One of the phras­es Tim Eyman fre­quent­ly uses to describe the anti-tolling, anti-light rail scheme that he pur­chased a pub­lic vote on (with Kem­per Free­man Jr.‘s mon­ey) is “Son of 1053”. To hear Eyman tell it, 1053 clos­es a pur­port­ed loop­hole that he left in his own uncon­sti­tu­tion­al ini­tia­tive last year — the loop­hole being the absence of a pro­vi­sion restrict­ing what the Leg­is­la­ture can do with tolls.

I‑1053 does include a pro­vi­sion requir­ing that fees be approved by the state Leg­is­la­ture. Eyman ini­tial­ly thought that pro­vi­sion would pre­clude the Leg­is­la­ture from del­e­gat­ing its toll-set­ting author­i­ty to the State Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sion, or allow­ing agen­cies to raise fees on their own.

But an opin­ion issued by the office of Eyman’s good friend Rob McKen­na last Decem­ber held that while I‑1053 did take away the Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sion’s pow­er to set tolls, no statute could restrict the Leg­is­la­ture from del­e­gat­ing its author­i­ty. So, dur­ing the 2011 ses­sion, state law­mak­ers vot­ed to re-empow­er the Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sion to set tolls. Eyman filed I‑1125 in response, but the mea­sure did not move for­ward until Eyman received a guar­an­tee of fund­ing from Kem­per Free­man, Jr. to pay for the sig­na­ture drive.

As it turns out, some of the cor­po­ra­tions that sup­port­ed I‑1053 finan­cial­ly last year are not enam­ored with Eyman’s “Son of 1053” measure.

They like I‑1053 because the lan­guage of the ini­tia­tive has been inter­pret­ed to mean that the repeal of any tax exemp­tion con­sti­tutes a tax increase, which is (uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly) sub­ject to a two-thirds vote under I‑1053. As long as I‑1053 is in effect, all that cor­po­ra­tions have to do is con­vince the Sen­ate’s sev­en­teen most con­ser­v­a­tive sen­a­tors to vote against any bill that would elim­i­nate a loop­hole they enjoy. I‑1053 is basi­cal­ly a cor­po­rate wel­fare racket.

But they don’t like I‑1125 because I‑1125 would mess with the financ­ing for high­way projects that they care about.

Because Wash­ing­ton dri­vers have col­lec­tive­ly been buy­ing few­er gal­lons of gaso­line per year than in pre­vi­ous years, the gas tax is bring­ing in less rev­enue than it used to. This trend is pro­ject­ed to con­tin­ue. That’s why the state is begin­ning to col­lect tolls on SR 520 even before the new bridge is built; the tolls are need­ed to secure bonds for the con­struc­tion of the new bridge.

Eyman’s I‑1125 would blow a hole in this long-agreed financ­ing plan, as State Trea­sur­er Jim McIn­tire has put it.

So major Wash­ing­ton employ­ers are step­ping up to fund the NO on I‑1125 cam­paign… includ­ing some that donat­ed to I‑1053 last year.

Microsoft (which did not donate to I‑1053 last year), is par­tic­u­lar­ly enthu­si­as­tic about beat­ing I‑1125. The com­pa­ny  — which, like NPI, calls Red­mond home — has already donat­ed $100,000 to the cause. Puget Sound Ener­gy, Par­sons Brinck­er­hoff, and Pem­co have all made five-fig­ure contributions.

But so have Wey­er­hauser ($25,000 to NO on 1125), Port Blake­ly Tree Farms ($10,000 to NO on 1125), and the Green Dia­mond Resource Com­pa­ny ($10,000 to NO on 1125). All wrote five-fig­ure checks to help Eyman only a few sea­sons ago. Now they’ve writ­ten five-fig­ure checks to the cam­paign work­ing to beat Eyman.

What a dif­fer­ence a year makes.

The con­ser­v­a­tive Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Busi­ness, which lined up much of I‑1053’s  cor­po­rate sup­port and calls itself the state’s cham­ber of com­merce, has also decid­ed to oppose I‑1125. As far as the AWB is concerned:

Ini­tia­tive 1125 would jeop­ar­dize con­struc­tion and fund­ing for mul­ti­ple major trans­porta­tion projects, includ­ing the Colum­bia Riv­er cross­ing in Van­cou­ver and the 520 bridge in Seat­tle, and that just means more delays and traf­fic headaches for Wash­ing­ton dri­vers. AWB mem­bers also believe vari­able tolling is a nec­es­sary part of today’s trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture projects, and that it would be bet­ter to have the Leg­is­la­ture set up a com­mis­sion to set the tolls and tolling cri­te­ria than keep­ing those deci­sions with law­mak­ers in Olympia.

I‑1125’s sup­port­ers include Eyman and his band of fol­low­ers, Kem­per Free­man, Jr., and the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty, Eyman’s most depend­able endors­er. That’s about the extent of the Yes on I‑1125 forces.

NPI strong­ly oppos­es I‑1125 and urges a no vote on the mea­sure this autumn.

