This morning, Tim Eyman and his cohorts from Spokane, the Fagans, showed up in Olympia at the Secretary of State’s Elections Annex to deliver boxes of petitions for Eyman’s latest scheme to wreck government — Initiative 1125, which would interfere with WSDOT’s ability to successfully complete the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge over Lake Washington and with Sound Transit’s ability to bring East Link light rail to Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Redmond.
After hauling in their boxes of petitions, Eyman and the Fagans propped up a whiteboard in the room where the Secretary of State was processing the petitions and proceeded to hold a press conference. (Ironically, by doing so, Eyman disrupted the processing of his own petitions, because the Secretary of State’s visibly annoyed elections staff eventually told him they couldn’t count while he was talking in front of a half-dozen television and still cameras.)
Eyman began by attacking Governor Chris Gregoire and state lawmakers for delegating authority for raising fees to agencies, commissions, and universities, ignoring the fact that his own initiative has, in many cases, necessitated such delegation in the first place.
Initiative 1053, like its predecessor Initiative 960, unconstitutionally prevents the House and Senate from democratically voting to raise revenue to fund vital services. Consequently, lawmakers can’t decide whether to make cuts or not.
Instead, they can only decide where to make cuts. Since our universities wouldn’t be able to function if they couldn’t hire faculty and schedule classes, the Legislature reluctantly decided to grant tuition setting authority to university regents.
I‑1053 put them in a bind, and they attempted to make the best of a bad situation. How ironic that Eyman is now attacking them for struggling to deal with the consequences of his own illegitimate initiative.
To Eyman, we say: This is what happens when you mess with representative democracy and stop it from working like it is supposed to. Our founders gave us a plan of government built on majority rule with minority rights; I‑1053 has taken away majority rule and sabotaged the system our Constitution created.
Ironically, Eyman himself is more unaccountable than any of the people he criticizes. He’s in a position where, backed by his wealthy benefactors, he can throw monkey wrenches into the gears of our democracy, then sit back and yell, “You’re doing it wrong!” He has never had to deal with the consequences of his initiatives. He’s never had to write a budget. And when he is asked by reporters what he would do if he were in charge, he never answers. He is in the business of putting other people in impossible positions and then following up by tightening the screws.
Eyman often says we should debate his ideas, and not him. He claims to just be a messenger. He said it again today at his press conference. But whose messenger is he? BP’s? Michael Dunmire’s? Kemper Freeman Jr.‘s?
The truth is, Eyman is no people’s ombudsman. He serves the interests of his wealthy benefactors, not the public interest. And he injects himself into the debate over his initiatives. Observe that he doesn’t just force public votes on bad ideas. He uses his gift for media manipulation to distort the debate so it will be his framing that gets presented. His objective is to try to dupe voters.
He has no ground to stand upon, therefore, when he wrongly says that we are only criticizing him because there’s nothing in his schemes that is worthy of criticism. We’re criticizing him because he’s trying to con the people of this state, and every time he succeeds, our quality of life takes a hit.
Initiative 1125 does not have the far-reaching implications that Initiative 1053 does. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a threat. State Treasurer Jim McIntire has warned that I‑1125 could jeopardize the completion of the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge and possibly other projects as well.
Lawmakers have told NPI the same thing.
After Eyman was done denouncing Gregoire and state lawmakers, reporters turned their attention to former state Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald, who authoritatively rebutted Eyman’s justification for many of the provisions contained in his initiative. For instance, when MacDonald was asked why it’s not a good idea to require that toll money collected at a particular facility be spent only on the improvement of that facility, he said:
Very few people drive on one project. If you take 405, very few people drop on a helicopter at one end of 405 and drop off at the other. They start in Auburn on 167, or they get over on 522. And as we look at how roads work together, we have to figure out how systems for tolling… actually work, so that both the money and the things that the money can build are spread intelligently around the whole system.
And, when asked whether tolling I‑90 in addition to SR 520 would cause businesses in Bellevue to lose customers, MacDonald reflected, “Tolls have proven around the country not to defeat the purposes of commerce, but to build the facilities that allow people to shop, allow people to work.”
He’s absolutely correct on this score. Businesses in Bellevue would certainly have fewer Seattle customers if the three floating bridges we’ve built over Lake Washington didn’t exist at all. People would have to drive all the way around the lake — or take a ferry — to easily move between the Eastside and the west side.
MacDonald also promised reporters that they would see a vigorous opposition campaign come together in the ensuing weeks and months to defeat I‑1125.
We at NPI will do our part to ensure that NO on I‑1125 is successful. As we said in our statement in response to Eyman’s submission of signatures, this measure is only on the ballot because one wealthy guy wanted it to be. People are hardly clamoring for what Eyman is selling. If voters understand the ramifications of this ill-conceived scheme, they’ll resoundingly reject it.