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.

Badly-behaved Senate Republicans are an embarrassment to the State of Washington

It’s only been ten days since the sixty-fifth Washington State Legislature convened for its long session, but already, the bad behavior of Senate Republicans suggests it’s going to be very difficult for the state’s lawmaking branch to get much of anything done before the session is scheduled to end on April 23rd.

Washingtonians have a reasonable expectation that their representatives will work together to govern despite their differences, and while Republicans (who have a tenuous grip on the Senate) occasionally pay lip service to this idea, it is evident from their actions that they relish creating gridlock and resent not having total control over state government like their federal counterparts do.

The Legislature has serious, pressing issues to attend to. Recognizing this, Governor Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and House Democrats have been endeavoring to put worthy ideas on the table to address neglected public services like our schools and mental health system while proposing reforms that would make state government more accountable and our criminal justice codes more humane.

Senate Republicans, however, have been busy embarrassing our state with their self-serving political posturing and petty antics. Here are a slew of examples.

Exhibit A… Mark Schoesler’s rudeness to the press corps:

It’s only the second week of the legislative session and state Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler already is biting the heads off journalists who asked him when the Republican plan for fixing the way the state pays for education will be ready.

“That’s none of your business,” Schoesler snapped at a Tuesday news conference.

Actually, Senator Schoesler, it’s everyone’s business. Where is your plan?

Exhibit B… Dino Rossi’s refusal to accommodate members of the Lake Washington Education Association who had traveled to Olympia on their day off to meet with him following Monday’s Rally for Student Civil Rights & Amply Funded Schools.

Senator Rossi just blew off an entire delegation of education advocates from Lake Washington here to talk to him about the need to fully fund public education and uphold all of our students’ civil rights!

He looked at all of us and accused us of being fifteen minutes late and left to go to lunch. You want to talk about being late, Senator Rossi, you and the legislature you have been a part of repeatedly are more than 40 years late! Hope your lunch was important, obviously you don’t have the best interest of your constituents and the children of Lake Washington in mind.

During a prior meeting organized by the PTA that did take place as scheduled, Rossi reportedly took up most of the time — Pam Roach styleby talking instead of listening, according to an activist who was in the room.

Exhibit C… Michael Baumgartner’s disrespect for our Constitution:

In a fairly blatant attempt to get some attention for himself and steer public discourse away from fully funding our public schools, extremist right wing Senator Michael Baumgartner of Spokane has prefiled a constitutional amendment that would repeal the memorable opening words of Article IX of the Washington State 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 has been with us since statehood and its preamble is one of the most beautiful passages in our entire Constitution. But Michael Baumgartner wants to scrap it because he doesn’t believe in amply funded schools for all children.


Exhibit D… Doug Ericksen’s mean-spirited scheme to criminalize civil disobedience:

A proposal by state Sen. Doug Ericksen to increase penalties for protesters is a bad idea coming at a terrible time.

The Ferndale Republican should abandon his proposal to “criminalize” protests that cause economic harm and “create a new crime of economic terrorism.

Now is the time for elected leaders to help people move past the presidential campaign’s divisive rhetoric and get back to working on real problems facing the state and country.

Branding protesters as terrorists is not legislating to help the people and businesses of Washington. It is chumming the pool of hyperpartisans by generating inflammatory headlines with a proposal unlikely ever to become law.

It must be understood that Doug Ericksen is a tool of big oil companies, which have facilities in his district. He seems willing to do absolutely anything for the fossil fuels industry, and he ridiculously interprets criticism of the likes of BP as though it were some kind of personal attack on himself. (I’ve sparred with him a League of Women Voters forum in Bellingham, so this observation is based on my own experience.)

Exhibit E… Mike Padden’s unwillingness to commit to holding a much-needed hearing on agency request legislation to abolish executions:

Last year, Sen. Mike Padden, the Spokane Republican who chairs the Judiciary committee, did not allow a hearing on a bill to repeal the death penalty, effectively shutting down the legislative conversation.

On Wednesday, Padden said he would “consider holding a hearing on the death penalty bill if and when the House,” which is controlled by Democrats, passes the bill first.

The death penalty is too important for legislative leaders like Padden to play partisan games.

Indeed. Bob Ferguson’s legislation to abolish the death penalty — which has the backing of Republican Senators Mark Miloscia and Maureen Walsh — could pass the Senate if it were brought to the floor and given a vote, proponents say. Even supporters of state sponsored-killing, like Steve O’Ban, say the legislation deserves a hearing. But there’s Mike Padden saying he won’t even give the legislation a hearing unless the House of Representatives passes the companion bill!

Mike Padden’s behavior has been, and continues to be, indefensible.

Exhibit F… Joe Fain’s bizarre argument against freeing school districts from having to worry about the “levy cliff” manufactured by the Legislature years ago:

A proposal to keep the levy lid at its current level through January 2019 — delaying the reduction in tax collections by one year — passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, but with support only from Democrats.

Last year, a proposal to continue the levy lid lift for one extra year cleared the Democratic-controlled House with broad bipartisan support, but stalled in the state Senate, which is led by Republicans.

Sen. Joe Fain, the Senate majority floor leader, said he shares House Republicans’ concerns about the political consequences of postponing the levy cliff. “If we were going to solve this crisis, as I believe we will, we have to keep the pressure on,” said Fain, R-Auburn.

Keep the pressure on? When has that ever worked in the past?

Washington’s school funding crisis could have been solved years ago, but Republicans weren’t willing to make the investments necessary to amply fund our schools and they remain unwilling to make those investments now.

The least Republicans can do is join Democrats in removing this impediment to school districts’ budgeting and planning, since the Legislature has failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s orders to get our schools funded for four straight years (and failed to uphold its own past promises for far longer than that).

Finally, to build on that point about Republicans being unwilling to make the necessary investments in our schools, we have Exhibit H:

Senate Republicans’ vote to require a two-thirds vote for passage of tax increases gave us pause last week as the Washington Legislature opened its new session.

The foremost challenge in the 105-day session is to fully fund K-12 public schools, which could end the unconstitutional practice of using local voter-approved levies to subsidize teacher pay and benefits.

There is a marked lack of unanimity about how much is needed, let alone how to pay for it. By putting the two-thirds-vote roadblock in place, the 25 members of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus could well gum up legislative action and thwart the majority’s will later in the year — that is, if their action on the two-thirds rule is even legal.

(It’s not).

This is hardly the first session in which Senate Republicans have shown a lack of respect for the Constitution, or their Democratic peers, or the people of Washington in general. There were hopes expressed in advance of this year’s session in many quarters that 2017 might be different — that Senate Republicans might be more mindful of their obligations as elected representatives, and more humble following Steve Litzow’s loss last November to Lisa Wellman in the 41st District.

Sadly, it’s apparent Senate Republicans still prefer political theater, gamesmanship, and obstruction to governing. Their majority is now just as fragile as that of the House Democrats, yet they seem as arrogant as ever.

Since Republicans won’t stop behaving badly, it looks like it’ll be up to voters of the Eastside to remedy the situation for 2018 by taking away their majority.

Voters in my legislative district, the 45th, will have the chance to singlehandedly fire the Senate Republicans later this year if they select a Democrat to take the place of appointed Republican Senator Dino Rossi. The 45th is among four districts that must, by law, hold special state Senate elections this year due to vacancies.

The other three districts (48th, 37th, 31st) are likely to remain in the hands of the same party, so the balance of power in the Senate would most likely be unaffected.

But the 45th happens to be an increasingly Democratic district that is overdue for a change in representation.

Last year, voters in the 45th enthusiastically backed Democrats up and down the ballot. In legislative races, the Republicans couldn’t find anyone willing to take on Larry Springer, while their opponent for Roger Goodman — Sammmish City Councilmember Ramiro Valderrama — couldn’t crack 40% of the vote.

If Democrats do succeed in taking the 45th, they will become the majority party in the Washington State Senate as of the certification of this year’s local election around this year’s Thanksgiving holiday — and the Senate Republicans, who count Tim Sheldon as one of their own, will become the minority party.

Like a scene from The Chronicles of Narnia: Frozen Franklin Falls is a winter wonderland

One of the great advantages of living in the Pacific Northwest is the nearness of nature, including unspoiled mountains and ocean beaches. Thanks to the work of many sustainability-oriented Washingtonians, Oregonians, and Idahoans, we have protected many of our beautiful and wild places from being scarred or destroyed.

One such place is the Mountains to Sound Greenway in eastern King County, which surrounds Interstate 90 as it winds towards Snoqualmie Pass.

