Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

NPI presents Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence with the very first Lynn Allen Awards

This evening, at our ninth Spring Fundraising Gala on Mercer Island, we debuted a new event tradition: the Lynn Allen Awards. Named for our late sister Lynn Allen, a founding boardmember of NPI, these awards recognize people who have made indispensable contributions to progressive causes for a decade or more.

We lost Lynn to ovarian cancer in 2011, but her spirit has remained with us. (And so have her published works, which are preserved by NPI at Rebuilding Democracy.)

Lynn believed in the important work of organizing rural communities and acting on issues of concern to people living far away from our big cities and urban areas. She believed in the politics of inclusion. As communications director of the Institute for Washington’s Future, she traveled regularly to Washington’s rural counties and small towns, championing sustainable business and agricultural practices.

A skilled facilitator and gifted listener, Lynn understood the importance of and need for effective activism. Not a day goes by when we don’t miss her.

By establishing the Lynn Allen Awards, we’re taking another step to ensure that Lynn’s good works will be remembered and her legacy appreciated.

Tonight, we presented the very first Lynn Allen Awards to two extremely deserving honorees: Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence.

Joni Earl

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl speaks at NPI’s 2013 Spring Fundraising Gala. (Photo: Lincoln Potter/Samaya LLC for NPI)

Joni’s award commendation is as follows:

Tapped in 2001 to take the helm of a public agency in crisis, Joni Earl turned Sound Transit around, instilling a culture of excellence. Joni deftly navigated around treacherous legal and political obstacles to restart planning of the high capacity rail spine voters approved in 1996 to connect cities in Washington’s urban core. Under her leadership, Sound Transit secured the federal funds needed to begin building Link light rail and won voter approval for a crucial second phase of expansion. Construction of the system began in the autumn of 2003 and has been underway ever since. Sixteen stations are now open and dozens more are on the way.

Joni’s other honors include:

  • APTA’s Extraordinary Leadership Award (2016)
  • One of Seattle Magazine’s 25 Most Influential People (2005)
  • One of Puget Sound Business Journal’s 20 Women of Influence (2005)

Paul Lawrence

Paul Lawrence arguing Lee v. State

Paul Lawrence presents oral arguments in Lee v. State in March of 2016 (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Paul’s award commendation is as follows:

A formidable attorney specializing in complex appellate and civil litigation, Paul Lawrence has ably represented public servants and working families in our courts for more than thirty years. During a five year stretch ranging from 2011 to 2016, Paul skillfully secured a series of landmark verdicts against a crop of right wing initiatives that gravely threatened Washington’s future. Prior to those cases, Paul defended Sound Transit against multiple lawsuits intended to weaken or destroy it. His mastery of constitutional law and sound trial strategy have repeatedly led to crucial victories for progressive causes.

Paul’s other honors include:

  • Selected for Washington Super Lawyers, 2001–2016, and for Washington Super Lawyers Top 100, 2012–2016
  • Recipient of Preston Gates & Ellis’ Jim Ellis Award for service as an ACLU Cooperating Attorney
  • Recipient of Greater Seattle Business Association’s Special Recognition Award Collaboration for Social Change

Congratulations, Joni and Paul, and thank you for your tremendous service to our movement. Your contributions truly have been indispensable.

Sound Transit rolls forward with ST3 projects while Legislature dithers on state budget

Early this afternoon, Sound Transit’s elected leadership held a press conference to announce a series of strategic initiatives aimed at streamlining and accelerating the implementation of our voter-approved ST3 system expansion plan.

Following that press conference, the agency’s board of directors held a business meeting in Union Station’s Ruth Fisher Boardroom and approved motions authorizing the acquisition of property (real estate) and equipment (new light rail vehicles) for new light rail extensions running north, south, and east.

“Today we’re pushing the ‘go’ button on critical infrastructure expansions to serve the people of our region,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “These projects will help keep commuters, freight, and our economy moving as our population grows and our congestion worsens. It’s imperative we deliver the projects voters have approved with an eye towards saving money and being as efficient as possible.”

Somers was joined for the press conference by Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff and Board Vice Chairs Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma and John Marchione of Redmond. Strickland noted they’d been to a Puget Sound Regional Council meeting that morning where it was highlighted that Sound Transit is the fastest growing transit agency in the United States, thanks to the University Link-sparked ridership boom.

The three kept their remarks focused on the need for the projects Sound Transit is working on, and did not comment on any state legislative matters.

But they didn’t need to. Actions speak louder than words, and Sound Transit’s leadership demonstrated today that they’re all about action.

While the Legislature dithers and procrastinates on getting a budget together, Sound Transit is rolling forward, working hard to figure out how to get more light rail, commuter rail, and bus service (including bus rapid transit) to the people. The agency is determined to speed up project delivery, and is realigning its people and processes in order to get more service to more neighborhoods more quickly.

Sound Transit explains:

To meet the expedited timelines in the final Sound Transit 3 package, the agency will start projects sooner and collaborate with cities, stakeholders and private citizens earlier and more intensively.

The greatest potential for improvements falls in the planning, environmental and permitting phases of projects. The agency will focus on identifying preferred routes and station locations earlier, streamlining the number of alternatives studied, acquiring real estate sooner, and developing early permitting plans with partner agencies.

The plan will also guide significant internal process improvements. Project teams will include all disciplines, with a focus on integrating work functions across departments, eliminating departmental hand-offs between project phases. Co-location of staff for each project in the same work space will increase efficiency.

The excerpt above contains some familiar buzzwords, to be sure, but essentially what Sound Transit is saying is, we’re not satisfied with the status quo. We think we can do better, so we’re reorganizing internally to become more effective at delivering projects, and we want to become a model partner to our cities too.

Sound Transit’s commitment to reforming itself to better serve taxpayers and riders is admirable. Contrast that with how the Legislature has been conducting its business lately (which is supposed to be the people’s business).

When you compare the two institutions, the differences are stark.

Sound Transit operates in a businesslike, inventive fashion; the Legislature, meanwhile, has become known for political theater and gridlock, especially during the last four years, thanks to Republicans’ grip on the state Senate.

The elected leaders and public servants at Sound Transit see gridlock as something that needs to be fought, not embraced for self-serving ends. Liberating commuters from traffic congestion is a mission they are passionate about.

“Through the sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties, our region did not invest in enough in public transit options,” lamented Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff in his remarks. “And during that period, leading all the way up to the current day, congestion on our roads has continued to deteriorate.”

“In fact, it’s more than doubled in just the last five years. What that means is not just automobile drivers, but even our bus riders are seeing deteriorating performance… in their on-time arrivals, in the amount of time they have to lay aside just to get from home to work, to their stops on a given day. And that, more than any other reason, is why voters in this region adopted a $54 billion ballot measure — to really give themselves a congestion-free option [for getting around].”

It’s particularly nice to see Sound Transit acting decisively to lock in low prices for new light rail vehicles. ST’s board has authorized staff to procure an additional thirty LRVs from Siemens to ensure smooth service to Federal Way and downtown Redmond, NPI’s hometown. ST previously placed an order with Siemens for new LRVs last fall, opting to go with a new manufacturer for its second generation of LRVs. (The first generation was manufactured by Kinkisharyo of Japan.)

What benefits will the new LRVs offer over the current fleet? Sound Transit says:

Manufactured in Sacramento, California, the new light rail vehicles will feature several improvements in on-board systems and passenger experience over the current fleet of 62 cars.

