NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

Washington State Legislature passes clean levy flexibility bill to help school districts

With almost no time left to go before midnight on the final day of the 2019 regular session, the Washington State Legislature has adopted legislation undoing some of the harm caused to school districts around the state by the 2017 McCleary school funding deal struck between the Senate Republicans and the House Democrats.

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5313, originally sponsored by Senator Lisa Wellman (D-41st District: Mercer Island, Bellevue, Newcastle, Sammamish), adjusts the enrichment levy limit in state law to restore some of the authority that was taken away in the McCleary deal. This revised flexible levy policy will allow school districts like Seattle, the state’s largest district, to avert millions of dollars in detrimental cuts to librarians, counselors, and assistant principals.

“Local communities should be able to decide what’s important to them when it comes to enrichment programs that fall outside the realm of basic education,” Senator Wellman said in a statement. “And that’s what this bill allows. We brought the levy cap down too hard in 2017, and it’s time to make adjustments.”

Districts are only permitted to use enrichment dollars to supplement what the state defines as basic education. The state auditor’s office is authorized by the bill to review local district expenditures to ensure compliance.

“This agreement allows local communities to fund programs they value without triggering another pre-McCleary situation,” Wellman explained.

“Local levies shouldn’t pay for basic K-12 education, and we’ve taken that into account. This bill has teeth, ensuring that enrichment levies pay only for non-basic activities that local taxpayers choose.”

ESSB 5313’s path to passage was a rocky one. Although Democrats control each chamber of the Legislature by comfortable margins, the party’s eighty-five legislators are not all in agreement with respect to how schools should be funded.

When Wellman’s bill came before the Senate Ways & Means Committee, two of its Democratic members saw an opportunity to hijack it to make it serve their own pro-charter schools agenda: Mark Mullet and Guy Palumbo.

Mullet and Palumbo saw to it that the bill was amended to direct additional funding to charter schools, prompting condemnation from the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, the Washington Education Association, Washington’s Paramount Duty, NPI, and school funding advocates — and drawing a sharp, unhappy response from prime sponsor Lisa Wellman.

When 5313 got to the Senate floor on April 26th, the bill was rewritten via floor amendment and sent over to the House without the support of Mullet, Palumbo, or Steve Hobbs, all of whom are avowed charter schools supporters.

On the final day of session, as midnight approached, the House took up 5313, replacing the bill in its entirety with its own striking amendment lacking the pro-charter language that Mullet and Palumbo had wanted. Majority Leader Pat Sullivan explained in a floor speech that most House Democrats simply would not support a provision bolstering funding for charter schools.

The bill left the House with fifty-three aye votes. The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
SB 5313
School levies
Final Passage as Amended by the House

Yeas: 53; Nays: 45

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Bergquist, Blake, Chandler, Chapman, Cody, Davis, Doglio, Dolan, Entenman, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Gregerson, Hansen, Hudgins, Jinkins, Kilduff, Kirby, Kloba, Lekanoff, Lovick, Macri, Morgan, Morris, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Ramos, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Ryu, Santos, Sells, Senn, Shewmake, Slatter, Stanford, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Walen, Wylie, Chopp

Voting Nay: Representatives Barkis, Boehnke, Caldier, Callan, Chambers, Corry, DeBolt, Dent, Dufault, Dye, Eslick, Gildon, Goehner, Graham, Griffey, Harris, Hoff, Irwin, Jenkin, Klippert, Kraft, Kretz, Leavitt, MacEwen, Maycumber, McCaslin, Mead, Mosbrucker, Orcutt, Rude, Schmick, Shea, Smith, Springer, Steele, Stokesbary, Sutherland, Thai, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Ybarra, Young

Five Democratic Representatives voted against the bill on final passage: Lisa Callan, Mari Leavitt, Jared Mead, Larry Springer, and My-Linh Thai. One Republican voted for it — Bruce Chandler of the 15th Legislative District.

Minutes after clearing the House, 5313 landed back in the Senate for concurrence. A bare majority of twenty-five Democratic senators sent the bill on to Governor Inslee for signature, with Mullet, Palumbo, and Hobbs again joining the Senate Republicans in voting no. Republican Senator Ann Rivers did not vote.

Roll Call
SB 5313
School levies
Final Passage as Amended by the House

Yeas: 25; Nays: 23; Excused: 1

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Das, Dhingra, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, McCoy, Nguyen, Pedersen, Randall, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman, Wilson (Claire)

Voting Nay: Senators Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Hawkins, Hobbs, Holy, Honeyford, King, Mullet, O`Ban, Padden, Palumbo, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson (Lynda) Zeiger

Excused: Senator Rivers

Governor Jay Inslee has indicated that he will sign the bill promptly.

Once signed, ESSB 5313 will go into effect ninety days from today.

NPI thanks the seventy-seven Democratic legislators who voted for this bill, along with Republican Bruce Chandler (who showed great courage in breaking with his party to vote for a good piece of legislation). Thanks to this timely action, many pending truly unnecessary and horrific school budget cuts can likely be avoided.

More work remains to be done to ensure that our public schools are fully funded. But at least we’re making progress and fixing some of the bad policies that the Senate Republicans insisted on as part of the McCleary deal two years ago.

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

A huge win for inclusion and opportunity: Washington State Legislature adopts I-1000

Tonight, Washington’s Legislature took a stand for fairness, opportunity, and inclusion by adopting Initiative 1000, which would empower agencies and institutions of higher learning to adopt policies that remedy discrimination faced by the state’s underrepresented and disadvantaged communities.

Sponsored by Nathaniel Jackson, I-1000 does three things, as summarized by the staff of the Washington State House of Representatives:

  • Amends the provision of law [Tim Eyman and John Carlson’s I-200] that prohibits the state from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to an individual or group based on certain characteristics in public employment, public education, and public contracting.
  • Creates the Governor’s Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion responsible for directing, monitoring, and enforcing state agency compliance with the initiative and reporting on state agency progress in achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Requires a memorandum and draft legislation regarding necessary statutory changes to bring nomenclature and processes in line with the initiative.

I-1000 does not repeal I-200; but instead modifies it. Quotas remain prohibited under I-1000, but other approaches to remedying discrimination would become available to Washington’s colleges, universities, and state agencies.

