Category Archives: Statements & Advisories

Statement on the invalidation of Initiative 747

In the CourtsStatements & Advisories

The Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense this morning applauded the State Supreme Court’s invalidation of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747, which placed draconian limits on property taxes in 2001. The Court upheld a lower court decision which found the initiative unconstitutional.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the people of the State of Washington,” said NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “Neither the Legislature nor initiative sponsors have the right to mislead voters with inaccurately drafted law. The Supreme Court has affirmed once again that Tim Eyman’s habit of cutting corners with poorly conceived language is not acceptable.”

“Our state’s Constitution is a meaningless document unless its protections are enforced,” Villeneuve added. “No statute may violate the Constitution for any reason. Those who sponsor initiatives for a living are bound to abide by the same rules that the Legislature must follow. Citizen lawmaking, like the privilege of serving in the Legislature, carries with it huge responsibility.”

PREVIOUS EYMAN INITIATIVES DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL:

  • I-695 (1999): Slashing vehicle fees
  • I-722 (2000): Slashing property taxes

EYMAN’S RECORD — FULL OF FAILURES

Besides the court invalidations of I-695 and I-722, Tim Eyman’s record is full of defeats:

  • I-745 (2000): Tried to redirect transportation funding to roads, defeated by voters
  • I-776 (2002): Failed to stop Sound Transit’s light rail project or eliminate bonds (the main intent)
  • I-267 (2002): Tried to redirect transportation funding to roads, never qualified for the ballot
  • I-807 (2003): Initiative 960’s more recent predecessor never qualified for the ballot
  • I-864 (2004): Tried to slash property taxes, never qualified for the ballot
  • I-892 (2004): Tried to expand gambling, defeated by voters
  • I-900 (2005): Gave the state auditor too much power to conduct performance audits. Approved.
  • I-917 (2006): Tried to slash vehicle fees, never qualified for the ballot
  • R-65 (2006): Tried to legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, never qualified for the ballot

For more information, check out the complete Failure Chart.

NPI/PD applaud legal challenge to I-960

Statements & Advisories

The Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense today commended Futurewise and SEIU Local 775 for filing suit to have Tim Eyman’s Initiative 960 blocked from the ballot because it exceeds the scope of the initiative process.

“Initiative 960 is an assault on the very fabric that holds our republic together,” said NPI Executive Director and Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve.

“Democracy is all about majority rule with minority rights. Allowing a minority to completely control the budgeting process in our state is a step down the dangerous path to oligarchy.”

“Tim Eyman and his cohorts want to rewrite the rules because the electorate does not agree with their ideas. But our constitution cannot be amended by initiative or referendum. The Supreme Court has established that a measure which purports to amend or circumvent our state’s most sacred document can be challenged prior to an election. We hope the courts will set a precedent that checks abuse of the initiative process and upholds the rule of law.”

Tim Eyman is not a guru… or a king… or a champion

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Several media outlets have in recent weeks continued to inexplicably refer to failed zealot Tim Eyman as if he were a divine political force. The Seattle Times calls Eyman a “guru” in an editorial this morning, only a couple weeks after making room for him on the op-ed page to hawk his latest initiative. And the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, in an editorial back on December 9th, called him a “king”.

The point about this ridiculous, unnecessary reverent treatment has already been made, by us and other activists and organizations, but apparently it needs to be repeated.

So once again: guru, as defined by respected dictionaries, means wise leader, intellectual, or mentor…and Eyman is none of those. He’s a false front: looks big, thanks in part to undeserved media attention, but hasn’t had a meaningful impact.

And given his incompetence this year, when he was expected to have no trouble qualifying at least Initiative 917, but still failed to do so, the label of guru is even more inaccurate.

Tim Eyman is not a guru. Nor is he a king, or a champion, or a populist. Those words are simply not synonymous with “failure”. He does not enjoy wide support. Voters are sick and tired of his stale assortment of tax cuts and spending limits. That’s why they’re rejecting right wing initiatives and right wing ideology.

Eyman had zero successes to speak of in 2006….which has been the story for several years now with really only one minor exception. Consider:

  • He failed to qualify Referendum 65 in June
  • He saw I-747 ruled unconstitutional in June
  • He failed to qualify Initiative 917 in September
  • He opposed Mayor Nickels’ Seattle roads package, but it passed anyway
  • He lost the court battle against Sound Transit over collection of the MVET

These are merely at the top of an earlier string of defeats from immediate years past, including the failure of I-912 (the gas tax repeal, which Eyman strongly backed publicly but otherwise didn’t have a hand in) the failure of I-892 (legalization of electronic slot machines plus tax cuts), I-864 (property tax cuts), I-807 (spending limits), and I-267 (controlling how transportation funding is spent).