Each of the new LRVs will provide 74 seats, with larger windows, extra standing room in the center aisle, more space under seats to stow luggage, and four bicycle hooks — twice as many as provided currently. Each car will come equipped with dynamic passenger information displays and LED destination signs will also be included.

“Ordering more Link cars earlier than planned is just one example of how we’re moving aggressively forward to build a light rail network that will serve up to 188 million riders a year by 2040,” said Rogoff.

“By the time pre-revenue testing begins in 2024 on the first two Link extensions approved by voters last November, we’ll be ready.”

Rendering of a Siemens-made LRV

Rendering of a Siemens-made LRV in Sound Transit livery

The ST3 plan explicitly included funding for the purchase of new LRVs.

Sound Transit doesn’t want to waste time putting our dollars to work, especially if it means securing savings for taxpayers. That’s really great to see.

NPI congratulates Sound Transit on moving one step closer to implementation of the ST3 package. We will continue to vigorously defend the plan that voters approved so that we’re not at the mercy of ever-worsening traffic congestion.

Fox Noise fires Bill O’Reilly; bigmouth’s downfall was activist-led advertiser exodus

Bill O’Reilly, host of the highest rated program at the Fox Noise Channel, has been forced out of the network after executives at its parent company 21st Century Fox concluded that his show could no longer be effectively monetized due to a mass exodus of advertisers catalyzed by determined activists.

Multiple women who formerly worked with O’Reilly at Fox have come forward over the years — with several speaking out just recently — to say that they were sexually harassed by him. Responding to the allegations, activists reached out to O’Reilly’s advertisers to urge them to walk away from his show, and many have.

That prompted executives at 21st Century Fox, including Rupert Murdoch’s sons, to reexamine O’Reilly’s future at Fox Noise Channel.

Today, they announced their verdict.

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” the company announced in a terse statement released a short time ago.

“Fox News was forced to act,” said Media Matters President Angelo Carusone.

“They had years to address serial sexual harassment at Fox News. They didn’t; they actually enabled it. So, individuals and groups took action to educate advertisers. Advertisers fled because they immediately recognized what Fox News has ignored for over a decade: that serial sexual harassment is not only wrong, but bad for business. Without advertisers, Bill O’Reilly’s show was no longer commercially viable.”

“Fox News had no choice but to fire O’Reilly. Accountability came from the outside, not from within. Fox News deserves no accolades, only scorn for the industrial scale of harassment they have forced their employees to endure.”

Carusone also called for the ouster of the network’s co-president Bill Shine, an enabler of the network’s toxic workplace environment.

O’Reilly is currently on vacation in Italy; following the beginning of his planned hiatus from his show, The New York Times ratcheted up the pressure on his bosses by reporting new allegations against him.

The latest allegation against Mr. O’Reilly came on Tuesday when a woman who previously worked at Fox News called a 21st Century Fox hotline to report allegations of sexual and racial harassment against him, according to her lawyer, Lisa Bloom.

The woman, who is not seeking money, wanted to stay anonymous to avoid the news media spotlight but thought that it was important to report her allegations to the company, Ms. Bloom said.

Ms. Bloom said the woman, who is African-American, worked in a clerical position at the network but did not work directly for Mr. O’Reilly. The woman reported that in 2008, Mr. O’Reilly would stop by her desk and grunt like a “wild boar”; he would also stand back to allow her to exit the elevator first and then say, “Looking good, girl,” Ms. Bloom said. Mr. O’Reilly leered at the woman’s cleavage and legs and called her “hot chocolate,” Ms. Bloom said.

O’Reilly has been the face of the Fox Noise Channel for a very long time, and Fox has kept him around even after learning that O’Reilly was a sexual predator.

Watch the documentary Outfoxed from Brave New Films to see some of Bill’s most infamous moments from the early years of his show.

The network has repeatedly shelled out large sums of money to buy the silence of O’Reilly’s accusers. But that practice became untenable after O’Reilly’s advertisers vanished. The bigmouth’s viewership has never been better, but a show without advertisers is not worth much to a for-profit media conglomerate.

The ouster of Bill O’Reilly is a watershed moment in the history of the struggle to hold the Republican Noise Machine accountable for its degradation of our public discourse. O’Reilly was a prominent cog in that machine. And it should be noted that he didn’t just use his perch at the network to spew right wing propaganda. He also used it to become filthy rich. He branched out from his Fox primetime show to create an entire franchise, principally driven by lucrative book deals.

This arrangement no doubt would have continued if O’Reilly’s show had continued to enjoy the patronage of companies like…

ADT, Advil, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Allergan, Allstate, Amica Insurance,, Angie’s List, AstraZenecaBamboo HR, Bausch + Lomb, Bayer, BeenVerified, Better Business Bureau of ChicagoBMW of North America, Capital OneCARFAX, Coldwell Banker, Constant Contact, Consumer Cellular, Credit Karma, Crowne Plaza Hotels, E*TRADEEli Lilly, Esurance, Flex Seal, Freshpet, Geico, GlaxoSmithKline, GoodRx, H&R Block, Home Advisor, Hulu, Hyundai, Infiniti, InnoGamesIt’s Just Lunch, Jenny Craig, Land Rover, Laser Spine InstitueLegalZoom, LendingTree, Lexus, Liberty Mutual, Lumber LiquidatorsMahindra, Mattress Firm, Mercedes-Benz, MileIQ, Miracle Ear, Mitsubishi, Moberg Pharma, Monsanto, Next Day Blinds, Old Dominion Freight Line, Orkin, Pacific Life, Peloton, Perillo Tours, Pfizer, Progressive, The Propane Council, Reddi Wip,, Sanofi, Scottevest, Society for Human Resource Management, Southern New Hampshire University, Stanley Steemer, Subaru, Sunsweet GrowersT. Rowe Price, Touchnote, Trivago, TrueCar, UNTUCKit, VerizonVisionWorks, Voya Financial, WayFair, WeatherTechThe Wonderful Company, and Xfinity

… all of whom pulled their advertising from “The Factor” in recent weeks.

(Hat tip to Media Matters for the compilation).

At long last, O’Reilly has been removed from his primetime Fox perch. His show is over. The O’Reilly Factor will continue with guest host Dana Perino until Friday, then it will be replaced by a program hosted by Tucker Carlson.

King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci to open NPI’s 2017 Spring Fundraising Gala

Today, we are very happy to announce that King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci will be the opening speaker at our 2017 Spring Fundraising Gala, which will take place April 29th at the Mercer Island Community & Event Center.

Claudia BalducciA former Bellevue City Councilmember, Claudia joined the King County Council last year following her overwhelming 2015 victory over entrenched Republican Jane Hague. She represents much of the Eastside on the county council, including most of Kirkland, the majority of Bellevue, all of Mercer Island, the Points communities, and precincts in Redmond, Woodinville, and Bothell.

Like the team at NPI, Claudia has worked for years to advance the cause of transit for all. She was instrumental in helping the City of Bellevue and Sound Transit reach an agreement on the alignment for East Link light rail, which is now under construction. Claudia is presently one of eighteen members of the Sound Transit Board of Directors, chaired by Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers.

In addition to participating in Sound Transit’s governance, Claudia chairs the Regional Transit Committee for the King County Council.

Like the council’s other eight members, she spends much of her time working on issues like flood control, public planning, and lowering barriers to voting.

A dedicated proponent of better public health and community well-being, Claudia supported and contributed language to the ordinance approved last year that implements King County’s voter-approved Best Starts for Kids initiative.

