Tag Archives: Tim Eyman

Angel, Eyman not seeing eye-to-eye on this one

hpim4414It took a while, but we heard back from state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, regarding an email blast Friday critical of her from initiative guru Tim Eyman.

This issue comes from a bill Angel cosponsored with two other Republicans and a Democrat. It passed 41-8 in the Senate earlier this month, with all three Kitsap senators voting in favor. All but one of the eight who voted “no” were Republicans. That’s seven Republicans voting, “no,” which means 18 favor the bill. The legislation is in the House now.

The bill would require that any initiative that the state budget office determines will either add more than $25 million in costs or cut more than $25 million in revenues to the state have the following statement added to the initiative title on the ballot, “The state budget office has determined that this proposal would have an unfunded net impact of [amount] on the state general fund. This means other state spending may need to be reduced or taxes increased to implement the proposal.”

Eyman said the emails reveal Angel’s true intent was to stop some initiatives from happening, naming possible voter actions authored by the Washington Education Association and the Service Employees International Union.

“This is extremely disturbing.  Having legislators plotting and scheming to ‘stop’ certain initiatives ‘from getting on the ballot’ is a gross abuse of power.  It doesn’t matter whether it is politicians conniving to block liberal initiatives or politicians scheming to undermine conservative initiatives,” Eyman wrote.

Angel responded by email saying, “I am a co-sponsor of this bipartisan bill  SB5715 which is a ‘transparency’ issue for the voter to help make a decision  when voting. It passed in a strong bipartisan fashion off the Senate floor with a vote of 41-8.  The ballot title would include a fiscal note only under certain circumstances and doesn’t affect the citizen initiative process at all.”

What follows is Eyman’s email blast to supporters and reporters, Angel’s response and video from Wednesday’s House hearing.

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Pam Roach wants names

Eyman performed well, but Roach was the star.
Eyman performed well, but Roach was the star.

UPDATE: Pam Roach received a letter from Lt. Gov. Brad Owen regarding her behavior in this hearing and others. The link to the story is at the end of this post.

NOTE: We have placed a survey on the right relating to this post.

John Stang from Crosscut provided us a great rundown on a hearing of a bill that made it into committee last week in the Senate but isn’t likely to make it out.

I got interested in the legislation, which would call for more reporting and training on paid signature gatherers, because in Tim Eyman’s email he described it as the hearing blowing up. He was right. For me it was an amazing show mostly by Senate Government Operations Committee Chairwoman Pam Roach, an Auburn Republican.

I’ve never witnessed a Roach-led hearing before and if they’re all like this I don’t think I ever want to miss another one. It began when the Fred Meyer/QFC’s Melinda Merrill dared say store customers were being harassed by signature gatherers at their stores. Roach was willing to entertain that idea for somewhere south of a couple seconds. As Stang reported, Roach wondered if Merrill could provide names. Merrill could not but vouched for the honesty of their customers and store employees.

There were four reps from grocery stores there, and Roach took every opportunity she could to interrupt to turn the conversation to one about her last election, which she reminded the audience she won. This was less a hearing about the deportment of signature gatherers than it was about payback for grocery store lobbyists favoring her opponent in November.

It was a show that didn’t need Eyman to spice it up, but he was there. Eyman, if you’re new to these parts, is most often identified as Washington’s “initiative guru,” having turned a passion into a living several years ago and working every year to generate mostly tax-saving ballot measures. Eyman not only dismissed the claim that a signature gatherer would harass any customer, he said it was a strategy by opponents of his initiatives to go into store managers and falsely claim that they were harassed.

And while I don’t cotton much to conspiracy theories, my own experience makes me wonder if he has a point. So here, and in the right rail of this blog, is my question. I think Sen. Roach would appreciate you answering, too. Have you ever been verbally harassed by a signature gatherer?

Yes or no, go answer the survey. If yes, Sen. Roach wants to hear from you if you’re willing to provide your name. At least that’s what I think she was inviting at the hearing.

