Back Pain

In interviewing Bill Eickmeyer about his vote count, subject of a story Sunday, he talked about how legislators bust tail to get onto the floor to vote.

His back pain was so intense he couldn’t get there at least 222 times. He couldn’t sit and walking was difficult. He did get called a few times when a vote was in doubt. Otherwise he lie on the floor of his office, he said.

I do believe his comments about legislators taking extreme efforts to be counted, and if this Legislature was more evenly divided I think Eickmeyer would like have spent more time on the caucus couch.

An incident from the 1980s backs me up on this. Read the entire story from this May 1985 edition of Time Magazine.

“Needing every vote, Republican leaders summoned California Senator Pete Wilson from Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he was recuperating from surgery to remove a ruptured appendix. Wilson arrived in an ambulance as the roll call was in progress at 1:30 a.m. Friday; hospital aides trundled him onto the Senate floor in a wheelchair, a needle and intravenous tube still inserted in his arm. Senators gave Wilson a standing ovation, which he turned to laughter by asking deadpan, “What is the question?” He voted yes on the budget resolution, but Hawaii Democrat Spark Matsunaga rushed in from his Senate office to vote no, and the tally was deadlocked at 49-49. Vice President George Bush was in the chair, however; he had cut short a Western speechmaking tour and rushed back from Phoenix Thursday morning. Bush cast the tie-breaking vote.”

55 thoughts on “Back Pain

  1. Mr. Eickmeyer’s health may have been in decline since 2003.

    2007* – 222 (the highest in House year to date 4/20)
    2006 – 21 (8th highest in House)
    2005* – 97 (6th highest in House)
    2004 – 74 (6th highest in House)
    2003* – 8
    2002 – 0

    * primary budget years

  2. I HIGHLY sympathize for Mr. Eickmeier and his pain, as I have the sciatic issue as well. It is a tremendously overwhelming pain that can come out of absolutely NOWHERE and can sideline you for minutes to WEEKS at a time.

    Though I do sympathize with him on his pain, I do not believe it to be a valid excuse to whine about missed votes!

    I am a 24 year old, working single mother of a 5 year old and took on a 14 year old as well. As a single mother, you take on the job of more than two people and you run yourself SILLY – pain or no pain!

    If I can do it with two herniated disks, disk degenerative disease, sciatica and reticulopathy, then sir, you can too!

    Mr. Eickmeyer… you have a job. You know what your job entails, and sir, if you can’t handle the issues that you know come with the job description, then you need to admit physical defeat and resign!

    It is as simple as that.

  3. He looked fine when I talked to him. He is a tough guy and and excellent legislator. I hope he runs again but he should do what’s best for his health. I thought that Ike looked better than former Senator Bob Oak but luckily since the Democrats had such a large majority in the house Ike’s health did not affect the outcome on any major bills.

  4. As constituents we don’t want health used as an excuse to play hooky, I agree. But if you’ve ever had back pain, you’ve got to be sympathetic. No pain killer cuts the pain, including the typical narcotic aspirin prescribed by doctors. Take all the advil or aleve you want and it won’t do any good at all. You can’t sit. You can’t walk. You can’t roll over. If you can get over it in a week consider yourself lucky. I suppose a kidney stone is worse, but not by much. All I’m saying is that if you’ve never had back pain yourself, don’t be too quick to jump in and criticize the man.

  5. Wonder why he hasn’t gone to Walter Reed, Senators and Congressman have always received far better treatment and service than our wounded troops will ever get. They (our Senators/Congresman) have their own appointment line, own ward, and are often taking away from the care of the individuals who really deserve it. Just an opinion and thought.

  6. If you become incapacitated while in office and can’t perform the duties don’t you appoint a successor? 222 missed votes is a huge number.

  7. What makes people so blind about this man. He is surrounded with scandal and always finds a way to say he has good reason. Sometimes there is a pattern. If you put in the dates af March 2004 until present you will find he has missed more votes than any other Representative. How can that be ignored? He does not show at most local events and does not return calls or emails. His inability to do his job lost him his chair of Select committee on hood canal. He has been there ten years and still does not have One chairmanship. I don’t care if you put a republican or democrat in there but get this man out. We are so under represented it make me sick. Almost as much as peoples blind support because of his party. SHAME ON ALL OF US!

