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, June 14, 2006

Tim Eyman's record full of failures

In the wake of yesterday's court victory over Initiative 747, we decided to take a look back at history and see how this development affects Tim Eyman's lengthy record. It turns out that Eyman's record includes almost no successes (despite his outlandish claims) but is instead filled with failures and defeats chalked up over the last eight years or so.

Now, we could have included in this survey the dozens upon dozens of failed initiatives that Tim has filed but never actually attempted to qualify for the ballot, but we decided to be generous and only include the initiatives that Tim has actually put money and resources into.

We also could have thrown in last year's failed I-912, which Tim backed and strongly endorsed, but we generously left that out as well.

The criteria for determining whether an initiative was a success was as follows:
  1. Did the initiative pass, take effect, and survive any legal challenges?
  2. Did the initiative accomplish the main intent stated by Tim Eyman?
So, two very simple, straightforward requirements made up the litmus test. And based on that test, here is the chart showing Eyman's record:

Tim Eyman's Record

You're welcome to use this image for yourself (so long as you note NPI as the source) but please download and re-upload it to your own server if you're going to use it on your own site.

Alternatively, we have included all this information as a PDF, available here.

The information in the chart speaks for itself. All except for Initiative 900 last year, and Initiative 776 in 2002, Tim Eyman's ballot measures have been invalidated by a court, failed to qualify for the ballot, or been defeated by voters.

We won't dispute that Initiative 900 was successful. Though it was unnecessary and poorly written, it hasn't inflcted serious damage on state government, mostly because State Auditor Brian Sonntag has been using the powers given to him by I-900 wisely. (Obviously we have no idea if the next auditor will be so trustworthy; that's an issue that will require future attention).

This brings us to Initiative 776. Why is it classified as a failure?

The answer is that while Initiative 776 did successfully repeal local motor vehicle excise taxes in four of Washington State's thirty nine counties, it failed to accomplish its main goal: thwarting Sound Transit's Central Link light rail project.

If you look back to news articles from 2002, you'll see Tim Eyman claiming that I-776 was meant to be a "revote on light rail". Eyman made it very clear that the main intent of I-776 was to drain revenue from Sound Transit and force the agency to shut down plans to build Central Link.

Though I-776 narrowly passed and narrowly survived a legal challenge, it failed to stop Sound Transit from moving ahead with Central Link. Light rail in Seattle has now been under construction for several years and is slated to be operational in 2009. I-776 has simply not accomplished its main purpose, and is thus a failure.

So Tim Eyman's record of success is 1 for 11 over the past eight years. That's a pretty dismal record. It certainly suggests that Tim Eyman is a paper tiger.

Given that Tim Eyman is a creature of the media, it's no surprise that Tim Eyman's actual record doesn't match the public perception that many Washingtonians have of him. Reporters frequently call him an "initiative guru" or an "initiative king", which only fuels this mistaken perception.

The press corps and regional opinionmakers need to understand that Tim Eyman is not just a salesman or a liar, but a failure. You get to this conclusion by analyzing the facts, not listening to Tim's spin.

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