NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Tim Eyman tries to hit back at Jay Inslee after Inslee urges Washington to vote down I‑1125

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, at the Wash­ing­ton Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers’ annu­al Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons in Seat­tle, Demo­c­ra­t­ic guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Jay Inslee took aim at Tim Eyman and his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry, call­ing for the rejec­tion of Eyman’s lat­est scheme, I‑1125, and declar­ing, “It’s time to start build­ing bridges instead of fund­ing Tim Eyman’s bank account.”

His speech, which was very well-received (and expressed sen­ti­ments that we at NPI strong­ly agree with) evi­dent­ly touched a nerve, because Tim Eyman fired back only a few hours lat­er with a con­de­scend­ing reply. It began as fol­lows:

Wash­ing­ton DC Con­gress­man Inslee needs to under­stand that it is the vot­ers who are approv­ing our ini­tia­tives. Last year’s Ini­tia­tive 1053 passed with 64% of the vote. It was the 4th time vot­ers approved its’ tougher-to-raise-tax­es poli­cies. If you don’t like vot­ers, you’re in the wrong pro­fes­sion. This year’s Ini­tia­tive 1125 clos­es a mul­ti-bil­lion-dol­lar loop­hole the Leg­is­la­ture put in last year’s I‑1053, ensur­ing that trans­porta­tion tax­es and tolls com­ply with I‑1053′s pro­vi­sions and the 18th Amend­ment to our state Con­sti­tu­tion.

Only Tim Eyman can pack so much mis­in­for­ma­tion into one para­graph.

First of all, Jay Inslee rep­re­sents Wash­ing­ton’s 1st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict — he does not rep­re­sent the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. Yes, he works there, but his home is here in the real Wash­ing­ton, and it has always been. Eyman would no doubt like vot­ers to think that Inslee is a trans­plant or some­thing, but that’s not true — Inslee is a native Wash­ing­ton­ian who knows his state very well.

Con­sid­er­ing that Jay has been elect­ed to Con­gress a total of eight times, and lost a con­gres­sion­al reelec­tion bid only once, Eyman’s retort, “if you don’t like vot­ers, you’re in the wrong pro­fes­sion” is down­right sil­ly. What’s more, Jay Inslee has won more elec­tions dur­ing his involve­ment in pol­i­tics than Tim Eyman has. Obvi­ous­ly, vot­ers like him, and pub­lic ser­vice is a call­ing he finds reward­ing.

We have pre­vi­ous­ly point­ed out that Tim Eyman has a dou­ble stan­dard as far as respect­ing the will of the vot­ers goes. I‑1125 includes a pro­vi­sion intend­ed to pre­vent WSDOT from trans­fer­ring part of the Homer M. Hadley Memo­r­i­al Bridge to Sound Tran­sit for East Link light rail, even though vot­ers over­whelm­ing­ly approved East Link as part of the Sound Tran­sit 2 pack­age in 2008.

So, Tim Eyman does­n’t like vot­ers when they don’t agree with him. In his eyes, the Sound Tran­sit 2 vote does­n’t mat­ter… it nev­er hap­pened. By his log­ic, he must be in the wrong pro­fes­sion! We cer­tain­ly would­n’t object if he shut down his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry and went back to sell­ing fra­ter­ni­ty wrist­watch­es.

As for Ini­tia­tive 1053, it was not the fourth time vot­ers approved a mea­sure uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly impos­ing a two-thirds require­ment to raise tax­es. There were two sim­i­lar mea­sures before that: Ini­tia­tive 601 in 1993, and Eyman’s Ini­tia­tive 960 in 2007. Both of those mea­sures passed only nar­row­ly with about 51% of the vote in odd-years (when turnout was low­er). There was no fourth vote.

Eyman has claimed that Ref­er­en­dum 49 in 1998 was the fourth vote. But Ref­er­en­dum 49 did not con­cern impos­ing or re-impos­ing a two-thirds require­ment to raise tax­es. Read the bal­lot title for your­self:

Shall motor vehi­cle excise tax­es be reduced and state rev­enues real­lo­cat­ed; $1.9 bil­lion in bonds for state and local high­ways approved; and spend­ing lim­its mod­i­fied?

Eyman’s asser­tion that “I‑1125 clos­es a mul­ti-bil­lion-dol­lar loop­hole the Leg­is­la­ture put in last year’s I‑1053” is also puz­zling.

