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, December 29th, 2016

Thanks, Tim Eyman, for reminding us you’re incapable of comprehending our Constitution

Noto­ri­ous ini­tia­tive prof­i­teer Tim Eyman has been active in Wash­ing­ton State pol­i­tics a very long time — around twen­ty years, in fact. And as read­ers of the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate are well aware, Tim has made sell­ing destruc­tive right-wing ini­tia­tives his full time occu­pa­tion… to the detri­ment of Wash­ing­ton State.

The major­i­ty of the ini­tia­tives Eyman has attempt­ed have either failed to qual­i­fy for the bal­lot or been defeat­ed by vot­ers, and the major­i­ty of the ini­tia­tives Eyman has got­ten past the vot­ers have been struck down by the courts as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, begin­ning with I‑695 in 2000 and con­tin­u­ing with I‑722 the fol­low­ing year.

Since then, a slew of fur­ther Eyman schemes (I‑747, I‑960/I‑1053/I‑1185, I‑1366) have been chal­lenged and struck down as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, while repeat­ed legal chal­lenges insti­gat­ed by Eyman wealthy bene­fac­tor Kem­per Free­man Jr. against Sound Tran­sit’s East Link project on the basis of con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty have failed.

You might think that some­one who has been active in Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics for so long and who has become a full time (albeit unelect­ed) law­mak­er would have learned some­thing about law­mak­ing, and specif­i­cal­ly, how to write laws that com­port with the plan of gov­ern­ment our state’s Founders gave us.

But Eyman has not.

Time and again, Eyman has demon­strat­ed con­tempt for our Con­sti­tu­tion by seek­ing to sab­o­tage it, either with uncon­sti­tu­tion­al ini­tia­tives or through amend­ments intro­duced his cronies in the Leg­is­la­ture, like Pam Roach (R‑31st Dis­trict).

More alarm­ing­ly, it appears Eyman is inca­pable of mere­ly com­pre­hend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion’s basic pro­vi­sions. That’s appar­ent from an email Eyman just sent out today, in which he whines and com­plains that Democ­rats are schem­ing to leave the 31st Dis­trict Sen­ate seat vacant so that Repub­li­cans will lack a major­i­ty in the state Sen­ate for the first few weeks of the leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

Wrote Eyman:

Next week is huge. Pam Roach won her race for the Pierce Coun­ty coun­cil and takes office on Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 3rd. Lat­er that same night start­ing at 7pm, the 37 [Repub­li­can] precinct com­mit­tee offi­cers in the 31st dis­trict will meet at Sum­n­er Mid­dle School to choose 3 poten­tial suc­ces­sors for her sen­ate seat. Then it will be up to the King Coun­ty Coun­cil to appoint one of them.

The Democ­rats want to delay the selec­tion of Pam’s suc­ces­sor so that the Sen­ate will tied 24–24. But a tie means noth­ing gets done, right? Not accord­ing to Cyrus Habib, the new activist lieu­tenant gov­er­nor.  He thinks he can break tie votes in the sen­ate (many believe he can­not). So their plan is to not choose a suc­ces­sor and then jam through a slew of lib­er­al leg­is­la­tion the first week of the ses­sion and get it over to the Demo­c­rat-con­trolled House and onto Inslee’s desk likki­ty split. It’s pure sleaze but whad­dya expect from Democ­rats.

An aside: Eyman has some nerve accus­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic elect­ed offi­cials of “pure sleaze”, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing he tried to black­mail Democ­rats into vot­ing against their val­ues and prin­ci­ples with I‑1366 last year (he failed) and then tried to pun­ish them through an ille­gal attack cam­paign sev­er­al months lat­er.

(Eyman took down his attack ads after NPI dis­cov­ered he broke the law by fail­ing to report them prop­er­ly as inde­pen­dent expen­di­tures.)

I have no doubt that were Repub­li­cans in a posi­tion to deny Democ­rats a twen­ty-fifth vote in the state Sen­ate by tak­ing their time mak­ing an appoint­ment, they would do it in a heart­beat… and Eyman would be cheer­ing them on

We have seen Repub­li­cans adopt scorched-earth tac­tics at many lev­els of gov­ern­ment in order to get their way. For instance, pow­er-hun­gry Repub­li­cans shame­ful­ly refused to act on Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s nom­i­na­tion of Mer­rick Gar­land to fill a vacan­cy on the Unit­ed States Supreme Court. Gar­land did­n’t even get a hear­ing.

I have yet to hear Eyman con­demn such behav­ior as sleazy, and I doubt I ever will. Eyman typ­i­cal­ly only crit­i­cizes Repub­li­cans when he is angry about them work­ing with Democ­rats to get some­thing done — like pass a trans­porta­tion pack­age.

