvement in 1998’s Initiative 200, which barred government sponsored remedies for minorities that have previously been the target of grave injustices. Mr. Eyman’s logic of “treating everyone the same” falls flat on its face, since everyone has not been treated the same in the past, and even today, not everyone is being treated the same.

Then it was on to Initiative 695. Initiative 695 was tossed out in court after it passed because it was found to be unconstitutional. The reason the state motor vehicle excise tax was subsequently repealed was because the Legislature and the Governor were afraid of another effort to take away funding. That plan didn’t work out  too well, as Eyman came back with another initiative anyway

In the 1999-2001 biennium, the state MVET was to have been distributed in three main ways: 47% to state transportation, 29% to local transits, and 24% to local governments. This funding was lost after the Legislature repealed the state MVET.

In terms of local distribution for counties and cities across the state, about $496,904,767 (in 2004) was projected to be lost because of Initiative 695 by the state Department of Revenue. The state Department of Revenue predicted that overall, counting both transportation and local distribution, up to $1,700,000,000 in funding for public services and transportation was lost for the 2001-2003 biennium, statewide. The bottom line is that I-695 blew a huge hole into our state’s transportation funding that has never been fully repaired.

Initiative 747, which passed in 2001, hurt local governments and has led to budget shortfalls across Washington State. Some cities are considering disincorporation because they no longer have the revenues to continue offering their citizens public services. The state loss from I-747 for 2004 alone was projected to be $48,753,000. Local municipalities lost $148,415,000 in 2004 alone – revenues that would have otherwise paid for valuable public services.

Ron Sims’ candidacy for governor of Washington State did NOT fail because of Sims’ tax reform proposals. It failed because his opponent, Christine Gregoire, had more money, support from the state labor council, more endorsements, and statewide name recognition (she had already served two terms as Attorney General).

Eyman loves to take credit for things he had nothing to do with, make political predictions (for instance, that I-912 will be approved this November), and play the role of amateur political scientist.

Eyman also likes to claim that he’s “keeping the political establishment on the defensive” but this is coming from a guy whose last four initiatives (I-267, I-807, I-864, I-892) have all ended in failure.

But Eyman lives in an Orwellian world, so nothing that anybody else says ever seems to matter. It’s the “Ministry of Truth” all over again.

Eyman initiatives have real consequences

Election PostmortemRethinking and Reframing

Years after their passage, the aftershocks of Tim Eyman’s dangerous initiatives are still being felt.

In an article published in the Everett Herald yesterday, the story of the struggling town of Gold Bar is told. Ever since the passage of Initiative 695 in 1999, Gold Bar has been in trouble. And now, the city is in danger of having to disincorporate.

The city’s troubles are indeed the result of Eyman initiatives, as the article notes:

The reason Gold Bar and numerous other cities around the state are struggling financially can be traced to the passage of the car tab initiative in 1999, which lowered licensing fees to a flat $30 rate.

Since then, Gold Bar has lost about $707,000 in revenue, according to the Association of Washington Cities. That loss is bigger than the city’s 2005 general fund of about $508,000. The city already has tightened its belt, cutting expenses on staff training, laying off staff and restructuring the police service contract with the county, which has saved the city about $194,000, said Hester Gilleland, the city’s clerk and treasurer.

The reality is that cities need money to operate. It costs us money to live in a society – something that Tim Eyman has never been intelligent enough to recognize. There comes a point when there is simply nothing left to cut and no belt-tightening left to do: the government simply stops functioning.

Public services, such as police and fire protection, swimming pools and libraries, roads, parks and public schools – aren’t free. Without money to operate those services, the government has no choice but to stop providing them. This seriously endangers the health of Washington state’s communities.

Gold Bar is unfortunately at the end of its string. But the city’s residents haven’t got anybody to blame except themselves.

Hawkins [mayor of Gold Bar] said she finds it ironic that even she voted for Initiative 695 – the major cause of the city’s financial headaches.

The town’s registered voters supported the initiative by a vote of 354-138. Courts eventually struck down the measure, but state lawmakers heeded the will of the people and adopted $30 license tab fees anyway.

In 2002, voters approved a second car-tab initiative, which eliminated a $15 license registration fee that Snohomish County and several other counties had been charging.

That money was earmarked for street repairs. As a result, the street fund in Gold Bar dropped from $17,200 in 2002 to nothing in 2004, Gilleland said.