People from across Washington have been flocking to the Greenway’s Denny Creek area in recent weeks to marvel at the awe-inspiring sight of frozen-over Franklin Falls, a notable waterfall on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River.

Very cold temperatures and heavy snowfall have prompted the closure of the forest road that goes from I-90’s Exit 47 to the Franklin Falls trailhead, turning what was previously a two mile roundtrip hike into a nearly eight mile roundtrip hike that requires giving up the better part of the sunlit day.

This has seemingly not dampened the allure of the Falls in the slightest, for when I made the trek there this weekend to take in the sight myself, the trail was rather crowded. Fellow hikers were practically always in sight.

And no wonder, for frozen Franklin Falls is truly something to behold. If anything deserves to be called a winter wonderland, it is this place.

Wide-angle view of frozen Franklin Falls

A photo posted by NPI (@nwprogressive) on

Many visitors have remarked that it looks like a scene out of The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), and indeed it does. Disney and Walden Media filmed some of the winter scenes in the Czech Republic and Poland, but the Cascades here in Washington could have served as a filming location.

Like something out of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

A photo posted by NPI (@nwprogressive) on

A string of successive cold snaps have produced a massive array of icicles at the Falls’ third tier — and it’s quite the immersive experience.

Frozen Franklin Falls: Truly a winter wonderland in every sense

A photo posted by NPI (@nwprogressive) on

In the film version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, there’s a scene where our heroes have to cross a frozen river in front of — you guessed it — a giant, frozen-over waterfall. This scene isn’t actually described in C.S. Lewis’ famous novel, but it was created for the movie for dramatic effect.

Still from the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The protagonists of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe inspect the great river they have to get across

Still from the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The three Pevensive children and the Beavers cross the river in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The frozen waterfall seen above is a set created by the filmmakers, utilizing computer generated imagery (CGI), and while it’s reasonably convincing, it can’t compare with the real-life icicles at Franklin Falls, which were sculpted by nature.

Closeup of icicles at Franklin Falls

A photo posted by NPI (@nwprogressive) on

Recent lows up at Snoqulamie Pass have been in the low teens (the night before my hike, the low was 14° Fahrenheit) resulting in a spectacular set of ice formations.

Looking almost straight up at frozen Franklin Falls

A photo posted by NPI (@nwprogressive) on

While at Franklin Falls, I witnessed more than one intrepid ice climber scale the Falls as coolly and calmly as a patient fisherman reeling in a big catch.

Climber scaling Franklin Falls

A photo posted by NPI (@nwprogressive) on

Winter recreation in our region can truly be rewarding, but it’s important to be prepared when setting out. I saw many people hiking at Franklin Falls who clearly weren’t dressed for contingencies and didn’t appear to have much in the way of supplies. If you attempt to go to the Falls yourself, you should:

  • check current conditions and the weather forecast prior to setting out (don’t go in bad weather, it’s not worth the risk)
  • print out driving+hiking directions rather than attempting to rely on GPS; be prepared to hike the eight miles roundtrip
  • ensure you arrive before midday so you can get down before sunset
  • dress in layers and put hand warmers in your gloves
  • carry the Ten Essentials (including an insulated water bottle)
  • wear snowshoes or put traction devices on your shoes (reduces the likelihood of slipping and falling on the ice)
  • bring trekking poles and make full use of them

I went prepared and enjoyed myself immensely, but I could see other hikers had neglected to adequately prepare for the hike and weren’t enjoying it as much as they could have as a consequence. Please travel prepared and stay safe!

Attorney General Bob Ferguson unveils bipartisan legislation to abolish executions

Flanked by former Attorney General Rob McKenna and Governor Jay Inslee, current Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced a major new effort to abolish the barbaric practice of state-sponsored executions in Washington, supported by a bipartisan group of legislators from each house.

Declaring that it is the responsibility of leaders to lead, Ferguson said the time has come for the Legislature to take a vote on ending the costly, ineffective death penalty. Ferguson noted he was originally elected in 2012 despite significant negative advertising assailing him for his opposition to capital punishment.

“There is no role for capital punishment in a fair, equitable and humane justice system,” Ferguson said in a statement calling for action.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks at a press conference announcing he’s proposing legislation to abolish executions (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“The Legislature has evaded a vote on the death penalty for years. The public deserves to know where their representatives stand.”

“The current system is not working,” agreed McKenna, Ferguson’s Republican predecessor. “There is too much delay, cost and uncertainty around the death penalty, which is why I stand today with Attorney General Ferguson and this bipartisan group of legislators in support of this change.”

Ferguson primarily cited the toll victims families take from having to relive their experience in the never ending cycle of appeals that they go through as well as the financial cost attributed to maintaining such a system.

When pressed on how or whether the legislation would affect the current inmates on death row, its proponents noted the bill does not contain language that would make it apply retroactively, but they pledged to talk with the families of victims of condemned inmates in order to determine how to move forward.

The bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Mark Milocosa (R-30th District: Federal Way, Algona, Pacific) and in the House by Tina Orwell (D-33rd District) respectively with cosponsors from both sides of the aisle.

“Over the last four decades, 156 people have been exonerated from death row across the nation. How many more continue waiting for new evidence to prove their innocence, and will they get it before their lives are taken?” said Orwall.

“If we truly want to serve justice, the state should avoid irreversible punishment to individuals who were wrongly convicted and would have otherwise been executed.”

Other legislators taking part in today’s announcement spearheaded by Ferguson to push for abolition include Democrats Reuven Carlyle, Jamie Pedersen, and Jeannie Darnielle, and Republicans Terry Nealey and Maureen Walsh.

“As a former prosecuting attorney for Columbia County, my heart remains with the families of the victims who suffered horrific acts that would justify the death penalty,” said Nealey. “Their feelings should never be minimalized.”

“That is why it has taken so long for my thoughts to evolve against the death penalty in Washington State. However, the steps, the immense and extended time, and the incredible expense and resources it takes to impose and uphold this most severe form of punishment have made the death penalty nearly impossible to carry out. In recent years, even in the most heinous crimes, jurors have failed to impose the death penalty. In the meantime, families suffer for years with the angst of having to go through trials, court proceedings, appeals and more, not knowing if the death penalty will ever take place.”

We at NPI applaud this new effort to abolish executions in Washington State, and will commit to emphatically supporting it now and in the days ahead. Washington must be a beacon of light in dark and uncertain times. It’s up to us to show the rest of the country that there is a different path forward.

States like Maryland and New Mexico and Nebraska have shown it’s possible to abolish executions. Now it’s time for us in the Pacific Northwest to act. We have a moral obligation to end systemic racism and inequity in our criminal justice system. Putting people to death as a society is barbaric and must end.

Governor Jay Inslee showed great courage several years ago when he placed a moratorium on executions. While that was a worthy first step, further action is needed. That’s why we are delighted that Attorney General Ferguson is joining our Governor in leading a bipartisan push for abolition.

Mike Padden and others in the Senate Republican caucus are unlikely to be supportive of this legislation and may not let it come to the floor for a vote this year. But even if they don’t, now is certainly the time to lay the groundwork for a successful abolition bill in the future. What’s been missing in the past is strong leadership from the executive department. And now, at last, we have that.

Governor Inslee and Attorney General Ferguson are the Dynamic Duo of Washington State politics. When they join forces to work for progressive ideas that would improve quality of life in our state, they make a great team. We’re thrilled to have been present today for the unveiling of this important campaign to advance civil rights and make criminal justice more equitable in our region.

What better way to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy? Happy MLK Day!

Join us tomorrow at the Rally for Student Civil Rights and Amply Funded Schools!

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.

— Washington State Constitution, Article IX, Section 1


Do you believe in the Constitution of Washington State?

Do you believe that all of our youth deserve a great education?

Do you believe that public schools are a essential service that must be fully funded, so that every child in our state has the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge they need to contribute to the well being of our democratic society?

Then join us tomorrow as we rally in Olympia for our students and schools!

What: The Rally for Student Civil Rights and Amply Funded Public Schools
When: January 16th, 2017, 10:30 to 11:30 AM
Where: Steps of the Legislative Building (north entrance, facing Temple of Justice)

We are very proud to join with NAACP, Washington’s Paramount Duty, the League of Women Voters of Washington, El Centro de la Raza, Washington Education Association, Washington State PTA, Public School Employees, SEIU, School Nurses of Washington, Washington Association of School Social Workers, Class Size Counts, and Washington School Counselors Association in sponsoring this rally.

There is no better occasion than Martin Luther King Jr. Day to rally for a great cause like student civil rights and amply funded schools.

