Category Archives: Threat Analysis

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

Rethinking and ReframingThreat Analysis

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

It’s a must-read:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Initiative 776 (passed in 2002, partially upheld in 2003): Repealed the local motor vehicle excise tax collected by King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Douglas counties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The fact is, it is true that I made money in past campaigns and planned to make money on future campaigns,” Eyman told Ammons in a rambling confession. “This entire charade was set up so I could maintain a moral superiority over our opposition, so I could say our opponents make money from politics and I don’t.”

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

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

But that was not enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington State Democratic Party takes position opposing Eyman’s I-976

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign TrailThreat Analysis

Good news: The Washington State Democratic Party has formally declared its opposition to Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to wipe out transit funding at the state, regional, and local level. The party yesterday went on record against I-976 at its autumn meeting in Spokane.

The motion unanimously adopted by the party’s governing central committee — which consists principally of two individuals from each county and two individuals from each legislative district in the state — reads as follows:

RESOLVED: That the Washington State Democratic Party take a position opposing Tim Eyman’s I-976, an initiative to the Legislature for 2019, which seeks to wipe out funding for Amtrak Cascades and Sound Transit 3 plus transit service and multimodal projects at the city level, and urges all Washingtonians to decline to sign if approached by a petitioner.

I-976 is Eyman’s fourth attempt in three years to gut voter-approved transit projects he’s obsessed with destroying, chiefly Sound Transit’s Link light rail expansion. However, Eyman’s I-976 wouldn’t just hurt Sound Transit. It would also rip away funding for sidewalks, road improvements, and bus service at the city level. The state’s largest cities (Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma) all utilize vehicle fees for transportation improvements within their boundaries, and so do small cities like East Wenatchee and Clarkston.

Eyman has until January 4th, 2019 to collect and turn in signatures for the measure. NPI expects it to qualify and is working to ensure that it goes down to defeat should it appear before voters in October/November of 2019.

Tim Eyman fails to qualify an initiative to the ballot for the third consecutive year

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

This Friday, July 6th, is the deadline to submit signatures for initiatives to the people for 2018. For the third consecutive year, Tim Eyman won’t have any petitions to turn in, which means that Washingtonians will again be spared in November from having to vote on another destructive scheme cooked up by the lawbreaking initiative promoter.

Keep reading

Western students sound the alarm about I-976 in guest editorial

From the Campaign TrailThreat Analysis

If you’re approached by a petitioner hawking Tim Eyman’s I-976, decline to sign!

NPI’s Permanent Defense has been sounding the alarm over Eyman’s latest attempt to wipe out transit funding for several weeks now. Today, we got a boost from Western students Giovanna Orecchio, Anna Kemper and Rosa Rice-Pelepko, who wrote a guest editorial echoing that call to action for the Associated Students Review:

I-976 is the brainchild of conservative anti-tax activist Tim Eyman. Eyman makes his living off filing ballot initiatives, and is hardly the guy from whom we should take public policy advice. This year, he’s decided to gut the prime source of funding for the biggest public infrastructure project in the state: light rail.

Sound Transit 3 (light rail) gets most of its funding from car tab fees which are calculated based on the value of your car. If you drive a fancy new Mercedes, you pay more. If you drive a 2003 used Honda Civic, you pay less. All in all, it’s a decently equitable system. Instead, I-976 would make everyone pay a regressive flat fee of $30.

At the end of the day, I-976 will cut car tab fees for people with fancy cars and slash funding for our light rail expansion. That’s not fair, not smart, and not what we voted for. We encourage you to stand up for jobs, mass transit, and the will of the voters: don’t sign I-976!

A big thanks to Giovanna, Anna, and Rosa. We appreciate your efforts to educate your fellow Washingtonians about the grave threat this initiative represents to our communities. It is important to note that I-976 would also destroy funding for Amtrak Cascades, local bus service, and transportation projects at the city level in dozens of cities across the state.

We’re ready to go to bat again to stop Tim Eyman’s I-976 and defend our voter-approved transit projects

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

The freedom to travel light is a beautiful thing

Freedom of mobility — the freedom to travel light — is a beautiful thing.

More people need that freedom.