With just hours to go before the end of the regular session, the House and Senate brought I-1000 to the floor for a vote and adopted it after a lively debate. Democrats provided all of the votes to adopt it in both houses; not a single Republican voted aye. The roll call in the House was as follows:

Roll Call
HI 1000
Affirmative action
Final Passage

Yeas: 56; Nays: 42

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Bergquist, Callan, Chapman, Cody, Davis, Doglio, Dolan, Entenman, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Gregerson, Hansen, Hudgins, Jinkins, Kilduff, Kirby, Kloba, Leavitt, Lekanoff, Lovick, Macri, Mead, Morgan, Morris, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Ramos, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Ryu, Santos, Sells, Senn, Shewmake, Slatter, Springer, Stanford, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Thai, Tharinger, Valdez, Walen, Wylie, Chopp

Voting Nay: Representatives Barkis, Blake, Boehnke, Caldier, Chambers, Chandler, Corry, DeBolt, Dent, Dufault, Dye, Eslick, Gildon, Goehner, Graham, Griffey, Harris, Hoff, Irwin, Jenkin, Klippert, Kraft, Kretz, MacEwen, Maycumber, McCaslin, Mosbrucker, Orcutt, Rude, Schmick, Shea, Smith, Steele, Stokesbary, Sutherland, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Ybarra, Young

And this was the roll call in the Senate:

Roll Call
SI 1000
Affirmative action
3rd Reading & Final Passage

Yeas: 26; Nays: 22; Excused: 1

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Das, Dhingra, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, McCoy, Nguyen, Pedersen, Randall, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman, Wilson (Claire)

Voting Nay: Senators Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Hawkins, Holy, Honeyford, King, Mullet, O`Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson (Lynda), Zeiger

Excused: Senator Palumbo

In the House, Democratic Representative Brian Blake voted no.

In the Senate, Democratic Senator Mark Mullet vote no.

Democratic Senator Guy Palumbo skipped the vote.

NPI thanks and congratulates the Legislature’s eighty-two other Democratic legislators for their historic votes to pass I-1000. For a while, it didn’t look like I-1000 was going anywhere. To see it pass is a huge relief.

Because I-1000 is an initiative to the Legislature, not a bill, it does not go to Governor Jay Inslee for signature. The initiative will become law unless it is subjected to a successful referendum. Expect John Carlson, Tim Eyman, and others to announce such an effort immediately.

Our team at NPI stands ready to help assemble a broad and diverse coalition to ensure that I-1000 remains the law of the land in Washington State.

The entity that qualified I-1000 as an initiative to the Legislature (organized by former lawmaker Jesse Wineberry) is unfortunately in no shape to defend the measure. It was unprofessionally run and owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to Tim Eyman’s associates, who are co-defendants in Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s principal campaign finance enforcement lawsuit against Eyman.

NPI did not participate in the effort to qualify I-1000 to the Legislature due to concerns over funding and transparency. A progressive campaign should never do business with a corrupt right wing company like “Citizen Solutions”.

Nevertheless, the initiative qualified.

While we could not in good conscience support the I-1000 campaign, we have emphatically supported I-1000 as policy, and we have been urging the Legislature to adopt the measure since January when the House and Senate convened.

There is now an opportunity to form a new campaign to defend the newly enacted Washington State Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act (which is I-1000’s official title) — and we look forward to enthusiastically participating in that effort.

Friday, April 26th, 2019

Estela Ortega honored with Lynn Allen Award at NPI’s 2019 Spring Fundraising Gala

This evening, at our eleventh Spring Fundraising Gala in Renton, we inducted our fifth Lynn Allen Award Honoree: El Centro de la Raza’s Estela Ortega.

Named for our late sister Lynn Allen, a founding boardmember of the Northwest Progressive Institute, 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, preserved by NPI at Rebuilding Democracy.)

Lynn emphatically 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 preached and practiced 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.

We established the Lynn Allen Awards as part of our continuing effort to ensure that Lynn’s good works will be remembered and her legacy appreciated.

Each year, we honor two outstanding individuals with a Lynn Allen Award.

In 2017, we presented the very first Lynn Allen Awards to Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence. Last year, Major General Paul Eaton (Retired) and Alex Hendrickson became our third and fourth honorees. Tonight, Estela Ortega joined their ranks.

Estela Ortega

Estela Ortega with her Lynn Allen Award (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

Estela’s award commendation is as follows:

Building community has been the cause of Estela Ortega’s life. In her early twenties, she made a conscious decision to become an organizer for social justice with her husband and legendary advocate Roberto Maestas. For over four decades, she has worked to take care of the beloved community through El Centro de la Raza (The Center For People Of All Races), a community action agency based in Beacon Hill. Under Estela’s leadership, El Centro has championed transit oriented development, building over one hundred homes for people with limited means next to its historic building on Sixteenth Avenue South in Seattle. Estela’s contributions to causes like education, affordable housing, youth engagement, and public health have enriched our region and shown what can be accomplished with visionary leadership and perseverance.

Estela’s other honors include:

  • Latina Symposium’s Manos Unidas Award (2019)
  • Seattle Seahawks’ Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award (2018)
  • NEA’s George I. Sanchez Memorial Award (2016)

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

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Joe Biden is (finally) running for President

Former Vice President Joe Biden has – at long last – decided to run for President of the United States of America for the third time. On Thursday morning, Biden released a video on Twitter announcing his candidacy.

Joe Biden speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Vice President Biden gave a rousing speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (Source: A.Shaker/VOA, reproduced under Creative Commons)

The video heavily focused on how traditional American values are being corrupted by the current President, focusing heavily on 2017’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Trump’s later statement that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the violence that the rally led to.

Biden stated that he “cannot stand by and let that happen”, arguing that, “America gives hate no safe harbour.” The Vice President’s campaign website leans heavily into the idea of restoring America in terms of the middle-class, the USA’s position in the world, and an inclusive political system.

The President reacted to Biden’s announcement with a tweet.

“Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe,” Trump tweeted, “I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign.” The President habitually describes those he dislikes as unintelligent, a textbook example of projection from one of the least intelligent men to ever enter the White House.

Joe Biden studies the audience at Netroots Nation during his Thursday afternoon keynote. (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Biden’s entry immediately catapulted him to the position of frontrunner – he has consistently ranked first place in polls of likely Democratic primary voters (despite the fact that he hadn’t declared his candidacy) for months.

