Tag Archives: I-917

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.

Victory! Four for four against right wing initiatives in 2006

Election Postmortem

Yesterday, Permanent Defense won an astoundingly incredible victory that can hardly be described in words. It was historic, it was monumental, it was titanic in size and scope. It was in almost every respect a complete rout of the regressive right wing agenda and a victory for progressives and Democrats.

Anti-tax zealots are reeling after the massive rejection of Initiative 920 (which would have repealed millions of dollars for public schools) and the approval of additional revenue increases to pay for more bus service in King County and infrastructure improvements in Seattle.

And the right wing’s out-of-state funded Initiative 933 is, without a doubt, completely dead as well. Voters across Washington State said “no thanks” to jeopardizing land use protections that preserve the quality of life in our communities.

Meanwhile, Initiative 937, which will help secure our clean, green energy future, has passed. We swept the initiatives this year and gave the other guys a sound beating they won’t soon forget.

On the federal and state levels, Democrats swept to victory on a blue tidal wave that washed across America and splashed into every region in the country.

There are now more Democrats in both houses of our own state Legislature, which is very exciting news. In the upcoming legislative sessions we will be working closely with many of the newly elected legislators to fight for tax reform and a fairer tax structure.

These victories all come on top of Tim Eyman’s earlier failures to qualify Referendum 65 and Initiative 917 for the ballot. Eyman is mired in a losing streak which we have helped make possible. His losses this year top earlier defeats in previous years such as I-864, I-892, I-807, and I-267.

He is a powerless ideologue — and Washington State has had enough of him.

Eyman, who attended the Republicans’ election night party in Bellevue, was forced to concede that his ideology had suffered a major repudiation, calling the series of losses “brutal.”

Eyman today told his supporters they need to “fight back with an aggressive proposal” in 2007 and whined about Christine Gregoire and the Legislature’s revenue increases from recent legislative sessions. Of course, he failed to note that the taxes were sanctioned by voters with the rejection of I-912 (keep the gas tax) and I-920 (keep the estate tax).

Voters are not interested in gutting public services to reward wealthy Washingtonians with tax cuts.

We will continue to vigorously oppose Tim Eyman and defeat him, as we have this year and in the past. Our organization is stronger than it has ever been.

With your help and your support we will stand strong against right wing initiatives in 2007 and in the years beyond.

If Tim Eyman had one ounce of compassion…

Rethinking and Reframing

If Tim Eyman had one ounce of compassion for his fellow Washingtonians, he’d see that his initiatives are not only unnecessary, but harmful. Most of Mr. Eyman’s initiatives have destroyed critical revenue for public services. Reductions in public services are bad for taxpayers and bad for the economy.

The truth is that Tim really doesn’t care about anyone but himself. His whole operation is self-serving. His fundraising appeals should read, “Please donate to Help Us Help Ourselves”.

Mr. Eyman’s strategy is simple. Always talk about the cost to taxpayers. The pocketbook. The family budget. NEVER talk about the consequences. “Politician” is Mr. Eyman’s code word for some evil person who doesn’t care about their constituents and serves only special interests.

Ironically, Mr. Eyman seems to have forgotten that he’s a politician, too. And even more ironic: Tim is a very-well paid politician who is not only unelected, but gets money (a lot of money) from gambling companies and millionaires.

But the people Mr. Eyman is attacking – our state legislators and our Governor – aren’t evil. They’re courageous. Most are intelligent, decent people who care deeply about their communities and their state. They care enough to run for public office and serve the people. They have an interest in good, efficient government.

Most are familiar with mathematics and logic (which Mr. Eyman is not) and understand that it costs money to operate a government. It also costs money for good roads and transportation. Therefore, they have made a decision to make an investment in our future.

Tim Eyman is the last person to give anyone a lecture about compassion. It doesn’t appear he understands what compassion really is. In fact, it doesn’t seem Mr. Eyman understands much of anything. If he does, he doesn’t show it.

The news media must take care to explain not just the cost of something to its readers, viewers, and listeners – but also the consequences. If we cut revenue from our budget, public services will undoubtedly be affected. The electorate must know and understand this in order to make an informed decision on Election Day.

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.

Seattle Chamber of Commerce votes to oppose I-917

Endorsements

The Executive Committee of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce recently voted (on May 24th, 2006) to oppose Tim Eyman’s Initiative 917, which would destroy some $2.7 billion dollars of sorely needed, statewide transportation funding.

Recommendation
The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce unanimously opposes Initiative 917 (I-917), an initiative which will likely be before voters in November 2006. This initiative’s negative impact is far-reaching, threatening our region’s social and environmental health as well as its economic health. It would repeal the fee portion of last year’s $8.5 billion Transportation Partnership funding package, repeal much of the multi-modal funding allotted in the 2003 Nickel package, undercut Sound Transit’s ability to collect MVET, and strip RTID of its MVET authority, making it almost exclusively reliant on the sales tax and jeopardizing its ability to craft a balanced and successful package that would complete our region’s most at-risk projects. If approved by voters, the Transportation Revenue Forecast Council estimates that transportation revenue would be reduced by $2.7 billion over the next 16 years.

Background
Last year, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce helped lead a broad coalition of business, labor and environmental organizations to lobby the state legislature for a significant increase in transportation funding. The $8.5 billion transportation funding package that resulted was the Chamber’s number one legislative priority accomplished during that session. The package addresses unsafe and deteriorating roads and bridges throughout Washington State, and provides the multimodal infrastructure improvements that will ensure the safety and productivity of our state’s businesses and their employees. On July 13, 2005, the Chamber’s Board of Trustees opposed Initiative 912 which would have repealed the gas tax portion of that package. The Chamber played a central role in the campaign that successfully defeated Initiative 912. Initiative 917 would repeal the fee portion of this package as well as reduce other local revenues and funding options. Discussion Initiative 917 specifically: Reduces license tab fees to $30 per year for vehicles weighing 20,000 pounds or less. Repeals or reduces a number of fees including truck fees, vehicle weight fees & license plate fees. Removes a portion of the motor vehicle sales tax. Changes the vehicle valuation method for tax and fee purposes from manufacturer’s suggested retail price to a depreciation schedule based on purchase price. Repeals select local and RTID motor vehicle taxes and fees authorized for voter approval. Retires several outstanding bonds that have pledged the motor vehicle excise tax. Places major transportation improvements at risk, including: Viaduct, SR520, Sound Transit, and RTID.

Conclusion
The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce believes our region’s future economic health and the well-being of our communities is fundamentally linked to an efficient transportation infrastructure. The abilityto move people and goods through mass transportation and road improvements must be enhanced in ourregion to improve our economic vitality and quality of life. In addition, hundreds of hazardous bridges and roadways in Washington are in need of repair including the Alaskan Way Viaduct. This initiative would repeal critical transportation funding, therefore the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce opposes Initiative 917.

WSLC endorses NO on Initiative 917

Endorsements

Hundreds of union delegates from aross Washington gathered in SeaTac just last Saturday for the Washington State Labor Council’s (WSLC) 2006 Convention of the Committee on Political Education (COPE). Delegates voted to endorse NO on Initiative 917 and DECLINE TO SIGN on Referendum 65.

Delegates also endorsed NO on Initiative 933, the initiative that creates loopholes for wealthy developers, and Initiative 920, which would repeal the state income tax. It’s good to see the WSLC take an early position against this year’s crop of right wing initiatives.

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.”

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