We hope you’ll join us and be inspired to work for change in our state.

Group Health Cooperative is no more: State approves GHC’s sale to Kaiser Permanente

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler today signed off on Kaiser Permanente’s bid to acquire the state’s homegrown health provider Group Health Cooperative, which means GHC will be no more as of February 1st, 2017.

“After an extensive and thorough review by my office, it’s clear that Kaiser met all of the legal requirements necessary for approval,” Kreidler said in a statement. “I’m satisfied Washington state will retain a competitive health insurance market.“

“This acquisition is a significant change for the health insurance market in our state,” Kreidler added. “I trust that Kaiser and Group Health will honor their commitment to improve service for consumers.”

Kaiser plans to drop the Group Health name when it assumes control of GHC and its assets, but the name will live on through the Group Health Community Foundation, a new independent entity which will be seeded with $1.8 billion in funding… the proceeds of GHC’s sale to Kaiser. Both GHC and Kaiser are nonprofits.

“We are honored by the Commissioner’s approval and excited to build upon Group Health’s strong legacy by serving the families and communities of Washington with high-quality and affordable health care,” said Susan Mullaney, who Kaiser has designated as the President of its Washington operations.

“Our members can look forward to investments in the clinics, technology and people that deliver the care and services which translate to better health.”

“Today marks the culmination of thousands of hours of consideration, analysis and discussion amongst the Group Health Board of Directors, our leadership team, our members throughout the state and now ultimately, the tireless work of the Commissioner’s office. This work is in service to ensuring the best for our members and our communities as a whole,” said Scott Armstrong, current president and chief executive officer of Group Health Cooperative.

“Consumers in our state will be even better served with the strength, talent and resources of what will soon become Kaiser Permanente of Washington.”

GHC’s Armstrong and Kaiser’s Mullaney have claimed that the merger would help keep insurance premiums lower for GHC members. That remains to be seen.

There is one notable upside: Kaiser accepts patients covered by Medicaid, whereas Group Health previously stopped accepting Medicaid clients directly a few years ago. The acquisition ought to result in better service for Washingtonians on Medicaid.

Kreidler’s order approving the acquisition completes a process that began over a year ago when GHC announced that it and its subsidiary Group Health Options had agreed to a sale to the California-based Kaiser.

Members of Group Health previously voted to approve the sale, and Kreidler’s staff last week he recommended he give his assent as well.

Opposition to the deal was muted.

“While members no longer will be able to vote on governance issues, Kaiser Permanente will establish a Regional Consumer Advisory Committee,” notes a FAQ on GHC’s website devoted to the acquisition. “The committee will include 25-35 members, meeting quarterly to provide input in matters of policy and operation. Kaiser Permanente will [also] continue the Senior Caucus, a trusted advisory group, to engage and represent the perspectives of seniors in our region.”

GHC membership had plateaued prior to the decision to sell to Kaiser. The two nonprofits had previously discussed a tie-up in the 1990s, but it fell apart.

This time, it’s going to happen.

Kaiser does not have much of a presence in Washington State presently, and no jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the acquisition. Kaiser has pledged to honor existing union contracts and retain nonunion employees as well.

Why isn’t Stuart Elway asking about revenue fairness when he polls on funding education?

Yesterday, just in time for the 2017 legislative session, pollster Stuart Elway released new results from a recent survey in which his firm asked Washington voters about how and whether we should invest in Washington’s K-12 schools, which have been badly underfunded for years in defiance of the Washington State Constitution.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ordered the Legislature to discharge its paramount duty and amply provide for the education of all young people residing within the state. The Legislature has increased education funding, but not by enough to comply with the requirements of the Constitution.

Education funding is thus the most important issue facing the new Legislature, again. Voters told Elway they also see it as the top issue.

Overall, 45% of respondents ranked education first, followed by “the economy”, “taxes”, and transportation. Respondents identifying as Democrats and respondents identifying as independents both pinpointed education as their top issue; for the Republican respondents, it was “taxes”.

Elway then asked about the following “strategies” for funding education:

  1. Fund public education first with the money available, then fund the rest of state government with the money remaining – even if that means cutting other programs and services.
  2. Increase taxes on businesses to fund public education without making deep cuts to other state programs and services. This option was modified this year to specify “taxes on businesses,” since that is most of the Governor’s proposal. The change made no significant difference in the response.
  3. Do as much as possible to fund education without raising taxes and without deep cuts to other programs — even if that means we do not fully fund education.

I put the word strategies in quotes above because in our view, #1 and #3 aren’t actually strategies at all, and should not be characterized as such.

#1 is just not possible and suggests a complete ignorance of how state budgeting works. “Fund education first” is a worthless catchphrase — it’s simply not a strategy. We have many major obligations as a state, more than one of which are constitutionally mandated. We’ve made additional obligations in order to accept federal tax dollars. We can’t neglect those. Robbing Peter to pay Paul won’t work.

#3, meanwhile, is not constitutional and won’t lead to a resolution of the McCleary court case. #3 is what the Legislature has already been doing for years, which is why our public schools remain unacceptably underfunded.

And as for #2, the phrasing Elway chose to use is vague and doesn’t adequately explain what Governor Inslee is proposing. The governor’s budget plan includes a capital gains tax on the wealthy, a pollution tax, and an increase in the business & occupation tax that small businesses would be exempted from.

The words “increase taxes on businesses” lack specificity and leave much to the imagination, so it’s not surprising that 47% responded favorably while 46% responded unfavorably to this question.

Many Washingtonians are business owners; only a fraction of them are wealthy business owners. It must be noted that it is the wealthy that Governor Inslee is proposing pay more in dues to ensure that our schools are fully funded.

We believe the way to resolve McCleary is through progressive revenue reform. Washington has the most upside down tax code in the nation — a tax code that obliges low and middle income families to pay a significant percentage of their income in taxes to support our public services, while the wealthy are asked to pay very little. To make matters worse, we don’t fairly tax businesses, either.

Perhaps our favorite adage here at NPI is the answers you get depend on the questions you ask. I usually include it along with every polling-related post I author because it is so important. It either didn’t occur to Stuart Elway and his firm to ask specifically about progressive revenue reform, or it did and he chose not to.We wish he would have, though, because we’d have been interested in the answers.

Last June, we asked about progressive revenue reform in our statewide poll, and we found very strong support for a capital gains tax on the wealthy, repeal of tax breaks that have failed to create new jobs, and making property taxes fairer.

63% of the likely voters who responded to our survey agreed that Washington’s schools need more funding. Impressively, 65% support a capital gains tax on the wealthy to make this happen, with 46% saying they “strongly support the idea”.

Our survey of 679 likely Washington State voters was in the field from June 14th-15th, 2016; all respondents participated via landline. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.8% at the 95% confidence level.

We asked:

Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose taxing the capital gains of wealthy individuals to help pay for public schools, colleges and universities?”

These were the answers:

  • Support: 65%
    • 46% “strongly support” a capital gains tax
    • 19% “somewhat support” a capital gains tax
  • Oppose: 33%
    • 9% “somewhat oppose” a capital gains tax
    • 24% “strongly oppose” a capital gains tax
  • 2% answered “not sure” 

We then asked about recovering revenue for the state by requiring corporations to pay back tax breaks if they did not deliver on promises to create jobs, or they moved jobs out of our state after having received subsidies from fellow taxpayers.

As we suspected, this happens to be a wildly popular idea with broad support from across the political spectrum. Here’s our question:

Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose legislation requiring corporations to forfeit tax breaks and repay subsidies they previously received if they fail to deliver on their job creation promises, or they move jobs out of Washington State?

These were the answers:

  • Support: 79%
    • 59% “strongly support” corporate tax accountability
    • 20% “somewhat support” corporate tax accountability
  • Oppose: 15%
    • 9% “somewhat oppose” corporate tax accountability
    • 6% “strongly oppose” corporate tax accountability
  • 6% answered “not sure” 

And here’s our question on property tax reform:

Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose legislation that would reduce property taxes for middle and lower income households, while slightly increasing them for wealthy families, with no loss of revenue to public services?

These were the answers:

  • Support: 67%
    • 42% “strongly support” property tax fairness
    • 25% “somewhat support” property tax fairness
  • Oppose: 21%
    • 14% “somewhat oppose” property tax fairness
    • 17% “strongly oppose” property tax fairness
  • 2% answered “not sure”

We also believe, based on our research, that a majority of Washingtonians support taxing polluters to fund vital public services like our schools.