The Leg­is­la­ture did not spon­sor I‑1053 — Eyman did. The Leg­is­la­ture did not draft I‑1053 — Eyman and his pals at John Groen’s law firm did. Since I‑1053 went into effect, it has not been amend­ed by the Leg­is­la­ture. So how, exact­ly is it the Leg­is­la­ture’s fault that I‑1053 is not destruc­tive enough?

Eyman appar­ent­ly dis­likes the Leg­is­la­ture so much, he even blames that insti­tu­tion for his own mis­takes. The Leg­is­la­ture is, with­out ques­tion, his go-to scape­goat. (It would­n’t sur­prise me if Eyman’s ini­tial response when an appli­ance breaks inside his home is to blame the Leg­is­la­ture.)

Eyman is very fond of cit­ing the 18th Amend­ment to Wash­ing­ton State’s Con­sti­tu­tion — as far as we can tell, Eyman seems to think that pro­vi­sion, and the pro­vi­sions con­cern­ing ini­tia­tives, are the extent of the doc­u­ment!

The 18th Amend­ment, which is found in Arti­cle II of the Con­sti­tu­tion (as Sec­tion 40) says that license fees on motor vehi­cles, and tax­es on sales of motor vehi­cle fuel, shall be spent exclu­sive­ly on “high­way pur­pos­es”, which are then defined. Tolls are not men­tioned in Sec­tion 40.

Even if Sec­tion 40 did men­tion tolling along with fuel tax­es and license fees, the Leg­is­la­ture’s spe­cif­ic plan to use tolls and toll-backed bonds to pay for the new Ever­green Point Float­ing Bridge would still be per­fect­ly con­sti­tu­tion­al.

But, since tolls are not men­tioned, the Leg­is­la­ture has the free­dom to ded­i­cate toll rev­enues from a par­tic­u­lar facil­i­ty to tran­sit, or to projects that improve mobil­i­ty for bicy­clists and pedes­tri­ans, if it wish­es. Tim Eyman, of course, can’t stand the idea that tolls might go to help improve trans­porta­tion options for every­body.

Regard­less, the Leg­is­la­ture’s plans to toll SR 520 are legal­ly sound… they do not run afoul of the 18th Amend­ment. If there was a case to be made that they did, our courts would be try­ing to resolve a pret­ty high-pro­file dis­pute right now.

While we’re on the sub­ject of the Con­sti­tu­tion and law­suits that seek to uphold our Con­sti­tu­tion, it is worth not­ing that three of the sev­en Tim Eyman ini­tia­tives that have been passed by vot­ers have been thrown out by the state Supreme Court as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. One of those, I‑747, was writ­ten by Tim Eyman’s friend Rob McKen­na, our cur­rent attor­ney gen­er­al and Jay Inslee’s oppo­nent in 2012.

There is also a law­suit in progress that seeks to have I‑1053 declared uncon­sti­tu­tion­al (I‑1053, like its pre­de­ces­sors, vio­lates Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, which says that bills shall pass by major­i­ty vote).

If Tim Eyman real­ly cared about hon­or­ing our Con­sti­tu­tion, he would­n’t rou­tine­ly spon­sor ini­tia­tives that bla­tant­ly vio­late its pro­vi­sions. Our founders gave us a plan of gov­ern­ment that they thought would serve us well. Tim Eyman has done every­thing he can to under­mine and attack the sys­tem that they gave us.

This autumn, please join NPI in say­ing NO to yet anoth­er destruc­tive Tim Eyman ini­tia­tive. Vote NO on I‑1125 and keep our roads safe.

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5 Comments

  1. At the moment I’m a “no” vote on I‑1125, because of the util­i­ty of road use fees (tolls) with off-peak dis­counts as an impor­tant trans­porta­tion fund­ing mech­a­nism that will raise need­ed con­struc­tion, oper­a­tions, and main­te­nance mon­ey as more and more cars and bus­es run on elec­tric­i­ty instead of petro­le­um.

    I am also an oppo­nent of extend­ing light rail across Lake Wash­ing­ton on I‑90 HOV lanes, but there are mul­ti­ple oppor­tu­ni­ties remain­ing for that neigh­bor­hood-destroy­ing, mon­ey-burn­ing mon­stros­i­ty to go away besides pas­sage of I‑1125. Project approval by the U.S. Gov­ern­ment is still pend­ing.