Claudia understands the challenges and importance of governing from a regional perspective. While we here in the Pacific Northwest cherish our tradition of home rule, we’re not going to get our schools fully funded or secure transit for all at the city level, school district level, or county level. Regional problems require regional cooperation to solve. Claudia will speak to the importance of working across political boundaries to surmount thorny obstacles, including barriers to healthcare access.

If you haven’t yet bought your ticket to our 2017 Spring Fundraising Gala yet, we urge you to do so now. A household ticket admits all the members of an immediate family and is a good value if you plan to attend with your spouse or children. (The gala is a family-friendly event, and young people of all ages are welcome!).

These are our ticket rates:

  • Individual ($75, admits one person)
  • Household ($120, admits an entire family)
  • Living Lightly ($25, for students and activists on limited incomes)

Here’s what else you can expect at our 2017 Spring Fundraising Gala:

  • A full dinner buffet with vegetarian and vegan choices
  • Beer and wine selections from our cash bar
  • Opportunities to mingle with fellow activists and elected leaders
  • A chance to win a scrumptious dessert for your table at our second annual Dessert Dash, organized by our Host Committee
  • A family-friendly atmosphere

If you’d like to RSVP for the gala on Facebook, you can do so here.

Students who want to volunteer to help put on the event can get in the door free. If you’re interested in volunteering, please get in touch with us.

In the days to come, we’ll be sharing more details about our 2017 gala, including the names of our other speakers. We hope you’ll help us make our biggest event of the year a success by buying your ticket and committing to attend.

See you on April 29th!

Happy Easter 2017!

An Easter cross

An Easter cross (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

If you are observing the Easter holiday today, please accept best wishes from all of us at the Northwest Progressive Institute. May your celebration of Christ’s Resurrection be peaceful and enjoyable.

And, for your reading pleasure on this joyous Easter Sunday, here is an account of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Gospel of Matthew (28:1-10):

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”

Courtesy of St. James Cathedral, here is a copy of Father Michael G. Ryan’s homily for Easter Sunday 2017. Father Ryan has been the pastor of St. James (the Cathedral Church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle) since 1988, and has publicly championed many progressive causes from the pulpit, including climate action, immigration reform, and gun responsibility.

My Friends in Christ,

I sometimes wonder, if Easter is the greatest of Christian feasts – and it surely is – why so much about it is so very superficial. We dress up a bit, head for church, fight for a seat, take in the decorations, sing the hymns, listen to the homily (or not!), give the peace to our neighbor, receive Communion, and then head home for brunch or an Easter egg hunt, but basically for business as usual.

If Easter really is our greatest feast, is that enough? Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against any of those things I just mentioned. But they’re not enough.

Easter is too important to be only a passing moment in church, a family get-together, or some fun time with the kids. Easter needs to be more than a moment, more than a day; it needs to be a way of life, a way of looking at life. In the end, Easter needs to be a revolution!

But we’ve managed to tame Easter. We’ve reduced it to a feel-good moment, to a social event, to bunnies, baskets and bonnets! We’ve sanded down the hard edges of Easter – its bold faith, its demanding discipleship, its countercultural values, its explosive possibilities – and the result is an Easter that is anything but a revolution.

For the disciples of Jesus – Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, and the others – the resurrection of Jesus changed everything – turned everything inside-out and upside-down. Nothing was ever the same again. It was in every sense a revolution! It didn’t happen all at once, of course: there was confusion at first, fear, even skepticism.

Only gradually did it dawn on the disciples of Jesus what had happened and what it meant, but make no mistake, Easter changed everything for them. They were on fire after the Easter experience and they unleashed a firestorm that swept through the ancient world!

What does Easter do for you? Does it set you on fire? I’d have to give myself mixed reviews. I don’t always live my faith in a way that speaks of Easter, of Christ’s victory over death.

But I should, because here’s the thing: the resurrection of Jesus is God’s definitive pronouncement, God’s divine assurance that life is infinitely stronger than death, that life, not death, will always get the last word. And that has implications for everything under the sun – everything! – our personal lives, our spiritual lives, and our lives as citizens of this world: our principles, our priorities, even our politics.

If life has the last word, then love must overcome hatred, forgiveness must overcome bitterness, then generosity must overcome greed.

And in the world out there – the very troubled world out there – if life is to overcome death, the hungry must be clothed, housed and fed, the unborn must be protected, refugees must be harbored and immigrants welcomed, swords must be turned into plowshares, and God’s magnificent creation must be treated with the greatest awe and wonder. Each of these is a ‘life issue,’ and since the resurrection of Jesus is about life – life overcoming death in all its ugly forms – each of them is also an Easter issue.

That, my friends, is the Easter revolution I’m talking about. Easter, Christ’s resurrection, puts us on the side of life, not death. It should make us champions – vocal, impassioned, outspoken advocates – for life, however, and whenever, and wherever it is threatened by the forces of death.

On Easter, God did not just roll back a stone and raise a dead body to life. God did that, of course, but God raised up Jesus so that his gospel would not be a dead letter but a living force.

And, my friends, the only way the gospel of Jesus lives is if we live it. Not just on Easter Sunday, but every day. Think of it this way: Easter is as much an agenda as it is an event. That means we have our work cut out for us because we are surrounded by so much death!

And I know: it’s hard to hold onto hope when we’re dealing with death in the many ways it comes at us – illness, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the break-up of a marriage, war, terrorism, religious persecution, and on and on it goes.

Where are we to find hope and life in all of that? It’s challenging but we must not let our fears, our disillusionments have the last word. It is our faith that needs to get the last word: our Easter faith.

Years ago, the great Jesuit theologian and paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin gave a lecture that revealed his Easter faith. He painted an idyllic vision of unity and peace for the human family and for the world. Afterwards, a colleague challenged him: “That’s a wonderful, tantalizing vision, but suppose we blow up the world with a nuclear bomb? What happens to your great vision then?”

“That would set things back millions of years,” Chardin replied, “but the vision will still come to pass, not because I say so or because the facts right now indicate that it will, but because God promised it and in raising Jesus from the dead God has shown that he can deliver on that promise!”

My friends, the resurrection of Jesus assures us that our world and our lives will make sense in the long run, even if our world and our lives sometimes seem to be spinning out of control. The march of history will not end in some cruel joke even if along the way there are difficult detours. The final word in our personal pilgrimage and in the story of the human family will not be death but life because Christ is risen. That’s the Easter faith we need to take out there when we leave the Cathedral today. So, my friends, let the revolution begin. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Father Michael G. Ryan

Easter reads:

Again, Happy Easter!

Joni Earl, Paul Lawrence to be honored with Lynn Allen Awards at NPI’s 2017 Spring Gala

As progressives, we believe in championing political progress for all people — it’s why we call ourselves progressives.

We believe that our society’s laws should be based on nurturant values like empathy and mutual responsibility. As committed progressive activists, we work every day to advocate for policies based on these values.

It’s not easy being a progressive activist right now. The news is full of grim developments and the opposition has control of our federal government and most of the states, too. But if we want to secure a better future for ourselves and our children, then we must persist — especially when the other side warns us not to.

If we want to win and restore progressive governance, then we’ve got to learn how to organize and mobilize for our causes more effectively. Progressive victories, whether electoral, legislative, or judicial, don’t happen by accident… they’re made possible by dedicated leaders doing hard work, often quietly. We will be more effective if we study the tactics and strategies of our most successful leaders, and allow ourselves to be inspired to follow in their footsteps and do likewise.

Lynn Allen

Founding NPI board member Lynn Allen (Photo: Lincoln Potter)

Underpinning every progressive victory is a story… a story of people knocking down barriers and overcoming obstacles, often over a period of many years.