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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8 replies on “Coalition against I‑1125 includes past, likely future Tim Eyman supporters”

  1. This cam­paign would be more effec­tive if y’all removed the word “lib­er­al” from the top of the coali­tion-against-I-1125 web­site,

    … because that word makes the coali­tion seem MUCH nar­row­er than the actu­al broad coali­tion it is, includ­ing peo­ple who nev­er con­sid­er them­selves liberals.

    1. You’re cor­rect that the coali­tion against I‑1125 includes con­ser­v­a­tives as well as lib­er­als. But the rest your com­ment makes no sense. I think you’re con­fused about what you’re look­ing at. 

      NPI’s web­site belongs to NPI, and always has. It is not the coali­tion website. 

      The NO on I‑1125 coali­tion has its own web­site.

  2. What­ev­er one wants to say about Mr. Eyman, he has res­ur­rect­ed a very impor­tant, par­tic­i­pa­to­ry process in his use of ini­tia­tives. I say this as a left-lean­ing progressive.

    My response is twofold:
    1) Yours is a very long-wind­ed and heat­ed opposition.

    2) I think tolls will keep peo­ple pay­ing who actu­al­ly use the struc­tures built. I per­son­al­ly am for that. 

    Why is it that peo­ple who have mon­ey fight so hard against part­ing with it for the com­mon good (i.e. infra­struc­ture)? Yet, they will sup­port self-serv­ing redun­dan­cies, like a new sta­di­um, before the old was paid off? Or they will ignore the vote if it does­n’t go their way (i.e. the viaduct), and keep putting it on the bal­lot … maybe in between major elec­tions, until they get the desired result? Some­how, that just isn’t in the spir­it of the con­sti­tu­tion as I under­stand it, re: rep­re­sen­ta­tive governance.

    1. Janette, are you at all famil­iar with the writ­ings of Tim Eyman? If this post seems heat­ed to you, I can’t help but won­der what you think of Tim Eyman’s mul­ti-week­ly missives!

      I think you’re the first com­menter we’ve ever had com­plain about the length of a post. Much of what is writ­ten here on The Advo­cate is long-form. We go into depth on pur­pose to get beyond talk­ing points and sound bites. Most of our read­ers find that very refreshing. 

      I would­n’t describe Tim Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry as par­tic­i­pa­to­ry. It is very much a closed oper­a­tion. Eyman decides what scheme he wants to put before the vot­ers each year. He finds a wealthy bene­fac­tor to sup­ply the mon­ey he needs to buy enough sig­na­tures. Then he starts relent­less­ly hon­ing his mes­sage. He is the pri­ma­ry mes­sen­ger for his own ini­tia­tives. It’s his show; it’s not a team oper­a­tion. There’s not a week that goes by when he’s not pep­per­ing reporters with emails. 

      In con­trast, the leg­isla­tive process is more open. If you sup­port or oppose a par­tic­u­lar bill, you can tes­ti­fy on that bill at a pub­lic hear­ing — or send in your com­ments to law­mak­ers. The leg­isla­tive process is delib­er­a­tive by design, which makes it very participatory. 

      The ini­tia­tive process can also be par­tic­i­pa­to­ry, but the days of par­tic­i­pa­to­ry grass­roots ini­tia­tives are pret­ty much over. Nowa­days the process is dom­i­nat­ed by mon­ey and spe­cial inter­est agen­das. We can restore the ini­tia­tive and ref­er­en­dum to their (grass) roots, but it’s not going to be easy.

  3. What you are refer­ring to is the rise of “Cor­po­ratism,” as devel­oped by nobel lau­re­ate econ­o­mist Dr. Edmund Phelps. Unfor­tu­an­te­ly, spe­cial inter­est groups con­trol much of local and nation­al pol­i­tics and donate to polit­i­cal caus­es to get their ways. This is unfortunate.

    How­ev­er, in my opin­ion I do not view Tim Eyman and Kem­per Free­man as spe­cial inter­ests, giv­en that 1125 is in the pub­lic inter­est, and pro­tects the 18th Amend­ment. They are cit­i­zens with tremen­dous lead­er­ship skills, whether you agree with their posi­tions or not. 

    To me, Kem­per is a fas­ci­nat­ing per­son, since he is against light rail, but he favors bus rapid tran­sit and bike lanes, and even installed Elec­tric Car Charg­ing Sta­tions in the NE Tow­er at his Belle­vue Square mall. Check them out next time you vis­it, ask the atten­dants where they are locat­ed or else you will spends hours try­ing to find them. Photo -‑2.jpg

    1. You’ve got a fine dou­ble stan­dard, Tom. Cor­po­ra­tions you dis­agree with are “spe­cial inter­ests”; but the wealthy devel­op­er whose fight against light rail you sup­port is not. 

      Kem­per Free­man, Jr. and his com­pa­ny, Kem­per Hold­ings, eas­i­ly meet the com­mon­ly accept­ed def­i­n­i­tion of spe­cial inter­est. You evi­dent­ly don’t want to call Kem­per that because you admire him. Whatever.

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