Biden is a beloved figure among Democratic elected officials, and as a former Vice President he has a statistically excellent chance of gaining the nomination; of the nine times a Vice President has run for president since World War II, they have won their party’s nomination six times (Nixon did it twice).

However, Biden doesn’t have the overwhelming advantage that Hillary Clinton had in 2016. With such fierce and diverse competition for the nomination – especially with Bernie Sanders nipping at Biden’s heels, particularly in the early primary states – Biden could easily lose momentum and be overtaken by one of the almost twenty other Democrats currently running.

“Uncle Joe” might be beloved by his party, but many in the grassroots are uncomfortable with him as a figurehead. Biden has a long history in politics, and not all of it is rose-tinted. In an increasingly young, female, diverse and progressive party, critics of Biden will find fault with his age, ethnicity, behaviour towards women (such as Anita Hill and Lucy Flores), and past positions on race issues (particularly his support for the 1990s Clinton Crime Bill).

Biden’s campaign ran into difficulties before it even officially existed. In March, Biden allies spread the idea that the Vice President might launch his campaign with Stacey Abrams (who ran for Governor of Georgia in 2018 and is appearing in Seattle tonight at Temple De Hirsch Sinai) as his vice presidential pick.

However, Abrams rejected that idea, saying that, “you don’t run for second place” and leaving Biden’s camp dealing with accusations of tokenism.

Biden also has a record of flopping unceremoniously out of presidential races.

As mentioned, he has made a run at the White House twice before – in 1988 and 2008, when he was a senator – and both times he didn’t get very far.

The 1988 run was a particular embarrassment for Biden, as he was caught plagiarising speeches made by British politician Neil Kinnock. I

n 2008 he was thoroughly outshone by younger, more charismatic figures such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and his campaign fizzled out.

Joe Biden with Barack Obama

President Obama and Vice President Biden are famously close friends (Source: Daniel Schwen, reproduced under Creative Commons)

However, the two previous campaigns were promoting Joe Biden, the Senator from the tiny state of Delaware, whose clumsy politicking could easily ignored. This time round, competitors will have to face Joe Biden, America’s favorite uncle, who served alongside President Barack Obama for eight years.

Maybe the third time will be the charm for Joe Biden?

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

April King County special election results: LWSD levy passing, Evergreen bond failing

Today was an election day for voters in a number of jurisdictions across Washington State, although you could be forgiven for not knowing that because scant attention was paid to the election in the mass media and on social media.

In King County, six jurisdictions placed measures on the ballot for consideration by voters. The Lake Washington School District proposed a capital levy, Public Hospital District #2 (EvergreenHealth) proposed a bond measure, and two fire districts asked voters to approve continuation of benefit charges. A third fire district asked its constituents if they wanted to merge into another fire district.

Finally, the Vashon-Maury Island Park and Recreation District asked voters in the county’s westernmost jurisdiction to extend an expiring property tax levy to fund operations and maintenance costs from 2020 through 2023.

The initial returns are now in, and here’s how each measure is faring.

The Lake Washington School District capital levy is passing by a comfortable margin. 53.95% of voters participating were backing the measure, while 46.05% were opposed. The threshold for passage is a simple majority, thanks to the 2007 constitutional amendment that lowered the bar for passage of school levies.

The levy is for six years. If ultimately approved, $120 million would be raised and the district says it would be spent on the following projects:

Permanent classroom additions (capacity for 1,052 students):

  • Lake Washington High School (20 classrooms)
  • Rachel Carson Elementary (4 classrooms)
  • Benjamin Franklin Elementary (8 classrooms)
  • Rose Hill Elementary (8 classrooms)
  • Mark Twain Elementary (4 classrooms)

Core facilities and common spaces

  • Additional auxiliary gymnasium and commons space at Lake Washington High School
  • Additional core facilities* at:
    • Rachel Carson Elementary
    • Benjamin Franklin Elementary
    • Rose Hill Elementary
    • Mark Twain Elementary

*pending feasibility

Safety enhancements

  • Exterior security cameras at elementary schools.
  • Modifications to entrances of:
    • Eastlake High School
    • Lake Washington High School
    • Redmond High School

Also passing are the two benefit charge propositions.

Woodinville Fire & Rescue’s benefit charge has the support of 83.42% of voters in its jurisdiction, with only 16.58% opposed. King County Fire Protection District #40 is doing even better, with 87.67% approval.

Meanwhile, the proposal to merge Fire Protection District #10 (which is located in the Fall City area) into the larger nearby Fire Protection District #27 (Eastside Fire and Rescue) is failing. 54.7% of voters there are saying no, while 45.3% are saying yes. Based on these early results, it looks like a merger isn’t going to happen.

The EvergreenHealth bond is also failing. 57.38% of voters in Public Hospital District #2 are backing the proposition, which is a robust majority, but the measure actually needs a 60% yes vote and a minimum turnout of 40% to pass under the Washington State Constitution because it is a bond measure.

Voters were asked to sign off on $345 million in general obligation bonds for seismic safety and other capital improvements, as stated in the ballot title:

The Board of Commissioners of King County Public Hospital District No. 2 adopted Resolution No. 895-19 concerning a proposition to finance improvements to its health care facilities.

The improvements include Seismic and Infrastructure upgrades; a new Critical Care Unit; updating the Family Maternity Center; new Medical Office Buildings for Specialty Care Expansion; Technology Systems Improvements; and other improvements. Approval of the ballot proposition would authorize issuance of up to $345,000,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within thirty years to pay for such improvements and the levy of annual excess property taxes to pay the bonds, all as provided in Resolution No. 895-19.

The EvergreenHealth Foundation —  a 501(c)(3) charity affiliated with the people who run the hospital district — poured more than three hundred thousand dollars into a campaign to convince voters in the Kirkland and Redmond area to vote yes. Curiously, the hospital district’s board opted against participating in the voter’s pamphlet, causing King County Elections to issue the following notice:

Why are there measures on my ballot that are not in my pamphlet?

Pamphlets are only printed for a special election when requested by a district. For this election, Public Hospital District No. 2 did not request to participate in the voter’s pamphlet.

The above disclaimer appeared on the back of the fold-out voter’s pamphlet tucked into each ballot packet mailed to voters in the Redmond-Kirkland area.

