NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Washington’s values need defending: Why Redmond must oppose Tim Eyman’s I‑1366

Editor’s Note: Tonight, North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute Advi­so­ry Coun­cil mem­ber Kath­leen Reynolds and I attend­ed a spe­cial meet­ing of the Red­mond City Coun­cil to urge Red­mond’s sev­en elect­ed law­mak­ers to take a posi­tion oppos­ing Tim Eyman’s I‑1366. The fol­low­ing is a revised and extend­ed copy of my remarks. 

Good evening, May­or Machione and mem­bers of the Red­mond City Coun­cil. For the record, my name is Andrew Vil­leneuve. I am a life­long res­i­dent of Red­mond, and the founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, based here in the Bicy­cle Cap­i­tal of the North­west. The pur­pose of my tes­ti­mo­ny tonight is to urge you to adopt a res­o­lu­tion oppos­ing Ini­tia­tive 1366, the most dan­ger­ous and destruc­tive ini­tia­tive that Tim Eyman has ever sponsored.

I‑1366 is a hostage-tak­ing ini­tia­tive that attempts to coerce the Leg­is­la­ture into invok­ing its pow­er to pro­pose con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments. The ini­tia­tive demands that the Leg­is­la­ture sab­o­tage our Con­sti­tu­tion’s major­i­ty vote require­ment to per­ma­nent­ly require a two-thirds vote to pass any bill that rais­es rev­enue. If leg­is­la­tors do not do so by April 15th, 2016, the ini­tia­tive would cut the state sales tax by about fif­teen per­cent, result­ing in the loss of $8 bil­lion over six years.

I have been orga­niz­ing oppo­si­tion to Tim Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry for over thir­teen years, and this is with­out a doubt the most dan­ger­ous, mean-spir­it­ed Eyman ini­tia­tive I have seen yet. It needs and deserves the oppo­si­tion of our city.

I want Red­mond to have a great future. I care deeply about this com­mu­ni­ty and its well-being. It’s what prompt­ed me to become an activist back in 2002. I felt I could no longer stand by and watch as Tim Eyman spon­sored ini­tia­tive after ini­tia­tive to under­mine our Con­sti­tu­tion and destroy pub­lic trust in our gov­ern­ment, which belongs to all of us. I was dis­gust­ed when Eyman made it his mis­sion to destroy Sound Tran­sit and pre­vent it from con­struct­ing the light rail sys­tem I knew our region des­per­ate­ly need­ed. So I went into politics.

Thir­teen years lat­er, I’m still fight­ing to pro­tect Red­mond’s future and defend Wash­ing­ton’s val­ues. I’m here to ask you to join me in the noble and impor­tant cause of bring­ing Wash­ing­ton togeth­er to defeat this ter­ri­ble initiative.

The stakes could not be high­er. But not many peo­ple appear to be aware of what’s on the line. Vot­er turnout in elec­tion so far has been abysmal – few­er than 10% of reg­is­tered vot­ers in King Coun­ty have returned bal­lots. We have 28,168 reg­is­tered vot­ers in Red­mond, accord­ing to King Coun­ty Elec­tions, but only 2,542 have returned bal­lots. That’s 9% turnout. And the vot­ing peri­od is halfway over.

To put it anoth­er way: 91% of Red­mond res­i­dents have yet to vote in this election.

It is vital that the City of Red­mond declare its oppo­si­tion to Eyman’s I‑1366. Coun­cilmem­ber Kim Allen’s sub­sti­tute res­o­lu­tion would accom­plish just that, and I urge you to adopt it. Your coura­geous vote tonight can make a difference.

I’ve heard it said that res­o­lu­tions like these are tan­ta­mount to telling vot­ers how to vote. Not so. By pass­ing this res­o­lu­tion, you are pro­vid­ing guid­ance and coun­sel to the vot­ers while they con­sid­er I‑1366, as express­ly per­mit­ted by state law. By pass­ing this res­o­lu­tion, you demon­strate that you are more than just elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives – you are lead­ers who val­ue good governance.

The vot­ers will decide the fate of this ini­tia­tive, but you can help them cast an informed vote by adopt­ing this res­o­lu­tion and putting our city on record as opposed to the destruc­tive, mil­i­tant pol­i­tics of hostage-taking.

It’s clear from the way Tim Eyman is cam­paign­ing that he is attempt­ing to get vot­ers to endorse the pol­i­tics of hostage-tak­ing through decep­tion. He does not want to have a dis­cus­sion about the costs and the con­se­quences of his black­mail scheme. Those of us who believe in respon­si­ble gov­er­nance must insist on hav­ing that con­ver­sa­tion and ensur­ing the vot­ers know what Eyman is real­ly up to.

As Red­mond’s leg­is­la­tors, each of you are reg­u­lar­ly called upon to help neigh­bors and con­stituents make sense of com­plex issues. It’s part of your job.

Col­lec­tive­ly, you have the oppor­tu­ni­ty tonight to help the peo­ple of our city under­stand the grave harm Tim Eyman’s I‑1366 would inflict on Redmond.

All vot­ers see when they go to vote on I‑1366 — unless they look at the voter’s pam­phlet, go online to do research, or hap­pen to read about it in the news — is a one para­graph descrip­tion that is utter­ly lack­ing in context.

I‑1366’s bal­lot title does not dis­cuss the grave ram­i­fi­ca­tions that would result from its enact­ment. It does not cau­tion that pas­sage of this ini­tia­tive would set a hor­ri­ble prece­dent, invit­ing all sorts of mis­chief from oth­ers in future years.

The bal­lot title does not explain that the peo­ple’s ini­tia­tive pow­er was intend­ed to be a tool that the cit­i­zens could use to bypass a grid­locked Leg­is­la­ture and make Wash­ing­ton a bet­ter state, but that Tim Eyman is try­ing to turn it into a weapon.

The bal­lot title does not point out that the demand­ed con­sti­tu­tion­al change is in deep con­flict with Wash­ing­ton’s val­ues, and would per­ma­nent­ly sab­o­tage the major­i­ty vote pro­vi­sion of our Con­sti­tu­tion that dates back to statehood.

It does not warn that requir­ing a two-thirds vote gives one fac­tion of one par­ty in one house veto pow­er over impor­tant bud­get­ing deci­sions, which is con­trary to the prin­ci­ples that Madi­son, Hamil­ton, and our Found­ing Fathers fer­vent­ly believed in.

Nor does the bal­lot title detail the enor­mous cuts that would result from the loss of $8 bil­lion in sales tax rev­enue over six years.

There will be destruc­tive ram­i­fi­ca­tions felt at the local lev­el in addi­tion to the state lev­el if the sales tax is slashed. As you all know, when the Leg­is­la­ture has a bud­get short­fall to fill, its favorite moves are account­ing gim­micks and fund transfers.

Pub­lic safe­ty grants to cities like Red­mond will be among the first items on the chop­ping block under Sce­nario 1 of I‑1366.

This is all infor­ma­tion that the vot­ers ought to know. The cities of Seat­tle, Spokane, and Kirk­land have adopt­ed res­o­lu­tions urg­ing the rejec­tion of Tim Eyman’s I‑1366. Now it’s time for Red­mond to lead.

Please vote yes on this res­o­lu­tion and recom­mit our city to the cause of build­ing a bet­ter region and a bet­ter state. Thank you.

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