Again and again, our research has found that the people of Washington are hungry for progressive revenue reform. Even Republican voters are enthusiastic about some of the ideas we’ve asked about. Too bad their party’s chiefs aren’t.

There are many, many approaches we could take to making our upside down tax code fairer, while also bringing in more revenue to fund our schools at the same time. We wish Elway would have asked about some of these approaches, instead of wasting time trying to ascertain if people would be comfortable perpetuating the status quo, which would be totally irresponsible.

We further wish the media would regularly explore the topic of progressive revenue reform instead of just focusing on the conflict in the Legislature. It is news to no one who follows Washington politics that our bicameral Legislature’s four major party caucuses don’t agree on how to address the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.

Stop writing that story over and over, please, and go talk to ordinary Washington families about our school funding crisis. Get their views. Let’s hear more from teachers, parents, students, and activists, and less from lawmakers and lobbyists whose job it is to be in the statehouse during session.

We think it’s vital, when asking people what solutions they support, to be specific. Most Washingtonians aren’t rich and therefore already pay a significant percentage of their income in taxes, because our tax code is the nation’s most regressive.

Hardworking middle and lower income Washingtonians rightly feel it’s time for the wealthy in our state to step up and pay their fair share.

Governor Inslee has showed real leadership with his budget proposal, and we imagine his ideas will get a serious reception in the Democratic-led House.

But Senate Republicans are going to try their darnedest to steer our public discourse away from these worthy ideas and distract us from the real task at hand.

We must be prepared to constantly reframe so we can stay focused on what matters: ensuring our kids get the education they deserve.

NPI’s tricolor logo gets a new, Cascadia-inspired palette: Meet “Forest & Mountains”

A new year has arrived, and with it a new look for NPI.

Today, we’re unveiling a new iteration of our durable tricolor logo, using a palette inspired by the region we serve and love. Take a look:

NPI tricolor logo (Forest & Mountains)

We call this palette “Forest & Mountains” because it was inspired by one of our favorite photographs of Mount Rainier, the tallest peak in the Cascade Range.

Each of the colors used for the states in “Forest & Mountains” was sourced from this photograph, which was added to the NPI image library in 2012.

Mount Rainier from Stevens Canyon Road

Mount Rainier, from a viewpoint near Lake Louise on the Stevens Canyon Road (taken with Olympus E-3 + Zuiko 12-600mm lens). Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI.

Washington is depicted with a shade of brilliant turquoise, Oregon with a shade of dark green, and Idaho with a shade of blue-gray.

This is the second iteration of our logo to be adopted as NPI’s default trade dress.

NPI tricolor logo (red, gray, and blue)

The original NPI tricolor logo, in red, gray, and blue

The original NPI logo, designed by our incredibly talented friend Miles Kurland in 2006 for NPI, used a red, white, and blue color palette (with gray substituted for white on white backgrounds), in homage to the original Northwest Progressive Institute website, which debuted on August 22nd, 2003.

"Retro" NPI logo

“Retro” logo and web nameplate created in 2013 to commemorate NPI’s tenth anniversary. The checkerboard design is a faithful reproduction of that used in 2003 for the original NPI website. NPI’s name is shown in SG Flower SH Std Bold, the same font used for NPI’s initial digital nameplate.

It is a testament to Miles’ skill as a designer that the logo he created for NPI has wonderfully withstood the test of time, and can be easily refreshed at any point with the adoption of a new color palette (which is what we’re doing today).

This refreshed logo will serve as our trade dress going forward. We hope you like it and enjoy it every time you see it. Happy New Year 2017!

Tim Eyman’s brutal 2016

Count Tim Eyman among those who will surely be glad to see 2016 disappear into the rearview mirror. The brash-talking, braggadocios initiative profiteer had arguably his worst year yet since establishing his initiative factory around the turn of the century. In this post, we’re going to look back at Eyman’s awful year with a blow-by-blow accounting of Eyman’s many defeats and setbacks.

Let’s rewind to January of 2016 and begin our chronology there. About one year ago, Eyman’s I-1366 was being challenged in King County Superior Court, and Eyman was confident that it would be upheld. We’d characterized I-1366 and its abandoned predecessor I-1325 from the get-go as blatantly unconstitutional.

But Eyman was sure that I-1366 would survive judicial scrutiny and even went so far as to predict the lawsuit against I-1366 would fail.

That set the stage for one of the most memorable moments of the year.

January 19th, 2016: King County Superior Court Judge William Downing rules Tim Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366 is unconstitutional, striking down the initiative in its entirety. Eyman receives the news on his smartphone while in Olympia, having just participated in an episode of The Pam Roach Show.

Footage shot by KING5 of Eyman trying to digest the news on his smartphone immortalizes his shock and confusion. He had expected a different outcome.

Eyman in disblief over I-1366 court decision

Tim Eyman can’t believe the verdict in Lee v. State (Courtesy of KING5)

February 8th, 2016: Tim Eyman holds a press conference at the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia to announce that he is launching a new initiative to defund Sound Transit — I-1421. NPI crashes the press conference and vows that I-1421 will be met with vigorous opposition should it qualify for the ballot.

Tim Eyman signs I-1421

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

February 12th, 2016: Refusing to capitulate to Tim Eyman’s blackmail scheme, Senate Democrats defeat an attempt by Senate Republicans to amend Washington’s Constitution to require a two-thirds vote to pass any revenue increase. They vote down Pam Roach’s SJR 8211 in a show of unity.

March 15th, 2016: The Washington State Supreme Court hears oral argument in Lee v. State, with the justices asking attorneys for both sides a slew of critical questions. Eyman shows up for the hearing wearing a yellow t-shirt with the words Persistence: Never Give Up! The next day, he writes: “Sitting in court yesterday, I was so proud of our brilliant attorney Dick Stephens and the unflappable Deputy Solicitor General Callie Castillo. They did a fantastic job defending I-1366.”

May 13th, 2016: Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson orders that Tim Eyman be sanctioned and pay a $600 fine for maliciously withdrawing an anti-tolling initiative (I-1525) just prior to when Wilson was to have heard arguments over whether the measure’s ballot title should be changed. Several weeks later, The Herald condemns Eyman’s practice of ballot title shopping and his more recent, related practice of withdrawing and re-filing initiatives challenged in court by NPI allies in an editorial entitled Eyman’s games costing the taxpayer.

May 20th, 2016: Eyman breaks his shoulder while bicycling. In a subsequent email to his followers, he explains his injury: “I got into a nasty bicycle accident and broke my shoulder (they said I fractured the neck of my left humerus). It hurts like a son-uv-a-gun. So for the next 12 weeks, we’re gonna find out if I can do political activism with one hand tied behind my back (figuratively speaking). I’ll tell you this: typing this update one handed sure was a challenge!”

May 24th, 2016: Acting on NPI research, Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), an NPI partner founded to serve as a people’s campaign finance watchdog for the Evergreen State, announces the filing of a citizen’s action against Eyman and his associates for failing to properly report a set of videos attacking Democratic state legislators as independent expenditures. As required by state law, WFEG notifies Attorney General Bob Ferguson and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg it is prepared to sue Eyman on behalf of the state if they decline to prosecute the violations.

May 26th, 2016: A unanimous Washington State Supreme Court affirms Judge Downing’s ruling that I-1366 is unconstitutional in its entirety, burying Eyman’s scheme to coerce the Legislature into sabotaging Washington’s cherished tradition of majority rule. I-1366 is the sixth Eyman initiative to be struck down as unconstitutional, after I-695, I-722, I-747, I-960, I-1053, and I-1201.

June 2nd, 2016: Tim Eyman admits to The Herald’s Jerry Cornfield that he’s abandoned I-1421, a whole month ahead of the deadline to submit signatures. Having run out of time to qualify anything to the November 2016 ballot, Eyman announces he’s doing a follow-up initiative to the 2017 Legislature (I-869) to again attempt to wipe out funding for Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades.

June 7th, 2016: Attorney General Bob Ferguson refers WFEG’s citizen action notice to the Public Disclosure Commission. Two days later, the PDC confirms it has opened an investigation, led by Tony Perkins (Case No. 5729). The next day, Eyman undergoes surgery to repair his injured shoulder.

June 9th, 2016: Attorney General Bob Ferguson announces his office has filed motions requesting that courts in Thurston and Snohomish counties enforce subpoenas issued in the state’s investigation of Tim Eyman, his associates, and the political and for-profit entities they control. “Tim Eyman and Citizen Solutions refuse to cooperate with my investigation. I will not accept that,” Ferguson says.