It is time for editorial writers, reporters, television anchors, and talk show hosts to stop this “guru” and “king” nonsense. The accurate label – which can be concluded by any individual capable of drawing conclusions from the facts with no spin attached – is failure.

2006: A year of victories for Permanent Defense, a year of defeats for Tim Eyman

Election PostmortemRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Following yesterday’s Supreme Court decision which affirms that Sound Transit may continue to collect the local motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) it has levied for years, a tally of developments indicates that 2006 is very likely Tim Eyman’s worst year – ever. Among Eyman’s losses, defeats, and setbacks this year:

  • He failed to qualify Referendum 65 in June
  • He saw I-747 ruled unconstitutional in June
  • He failed to qualify Initiative 917 in September
  • He opposed Mayor Nickels’ Seattle roads package, but it passed anyway
  • He lost the court battle against Sound Transit over collection of the MVET

These are merely at the top of an earlier string of defeats from immediate years past, including the failure of I-912 (the gas tax repeal, which Eyman strongly backed publicly but otherwise didn’t have a hand in) the failure of I-892 (legalization of electronic slot machines plus tax cuts), I-864 (property tax cuts), I-807 (spending limits), and I-267 (controlling how transportation funding is spent).

Despite his recent slump, his lousy overall track record, and his unprofessional conduct towards the press (remember “Feel like you’ve been duped? Well you have!”), he is still considered relevant and treated with a reverence he doesn’t deserve.

The Associated Press has mistakenly continued to call Eyman a guru. Guru, as defined by the dictionary, means wise leader, intellectual, or mentor. Eyman is none of those. He’s a false front: looks big, thanks in part to undeserved media attention, but hasn’t had a meaningful impact.

And given his incompetence this year, when he was expected to have no trouble qualifying at least Initiative 917, but still failed to do so, the label of guru is even more inaccurate.

Tim Eyman is not a guru. Nor is he a king, or a champion, or a populist. He does not enjoy wide support. Voters are sick and tired of his stale assortment of tax cuts and spending limits.

He could be accurately described as simply an activist (and a well paid one at that).

A better fit would be zealot.

A majority of the electorate clearly wants effective government, government that works. That’s why they have been voting down the right wing initiatives that have been on the ballot in the last few years (including this year’s Initiatives 933 and 920).

But Tim Eyman offers only anti-govermentism.

Just consider that close to 80% of Initiative 917, the most recent flop, was funded by one man – Eyman’s sugar daddy, Michael Dunmire – and it’s plainly evident Eyman is no populist. For Tim, it’s about making money. Whether he gets a ballot measure qualified or not, he’s been asking his supporters for a personal reward year after year after year. Any supporter who donates to him now is compensating him for failure.

Three days ago, on Tuesday, the Seattle Times rewarded Eyman with yet another guest column on their opinion page, while the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reprinted an Associated Press article about Eyman’s unimportant 2007 plans in its morning edition. KOMO gave Eyman prominent billing on its website. Other media outlets carried the non-story as well.

Regrettably, it seems Eyman is still being taken seriously by too many members of the traditional media. Given that he is a proven and admitted liar, given that he continues to insist his initiatives are “wildly popular” when in fact they’re not, and given that he has squandered and frittered away all of his credibility, it is surprising and disappointing he is still given column space, wire stories, and airtime.

There’s no excuse for this any more. The Tim Eyman media circus needs to be over – his very long hour of fame is up. There are other issues more deserving of coverage and other individuals whose work is more deserving of recognition.

Permanent Defense and its founder realized this over three years ago, acknowledging their broader civic interest when a new parent organization was created with a much more extensive and encompassing focus on political thought and political action – the Northwest Progressive Institute.

Permanent Defense has remained an important division of NPI, but is now only a small part of the larger organization’s endeavors.

Statement on the failure of I-917

Statements & Advisories

The following is Permanent Defense”s response to yesterday’s news that Initiative 917 lacks sufficient signatures to qualify for the November 2006 ballot.

“We couldn’t be more pleased,” said Chair Andrew Villeneuve. “Originally, we expected Tim Eyman to buy his way onto the ballot as he has in years past, no problem. But he surprised us. We didn’t have to wage a campaign to defeat his attack on transportation funding. He defeated himself.”

“This is Eyman’s most spectacular failure – ever,” Villeneuve added. “It’s amazing because it seemed so likely that Initiative 917 would be on the ballot.  Michael Dunmire was writing the checks, the paid signature gatherers were circulating petitions. But as it turns out, Tim Eyman’s biggest obstacle to qualifying this sorry ballot measure was Tim Eyman.”