The reason I ask is because I haven’t told a single signature gatherer “yes” to signing any initiative in the 14 years I’ve lived in this state and I’ve only experienced anything close to harassment twice. Both times it was when a reporter tried to explain that we reporters don’t sign those things, ever.

The first one was at the Seattle Center when a friend of mine made the mistake of trying to explain why to someone who clearly had ingested so much Red Bull that the sensitivity portion of his brain had been snuffed out. I say my friend made a mistake because there was plenty of room to walk away from the miscreant, but my friend wanted him to agree.

The second time, though, was here in Bremerton when there was a meeting about Washington State Ferries and there was a petition being circulated dealing with a local ferry initiative. A reporter from a rival paper tried to explain why she wouldn’t sign a petition and the ferry zealot tried to talk her into it, as if her several minutes of badgering would override years of being told by journalism professors and bosses that signing a petition is no better than planting a campaign sign in your yard or your copy. Still, she persisted, shutting up only because the meeting was starting.

Other than those two incidents, I can’t remember a single time an initiative gatherer tried to get strong with me. I say “No, thank you.” and walk inside the store. I’ve sensed disappointment, but I don’t stick around long enough to verify it.

This is why I want to ask you whether you’ve ever been addressed more aggressively by a signature gatherer than you’d like. Story commenter dardena said he was by someone gathering ink for Initiative 502, the one dealing with marijuana.

Lest you worry, this legislation’s sponsor, Democrat Marko Liias of Lynnwood, told Stang he didn’t think the bill would make it out of committee. If true, this means we don’t need to discuss the merits and cons of the legislation. A similar bill that received 71 votes in the House last year got blasted by newspapers and didn’t get far in the Senate.

Again, though, the entertainment factor provided by Roach was stellar. I’ve never seen a committee hearing that was so much about the committee chair. If only someone had thrown Roach a football she could have spiked  like Gronk.

UPDATE: Rache La Corte from the AP’s Olympia bureau wrote the story Monday (Feb. 16) that Lt. Gov. Brad Owen sent Roach a letter admonishing her for her behavior as chairwoman in this committee and others. Writes La Corte:

The four-page letter obtained Monday by The Associated Press was sent to Roach on Friday. In it, Owen states that her “abusive behavior” must stop. He also informs her that she can only meet with nonpartisan committee staff when in the presence of another senator on the committee, Republican Sen. Kirk Pearson.

Roach said Monday that she hadn’t yet read the letter in its entirety, but said it was a “very unfair assessment.”

“I am a fair chair,” she said. “I am a tough chair.”

In the original post here we didn’t mention a couple other moments that might be sparking the concern from Owen. At one point a committee staffer reads the information about the bill. There is nothing remarkable about his reading and is done as it has been in every other bill hearing I’ve witnessed. These bills are also discussed at length after these reports, so in some sense the non-partisan staffer’s reading appears some pro forma. But Roach told him that next time he ought to slow down. She wasn’t harsh, but that’s not something I’ve ever seen in committee, and his reading was not at all unusual.

Another piece that Owen doesn’t mention is that during the committee hearing Don Benton, a Vancouver Republican who with every Senate Democrat helped Roach take the Senate Pro Tempore position away from Democrat Tim Sheldon, questioned Sen. Marko Liias’ argument that Washington State Patrol had nine investigations on signature gatherers during a recent election, but because of lax reporting requirements could only fully investigate one of them. Benton said he found that hard to believe. At the end of the hearing Liias wanted and opportunity to respond with his evidence, but Roach wouldn’t let him, saying she had to keep control of the hearing.

According to La Corte’s story Roach is crafting a response to Owen, part of which argues that she has “been the most unfairly treated senator in state history.”


Tim Eyman audio on latest initiative

This is the audio from Tim Eyman’s speech to the Central Kitsap Republican Women, who met for their luncheon at the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton on May 8, 2014.