June 11th, 2016: NPI breaks the news that Eyman has taken down the collection of attack ads he launched against Democratic legislators following the filing of WFEG’s citizen action against him and his associates.

June 14th, 2016: Keep Washington Rolling, a statewide coalition of labor, business and environmental organizations and community leaders that works together to advocate for transportation investments, submits three citizen’s action notices of its own to Attorney General Bob Ferguson, identifying additional public disclosure law violations committed by Eyman, his associates, and their tangled web of political committees.

June 29th, 2016: Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair orders Tim Eyman to cooperate with Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s probe into his concealment and pay attorney’s fees to the State of Washington. Eyman is given until July 13th, 2016 to produce the documents the AG wants.

July 1st, 2016: Following a hearing in Thurston County Superior Court, Judge Mary Sue Wilson (who’d previously sanctioned Eyman) orders Eyman’s associates Roy Ruffino and Eddie Agazarm to also cooperate with Ferguson’s probe.

July 6th, 2016: Having reviewed WFEG’s complaint alleging that Eyman’s ads targeting Democratic lawmakers were illegal, PDC staff find “multiple apparent violations” of Washington State’s public disclosure law. Staff recommend the Commission refer the matter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for further action, and the Commission does so at a special meeting two days later.

July 27th, 2016: AG Ferguson announces he is asking Judges Wilson and Fair to hold Eyman and his associates in contempt of court for failing to turn over all of the records sought by state’s attorneys. In court filings, the State explains it needs the materials to ascertain whether Washington’s public disclosure laws were violated, as the Public Disclosure Commission previously concluded that they were.

August 5th, 2016: Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson orders Eyman’s associates to pay $9,975.00 in reasonable attorneys fees and $494.50 in court costs for holding up Ferguson’s probe. She opts not to consider a motion that would hold Eyman’s associates in contempt for the time being.

August 12th, 2016: Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair finds that Tim Eyman failed to abide by her order requiring he turn over documents requested by AG Ferguson’s office by July 13th. She signs off on a new order drafted by the state and by Eyman’s attorney Mark Lamb which empowers the state to get Eyman’s tax records directly from the Internal Revenue Service and his bank records directly from Bank of America.

September 16th, 2016: Again acting on NPI research, Washingtonians For Ethical Government files another citizen’s action alleging that Tim Eyman, his treasurer Barbara Smith, and “We Love Our Cars” (the committee formed to promote I-869) broke Washington’s public disclosure law by failing to disclose where the committee’s initial seed money came from.

September 22nd, 2016: Eyman is ordered to pay $20,000 in attorney’s fees and enforcement costs to the State of Washington for holding up Ferguson’s probe. “Since the AG filed his contempt motion, Eyman and the committees produced additional tax records and some banking records, but still failed to produce all the records as requested,” Ferguson’s office says. ”Now that the court-ordered releases and costs and fees associated with the enforcement of the Attorney General’s subpoenas have been received, the investigation continues.”

September 26th, 2016: Attorney General Bob Ferguson announces he has filed a set of three lawsuits in Thurston County Superior Court against Eyman and his associates. The complaints are based on the allegations raised by Washingtonians For Ethical Government and Keep Washington Rolling in the aforementioned May and June citizen’s action notices.

September 30th, 2016: Eyman goes under the knife again, this time to surgically repair a hernia. In an email to his followers, he requests they pray “that my surgeon’s hands are steady so I don’t get turned into a Eunuch”. Eyman also mentions that sometime after his nasty bicycle accident, he fractured the ring finger of his left hand. “Now that I’ve turned fifty, it’s clear that my warranty is up. I’ve been having a heck of a time lately,” he says wryly.

November 8th, 2016: Washington voters reelect Governor Jay Inslee and Supreme Court Justices Barbara Madsen, Charlie Wiggins, and Mary Yu, all of whom Eyman despises and had campaigned against. Wiggins’ and Madsen’s decisive victories are particularly notable considering that Eyman’s wealthy benefactors gave Rodney Tom hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund a disparaging attack ad against them. Voters also pass a slew of progressive initiatives Eyman had urged a no vote on. Meanwhile, at the local level, voters handily pass Sound Transit 3 (a $54 billion mass transit expansion plan), which Eyman had vocally opposed.

Asked for his reaction to ST3’s victory, Eyman calls it “a gut punch”.

November 30th, 2016: Attorney General Bob Ferguson files more charges against Eyman, adding Eyman’s “We Love Our Cars” committee as a defendant in one of the September lawsuits after reviewing WFEG’s notice of a citizen action and determining that sufficient evidence existed to move forward with prosecution.

December 30th, 2016: Tim Eyman’s I-869 fails to qualify as an initiative to the Legislature with the passing of the deadline to submit signatures. I-869 is the third initiative Eyman said he would be doing in 2016 that did not qualify.

We still have a few hours to go before 2016 is completely over and in the books. But it’s safe to say at this point that it has been a brutal year for Tim Eyman — chock full of setbacks, bad turns, and defeats of all kinds.

Not every moment this year was a bad one, of course. Eyman celebrated his twenty-second wedding anniversary and his oldest son’s eighteenth birthday. Congratulations to him on those milestones.

Eyman, a big baseball fan, told followers that the family commemorated the occasion with the Mariners at Safeco Field. The Safe, as it’s known around these parts, is one of the publicly-financed sports stadiums Eyman bitterly opposed back in the 1990s. Despite having fought to prevent Safeco from getting built, Eyman sure seems to spend quality time there. He’s a regular in the stands.

A happy regular, no less:

Tim Eyman at Safeco Field

Tim Eyman at Safeco Field

This year, Eyman also got to personally meet a hero of his: Neofascist tycoon Donald Trump. Eyman got his picture taken with Trump in August when Trump came to Everett to raise money. No doubt Eyman is over the moon that Trump is due to become the United States’ forty-fifth President.

But while Trump may have found success this year, Eyman did not, as the chronology above documents. And his bad run looks likely to continue into 2017.

Eyman remains under investigation for serious alleged violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws and will also have to defend himself against those three lawsuits alleging an additional slew of violations.

He can also expect vigorous, immediate opposition if he attempts to qualify anything to the 2017 ballot as an initiative to the people.

We believe the Eyman error of Washington politics needs to be over. It’s time for our state to move forward and fix its upside-down tax code. Eyman has long been an impediment to implementation of solutions that would address our state’s fiscal problems. With his initiative factory out of the picture, the path forward towards progressive revenue reform would be simpler and clearer.

Banished Words for 2017

Every year since 1976, Michigan’s Lake Superior State University has released a thoughtful and humorous “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness”. Here is the 2017 (and forty-second annual) edition, for your reading enjoyment on this New Year’s Eve:

YOU, SIR Hails from a more civilized era when duels were the likely outcome of disagreements. Today, we suffer on-line trolls and Internet shaming.

FOCUS — Good word, but overused when concentrate or look at would work fine. See 1983’s banishment of, We Must Focus Our Attention.

Bête NOIRE — After consulting a listing of synonyms, we gather this to be a bugbear, pet peeve, bug-boo, pain, or pest to our nominators.

TOWN HALL MEETING — Candidates seldom debate in town halls anymore. Needs to be shown the door along with “soccer mom(s)” and “Joe Sixpack” (banned in 1997).

POST-TRUTH — To paraphrase the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, we are entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts.

GUESSTIMATE — When guess and estimate are never enough.

831 — A texting encryption of, I love you: 8 letters, 3 words, 1 meaning. Never encrypt or abbreviate one’s love.

HISTORIC – Thrown around far too much. What’s considered as such is best left to historians rather than the contemporary media.

MANICURED — As in a manicured lawn. Golf greens are the closest grass comes to being manicured.

ECHO CHAMBER — Lather, rinse, and repeat. After a while, everything sounds the same.

ON FLEEK — Anything that is on-point, perfectly executed, or looking good. Needs to return to its genesis: perfectly groomed eyebrows.

BIGLY — Did the candidate say “big league” or utter this 19th-Century word that means, in a swelling blustering manner? Who cares? Kick it out of the echo chamber!

GHOST — To abruptly end communication, especially on social media. Is it rejection angst, or is this word really as overused as word-banishment nominators contend? Either way, our committee feels the pain.

DADBOD — The flabby opposite of a chiseled-body male ideal. Should not empower dads to pursue a sedentary lifestyle.

LISTICLE — Numbered or bulleted list created primarily to generate views on the Web, LSSU’s word-banishment list excluded.

“GET YOUR DANDRUFF UP” — The Committee is not sure why this malapropism got nominators’ dander up in 2016.