The Approve EvergreenHealth effort turned to well known right wing operatives to try to pitch the hefty bond measures to voters, including Matthew Lundh and Josh Amato’s Mercer Island-based Sermo Digital, which has done work for Rob McKenna, McKenna’s strategist Randy Pepple, Steve Litzow, former Ohio governor John Kasich, and ShiftWA, a right wing website that consists almost exclusively of blog posts denouncing progressive elected officials and organizations.

Additionally, an outfit called Elephant Grassroots was hired to do phonebanking, and GMA Research of Bellevue was commissioned to survey voters.

(If you’re wondering why right wing operatives would be hired to pitch a bond measure to voters, the answer is that there are several Republicans on the board that governs King County’s Public Hospital District #2.)

Sermo Digital created and mailed at least three direct mail pieces to voters in an attempt to persuade them to vote yes. Each heavily emphasized seismic safety, with one asking: “Is your hospital ready for the ‘big one’?” and noting: “Scientists say a 9.0 earthquake is coming, we just don’t know when.”

Emergency preparedness is not a theme we usually see in campaign ads. Sermo Digital was working with a premise that had a lot of potential.

Unfortunately for their client, their execution was bad.

For example, they tried to incorporate photos of the actual hospital into their mailers instead of relying exclusively on stock photography. Good idea, but… some of the source images were of an insufficient resolution for print production, resulting in mailers with fuzzy, pixelated photo backgrounds. Yikes.

Worse, the firm failed to introduce a human element into the ads. All the photos in the three mail pieces obtained by the Northwest Progressive Institute are of buildings or hospital equipment. None are of people.

Furthermore, the ads do not explain how the whole community benefits from a hospital complex that is seismically sound. The ads only explain how the hospital would benefit. For example, here’s a paragraph from one of the mailers:

The core areas of the hospital contain critical services and infrastructure that allow the rest of the campus to operate. They also happen to be housed in our original (and oldest) parts of the hospital. Retrofitting these 1970s buildings — and not tearing them down — will ensure that patients will experience less impact as we improve safety.

This paragraph sounds like it could have come out of a strategic plan written by a hospital administrator. A better approach would have been to create mailers starring people from Evergreen, like a doctor, a nurse, and a patient, with each explaining the value and necessity of the bond measure to the community.

Ordinarily, securing 57% of the vote would be considered a smashing success. But the bar for passage of this bond measure is 60%. It seems unlikely the hospital will be able to secure both the 60% yes vote and the 40% minimum turnout it needs.

EvergreenHealth’s board set itself up for failure from the get-go by submitting this bond measure to the April ballot instead of the November ballot and then opting not to participate in the voter’s pamphlet for the special election.

The Vashon-Maury parks levy also appears headed for defeat. Currently, 52.28% of voters on the islands are backing the levy, while 47.72% are opposed.

Like the EvergreenHealth bond, the measure needs a 60% yes vote.

“This levy money will be approximately a 34% increase, about $450,000 more collected,” wrote proponents Hilary Emmer, Karl Stetson, David Hattery in a statement urging a yes vote published in the voter’s pamphlet.

“Over the next four years, this will allow us to tackle essential infrastructure projects and needed maintenance: to Agren and BARC fields, Lisabeula and Agren parking lots, major work on Belle Baldwin house, Inspiration Point wall, various projects at Point Robinson, install restrooms at all our parks, and work on invasive species remediation,” they explained.

Since Republicans in the Legislature aren’t interested in changing the Constitution to lower the threshold for passage of school bonds, it seems unlikely that the sixty/forty requirement for bonds of all kinds is going away anytime soon.

However, the Legislature could, by majority vote, embrace the idea of less is more and abolish the February and April special election windows, leaving local governments with just two higher turnout options for future ballot measures: the Top Two election or the general election. Getting rid of special election windows would save money and reduce election fatigue. It’s a move we need to make.

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Big Earth Day victory: 100% clean electricity bill goes to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk

Today, an important bill championed by NPI’s Gael Tarleton to transition Washington State to a one hundred percent clean electric grid left the Legislature after the Senate concurred with recent amendments made by the House.

As a consequence, Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5116 is now on its way to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk to be signed into law. This crucial legislation puts Washington on a path to a clean energy future by requiring utilities to phase out coal by 2025, be pollution neutral by 2030, and generate one hundred percent of their retail electric load using clean energy by 2045.

Vox’s David Roberts argued in a recent post lauding the bill that E2SSB 5116 is superior to similar bills in other states because it changes the regulatory environment for utilities instead of merely setting clean energy targets.

“It aligns the interests of utilities, energy developers, and unions behind the project of equitable [reduction of pollution],” Roberts wrote, noting it’s a big step forward for the state. “They all benefit from it. That makes them allies in the fight, rather than at loggerheads, as they have so often been in the past.”

Inslee — who is running for President on a platform of addressing and reversing damage to our climate caused by runaway pollution — cheered the news.

“On this Earth Day, I couldn’t be more proud of the Legislature’s action to pass the country’s most forward looking clean energy bill,” said Inslee.

“There are a number of other meaningful climate bills moving forward this legislative session, but more than any other, this bill will fundamentally transform Washington’s energy future and transition us to 100 percent clean energy.”

“I look forward to signing this legislation and I thank Senators Carlyle, Palumbo and Billig, and Representatives Tarleton and Fitzgibbon for their remarkable leadership,” the Governor added.

The vote in the Senate to concur in the House amendments was twenty-nine to twenty. All the Democrats voted aye and they were joined by Republican Tim Sheldon, who calls himself a Democrat, but caucuses with the Republicans.

Roll Call
SB 5116
Clean energy
Final Passage as Amended by the House

Yeas: 29; Nays: 20

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Das, Dhingra, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, McCoy, Mullet, Nguyen, Palumbo, Pedersen, Randall, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Sheldon, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman, Wilson (Claire)

Voting Nay: Senators Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Hawkins, Holy, Honeyford, King, O’Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson (Lynda), Zeiger

We are so proud of the work that our founding boardmember Gael Tarleton put into this bill. She worked really, really hard to deliver this much-needed legislation for all Washington communities, and deserves a hearty round of applause.

This is what progress looks like. We’ve just taken another step towards a future where we meet our energy needs more sustainably and responsibly than we have for the past few centuries. Bravo and well done, Washington State Legislature!