  8. Why is he still in office if he can’t do the job?

    If he worked as a shoe salesperson, being absent would probably not matter…someone else would fill in for him.

    Is his job less important than a shoe salesman’s job?

    The shoe salesperson’s employer would certainly need to have the position filled….so now I wonder who in government minds the store?
    Sharon O’Hara

  9. Let me get this straight. Ellen Craswell had Breast Cancer and the GOP did not call for her to quit. Bob Dole had prostate cancer and the GOP did not call for him to quit. Rudy Guliani has prostate cancer and the GOP does not call on him to quite. John McCain has skin cancer and the GOP does not call him to quit. Bob Oak has a debilitating cancer and the GOP did not call for him to quit. Dick Cheney has had four heart attacks, leg clots and who knows what else and the GOP has not called on him to quit.

    Meanwhile Ike has a bad back and the GOP is calling on him to quit.

    The hypocrisy is stunning.

  10. The only point from my perspective is if a person cannot/will not/do the job…get someone who can and will.

    If memory serves, Ellen Craswell, difficult as it may have been, fulfilled most, if not all, her duties.

    As a person who has lived with back pain over fifty years…EXERCISE is the only thing that helped.

    “,,,…he couldn’t get there at least 222 times. He couldn’t sit and walking was difficult. He did get called a few times when a vote was in doubt. Otherwise he lie on the floor of his office, he said….”

    Sharon O’Hara

  11. Michael… in responce to your reply to me on the back pain… I was saying that I HAVE back pain and CAN sympathize with him on that.

    What I CANNOT sympathize with is his inherent lack of responsibility and his excuses. Back pain or no… if you cannot do your job, then pass it on to someone who CAN!

    In his position, you are not paid to “lie on the office floor” when your pain gets the best of you. He’s to be with the other members voting on the issues at hand!

    If he wishes to make excuses as to why he cannot do the job he was HIRED for, then I’m sorry. He needs to leave.

  12. The local republican critics don’t grasp the fact that since the Democratic Party almost has a Super Majority one more Democratic vote in the house is not going to make a difference in the big picture. Ike has been a leader in the house on Puget Sound and the environment and he has my backing until he is ready to retire and hand the seat off to another great Democrat.

  13. Great idea to stand behind Jacob! If someone is not doing their job or doing something wrong we should just ignore it if we don’t feel that a correction to that behavior or holding them accountable will make a difference.

  14. Have some sympathy for people facing major medical problems. My girlfriend has had major medical problems in the past year and had to take months off work to heal. Luckily her employer is willing to work with her so she is not going to loose her job due to her illness. Bill is a well educated experienced legislator who is suffering from a painful medical problem and rather than having sympathy for him the right-wing are kicking him while he is down. Did you see the local Democrats start a Bob Oake cancer death watch? No! What a bunch of “compassionate conservatives” the local radical right are!

  15. Jacob, try spelling Bob’s last name correctly for starters. Bob has been a close personal friend of ours and my husband’s family for years. The fact that you even speak about his illness in your pathetic attempts to make your point disgusts me. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Bob’s official retirement party this past February in Olympia. There were both Republicans and Democrats there. I got to talk to and shake many of the hands that you constantly boast about, Jacob. But unlike you I do not need other people’s names or organizations interjected into my statements to make me feel more important. Everyone attending had great respect and admiration for Bob as a person despite any conflicting political positions they might have had. Your derogatory labeling and unnecessary vilification of others and their political parties has finally go too far. You Sir, disgust me.

  16. I’ve never lived in the 26th. I lived in the 35th LD and Ike was my legislator for five years.
    And I look up to Ike and think that his environmental leadership has been essential in the cleanup of Hood Canal. I think the right wing attack on his back problem is disgusting. They hypocrisy is stunning.

