It 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
The full version of the FAQ can be found at the Secretary of
State’s blog “From Our Corner.”
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
“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
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