Any­way, in the above-quot­ed para­graphs, I’ve high­light­ed two pas­sages that serve as a reminder that Eyman’s grasp of our Con­sti­tu­tion is very poor.

In the first pas­sage, where Eyman is attempt­ing to describe how Pam Roach will be replaced, he writes: “Then it will be up to the King Coun­ty Coun­cil to appoint one of them.” This is incor­rect. Actu­al­ly, it is not up to the King Coun­ty Coun­cil; it is up to the King and Pierce Coun­ty Coun­cils, act­ing togeth­er.

The Con­sti­tu­tion says that when a leg­isla­tive vacan­cy exists in a dis­trict span­ning coun­ty lines, the leg­isla­tive author­i­ties of each coun­ty shall make a joint appoint­ment. The 31st is such a dis­trict; it includes precincts in both King and Pierce coun­ties. In fact, much of the dis­trict is in Pierce Coun­ty, not King Coun­ty.

Here is what the Con­sti­tu­tion says about joint appoint­ments:

ARTICLE II, SECTION 15. VACANCIES IN LEGISLATURE AND IN PARTISAN COUNTY ELECTIVE OFFICE. […] That in case of a vacan­cy occur­ring in the office of joint sen­a­tor, or joint rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the vacan­cy shall be filled from a list of three nom­i­nees select­ed by the state cen­tral com­mit­tee, by appoint­ment by the joint action of the boards of coun­ty leg­isla­tive author­i­ties of the coun­ties com­pos­ing the joint sen­a­to­r­i­al or joint rep­re­sen­ta­tive dis­trict, the per­son appoint­ed to fill the vacan­cy must be from the same leg­isla­tive dis­trict and of the same polit­i­cal par­ty as the leg­is­la­tor whose office has been vacat­ed, and in case a major­i­ty of the mem­bers of the coun­ty leg­isla­tive author­i­ty do not agree upon the appoint­ment with­in six­ty days after the vacan­cy occurs, the gov­er­nor shall with­in thir­ty days there­after, and from the list of nom­i­nees pro­vid­ed for here­in, appoint a per­son who shall be from the same leg­isla­tive dis­trict and of the same polit­i­cal par­ty as the leg­is­la­tor whose office has been vacat­ed.

The statu­to­ry Repub­li­can state cen­tral com­mit­tee will need to send the King and Pierce Coun­ty Coun­cils three names of poten­tial suc­ces­sors to Pam Roach. After they do so, the coun­cils will have the respon­si­bil­i­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty to fill the vacan­cy through a joint appoint­ment.

If they can­not agree, then the deci­sion will even­tu­al­ly fall to Gov­er­nor Inslee, who will need to make a selec­tion from the same list.

That is the process.

Regret­tably, Eyman neglect­ed to men­tion these impor­tant details to his fol­low­ers. He told them that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic-dom­i­nat­ed King Coun­ty Coun­cil will get to pick Roach’s suc­ces­sor, but again, that’s not so. There will be no joint appoint­ment unless the King and Pierce coun­cils can agree on one of the three names.

Then Eyman goes on, bizarrely, to ques­tion whether incom­ing Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Cyrus Habib will have the pow­er to break ties, writ­ing: “He thinks he can break tie votes in the sen­ate (many believe he can­not).”

Many believe he can­not? What? Who are these peo­ple Eyman’s oblique­ly refer­ring to? Who­ev­er they are, they’re not famil­iar with our plan of gov­ern­ment.

Cyrus Habib will in fact have the pow­er to break ties because the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion explic­it­ly gives him that pow­er:

ARTICLE II, SECTION 10. ELECTION OF OFFICERS. Each house shall elect its own offi­cers; and when the lieu­tenant gov­er­nor shall not attend as pres­i­dent, or shall act as gov­er­nor, the sen­ate shall choose a tem­po­rary pres­i­dent. When pre­sid­ing, the lieu­tenant gov­er­nor shall have the decid­ing vote in case of an equal divi­sion of the sen­ate.

Note that last sen­tence: When pre­sid­ing, the lieu­tenant gov­er­nor shall have the decid­ing vote in case of an equal divi­sion of the sen­ate.

The Con­sti­tu­tion does not say may; it says shall. It is plain­ly evi­dent that the Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor has the pow­er to break tie votes in the Sen­ate.

There have been occa­sions when the Sen­ate dead­locked under retir­ing Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Brad Owen, and he exer­cised his author­i­ty to break ties accord­ing­ly.