“Even though these initiatives are appealing, they are giving a death warrant for local government,” Hawkins said.

Voters have been tricked into voting with their pocketbooks thanks to Tim Eyman and his sadistic rhetoric. Even mayors have been sold on the premise that they can have it all and not pay for it. By refusing to look at both sides of the equation, and refusing to acknowledge that tax cuts are equivalent to cuts in public services, Eyman and his cronies have distorted the truth and caused a lot of damage.

The Republican position that we must “live within our means” may sound appealing, but it is insane. Too many years of tax cuts are wreaking havoc on Washington State and its many local governments. If something isn’t done in the next few years, city halls across the state will be forced to close and some counties may even collapse into insolvency.

At a time when many rural citizens are angry about the lack of local control in their quest for “property rights”, they risk losing out and ceding more power to officials that are further away. Many of these people are the same folks that eagerly embraced Tim Eyman’s initiatives.

You get what you vote for, and they will pay dearly for their lack of vision and their self-centered thinking. If they’re upset about losing local control, then they should join the bandwagon in clamoring for the state Legislature to pass a budget that will plug the deficit with new revenues.

Cities and counties need money to operate. They’re out of funding. Without the state’s help or increased local revenue, there is no hope for them. And the state cannot possibly provide them funding when it faces its own budget shortfall.

It’s time for people who have been avoiding reality to acknowledge it. We cannot afford any more tax cuts. We need new revenues and real tax reform. We must fund public services or be forced to stop providing them.

Voter-to-Voter: NO on Initiative 892

Rethinking and Reframing

The following is a letter written by Josef Kunzler of Permanent Defense to help educate voters about the consequences of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 892.

Dear Fellow Voter:

I wanted to take a moment and explain to you the case against Initiative 892, the slot machine initiative that dumps 18,255 new electronic slot machines in the middle of communities across the state.

It is my sincere hope that as you think about whatever tax relief this initiative may or may not deliver, that the sound of electronic gambling machinery at over 2,000 locations and possibly more throughout the state goes through your mind. Sure, some say that’s a cheap shot – maybe that’s true, maybe not.

Take a moment and imagine two very different visions for our state:

Vision 1: We make I-892 law and we allow 18,255 electronic slot machines to be dumped into our communities all because a majority of us bought the sound bite of an initiative that promises property tax relief with no consequences. The end result will be a giant expansion of gambling, and the number of gambling addicts will skyrocket along with the profits of foreign business conglomerates. This means an increase in crime, including drug use, home invasions and theft, because addicts often resort to desperate measures to satisfy their addiction to gamble over and over again. We will walk through our communities fearing the pickpocket looking for change to plop into those machines and then we will realize gambling isn’t a destination activity any longer: it is now a local activity in our communities.

Vision 2: We reject I-892 and send a clear message that we do not want any more gambling in this state. We also respect the need of our Native Americans to have a means of self sufficiency – and as we do so, we tell the out-of-state gambling industry to butt out of our politics. Finally, by rejecting Tim Eyman’s latest initiative, we reject his ideology of tax cuts on the backs of our way of life.

Now, which vision would you like? Do you want those bandits taking over your community and your taxes, making you liable if this gamble turns out to cost more than promised? I seriously doubt that.

Washington State deserves better than this degradation into gambling dependency.

Vote NO on Initiative 892. Protect your local community and your way of life.

New report discredits Eyman’s claims

Rethinking and Reframing

A new report released by the Department of Revenue has just discredited initiative profiteer Tim Eyman’s claims that taxes are skyrocketing and out of control.

Indeed, the report found that Washington State’s tax burden has been declining since 1981- just the opposite of what Tim Eyman continues to claim.

Eyman tried to dismiss the report, calling it “election-year politics”. But it’s Eyman, and not the state Department of Revenue, who has skewed statistics.

Eyman tries to take the total amount of revenue collected each year by the state and stack it up in ever-increasing bars on a graph, then point to it and say that property taxes are obscene and uncontrollable.

But you can’t measure property tax growth, or any kind of tax growth, by looking at the dollar amount collected each year. Any smart economist can tell you right away that Eyman’s method of looking at tax growth is extremely distorted.

Tax growth is best measured against personal income. This accounts for factors such as inflation and population growth- factors essential for a correct calculation.