These stories deserve to be told, and their heroes celebrated.

That’s why we at NPI have decided to create the Lynn Allen Awards. Named for our founding boardmember Lynn Allen, who tragically died of ovarian cancer in 2011, these awards will honor people who have made extraordinary contributions to progressive politics and public policy. Each year, we’ll recognize two recipients of different genders with Lynn Allen Awards. Lynn was a big believer in thanking people for their work, so it is truly fitting that these awards are named for her.

Readers, we invite you to join us on Saturday, April 29th, as we present the inaugural Lynn Allen Awards to Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence at our 2017 Spring Fundraising Gala.

Here are the details for this year’s gala:

  • What: NPI’s 2017 Spring Fundraising Gala
  • Where: Mercer Island Community and Event Center, 8236 SE 24th Street, Mercer Island, 98040
  • When: Saturday, April 29th, 2017 | Reception at 6 PM; program at 7 PM
  • Who: Join the NPI team and Lynn Allen Award recipients Sound Transit CEO Emeritus Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence of Pacifica Law Group
  • Why: Because an effective resistance needs organizations testing progressive ideas and building permanent infrastructure

Joni and Paul have each made incredible contributions to progressive causes going back many, many years. It is thanks to Joni that Sound Transit was able to get back on track and fulfill its mission of delivering Link light rail, Sounder commuter rail, and ST Express bus service to the people of Puget Sound.

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl speaks at NPI’s 2013 Spring Fundraising Gala. (Photo: Lincoln Potter/Samaya LLC for NPI)

And it is thanks to Paul that a slew of right wing initiatives that threatened our commonwealth and our public schools (including many of Tim Eyman’s) have been struck down as unconstitutional by our courts. Notably, Paul led the legal team that prevailed in LEV v. State, LWV v. State, and Lee v. State.

Paul Lawrence arguing Lee v. State

Paul Lawrence presents oral arguments in Lee v. State in March of 2016 (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

I’m thrilled to announce that both Joni and Paul will be joining us on April 29th to accept their Lynn Allen Awards. I hope that you can join us to meet them and learn from the important victories that they helped secure for us.

Be inspired to continue working for a progressive future for our region and country: join us at our 2017 Spring Fundraising Gala on Saturday, April 29th! Just follow this link to securely buy your individual, household, or living lightly ticket.

Senate Republicans unveil their candidate in WA’s 45th District: Jinyoung Lee Englund

With about a month to go until Filing Week 2017, Senate Republicans have finally unveiled their recruit for the Washington State Senate in the battleground 45th District: Jinyoung Lee Englund, a former vice president of strategy for the Digital Currency Council who has been active in national Republican politics.

Jinyoung Lee Englund

Jinyoung Lee Englund (Photo courtesy of her campaign)

Englund is the second Republican candidate to declare for the Senate in the 45th, following Ken Smith, who announced a few weeks ago that he’s resigning from the Northshore School Board and moving into the 45th to run for the Senate.

Like Smith, Englund is brand new to the 45th and moved in from a neighboring district. Whereas Smith is moving in from the 46th, Englund relocated from the 48th.

Until recently, she was registered to vote in Bellevue with her spouse Geoffrey and family.

According to her campaign, she now resides in Woodinville, one of two cities located entirely within the 45th (the other is Duvall).

It is noteworthy that both of the Republicans running for the Senate in the 45th have just moved in from other districts, especially considering that Republicans attacked Matt Isenhower — Andy Hill’s 2014 Democratic challenger — for having moved into the district a few months before launching his candidacy.

(It didn’t matter to them that Isenhower actually grew up in the district and had returned there to raise his family after serving our country in the Navy.)

If Republicans think carpetbagging is bad, then why did they recruit Jinyoung Lee Englund to run for the Senate this year? Perhaps because they wanted a candidate who fit a particular profile, but they could not find a match with roots in the 45th. The Democratic Party has been busy uniting behind Manka Dhingra, a senior deputy prosecutor who administers the county’s therapeutic alternative justice unit.

Dhingra has already raised over $200,000 and recently secured the unanimous endorsement of the 45th District Democrats. She is also endorsed by Governor Jay Inslee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, and State Representatives Larry Springer and Roger Goodman, who represent the district in the state House.

Englund is backed by Dino Rossi and Kathy Lambert as well as the Senate Republicans; both contributed quotes for her campaign press release.

The Democratic Party wasted no time in calling attention to Englund’s involvement in national Republican politics. (The 45th is a district that voted for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot last November.)

There are many examples of Englund’s work as a partisan political operative – from Dino Rossi’s 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate, to working for Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the Heritage Foundation, to her service on the 2012 presumptive Romney/Ryan transition team, to an advisory role at the RNC, and more,” noted Alex Bond of the Washington State Democratic Party and Senate Democratic Campaign.

In her capacity as a member of the Republican National Committee’s Asian Pacific Americans advisory council, Englund was called upon by the Jeb Bush campaign in mid-2015 to defend Bush after he made racist, anti-immigrant remarks.

From the Tuesday, August 25, 2015 edition of the New York Daily News:

Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign pushed back Tuesday at accusations that he demeaned Asians while explaining his use of the controversial term “anchor babies.”

Bush had exposed himself to attack with an oblique reference to “birth tourism” during a Monday campaign swing through a Texas border town.

“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed, where there’s organized efforts — and frankly, it’s more related to Asian people,” Bush said.

Trump pounced, tweeting of Bush that “In a clumsy move to get out of his ‘anchor babies’ dilemma, where he signed that he would not use the term and now uses it, he blamed ASIANS.”

Both Trump and Bush have referred to kids born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants as “anchor babies,” although some consider it a slur.

After Asian-American lawmakers from the Democratic Party criticized Jeb Bush’s comments, Bush’s campaign sent out a statement from Englund:

“I’d like to see the Democratic Party focus more on the lives of the women and children at risk in some of these off-the-books and illegal ‘birth or maternity tourism’ situations instead of expending so much time, energy and money on trying malign Gov. Bush, someone who is married to a first generation immigrant and has a bicultural family, in this way,” Englund said.

Despite raising enormous sums of money, Bush’s campaign foundered in the 2016 Republican primaries after being brutally ridiculed on numerous occasions by eventual Republican nominee Donald Trump.

In predictable Republican form, Englund says that opposing Washington’s nonexistent state income tax will be a principal theme of her campaign, along with “grounding” vehicle fees approved by voters last year as part of Sound Transit 3. Beyond that, she hasn’t offered up anything except buzzwords and platitudes.

Republicans have long used the specter of an income tax in attempts to scare voters away from voting Democratic in legislative races, but such tactics failed last year in the 30th District, where Democrats knocked out two Republican incumbents (Teri Hickel and Linda Kochmar), narrowly preserving their House majority.

What Republicans don’t want to admit is that the only way Washington will end up with a state income tax in the future is if the people vote for one by approving an initiative or referendum. The Legislature couldn’t impose an income tax without a vote of the people even if it wanted to, because the powerful interests opposed to an income tax would finance a signature drive to force a public vote on the matter.

Republicans like talking about the specter of an income tax, because they’d rather not do anything to fix our upside down tax code, which unfairly requires low and middle income families to pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes than wealthy families. NPI research shows an overwhelming majority of Washington voters are hungry for progressive tax reform that requires the wealthy to pay more, including a capital gains excise tax, which Republicans ardently oppose.

