On Friday, Tim Eyman announced his latest legal shenanigan: a lawsuit to be filed in Thurston County Superior Court tomorrow morning which will presumably request that the courts there side with Eyman in trying to move the legal challenge against Eyman’s I‑976 out of King County Superior Court, where it was originally filed and where it remains an action in progress today.
I haven’t yet seen a copy of whatever complaint Eyman is lodging with the court, so I don’t know what relief he and whoever made the mistake of agreeing to represent him are going for, but based on Eyman’s postings to social media, it sounds like a rather lame attempt to secure a change of venue.
Here’s Eyman (the below is from a Facebook screed):
AG [Attorney General] Bob Ferguson purposely sabotaged I‑976 by refusing to file change of venue motion, leaving it stuck with a King County judge in King County which is the plaintiff! I told [Solicitor General Noah Purcell] that day in court: “You blew it. You absolutely blew it.” He replied “You should be thanking us.”
For what? For taking away our democracy? For blocking our $30 tabs? For undermining people’s faith that their vote counts?
I stood up in court that day and addressed the judge: “Your Honor, the AG has done a horrible job defending I‑976. You had questions that the AG didn’t answer. Let me answer them.”
Judge wouldn’t listen.
Let’s see if a judge in a non-plaintiff county will listen.
If Tim is serious about wanting a judge in a “non-plaintiff county” to listen to him, then he should not have picked Thurston County Superior Court as a venue for this lawsuit he has planned, because Thurston County’s Intercity Transit is among the plaintiffs suing to invalidate Initiative 976.
GARFIELD COUNTY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY; KING COUNTY; CITY OF SEATTLE; WASHINGTON STATE TRANSIT ASSOCIATION; ASSOCIATION OF WASHINGTON CITIES; PORT OF SEATTLE; INTERCITY TRANSIT; AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL OF WASHINGTON; and MICHAEL ROGERS,
STATE OF WASHINGTON,
CLINT DIDIER; PERMANENT OFFENSE, TIMOTHY D. EYMAN, MICHAEL FAGAN; JACK FAGAN; and PIERCE COUNTY,
Intercity Transit is a municipal corporation which is controlled by Thurston County and its largest cities. Thurston County is thus indirectly participating in the lawsuit against Tim Eyman’s Initiative 976. And by Eyman’s logic, that means Thurston County is not an appropriate venue for I‑976’s constitutionality to be decided.
Who Governs Intercity Transit?
Intercity Transit is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors, the Intercity Transit Authority. The Authority consists of five elected officials who represent the Thurston County Board of Commissioners and the Cities of Lacey, Tumwater, Olympia, and Yelm.
Three members are Citizen Representatives appointed by the Board, and one member is a labor representative.
Except for the labor representative, board members represent, and must live in, the public transportation benefit area. A Citizen Representative’s term is three years, and the elected officials serve at the pleasure of their respective mayors and Commissioners.
The Authority sets policy and direction for the agency.
The current Intercity Transit boardmembers are:
- Yelm Councilmember Molly Carmody
- Lacey Councilmember Carolyn Cox
- Olympia Councilmember Clark Gilman
- Thurston County Commissioner Tye Menser
- Tumwater Councilmember Debbie Sullivan
- Citizen Representative Ryan Warner
- Citizen Representative Karen Messmer
- Citizen Representative Don Melnick
- Labor Representative David Claus-Sharwark
As you can see, one of the three Thurston County Commissioners even sits on the board of Intercity Transit. I.T. is arguably just an extension of the government of Thurston County, which hilariously, is where Eyman claims that he wants this case moved to in order to get a judge in a “non-plaintiff county” to listen to him.
These facts reinforce just how ridiculous and absurd Tim Eyman’s arguments are.
As I’ve previously explained here on the Cascadia Advocate, if you go by Eyman’s logic, then no court in the state is a suitable venue for the I‑976 legal challenge because all the judges draw salaries from one or more of the parties.
The State is a defendant in this case and it pays the Supreme Court justices and half of the salaries of the judges of the King County Superior Court. The judges in Pierce County, meanwhile, draw all of their pay from the defendants, just like the justices, because Pierce County has intervened in the case as a defendant.
It actually does not matter which taxpayers are paying which judges because the judiciary is a separate and equal branch of our government. There is no conflict of interest in the Initiative 976 case. Judges swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, not a loyalty oath to the governor who may have appointed them.
(Judgeships in Washington are elected positions, but the responsibility of filling vacancies falls to the Governor, currently Jay Inslee, who Eyman despises.)
Eyman’s choice of Thurston County seems even more strange considering that not only is Thurston County’s Intercity Transit a plaintiff in the legal challenge to I‑976, but Thurston County voters rejected Initiative 976 last month.
Plus… Thurston County is where Eyman is defending himself against a long-running campaign finance enforcement lawsuit filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, which alleges that Eyman committed egregious violations of Washington State’s public disclosure laws. Eyman has repeatedly been held in contempt of court by a Thurston County Superior Court judge (James Dixon) for failing to comply with court-approved discovery orders in that case.
Given all that, why file this action — or stunt — in Thurston County? Why not, say, Ferry County, or Stevens County, where I‑976 overwhelmingly passed?
I think it’s because Eyman’s real goal here is not go judge shopping for a legal action that he expects to succeed, but rather to score more media coverage.
The Thurston County Courthouse, which offers a panoramic view of Budd Inlet, is an easy drive for what remains of Washington’s capital press corps and the South Sound bureau reporters who work for Seattle’s four broadcast television stations. The towns of Republic and Colville, on the other hand, would not be.
Eyman knows this. He has an insatiable appetite for attention. When he’s not holding forth in front of the cameras, he is planning his next press event.
No news will be made tomorrow at the “rally” that Eyman has planned; there is no reason for any reporter to bother attending, especially considering that Eyman will probably livestream the whole thing to his Facebook page. It will thus be possible to watch the spectacle without being there in person.
I imagine that whatever is being filed tomorrow will be dismissed fairly quickly, like the ridiculous lawsuit Eyman pal Stephen Pidgeon filed with the Washington State Supreme Court early this month, which was laughed out of court.
The case against I‑976 was properly brought in King County Superior Court. I can’t see any Thurston County judge agreeing to ignore the laws and the Constitution of the State of Washington just to placate a lying con artist who is mad that his latest con (Initiative 976) isn’t holding up to judicial scrutiny.