Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tim Eyman countersues State of Washington, claims he’s not guilty and is being persecuted

Disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman has at last filed an answer to the State of Washington’s lawsuit against him and his associates — and it’s a doozy.

In a ten page pleading filed today with Thurston County Superior Court, Eyman asserted through his lawyer Mark Lamb that he hasn’t done anything wrong and is being persecuted — unconstitutionally — by Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office. Accordingly, Eyman is countersuing and requesting declaratory judgment finding that the relief sought by the state violates his constitutional rights.

Besides a dismissal of the state’s suit, Eyman also wants an injunction barring the state from seeking or imposing its own previously requested injunction blocking him from engaging in future financial manipulations.

And he wants the state to pay Lamb’s attorney’s fees, too.

Ferguson’s office had no immediate comment on the pleading. But judging by this answer and its counterclaims, it seems that we are headed for a trial.

Whether that trial will take place in Thurston County, where the state filed its lawsuit, remains to be seen, as Eyman is objecting to the venue.

It’s true Eyman doesn’t live in Thurston County. But Eyman is in Thurston County frequently and has actually filed his own actions in Thurston County Superior Court representing himself. We imagine that Eyman is only contending that Thurston County is an inconvenient, inappropriate venue for this suit because he wants to continue to delay a potential judgment against him for as long as possible.

Fifteen years ago, when then-Attorney General Chris Gregoire sued Eyman for concealing payments to himself and failing to file truthful reports, Eyman’s attorney negotiated a settlement, in which Eyman agreed to never again to serve as a campaign treasurer. The settlement was announced in July of 2002.

This time, though, Eyman wants to play hardball and drag everything out.

He’s up against a very tough opponent in Ferguson.

Having successfully taken on defendants like Donald Trump and the Grocery Manufacturers Association in the courts, Ferguson is unlikely to back down. And that’s a good thing, because Eyman’s conduct has been atrocious.

Eyman has repeatedly refused to clean up his act despite having been given many opportunities to do so. He’s clearly not sorry for his behavior. It is vital that he be held accountable for his repeated lawbreaking by the courts.

Most of the answer Eyman submitted to the court consists of statements admitting to basic facts while denying all allegations of wrongdoing.

Eyman’s attorney Mark Lamb states in this pleading that Eyman and his limited liability company (“Watchdog For Taxpayers”) will present a number of counterclaims and affirmative defenses. These are, in their words:

  • Fault of a nonparty.
  • Statute of limitations.
  • Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
  • Unclean hands.
  • Equitable Estoppel.
  • Plaintiff’s claims violate the Defendant’s right to equal protection under the laws as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • Plaintiff brings this suit in violation of the First Amendment to the United
    States Constitution and Article I Section 5 of the Washington State Constitution by asserting a vague and ambiguous interpretation of RCW 42.17A (including but not limited to 42.17A.445) which does not apply to Defendant’s conduct in this case.
  • The relief sought by Plaintiff violates the Defendants’ rights under Article 1 Section 4 & Article II Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution which enshrines the right of the people to petition and reserves for the citizens of this state the power of initiative.
  • The relief sought by Plaintiff violates the Defendants’ rights under the First
    Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I Section 5 of the Washington State Constitution which grants the citizens of this state the right to freely speak, write and publish on all subjects.

“Defendant reserves the right to assert additional Affirmative Defenses as the facts and circumstances of Plaintiff’s Complaint are more fully determined through discovery,” the pleading adds.

The other defendants in the suit — William Agazarm and Citizen Solutions — have yet to file an answer to the state’s lawsuit. In the past, they have also been represented by Mark Lamb, but it’s possible they have now retained their own counsel.

Look for more analysis from NPI regarding this case in the days to come.

Lynn Allen Award honoree Paul Lawrence: We need a resurgence of progressive activism

Editor’s Note: Three weeks ago, NPI presented Pacifica Law Group senior litigation partner Paul Lawrence with one of the first Lynn Allen Awards at our 2017 Spring Fundraising Gala. Paul’s commendation reads:

A formidable attorney specializing in complex appellate and civil litigation, Paul Lawrence has ably represented public servants and working families in our courts for more than thirty years. During a five year stretch ranging from 2011 to 2016, Paul skillfully secured a series of landmark verdicts against a crop of right wing initiatives that gravely threatened Washington’s future. Prior to those cases, Paul defended Sound Transit against multiple lawsuits intended to weaken or destroy it. His mastery of constitutional law and sound trial strategy have repeatedly led to crucial victories for progressive causes.

Below is the text of Paul’s acceptance speech. We are pleased to be able to share Paul’s remarks with those of you who couldn’t be at the event. Enjoy! 

Thank you to Andrew, the Northwest Progressive Institute and its partner organizations; it is an honor to be recognized by people and organizations so focused on improving our community.

I want to note it is a special honor to share the stage with Joni Earl – I have worked for Sound Transit since its inception – representing it in many of its bet the Agency Litigation – including successfully fighting Tim Eyman’s Initiative 776’s effort to cut back the MVET voted by the people to support Phase One of Sound Transit’s plan [Sound Move, approved in November 1996].

Paul Lawrence and Joni Earl

Paul Lawrence and Joni Earl with their Lynn Allen Awards (Photo: Lincoln Potter/Samaya LLC for the Northwest Progressive Institute)

Working with Joni Earl and Sound Transit is emblematic of the partnership between my law firm and many of the public agencies that are so important to the quality of life in our community.

It is fitting this gala takes place on the one hundredth day of the Trump presidency. It is a strong reminder that NPI’s progressive activism is especially needed at this time and an equally strong reminder of the need for all of us to be part-time activists.

Being a part-time activist is a concept that I learned from one of the leaders of the first law firm I worked at here in Seattle: Preston Thorgrimson Ellis & Holman. That firm leader was Jim Ellis. He was an inspiration. I know that some of you in this room know about Jim Ellis. But I imagine that many of you do not.

Jim was a municipal bond lawyer; he never held public office, never headed a major corporation, and was never rich.

Yet, as a citizen activist for more than half a century, he left a bigger footprint on Seattle and King County than perhaps any other single individual.”

He was a leader in the campaigns to clean up Lake Washington; to finance mass transit, parks, pools, and other public facilities through “Forward Thrust” bonds; to preserve farmlands; and to establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway along the I-90 corridor.

The concept of a part-time activist stems from the reality and importance of the commitments each of us have to our families and to our colleagues at work.

Those commitments can take up more than full-time, but we also have a responsibility to the community and we fulfill that community commitment by being part-time activists.

Being a part-time activist is not a solo activity. It is a result of being in a family that is supportive (thanks to my wife Cynthia Jones for that support!). Iit is a result of working with colleagues who are supportive – thanks to my colleagues at Pacifica Law Group – which was started by former members of the Preston Firm in part to carry out Jim Ellis’s vision of combining a law practice with civic work.

Being a part-time activist requires a vision.

As Jim Ellis said: “Try to imagine a future picture of your best hopes. This motivating vision should be thought through carefully and believed in deeply. It needs to interest and challenge you enough to sustain your effort over time.”