SELFIE DRONE — In what could be an ominous development, the selfie – an irritating habit of constantly photographing and posting oneself to social media – is being handed off to a flying camera. How can this end badly?

FRANKENFRUIT — Another food group co-opted by “frankenfood.” Not to be confused with other forms of genetically modified language.

DISRUPTION — Nominators are exhausted from 2016’s disruption. When humanity looks back on zombie buzzwords, they will see disruption bumping into other overused synonyms for change.

Lists for previous years are available on Lake Superior’s site.

We were among those who nominated disruption, bigly, and echo chamber, and are very pleased to see them included by LSSU fo 2017. Thanks, selection committee!

We’d complete this year’s list by adding several more obnoxious phrases that we’d like to see banished for overuse, misuse and general uselessness:

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN/MAGA — This obnoxious slogan of Donald Trump’s misogynistic, xenophobic 2016 campaign topped our list of phrases most deserving of banishment for 2017. It implies that the United States was at one point a great country, but isn’t any longer. If America is not a great country now, then when was it? In the 1950s, when black people were being oppressed by Jim Crow and not many workplaces were welcoming of women? Or in the 1890s, the height of the Gilded Age, when a few Americans were getting filthy rich at the expense of everyone else? The fact is, we cannot return to the past, and we shouldn’t want to. As progressives, we don’t want to take America back. We want to take it forward. Begone, MAGA!

ALT-RIGHT — Remember how apologists for the Bush administration tried to introduce the term enhanced interrogation techniques a few years ago? It was their way of avoiding saying the word torture. Alt-right is a term similarly undeserving of inclusion in our lexicon. Let’s just call these people what they really are: white supremacists.

THAT BEING SAID — Unnecessary filler. This cousin of Having said that and That said (banished by LSSU in 2003) has become overused in writing, often appearing as a transition. It’s time to give it a rest.

____ PORN — As in cloud porn, cabin porn, food porn, geek porn, and so on… which each happen to be named discussion boards on Reddit’s paradoxically and inappropriately named Safe for Work Porn Network. Given that porn is a term that means sexually explicit content, why would anyone want to label their collection of architecture photos architecture porn? Or their collection of wildlife videos animal porn? Or — worst of all — a collection of interesting portraits of human beings human porn? Do a search for any word in front of porn in any search engine, and the results will always include links to sexually explicit content, because that is what porn is commonly understood to be. Porn is simply not an appropriate descriptor for anything else.

SOFT TARGET — Often heard being uttered on television news following terrorist attacks, this is a catch-all phrase for gathering places and buildings that are hard to protect from the likes of mass shooters.  In a military context, the soft target/hard target dichotomy may make sense. But this phrase doesn’t belong in the civilian world, because every place and setting in a free society such as ours is arguably a “soft target”. Let’s banish this phrase from civilian use. If servicemembers have a use for it while performing their jobs, that’s perfectly fine.

What words would you like to see banished that aren’t on this year’s list – or the Master List? Let us know in the comments. And Happy New Year!

Obama administration strikes back at Putin regime for interfering in 2016 U.S. elections

It’s a start:

President Obama struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services.

The administration also penalized four top officers of one of those services, the powerful military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U. Intelligence agencies have concluded that the G.R.U. ordered the attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations, with the approval of the Kremlin, and ultimately enabled the publication of the emails it harvested.

We’re very glad to see President Obama taking decisive action to hold Vladimir Putin’s corrupt regime accountable for its unprecedented, outrageous pro-Trump meddling in our recent presidential election. We applaud these measures and would like to see further non-covert steps taken as well.

Courtesy of the National Security Council, here are some materials that offer additional context on the administration’s actions:

The original joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on U.S. election security, from October 7, 2016, is also available here.

Putin’s regime, which has a stranglehold on the government of the Russian Federation, has responded rather predictably by vowing to retaliate… although Putin’s mouthpieces have hinted Putin will wait to decide how to respond until after Donald Trump is installed as President Obama’s successor.

Trump is the man Putin and his regime wanted in the White House, and now that they’re on the verge of getting what they wanted, they’re reduced to hurling insults at Barack Obama until they can see what kind of foreign policy posture the unpredictable and unprepared Trump will actually adopt.

As The New York Times editorial board says, these actions should have been ordered sooner, but better late than never. A further response is needed.

Mr. Obama should have retaliated against this treatment a long time ago; still, the expulsion adds to the severity of the American response and directly affects Russian citizens, whereas the travel bans and asset freezes imposed by the sanctions may not.

Russian intelligence officials rarely travel to the United States or stash their assets here. Sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine have been in place for two years, yet it is debatable how much effect they have had on Mr. Putin. There is thus a legitimate question about whether Mr. Obama’s penalties will be sufficient.

Fortunately, senators from both parties are already calling for follow-up sanctions.

“The executive branch has acted, but it is imperative the legislative branch now pick up the ball and move it forward. Congressional sanctions can complement and strengthen these new executive sanctions,” said Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Republicans Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who are no friends of the Kremlin, also said they will push for Congress to act once the 115th Congress convenes.

Thanks, Tim Eyman, for reminding us you’re incapable of comprehending our Constitution

Notorious initiative profiteer Tim Eyman has been active in Washington State politics a very long time — around twenty years, in fact. And as readers of the Cascadia Advocate are well aware, Tim has made selling destructive right-wing initiatives his full time occupation… to the detriment of Washington State.

The majority of the initiatives Eyman has attempted have either failed to qualify for the ballot or been defeated by voters, and the majority of the initiatives Eyman has gotten past the voters have been struck down by the courts as unconstitutional, beginning with I-695 in 2000 and continuing with I-722 the following year.

Since then, a slew of further Eyman schemes (I-747, I-960/I-1053/I-1185, I-1366) have been challenged and struck down as unconstitutional, while repeated legal challenges instigated by Eyman wealthy benefactor Kemper Freeman Jr. against Sound Transit’s East Link project on the basis of constitutionality have failed.

You might think that someone who has been active in Washington politics for so long and who has become a full time (albeit unelected) lawmaker would have learned something about lawmaking, and specifically, how to write laws that comport with the plan of government our state’s Founders gave us.

But Eyman has not.

Time and again, Eyman has demonstrated contempt for our Constitution by seeking to sabotage it, either with unconstitutional initiatives or through amendments introduced his cronies in the Legislature, like Pam Roach (R-31st District).

More alarmingly, it appears Eyman is incapable of merely comprehending the Constitution’s basic provisions. That’s apparent from an email Eyman just sent out today, in which he whines and complains that Democrats are scheming to leave the 31st District Senate seat vacant so that Republicans will lack a majority in the state Senate for the first few weeks of the legislative session.

Wrote Eyman:

Next week is huge. Pam Roach won her race for the Pierce County council and takes office on Tuesday, January 3rd. Later that same night starting at 7pm, the 37 [Republican] precinct committee officers in the 31st district will meet at Sumner Middle School to choose 3 potential successors for her senate seat. Then it will be up to the King County Council to appoint one of them.

The Democrats want to delay the selection of Pam’s successor so that the Senate will tied 24-24. But a tie means nothing gets done, right? Not according to Cyrus Habib, the new activist lieutenant governor.  He thinks he can break tie votes in the senate (many believe he cannot). So their plan is to not choose a successor and then jam through a slew of liberal legislation the first week of the session and get it over to the Democrat-controlled House and onto Inslee’s desk likkity split. It’s pure sleaze but whaddya expect from Democrats.

An aside: Eyman has some nerve accusing Democratic elected officials of “pure sleaze”, especially considering he tried to blackmail Democrats into voting against their values and principles with I-1366 last year (he failed) and then tried to punish them through an illegal attack campaign several months later.

(Eyman took down his attack ads after NPI discovered he broke the law by failing to report them properly as independent expenditures.)

I have no doubt that were Republicans in a position to deny Democrats a twenty-fifth vote in the state Senate by taking their time making an appointment, they would do it in a heartbeat… and Eyman would be cheering them on

We have seen Republicans adopt scorched-earth tactics at many levels of government in order to get their way. For instance, power-hungry Republicans shamefully refused to act on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. Garland didn’t even get a hearing.

I have yet to hear Eyman condemn such behavior as sleazy, and I doubt I ever will. Eyman typically only criticizes Republicans when he is angry about them working with Democrats to get something done — like pass a transportation package.

Anyway, in the above-quoted paragraphs, I’ve highlighted two passages that serve as a reminder that Eyman’s grasp of our Constitution is very poor.