Englund claims she wants to “increase school funding, improve policies for the developmentally disabled, reduce traffic congestion, and balance the state budget” — but has not said how she would accomplish any of that.

Investing in schools and transportation infrastructure costs money, and Senate Republicans have proposed a budget that would actually leave our schools with less money than they have now and raise property taxes in the 45th District, while giving tax cuts to large corporations that don’t need them.

At the same time, Senate Republicans want to sabotage Sound Transit’s funding so it can’t build the projects that regional voters approved.

Those aren’t the priorities of voters in the 45th District.

A recent poll conducted by NPI’s pollster Public Policy Polling on behalf of New Direction PAC found support for Manka Dhingra at 46%, while only 40% of respondents backed Dino Rossi. Rossi is not a candidate in the forthcoming special election, having consistently said he would not run, but at the time the poll was commissioned, Jinyoung Lee Englund had yet to announce.

Now that she has declared, there will undoubtedly be further polling commissioned to see how she matches up against Dhingra.

But Dhingra will not be her only opponent. As mentioned, fellow Republican and transplant Ken Smith has declared his candidacy, and independent Parker Harris is in the race too, along with Democratic activist Ian Stratton.

Englund will need to make a strong, fast impression with Republican voters to avoid the fate of Pedro Celis, the handpicked Republican challenger to U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene in 2014, who was nearly eliminated in the Top Two election three years ago. Celis’ campaign never recovered after that embarrassing stumble, and DelBene handily dispatched him despite a tough political climate for Democrats.

Detainees at NWDC immigration prison revive hunger strike in response to abuse

Today at noon, over one hundred people being detained in the West Coast’s largest immigration prison in Tacoma — the Northwest Detention Center  — launched a hunger strike in response to inhumane living conditions at the prison.

Detainees refusing their lunches circulated a letter of demand regarding violations of what most Washington residents would consider basic human rights.

NWDC hunger strike letter (Spanish)

A photograph of the letter urging participation in the strike (Courtesy of NWDC Resistance)

The motive that we write this is to ask you by favor that we all participate united, and on Monday April 10, 2017, from noon and on we will not eat, or use the phones, neither will we bunk up on the late night count or lights out. The objective is to reach some changes in the institution which are the following:

  1. Change the food (menu)
  2. Lower the commissary (reasonable pries)
  3. Better hygiene (with the clothes)
  4. Increase rec-time
  5. Bring programs such as: school and program to keep our heads occupied and avoid depression mentally
  6. Better medical attention
  7. Increase wages for working detainees (waxing floors, painting, cleaning, cooking, laundry)
  8. Facilitate court proceedings (speed up the process).

Please we ask for our help and participation.

Because it is not just for them to treat out the way they want without them respecting our rights! And if we speak up we don’t speak up we’ll always be the same. Thank you!

— English translation of hunger strike letter

According to a statement issued by the NWDC Resistance (an activist group focused on fighting deportations and addressing inhumane detention conditions), detainees are seeking “more expedited hearings, improved quality of food, improved access to medical care, and lowering of exorbitant commissary prices.”

Detainees currently receive $1 a day for maintaining the prison and its services. Detainees are even denied this at times receiving, for example, a bag of chips for nights’ worth of work. Earlier this year, a People’s Tribunal held a hearing at the prison to better evaluate conditions. The tribunal found that detainees had no access to soap and clothing, that people have died in the prison from lack of medical care, people have died after deportation from the same lack of medical care, and that detainees are often exposed to hazardous chemicals in their work.

The NWDC is a for-profit prison owned by the GEO Group which has a record of mistreating its employees as well as its detainees.

Last autumn, GEO Group workers in Tacoma conducted an “informational strike” decrying the NWDC’s mandatory overtime, lack of sick days, and low wages.

The GEO Group has also come under fire for its immoral business practices in a federal lawsuit alleging horrific abuses at its Colorado detention center.

This is not the first time detainees have protested appalling, immoral conditions at NWDC. In 2014, six years into Barack Obama’s presidency, detainees at NWDC held an internationally-recognized hunger strike that lasted fifty-six days.

Three years later, detainees continue to assert their humanity in the face of greed and injustice. According to the NWDC Resistance, conditions are only getting worse now that the federal government is controlled by the right wing. The underlying problem is bigger than the partisan political climate, but impacted by it nonetheless.

Concerned residents and activists gathered around the facility at noon to show solidarity with the detainees. The NWDC Resistance’s announcement states: “We know from past hunger strikes that ICE and GEO are quick to retaliate, and we want the hunger strikers to know that they are not alone.”

NPI is strongly opposed to private prisons and supports efforts to transfer detainees and inmates to corrections facilities that are publicly owned and operated.

For those looking to join in solidarity with the strikers, the NWDC Resistance Facebook page offers news on the strike and support opportunities.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson issues immigration guidance to local governments

This week, the Washington State Attorney General’s office announced the release of newly-published guidance concerning immigration enforcement, assembled to help local government institutions recognize the limitations of federal agencies’ power to compel assistance with immigration enforcement.

This guidance comes in response to Donald Trump’s recent punitive executive orders. The Trump regime plans to increase deportations of immigrants who have allegedly committed crimes, and is moving to carry out those plans.

As we’ve seen from recent news coverage, however, new Americans do not need to have committed any crime to be targeted by federal immigration enforcement.

The Attorney General’s guidance demystifies this issue by reminding Washington municipalities that merely residing in the country without papers is not a criminal offense as recognized by the Supreme Court in Arizona v. United States of America.

While a number of cities have claimed adopted “sanctuary” resolutions declaring that new Americans will not be targeted in their jurisdictions, many people are unclear exactly what “sanctuary” means as a legal concept.

As the Attorney General’s guidance explains, states and local governments have wide-ranging rights regarding their choice to implement immigration regulations:

The federal government cannot ‘compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program,’ or compel state employees to participate in the administration of a federally enacted regulatory scheme… Voluntary cooperation with a federal scheme does not present Tenth Amendment issues.

In other words, when it comes to immigration enforcement, states and local governments cannot be deputized into the service of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or other agencies. At the same time, the state and local jurisdictions may not enact laws intended to obstruct immigration enforcement.

In an all too predictable move, the Trump regime has threatened to pull federal funding from cities claiming sanctuary status. Ferguson’s guidance explains the constitutional and legal limits the Trump regime must comply with.

These include a stipulation that the federal government cannot “use its spending power” to push the states into unconstitutional acts as well as a stipulation stating that the federal government cannot remove an amount of spending that would coerce the state into accepting federal demands. States and cities may contest removal of federal funds on these grounds, and a few already have.

Aside from detailing general rights on immigration enforcement, Ferguson’s guidance also contains more specific information for agencies such as law enforcement, K-12 schools, and higher education institutions.

As readers know, this is not the first time Ferguson and his team have challenged the regime. Ferguson made the national news when the State of Washington sued the federal government over its infamous travel ban and has recently requested that U.S. District Court Judge James Robart extend the initial restraining order to also block the revised ban. Now, his office has followed up on those actions by providing extensive guidance to local governments on how to conscientiously respond to federal requests for assistance with immigration enforcement.

Kudos to Senate Democrats for forcing Mitch McConnell to gut his precious filibuster

We need to restore the norms and traditions of the Senate and get past this unprecedented partisan filibuster.

— Mitch “Filibuster” McConnell, speaking earlier today

The man who staged an unprecedented number of partisan filibusters of executive and judicial nominees during Barack Obama’s presidency today pulled the trigger on the so-called “nuclear option”, marshaling Senate Republicans to vote in favor of a Senate rules change that eliminates the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.