The Department of Revenue’s new report measures tax growth against personal income, and finds that Washington is not the first, second, third, or fourth highest taxed state in the nation.

We rank 32nd in the nation in the new report (from 1998-2002) in comparative state and local taxes. And our tax burden has been on the decline since 1981.

That’s hardly “obscene” tax growth. When it comes to taxes, Washington is actually in the upper tier of states- states with a lower tax burden.

And having a lower tax burden isn’t always a great thing, because taxes pay for essential public services. Without enough revenue, the quality of those services can be degraded.

It’s clear that Tim Eyman’s rhetoric about skyrocketing and obscene property taxes is useless hype. No wonder, though, that Tim Eyman doesn’t want voters to believe this report. If they do, it will give them no reason to vote for his initiatives.

If his initiatives are voted down, Tim makes no money. It’s somehow in his best interest, then, to keep the lies coming and the fabrication machine on full spin.

Washington’s voters deserve to know the truth, not the spin, about property tax growth in this state. And clearly they’re not going to get that from Tim Eyman.

Eyman statistics about “obscene” taxes are misleading, meaningless

Rethinking and Reframing

Since the beginning of his efforts to put I-864 and I-892 on the 2004 ballot, Tim Eyman has consistently complained about the rise in property taxes over the past several decades. His major, overriding complaint is that property taxes have increased from $1 billion in 1980 to $6.25 billion in 2003. But does this figure accurately represent the change in the property tax burden?

The answer is no. Information from the Department of Revenue does show an increase in the amount of revenue collected from property taxes each year. But you can’t look at the amount of money the state collects and use that as an appropriate figure.

Any accurate representation of the property tax burden should take into account the following factors:

  • Inflation
  • Population growth (and, since 1980, Washington’s population has increased 32.2%)
  • Expansion of the tax base (i.e., more properties to tax)
  • Loss or gain of federal funding
  • Shifting of revenue from one tax source to another

Tim’s complaint that the property tax growth is “obscene” is unjustifiable. Revenue collection figures will always continue to grow because of inflation. And because the population continues to grow, and because more properties are developed, Washington will require more public services. More public services requires an increase in revenue.

There is no way to prevent this increase unless the level of public services currently provided by the state and local governments were to drastically regress. This would lead to a loss of jobs as firemen, librarians, police officers, and other government employees would be laid off in large numbers.

The following chart, furnished by the Department of Revenue, provides a better look at tax growth. Compare it side by side to the chart Tim Eyman uses in his argument that the property tax burden is “obscene”.
Several conclusions can be made from the chart to the left. The first is that the tax burden has dramatically decreased. Part of this is because government has had to make do with less, even as population has grown and demands on the state’s infrastructure have increased.

The second is that using 1980 as a starting date is misleading. If you start one year earlier, in 1979, it’s obvious that the tax burden has clearly and dramatically decreased. In fact, property taxes as a percentage of assessed value have clearly declined.

According to the Washington State Tax Structure Committee and every other accountable source, the economic figure that most closely tracks growth in demand for public services is growth in personal income. Personal income is also the only number which permits a true measure of tax burden.

This second chart, also provided by the Department of Revenue, shows that thirty one other states have higher tax burdens than Washington:

So Tim’s claim that tax growth is “obscene” is simply not true. And compared to other states, Washington’s tax burden is fairly low. Because Tim’s method of measurement doesn’t produce meaningful information, his results are completely misleading and out of context.

Those who take Tim’s statistics for granted don’t understand that he’s playing with the numbers and the figures, using irrelevant data and presenting misleading graphs to paint a distorted picture of Washington State’s tax burden. He’s proved one thing- even when it comes down to math, you can’t trust Tim Eyman.

Firefighters speak out

Rethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

A number of firefighters have contacted us, concerned about the effects of Initiative 864, and asked us to help them spread their message. Initiative 864 means REAL cuts for REAL firefighters, and that’s jobs lost in an already downbeat economy. Not to mention the drop in your level of protection, would could lead to higher insurance rates. So, here’s the firefighters in their own words:

From Brandon Knopp, a King County volunteer firefighter:

It would be great to cut taxes and all. But has anyone stopped and thought about what it will do to the Fire and Police departments?

I am a volunteer fire fighter out in a rural are in King County. My Chief met with the King County Police Chiefs and Fire Chiefs, and they are all concerned about this 25% cut.