    Besides, I’ve received a report of Sound Tran­sit’s claim that approval of I‑1125 won’t be able to stop light rail on the float­ing bridge. Sound Tran­sit has a lot of mon­ey for legal bat­tles, hires strong lawyers, and so far has won most of its law­suits.

    But here’s some unre­port­ed news that’s old but per­ti­nent: Your claim that “vot­ers over­whelm­ing­ly approved East Link as part of the Sound Tran­sit 2 pack­age in 2008” should note that the draft envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ment (EIS) detail­ing this project was entire­ly com­plet­ed in the years and months pri­or to that Novem­ber 4, 2008 elec­tion, but was held back from release until Decem­ber 12, 2008 after the Prop 1 elec­tion. That way Sound Tran­sit was able to let the Mass Tran­sit Now cam­paign mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions dom­i­nate the debate rather than reveal­ing the facts of that pro­jec­t’s expect­ed per­for­mance: East Link con­sumes more than $3,000,000,000 for just 10,000 addi­tion­al region­al dai­ly pub­lic tran­sit rid­ers. Read the East Link EIS. Do the arith­metic.

    About 80% of the claimed fore­cast of 50,000 dai­ly light rail rid­ers are cus­tomers who would switch from express bus­es that could be made to run faster for a lot less than three bil­lion dol­lars, and a lot soon­er than the sched­ule for East Link com­ple­tion in 2023. Mul­ti­ple bus routes attract more tran­sit rid­ers than pokey lit­tle trains that stop at a rel­a­tive­ly few sta­tions on one route.

    Iron­i­cal­ly, Sound Tran­sit’s man­age­ment is prob­a­bly smil­ing inward­ly at the prospect of I‑1125 win­ning and push­ing back on net­work tolling with off-peak dis­counts. This kind of future road use fee reduces the rel­e­vance of a rail net­work, because the roads — and bus­es — will like­ly work much bet­ter than we see on unpriced roads. The first test of this would be the express bus lines across the new SR 520 toll bridge, which won’t work as well with flat-rate tolling.

    PSR­C’s T‑2040 Plan com­put­er mod­el­ing of the region­al trans­porta­tion net­work in 2040 — with all express­ways in the cen­tral Puget Sound region tolled in peak peri­ods dur­ing the 2030s — cuts region­al express­way con­ges­tion 32% from 2006 lev­els and slash­es Sound Tran­sit’s pro­jec­tions for rail rid­er­ship in half from 2030 to 2040. You can look it up.

    # by John Niles :: October 8th, 2011 at 7:02 PM
  2. I am vot­ing YES on 1125 for many rea­sons. First, it’s not fair for the poor to have to pay more dur­ing peak hours (i.e. 6am-9am and 3pm-6pm). 1125 will ban peak time tolling.

    Is it real­ly fair for the poor, who can­not afford tolls, to exit the free­way dur­ing com­mute hours, and dri­ve on clogged sur­face streets?

    Their com­mutes will be longer, and they will get bad gas mileage, and pay more for gaso­line, trav­el­ing at grid­lock speeds dur­ing non com­mute hours.

    Look at Dr. Peter Gor­don’s study of vari­able tolling in Los Ange­les. Sur­face street con­ges­tion increased with peak time tolls. Cars emit more CO2 and oth­er pol­lu­tants at low­er speeds. Google the research of Dr. Matthew Barth and CO2 lev­els with vehic­u­lar speeds.

    This incon­sis­ten­cy among wealthy trans­porta­tion plan­ners such as John Niles, and their dis­re­gard for the poor, is uncon­scionable. Nobody is a pro­gres­sive if they favor peak time tolls.

    Bruce Nurse, Kem­per’s VP, on the TV‑W video with Tim Eyman, said that he does­n’t think it’s fair for the poor to pay more dur­ing com­mute hours. And, I am sure that Mr. Nurse as Kem­per’s VP, is a very wealthy man. At least Bruce Nurse has a heart.

    Indeed, it was Frank Lloyd Wright, anoth­er rich con­ser­v­a­tive, who also had a heart, favor­ing expan­sion of free pub­lic high­ways way out into the coun­try­side, to help the poor move out of crowd­ed tow­ers, and have their own homes on one acre prop­er­ties.

