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.

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Tim Eyman’s latest slew of initiatives includes scheme to end Seattle’s new $15/hour wage

Hav­ing appar­ent­ly decid­ed that it’s been too long since his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry received any media cov­er­age, Tim Eyman yes­ter­day used a tried and test­ed gam­bit for drum­ming up pub­lic­i­ty: He filed a slew of ini­tia­tives to the Leg­is­la­ture and then fired  off a pro­mo­tion­al email to what’s left of the state’s polit­i­cal press corps.

Two of the ini­tia­tives are retreads of past Eyman schemes; they per­tain to vehi­cle fees and red light cam­eras. The oth­er three appear to be bad ideas that Eyman is latch­ing onto sim­ply to get media cov­er­age.

One seems to be aimed at try­ing to require that the state’s elec­toral col­lege votes be appor­tioned by con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, although it is poor­ly writ­ten.

(Repub­li­cans would gain votes every four years in the Elec­toral Col­lege by elim­i­nat­ing the win­ner-take-all sys­tem in Demo­c­ra­t­ic states like Wash­ing­ton, while keep­ing it in place in states that usu­al­ly vote for the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee).

The sec­ond appears to be an attempt to pre­vent pub­lic employ­ee unions from using any mon­ey col­lect­ed from their mem­bers for elec­tion­eer­ing and cam­paign­ing.

And the third is square­ly aimed at pre­vent­ing cities from set­ting their own min­i­mum wages, as Seat­tle just did. (SeaT­ac pre­vi­ous­ly vot­ed to set its min­i­mum wage at $15 an hour last Novem­ber; the Seat­tle City Coun­cil vot­ed to fol­low suit this week).

I should men­tion that this third ini­tia­tive is almost iden­ti­cal to an ini­tia­tive filed yes­ter­day by for­mer SeaT­ac City Coun­cilmem­ber Richard Forschler, who vot­ers chose to replace with Kathryn Camp­bell last Novem­ber. Forschler had cam­paigned hard against SeaT­ac Propo­si­tion 1, writ­ing in his voter’s pam­phlet state­ment:

Cur­rent­ly, union boss­es and gov­ern­ment elites are threat­en­ing SeaT­ac with a job-killing ini­tia­tive – an ini­tia­tive that would be espe­cial­ly harm­ful to the work­ing poor, young peo­ple, immi­grants, and minori­ties. This job-killing ini­tia­tive would lead to high­er unem­ploy­ment, more pover­ty, and greater suf­fer­ing for SeaTac’s most vul­ner­a­ble.

SeaT­ac has been tar­get­ed by spe­cial inter­ests because we have a small num­ber of vot­ers, but a huge com­mer­cial base of air­port and air­port-relat­ed busi­ness­es. The spe­cial inter­ests, union boss­es, and gov­ern­ment elites are using our city as a test case to push their agen­da.

Forschler filed an ini­tia­tive with slight­ly dif­fer­ent word­ing yes­ter­day morn­ing, which has the exact same title: “The Fair and Uni­form Min­i­mum Wage Act”. It’s pos­si­ble the idea for the bill orig­i­nal­ly came from a Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tor.

Either way, the ini­tia­tive did­n’t come out of Eyman’s head.

In his typ­i­cal fash­ion, how­ev­er, Eyman is try­ing to make it sound as though he devel­oped the ini­tia­tive him­self. From his email to the media this after­noon:

Regard­ing those five ini­tia­tives to the Leg­is­la­ture we filed yes­ter­day, we’re sim­ply doing research and devel­op­ment…

[These] are poli­cies that we strong­ly sup­port and believe are wor­thy of a pub­lic debate and pub­lic vote.  We are enthu­si­as­tic about explor­ing new ideas and to spur fur­ther dis­cus­sion.

As for [sic] our Fair and Uni­form Min­i­mum Wage Ini­tia­tive is con­cerned, our goal is to illus­trate to the small busi­ness own­ers and oth­er con­cerned cit­i­zens a smart, effec­tive ini­tia­tive pro­pos­al that gives every­one in Wash­ing­ton a voice in the eco­nom­ic future of our state.  For those inter­est­ed, we have attached the final text for it.

What a load of non­sense. Research and devel­op­ment, ha! If Eyman were tru­ly inter­est­ed in writ­ing sound law and lis­ten­ing to feed­back, he could hold pub­lic meet­ings and set up a wiki where peo­ple could mark up his drafts.

But he does­n’t do that. He nev­er has.