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Happy Easter 2019!

Easter floral arrangement

An Easter floral arrangement (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.

Easter is the most significant holy day for Christianity’s many denominations, although not all of them are celebrating it today. Passages like the following excerpt from the Gospel of Luke (24:1-12) are commonly read during Easter services and liturgies as part of Christian communities’ observance of the holiday, as they are considered authoritative accounts of the Easter story by Christians.

At daybreak on the first day of the week
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.
They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb,
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened.

Easter news reads:

Again, Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Washington State House should investigate extremist Matt Shea’s disturbing conduct

This is appalling… but not surprising:

A Washington State Republican politician took part in private discussions with right-wing figures about carrying out surveillance, “psyops” and even violent attacks on perceived political enemies, according to chat records obtained by the Guardian.

That Republican politician is Matt Shea, a former United States Army lieutenant who now serves in the Washington State House of Representatives, ostensibly representing the 4th Legislative District — though we don’t think he represents anyone at all given his views and lengthy record of hate speech.

Shea is as extreme as they come. He has admitted to distributing literature associated with the white nationalist Aryan Nations movement calling for the death of non-Christian males who do not follow biblical laws. (Shea’s activities so alarmed the Republican Spokane County Sheriff that the FBI was called in to investigate.)

“You have a sector that is preaching hate and falsehood, then you have a responsibility to shut that down,” Sheriff Knezovich told the Pacific Northwest Inlander. “Matt Shea has a responsibility to shut that down. He feeds the fire.”

Shea and a small group of other militant right wingers want the part of Washington they live in to secede and form a new state called Liberty.

They are obsessed with creating a pseudo-libertarian paradise and wrongly believe that if they could only sever political ties with Western Washington, they would be free to implement their white nationalist agenda. (I say pseudo-libertarian because this society would not be truly libertarian; Shea and his ilk do not believe in reproductive rights or the freedom to marry as true libertarians do.)

Shea — who often speaks at right wing rallies yet declines interviews — is in total agreement with Donald Trump that the mass media are “the enemy of the people”. He frequently denounces people he doesn’t agree with as “Marxists”.

Prior to being profiled by Rolling Stone last year and investigated by the FBI, Shea was involved in supporting the militant group that seized control of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and broke numerous federal laws.

Now The Guardian has obtained evidence that Shea discussed carrying out violent attacks against other people with other extremist right wingers.

“Fist full of hair, and face slam, to a Jersey barrier. Treat em like communist revolutionaries. Then shave her bald with a K-Bar USMC field knife,” wrote Shea pal Jack Robertson in the chat. “Would make good attachment points for hoisting communists up flag poles. Especially the ones with nipple rings. But… if you cinch up zip ties enough, you don’t even NEED nipple rings for hoisting.”

“Shea, the elected Republican legislator, did not demur from any of these suggestions,” reports The Guardian’s Jason Wilson. “He also appeared willing to participate directly in surveillance of activists.”

“In response to a request in the chat for background checks on Spokane residents, Shea volunteered to help, going on to name three individuals – including an organizer for the liberal group Indivisible, and a college professor.”

This disturbing conduct warrants further investigation. The Washington State House should open its own investigation into Matt Shea and his activities. Shea should at least be censured for this conduct and formally reprimanded. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior for a public official. There must be discipline. House leadership cannot look the other way: they must act.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Washington State Senate passes bill ending the personal exemption for MMR vaccine

A provision in state law that allows parents of schoolchildren to opt their kids out of receiving a vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) on so-called personal or philosophical grounds is one step closer to being abolished.

Tonight, after a long, contentious floor debate, the Washington State Senate passed Engrossed House Bill 1638, prime sponsored by Republican Paul Harris.

The bill amends state law to allow schoolchildren and kids in daycare to be exempted from the MMR vaccine for medical or religious reasons only.

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
EHB 1638
Vaccine preventable diseases
3rd Reading & Final Passage as Amended by the Senate

Yeas: 25; Nays: 22; Excused: 2

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Das, Dhingra, Frockt, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, Mullet, Nguyen, Palumbo, Pedersen, Randall, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Takko, Van De Wege, Wellman, Wilson (Claire)

Voting Nay: Senators Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Ericksen, Fortunato, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Holy, Honeyford, King, O’Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Wagoner, Walsh, Warnick, Wilson (Lynda), Zeiger

Excused: Senators Lovelett, McCoy

No Senate Republicans voted for the bill.

Two Democratic senators (Liz Lovelett and John McCoy) missed the vote and one (Bob Hasegawa) voted no. The chamber’s remaining Democrats voted aye.

A recent measles outbreak in Clark County served as the impetus for the bill; Clark County is Representative Harris’ home jurisdiction. The outbreak prompted Governor Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency earlier this year.

According to PBS, Clark County has one of the lowest vaccination rates anywhere: seventy-eight percent, which isn’t high enough to provide effective herd immunity.

“Since January 1st [2019], Public Health has identified seventy confirmed cases and is currently investigating two suspect cases,” Clark County’s official online summary of the investigation states. “Public Health has identified one new location where people may have been exposed to measles.”

“The measles vaccine isn’t perfect, but one dose is ninety-three percent effective at preventing illness,” reads an explanation from Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County’s health officer and Public Health director. “The recommended two doses of the measles vaccine provide even greater protection – ninety-seven percent.”

In approving HB 1638, the Legislature is following in the footsteps of the Left Coast’s largest state, California, which has also struggled with the issue.

Following a big measles outbreak at Disneyland, California lawmakers voted in 2015 to abolish the personal exemption for vaccines in the Golden State.

“Before the change, only ninety percent of California children were vaccinated, which is below the ninety-four percent threshold public health experts say is needed to create community immunity to measles. Now, according to a study released last month, ninety-five percent of California children are vaccinated,” Governing Magazine noted in a 2018 report presciently titled “‘Ripe for an Outbreak’: Vaccine Exemptions Are on the Rise” and written by Mattie Quinn.

Representative Harris has characterized EHB 1638 as “a small step” because it only ends the personal/philosophical exemption for the MMR vaccine.