  17. I mean can’t he even call his neighbor on the floor to push his damn button when it’s time to vote?

    If you watch TVW you see it happens all the time.

    And one more thing. All those politicians that Jakob mentioned all had the good sense to pull back from public service while they were experiencing health problems.

    Guiliani dropped out of the race against Hillary remember?

    McCain can’t even lift his arms to comb his hair, skin cancer is nothing to that guy. His dead skin is tougher than you Jake.

    How dare you sir. How dare you.

  18. Jacob,

    Usually our banter is light (At least I feel it is) but you are way out of line here. Cancer is NOT back pain, cancer is NOT a two month long health issue you are happy to not be fired over, and a cancer diagnosis is NOT something you should throw around arbitrarily. You owe Bob and Colleen an apology.

    Get your head on straight.

  19. I wouldn’t phrase things the way Jake does, but I think his basic question is a fair one.

    While it’s true that back pain is not cancer, neither is a broken leg or a concussion. Still, both of those things could keep you from voting. And from what I’m told, sciatica is not your typical “back pain.”

    So Jake’s question, however inelegantly phrased it was, as to why Eickmeyer would have to resign if others have not been held to the same standard is a fair one.

  20. I’ve lost many members of my family to cancer and I don’t owe anyone an apology.

    The Kitsap Democrats never made the former Senators health an issue at any point in his tenure in Olympia. The Republicans on the other hand are attacking Ike for his medical problem now and back in the 2006 debates the Republican candidate made fun of his hearing aid. We never made our political opponent’s health an issue and I think attacking Ike because of a painful medical problem is hitting below the belt.

    Ps.. Please nominate John (Neocon,4 More Wars, Bomb Iran, Walnuts!)McCain for the Republican ticket for President. He is way worse than Bob Dole ever was.

  21. Jacob,

    It seems everytime you get pressed on an issue miraculously you have had so much experience as a result of your family. You are still out of line.

    Do you notice that when you try to make your point you immediately sink down to the level of those you are against? In your defense of Ike you have had no problem personnaly slamming others.

    “You don’t make a very good witness.”

  22. “All those politicians that Jakob mentioned all had the good sense to pull back from public service while they were experiencing health problems.”

    Wrong. John McCain is still in the Senate voting for George Bush’s war and Tricky Dick Cheney is still running American foreign policy and only God knows what he is planning for the remainder of their term.

  23. …true, all should be held to the same standard … and political party has nothing to do with it.

    If it is common practice to retain legislators who fail to do the job they were elected to do, so be it.

    Who else has failed to vote over 200 times in a session?
    Sharon O’Hara

  24. I think Democrats not supporting the military is hitting below the belt.
    I’d vote for John McCain before I vote for anyone with the last name Clinton.

  25. There would not even be military bases in Kitsap if it were not for strong defense Democrats like Norm Dicks and Jay Inslee.

    John McCain voted against funding for our troops in 2007 and he wants to send more troops to die. Of course he voted for it before he voted AGAINST IT.

    God it is going to be great to run ANYONE against John Flip Flopper McCain.

  26. Really when have I called on a Republican to resign over their personal health problems? I never have because I think that’s below the belt. I have enough political ammunition with their actual policy positions.

  27. The question was a legislator not doing the job they were elected to do.

    The comment was made that many other politicians had missed work due to health problems.

    I asked how many others had missed voting 222 times, Mr. Eickmeyer’s apparent record… and no one seems to know.

    Instead of a frank and honest discussion, the subject has been deliberately sidetracked into non relevant comments by political doublespeak…. why?

    Sharon O’Hara

  28. Two words Sharon, Jacob Metcalf. He reduces all topics to wasteful political verbal litter unless you just ignore it and continue to help keep the discussion on track.

  29. Sharon,

    That’s typical of these blogs, goes back to another discussion blog, I think had to deal with the proposed speedway when the opponents of the speedway when faced with a question they can’t honestly answer, they turn to double speak, like a true politican. Enough on that, so who else has missed a massive number of votes?