One final note: This is something we might consider doing more of in the future. That might mean posting audio from events like this, but I also could see us recording interviews and doing other kinds of storytelling on a regular podcast.

I’m a fan of the podcast medium itself, but I don’t know how much demand there is for a hyperlocal podcast. Let me know and if there is enough interest I will do my best to make this a regular thing. Comment here, or email me at sgardner@kitsapsun.com.

State helps explain tax advisory votes

The Secretary of State’s office has issued an FAQ on the tax advisory votes on your ballot. Voters have a chance to weigh in on $200 million in new revenues the Legislature approved this year. The advisory vote provision was part of Initiative 960.

The ballots ask voters if the Legislature should maintain the new revenue or repeal it. Here is one of the questions answered in the secretary’s FAQ:

Q. So if a majority of the public vote goes for the “repeal” option, the tax will go away?
A. No, the vote is nonbinding. That means the Legislature can take note of the public vote — or not. There is not an automatic repeal, as could happen with a regular referendum or initiative process.

The full version of the FAQ can be found at the Secretary of State’s blog “From Our Corner.”

Eyman: The local angle

I’m posting here a letter e-mailed by Tim Eyman on the heels of the loss on Initiative 1125, which would have restricted how highway tolls can be used. He first makes the case that initiatives are hard, in large part because you have to judge months ahead what the electorate will support. That much probably everyone would more or less agree with.

At least one of his other comments is worth wondering about in connection with local issues.

We’ve learned that initiative campaigns are, by far, the most effective way to increase public awareness, public education, and public participation in public policy. Initiatives aren’t just about passing laws; they’re about lobbying the government. And one of the most important tools of lobbying is public awareness and public votes. $30 car tabs and the 1% property tax limit are two of the most prominent examples, but the seeds of victory for this year’s I-1183 were laid by last year’s I-1100. There are legions of additional examples where the lobbying effect of an initiative campaign layed the groundwork for later legislative action.

So this makes me wonder about the vets and homeless levy that failed in a big way here in Kitsap County. It’s not similar to an initiative in how it was launched. This was not a grass roots initiative in which a number of voters gathered signatures. This was launched by government. But could the silver lining for the levy’s supporters be that the issue was raised at all?

Sure, the measure lost big time. But people are talking about it. Is there any chance the needs supporters identified will be met some other way?

Eyman’s letter follows.

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Red-light camera numbers (lots of them) in Bremerton

This post on red-light cameras will have lots of figures for you to digest. There. You’ve been warned.

The Seattle Times has a story highlighting how Tim Eyman has found a cause that crosses party lines. He has helped or led efforts to see red-light cameras either eliminated or at least approved by voters in multiple communities.

Earlier in August we pointed out the (Everett) Herald story on the cash Lynnwood was making from cameras, enough that the chief warned the city would have to lay off officers if they were gone.

Some of you asked (“Asked” is a polite description of what you did.) for information about Bremerton. Here is what I have.

In 2010 Bremerton took in $685,232 in revenue for red-light cameras. The money sent to Redflex Inc, the Arizona company that runs the system, was $443,639. That gets us $241,593 for the year. In 2009 Andy Parks, former financial services director, said it cost the city about $7,500 a month in staff time to run the program. I can only assume now that the figure came from paying for the officers to look at the ticket and estimating the extra cost it takes to run each infraction through the municipal court system. That’s $90,000 a year. So if that accounts for all the city takes in, the annual net income for Bremerton in 2010 would have been $151,593.

This means approximately 5,525 tickets were successfully prosecuted in 2010.
That means the city issues an average of 15.1 tickets per day that will result in a paid citation.
That means each camera issues an average of 1.6 tickets per day that will result in a paid citation.
Citations would have to go down 22 percent for the city to hit the break even point.

That last part, though, is affected by the contract with Redflex. Each camera is supposed to generate enough tickets to earn the $4,000 per month charge. That’s 33 tickets. As of now each camera appears to be averaging about 51. Remember, that number reflects the number of tickets actually prosecuted.