But if Tim Eyman succeeds with his fourth attempt in three years to eviscerate funding for Sound Transit, Amtrak Cascades, Metro bus service, and local transportation benefit districts around Washington State, sorely needed efforts to make freedom of mobility a reality for millions of Washingtonians a reality will be gravely harmed.

That’s why we’re springing into action to defeat Tim Eyman’s I-976, which Eyman filed last month and claimed he has money to pursue today. In the coming weeks, we will do everything we can to mobilize a coalition to successfully defend the multimodal transportation investments we’ve committed to.

For over sixteen years, Permanent Defense has worked in partnership with like-minded Washingtonians to safeguard the future of transit. That work continues in 2018.

When PD started in 2002, Washington’s largest urban center barely had any rail transit. Today, we have the Tacoma Link Streetcar, two Seattle Streetcar lines, a Sounder North commuter line, an expanded Sounder South commuter line reaching all the way to Lakewood, and a growing Link light rail spine consisting of sixteen stations, with three more due in 2021 and over a dozen due in 2023. In many communities, we also have expanded bus service, more bike lanes and bike paths, and additional sidewalks.

Washington State as a whole, meanwhile, has expanded Amtrak Cascades and given cities and counties tools for funding the transit and local road improvements they need… tools like transportation benefit districts, or TBDs.

All of these investments are now threatened by Tim Eyman and whichever wealthy benefactor has been so foolish as to give Eyman half a million dollars to do I-976.

This threat deserves to be met with immediate, vigorous opposition — and it will be.

To all Washingtonians who understand that a people-oriented transportation system can’t just be about more pavement for more cars, we invite you to join us.

How can you help? For starters, make a donation to Permanent Defense PAC, or sign up to receive NO on I-976 updates from Permanent Defense. By getting involved, you can be a part of protecting freedom of mobility in Washington State.

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.

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.

Keep reading

Right wing blocked once again from hijacking the local initiative power to attack immigrants

In the CourtsStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Today, King County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Berns issued a preliminary injunction blocking a malicious right wing initiative from the November 2017 ballot in Burien which sought to overturn a city ordinance that prohibits police and city employees from asking about a person’s immigration status or religious affiliation.

The initiative, spearheaded by a right wing group calling itself “Respect Washington”, which gathered enough signatures to force its repeal scheme before the city council of Burien. Given the choice of approving the initiative or sending it to voters, the council opted to refer it to the ballot. But now the mean-spirited measure has been stopped in its tracks thanks to a timely ruling from Judge Berns. King County Elections is now in the process of preparing new ballots for Burien voters that do not include the initiative.

“Respect Washington” had tried to get a similar measure on the ballot in Spokane, only to be thwarted last month. The group’s loss in court today is its second such defeat.

Prior to targeting local jurisdictions like Spokane and Burien, “Respect Washington” had attempted for several years in a row to qualify an anti-immigrant scheme to the statewide ballot, but each effort by the group to mount a statewide signature drive ended in failure.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve praised Berns’ decision, noting that “Respect Washington” ironically failed to respect the limits of the local initiative power, which are spelled out in state law.

“For years, Washington’s right wing has repeatedly sought to undermine the representative government our founders gave us by hijacking the initiative process to force public votes on schemes intended to defund our public services and destroy protections for working families, the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants,” said Villeneuve. “But progressives have been fighting back at both the state and local level to uphold Washington values, our Constitution, and our laws. And we’re winning.”

“For the second year in a row, there are no right wing measures on our statewide ballot, and efforts to attack immigrants have been blocked in Spokane as well as Burien.”

“The team at NPI extends our most profound thanks to Burien Communities for Inclusion and their attorneys at Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP for successfully challenging this mean-spirited measure. While their lawsuit isn’t over, it’s good to know that this initiative will not be appearing on the ballot in Burien this November.”

  • 1
  • 2
  • 9

You are here:

No on Tim Eyman's I-976

Help defend transit: Sign up for NO on I-976 campaign updates

What we do

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.

Protecting Washington Since 2002

We’re social

Follow Permanent Defense on Facebook and Twitter for campaign and project updates.

Permanent Defense on Facebook Permanent Defense on Twitter

Newsroom Archives