In the first passage, where Eyman is attempting to describe how Pam Roach will be replaced, he writes: “Then it will be up to the King County Council to appoint one of them.” This is incorrect. Actually, it is not up to the King County Council; it is up to the King and Pierce County Councils, acting together.

The Constitution says that when a legislative vacancy exists in a district spanning county lines, the legislative authorities of each county shall make a joint appointment. The 31st is such a district; it includes precincts in both King and Pierce counties. In fact, much of the district is in Pierce County, not King County.

Here is what the Constitution says about joint appointments:

ARTICLE II, SECTION 15. VACANCIES IN LEGISLATURE AND IN PARTISAN COUNTY ELECTIVE OFFICE. […] That in case of a vacancy occurring in the office of joint senator, or joint representative, the vacancy shall be filled from a list of three nominees selected by the state central committee, by appointment by the joint action of the boards of county legislative authorities of the counties composing the joint senatorial or joint representative district, the person appointed to fill the vacancy must be from the same legislative district and of the same political party as the legislator whose office has been vacated, and in case a majority of the members of the county legislative authority do not agree upon the appointment within sixty days after the vacancy occurs, the governor shall within thirty days thereafter, and from the list of nominees provided for herein, appoint a person who shall be from the same legislative district and of the same political party as the legislator whose office has been vacated.

The statutory Republican state central committee will need to send the King and Pierce County Councils three names of potential successors to Pam Roach. After they do so, the councils will have the responsibility and opportunity to fill the vacancy through a joint appointment.

If they cannot agree, then the decision will eventually fall to Governor Inslee, who will need to make a selection from the same list.

That is the process.

Regrettably, Eyman neglected to mention these important details to his followers. He told them that the Democratic-dominated King County Council will get to pick Roach’s successor, but again, that’s not so. There will be no joint appointment unless the King and Pierce councils can agree on one of the three names.

Then Eyman goes on, bizarrely, to question whether incoming Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib will have the power to break ties, writing: “He thinks he can break tie votes in the senate (many believe he cannot).”

Many believe he cannot? What? Who are these people Eyman’s obliquely referring to? Whoever they are, they’re not familiar with our plan of government.

Cyrus Habib will in fact have the power to break ties because the Washington State Constitution explicitly gives him that power:

ARTICLE II, SECTION 10. ELECTION OF OFFICERS. Each house shall elect its own officers; and when the lieutenant governor shall not attend as president, or shall act as governor, the senate shall choose a temporary president. When presiding, the lieutenant governor shall have the deciding vote in case of an equal division of the senate.

Note that last sentence: When presiding, the lieutenant governor shall have the deciding vote in case of an equal division of the senate.

The Constitution does not say may; it says shall. It is plainly evident that the Lieutenant Governor has the power to break tie votes in the Senate.

There have been occasions when the Senate deadlocked under retiring Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen, and he exercised his authority to break ties accordingly.

Cyrus Habib, it should be mentioned, is also presently a state senator who (like Pam Roach) is in the middle of a four-year term.

Habib’s resignation will have taken effect by the time the Legislature convenes on January 9th, which will also leave the Democrats short one member of their caucus unless the King County Council has chosen a successor by then.

The district Habib represents lies solely within King County, so unlike in the 31st, the King County Council will have the power to choose Habib’s successor itself.

Habib will take office as the sixteenth Lieutenant Governor of Washington on January 11th, 2016, two days after the Legislature convenes.

Eyman has a great desire to see Roach’s seat get filled because Republicans will lack a working majority until she has a successor. And that means Republicans won’t be able to attempt to sabotage Senate rules to require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue, or bring anything of consequence to the floor for a vote.

Incidentally, it is actually Democrats who have a Senate majority for 2017 — at least on paper — because Senator Tim Sheldon of the 35th District calls himself a Democrat, and was elected as a Democrat, most recently in 2014.

Were Sheldon caucusing with the party he claims to belong to, then Democrats would have an actual majority of twenty-five for 2017, thanks to Lisa Wellman’s recent victory over Steve Litzow in the 41st District.

However, Sheldon has been caucusing with Republicans for four years now. He and Rodney Tom defected to the Republicans in a post-election power coup. The two of them became Senate President Pro Tempore and Majority Leader, respectively, and Republicans assumed control over the Senate’s committee structure.

For its part, the Democratic Party happens to consider Tim Sheldon a Republican. Amusingly, so does Tim Eyman, who claimed in his email today that voters voted in a Republican-controlled state Senate this year, even though Senate Democrats had a net gain of one seat in the election that now gives them a theoretical majority.

Well, at least there’s one thing the Democratic Party and Tim Eyman can agree on.

Tim Eyman quietly abandons I-869 and resumes explicitly fundraising for himself

Tim Eyman has thrown in the towel on his most recent attempt to defund Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades, even if he isn’t ready to overtly say so yet.

The infamous initiative profiteer, who fancies himself a road warrior, announced back in June that he would seek to qualify an initiative to the 2017 Legislature to wipe out billions of dollars in funding for transit at the state and local level.

Eyman created a campaign committee for the initiative (I-869) and printed up petitions, but never did much of anything else… evidently because he was unable to convince his wealthy benefactors to bankroll a signature drive.

Signatures for initiatives to the 2017 Legislature are due this Friday, December 30th, by the close of business, but Eyman won’t be showing up to submit any I-869 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division because he was unable to buy the labor he needed to get I-869 off the ground.

Eyman has all but admitted I-869 is doomed. For the past six months, his fundraising appeals have contained his obligatory reference to I-869:

Petitions for “We Love Our Cars” I-869 have been sent out (if you need more, just email or call).  Our polling shows it’s another big winner.  Please help us make it a reality.

But that paragraph was omitted from today’s fundraising email, which made no mention of I-869. Instead of asking for contributions to qualify I-869, Eyman asked for money for himself (something he’s become really good at):

If you like and appreciate our past, current, and future efforts on behalf of taxpayers, please send us a donation for $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1000, $2500, $5000 or more (there are no limits on how much can be given). You can go to our website right now and make a secure on-line contribution by PayPal or VISA or M/C. OR, you can print this form, fill it out, and return it with a check or credit card information.

If Eyman’s past behavior is any indication, he’s not going to say anything openly about the demise of I-869 until he is ready to begin selling something else.

(As a salesman of bad ideas, Eyman must always have something to sell.)

When Eyman unveiled I-869 at the beginning of June 2016, it marked the third time in the span of six months that he had unveiled plans for a new initiative, with the previous two announcements having amounted to false starts.

In November of 2015, Eyman called a press conference in the statehouse to announce his intent to qualify a “Son of 1366” to the 2016 ballot. Eyman and his associates created a campaign committee to promote the new initiative that looked powerful on paper (the committee was loaded with over $1 million in loans), presumably to intimidate Democrats in the Legislature into complying with Eyman’s demand to sabotage Article II, Section 22 of the State Constitution.

However, Democrats were united in their refusal to capitulate, and the Son of 1366 committee ultimately became a liability for Eyman when NPI’s friends with Keep Washington Rolling launched a citizen’s action against him and the committee for failure to properly comply with Washington’s public disclosure laws.

In February, Eyman returned to the state capital (this time without his sidekicks in tow) to announce a new scheme to defund Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades — I-1421. Again, Eyman made a big show of introducing the initiative, even symbolically becoming the first to sign it in front of the television cameras.

Tim Eyman signs I-1421

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

But though he did print petitions for I-1421, it turned out to be no more real than the “Son of 1366” he had announced in November. By June, Eyman had admitted to The Herald‘s Jerry Cornfield that I-1421 was doomed and would not qualify.

Six initiatives ultimately appeared on the 2016 ballot… none of them Eyman’s, for only the fourth time in sixteen years. Bereft of an initiative to sell, Eyman tried to make himself a player in the presidential election in other ways.

Eyman successfully lobbied the Sound Transit board of directors to get himself appointed to the committees tasked with writing the con statements for the voter’s pamphlet (a decision we strongly criticized here), and backed Rodney Tom’s attack campaigns against Justices Barbara Madsen and Charlie Wiggins, which were failures. Meanwhile, his initiative factory sat idle, with I-869 stalled inside.

Last month, with all evidence suggesting I-869 would meet the same fate as I-1421, we declared I-869 dead. Eyman did not dispute our assessment.

This Friday, we will officially add I-869 to Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart as its newest entry. We have no doubt I-869 will soon be scrubbed from Eyman’s website and replaced with something else, as if it never existed.

But we will celebrating I-869’s failure for many weeks. It is vital that we invest in mass transit to secure our state’s economic future, reduce pollution, and improve mobility. I-869’s demise means another threat to Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades has fizzled out. Sound Transit, the public agency Eyman loathes above all others, is flying high, having had a stellar 2016, while Eyman is crashing and burning. That is a very good outcome for the state and region we love.

