Last night, the Belle­vue City Coun­cil had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to take a posi­tion against Tim Eyman’s I‑1125, which places impor­tant trans­porta­tion projects that would improve mobil­i­ty in and out of Belle­vue at risk. The city coun­cil sched­uled a hear­ing, as required by Wash­ing­ton State law, pro­vid­ing pro­po­nents and oppo­nents with an equal amount of time to speak to the initiative.

Argu­ing in favor of I‑1125 was, to nobody’s sur­prise, Tim Eyman, who used up prac­ti­cal­ly all of his allot­ted time. State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ross Hunter and the Belle­vue Down­town Asso­ci­a­tion’s Patrick Ban­non then spoke on behalf of Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling, the broad coali­tion oppos­ing I‑1125, which includes NPI.

Fol­low­ing the spec­chi­fy­ing, coun­cilmem­bers had a few ques­tions for Eyman and Hunter. Coun­cilmem­ber Grant Deg­gin­ger, who is retir­ing, want­ed to know why Eyman had includ­ed a pro­vi­sion in I‑1125 (Sec­tion 3) that takes aim at Sound Tran­sit’s East Link with­out specif­i­cal­ly say­ing any­thing about light rail. (The pro­vi­sion vague­ly says that no part of gas tax or toll-fund­ed projects can be trans­ferred for “non-high­way purposes”).

Eyman did not pro­vide much in the way of an answer. Deg­gin­ger con­clud­ed, cor­rect­ly, that Eyman’s inten­tion with Sec­tion 3 of I‑1125 is to stop East Link with­out actu­al­ly say­ing so, which he lat­er called “sneaky” and “un-Amer­i­can”.

The coun­cil then began debat­ing whether it should take a posi­tion on I‑1125.

Coun­cilmem­bers Don David­son and Con­rad Lee, who cur­rent­ly serve as may­or and deputy may­or, respec­tive­ly, made it clear pret­ty quick­ly that they did­n’t want to take a posi­tion on I‑1125, argu­ing it was not the city coun­cil’s place to tell vot­ers how they should vote. Coun­cilmem­ber Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci sharply dis­agreed, point­ing out the coun­cil takes posi­tions all the time on state and fed­er­al leg­is­la­tion. She not­ed that oppo­si­tion to I‑1125 is wide­spread and grow­ing, and observed that Belle­vue busi­ness­es and work­ers want the city coun­cil to oppose I‑1125.

How can we be lead­ers, Bal­duc­ci asked, if we punt on issues like this?

Coun­cilmem­bers John Chelmi­nak and Grant Deg­gin­ger weighed in next, each agree­ing with Bal­duc­ci. Deg­gin­ger had strong words for I‑1125. He jus­ti­fi­ably called it a “job-killing ini­tia­tive”, and, as I pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, exco­ri­at­ed the pro­vi­sion of I‑1125 that seeks to under­hand­ed­ly block East Link.

Last to speak was Coun­cilmem­ber Kevin Wal­lace, who not only agreed with Lee and David­son, but implied that he was going to vote in favor of I‑1125.

Because Coun­cilmem­ber Jen­nifer Robert­son was absent, that left the coun­cil dead­locked — unable to agree on any motion con­cern­ing I‑1125. Dur­ing the debate, Lee and David­son had moved and sec­ond­ed a non­sen­si­cal motion to take no posi­tion on I‑1125 (non­sen­si­cal because, as it stands, the coun­cil already has no posi­tion); this motion end­ed up being left on the floor.

The coun­cil meet­ing end­ed very abrupt­ly at 11 PM when, to David­son’s sur­prise, a motion to extend the meet­ing for anoth­er few min­utes failed. (The meet­ing had pre­vi­ous­ly been extend­ed from 10 PM to 10:30, and then from 10:30 PM to 10:45, and then from 10:45 to 11 PM). The meet­ing broke up imme­di­ate­ly after 11, leav­ing the ques­tion of what to do about I‑1125 unresolved.

