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

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Olympian endorses yes on Eyman's I-900

The Olympian disappointed us this morning with their endorsement of Tim Eyman's Initiative 900. We expect some newspapers to side with Eyman, but we disagree with their endorsement. Let's look at the Olympian editorial and pick it apart.

It starts off like this:
Faced with the prospect of another Tim Eyman initiative, the state Legislature earlier this year passed the performance audit bill. Gov. Christine Gregoire signed House Bill 1064 into law May 11.
They can't be serious?

Why does the media persist in giving Tim Eyman so much credit?

Performance audits did not succeed this year because of anything Tim Eyman did. He refuses to engage in the legislative process. State lawmakers have learned they don't need to be scared by Tim; he's been mired in an 0 for 4 losing streak the past few years.

House Democrats have long advocated performance audit legislation. It passed this year because of a change in leadership. Democrats assumed control of the Senate and Christine Gregoire became governor. The previous governor, Gary Locke, vetoed a performance audit bill because he didn't like it.

That paragraph right there makes The Olympian less credible instantly.

The Olympian editorial board claims that:
Initiative 900 will bring more accountability to government at all levels and help build a bond of trust between the public and their elected and appointed governmental officials. Voters should support I-900 at the Nov. 8 general election.
Sure - if you listen to Tim Eyman.

The "it'll bring more accountability" argument is something that Olympian editorial board members and maybe most voters would like to believe. Initiative 900 doesn't guarantee more accountability, though. And we doubt that voters who don't trust government now will develop a greater trust of it if Initiative 900 is implemented.

We disagree. We don't think Initiative 900 will facilitate the building of any "bond of trust". The Olympian's editorial board members are too optimistic.

They've bought Eyman's sales pitch hook, line, and sinker. He makes these kind of statements every year.

The Olympian ignores our concerns. They don't discuss the "checks and balances" problem we've raised. What if we get a rogue auditor? Someone who isn't a professional like Brian Sonntag? What then? What if that auditor went on a crusade to attack and dismantle agencies they didn't like?

Government needs to be set up to deal with the worst-case scenario.

The Olympian also ignores the fact that we already have performance audits at the local level. Many jurisdictions, especially in King County (where there are more layers of government) have a process for accountability that utilizes performance audits.

We'd rather see an independent group set up to audit, say, the Port of Seattle then have the auditor swoop down on the port and audit it for performance. It goes back to the principle of home rule.

Initiative 900 gives the auditor too much flexibility to do whatever he or she wants.

The Olympian also conveniently ignored the fact that Initiative 900 has an apparent constitutional flaw. They called Initiative 900 "superior to the Legislature's attempt."

If you think an initiative that doesn't pass constitutional muster is "superior" to a carefully crafted piece of legislation that made it through the scrutiny of the legislative process, your thinking on public policy is skewed.

We don't believe the Olympian's editorial board looked at all the arguments when they made their decision. And that's too bad - they've lost some respect from us. But at least they did give their readers a link to our website.

Learn more about Initiative 900 from Permanent Defense.

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