My vision was born of the civil rights struggles I observed as a child and the role of lawyers in that struggle and then expanded when I moved here in the 1980s to helping the community grow right and preserve and enhance its history of progressive values. Being a part-time Activist requires persistence and patience. The effort to overturn Eyman’s two-thirds tax initiatives took over twenty years.

Being a part-time activist requires a depth of commitment to fight hard, to fight well and to bring your best to the effort.

The satisfactions from being a part-time activist are great: to help with litigation to defeat destructive initiatives filed by Tim Eyman; to help to preserve the Pike Place Market and our public school system; to support the growth of Sound Transit; to help preserve civil rights and civil liberties through work with the ACLU, all have been rewarding enough without any additional recognition.

This award is appreciated, but truly one to be shared with my family, my colleagues at work and partners such as the Northwest Progressive Institute.

In closing, I would observe that now more than ever is a time to lead a resurgence of civic life by all of us serving as part-time activists.

As Robert Kennedy, another inspiration for me, said: “Each time a [person] stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Here’s to all of us being part-time activists.

45th LD Republican candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund backs Trump: “He is our president”

Over the course of the next few months, Senate Republicans and their financial backers will be spending a fortune desperately trying to save their majority by attempting to whip up anti-tax fervor in Washington’s 45th District, where they must win in November or else be forced to hand over power to the Democrats.

Senate Republicans are gambling they can prevail in the special election with Jinyoung Lee Englund, a thirty-two year old Republican operative who only moved into the district a week prior to announcing her candidacy. Republicans have instructed Englund to run hard against taxes and position herself as opposed to “Seattle style politicians” — whatever that’s supposed to mean.

Englund has hewed to those instructions in her social media postings and paid advertisements. But, in an appearance this week on Dori Monson’s show on KIRO, she was asked by her sympathetic host how she is going to respond when Democrats come after her as a supporter of Donald Trump.

At first, Englund deflected the question by declaring that the Eastside is home to voters who are independent thinkers, but when pressed by Dori Monson to respond (“How do you feel about the President, since they’re going to try so mightily to tie you to him?” Monson asked), she went off script and said:

JINYOUNG LEE ENGLUND: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, he is our president. And I don’t know if a lot of people know, but my husband, he’s an active duty Marine. And President Trump is his Commander in Chief. And I was always taught, you know, you respect your elders, and you respect the people who are in leadership. And I really respect the way that President Trump and his administration… they’re for a strong military, and they’re also for military families.

It’s hard to imagine these comments being received well in the 45th District, which overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton last November. The last thing most voters around here want is a senator who admires Donald Trump.

Englund could have responded to Dori Monson’s question by saying she doesn’t like how Trump treats people of color, Muslims, or Americans with disabilities.

She could have talked about how, as a woman, she finds Trump’s horrific, degrading views towards women offensive and repulsive.

She could have said she’s proud of Washington State for challenging Trump’s many overreaches — like his unconstitutional executive orders.

But she didn’t say any of those things, because she is not the independent thinker she claims to be. She is a loyal soldier for her party, and like Susan Hutchison, she has fully embraced Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s destructive, toxic politics.

In the span of thirty seconds, she gave the Democratic Party exactly the sound bite that it was looking for. Now, at any point down the road, if anyone complains that Democrats are being unfair to Englund by trying to tie her to Trump, they can simply play back the audio from this interview with Dori Monson.

It’s quite evident from Englund’s answer that she has fully accepted Trump as the leader of her party and the leader of her country, unlike the district she seeks to represent. She has bought into the Trump mythos — she’s a true believer.

Again, it’s hard to imagine these comments being received well in the 45th.

The 45th has been considered to be a swing district for many cycles, but it is now on the verge of becoming a Democratic district like its neighbor to the west (the 48th), where Republicans don’t even bother to recruit candidates for the Legislature anymore. Republicans know the 45th is changing, demographically and politically, and that it could soon cease to be a district where they can win.

They are desperate to cling to power. And while winning is what matters to them most, they’d prefer a successor to Rossi who is dependable. Someone who can be counted on to supply a vote in any situation. Someone who will happily continue the grand old Eastside Republican tradition of enabling extremism.

They’ve bet the farm, so to speak, on Englund, a millennial candidate who is making her first run for office. Englund is a protege of Dino Rossi, who served two terms in the Washington State Senate from the neighboring 5th District prior to making three failed bids for statewide office (in 2004, 2008, and 2010).

In the last ten years, only one Republican candidate for the Legislature has won in the 45th: Andy Hill, who died last year and has been succeeded by Rossi. Both of Hill’s winning campaigns came in years where Republicans enjoyed a nice tailwind (2010 and 2014). They’re not going to have such a tailwind this year.

And while Englund will not lack access to money (Rossi and Senate Republicans will see to it that her campaign coffers are flush with cash), she does not have Andy Hill’s community ties or roots in the district. Hill was a committed parishioner of St. Jude Catholic Church in Redmond and an active coach and parent in the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association. Englund is an unknown.

Englund’s lack of familiarity with the district was on display earlier in the interview with Monson, when she amusingly described her entry into the race as having been prompted by Dino Rossi’s decision “not to run again”.

Englund either doesn’t know or forgot that Rossi is only an appointed senator — voters in the 45th never sent him to Olympia to represent them.

Rossi is in the Senate because he was nominated by the King County Republican Central Committee and appointed by the King County Council to represent the 45th District until an election could be held to fill the vacancy caused by Hill’s death.

Rossi has said from the outset he would only serve as a caretaker and would not be a candidate in the special election this year.

Rossi got the nod over the two other Republicans nominated in part because of his Senate “experience”. As noted, he represented the neighboring 5th Legislative District in the Senate from 1997 until 2004, when he lived there.

Rossi vacated his Senate seat in 2004 to run for governor… twice. After failing to defeat Chris Gregoire, he challenged Patty Murray, and lost again.

Rossi briefly went back into the Senate in 2012 as an appointee, taking the place of his own successor Cheryl Pflug following her resignation five years ago.

Later that year, voters elected Democrat Mark Mullet as their next Senator, and Mullet has held the position ever since. Rossi is once again an appointed Senator owing to the tragic death of Andy Hill, only this time in a different district.

In less than six months, Rossi could again find himself making way for a rising Democratic star. If voters in the 45th elect Manka Dhingra to be their next senator,  and if voters in the 48th send Patty Kuderer back to the Senate the Eastside would have a quartet of Democatic senators for the first time in history — and three of them would be women.

Voters in the 41st last year opted to dump Republican incumbent Steve Litzow in favor of Democratic challenger Lisa Wellman, even though Litzow went to every extent possible to paint himself as an anti-Trump, reasonable Republican who gets along great with Democrats. Litzow spent enormous sums trying to hold his seat, and even created flyers implying he was supported by Democratic representatives Judy Clibborn and Tana Senn. It didn’t work. He went down to defeat.