  30. Not everything is Republican or Democrat. The issue here is Representation. The people in the 35th are very underrepresented. Jake talks about other people with other illnesses but refuses to notice a systematic problem. what about all the other years. He does not show for appointments. He has missed more votes than anyone since March of o4. He does not return Email unless it is the press or someone he is sure a Democrat. Ike never had a position of real authority. Never created any real “landmark Legislation” as he puts it. He was the chair of a select committee on the Hood Canal, not a real standing committee. He saved no salmon. He cleaned no water and the oxygen levels are no better because of him. Ike has given government jobs in salmon enhancement to his buddies but the fish get nothing. In fact his buddies are trying to put up a 40’000 square foot building and 200 parking spaces on wetlands to save the salmon. Its different because they are the good guys. He is not the chair of anything now and has no ability to do anything for the 35th. If he was to step down it should be for his lack of work ethics or lack of ethics. He should be thrown out for never taking responsibility for anything bad while taking credit for everything good the whole time he is actually doing as little as he can possibly get away with. This same rules apply to Republicans or Democrats that vote Republican like Tim Sheldon. At least Tim works his but off and always answers or shows up. Ike has been missing things for years now and treats everyone as though they are beneath him.

  31. Top 10 in the House for missed votes:

    1. Rep. William Eickmeyer (D) – 222
    2. Rep. Jeff Morris (D) – 191
    3. Rep. Mary Skinner (R) – 99
    4. Rep. Richard Curtis (R) – 98
    5. Rep. Dennis Flannigan (D) – 71
    6. Rep. Bob Sump (R) – 66
    7. Rep. Tom Campbell (R) – 60
    8. Rep. Cary Condotta (R) – 55
    9. Rep. David Quall (D) – 48
    10. Rep. Shay Schual-Berke (D) – 46

    Top 10 in the Senate for missed votes:

    1. Sen. Lisa Brown (D) – 152
    2. Sen. Erik Poulsen (D) – 101
    3. Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R) – 97
    4. Sen. Adam Kline (D) – 94
    5. Sen. Jerome Delvin (R) – 91
    6. Sen. Bob McCaslin (R) – 87
    7. Sen. Jim Hargrove (D) – 70
    8. Sen. Craig Pridemore (D) – 65
    9. Sen. Mike Hewitt (R) – 52
    10. Sen. Ken Jacobsen (D) – 46

    Google search is your friend. That list took less than a minute to find, and its all on

    Ike introduced 7 bills total this year, and passed two of them, along with 1 amendment to a different bill.

    It’s my opinion that removing legislators or asking them to resign is the beginning of a slippery slope. Where is the line drawn? Would Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (US Congresswoman from Spokane) be asked to resign because she recently gave birth? There are so many different scenarios imaginable, some out of control of the legislator, some they can control, that determining the criteria would be a huge, drawn out mess.

    I think our system already has built-in control for this: if you’re not satisfied by your legislator’s performance, vote them out of office when their term is up.

  32. Just for the info the top vote missers in the Senate are Sen. Lisa Brown (D)-152, Sen. Erik Paulson (D)-101, Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R)-97, Sen. Adam Kline (D)-94. In the house with Eickmeyer in the lead with 222 missed votes is Rep. Jeff Morris (D)-191, Rep. Mary Skinner (R)-99, and Rep. Richard Curtis(R)-98.

  33. Ian

    You almost made it look like Eickmeyer got something done. You should tell the people the whole truth. both of the bills that you claim passed only passed a house vote. They were eventually killed in committee. Even the amendment you listed died in committee. Nothing he did became law. His session was a complete and total failure.

    Eickmeyer has been worthless to the 35th for several years. If you look up his record you will find little legislation of any importance to anyone but his fish cronies. The buddies he gets state jobs or grant $$$ for. The fish still suffer. Last year he created his self proclaimed “landmark legislation” He created a taxing district around a section of water but no tax or use for the tax. Then he created a checking account for the money that does not exist. No actual work ever resulted from his legislation. His work for groups like Salmon Enhancement only duplicates work being done by the University of Washington. His friends get paid and they become politically stronger not much else is accomplished. Some of his legislation this year would have continued this process, un necessary government jobs for buddies. Luckily they all failed.