The number of tickets are going down. In 2009 the number of tickets was in the neighborhood of 6,600. That’s based on the net figures I received from the city, added to the contract that was in place then, and then dividing that figure by $124, the cost of the ticket.

Another factoid worth noting. I said cameras issued an average of 51 prosecutable tickets per month. In May each camera issued about 83 tickets, which means nearly 40 percent of all tickets are not prosecuted.

Red-light camera company exec moonlights as footware

ATS Exec W Howard
The most recent season of Madmen featured a gimmick in which two women stage a fight over canned ham. The fight thing goes fine for a while, but later the women fight for real and risk ruining the company that hired them to do it.

This, of course, leads us to the furor over red-light cameras, which has been mild here compared to what’s happening in places like Mukilteo and Lynnwood. The company contracted to provide the service there and in Seattle is American Traffic Solutions, Inc.

Just as they are here, the arguments in the comments section of the (Everett) Herald can be heated, if any argument where people yell by typing in capital letters can be labeled as “heated.” At the Herald, though, there exists a ringer.

The Herald reports:

“A poster using the screen name “W Howard” has commented 43 times on our site since June. The unifying themes in these posts are that the cameras are good, that they are making the world safer and that anyone who says otherwise — particularly Mukilteo initiative activist Tim Eyman — needs their head examined.”

Someone tipped off the Herald that W Howard might be an American Traffic Solutions employee. Sure enough, the e-mail he used to register himself was from the company and belonged to an exec. Read the blog post.

Bremerton’s cameras are run by Redflex. I checked to see if we have any users with “redflex” as their e-mail. We do, but they haven’t posted any comments. I also checked to see if any of our commenters on the red-light stories left telltale signs of being from the company. At least on the most recent one no one did.

To learn how to make the executive sock pictured on this post, go to Danielle’s Place.

Red-light cameras here to stay?

This week the Legislature debated bills that would restrict how cities employ red-light cameras. You all know, of course, that Bremerton has them and no place else in the county does.

A week ago an e-mail from initiative guy Tim Eyman made me curious about the roots of an effort in Longview, so I e-mailed him asking to chat. Eyman got red-light cameras overturned in Mukilteo, where he lives, and has begun helping other communities either get them overturned or make it so voters would have to approve their installation. He was also at the legislative committee meeting Wednesday.

Eyman is among many who believe the cameras are not about the safety they are said to be when they are proposed. That’s how cities get them in, he said. Afterward they just collect the cash and pay for things with it. “It’s an entire government program based on a lie,” he said.

In Bremerton it helped fund some new police officers. According to a study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, they also helped reduce vehicle fatalities in major cities that had them. From the organization’s press release:

“Red light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest US cities, a new analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. Had cameras been operating during that period in all large cities, a total of 815 deaths would have been prevented.”

The chief question I had for Eyman was whether someone contacted him in Longview, or if he contacted them. He couldn’t remember. It seems to go both ways, so it doesn’t really matter, except that there is no one I know of in Bremerton who is leading any kind of effort to get rid of the ones here.

And if I were to lay bets on what will happen in Olympia, I think the odds are against anything coming down that would restrict cities too much, especially those that already have the cameras in place. The most recent evidence is that the cameras do save lives, and the revenue stream is already flowing in. At a time when governments are scrambling for income I think it would take a pretty compelling case for legislators to take a revenue stream away from local governments.

Eyman told the legislators that it may come to a state initiative if they don’t act, the one thing that might persuade them to enforce some limits not in place now. If it comes to an initiative, it’s a pretty good guess he’d feel confident about its chances. He said (I haven’t double-checked, but it sounds plausible.) that in 15 cases in which voters had an opportunity to vote against cameras, they did every time. In our own online poll asking whether voters should decide to install cameras, two-thirds of you said “Yes.”