Democrats have once again coalesced behind a promising woman candidate in their quest for a Senate majority, and Republicans have responded by making a big, bold, bet on Jinyoung Lee Englund. It’s hard to fathom how Englund is going to succeed where Litzow couldn’t, considering she’s an avowed supporter of Donald Trump and has no connection to voters in the 45th.

One-on-one with Tom Perez: DNC Chair talks to NPI about rebuilding the Democratic Party

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez paid a visit to the Pacific Northwest, stopping in Seattle to keynote Dow Constantine’s annual Filing Week luncheon and headline an event for the Washington State Democrats on Beacon Hill. Prior to that event, Chairman Perez kindly sat down for a few minutes to talk to NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve (a member of the Washington State Democratic Central Committee) about the work the Democratic Party is doing to recover from the catastrophic 2016 presidential election. The following is a transcript of that conversation. 

Tom Perez speaking at an event for the Washington State Democrats

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez speaks at an event for the Washington State Democrats (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

NPI’S ANDREW VILLENEUVE: It’s good to see you. I caught your press conference earlier at the Westin. I guess the main thing I’ve been wanting to ask you — because I’ve been following your campaign, your work with Keith, doing the Democrats Live, and all those good things — [is] what do you think the party needs to do to get back into the good graces of rural voters?

What issues do we need to run on to appeal to them?

TOM PEREZ: First of all, we need to be physically present, okay? And we have to make house calls everywhere and [have a] every zip code strategy. We have to speak to people’s hopes, fears, and dreams. I’ve spent a lot of time in rural America, and folks want economic opportunity for themselves and for their family.

They want economic security. They want to make sure that the American dream is available to them, that they don’t have to watch their children go off and move hundreds of miles away. That’s often the lament of today’s generation. They want to make sure that we’re addressing the issues that are front and center.

I mean, the opioid epidemic touches every zip code across America, but there are rural pockets where it’s been decimating. When we lead with our values, as the Democratic Party, and when we’re physically present fighting for folks… we don’t win every fight. But when folks know that we’re on their side, fighting for fair wages, fighting for good jobs, fighting to make sure that the health clinic that the Republicans are trying to close because they’re engaged in this absolutely asinine effort to repeal the [Patient Protection and] Affordable Care Act that would decimate rural America, that’s why we’re there.

ANDREW VILLENEUVE: Thanks, and with respect to the framing of issues, can you give a couple of examples of how you’d like to see Democrats go on offense as opposed to play defense — where the Republicans come after us and then we defend things that we might have done in the past, like the Patient Protection Act?

TOM PEREZ: Well, I think when we talk about what we stand for, we stand for good jobs, right? We stand for pathways to middle class opportunity for everyone. We stand for healthcare security for everyone and we’re proud of it.

We want to expand coverage for people. We don’t want to make it harder for people to get coverage. And I think one of the gifts — strike that word — one of the aspects of Donald Trump’s presidency is it has enabled us, in very clear terms, to tell people the differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Because I’ve heard from a lot of people, “I don’t know the differences anymore.” I think people are starting to see the differences very starkly, because they see a president who wants to cut access to healthcare; the Democrats want to expand access to healthcare. We want to make sure we’re investing in education, and they have a budget that cuts funding for education. We want to retain those rural hospitals and clinics and they have a budget that would cut that. So, I think when we’re leading, again, specifically with our values and what we’re fighting for, and we’re clear about it, and we’re present in every community, that’s how we succeed.

ANDREW VILLENEUVE: Excellent. Well, I think it’s imperative that we retake on the states we lost in 2016. And I’m just curious, in closing, if you have any thoughts about how we do that. I mean, we lost in Michigan, Wisconsin. I know that there was some voter suppression going on there that hurt, but what is the plan to get those states back into the Democratic fold?

TOM PEREZ: The plan is, first of all, getting back to the basics: having a twelve month-a-year organizing presence so we’re talking to everybody.

You can’t show up at a church every fourth [Sunday in] October and call that an organizing strategy. That’s step number one.

Having all of the building blocks of a strong organization, not just organizing, but making sure that when you recruit candidates, you can train candidates.

Making sure that we have a voter file that is state of the art and enables organizers to be efficient. Making sure that we have effective partnerships, because success is about building strong parties and building strong partnerships with our friends in labor, with Planned Parenthood, with faith communities, and other key stakeholders in the community. And all too frequently, we’ve been bowling alone, and we need to be part of a very strong partnership.

And, then making sure we have a clear message, a message of optimism, of opportunity, a message that’s based on facts — not lying to people.

ANDREW VILLENEUVE: And science?

TOM PEREZ: Science matters! And facts matter. And healthcare matters. And education matters. We need a Secretary of Education, for instance, that believes in public education. That would be nice.

I think when we do all these things, I’m convinced that none of these challenges, and the challenges are undeniably significant, but they’re all fixable. I see the energy out there — and one of our basic challenges is to take this almost unprecedented energy and activism, and translate it into results at the ballot box.

ANDREW VILLENEUVE: So maybe through ballot measures?

TOM PEREZ: That’s one way.

And Washington State has led the way. Arizona, last cycle, had a ballot initiative on earned sick leave and minimum wage. And you see other ballot measures relating to climate and things of that nature. Washington State has a remarkable and rich tradition of citizen participation. And I think the rest of the nation can learn quite a bit from what Washington State has been able to do.

They have debunked the myth that if you raise the minimum wage, it’s a job killer. They’ve had among the highest minimum wages in the country for the last fifteen [to] twenty years, and job growth here has been among the best in the country. So Washington State is really… has exercised leadership.

The grassroots leadership is one of the reasons I came out here so often when I was the labor secretary. I wanted the nation to see that you can pay people a fair wage and still have a very solid business climate. You can treat your workers and your shareholders well. It’s not an “either/or”. You can build effective constitutional policing. That’s not an “either/or”. You can do these things….and you’ve shown it to the nation. That’s why… again, there’s a lot of leadership here, in action.

ANDREW VILLENEUVE:  Well, thank you so much for coming out here to the region. We appreciate your valuable time. We hope you’ll come back.

TOM PEREZ: My pleasure. Great. Early and often!

Today is a special election day in Oregon and Idaho — don’t forget to vote!

May 16th is the second day of Filing Week in Washington State, but in Oregon and Idaho, May 16th is a Special Election Day, with much at stake.

Readers, if you live in the Beaver State or the Gem State, it’s very, very important you exercise your civic duty today and vote.

Courtesy of the Multnomah County Elections Division, here are some important things to know if you’re an Oregon voter.

  • You can view your registration status at Oregon Votes. There you can check or update your voter registration or track your ballot.
  • Ballots were mailed beginning on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017. If you did not receive your ballot (and you live in Multnomah County), please call 503-988-3720 to request a replacement ballot.
  • Not all the candidates or measures in the Voters’ Pamphlet will be on your ballot. Your residence address determines those districts for which you may vote. Your official ballot will contain the candidates and issues which apply to your residence.
  • Not all candidates submitted information for the Voters’ Pamphlet so you may have candidates on your ballot that are not in the Voters’ Pamphlet.
  • Voted ballots MUST be received at any County elections office in Oregon or official drop site location by 8:00 PM, Tuesday, May 16, 2017 to be counted.