    As for Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, she has not missed near the votes Ike has and as you put it, she had a child. Please stop comparing Ike to all these other people with cancer, child birth, ect. He is alone on top for missing votes. He has been doing this off and on for several years with many different excuses. Eickmeyer is the King of excuses. We should expect something for our money even if it is a government job.

  34. Steve, you must have me confused for one of Ike’s supporters or something.

    I just relayed the information that people had asked for previously, after a cursory search on Google. Apologies for not going into more detail about the final fate of his bills in the Senate. I should have been more clear in stating he passed those bills in the House. I wasn’t trying to make it sound like 2 bills and 1 amendment should be commended or praised.

    Also, I never compared Eickmeyer to Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, it was a hypothetical question, since I had just seen the news about her giving birth that same day. My question is where should the line be drawn? Should it be a set percentage of total votes missed, or a set number? Which factors from their personal life should be considered, and which should be ignored? What should be the criteria for wanting to remove a legislator or expecting one to resign?

    Personally, I’d prefer using the system as it stands now, remember and keep track of their record, and vote them out next time they’re up for re-election. Luckily in this state, for Representatives it’s not a long wait.

  35. …”…Top 10 in the House for missed votes:

    1. Rep. William Eickmeyer (D) – 222
    2. Rep. Jeff Morris (D) – 191
    3. Rep. Mary Skinner (R) – 99…”

    …and what is Jeff Morris story? …if he bothered with one?

    Interesting to note the top slackers in the House (by double the missed votes of the third place contender) are both Democrats.

    The top two missed voters in the Senate are also Democrats.

    I do think we have lines not to cross … in our government as well as ‘criminal’ activities.

    It should be just as wrong for our elected officials to cheat the district they were elected to represent as a criminal cheating … the difference appears to be that the ‘criminal’ goes to jail.
    Sharon O’Hara

  36. Sharon-

    If you honestly knew the reason for Jeff Morris’s absence, you would be ashamed for mentioning it. I guess that’s what republicans mean when they talk about “family values”.

    But Let’s look at facts, shall we?
    63% of the House is comprised of Democrats.

    65% of the State Senate Members are Democrats.

    What are the odds that the top two missed votes would be Democrats? Pretty good.

    But hey, if you want to get into it, let’s look at the record of another Senator representing Kitsap County. Senator Kilmer was the only Senator to miss zero votes. That’s right, none.

    Missing votes has nothing to do with party affiliation, if you’re upset that your representative didn’t vote, tell them. They all have office numbers, emails, and hotlines, for this very reason. Failing that, you can make your opinion known in 2008.

  37. “The top two missed voters in the Senate are also Democrats.”

    That’s because the Democrats almost have SUPER MAJORITIES in both Houses. Republicans with power in Olympia are an endangered species.

  38. I forgot to mention… the criteria for losing the government job is when they fail to do the job they are paid to do.

    Everyone has problems from time to time. But if those problems interfere with their ability to do the job they are paid to do … then that government job either doesn’t ‘need’ their services or the voters in that district don’t believe they deserve representation.

    Trouble is, those elected are sworn in to do their best for ALL in their district…not just the party of their choice folks.
    Sharon O’Hara