The defeat not only makes Eyman 0-2 for 2006, but extends his recent losing streak even further. I-917 joins other recent failures from the last four years, including Referendum 65, Initiative 892, Initiative 864, Initiative 807, and Initiative 267.

Statement in response to submission of signatures for I-917

Statements & Advisories

Permanent Defense today responded to Tim Eyman”s submission of signatures to the Secretary of State’s office by renewing its commitment to fight the measure if it qualifies for the ballot.

“Anyone with half a million dollars can buy their way onto the ballot, no matter your issue or political ideology,” Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve reiterated. “We always expected Tim Eyman to qualify I-917 with the backing of his sugar daddy – multimillionaire Michael Dunmire.”

“We will work diligently with a broad and diverse coalition of other organizations to defeat this measure in November and ensure that $2.7 billion in statewide transportation funding is protected,” Villeneuve added.

Statement on the Initiative 747 ruling by Judge Roberts

In the CourtsStatements & Advisories

Permanent Defense today applauded the decision of King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts, who ruled that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747 was unconstitutional.

“It’s a very simple concept: Washington State laws, including initiatives passed by voters, cannot violate the state Constitution,” said Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve. “We agree with the judge and believe her reasoning in this case is sound.”

“What’s more, Initiative 747 has already caused significant damage to communities throughout Washington State,” Villeneuve added. “Police and fire departments, libraries, parks, pools, and other public services have been badly hurt by I-747.”

“Not only are Tim Eyman’s initiatives bad for public services and bad for our communities, but they are poorly written and out of compliance with our state’s constitution.”

According to the Department of Revenue, the loss to the state property tax totals $226,923,000 for the 2005-2007 biennium while losses to local taxing districts total $571,496,000. That’s $571 million dollars – an enormous sum of money. The loss to local governments in 2006 alone is some $285 million dollars (PDF).

Incidentally, there are several conflicts of interest in this court case: Attorney General Rob McKenna, who has (so far) unsuccessfully defended I-747 for the state, was a coauthor of the initiative. The other initiative coauthor is Jim Johnson. Johnson currently sits on the state Supreme Court, which may hear this case on appeal.

Permanent Defense will be calling for Johnson to recuse himself from the case if the state Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal.

Washington not the “fourth highest taxed state” in the nation

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Tim Eyman today sent out an email to supporters and the media claiming that Washington State is the “4th highest taxed state in the nation”.:

Washington is the 4th highest taxed state in the nation. That means that 46 other states are providing education, transportation, and other government services at a lower tax burden than Washington does.

The problem with this argument is that it’s just not true. We’ve been through this before: Washington is not the “4th highest taxed state in the nation”. It’s a myth!

Yet Tim Eyman continues to repeat these bogus rankings to the media in the hopes that his misinformation will find its way into articles and broadcasts. The number Eyman uses has changed over the last few years, but it’s always stayed under 10 – and it always will. It sounds persuasive, until you pull back the curtain and check the math.

Fortunately, there is more credible and reputable information available from the Washington State Department of Revenue. In 2004 the DOR released a report entitled, “Comparative State and Local Taxes 2002“, compiled by Revenue Analysis Manager Don Taylor.

The report found that Washington State actually ranks 32nd in the nation when the comparative state and local taxes of each state across the country are checked as a percentage of personal income. The report found that residents of New York are the most highly taxed, while residents of Tennessee are the least.

When historical trends are examined, (except for a brief anomalous dip in the early 1980’s) the average amount of taxes paid is currently at a forty year low, and has been trending consistently down since 1996. When total state and local taxes are examined, they have actually declined as a percentage of personal income, to a point below historic levels and national averages.

Republicans like Tim Eyman often like to pretend that taxes are a terrible burden and should always be lowered. But in reality, taxes are public investments which make our communities safe, healthy, and livable. Quality police and fire protection, a robust parks and recreation system, strong schools and libraries, transportation infrastructure that’s safe and uncongested – these are all public services that cost money. Simply put, government at all levels – local, state, and federal – has made many wise investments with taxpayer money.

Rather than destroying needed revenues for important services provided by the government, we should reorganize our tax structure so that people are paying their fair share. Though Washington State is not a highly taxed state, the system is still regressive, and as a result, middle and lower income families are paying more then they should – while big businesses and wealthy Washingtonians enjoy exemption after exemption and tax break after tax break.

We need tax reform, but what Tim Eyman offers is not reform. It’s not practical, it’s not healthy, and it will not not benefit Washington taxpayers and their families.

Initiative 917 is a threat to the sustainable future of our state… and Permanent Defense will fight to ensure that it is defeated just as I-912 was last November.