There are a lot of school board positions and local propositions on the ballot across Oregon. The outcome of these contests will determine what kind of leadership communities across the Beaver State will have.

It is too late to mail back a ballot in Oregon, but it’s not too late to vote. You can look up your nearest ballot drop box return location using this link.

And here’s a summary of the stakes in today’s election in Idaho, courtesy of Democratic State Representative (and House Democratic Leader) Mat Erpelding:

Depending on where you live, the May 16th elections will determine how Idaho moves forward.

Here are just a few of the major issues up for a vote tomorrow.

  • In Bonneville County, voters will determine if an Eastern Idaho Community College is created.
  • School bond and levy issues will dominate ballots across the state including in Soda Springs, Emmett, Cottonwood, Nezperce, and Hagerman.
  • School board member elections will determine who plans the future of education at the local level. Caldwell, Nampa, Coeur d’Alene, Lake Pend Oreille (Sandpoint) each have vitally important elections.
  • Highway Transportation Districts determine the future of our local transportation infrastructure including bike lanes, paving prerogatives, and new expansions. Canyon County (Canyon County Highway District, Golden Gate Highway District, etc.) Kootenai County (Lakes Highway District), and others have elections tomorrow.

If you’re an Idaho voter, find your polling place by following this link.

Could Washington see a November election with no statewide ballot measures? Possibly

We are now one third of the way through 2017, and politically speaking, it’s already turning out to be a very unusual year, thanks to the continued, destructive ascendancy of Donald Trump. As Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat explains in today’s edition of his semiweekly column, all politics seemingly now revolves around Trump, which was particularly true this past week with the politically-motivated dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.

That’s not to say that Trump permeates every discussion about every issue, just that it feels that way. Life is now imitating art; the daily happenings in the White House could pass for scenes from Netflix’s House of Cards or ABC’s Scandal.

In the wake of last year’s elections, America’s ratings-driven big media continue to cover and analyze Trump’s every move, now having the excuse that Trump is the president of the country, so everything he does is arguably “newsworthy”.

(Since Trump now dominates media coverage, the only escape is to shut off one’s screens and unplug… something I strongly recommend to every reader of this blog. The weather is warming up, and our public lands are beckoning to us. I highly recommend planning at least a few backpacking trips for this summer. Even if all you can manage are some day hikes, you won’t regret spending time in our region’s beautiful subalpine meadows, temperate rainforests, or sandy beaches.)

The unusual political landscape has produced equally unusual side effects. As Danny Westneat discovered, it looks like 2017 might be the first year in decades that Washington winds up with a November ballot with no statewide measures on it. Meaning, no initiatives, no referenda, no constitutional amendments. Nothing.

Noted Westneat:

Perennial initiative pusher Tim Eyman has a property-tax-cutting measure, but it appears stalled with very little money. Another measure, Initiative 1552, the bathroom bill to mandate separate restrooms by gender, had only raised $87,000 by the end of April. Both campaigns have until July to turn in more than 300,000 signatures. But at this late date it would likely take a sudden infusion of major cash, upward of half a million dollars or more, for that to happen.

“We are going to be Eyman-free for the second year in a row,” crowed Andrew Villeneuve, 30, a Redmond-based activist who has been opposing Eyman’s anti-tax and anti-transit efforts for 15 years (yes, since he was 15 years old).

Villeneuve, who as director of the Northwest Progressive Institute also tracks lefty causes, said there’s a strange void right now in state politics. The overwhelming spectacle and ongoing shock of the Trump presidency has distracted everybody.

“There just isn’t anything progressive in the works,” he said. “There’s a desire to take advantage of the anti-Trump momentum out there, but it’s directed more toward 2018.”

As I mentioned to Westneat during our conversation last week, another reason why there’s nothing progressive in the works for 2017 is that we just had a bumper crop of progressive initiatives on the ballot last year.

Voters approved initiatives to increase the minimum wage and require paid leave (I-1433, which recently survived a constitutional challenge), provide for extreme risk protection orders (I-1491), put Washington State on record in support of a federal constitutional amendment declaring that corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech (I-735), and exempt some information about in-home caregivers from being harvested by right wing stink tanks (I-1501).

Voters in Puget Sound also approved Sound Transit 3, which Republicans like Dino Rossi and Steve O’Ban are absolutely obsessed with undermining. (They’d rather attack Sound Transit than do the jobs they were elected to do — sad!)

Considering what’s happening at the federal level though, this is a year when there really should be progressive ideas on the ballot in Washington. Progressivism, after all, is about forward movement, and the only way to achieve progressive change is to stay on offense. But running successful statewide initiatives isn’t easy. It takes a lot of resources and a lot of organizing. It requires focus.

And it’s tough to focus right now, with all the uncertainty in the air.

Meanwhile, as mentioned, the other side is trying to reach the ballot, but is having grave difficulty. Tim Eyman’s initiative factory is idle, brought low by self-inflicted wounds. And the religious right can’t seem to muster the money to force unnecessary votes on the civil rights of other Washingtonians.

So here we are, looking at a 2017 ballot that could be devoid of any ballot measures… statewide ballot measures, that is. There will still be local propositions to vote on in jurisdictions around the state. But unless the Legislature puts some question before the people to decide, or adopts a budget that triggers an unconstitutional Eyman advisory vote push poll, this could be the first odd-year election since 1985 that is truly a local election, with no statewide ballot measures.

It’s a dead heat in British Columbia: Major parties tied for seats, BC Greens hold balance

Who will be the next Premier of British Columbia? That’s a question we still don’t know the answer to, despite polls having closed across Canada’s western-most province over three hours ago, because the results have been incredibly close.

As of around 11:10 PM Pacific Time, incumbent Premier Christy Clark and the governing Liberals (who, despite their name, are actually a right wing party) were tied with the opposition New Democrats at forty-two seats apiece, with the BC Greens leading or elected in three ridings.

(As of 11:45 PM, since this post was originally written, the Liberals led or had been elected in 43 ridings, and the NDP was in second place with 41 seats. A riding, incidentally, is what they call a district north of the border.)

British Columbia election results

The story of the night: The major parties were tied for seats as of 10:10 PM Pacific

These numbers likely won’t hold. But if they did, the Greens would be the kingmakers. Whichever party they choose to work with would get to form the government, while the other party would become the official opposition.

The Liberals and the NDP have been trading the lead all night long. At times, the Liberals have been leading or elected in 44 ridings, and at other times, the NDP has been leading or elected in 44 ridings. 44 is the magic number needed to control the 87-member British Columbia Legislative Assembly, which meets in Victoria.

The large number of too-close-to-call ridings is a result that not many people expected — certainly not the Liberals, who were expecting a much better outcome.

In some battleground ridings, the major party candidates are separated by only a handful of votes, giving fresh meaning to the motto Every Vote Counts.