  39. Ian
    My apologies if I came off harsh. I have just been so surprised at how this particular man gets away with so much. A few years ago there was the big issue of his opponent saying he was under investigation by the gambling commission. He said he wasn’t and that only his bookkeeper was. The media attacked his opponent and accused him of dirty politics. It turned out a year latter that he was under investigation the whole time and the commission only let it go after he closed his Gambling parlor. The incident that Jake referred to as an attack on IKE for his hearing aid was actually a response that he suffers from not hearing his constituents after Ike claimed that Randy lied and was not endorsed by Tim Sheldon the night before. It played bad but of coarse as it turns out Randy was endorsed by Senator Sheldon.
    Recently Eickmeyer was caught using state property for private use. His personal assistant made 5000 minutes worth of calls to Ike’s campaign manager but of course he had nothing to do with it and eventually he too was fined. She took the real punishment and they let him off with a letter of warning and free Ethics training by a paid attorney. He never takes responsibility for what he does but everyone else gets the blame. I seen his last opponent several times and was amazed how much better he was than Ike but because of the year he was trounced. He even got the Suns endorsement. Eickmeyer statement was so different than everyone else’s. He made the statement that his opponent was of no substance. I am curious to that statement. What did the people have against Randy N.? He was so much better than all the other candidates at the forums. I can not understand why he lost so bad.
    As for Rep Jeff Morris, his wife suffered through a very rough pregnancy and birth. She was hospitalized and he sat at her bedside throughout. The main point with his case is he has no history of shucking responsibility.

  40. Wow Sailor you such a “Compassionate Conservative”. You pretty much summed up the right wings attitude towards universal health care.

    “Take two motrin and get back to work.”

  41. I’m sorry to learn of anyone having a tough time … especially kids. No child should know the pain of abuse, of arthritis…none…yet they do…. and other debilitating diseases.

    It is my opinion when a person takes on a voter elected public position…it is a trust from the people to that person.
    The position is bigger than a ‘regular’ job and the voter deserves full attention from the person they elected. Illness happens…yes, time off. Of course.

    That said, the voters in the district should not ‘pay’ for a lengthly slack time.
    Government does not wait…the world does not stop turning and someone needs to be at the helm to look out for the people they represent.

    If unable to serve, get someone who can.
    Sharon O’Hara

  42. Bolocks?
    Is it related to Oh, No?

    What bacon has he brought home to the 35th when he is unable to vote?
    What, exactly, has he done for them?
    Sharon O’Hara

  43. Ok Jake
    This is your chance to “shine” or “shine on” as nothing more than hot air. What Bacon has Eickmeyer brought to the 35th in the last two years? One of us needs to man up and say we were wrong. You have made some very plain statements here. I am saying that you are a liar. Last year Eickmeyer sponsored 7 bills none of them became law. He failed completely. The year before he introduced only 3 bills and one actually passed. This bill created a account to place money into but no money was ever put in it. No Bacon here! Compare him to Derick Kilmer who introduce 16 bills his first year and 18 his next. He was only there one term and he surpassed Eickmeyer and Ike’s ten years of experience. Derick brought home the Bacon while Ike is the bacon. (Ike did supply pork for his picnic fundraiser last year.)
    Although ”Ike” claims three committees. Washington votes list only two and they are:

    Capital Budget

    The House Capital Budget Committee considers the state capital budget which approves money for the construction and repair of public buildings and for other long-term investments, such as land acquisitions and transfers. The capital budget also includes state money that is either given or lent to local governments or nonprofit organizations for infrastructure, housing, and cultural and heritage facilities. The committee also considers legislation that authorizes state debt and legislation that affects state buildings and land.

    Select Committee on Puget Sound

    The Select Committee on Puget Sound considers actions to preserve the environmental health of Puget Sound and Hood Canal and to ensure that the marine and fresh waters of Puget Sound and Hood Canal will be able to support healthy populations of native species, as well as maintain adequate water quality and quantity to support both human needs and ecosystem functions.

    No Bacon here! Where is the bacon Jake? Do you know or are you just telling fibs?

  44. I choose to show no compassion because when his time is done being an elected representative, he will wiggle(cry, cheat, beg) his way into getting some sort of financial benifit for the pain and suffering his back caused him while being an elected representative. That is why I show no compassion.

  45. You can’t just look at his bills in this session you have to look at the results of the Democratic Majority in the house as a whole.

    Do you think that Randy would have any progress working with Speaker Chopp? A Republican state rep wold be less productive than a democrat in a coma. The radical right Republicans have no shot at getting a majority in 2008 and a vote for them would be just as wasted as voting for LaRouche and Nader.

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