Cyrus Habib, it should be men­tioned, is also present­ly a state sen­a­tor who (like Pam Roach) is in the mid­dle of a four-year term.

Habib’s res­ig­na­tion will have tak­en effect by the time the Leg­is­la­ture con­venes on Jan­u­ary 9th, which will also leave the Democ­rats short one mem­ber of their cau­cus unless the King Coun­ty Coun­cil has cho­sen a suc­ces­sor by then.

The dis­trict Habib rep­re­sents lies sole­ly with­in King Coun­ty, so unlike in the 31st, the King Coun­ty Coun­cil will have the pow­er to choose Habib’s suc­ces­sor itself.

Habib will take office as the six­teenth Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton on Jan­u­ary 11th, 2016, two days after the Leg­is­la­ture con­venes.

Eyman has a great desire to see Roach’s seat get filled because Repub­li­cans will lack a work­ing major­i­ty until she has a suc­ces­sor. And that means Repub­li­cans won’t be able to attempt to sab­o­tage Sen­ate rules to require a two-thirds vote to raise rev­enue, or bring any­thing of con­se­quence to the floor for a vote.

Inci­den­tal­ly, it is actu­al­ly Democ­rats who have a Sen­ate major­i­ty for 2017 — at least on paper — because Sen­a­tor Tim Shel­don of the 35th Dis­trict calls him­self a Demo­c­rat, and was elect­ed as a Demo­c­rat, most recent­ly in 2014.

Were Shel­don cau­cus­ing with the par­ty he claims to belong to, then Democ­rats would have an actu­al major­i­ty of twen­ty-five for 2017, thanks to Lisa Well­man’s recent vic­to­ry over Steve Lit­zow in the 41st Dis­trict.

How­ev­er, Shel­don has been cau­cus­ing with Repub­li­cans for four years now. He and Rod­ney Tom defect­ed to the Repub­li­cans in a post-elec­tion pow­er coup. The two of them became Sen­ate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore and Major­i­ty Leader, respec­tive­ly, and Repub­li­cans assumed con­trol over the Sen­ate’s com­mit­tee struc­ture.

For its part, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty hap­pens to con­sid­er Tim Shel­don a Repub­li­can. Amus­ing­ly, so does Tim Eyman, who claimed in his email today that vot­ers vot­ed in a Repub­li­can-con­trolled state Sen­ate this year, even though Sen­ate Democ­rats had a net gain of one seat in the elec­tion that now gives them a the­o­ret­i­cal major­i­ty.

Well, at least there’s one thing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty and Tim Eyman can agree on.

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5 Comments

  1. If Tim Eyman had ANY integri­ty, he’d quit the blath­er­ing and at least SIT on one gov­ern­men­tal body com­mit­tee. It’s one thing to lob cheap shots from the bleach­ers at the coach­es & ath­letes on the field, it’s anoth­er to grab the cit­i­zen card and help out.

    # by Joe :: December 29th, 2016 at 4:01 PM
  2. Eyman is much more pow­er­ful out­side a leg­isla­tive body. How­ev­er, I nev­er thought Trump would run for pres­i­dent, so who knows.

    # by Mike Barer :: December 29th, 2016 at 5:42 PM
  3. Tim Eyman is like Don­ald Trump, they both like media atten­tion and they both have no prob­lem telling bla­tant lies if it helps get them media atten­tion or push­es their ideas in the pub­lic are­na.

    # by Steve Zemke :: December 29th, 2016 at 8:04 PM
  4. Get real. I’ve been elect­ed 10 times to the leg­is­la­ture as a Demo­c­rat. Who are you to ques­tion if I’m a Demo­c­rat or Repub­li­can. I’m very pleased that the con­ser­v­a­tive Repub­li­cans are will­ing to cau­cus with me. See you in Olympia, it should be a great year!

    # by Tim Sheldon :: December 30th, 2016 at 6:32 PM
    • Actions speak loud­er than words, Sen­a­tor. You can cer­tain­ly call your­self a Demo­c­rat if you like, but you act like a Repub­li­can and you cau­cus with Repub­li­cans, so you should not be sur­prised to be con­sid­ered and treat­ed like a Repub­li­can by oth­er peo­ple.

      You have the free­dom to describe your­self how­ev­er you’d like, and we have the free­dom to use a dif­fer­ent (and more accu­rate) descrip­tor for you when we write about you.

      If you want to be con­sid­ered a Demo­c­rat by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, then show some loy­al­ty to Demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues and prin­ci­ples. That is what being a Demo­c­ra­t­ic elect­ed leader is all about.

      See you around the state­house.

      # by Andrew :: December 30th, 2016 at 7:12 PM