Tim Eyman signs Initiative 947
Tim Eyman becomes the first signer of Initiative 947 (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

It’s been a lit­tle over twen­ty years since vot­ers in urban King, Sno­homish, and Pierce coun­ties vot­ed to cre­ate the Region­al Trans­porta­tion Author­i­ty (RTA), bet­ter and more com­mon­ly known as Sound Tran­sit.

Dur­ing those years, thanks to the wise invest­ment of our tax dol­lars, our region has gained a net­work of express bus routes, com­muter rail lines, street­cars, park and rides, high occu­pan­cy vehi­cle ramps, and, most impor­tant­ly, a flour­ish­ing light rail spine con­nect­ing six­teen sta­tions, with dozens more under construction.

But while vot­ers have repeat­ed­ly giv­en Sound Tran­sit the green light to finance and build all this bad­ly need­ed tran­sit infra­struc­ture, there’s a guy liv­ing in Muk­il­teo who wants to turn back the clock and pull the plug on all the projects that haven’t already been fin­ished. His name is Tim Eyman, and he’s well known to Wash­ing­to­ni­ans as a lying, cheat­ing pur­vey­or of self-serv­ing initiatives.

The team at NPI have been orga­niz­ing oppo­si­tion to Eyman’s destruc­tive schemes for over fif­teen years through our Per­ma­nent Defense project. Our efforts to pro­vide vig­or­ous, year-round oppo­si­tion to Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry have met with great suc­cess, and our track record is evi­dence of that.

Most of the mea­sures Eyman has announced since the project was start­ed have either failed to qual­i­fy for the bal­lot (includ­ing his last con­sec­u­tive four), have been defeat­ed by vot­ers, have been or struck down in the courts. We main­tain a run­ning tal­ly that we call Tim Eyman’s Fail­ure Chart, which tells this story.

Tim Eyman absolute­ly loathes Sound Tran­sit and has tried repeat­ed­ly over the years to either sab­o­tage or destroy the agency to pre­vent it from build­ing any more projects. The num­ber of attempts he’s made to pre­vent Sound Tran­sit from going about its work, going back to I‑776 in 2002, could fill a book.

Although he has been defeat­ed at every turn, he still has a burn­ing desire to see Sound Tran­sit destroyed. That was evi­dent today when, in front of King Street Sta­tion, Eyman announced Ini­tia­tive 947, a near car­bon copy of his two failed 2016 attempts to — in his words — “gut Sound Tran­sit like a pig”.

I‑947 would repeal the fund­ing sources that the state Leg­is­la­ture grant­ed to Sound Tran­sit with the 2015 Con­nect­ing Wash­ing­ton pack­age. The intent of I‑947 is to force the can­cel­la­tion of most of the agen­cy’s slate of ST3 projects.

“Let’s stick it to Sound Tran­sit!” Eyman exhort­ed in an email to his fol­low­ers timed to go out after he had fin­ished spout­ing fab­ri­ca­tions in front of reporters.

Were I‑947 to be imple­ment­ed, fund­ing to extend light rail to Bal­lard, West Seat­tle, Everett, Taco­ma, and down­town Red­mond would be evis­cer­at­ed. Sounder and ST Express expan­sion would also be endangered.

Sound Tran­sit has already sold bonds to investors backed by ST3 rev­enue (which are con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly pro­tect­ed), but Eyman does­n’t care about that. I‑947 attempts to force Sound Tran­sit to retire its ST3 bonds early.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 13. A new sec­tion is added to chap­ter 81.112 RCW to read as fol­lows: An author­i­ty must ful­ly retire, defease, or refi­nance any out­stand­ing bonds issued under this chap­ter, chap­ter 81.104 RCW, or chap­ter 46.17 RCW if:

(1) The fol­low­ing rev­enue col­lect­ed pri­or to the effec­tive date of this sec­tion has been pledged to the bonds:

(a) Rev­enue from the motor vehi­cle excise tax imposed under RCW 81.104.140 or 81.104.160; or

(b) Rev­enue from the motor vehi­cle weight fee imposed under RCW 46.17.365 or 46.68.415; and

(2) The bonds, by virtue of the terms of the bond con­tract, covenants, or sim­i­lar terms, may be retired or defeased ear­ly or refinanced.

As men­tioned, Eyman chose the plaza of Seat­tle’s King Street Sta­tion as the venue for his 11 AM media event announc­ing his new scheme to “stick it to Sound Tran­sit”. (Sound Tran­sit does­n’t own King Street Sta­tion, but it is the ter­mi­nus for the agen­cy’s two Sounder com­muter rail lines.)

Eyman may not see the irony in his choice of venue, but we do.

For years, King Street Sta­tion was a decrepit, neglect­ed facil­i­ty. It was unsafe and falling apart. State and local elect­ed lead­ers real­ized the sta­tion was in dan­ger of being lost to decay and decid­ed to restore it to its for­mer grandeur. Over $47 mil­lion in most­ly pub­lic funds were secured to real­ize the project.