Using the state’s resources to repeat­ed­ly file the same ini­tia­tive drafts over and over isn’t research and devel­op­ment. It’s bal­lot title shop­ping.

And tak­ing cred­it for some­one else’s work? That’s pla­gia­rism!

Pub­lic opin­ion research shows that increas­ing the min­i­mum wage is an extreme­ly pop­u­lar idea — not just in Seat­tle, but across Wash­ing­ton State.

In 1998, Wash­ing­to­ni­ans over­whelm­ing­ly vot­ed to approve an ini­tia­tive to raise the min­i­mum wage and adjust it in accor­dance with the Con­sumer Price Index going for­ward. That ini­tia­tive received a high­er mar­gin of approval on the Novem­ber 1998 bal­lot than any ini­tia­tive Tim Eyman has ever spon­sored, and Eyman is undoubt­ed­ly aware of the elec­toral his­to­ry.

The ini­tia­tive he’s filed appears to be noth­ing more than an attempt to get media cov­er­age by attach­ing his own name to text he did­n’t write.

Eyman con­tin­ues to dis­hon­est­ly claim to be in the midst of the home stretch for the sig­na­ture dri­ve of the ini­tia­tive he filed last Jan­u­ary. In his email today, he wrote:

We are work­ing extreme­ly hard on col­lect­ing the nec­es­sary sig­na­tures to qual­i­fy […] I‑1325 for the Novem­ber bal­lot. The July 3rd dead­line is fast approach­ing. We’re mak­ing good progress, we’re not there yet, we’re just gonna keep our heads down and keep work­ing hard. It’s a real­ly excit­ing ini­tia­tive that is a grand slam home run IF we can get it on the bal­lot.

If Eyman real­ly were keep­ing his head down and work­ing fever­ish­ly to get I‑1325 on the bal­lot, he would­n’t be spend­ing time fil­ing a slew of ini­tia­tives to the Leg­is­la­ture, and then pro­mot­ing those ini­tia­tives to reporters.

Eyman’s actions today and yes­ter­day belie his words. In a few weeks, he’s either going to have to pro­duce the sig­na­tures for I‑1325, or con­coct some pathet­ic expla­na­tion for why he isn’t sub­mit­ting them.

Our guess is that Eyman already knows that I‑1325 isn’t going to make it. With­out a wealthy bene­fac­tor putting up the mon­ey to buy the sig­na­tures he needs, Eyman won’t be able to buy his way onto the bal­lot like he usu­al­ly does.

Eyman may have a few vol­un­teers col­lect­ing sig­na­tures here and there, but he does­n’t have any paid crews work­ing fer­ry lines, super­mar­ket store entrances, or fes­ti­vals like the recent­ly con­clud­ed Folk­life. If he did, there’d be plen­ty of evi­dence of an active, wide­spread sig­na­ture dri­ve… and there isn’t. We’ve looked.

It takes seri­ous man­pow­er to col­lect 300,000 plus sig­na­tures on thou­sands of peti­tions, whether in a six or ten month win­dow, as Eyman well knows.

To get on the bal­lot with­out hir­ing paid peti­tion­ers, a cam­paign essen­tial­ly needs a large, well-orga­nized, and high­ly ded­i­cat­ed army of vol­un­teer activists. Eyman has no such force, though he pre­tends he does.

He does have a cadre of small­er donors, as can be seen from look­ing at his com­mit­tee’s con­vo­lut­ed PDC reports, but the vast major­i­ty of his financ­ing — for more than a decade — has been pro­vid­ed by wealthy bene­fac­tors like the late Michael Dun­mire of Wood­inville, Belle­vue devel­op­er Kem­per Free­man, Jr., or big oil com­pa­nies like BP and Cono­coPhillips. All of the afore­men­tioned bene­fac­tors have writ­ten Eyman’s cam­paign com­mit­tee six-fig­ure checks.

The last two times Eyman tried to get ini­tia­tives the bal­lot with­out a wealthy bene­fac­tor (I‑807 in 2003 and I‑864 in 2004) he did­n’t make it. Unless Eyman has already received or is in the process of receiv­ing a large infu­sion of cash, his I‑1325 is on the verge of defeat. That would be a very good thing for our state. We haven’t had a Eyman-free bal­lot since 2006. The demise of I‑1325, which threat­ens our com­mon wealth and our democ­ra­cy, would be a very pos­i­tive and wel­come devel­op­ment. The last thing Wash­ing­ton needs is more Tim Eyman ini­tia­tives.

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