A few examples of how it would back just some of the local fire and police departments:

  • Federal Way Fire Department would lose about 10 fire fighters.
  • Maple Valley would lose 3 or 4.
  • King County would not be able to fund King County Medic One and therefore we would not have ANY paramedics in the South King County area.

And one of bigger issues is that departments like mine would be shut down. Our district is adjacent to Maple Valley and Enumclaw.

If this 25% cut went through, Maple Valley and Enumclaw would not be able to cover our 26 square mile district. There would be no fire or aid protection in that area.

And if you look in Eastern Washington, it’s almost ALL volunteer departments So, say goodbye to our forests if they catch fire, because there won’t be anyone to put them out.

So…please, please, please take what I have said into consideration before supporting this 25% cut.

From Tim Kienitz, Clark County Fire District #6:

As a firefighter I am faced with the potential of losing my job. That in itself is a bad thing, as I have a family to support. The worst part of it is what it would do to the community that I serve.

The service of EMS and Fire protection we offer to the community would be crippled because of manpower cuts and service would suffer. I fear that because of the political climate in the country about taxes people will not understand that the money they pay goes to protect their very lives.

From Shawn, a suburban firefighter:

I am a member of a mid sized fire department with less than 50 paid employees, serving a mostly suburban community. Recently we met with our administration regarding a contingency plan in case I-864 passes. Losing revenue by cutting property taxes in our Fire District translates to laying off 15 firefighters and firefighter paramedics and closing one of our 3 fire stations.

In turn, our response times would increase and service levels would decrease to that of the early 90’s while our call volume will have doubled from the same time. I hope the voters in the state of Washington will come to realize that this initiative WILL gut our public services and our Fire Departments will lose their effectiveness in making a timely response to their emergency.

Protect your quality of life and your local community… decline to sign Initiative 864.

Seattle Times fails to update Associated Press story on Eyman complaint

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsRethinking and Reframing

On Friday, August 15th, 2003, the Seattle Times published an Associated Press story about the PDC’s dismissal of Steve Zemke’s complaint. Permanent Defense News checked the length and content of the Times’ version against a similar story published on the Seattle P-I’s website the day before.

Oddly enough, the P-I’s story seemed to be double the length of the Times’ story, and had comments from both Eyman and Zemke. The Times version had only comments from the PDC and Eyman- and then the story was cut off.

Permanent Defense wrote a letter to the editor asking why the story was so different from the one on the P-I’s website. After some internal investigation, a Seattle Times editor replied and said that the paper’s metro editors had failed to update the story as they should have- leaving out Mr. Zemke’s comments by mistake.

“The reason our story didn’t include Zemke is that we used an earlier version of the AP piece and did not update it once a new version moved on the wires.”

-Seattle Times Management, Response to PD Inquiry

We chose not to link to the Times version the day it was published because the P-I version was longer and more accurate than its shorter counterpart.

The impact of Initiative 695: One commuter’s story

Election PostmortemRethinking and Reframing

Christine Dorsey of Kitsap County writes:

I live in Kitsap County and Eyman’s antics have thoroughly disrupted my life. I commuted by ferry to Seattle, so I was very dependent on transit to get me from my home to the Kingston ferry.

When the car tabs initiative passed [I-695] ,I lost my bus route, so I had to drive 16 miles to the ferry terminal and pay an additional 50.00 a month for parking, then the ferry fares jumped dramatically.

I then lost my job in Seattle because I couldn’t get a bus to my office on time and the transit times were cut. All around Tim Eyman’s initiatives wrecked my job and my lifestyle. There still is no bus route in my area and I wonder what the elderly and school age kids do if they don’t have a car.

This is one of many examples of damage resulting from Tim Eyman’s initiatives. I-695 has hurt many people. Yet most conservatives are oblivious to this. They, of all people, should know, yet they continue to support Eyman’s ridiculous anti-tax rhetoric. Have they failed to notice that ferry fares have skyrocketed since the 1990s?

In part, that’s due to the recession, but the implementation of Tim Eyman’s I-695 is primarily to blame.

We have a simple message for our fellow Washingtonians: Don’t let Eyman get away with wrecking your life. Don’t let a fraternity watchmaker from Mukilteo dictate our government’s money flow.

Decline to sign Initiative 807.

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