EHB 1638 now heads back to the Washington State House for final approval because it was modified by the Senate. The Senate’s amendment made the following changes, according to a summary prepared by nonpartisan staff:

  1. Removes the provision allowing a child to be exempt from vaccine requirements if the child has a parent or sibling with a history of immune system problems or an adverse reaction to a particular vaccine.
  2. Removes provisions that exempt individuals from further vaccination if they fail to mount a positive antibody response following a complete vaccine series.
  3. Removes the grandfather clause for high school students who currently hold a personal exemption.

Senate Republicans introduced more than a dozen amendments in an attempt to weaken the bill, but Democrats defeated each and every one of them.

If the House signs off on the Senate’s changes, then EHB 1638 will go to Governor Inslee for bill action. Alternatively, the House can ask the Senate to recede from its amendments. If the Senate refuses, a conference committee would be appointed to produce a final version for each chamber to consider.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Legislation to abolish death penalty won’t get a vote in the Washington State House in 2019

Legislation that would remove Washington’s now-unenforceable death penalty statute from the books will not get a vote in the House of Representatives for the second straight year because of Speaker of the House Frank Chopp’s opposition.

Senate Bill 5339, prime sponsored by Democratic Senator Reuven Carlyle and requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, passed out of the Washington State Senate back in February. It eventually received a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee and then secured a “do pass” recommendation.

After that, the bill landed in the House Rules Committee, where it spent several weeks in limbo before advancing to the floor. Despite getting on the House floor calendar, however, it will not receive a vote, even though House Democrats now wield a large majority of fifty-seven. Sources tell NPI that’s because Chopp is adamantly opposed to the bill and does not want it to pass.

Today was the deadline for policy bills from the opposite chamber to receive consideration. With 5 PM having come and gone, we’re past the point where Senate Bill 5339 is eligible to be considered in 2019 under legislative rules.

Last year, when House Democrats held a slim majority of fifty to forty-eight, Chopp’s public rationale for not holding a vote on abolition (as stated at a town hall in the 43rd District) was that the votes simply didn’t exist to pass the bill.

Although Chopp’s seatmate Senator Pedersen disputed that rationale, Chopp nonetheless stuck to it. Now, however, the caucus has fifty-seven members, which means seven members of the caucus can oppose a bill and it can still pass if the remaining fifty members are present and voting yes.

Support for abolishing the death penalty in Washington State is very high, according to NPI research. Last year, 69% of Washingtonians surveyed told our pollster that they preferred one of three life in prison alternatives to just 24% who said they preferred the death penalty, while 8% said they were not sure.

(Read more about our finding.)

Senate Bill 5339 would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole, which is the alternative endorsed by respondents in our poll.

We’re very disappointed that Senate Bill 5339 isn’t getting a vote in the Washington State House of Representatives this year. However, next year, there will be a new Speaker, and Senate Bill 5339 will carry over to the next session because the 2020 session will be a continuation of the current Legislature.

We will work during the interim to continue building momentum for abolition, keeping in mind that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice, as Theodore Parker and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said.

POSTSCRIPT: McClatchy’s James Drew has filed a story about SB 5339 getting blocked from a vote, in which Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Senator Reuven Carlyle both state (on the record) that there were enough votes to pass it.

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Documentary Review: Robert Reich’s “Inequality for All” is an essential film

Inequality for All is a film based on the work of Robert Reich, a Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

This film predates his other film, 2017’s Saving Capitalism by four years, and while there is some overlap in the films, such as Reich’s explanation of the myth of the “free” market, both are worth seeing for all the information in them.

Some scenes in the film are from Reich’s Berkeley “Wealth and Poverty” class. He tells the students that they will explore three questions over the course of the class: what is happening, why, and if it is a problem.

He explains that some inequality is inevitable under capitalism.

Inequality For All

Inequality For All
Release Year: 2013
Director: Jacob Kornbluth
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Watch the trailer

“The question is not inequality, per se. The question is, when does inequality become a problem? How much inequality can we tolerate and still have an economy that’s working for everyone and still have a democracy that is functioning?” Reich asks.

The film examines some of the data about inequality in the United States, including how the levels of inequality in 2001 just before the Great Recession mirrored the previous peak of inequality in 1928, the year before the start of the Great Depression. Also notable is that in 2012, the richest four hundred Americans had more wealth than half the United States population put together.

Reich explains that household and family spending is seventy percent of the United States economy, and the middle class is the heart of that household and family spending. The middle class is what keeps the economy going.

“There’s no way you can sustain the economy over the long term without a strong and vibrant and growing middle class. Can’t be done,” Reich says.

Unfortunately, the middle class is struggling and has been going downhill for years.

The film then jumps to Seattle, spotlighting local entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Nick Hanauer. Hanauer says he generally makes between $10 and $30 million per year between his various businesses. One makes mattresses and pillows.

“The problem with rising inequality is that fewer and fewer people can afford to buy the products we make,” Hanauer says. (The rich, on their own, don’t provide enough of a market for most American businesses.)

He uses himself as an example. Of course the vast majority of the millions he earns each year is not spent. He says he has “no idea what happens with my money” but he is sure “it isn’t creating any kind of social utility other than a return for me.”

After the film shows multiple news clips with people talking about “job creators,” Hanauer tears into this framing.

“Sometimes we think that this is a debate over facts and figures and data. I think if you believe that, you’re fooling yourself,” he begins.

“When somebody calls themselves a ‘job creator,’ they’re not describing the economy or how the economy works, although that’s what it sounds like. What they’re really doing is making a claim on status, privileges, and power.”

It is customers, he says, who are the real job creators.

“We need to replace trickle-down economics with middle-out economics. And indeed, every place you look on Earth where you find prosperity, you find massive investments in the middle class and the poor, because at the end of the day, they are the true job creators,” Hanauer continued. “The most pro-business thing you can do is to help middle class people thrive.”

The film pivots back to Reich, who explains how, starting in the late 1970s, a gap between productivity and wages, which historically rose together, started to grow. Over the last thirty-plus years, productivity has continued to go up, but wages flat-lined. He attributes this to not just the decline of unions, but two other major underlying issues: globalization and technology.

Contrary to popular belief, he says, globalization and tech have not reduced the number of jobs available to Americans.

These forces have, however, reduced the pay of many Americans, even though costs for goods and services have gone up. So people are working harder and harder and harder, and getting nowhere, Reich says.