As a result of the rules change, the threshold for proceeding to a vote on a Supreme Court nominee in the future will be a simple majority of the Senate’s one hundred members, as opposed to three fifths of the Senate (sixty votes).

By refusing to vote to end debate on Neil Gorsuch’s nomination, Democrats have forced Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans to weaken the filibuster themselves and restore majority rule to the United States Senate.

Democrats deserve to be commended for refusing to back down. In an impressive show of unity, the core of the caucus backed McConnell into a corner, leaving him with two unpalatable options: gut his precious filibuster to get Gorsuch confirmed, or forget about getting Gorsuch confirmed. McConnell chose the former and was able to whip every member of his caucus to vote the way he wanted, even those members of the caucus squeamish about setting a new precedent.

Obviously, the pending confirmation of Neil Gorsuch is a bad outcome for the country (a very bad outcome), but the silver lining of today’s action by McConnell is that the next time Democrats control the White House and the Senate, Republicans will be unable to filibuster any nominees, including Supreme Court nominees. Their most prized weapon of obstruction will no longer be available to them.

The next step along this path is the evisceration of the filibuster for legislation.

McConnell and the Republicans just demonstrated they’re willing to gut the filibuster to push through Neil Gorsuch. They want their short term wins, and hang the long term consequences. That’s the kind of mindset that could lead to the complete or near-total abolition of the filibuster by 2020.

As we have noted here on the Cascadia Advocate many times, the filibuster is not a component of our plan of government. The United States Constitution does not give the minority party in the Senate a right to filibuster. Rather, the filibuster became a fixture of the United States Senate through custom and tradition.

After Barack Obama became President of the United States, Republicans began abusing the filibuster in an attempt to block anything and everything. This went on for years, until Democrats got so sick of it that they voted to alter the rules of the Senate to exempt executive and lower level judicial nominees from the filibuster.

Filibuster abuse in context

McConnell threw a huge fit at the time and warned Democratic senators that they would regret their actions. But what’s to regret? Democrats did a great thing by acting to make the United States Senate function more democratically. And now, with the shoe on the other foot, Republicans are doing the same thing.

A key principle of any democratic country is majority rule with minority rights. We require the consent of the minority to change our plan of government, and justifiably so, but our Founders intended for the Congress of the United States to conduct its proceedings by majority vote.

In The Federalist No. 22, Alexander Hamilton writes:

[W]hat at first sight may seem a remedy, is, in reality, a poison. To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser. Congress, from the nonattendance of a few States, have been frequently in the situation of a Polish diet, where a single VOTE has been sufficient to put a stop to all their movements.

The filibuster as we know it today did not become a fixture of the United States Senate until after our nation’s Founders had passed on. The word itself didn’t become a part of the country’s political lexicon until several decades later.

“The entire process rests upon the Senate’s pride in itself as the world’s foremost chamber of enlightened debate,” writes William Safire in Safire’s Political Dictionary, launching into a brief history of the talking filibuster.

“Until 1917, speeches could go on and on, and preventing measures from being brought to a vote. Then, in reaction to the little group of willful men who had filibustered to death Woodrow Wilson’s proposal to deter U-Boat attacks by arming merchant vessels, the Senate adopted Rule 22, which provided for cloture (more often used than closure), a two-thirds vote to end debate (amended to three-fifths in 1975). Filibusters are not possible in the House of Representatives, where the rules limit the duration of any individual’s right to speak, or in Great Britain’s House of Commons, where Rule 20 permits the Speaker to direct a member ‘who persists in irrelevance’ to ‘discontinue his speech.'”

In March of 2005, Republicans (who controlled the Senate at the time, as they do now), threatened to “go nuclear” to prevent Democrats from blocking votes on some of George W. Bush’s nominees. But before that happened, a bipartisan “Gang of Fourteen” struck a deal allowing confirmation votes to be held on some nominations in exchange for a pledge to leave the filibuster intact.

The filibuster’s days were numbered after that.

It is worth remembering that many Republicans who served during the Bush years were very much in favor of restoring majority rule to the United States Senate and ending filibusters of presidential nominations.

“This is a matter of the rules of the Senate, which sets its own rules,” former Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott told Safire prior to the publication of the latest edition of his Political Dictionary. “I prefer calling it the ‘constitutional option.’ The other side is acting like we’re going to blow the place up.”

The Senate will survive today’s rules change, just as it survived previous rules changes. The demise of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations is not the sad aspect of today’s developments. What’s sad is that Republicans were driven to do it by a fervent desire to put a man on the Supreme Court who can be counted upon to weaken the rights and freedoms of working Americans for decades to come.

PREVIOUSLY: Senate Democrats must filibuster Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

45th District Democrats unanimously endorse Manka Dhingra for Washington State Senate

Eager to reclaim the Washington State Senate following the treachery of Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, the Democratic grassroots in Washington’s 45th District voted enthusiastically yesterday evening to endorse Manka Dhingra, an experienced senior deputy prosecuting attorney who has been moving swiftly to build a campaign focused on amply funding education and mental health.

The 45th, which is located in northeastern King County, is among five districts that will hold special elections for Senate positions this year; the others are the 48th, 31st, 37th, and the 7th. The 45th is presently represented in the Senate by Republican Dino Rossi, but it is a district that increasingly votes for Democrats up and down the ballot, and the Democratic Party says it means to flip it this year.

A Democratic victory in the 45th would change the entire trajectory of the state almost overnight, because it would alter the balance of power in the statehouse. Five years of divided government would be over, and the Senate would cease to be a graveyard for worthy progressive legislation and an obstacle to sound budgeting.

Dhingra, forty-two, announced her candidacy in February (Democratic State Representatives Larry Springer and Roger Goodman opted not to run for the Senate) and has been fundraising aggressively ever since. She earned a strong recommendation from the 45th District Democrats’ Endorsements Committee, which I had the pleasure of chairing from 2008-2012 prior to my election to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC).

The committee interviewed two candidates (Dhingra and Democratic activist Ian Stratton) and concluded that Dhingra was far and away the best candidate. The district’s membership concurred in that recommendation this evening. With the district organization’s endorsement, Dhingra is now the party’s standard bearer.

Dhingra’s campaign has collected $200,000+ in contributions already, mostly from individuals, and has secured an impressive list of endorsements. Dhingra has also prioritized community engagement in her campaign’s early days, attending as many forums and public meetings as her schedule allows.

Meanwhile, with the filing period a little over a month away, Republicans have yet to coalesce around a candidate of their own. Dino Rossi sought appointment to the Senate following Andy Hill’s death as a caretaker and has repeatedly stressed since then that he’s not running. Even if he were to go back on his word, public opinion research suggests he’d be an underdog candidate.

The team at Public Policy Polling (who conduct NPI’s regular research polls) recently surveyed the 45th and asked voters about a hypothetical matchup between Dhingra and Rossi. Dhingra earned the support of 46% of respondents, while only 40% backed Rossi. That’s a definite indication that Republicans face an uphill battle in this special election, and are on the verge of losing their Senate majority.

Northshore school board member Ken Smith has announced he’s moving into the 45th from the 46th in order to run as a Republican, but he is launching his candidacy without the backing of the Republican Party.

Two other individuals have also filed paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission to run in the 45th District for the Senate: Stratton and independent Parker Harris. Smith has yet to file his paperwork.

The filing period officially begins next month on May 15th and ends on May 19th.