The NDP has already knocked out several key members of Christy Clark’s cabinet, stunning the Liberals.

Peter Fassbender, the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and the Minister Responsible for TransLink, has lost his seat, as has Suzanne Anton, the Minister of Justice. Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Service, and Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness were also defeated by their NDP challengers.

The NDP did better than expected in greater Vancouver, which has historically been the linchpin for the Liberals, but it has also given away some of its own seats to Christy Clark’s party, jeopardizing its chances of securing a majority.

Final results aren’t expected until May 22nd. It is important to note that absentee ballots have not been counted.

Key ridings we are watching:

  • Vancouver-False Creek (0.6% margin)
  • Richmond-Queensborough (1.1% margin)
  • Courtenay-Comox (2.0% margin)

Complete results for all of the ridings are available here.

Some ridings are so close that there will need to be automatic recounts.

CBC and CTV are each projecting a minority government.

“Tonight is the beginning of something very different,” said Premier Christy Clark, trying to put the best possible spin on the lackluster results for her party in a late night speech broadcast at around 12:10 AM.

Christy Clark addresses supporters

Christy Clark addresses supporters (via CBC)

“We won the popular vote,” Clark said later, smiling wearily as her supporters chanted and applauded. “And we have also won the most seats. And with absentee ballots still be counted, I am confident they will strengthen our margin of victory. So it is my intention to continue to lead British Columbia’s government.”

“British Columbians did tell us tonight that they want us to do some things differently,” she acknowledged, pledging to work with the other parties and congratulating John Horgan and Andrew Weaver on a hard-fought campaign.

Clark exited swiftly following her speech and did not shake hands with supporters after stepping down from the stage.

Horgan and Weaver each walked out to speak to their supporters at the same time, forcing CBC to cut away from Weaver’s speech in order to air Horgan’s.

John Horgan speaking

BCNDP leader John Horgan speaking to supporters (via CBC)

“Tonight, we have elected an extraordinary group of New Democrats,” John Horgan declared to a packed election night party, after noting it was too soon to know who would be forming the next government of British Columbia. He proceeded to reel off the names of the party’s victorious candidates in battleground ridings.

“This campaign has always been not about me, but about us, on the Us Bus,” Horgan said. “It is still focused on people tonight.”

“British Columbians voted today to get big money out of politics,” Horgan said. “British Columbians voted today for proportional representation. British Columbians voted for action on climate change. And they voted for an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.”

“Let’s hang tight… and get back to the party,” he concluded.

You’re fired: Donald Trump has ousted FBI Director James Comey, effective immediately

James Comey is out as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation after being sacked by Donald Trump in a surprise dismissal, the regime said today in a bombshell announcement that instantly became top news.

In a letter addressed to Comey, Trump wrote: “I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.”

The letter went on to say:

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Only a few ago, Trump told a friendly interviewer at Fox Business that Comey was still in his good graces. “It’s not too late, but, you know, I have confidence in him. We’ll see what happens. You know, it’s going to be interesting,” Trump said.

Officially, the reason given for Comey’s firing is that he mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State (which is very convenient). Unofficially, the regime wanted Comey gone because he was not a loyal soldier for Trump. Comey’s replacement will be someone who won’t be independent and thus unable to investigate wrongdoing by the regime.

Comey was quite helpful to Trump’s campaign last year when he was repeatedly undermining Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But now that Trump has taken power, the notoriously independent Comey has ceased to be an asset. Keeping him around doesn’t serve Trump’s interests. So he’s been dismissed.

Actually, unceremoniously dumped would be more accurate. Trump did not even extend Comey the courtesy of a phone call, let alone an advance notification:

Comey heard the news while giving a speech

Mr. Comey stopped addressing the group. He proceeded to shake hands with the employees he had been speaking to. Then he stepped into a side office, where he confirmed that he had been fired. At that point, he had not heard from the White House.

Shortly thereafter, a letter from Mr. Trump was delivered to the F.B.I.’s headquarters, just seven blocks from the White House.

Mr. Comey’s day had begun in Florida, where he spoke to a group of police officers. He then flew to Los Angeles, where he was also scheduled to speak at a diversity meeting.

Michael S. Schmidt

It is NPI’s view that Comey should have been fired by President Barack Obama months ago. Comey damaged the reputation and credibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with his public statements and letters to the Republican-controlled Congress about the botched investigation into Clinton’s emails — statements and letters which benefited Trump’s campaign.

And more recently, Comey handed Trump, Sessions, and Rosenstein another gift when he provided a pretext for his own ouster —  making statements to Congress about that same investigation that were not accurate:

On Tuesday, the FBI sent a letter to Congress correcting inaccurate congressional testimony by Director James Comey, six days after he mischaracterized what the FBI discovered on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. The bureau addressed the matter in a two-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee from its congressional liaison, explaining that it was “intended to supplement” Comey’s testimony, by providing “the full context of what was reviewed and found on the laptop.”

In it, the FBI acknowledged that only a “small number” of more than 49,000 “potential relevant” emails found on Weiner’s laptop had been forwarded from Clinton deputy Huma Abedin to Weiner, her husband, not hundreds or thousands as Comey had stated. The FBI said just two of those messages contained classified information.

Comey was also overseeing an investigation into whether the Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign inappropriately colluded with the Russian government to gain a political advantage.

We agree with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer that we need a special prosecutor — immediately — to take over that investigation.

“The only way the American people can have faith in this investigation is for it to be led by a fearless independent special prosecutor,” Schumer told reporters following Comey’s firing at a press conference at the Capitol. “If Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein does not appoint an independent special prosecutor, every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a cover-up.”

“People are sitting at home, knowing that the Russians have interfered with our elections and now they see that this is the third person that’s been fired by this administration,” said Senator Maria Cantwell in a statement sent to NPI.

“People want to know, was this because someone was closing in on information about that investigation that might have incriminated people within the administration? My constituents want answers about who knew about the Russian interference. My colleagues in the Senate and House Judiciary Committees are going to continue to investigate, but we need a special independent prosecutor to get the answers for the American people and demand accountability.”

If Congress was being faithful to the Constitution and the principles on which this country was founded, the House of Representatives would be commencing impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump right now. Sadly, that’s not happening. Every branch of our federal government is under the control of people who would rather prop up the regime than save our democracy.

Ed Murray to end political career; won’t seek reelection as Mayor of Seattle

At a press conference this morning at Alki Beach, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that he has decided not to seek a second term as leader of the state’s largest city, saying “it tears me to pieces to step away“.

Flanked by loyal supporters, Murray reflected on his accomplishments before saying the 2017 mayoral race ought not to be focused on scandal.

Murray, who previously served as a state representative and state senator prior to being elected Mayor of Seattle four years ago, had seemingly been in good shape for reelection before the filing of a lawsuit last month in which he was accused of having sexually abused a minor many years ago.

The filing of the suit, which rocked Seattle politics, was accompanied by the revelation that other men have for years made similar claims against Murray.