    While I sup­port bus rapid tran­sit as a much more effi­cient alter­na­tive to light rail, I am dis­ap­point­ed in Mr. Niles that he does not under­stand that the poor can­not afford all these tolls. Is Mr. Niles also vot­ing YES on propo­si­tion 1 for $60 car tabs? How does Mr. Niles expect the poor to trav­el across Lake Wash­ing­ton to work if all the bridges have $8 tolls, when they’re mak­ing $8 an hour?

    If you are a true pro­gres­sive who cares about the poor, you vote YES on 1125, and NO on Prop. 1. All local Reli­gious lead­ers read­ing this know this, and that is how they are vot­ing.

    -Tom Lane

    # by Tom Lane :: October 10th, 2011 at 6:19 AM
  3. I’m a “no” vote on Seat­tle Prop 1 for $60 car tabs, par­tial­ly because I am not a “wealthy trans­porta­tion plan­ner!”

    Also, City of Seat­tle’s focus on street rail­roads as part of Prop 1 is fool­ish pub­lic tran­sit spend­ing when we have a pret­ty good King Coun­ty Metro bus sys­tem that could be made to work bet­ter if it weren’t for mon­ey going to urban street rail­roads like Cen­tral Link Light Rail and the South Lake Union Trol­ley.

    Chang­ing top­ics, on SR 520 tolling the U.S. DOT pushed back hard on the social equi­ty issues — hurt­ing poor peo­ple — with the planned tolling, and the Wash­ing­ton State DOT respond­ed with a let­ter to Fed­er­al High­ways dat­ed April 14 from Sec­re­tary Ham­mond buried in Attach­ment 8, Part 1 of the Final EIS for the SR 520 project.

    I’ve extract­ed that let­ter from deep in the WSDOT web­site and just post­ed it as the new first item on the Pub­lic Inter­est Trans­porta­tion Forum resource page at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/resourcelinks.htm.

    I’m sat­is­fied that the mea­sures tak­en by author­i­ties as list­ed in that let­ter suf­fi­cient­ly mit­i­gate effects of the SR 520 tolls on low­er income folks, enough to pro­ceed with the pre-con­struc­tion vari­able tolls on SR 520 as planned.

    The planned tolling of SR 520 is a use­ful first attempt to show how road use fees with off-peak dis­counts can work to “fight con­ges­tion now” the mar­ket­ing phrase devel­oped by for­mer U.S. Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Mine­ta when he start­ed the Urban Part­ner­ship Pro­gram that was the gen­e­sis for the SR 520 pre-con­struc­tion tolling pro­gram.

    If I‑1125 wins, I hope it won’t screw up this use­ful demon­stra­tion of road pric­ing.

    # by John Niles :: October 10th, 2011 at 11:58 AM
  4. Hi John,
    In my view vari­able peak time tolls will send dri­vers — both poor and rich — to the slow­er sides streets. Dr. Peter Gor­don of USC showed that this would increase con­ges­tion. And, of course, this means more air pol­lu­tion since cars at low­er speeds gen­er­ate more air pol­lu­tion and get worse mileage. So I am against vari­able tolls and will vote yes on 1125, and would vote no on Prop. 1 if I did­n’t live way out in the sub­urbs.

    # by Tom Lane :: October 11th, 2011 at 1:19 AM
  5. And if I‑1125 pass­es, just where will the funds for oper­a­tional expens­es and repairs come in? I have seen this first-hand in our rur­al com­mu­ni­ty. We build elab­o­rate road projects; all the mon­ey is spent on pay­ing engi­neers and build­ing (often above-bud­get, often in infe­ri­or ways, on wet­lands — the roads sink — etc.) and then — oops! — noth­ing left for oper­a­tional costs! I plan to vote no on 1125 and to spread the word about it to every­one I know.

    I won’t neglect to edu­cate peo­ple on Tim Eyman’s sor­did past and sin­gle hand­ed efforts to bank­rupt Wash­ing­ton State either.

    # by S. Bailey :: October 22nd, 2011 at 7:37 AM

2 Pings

  1. […] Tim Eyman tries to hit back at Jay Inslee after Inslee urges Wash­ing­ton to vote down I‑1125 […]

    Ping from Morning Rundown for October 10th, 2011 :: October 10th, 2011 at 10:13 AM
  2. […] his posi­tions on all three of Washington’s 2011 statewide ini­tia­tives this after­noon, after ear­li­er tak­ing a strong stand on one of them (Tim Eyman’s I‑1125) at the Wash­ing­ton Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers’ Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons ear­li­er this […]