Seattle rallies to celebrate the Sounders’ historic MLS Cup victory

After an arduous election year with shocking results, Washingtonians were in desperate need of a feel-good story to close out 2016.

Panoramic view of Sounders' victory celebration

Cue the underdog Sounders’ barnstorming through the MLS Cup playoffs.

The unexpected loss of the team’s two top scorers and mid-season firing of head coach Sigi Schmid set the stage for a storybook turn-around that came thanks in part to the coming-of-age of two local sons; rookie forward Jordan Morris (Mercer Island) and long-time assistant turned head coach Brian Schmetzer (Lake City).

If just one Sounders victory had gone the other way, the team would have failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their MLS history.

Instead, they never let their epic comeback slow down, knocking off (among others) top-seeded FC Dallas and Eastern Conference Champion Toronto FC, stacked with big-name attackers, to bring home the club’s first MLS Cup.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was the first guest speaker to address the crowd, asking for a round of applause for the Seattle Police Department and the officer who was injured on duty in the earlier parade. He was joined on stage by King County Executive Dow Constantine and retiring Congressman Jim McDermott, both Sounders season ticket holders. As a fan since the club’s earliest iteration in the North American Soccer League, McDermott showed off his knowledge of Sounders history and claimed to have predicted the path to the MLS Cup after seeing his beloved Chicago Cubs claim their first MLB World Series title in 108 years.

Sounders' victory celebration

By winning the league, Sounders also earned a birth in the CONCACAF Champions League where they will represent the Northwest as stewards of diplomacy in the international competition throughout North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Congratulations, Sounders, and thanks for giving us something to smile about!


Go Jay Inslee! Governor proposes $3.9 billion in new revenue for our K-12 public schools

Declaring that we have a duty to follow our Constitution and provide a quality education to every child in our state, Governor Inslee today unveiled a bold plan to fully fund our state’s K-12 public schools and end the McCleary litigation.

“We face an opportunity — and an obligation — in this upcoming session to not just put more money into the system we already have, but to invest in the kind of education system all our children deserve,” Inslee said in a statement.

Inslee’s plan calls for the levying of a capital gains tax and a pollution tax as well as the closing of tax breaks not in the public interest. The business and occupation tax would also be increased, but not on very small businesses. This would raise $3.9 billion in new revenue to invest in the state’s K-12 public schools.

Every school district in the state would receive a significant boost in funding — significant enough to allow for reductions in property taxes. In fact, the governor’s office estimates that 75% of households would receive a property tax cut.

In a post on Medium, the Governor offered these specifics:

Increasing the business and occupation tax rate for a broad range of personal and professional services from 1.5 to 2.5 percent, generating nearly $2.3 billion in the next two years. Washington, in general, does not tax services to the extent it taxes goods. However, consumers today spend a smaller share of their disposable income on goods and a larger share on services such as those provided by accountants, architects, attorneys, consultants and real estate agents. To make sure very small businesses aren’t impacted, the governor’s plan more than doubles the B&O tax filing threshold to $100,000, providing an additional 38,000 businesses some tax [savings].

Imposing a new tax on carbon pollution associated with the production and consumption of fossil fuels that would generate about $1.9 billion in the next biennium. Half the revenue would be reinvested in clean energy and transportation projects to lower consumer fuel bills and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Additional funds would support projects to build water infrastructure and improve forest health. Funds are also used to offset taxes to businesses and low-income households. The remaining revenue would go to the state’s education needs.

Imposing a 7.9 percent capital gains tax on the sale of stocks, bonds and other assets to increase the share of state taxes paid by a small fraction of the state’s wealthiest taxpayers. It would apply only to the capital gains earnings above $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for joint filers. Retirement accounts, gains on the sale of residential real property and certain livestock and agricultural land would be exempt. The tax would generate $821 million in fiscal year 2019.

Closing or changing five tax exemptions to raise about $300 million, including eliminating the sales tax exemption for bottled water, limiting the sales tax exemption for vehicle trade-ins and converting the nonresident sales tax exemption to a refund program.

The governor will also propose more than $1 billion in his capital budget for school construction.

Governor Inslee is showing tremendous courage and leadership today by proposing a compelling, well-thought out plan for funding our schools that requires the wealthy to increase their investment in our commonwealth.

For years, the Legislature has procrastinated and punted on revenue reform, leaving us chained to a broken, regressive tax code that isn’t generating the funding necessary to comply with Article IX of our Constitution, which says:

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.

This plan would begin to address both the inequity in our tax code and the chronic, unjust underfunding of our public schools.

Our research shows that strong majorities of Washingtonians back Governor Inslee’s revenue ideas. Last June, working with Public Policy Polling, we surveyed 679 likely voters and asked respondents if they believed our schools are underfunded and that we need to raise revenue to fully them. Our poll, which was in the field from June 14th-15th, has a margin of error of +/- 3.8% at the 95% confidence level.

63% of the likely voters who responded to the survey agreed that Washington’s schools need more funding. Impressively, 65% support a capital gains tax on the wealthy to make this happen, with 46% saying they “strongly support the idea”.

The specific language of the school underfunding question was as follows:

Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: Washington’s public schools are underfunded, and we need to raise state revenue to fully fund them?

These were the answers:

  • Agree: 63%
    • 45% “strongly agree” that we need more revenue for schools
    • 18% “somewhat agree” that we need more revenue for schools
  • Disagree: 32%
    • 18% “somewhat disagree” that we need more revenue for schools
    • 14% “strongly disagree” that we need more revenue for schools
  • 6% answered “not sure” 

The specific language of our capital gains tax question was as follows:

Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose taxing the capital gains of wealthy individuals to help pay for public schools, colleges and universities?”

These were the answers:

  • Support: 65%
    • 46% “strongly support” a capital gains tax
    • 19% “somewhat support” a capital gains tax
  • Oppose: 33%
    • 9% “somewhat oppose” a capital gains tax
    • 24% “strongly oppose” a capital gains tax
  • 2% answered “not sure” 

We began asking a capital gains tax question in our statewide polls after Governor Inslee first proposed levying one two years ago as part of his 2015 budget.

House Democrats responded to Governor Inslee’s idea by getting to work on specifics, but obstructionist Senate Republicans refused to play ball and a capital gains tax did not make it into the 2015-2017 biennial budget.

However, Governor Inslee’s proposal did resonate with the people of Washington, who our research shows have become increasingly supportive of the idea.

In 2015, when we first asked the capital gains tax question, we found 55% of respondents in favor, with 43% strongly supportive. Those numbers increased this year to 65% supportive overall, with 46% strongly supportive.

Respondents to our surveys have also expressed support for raising revenue to fund public schools by going after big polluters.

For the past two years, we’ve asked this question in our statewide polls:

Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose implementing a cap-and-trade system, where polluters would be charged a fee to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fund public schools and transportation projects?

Support for this idea also increased since we first asked about it. In 2015, 37% said they strongly supported this idea and that figure remain unchanged this year. However, the percentage of those somewhat supportive increased from 18% to 22%, for a total of 59% of respondents supportive this year.

Total opposition clocks in at just 36%.

In this plan, Governor Inslee is proposing pollution penalties instead of a cap and trade system. But the basic concept of going after big polluters and using the revenue to invest in our schools and in transportation projects is the same.

The Governor is offering a climate protection action plan and a school funding proposal in the same package. That’s really, really smart.

Governor Inslee’s decision two years ago to put versions of these same ideas on the table is paying off. Washingtonians have become more enthusiastic about levying a capital gains tax and imposing pollution penalties. The Governor is wise to reintroduce these ideas and insist the Legislature seriously consider them.

Hostile Republicans will undoubtedly have very unkind things to say about this plan and Governor Inslee’s forthcoming budget. They will be eager to denounce the Governor’s strategy. But they will not be offering an alternative plan of their own, because they are not interested in fully funding our K-12 schools.

Heck, Michael Baumgartner has introduced a resolution to repeal those introductory words of Article IX. To him and his fellow extremists in that caucus, following the plan of government our founders gave us is just too hard… so he’s proposing we just do away with the part that says it’s our paramount duty to amply provide for the education of our youth. That’s not leadership; it’s appalling cowardice.

Governor Inslee is showing us today what real leadership is. And we can’t thank him enough. Way to go, Governor! We’ll be showing up in Olympia next year to help you and Superintendent-elect Chris Reykdal fight for our students and teachers.

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