The mayor strenuously denies the allegations. But his handling of them has earned him widespread condemnation from activists and media alike.

The Seattle Times editorial board urged him to drop out of the 2017 race last month, and The Stranger followed suit yesterday.

Up until this weekend, people in Murray’s circle were publicly insisting that he was running for reelection, and his most prominent backers were standing by him. But then came the poll results. A survey commissioned by the mayor’s camp apparently found that the mayor’s position with the electorate had seriously deteriorated.

And so Murray is retiring rather than risk being defeated in August (as Greg Nickels and Paul Schell were) or in November (as Mike McGinn was — by him).

Seattle is thus guaranteed to have a new mayor in 2018.

McGinn, who wants his old job back, is among a bevy of contenders who have stepped forward to succeed Murray. Others include activists Nikkita Oliver and Cary Moon, as well as State Senator Bob Hasegawa, and television producer Michael Harris. Other declared candidates include Peter Alcorn, Casey Carlisle, David Ishii, Harley Lever, Mary Juanita Martin, and Jason Roberts.

And more candidates are now expected to announce in the coming days. It could be one of the widest mayoral fields Seattle has seen in a long time.

Former United States Attorney for Western Washington Jenny Durkan is expected to launch a candidacy shortly (with the backing of former Governor Chris Gregoire), and Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell is also said to be mulling a bid.

Emmanuel Macron elected President of France

Former investment banker and biconceptual independent Emmanuel Macron has been elected President of France in a blowout victory over right wing extremist Marine Le Pen, according to projections from French mass media.

Macron is trouncing Le Pen by a more than two-to-one margin. He had the backing of much of the French political establishment and (it turns out) a large swath of the electorate, with voters from across the ideological spectrum gravitating to his candidacy. A victory for extremist Le Pen would have meant big trouble for the European Union, NATO, and civil liberties in France.

Watch live coverage of the election results on France 24 (English).

Marine Le Pen concedes defeat

Marine Le Pen concedes defeat

In a speech broadcast shortly after 8 PM Paris time (11 AM Pacific), Le Pen conceded defeat and said she had called Macron to wish him well. She claimed she was happy with the result and vowed that she would not “fade” from French politics. This is only the second time that Le Pen’s extreme National Front has made it into the second round of the French presidential election.

The thirty-nine year old Macron, meanwhile, has become the youngest person in history to be elected President of France.

Spokespeople for British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have already extended their congratulations, welcoming the result.

Macron’s decisive win is good news for a Western world that has been rocked by the turmoil of Brexit and Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory. French voters, at least, have firmly repudiated right wing extremism with this vote.

Macron will take office on May 14th, succeeding incumbent President Francois Hollande, who chose not to seek a second term.

The challenge now for progressives in France is to find unity and purpose in the upcoming elections for the National Assembly.

SHAME! Republican-controlled U.S. House votes to take away healthcare from millions

In a brazen, wholly indefensible act of malice and cruelty, the Republican-controlled United States House of Representatives voted today to take away the healthcare of millions of Americans. By a vote of 217-213, without a single Democratic vote, the House passed a monstrous bill that, if approved by the Senate and signed by Donald Trump, would amount to a death sentence for many in our country.

The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:

Voting Aye: Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Greg Walden (OR), Mike Simpson and Raúl Labrador (ID), Don Young (AK)

Voting Nay: Democrats Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Adam Smith, Denny Heck (WA), Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader (OR); Republicans Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Dave Reichert (WA)

Not Voting: Republican Dan Newhouse (WA)

“From the beginning, Trumpcare has meant higher health costs, more than 24 million hard-working Americans losing health coverage, gutting key protections, a crushing age tax, and stealing from Medicare,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi prior to the vote. “With each passing week, Republicans have only made their bill more costly and more cruel to American families.”

“If Republicans pass Trumpcare, Americans with pre-existing conditions will be pushed off their insurance and segregated into high risk pools – where they will face soaring costs, worse coverage, and restricted care.”

“Trumpcare spells heart-stopping premium increases for Americans with anything from asthma to cancer.  It’s a frightening future for families who need affordable, dependable health care the most. Forcing a vote without a CBO score shows that Republicans are terrified of the public learning the full consequences of their plan to push Americans with pre-existing conditions into the cold.”

“But tomorrow, House Republicans are going to tattoo this moral monstrosity to their foreheads, and the American people will hold them accountable.”

Twenty Republicans joined the entire House Democratic caucus in voting no, including Dave Reichert (WA-08), who Republican leadership allowed to vote no after determining that his vote was not needed to pass the bill.

“Today is a shameful day in American history,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee, harshly denouncing the passage of the bill.

“Republicans in Congress have voted to strip health care coverage from over 700,000 Washingtonians, and to remove the guarantee that all Americans cannot be denied coverage or charged more because they have a pre-existing condition.”

“Their actions today threaten the health and financial security of millions of American families and undermine our health insurance markets, resulting in likely premium spikes. We have made great progress in Washington state’s health care system through bipartisan work and support, yet Congress is now threatening to throw it all away in favor of poorly-conceived partisan legislation.”

“I am proud that eight members of Washington’s House delegation – two Republicans and all six Democrats – voted against this bill for the harm it would cause our state. I urge the United States Senate to reject the legislation passed today in the House, and I urge Washingtonians to continue making their voices heard as Congress considers taking our country in the wrong direction.”

“This destructive legislation has gone from bad to worse,” said U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01), who voted no.

“Leaving 24 million Americans without coverage and the 133 million Americans without protections for pre-existing conditions isn’t just wrong — it’s inhumane. As I’ve heard from hundreds of constituents, nobody should face bankruptcy just to afford the medical care they need to stay alive.”

“I hope the Senate has the courage and wisdom to stop this ill-conceived legislation before it destabilizes our healthcare system. American families deserve certainty and stability, not more chaos and confusion.”

U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA-02) agreed, calling the legislation even more heartless than the first incarnation. “If Trumpcare 2.0 becomes law, 24 million Americans will lose health coverage, necessary benefits like maternity care will become optional, and protections for individuals living with pre-existing conditions will be scrapped. This is a plan to destroy America’s healthcare, not fix it.”

“Trumpcare 2.0 adds insult to injury because my Republican colleagues would like you to believe that they’re going to cover pre-existing conditions and that is just not true,” said U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07) in brief remarks on the House floor during the debate.  “Kids like James Kish, an eight-year old in my district who has a brain tumor and literally stands to DIE if this bill passes.”

“Mr. Speaker, hundreds across this country are calling our offices and weeping. We should all weep that this bill is coming to the floor.”

“It is difficult to imagine what world my Republican colleagues are in that they could vote yes on such a bill,” Jayapal said following the vote.

“I cannot imagine how they will go home and face grandmothers who will be kicked out of nursing homes or kids with asthma who will no longer be able to afford inhalers. I cannot imagine what they will say to women in their districts who will pay more for simply being women, or be barred from care if they have a C-section – which is now considered a pre-existing condition.”

