Tag Archives: Americans for Limited government

Initiative 933 – Anti-Government Special Interests Groups Overreach Again

Initiative 933 writers deliberately wrote Initiative 933 to be so sweeping that it doesn’t just include real property (land and permanent buildings on it) but also “personal property” (cows and other animals, trucks, boats, stocks, businesses, trademarks etc.)

As stated in today’s
Seattle Times, the Farm Bureau’s spokesman Dan “Wood has said that personal property was included in I-933 to guard against attempts to circumvent the initiative’s intent.”

Unfortunately this opens up a whole new potential set of lawsuits that our elected officials will have to contend with and we, the taxpayers, will have to pay for.

In a
critical analysis released yesterday Seattle Attorney Hugh Spitzer points out that this completely expands the initiative into a whole new area of law that affects many other regulations not specifically related to real property where the “pay or waive” scheme would apply.

Spitzer’s analysis says :

Claims for public compensation would likely include demands for payments as a result of:
– Regulations governing the insurance, securities and health care industries; Regulations governing professions (such as plumbing, cosmetology, and physical therapy);
– Rules controlling who is qualified to carry out other tasks that require specialized training and experience, such as installing fire sprinkler systems or operating sex offender treatment facilities; and
– Regulations governing wild and domestic animals, livestock, food crops,fertilizers, pesticides, drugs and motor vehicles

Now it would not just be developer interests that win big with I-933 but all other types of interests that oppose government regulation of any kind. Maybe that’s why out of state multi-millionaire developer Howard Rich’s Americans for Limited Government gave $260,000 to the Farm Bureau to help buy signatures to put I-933 on the November ballot.

One has to wonder what other hidden agendas have been tucked away in I-933 by those that hate government of any kind. I-933 is a conservative lawyer’s dream.

The technicalities of I-933, and its intended and unintended consequences, point out the risk the public takes in approving complex legislation sponsored by narrow political interests that are trying to avoid the public scrutiny and vetting of consequences of the proposed legislation by ignoring the usual legislative process of hearings and debates.

As we noted in a previous blog this is intentional:

“…a new taped interview of Howard Rich by High County News talking about how initiatives bypassing the legislature is a good thing and how it will have a “very far reaching” impact on future regulatory actions. Rich is the Chair of Americans for Limited Government, on the Board of the CATO Institute and a libertarian free market person who was behind the term limits movement.

Opponents to Initiative 933 are running an aggressive campaign to alert the public to the dangers of Initiative 933. For more information go to Noon933.

Takings Initiatives Accountability Project

The Center for Public Integrity has set up a new website called the “Takings Initiatives Accountability ProjectIt is a good source of additional information on the initiative battles in Washington, California, Arizona and Idaho by New York real estate developer Howard Rich to severely limit any future zoning laws, growth management regulations and environmental protections.

Included is a new taped interview of Howard Rich by High County News talking about how initiatives bypassing the legislature is a good thing and how it will have a “very far reaching” impact on future regulatory actions. Rich is the Chair of Americans for Limited Government, on the Board of the CATO Institute and a libertarian free market person who was behind the term limit movement.

The Takings Initiative Accountability Project reports that Rich’s organizations have put $5 million into the four states which have active ballot campaigns to pass initiatives that promote developers rights over community rights. That is over 85% of all the money raised for these efforts.

Sounds like a true citizens effort doesn’t it? Now which of those states does Howard Rich live in?

Washington State’s Initiative 933 actually goes further than the other initiatives in that it makes the initiative retroactive to 10 year’s ago to basically do in King County’s Critical Areas Ordinance. It requires compensation for any “damage’ done to a property’s value as a result of any action taken by the state or local government. Although intended to be a “pay or waive” law there is legal ambiguity as to whether or the law is actually written to allow the government to do anything except pay the property owner.

The ballot title for I-933 is slanted to benefit the Yes campaign. The ballot title was written by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. At the time it was issued there were behind the scene rumors that there was help in drafting this title by interests sympathetic to the initiative’s sponsors. The title was challenged in Court but the Court usually defers to the Attorney General’s wording and did so in this case.

The use of the term “damages the use or value” is very ambiguous and is sure to be the subject of lawsuits galore.

Here’s the actual ballot title from the Secretary of State’s website:

Initiative Measure 933 – Proposed by Initiative Petition
Initiative Measure No. 933 concerns government regulation of private property.
This measure would require compensation when government regulation damages the use or value of private property, would forbid regulations that prohibit existing legal uses of private property, and would provide exceptions or payments.
Should this measure be enacted into law?
Yes [ ] No [ ]

» Explanatory and Pro/Con Statements» Full Text

Initiative 933 is being opposed by the Citizens for Community Protection.

Washington’s Initiative 933 doesn’t involve the issue of eminent domain. Washington State’s Constitution already requires that people be compensated if Government takes their entire property.

What the initiative is really about is the proper balance between public needs and private desires. Initiative 933 would end new zoning, growth management regulations and environmental protections that apply equally to everyone. Local government works to help stablize a community and give property owners a sense of relief that their neighborhood isn’t going to drastically change because of what a developer wants to do.