Costly oversight could lead to rejection of I-917 petitions

Ballot WatchdoggingStatements & Advisories

Once again, initiative profiteer Tim Eyman has made a costly mistake, printing up thousands of petitions for Initiative 917 that are invalid under state law, Permanent Defense has learned.

The news was first reported by MajorityRules.org, a citizen action organization which shares Permanent Defense’s mission of fighting Tim Eyman and his anti-tax initiatives, working for real tax reform in Washington State, and promoting the value of public services.

Eyman carelessly forgot about (or ignored) a new state law that requires initiative petitions to include an oath that must be signed by the signature gatherer who circulated the petitions.

The oath affirms that the person who circulated the petition followed state law and did not bribe voters or forge their signatures.

The Secretary of State has announced that petitions that are out of compliance with the law will be rejected – which apparently means all of the original petitions Eyman printed up for Initiative 917 are worthless and won’t count.

But that’s not what Eyman told his supporters. In a letter this month, Eyman blatantly lied, assuring his supporters that the old petitions are “still good and acceptable” when in fact they’re not.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this is not the first time Eyman has made such a costly mistake printing up petitions for an initiative. In 2003, MajorityRules reported that Eyman had failed to correctly print the initiative text on the reverse side of the petition as required by law.

Eyman sent out new petitions late in the signature drive, but never got enough new signatures on the valid petitions. Eyman lied to his supporters then as well, telling them it was OK to send in their petitions and failing to admit his error.

“You can’t trust anything Eyman says,” said Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve. “He lies to the voters, he lies to the press, and he lies to his own supporters. He should not be taken seriously by anyone.”

“When Eyman fails or makes a significant mistake like this, he never admits it,” Villeneuve added. “Eyman refuses to talk about his failures. He doesn’t even acknowledge them. He seems to live in his own fantasy world.”

It will be interesting to see how Eyman will attempt to spin himself out of this one. He’s been caught explicitly lying to his supporters. Since the original petitions for Initiative 917 do not include the required declaration and the petitioner’s signed oath, they will be rejected by the Secretary of State. The original petitions are clearly not “still good and acceptable.”

“Eyman, just like his initiatives, is careless and reckless,” Villeneuve said. “He has taken money from his own supporters for personal profit and lied about it. He has routinely run afoul of the public disclosure laws. He continually distorts the facts and gives the public false information.”

“This guy would be out of business right now if it wasn’t for special interest money,” Villeneuve noted. “His last two initiatives were financed by a multimillionaire and the gambling industry.”

We wonder if Tim Eyman has told his wealthy backer, Michael Dunmire, about his costly mistake.

“Did Eyman go to Dunmire and admit that he made this mistake – or is Eyman lying to Dunmire too?” asked Villeneuve. “Either way, he has wasted a large amount of money on a serious oversight.”

Permanent Defense responds to Eyman’s latest assault on transportation infrastructure

Statements & Advisories

Permanent Defense responded this morning to the filing of Tim Eyman’s new initiative to gut transportation funding with a promise to fight the initiative and the service cuts it represents from today until the initiative is defeated.

The voters of Washington State are sick and tired of Tim Eyman and his cohorts attempting to tear down what the Legislature and the people are trying to build.

“We have a transportation crisis in this state. If we are not going to act, then our infrastructure is going to collapse. This new initiative will repeal funds that have specifically been earmarked to repair threatened infrastructure,” said Permanent Defense Chair Andrew Villeneuve.

The initiative, according to an estimate by the state Department of Transportation, will cut some $2.5 billion over 16 years. It will practically wipe out the state’s multimodal funding account, which pays for dozens of transportation projects – including rail projects.

The initiative will destroy funding for Amtrak Cascades, freight mobility programs, and it cuts off grant money for local transportation projects – projects that are being undertaken by cities and counties across the state.

“There is nothing funny about collapsing viaducts, hazardous bridges, and rail lines in need of repair,” said Villeneuve. “We can’t have services and not pay for them. If we do not invest in transportation, we, the people of Washington State, are going to suffer mightily in the coming months and years.”

“Eyman is disrespecting the will of the voters. Voters said ‘NO’ to Initiative 912 last November and ‘YES’ to investing in transportation. That decision is being ignored, and now transportation funding is under assault yet again.”

Permanent Defense will very soon be releasing more information about the consequences of this new initiative through its website, including a sampling of projects that will be axed if the initiative passes. Citizens across Washington State are prepared to work together once again to ensure that people know the truth about this proposal and the cuts that will come with it.

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Victory: I-976 struck down!

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Permanent Defense works to protect Washington by building a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of the Evergreen State — like Tim Eyman's initiative factory. Learn more.

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