Tim Eyman has thrown in the towel on his most recent attempt to defund Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades, even if he isn’t ready to overtly say so yet.
The infamous initiative profiteer, who fancies himself a road warrior, announced back in June that he would seek to qualify an initiative to the 2017 Legislature to wipe out billions of dollars in funding for transit at the state and local level.
Eyman created a campaign committee for the initiative (I‑869) and printed up petitions, but never did much of anything else… evidently because he was unable to convince his wealthy benefactors to bankroll a signature drive.
Signatures for initiatives to the 2017 Legislature are due this Friday, December 30th, by the close of business, but Eyman won’t be showing up to submit any I‑869 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division because he was unable to buy the labor he needed to get I‑869 off the ground.
Eyman has all but admitted I‑869 is doomed. For the past six months, his fundraising appeals have contained his obligatory reference to I‑869:
Petitions for “We Love Our Cars” I‑869 have been sent out (if you need more, just email or call). Our polling shows it’s another big winner. Please help us make it a reality.
But that paragraph was omitted from today’s fundraising email, which made no mention of I‑869. Instead of asking for contributions to qualify I‑869, Eyman asked for money for himself (something he’s become really good at):
If you like and appreciate our past, current, and future efforts on behalf of taxpayers, please send us a donation for $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1000, $2500, $5000 or more (there are no limits on how much can be given). You can go to our website right now and make a secure on-line contribution by PayPal or VISA or M/C. OR, you can print this form, fill it out, and return it with a check or credit card information.
If Eyman’s past behavior is any indication, he’s not going to say anything openly about the demise of I‑869 until he is ready to begin selling something else.
(As a salesman of bad ideas, Eyman must always have something to sell.)
When Eyman unveiled I‑869 at the beginning of June 2016, it marked the third time in the span of six months that he had unveiled plans for a new initiative, with the previous two announcements having amounted to false starts.
In November of 2015, Eyman called a press conference in the statehouse to announce his intent to qualify a “Son of 1366” to the 2016 ballot. Eyman and his associates created a campaign committee to promote the new initiative that looked powerful on paper (the committee was loaded with over $1 million in loans), presumably to intimidate Democrats in the Legislature into complying with Eyman’s demand to sabotage Article II, Section 22 of the State Constitution.
However, Democrats were united in their refusal to capitulate, and the Son of 1366 committee ultimately became a liability for Eyman when NPI’s friends with Keep Washington Rolling launched a citizen’s action against him and the committee for failure to properly comply with Washington’s public disclosure laws.
In February, Eyman returned to the state capital (this time without his sidekicks in tow) to announce a new scheme to defund Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades — I‑1421. Again, Eyman made a big show of introducing the initiative, even symbolically becoming the first to sign it in front of the television cameras.
But though he did print petitions for I‑1421, it turned out to be no more real than the “Son of 1366” he had announced in November. By June, Eyman had admitted to The Herald’s Jerry Cornfield that I‑1421 was doomed and would not qualify.
Six initiatives ultimately appeared on the 2016 ballot… none of them Eyman’s, for only the fourth time in sixteen years. Bereft of an initiative to sell, Eyman tried to make himself a player in the presidential election in other ways.
Eyman successfully lobbied the Sound Transit board of directors to get himself appointed to the committees tasked with writing the con statements for the voter’s pamphlet (a decision we strongly criticized here), and backed Rodney Tom’s attack campaigns against Justices Barbara Madsen and Charlie Wiggins, which were failures. Meanwhile, his initiative factory sat idle, with I‑869 stalled inside.
Last month, with all evidence suggesting I‑869 would meet the same fate as I‑1421, we declared I‑869 dead. Eyman did not dispute our assessment.
This Friday, we will officially add I‑869 to Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart as its newest entry. We have no doubt I‑869 will soon be scrubbed from Eyman’s website and replaced with something else, as if it never existed.
But we will celebrating I‑869’s failure for many weeks. It is vital that we invest in mass transit to secure our state’s economic future, reduce pollution, and improve mobility. I‑869’s demise means another threat to Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades has fizzled out. Sound Transit, the public agency Eyman loathes above all others, is flying high, having had a stellar 2016, while Eyman is crashing and burning. That is a very good outcome for the state and region we love.