Mon­ey for the project was pro­vid­ed by:

  • Fed­er­al Tran­sit Admin­is­tra­tion (FTA)
  • Sound Tran­sit
  • Sur­face Trans­porta­tion Pro­gram (STP) Enhancement
  • Amtrak
  • State Appro­pri­a­tion — includes Trans­porta­tion Improve­ment Board (TIB)
  • South Down­town (SODO) Foundation
  • City of Seat­tle Depart­ment of Transportation
  • 4Culture Ser­vices Agency
  • Fed­er­al Rail­road Admin­is­tra­tion, High Speed Inter­ci­ty Pas­sen­ger Rail Program

Ren­o­va­tions were com­plet­ed in 2013. Thanks to this project, there is a beau­ti­ful wait­ing area for the ben­e­fit of the trav­el­ing pub­lic… and upstairs, there’s a love­ly pub­lic plaza where the likes of Tim Eyman can hold media events.

Eyman won’t admit it, but he ben­e­fits from the invest­ments we’ve made in pub­lic tran­sit infra­struc­ture just like every­one else. He proved it today when he became a user of a tran­sit facil­i­ty paid for by our tax dollars.

Eyman also ben­e­fits from all the bus­es and trains our tax dol­lars pay for even if he refus­es to ride them. When tran­sit ser­vice is of high qual­i­ty, when it is fre­quent, and when it is reli­able, peo­ple who own cars will delib­er­ate­ly eschew dri­ving in favor of rid­ing, tak­ing cars off the road and alle­vi­at­ing congestion.

Peo­ple like me. I have a car, but I chose to take the 545 into Seat­tle to get to Eyman’s press con­fer­ence instead of dri­ving. It was more convenient.

I invit­ed Eyman to be my guest for a ride on Link light rail — which I don’t think he’s ever been on — to see for him­self how use­ful it is. He declined my invi­ta­tion. I’m per­sis­tent, though, and I will con­tin­ue to offer to show him around the system.

The reporters who showed up at today’s “launch” have so far treat­ed it though it were real news in the sto­ries they’ve pub­lished. As far as we at NPI are con­cerned, though, it’s fake news until and unless Eyman demon­strates he has com­mit­ments from his wealthy bene­fac­tors to fund a sig­na­ture dri­ve. With­out those com­mit­ments, I‑947 will end up in the dust­bin like I‑1421 and I‑869.

Speak­ing of I‑1421: when Eyman announced it back in Feb­ru­ary of 2016, he did so in near­ly the exact same fash­ion as he did today with I‑947.

He sum­moned reporters to meet him late in the morn­ing at a venue of his choos­ing, spent around ten to fif­teen min­utes bash­ing Sound Tran­sit, and then made a big show of becom­ing the first sig­na­to­ry on the petition.

Take a look. This was a year and a half ago:

Tim Eyman signs I-1421
Tim Eyman becomes the first sign­er of Ini­tia­tive 1421 (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

And this was today:

Tim Eyman becomes the first sign­er of Ini­tia­tive 947 (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

He even wore the same orange t‑shirt — notice in the pic­ture from today, it says “Nov 2016”, which is when Eyman envi­sioned that I‑1421 would be on the bal­lot. But although Eyman tried hard to get the Repub­li­can Par­ty and his bene­fac­tors to put mon­ey into I‑1421, they declined — wisely.

Eyman start­ed over with I‑869, an ini­tia­tive to the Leg­is­la­ture for 2017; they still did­n’t bite. So Eyman moved on, and tried to get on the bal­lot in 2017 with I‑1550, a scheme to evis­cer­ate prop­er­ty tax­esIt too failed. Now Eyman is cir­cling back, bet­ting that peo­ple upset over the result of the ST3 vote will fuel his resurgence.

If you’ve ever gone to the mul­ti­plex to watch a real­ly lame remake of a movie that was orig­i­nal­ly made years ago, then you’ll get a sense of how I felt at today’s “launch”. It was a one-man show with the same plot and large­ly the same dia­logue as the spec­ta­cle that Eyman shame­less­ly put on last year.

Noth­ing that Eyman said today was new or inter­est­ing. It was just repack­aged lies. As I said, Eyman did not indi­cate, let alone demon­strate, that he has the six fig­ure checks com­ing to him that he needs to hire peti­tion crews to gath­er the 330,000 sig­na­tures min­i­mal­ly required to get I‑947 in front of the 2018 Legislature.

If Eyman does­n’t have the mon­ey, then he is just wast­ing every­one’s time. And if he does have the mon­ey, then our region is fac­ing a grave threat to our future that must be con­front­ed. We will be keep­ing a close watch and be ready to spring into action to shift our orga­niz­ing into high gear should that be the case.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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2 replies on “More déjà vu: Tim Eyman unveils Initiative 947, his latest effort to destroy Sound Transit”

  1. We’ve had enough of your mis­chief, Tim. Seri­ous­ly… enough! Let’s build what the vot­ers vot­ed for. Go find a more respectable line of work. 

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