“To millions across this country who are terrified of what will happen, I would urge you: this is not over yet. Stay in the streets. Call your senators and tell them to vote no. When your Member of Congress comes home after voting yes, tell them exactly what you think of their cruel vote to strip health care from millions.”

“I intend to continue to fight every single day to protect and expand health care and to hold those accountable who do not do so. We are so much better than this.”

To prevail, House Republican boss Paul Ryan was forced to capitulate to the demands of the militant extremist wing of his party. The result is a piece of legislation that can only be called a monstrosity.

Its prospects in the Senate aren’t good.

“Members have been asked to vote for a bill that is particularly treacherous, that is going nowhere in the Senate,” said Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, one of the most reasonable Republicans in the U.S. House.

“This legislation will be gutted and we will have voted for a bill that will never become law. Will it cause headaches for people? Absolutely.”

Hill family, Bill Bryant lend their email lists to help Senate candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund

Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund, who is competing in the special state Senate election in Washington’s 45th District this year with the full backing of the Republican establishment, announced today that she has raised a total of $225,000 since launching her campaign a few weeks ago.

“I’m humbled and energized by the support of Washingtonians across our home state,” said Englund in a prepared statement sent to NPI. “This may only be a state senate seat, but it is an election that impacts all Washingtonians.”

Englund, who moved into the district about a week prior to announcing her candidacy, is a young Republican with an interesting resume that includes stints with the Bitcoin Foundation, CoinDesk, and Digital Currency Council.

Englund has had a lot of help with her fundraising. The Hill family gave Englund former Senator Andy Hill’s email list, which she has sent out multiple appeals to, and defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant also sent out an end-of-the-month blast asking his supporters to give money to her campaign.

This was Bryant’s message:

It’s the end of the month, and that means you will often hear from people telling you about their favorite cause, or asking for money.

Yet, today I am asking for your attention.

When I was running for governor last year, I heard from people across our state who wanted government to care of our most vulnerable and spend taxpayer money wisely. If you agree with those values, then I ask you to support Jinyoung Lee Englund, today!

I have attached below an email that Jinyoung sent to supporters. It explains why her race matters. But the simple truth is this, if Jinyoung wins her race to succeed the late Senator Andy Hill in the 45th District, we will continue to have a State Senate that works for us.

If she does not win, we will have one-party control in Olympia – that will mean higher taxes, out-of-control spending, and less focus on fixing the problems we face.

Time is short. Jinyoung needs your help today. Washington needs her in the State Senate.

Please contribute today what you can – the individual maximum of $2,000, $500, or even $100.

It matters.

Republicans obviously have a vested interest in saving their fragile state Senate majority — if they lose it, they’ll no longer have the power to obstruct legislation that House Democrats and Governor Inslee support.

It is worth noting that during the past four years, with Republicans in charge of the Senate, taxes have gone up (at least to fund transportation projects — pavement-obsessed Republicans are willing to raise revenue for roads, but not schools) and there has been little focus on fixing problems. The Legislature has struggled just to reach agreement on how to spend the money the state is already raising.

Republicans like Bryant are essentially arguing that divided government is good for Washington State, but we’ve had that arrangement now for four years, and with the exception of the Connecting Washington package that Senate Republicans want to partly undo, it’s produced mostly gridlock and dysfunction. The Legislature is in contempt of court for failing to fund our public schools, but Republicans don’t care. They are more interested in undermining the Court than following its orders.

Should Republicans hold the 45th this year, it would result in the continuation of the status quo in Olympia. Senate Republicans and their financial backers would certainly like that. But is that what anybody else wants? Voters in the 45th District will be in the enviable position of being able to decide the trajectory of the entire state this summer and autumn, which is why huge sums of money will be raised and spent by both sides in an attempt to influence their decision.

Several other candidates have also filed to run for the Senate in the 45th; they include Republican Ken Smith, independent Parker Harris, and Democrats Ian Stratton and Manka Dhingra. The Democratic Party has coalesced around Dhingra, a senior deputy prosecutor who has the support of the 45th District Democrats, the King County Democrats, Governor Inslee, Patty Murray, and Suzan DelBene.

As of last month, Dhingra had raised $199,815.10 in contributions, and is due to report contributions for April in a few days, as is Englund.

Kittitas County Superior Court judge turns back constitutional challenge to I-1433

A Superior Court judge in Kittitas County has turned back a constitutional challenge to I-1433 filed by several trade associations, leaving new requirements for paid leave and increases to the state’s minimum wage in place.

“[T]his Court is of the opinion that the Plaintiffs have failed to establish that I-1433 has violated the Washington State Constitution in any manner. Accordingly, summary judgment will be entered for the State by separate order, filed this state,” wrote Judge Scott R. Sparks in a letter to counsel accompanying his ruling.

Sparks was asked to find I-1433 unconstitutional on multiple grounds by three couples and the following alliance of trade associations.

  • The (ardently right wing) National Federation of Independent Business
  • The Washington Farm Bureau
  • The Washington Retail Association
  • The Northwest Food Processors Association
  • The Washington Food Industry Association

Plaintiffs were represented by Phil Talmadge, a former Supreme Court justice who has since returned to private practice and helped decide the landmark ATU case.

(ATU, or Amalgamated Transit Union v. State, was the decision that resulted in Tim Eyman‘s I-695 being struck down as unconstitutional due to having violated the Washington State Constitution’s single subject rule.)

The State of Washington, which defends voter-approved initiatives, was represented by Callie Castillo and Rebecca Glasgow of Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office.

After hearing oral arguments on April 21st and considering the briefs submitted by counsel, Sparks granted summary judgment to the State of Washington, upholding I-1433 as constitutional. The coalition that sponsored I-1433, Raise Up Washington (which includes NPI — we proudly gathered signatures for the initiative), intervened in the case and was represented by Lynn Allen Award recipient Paul J. Lawrence of Pacifica Law Group with Gregory J. Wong and Alanna E. Peterson.

Talmadge argued that I-1433 couldn’t be constitutional because its minimum wage and paid leave provisions lacked rational unity.

“I-1433’s title is restrictive in scope,” argued Talmadge in his initial complaint. “It addresses two distinct issues – the minimum wage and ‘sick leave’. As the ballot title is restrictive, 1-1433 fails article II ,§ 9’s one-subject mandate as it carves out two distinct subject matters – increasing the minimum wage and addressing ‘sick leave’.”

Judge Sparks disagreed.

“I-1433 deals with a general subject, labor standards. The ballot title specifically gave the public notice that the law dealt with the minimum wage, paid sick leave, and related laws. Inquiring minds were put on notice that the minimum wage and paid sick leave were on the ballot. The Plaintiffs have failed to establish that the subject in title test of Article II, § 19 was violated beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Talmadge also argued that I-1433 was invalid because it amended previously enacted statutes pertaining to employee leave without referencing them as the Constitution requires. Sparks rejected this argument too.

“Plaintiffs argue that 1-1433 modified the various employee leave laws by implication yet never set forth those existing laws at full length,” noted the judge.