Read­ers not famil­iar with Belle­vue pol­i­tics may be won­der­ing why Lee, David­son, and Wal­lace would be so uncom­fort­able with putting Belle­vue on record against 1125. After all, sev­er­al oth­er East­side cities (Red­mond, Kirk­land, Ren­ton) and the Port of Seat­tle have already done just that.

The rea­son is that each of them answers to Kem­per Free­man, Jr., who bankrolled Tim Eyman’s I‑1125.

In 2009, the last time David­son, Lee, and Wal­lace were on the bal­lot, they all got mon­ey from Kem­per. Con­rad Lee received $1,000 from Kem­per on July 8th, 2009. David­son received two checks, for $800 and $200, respec­tive­ly (total­ing $1,000) from Kem­per Hold­ings on July 16th, 2009.

And Kevin Wal­lace? He received a $500 check from Kem­per Hold­ings on April 30th, 2009.

As for Jen­nifer Robert­son, who was miss­ing from the dais last night and is unop­posed for reelec­tion this year, she also appears to be in the Kem­per club. Big time. Take a look at this con­tri­bu­tion history:

  • $1,600 from Bet­ty Free­man (Kem­per’s spouse) on April 29th, 2011 (two checks for $800 each)
  • $1,600 from Kem­per Free­man him­self on April 29th, 2011 (two checks for $800 each)
  • $800 from Kem­per Hold­ings on Novem­ber 19th, 2010

I’d be very sur­prised if she votes to take a posi­tion oppos­ing I‑1125.

Because Kem­per has four out of sev­en coun­cilmem­bers in his cor­ner, he basi­cal­ly con­trols the Belle­vue City Coun­cil. That’s pret­ty sad. Belle­vue’s leg­is­la­tors should be account­able to all of their con­stituents, not just one of them.

Both the Belle­vue Down­town Asso­ci­a­tion and the Belle­vue Cham­ber of Com­merce have tak­en posi­tions against I‑1125. Both have urged the coun­cil to fol­low suit.

Strange­ly enough, Kem­per does­n’t con­trol those orga­ni­za­tions (in fact, he quit the BDA ear­li­er this year) but he appar­ent­ly con­trols enough votes on the Belle­vue City Coun­cil to pre­vent adop­tion of a res­o­lu­tion oppos­ing I‑1125.

Belle­vue busi­ness­es, work­ers, and res­i­dents who want to see their city coun­cil take a posi­tion on I‑1125 should start lob­by­ing Jen­nifer Robert­son, who was miss­ing from last night’s meet­ing. She’s in the Kem­per Club, but maybe she can be con­vinced that oppos­ing I‑1125 is the smart and sen­si­ble thing to do.

If you’d like to reach out to her and urge her to vote to oppose I‑1125 at the next coun­cil meet­ing, here is her offi­cial con­tact information:

Coun­cilmem­ber Jen­nifer Robertson
450 110th Ave. NE
P.O. Box 90012
Belle­vue, WA 98009
Phone: 425–452-7810
Fax: 425–452-7919
E‑mail: [email protected]

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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One reply on “Bellevue City Council deadlocks as to whether to take a position on Tim Eyman’s I‑1125”

  1. Hey Andrew — that was fun to read. It’s a big soap opera and Belle­vue pol­i­tics are fun. How­ev­er, how do you get your infor­ma­tion on who Kem­per and Bet­ty Free­man give their mon­ey too? 

    Keep in mind that many of us are strong­ly in favor of 1125, but have nev­er received a dime for any­one to pub­lish our “Yes on 1125” web sites. Mine is #2 on the google rank­ings after the Offi­cial one, and while it would be nice to receive com­pen­sa­tion from Kem­per and Bet­ty, I am not ask­ing for it. Well, maybe they’re plan­ning to thank me with some­thing after 1125 pass­es. I hope you get my sarcasm. 

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