Irresponsible Republicans escalate their legislative attacks on Sound Transit and ST3

As Tim Eyman’s initiative factory sits idle due to his constant lies and deceptions having finally caught up with him, Republicans in the Washington State Legislature have decided to take up one of Eyman’s favorite causes themselves: destroying Sound Transit, the regional agency tasked with building the rail spine our region needs to liberate more commuters from increasingly clogged highways.

Eyman has wanted Sound Transit pulverized for a very, very long time, but his repeated attempts to sabotage ST’s funding have ended in failure. Sound Transit has successfully built thirty-five kilometers of light rail linking together sixteen stations. Thirteen of those opened in 2009 and three more opened last year. Dozens more stations and miles of track are either under construction or in the planning stages.

Last year, as Sound Transit was getting ready to go to the ballot with ST3, Eyman was desperately trying to get his wealthy benefactors and the Republican Party interested in giving him megabucks to qualify a new statewide initiative to dismantle and defund Sound Transit. (It also would have targeted Amtrak Cascades.)

The thing that is deliciously fun about this year’s [Initiative 1421] is that guts like a pig Sound Transit. That’s what really makes it fun,” Eyman told a gathering of the Eastside Republican Club on March 1st, 2016.

Eyman reiterated that sentiment later in his presentation: “What gets me giddy is the idea of ripping the heart out of Sound Transit. This agency is so unaccountable, so rogue, so completely devoid of any reality that this is our one chance to be able to gut them like a pig, and that’s what I really love about this initiative.”

Eyman argued that funding I-1421 was the best way to put a stop to Sound Transit 3, predicting (correctly) that a conventional “no” campaign would fail.

But having double-crossed and duped so many people for so long, Eyman was unable to win commitments to get I-1421 funded. Eyman gave up on I-1421 several weeks later and started over with I-869, an initiative to the 2017 Legislature with largely the same text. But that initiative met the same fate as I-1421. Meanwhile, Sound Transit 3 appeared on the ballot and passed handily.

In the wake of the election, Republicans in the Washington State Legislature became deeply interested in Eyman’s cause. Steve O’Ban (R-28th District: Lakewood, University Place, Tacoma) was first out of the gate with a bill to sabotage Sound Transit. O’Ban was able to get his bill through the Washington State Senate last month, but it has been languishing in the House of Representatives ever since, with House Democrats refusing to lift a finger to help O’Ban wage war on Sound Transit.

House Republicans are furious that their Democratic counterparts won’t give O’Ban’s malicious bill a hearing, or take punitive action against Sound Transit. So they have been doing some plotting of their own, as Melissa Santos reports:

Republicans will try to push through several measures to address concerns about Sound Transit 3, the $54 billion transit package voters approved in November, in a battle on the floor of the state House Wednesday.

GOP lawmakers, who are in the minority in the House, say they’re frustrated Democratic leaders haven’t advanced proposals to reduce the cost of car tab fees associated with Sound Transit 3, as well as to let jurisdictions opt out of the Sound Transit taxing district.

Republicans will try to to amend the state’s transportation budget to address those issues Wednesday, said state Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, the House minority floor leader.

If those amendments are rejected or can’t move forward, GOP lawmakers will most likely attempt a procedural move to bring several Sound Transit-related bills directly to the floor for a vote, Wilcox said.

It doesn’t look like the transportation budget will be coming to the floor today, but it’s still shameful that Republicans are wasting so much time and energy trying to reverse the will of the voters, which they have historically professed to care about.

We have long memories here at NPI, and we well remember all those floor speeches given by Republican legislators declaring Tim Eyman initiatives sacrosanct.

They’ve gone ballistic every time progressives have filed legal challenges against Eyman’s schemes to uphold our Constitution. Every other sentence out of their mouths included the words the will of the voters.

Well, the voters decreed last fall that Sound Transit should be authorized to extend light rail north, south, east, and west — to Tacoma, Everett, downtown Redmond, Ballard, and West Seattle — not to mention expand Sounder and ST Express and add two bus rapid transit lines. That was their will.

Legislative Republicans didn’t like the outcome of that vote then and they don’t like it now — even though they’re the ones who made it all possible.

Legislative approval of the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation package, passed with a bipartisan vote of the House and the Senate, is what gave Sound Transit the authority to levy motor vehicle excise taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes that fund ST3 projects. Most Senate Republicans voted aye on this legislation — including Steve O’Ban — and so did many House Republicans.

Sound Transit itself is a creation of the Legislature as well. Back in the 1990s, the House and the Senate gave ST life by voting to authorize the formation of a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in the state’s three largest counties.

Sound Transit was given a jurisdiction spanning neighborhoods within the urban growth boundary, as the agency’s mission was to develop high capacity transit within the state’s dense urban and suburban core.

Sound Transit is doing important, effective work. After a rough beginning, ST is now one of the best-managed public agencies anywhere. It had a banner year last year, opening three light rail stations ahead of schedule and under budget.

But that doesn’t matter to Republican road warriors like Steve O’Ban and Dino Rossi. They are so enamored with widening and expanding highways that they are willing to raise taxes for that purpose. They will not support raising revenue to amply fund our schools as the Constitution requires, but they will cast a vote to wastefully give WSDOT the money to make highways like I-5 and I-405 bigger.

I say “wastefully” because widening highways actually makes traffic congestion worse due to the phenomenon of induced demand. Induced demand can be explained with the following aphorism: Trying to reduce congestion by adding lanes is like trying to lose weight by loosening your belt. It’s ineffective.

The experience of cities and states all over the country (and abroad, as well) is that adding lanes encourages people to drive more and take more trips. The net effect is that traffic eventually becomes even worse than it was before.

Adding lanes doesn’t help, but adding transit service does. Why? Because a robust transit network that serves more communities gives people alternatives to driving. Rail transit in particular offers a way to move through a congested corridor without a car. It appeals strongly to commuters because it is reliable and frequent.

When University Link opened a year ago, it didn’t just benefit people living and working in Capitol Hill or the University of Washington’s campus. Metro and Sound Transit sensibly worked together to reconfigure bus service to create lots of bus+rail connections so that people living and working further away could benefit, too.

One of these connecting routes is the 542 Express, a Sound Transit bus with an eastern terminus a block away from NPI’s Redmond headquarters.

Using the 542, I can connect to Link light rail for a trip downtown, and completely bypass the awful traffic on both Interstate 5 and Stewart Street, which I’d otherwise have to endure if I were riding the 545, Sound Transit’s main Redmond-Seattle route. The 545 rocks and has attracted high ridership for years, but it has an Achilles heel: it is a surface-only route that is susceptible to traffic delays.

When I-5 and Stewart Street are moving freely, the 545 is reliable and quick, but at rush hour or during a protest downtown, the 545 is often delayed.

Having another option (Link + 542) is a great blessing.

Every time we bring light rail to another neighborhood, it opens up possibilities for people. We saw that last year with University Link and Angle Lake Link. Light rail means greater freedom and greater mobility for our people. When ST3 is completed, the region will have a rail spine that is truly regional in scope.

Blinded by ideology and greed, legislative Republicans cannot see the value of investing in transit for all — or in our schools, for that matter. They would rather plot endlessly to take away a transit investment the voters already approved instead of working with Democrats in good faith to comply with the Supreme Court’s orders regarding the state’s compliance with Article IX, Section 1 of our Constitution.

It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

— Article IX, Section 1, Washington State Constitution

The Washington State Constitution was written by a group of men who were mostly Republican. They thought public education was so important that they gave us the preamble above. Today’s Republicans are willing to pay lip service to that ideal, but not money. Every time Democrats propose a way to increase funding to public schools without jeopardizing other vital services, Republicans say NO.