“However, rather than expressly modifying various employee leave laws, I-1433 set forth a new category of employee leave that heretofore had not existed in this State: mandatory paid ‘sick’ leave. While it is true that the definition of ‘sick leave’ included other types of employee leave that previous to I-1433 were not known as sick leave, those existing leave laws did not require said leave to be compensated.”

“Accordingly, I­-1433 was complete, independent, and stood alone on the particular subject of paid sick leave. The Plaintiffs have not established beyond a reasonable doubt that I-1433 violated Article II, § 37 of the Washington Constitution.”

Sparks’ ruling represents a complete defeat for Talmadge and his clients. They had filed their case in Kittitas County Superior Court in the hopes of securing a favorable opinion at the trial court level (a practice colloquially known as forum shopping) so as to be in a stronger position when the case reached the Supreme Court on appeal. But they didn’t win. So if there’s going to be an appeal, they’ll have to file it.

The business groups funding this lawsuit would be better served by simply pulling the plug on this challenge and urging their employer-members to simply pay their workers as the law requires. Appealing to the state Supreme Court really doesn’t make sense, especially when the Court ruled two years ago in Filo Foods that SeaTac’s similar minimum wage and paid leave initiative was constitutional.

Appropriately, Sparks cited and quoted from the Filo Foods ruling in his letter to counsel explaining his decision to grant the state summary judgment.

We’ve seen some grumbling on social media coming from the other side in response to this decision, which is to be expected. Right wing commentators have asked how I-1433 can be constitutional when Tim Eyman’s I-695 wasn’t, for example.

The answer to that particular question is that I-1433’s provisions are defensibly related, whereas I-695’s provisions lacked rational unity.

Eyman’s I-695 tried to do two very different things: repeal the statewide motor vehicle excise tax, or MVET, and require a public vote for any future revenue increase. Eyman stuffed the second provision in because he wanted two initiatives for the price of one. He was logrolling. Accordingly, I-695 was found unconstitutional.

I-1433 does not suffer from I-695’s defect. The measure has a single subject, labor standards, and a single purpose: bolster pay for Washington’s families. This single purpose is accomplished with two strategies, but those strategies are related. Increasing the minimum wage and requiring employers to provide paid leave for workers both result in better-compensated workers and better working conditions. The initiative therefore complies with Article II, Section 19 (the single subject rule).

Curiously, as Judge Sparks observed, Article II, Section 19 itself contains two provisions. It requires, firstly, that a statute embrace only one subject, and secondly, that the statute’s subject shall be expressed in its title. However, as the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, that inconsistency is just an amusement.

I-1433’s sponsors took care to ensure that the measure they would eventually pour substantial resources into was well-drafted before finalizing it, because they wanted it to stand as thoughtfully written law. And that legwork paid off.

Unlike Tim Eyman’s initiatives, there is no malice underpinning I-1433. The initiative doesn’t try to subvert our Constitution or wreck government. It simply requires a minimum threshold of compensation for Washington’s workers.

Tim Eyman could have decided after the ATU case to respect the Constitution when coming up with future schemes. But he chose not to. Eyman greatly resents the limitations that the Constitution places on the initiative power, and has relished putting initiatives in front of the people that attempt to defy those limitations. He has set the stage for his own court losses many, many times.

For Eyman, initiatives are not so much a means to an end as a way of life. Eyman must always have an initiative to sell, even when he doesn’t have the money to get on the ballot. Consequently, Eyman is soliciting contributions from his followers right now for an initiative he knows isn’t going anywhere (I-1550).

For us, initiatives are a tool for bypassing a gridlocked Legislature and raising up everyone. That’s why we happily supported the development and qualification of I-1433. This initiative isn’t just good for Washington’s workers — it’s good for Washington’s businesses, too. When states take steps to make their economies more inclusive, that results in a better business climate and broader prosperity.

As the late Senator Paul Wellstone said, we all do better when we all do better.

NPI presents Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence with the very first Lynn Allen Awards

This evening, at our ninth Spring Fundraising Gala on Mercer Island, we debuted a new event tradition: the Lynn Allen Awards. Named for our late sister Lynn Allen, a founding boardmember of NPI, these awards recognize people who have made indispensable contributions to progressive causes for a decade or more.

We lost Lynn to ovarian cancer in 2011, but her spirit has remained with us. (And so have her published works, which are preserved by NPI at Rebuilding Democracy.)

Lynn believed in the important work of organizing rural communities and acting on issues of concern to people living far away from our big cities and urban areas. She believed in the politics of inclusion. As communications director of the Institute for Washington’s Future, she traveled regularly to Washington’s rural counties and small towns, championing sustainable business and agricultural practices.

A skilled facilitator and gifted listener, Lynn understood the importance of and need for effective activism. Not a day goes by when we don’t miss her.

By establishing the Lynn Allen Awards, we’re taking another step to ensure that Lynn’s good works will be remembered and her legacy appreciated.

Tonight, we presented the very first Lynn Allen Awards to two extremely deserving honorees: Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence.

Joni Earl

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl speaks at NPI’s 2013 Spring Fundraising Gala. (Photo: Lincoln Potter/Samaya LLC for NPI)

Joni’s award commendation is as follows:

Tapped in 2001 to take the helm of a public agency in crisis, Joni Earl turned Sound Transit around, instilling a culture of excellence. Joni deftly navigated around treacherous legal and political obstacles to restart planning of the high capacity rail spine voters approved in 1996 to connect cities in Washington’s urban core. Under her leadership, Sound Transit secured the federal funds needed to begin building Link light rail and won voter approval for a crucial second phase of expansion. Construction of the system began in the autumn of 2003 and has been underway ever since. Sixteen stations are now open and dozens more are on the way.

Joni’s other honors include:

  • APTA’s Extraordinary Leadership Award (2016)
  • One of Seattle Magazine’s 25 Most Influential People (2005)
  • One of Puget Sound Business Journal’s 20 Women of Influence (2005)

Paul Lawrence

Paul Lawrence arguing Lee v. State

Paul Lawrence presents oral arguments in Lee v. State in March of 2016 (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Paul’s award commendation is as follows:

A formidable attorney specializing in complex appellate and civil litigation, Paul Lawrence has ably represented public servants and working families in our courts for more than thirty years. During a five year stretch ranging from 2011 to 2016, Paul skillfully secured a series of landmark verdicts against a crop of right wing initiatives that gravely threatened Washington’s future. Prior to those cases, Paul defended Sound Transit against multiple lawsuits intended to weaken or destroy it. His mastery of constitutional law and sound trial strategy have repeatedly led to crucial victories for progressive causes.

Paul’s other honors include:

  • Selected for Washington Super Lawyers, 2001–2016, and for Washington Super Lawyers Top 100, 2012–2016
  • Recipient of Preston Gates & Ellis’ Jim Ellis Award for service as an ACLU Cooperating Attorney
  • Recipient of Greater Seattle Business Association’s Special Recognition Award Collaboration for Social Change

Congratulations, Joni and Paul, and thank you for your tremendous service to our movement. Your contributions truly have been indispensable.

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