He then explains how we don’t have to look to other countries for a model of how to make things better, but rather just look to our own past: the United States in the three decades after World War II.

At that time, the virtuous cycle was in full effect.

The cycle goes like this: increasing productivity leads to increased wages; increased wages mean workers buy more; people buying more leads companies to hire more people; more people working means tax revenues increase; the government then uses these increased revenues to invest more in our society; increased public sector investment allows workers to become better educated, which in turn allows for even more productivity, and the economy expands.

Unfortunately, says Reich, these days many people “buy into the lie [that] ‘government is bad, the market is good. Everything that government does works against you and everything the market does helps you.'” This myth ignores how markets have been rigged and restructured over the last few decades to further enrich those at the top, at the expense of everyone else.

Reich then explains that when the middle class doesn’t share in economic gains, rather than the uplifting virtuous cycle, you get a downward vicious cycle: wages stagnate, meaning workers buy less, then companies downsize and tax revenues decrease, prompting our elected representatives to cut essential public services, workers are then less educated and unemployment rises, and deficits grow.

Sounds pretty familiar, huh?

As if all of this isn’t bad enough, another thing that must be worried about when inequality reaches such high levels is it’s impact on our democracy.

“With money comes the power to control politics,” says Reich, noting how the amount of money going to lobbyists goes up every year.

“It’s not that people are rich,” says Reich, “It’s that they abuse their wealth by lobbying for bailouts and subsidies and taxes that are going to entrench their wealth. That’s the reason why the rules have changed so dramatically.”

For example, the top marginal tax rates used to be much higher.

Under President Eisenhower, a Republican, they were at the highest rate in history, 91%. It was not until Ronald Reagan’s time that rates went below 70%, and now the top rate is only 37%. Capital gains are taxed at an even lower 15%.

Hanauer, a billionaire, says his effective tax rate is only 11%.

“When you give rich business people tax breaks all in the name of job creation, all that really happens is that the fat cats get fatter. And of course that’s what’s happened over the last thirty years.”

There is no single solution to income inequality, Reich says, but because we make the rules of the economy, that means we have the power to change those rules. To counteract the power that those with all the money have, it will just take more effort. “You’ve got to mobilize. You’ve got to organize,” says Reich.

“You’ve got to energize other people.”

The more we can get people to understand this, especially the rich, the more we can impact the government to fix the rules of the game so that they no longer tilt so decidedly in the favor of those that are already rich.

“Inequality for All” ends with footage of that last day of Reich’s class at Berkeley, where he encourages his students that, no matter how enormous the problem is, individuals can have an impact.

“I choose to be here, in this course, because I believe in you,” he says.

Just as I write, in the hopes that it gives people more information and inspires them to take action.

You can watch “Inequality for All” on Netflix or for a fee on YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, or Amazon Prime Video. Reich also maintains an interesting blog, which also has many informative videos if you prefer that to reading his posts, and has an active Facebook presence. I’ve followed him on Facebook for years and find his posts insightful and also grounding in this dystopian age of Trump.

Robert Reich is also the author of numerous books, including “Aftershock”, which is the basis for “Inequality for All.”

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Legislature close to permanently authorizing prepaid postage for ballot return envelopes

Legislation to permanently require that ballot return envelopes include prepaid postage is on the the verge of becoming the law of the land in Washington State after the House of Representatives took action tonight on Senator Joe Nguyen’s Substitute Senate Bill 5063, one of NPI’s legislative priorities for 2019.

By a vote of eighty-three to ten, the House sent Nguyen’s bill back to the Senate with amendments for final approval. Most of the chamber’s Republicans joined the House Democratic caucus in supporting the legislation.

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
SB 5063
Ballots, prepaid postage
Final Passage as Amended by the House

Yeas: 83; Nays: 10; Excused: 5

Voting Yea: Representatives Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Boehnke, Caldier, Callan, Chambers, Chapman, Cody, Corry, Davis, DeBolt, Doglio, Dolan, Entenman, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Gildon, Goehner, Goodman, Graham, Gregerson, Griffey, Harris, Hoff, Hudgins, Irwin, Jinkins, Kilduff, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Kretz, Leavitt, Lekanoff, Lovick, MacEwen, Macri, Maycumber, Mead, Morgan, Orcutt, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Ramos, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rude, Ryu, Santos, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stanford, Steele, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Sutherland, Tarleton, Thai, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Walen, Walsh, Wylie, Ybarra, Young, Chopp

Voting Nay: Representatives Chandler, Dent, Dufault, Dye, Eslick, Jenkin, Kraft, McCaslin, Shea, Wilcox

Excused: Representatives Appleton, Hansen, Morris, Mosbrucker, Shewmake

Among the Republicans voting nay was J.T. Wilcox, the leader of the House Republican caucus. Most of Wilcox’s caucus, however, opted to support the bill. Prepaid postage for ballot return envelopes is funded in both the House and Senate versions of the 2019-2021 operating budget; SSB 5063 simply changes the law to make prepaid postage on ballot return envelopes mandatory.

We should have eliminated this barrier to voting years ago. Now it’s finally happening and that’s a relief. This is a nice follow-on to last year’s groundbreaking Access to Democracy package. Hopefully, not needing a stamp to return a ballot will foster participation in this year’s local elections.

In 2015 and 2017, Washington set records for the worst general election voter turnout in state history. We don’t want to do that again in 2019.

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Tim Eyman botches effort to overturn legislator pay increases; blames Kim Wyman

It’s Tim Eyman versus Kim Wyman!

The disgraced initiative promoter has made Washington’s Secretary of State the target of his latest campaign of online harassment after Wyman’s office removed Eyman’s Referendum 80 filing from and replaced it with a message saying it and six other identical referenda filed by Eyman were “invalidated”.

Referendum 80 was an attempt to overturn the new salary schedule for legislators and statewide elected officials approved by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. Eyman filed it back on February 6th, 2019 and proceeded to launch a signature drive for it shortly thereafter.

However, subsequent to the filing of Referendum 80, it was discovered that there was an error in the text of the salary schedule the Commission had approved (an incorrect date had been included in the text).

The Code Reviser fixed the error on February 27th, 2019, but Eyman neglected to file a brand new referendum against the corrected salary schedule, figuring Referendum 80 was still a valid ballot measure.

