December 8th, 2006
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.