The end of the 2017 regular session is fast approaching (adjournment will happen on April 23rd), and we still do not have an operating budget for 2017-2019, or a plan to bolster school funding that satisfies the Supreme Court’s orders.

It seems we’re destined for multiple special sessions, because legislative Republicans are just not interested in doing the jobs they were elected to do. They’d rather scheme against Sound Transit than do right by our teachers and schoolchildren.

These were the headlines following the Friday filing of new litigation against Tim Eyman

On Friday, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that the State of Washington is suing Tim Eyman, William Agazarm, and Citizen Solutions for $2.1 million and also pursuing injunctive relief barring Eyman from continuing to manipulate money raised from gullible right wing donors. Eyman is accused of serious violations of Washington State’s public disclosure law dating back to 2012, which we have written about extensively here on the Cascadia Advocate since that time.

The state’s largest media outlets ran with the news as a top story. Here is a roundup of headlines from Friday and Saturday, following Ferguson’s press conference.

KOMO TV's website with Eyman litigation headline

KOMO’s website showing its headline from yesterday afternoon (Attorney General: Tim Eyman misused initiative donations)

KING TV's website with Eyman litigation headline

KING’s website showing its headline from yesterday afternoon (Tim Eyman sued by state over alleged campaign finance violations)

KIRO TV's website with Eyman litigation headline

KIRO’s website showing its headline from yesterday afternoon (State sues anti-tax activist, alleges he personally profited from unlawful campaign transactions)

KCPQ's website showing its headline from yesterday afternoon

KCPQ’s website showing its headline from yesterday afternoon (Washington AG sues Tim Eyman over alleged misused initiative donations)

Above-the-fold Seattle Times headline for April 1st, 2017

Yesterday morning’s Seattle Times above-the-fold headline (State AG goes after Eyman for $2.1M)

Above-the-fold News Tribune headline for April 1st, 2017

Yesterday morning’s News Tribune above-the-fold headline (State AG sues Eyman over initiative campaign finances). The News Tribune’s sister paper The Olympian had an identical above-the-fold presentation.

Above-the-fold Herald headline for April 1st, 2017

Yesterday morning’s Herald of Everett above-the-fold headline (Suit filed against Eyman).

Both KOMO and The Seattle Times (who are AP members) chose to make use of a photograph taken by Elaine Thompson of The Associated Press in 2016, when the constitutionality of I-1366 was being litigated in King County Superior Court. (The court found the initiative to be unconstitutional on multiple counts and struck it down in its entirety… a ruling that was later upheld by the Supreme Court.)

The last time Eyman dominated headlines to this extent was arguably February 4th, 2002, following his admission that he took hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for his own personal use and lied about it, falsely claiming that he was not getting paid. NPI’s Permanent Defense was founded in the wake of that admission, and commenced operations February 15th, 2002.

State of Washington sues Tim Eyman over illegal kickbacks, misuse of campaign funds

Bringing to an end a multiyear investigation into Tim Eyman’s illegal campaign finance practices, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that the State of Washington has filed a lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court seeking $2.1 million in penalties against him, his associate William Agazarm of Citizen Solutions, and Citizen Solutions itself, as well as seeking an injunction barring Eyman from “managing, controlling, negotiating, or directing financial transactions of any kind for any political committee” in the future.

“Taking kickbacks from contractors, using campaign funds for personal expenses, redirecting donations made for one initiative to a different initiative — it’s hard to imagine what more Mr. Eyman could have done to show his contempt for our campaign finance disclosure laws,” Ferguson said in a statement.

Tim Eyman, as regular Cascadia Advocate readers know, is Washington’s most prolific sponsor of right wing ballot measures. He uses the Evergreen State’s initiative and referendum process to undermine representative democracy by forcing public votes on schemes purposely intended to wreck government. NPI has been organizing opposition to Eyman and his schemes for over fifteen years.

Timeline of Eyman's wrongdoing

Ferguson’s office was asked to investigate Eyman’s wrongdoing in September of 2015 by a unanimous Public Disclosure Commission, whose staff spent two and a half years investigating allegations that Eyman was illegally using money from one initiative (I-1185) to qualify another (I-517) while also failing to meet required reporting deadlines that are in place to permit the public to follow the money.

PDC staff concluded Eyman broke the law and recommended that the case be given to Ferguson’s office, as the PDC cannot impose fines of more than ten thousand dollars. Ferguson’s investigation was delayed repeatedly by Eyman’s refusal to cooperate. State attorneys ultimately had to go to court last summer in an effort to get the state’s lawfully-issued subpoenas enforced.

Judges in two different counties ordered Eyman and his associates to provide access to documents requested by the AG’s investigators, which they grudgingly agreed to do after Ferguson’s team asked that Eyman be held in contempt.

The investigation resumed and was recently wrapped up after the state deposed Eyman. Now that charges have been filed in Thurston County Superior Court, Eyman and his attorney Mark Lamb will have twenty days to respond.

Following the Money

Ferguson’s lawsuit makes the following allegations:

  • Eyman concealed the $308,185 payment from Citizen Solutions. If the judge finds this to be intentional, that penalty could total $924,555.
  • Eyman concealed the true source of $182,000 in in-kind contributions to Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives [I-517 campaign committee]. If the judge finds this to be intentional, that penalty could total $546,000.
  • Eyman spent campaign funds for personal use through at least five payments to Citizens in Charge, with a penalty up to $10,000 per payment. If the judge finds this to be intentional, that penalty could total $150,000.
  • Eyman caused VWMC [Voters Want More Choices; what he calls his initiative factory] to file three inaccurate or misleading reports related to its payments to Citizen Solutions, with a penalty up to $10,000 per report. If the judge finds this to be intentional, that penalty could total $90,000.
  • Eyman caused Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives to file five inaccurate and misleading reports related to contributions it attributed to Citizens in Charge, with a penalty up to $10,000 per report. If the judge finds this to be intentional, that penalty could total $150,000.
  • Citizen Solutions and one of its principal, William Agazarm, concealed the $308,185 payment to Eyman. If the judge finds this to be intentional, that penalty could total $924,555.

Today’s lawsuit is in addition to three suits Ferguson filed last year against Eyman, which were prompted by citizen action notices filed by NPI partner Washingtonians For Ethical Government and Keep Washington Rolling.

There are now four active lawsuits against Tim Eyman, his committees, and his associates by the State of Washington.

We’ve published a statement thanking the Attorney General for taking this action over at Permanent Defense. It has been a long time coming.

We have suspected for over a decade that Tim Eyman was receiving kickbacks from Citizen Solutions — and thus double dipping into his campaign funds for his personal benefit, but couldn’t prove it. Now we have the proof, thanks to this investigation. (Eyman has openly paid himself a salary out of his donations since he was caught lying about pocketing contributions for himself back in 2002.)

With the help of his lawyer Mark Lamb, Tim Eyman tried mightily to postpone this day of reckoning and buy himself more time to persuade his wealthy benefactors to turn the money spigot to his initiative factory turned back on.

But he could not forestall Ferguson’s team forever. Now he has a fourth lawsuit to defend himself against. Meanwhile, he has failed to get the benefactors to open their checkbooks. He failed to make the ballot at all last year, and it appears he’ll fail again to make the ballot this year, which would be unprecedented (Eyman has had something on the ballot at least every other year going back to 1999).

We will be tracking this lawsuit and the three previously filed very closely, and will provide updates on any developments with each here on the Cascadia Advocate.

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