Referendum 80: No longer valid

The message on the Secretary of State’s Referenda page

But it isn’t, and Wyman’s office has apparently now advised Eyman that it won’t accept any petitions for Referendum 80. Eyman claimed that when he inquired about the validity of R-80, he was told: “The Commission’s refiling invalidated these referenda and we are unable to accept signed petition sheets for them.”

Naturally, that response left Eyman spitting mad. He’s asking his followers to barrage Wyman with emails, phone calls, and texts, including at her private (non-official) email address and her personal (non-official) telephone numbers.

Eyman wants Wyman to reverse course and agree to accept petitions for Referendum 80 (presuming he gets enough signatures).

However, if Wyman won’t commit to accepting the R-80 petitions, Eyman said he’ll pull the plug on his signature drive. From his April 10th email:

“[I]f the Secretary of State isn’t going to accept them [the petitions], then it’s not fair for all our supporters to continue to collect signatures. Therefore, we need an answer from her right away. If she says she’ll accept them, we’ll keep working on it. But if she says she won’t, then our supporters shouldn’t continue to collect signatures for a measure the Secretary of State refuses to process.”

Wyman doesn’t actually have a choice in this matter. She can’t accept petitions for Referendum 80 because the underlying salary schedule doesn’t exist anymore… and therefore, by extension, Referendum 80 doesn’t exist anymore either.

Eyman — who considers himself a ballot measure expert and is sometimes incorrectly labeled an “initiative guru” by reporters — should have realized that the withdrawal and republication of the salary schedule by the Commission would automatically necessitate the need for a brand new referendum.

Instead, Eyman made a faulty assumption based on the outcome of litigation surrounding Initiative 1639 (gun responsibility) last year. By his own admission, Eyman figured that since the I-1639 petitions were processed and accepted by the Secretary of State’s office despite printing defects, he didn’t need to start over.

But what Eyman failed to appreciate is that initiatives and referenda are very different. In the case of Initiative 1639, the problem was specific to the petitions; the text had not been correctly transferred onto them. There was no issue with the ballot measure itself. The question was whether the measure’s petitions could be accepted in spite of the petition design and print job having been botched.

The Supreme Court ultimately decided that the petitions shouldn’t be thrown out.

Here we have essentially the reverse situation. It may be that as Tim Eyman claims, he “strictly followed all statutory and constitutional requirements” when printing up petitions for Referendum 80. But whether he did or didn’t is irrelevant, because Referendum 80 was a referendum, not an initiative.

Here, the petitions aren’t the problem… the measure itself is the problem.

Unlike an initiative, a referendum is a vote on an action that has already been taken — usually a bill passed by the Legislature, but in the case of Referendum 80, a salary schedule approved by a constitutionally-mandated citizens’ commission.

Were Referendum 80 to actually appear on the ballot, voters would be considering whether to approve or reject something that no longer exists. And that makes no sense. The corrected salary schedule is the only salary schedule that voters could potentially overturn. For that corrected salary schedule to be subjected to a vote, a referendum would need to be filed against it. That has yet to happen.

As usual, Eyman has only himself to blame. He made a bad assumption and now it appears he’s lost whatever chance he had of forcing a vote on the new salary schedule approved by the Commission. Eyman’s odds to begin with were bad, since he lacked the funds to hire paid petitioners and was trying to qualify Referendum 80 exclusively with volunteer labor supplied by his followers.

Eyman could still attempt to start over, but it would in all likelihood be futile.

The Constitution allots only a three month window for referendum campaigns, and the clock on the corrected salary schedule has been ticking since February 27th. To qualify a new referendum, Eyman would need to gather about 164,264 signatures in the span of about a month, or approximately 32,853 signatures per week.

The only way he could manage that is with paid petitioners.

With Referendum 80 kaput, it appears we can add a new entry to Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart. R-80 is the eleventh Eyman measure that went to the signature gathering stage, but imploded before it could qualify for the ballot.

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Poll Watch: Democratic voters in California offer strong support to Joe Biden

A recent Quinnipiac University poll asked voters in California, the nation’s largest state, about the upcoming Democratic presidential primary.

The poll shows that former Vice President Joe Biden still leads the field, with 26% of Democratic leaning voters supporting his candidacy. He is trailed by Bernie Sanders (18%) and California’s own Senator Kamala Harris (17%).

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren came a distant joint-fourth, with 7% each.

The Quinnipiac researchers also asked voters more in-depth questions about the race: who they thought would be the best leader; who they thought had the best chance of beating Trump; and who had the best policy ideas.

Biden did well in all three categories.

Joe Biden studies the audience at Netroots Nation during his Thursday afternoon keynote. (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

31% and 35% respectively say that he is the best leader and the best candidate for beating Trump. Although more respondents thought that Bernie Sanders had better policy ideas (23% to Biden’s 13%), 52% of voters say it is more important for a candidate to be a good leader than to have good policy ideas.

Biden has is seen as a strong leader by Californians

Biden has not yet declared if he will run for the Democratic nomination, and has recently been rattled by a number of events – most particularly, the op-ed written by Lucy Flores that claimed that Biden’s inappropriate touching of her at a campaign event in 2014 made her feel “uneasy, gross and confused”.

However, the poll showed that California voters don’t seem particularly troubled by the accusations against Biden.

67% of the women surveyed said that the accusations against Biden were not serious – that number among Democrats was almost three quarters.

California will play an instrumental role in the selection of the next Democratic nominee. In 2017 the state decided to move its primary date to the beginning of March, joining seven other states on “Super Tuesday”.

Joe Biden at MLK Day Breakfast

Former Vice President Joe Biden at the National Action Network Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast, where AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley received a labor leader award. (Photo: AFGE, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

In 2016, California held its primaries in June, by which time the most populous state’s votes were largely irrelevant; by June of 2016, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the presumptive nominees.

Moving the primary to Super Tuesday will make competition for California’s over four hundred delegates much fiercer (since 1,885 are needed to win the nomination) and candidates will be likely end up paying much more attention to the specific priorities of Californian voters than they did in 2016.

At the time of the change, the state’s Democratic Party Chair, Eric Baumann, said that California was “the beating heart of the national resistance to Trump” and should “play a pivotal role in selecting a progressive champion” to face Trump in 2020. This early polling suggests that despite his recent rough patch, Joe Biden has a good shot at becoming that progressive champion.