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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Columbian editorial board sucks up to Tim Eyman

They endorsed yes on Initiative 900 and repeated all of Eyman's talking points. That's not surprising, though. This isn't the first time it's happened.

They make the same mistake in reasoning the Times and others have. They forget that Brian Sonntag isn't going to be around forever. The main problem with Initiative 900 is not the financial drain on the state, which isn't terribly severe. It's giving too much power to a partisan elected official. As we argued previously:
What happens when Brian Sonntag leaves the auditor's office? Is the next auditor going to be every bit as impressive as he is? The Republican candidate in the last election for auditor was extremely unqualified.

It's unwise to give a partisan elected officer this much power. We know we can trust Sonntag to wield power wisely and reponsibly - but can we trust all of his successors?
The Columbian's editorial board, or whichever one of them wrote this, went out of their way to mock us. We took issue especially with this:
Opponents of I-900 have mounted arguments that are almost laughable. They think the $10 million that will be spent each year on performance audits is a waste of money. But when you consider that in Washington, state and local agencies spend $40 billion a year, an objective performance-audit program is easily worth $10 million.

Opponents also don't like the idea of state watchdogs hovering over local agencies, but consider two points: Performance audits yield recommendations not requirements and local officials should welcome an outside, independent review (unless they're hiding something).
What's laughable is this editorial. If you know Eyman's style and rhetoric, you can see huge echoes of it throughout this piece of writing. This is not a thoughtful endorsement.

The Columbian editorial writer (or writers) ignore the fact that many local governments already have performance auditing processes in place. There's no mention of JLARC (Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee) in this whole thing.

The Legislature has already approved performance audits of state government. There's a reason why they didn't give the state auditor the power to audit local governments.

Also not mentioned in here is that I-900 gives the auditor (need we remind you - a partisan elected official) - subpoena power. I-900 sets the stage for attacks on government agencies. All that needs to happen is for an auditor with an agenda to get elected. That's more likely to happen in the future than not.

Maybe instead of gobbling up Eyman's rhetoric, the folks at the Columbian could take a look at the fine print of the initiative, ask the auditor's office some pointed questions, and evaluate our arguments against the initiative more carefully.

There's a reason why we, the Washington State Labor Council, the Association of Washington Cities, the Municipal League, and others have come out against Initiative 900.

This editorial lowers our respect for the Columbian editorial board down another notch. This isn't the first time they've gone out of their way to praise Eyman, and we doubt it'll be the last. They're losing credibility in our eyes - fast.

More information about Initiative 900 and why you should vote NO can be found here.

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