The initiative is correctly called a Developers Rights Initiative. It would benefits development interests without requiring accountability on their part. They would be able to force communities to waive any new laws and regulations from applying to them or require compensation from taxpayers.

Unfortunately the opposition is trying to frame the issue as one of takings. The issue is really one of community rights to have agreed upon rules and regulations for everyone. Waiving rules and regulations for one property owner or developer can mean that neighboring property owner’s land can lose value. But they will not be compensated. That is why I-933 is a developers rights initiative, not a property rights initiative. And that is why citizens should vote No on 933.

How an issue is perceived has a lot to do with winning. Bush and conservatives have framed some of their issues to benefit their side, like trying to redefine the inheritance tax as the death tax. Really the issue should be viewed as collecting taxes on wealth where it has appreciated in value but no tax has ever been paid on the appreciated value before the person died.

So what is I-933 about? Is it about uncontrolled development or “takings”? Is it about ending zoning and environmental protections or is it about compensation for “damaged property”?

The issue is about control over where people live and work. The so called “right” for someone to develop their property anyway they want is a loss in community control. Uncontrolled development can decrease the value of other people’s property as a result of waiving community protections for a few.

I urge citizens to vote NO on Initiative 933 this November 7th.

Initiative 933 – Part of Americans for Limited Government’s National Campaign

Americans for Limited Government is running a national effort to repeal state and local zoning laws and environmental protections. These laws and regulations protect individual homeowners and businesses by setting community standards and promoting certainty that inappropriate development will not decrease the value and use of your property.

In Washington State they have contributed over $260,000 toward passing Initiative 933. But Washington State is not alone in Americans for Limited Government’s efforts to repeal zoning and growth management protections.

Americans for Limited Government is also behind initiative efforts to overturn zoning, growth management and environmental protection safeguards in Arizona, California, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, as well as Washington State.

Recently a cartoon video showed up at a website in Washington State supporting Initiative 933. www.yeson933.com. (See also PDC complaint by Evergreen Politics) This same video has also shown up on other states’ websites. Minor modifications are made to localize each video to each state, like a local freeway and the local initiative. Not surprising when looking up the media creator – Political Media is the fact that its President Larry Ward was involved in working with the US Chamber of Commerce on Bush’s re-election. He also was involved with the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation to help turn out the African American Vote for Bush.

The cartoon video is a hideous misrepresentation of the issues and facts involved The video is intent on portraying corrupt politicians in cahoots with Mafia Developers intent on taking away your home and business and church. They are obviously trying to reach Latino voters and black voters and young voters and the conservative Christian Right and are doing so with racial stereotypes.

The appeal is to scare Americans into unjustified fear that the evil politicians are going to kick you out of your home and tear down your church and shut minority businesses down. It is a campaign pandering to fear, intent on creating further racial division and further distrust in government.

Does this racial division get results? Well the California Black Chamber of Commerce must believe it because they issued a press release urging voters to support Prop 90 – the “Protect our Homes Initiative on the Nov. Ballot.

Here is the video on Arizona’s site – “Hope for Arizona” which is pushing Prop 207. They even issued a press release, saying it depicted “eminent domain abuse”. They make no mention of the fact that the video is also being used in other states and is part of a national effort..

A disclaimer at the bottom of the Arizona ad says “This message is sponsored by the Arizona Home Owners Protection Effort. Neither HBO nor any individuals affiliated with HBO approved, sponsored or endorsed this message.” It’s also available for iPOD and PSP and a link to MySpace shows it prominently at the top of the page.

Here is the video on Nevada’s site for a “Property Owners Bill of Rights. And here is Idaho’s site This House is my Home, promoting passage of Prop 2 in Idaho.

And not to leave any stone unturned, this politics of division is also being used to pass their message on to not just black voters and Latino voters and young voters but also through churches. The Americans for Limited Government Foundation has put up a website called “Protect our Homes and Churches

The website says they “are a growing coalition of pastors who are fighting eminent domain abuse.Right now, in many states, local politicians can take homes and churches away from their owners and give them to private developers. Too often, the victims are those who don’t have the resources to fight back.”

As Bush and Rove found, the politics of division works. And so does building strategic coalitions with unlikely interests whose ultimate goals are very different. Members of the black and Latino community often work in low paying jobs. Americans for Limited Government is not interested in seeing government raise the minimum wage or provide adequate health care or lower the price of subscription drugs.

Americans for Limited Government is interested in just that – limited government. Their goals are very different from those of many of the people they are recruiting to support their causes. Americans for Limited Government’s Chairman, Howard Rich, for example also sits on the Boards of the CATO Institute, the Club for Rome and the Rose and Milton Friedman Foundation – all conservative right wing groups. Rich was a prominent former member of the National Libertarian Party. Rich is in fact a multimillionaire real estate developer. Don’t you see something phony about their cartoon video?

In Washington State you can visit the website of those opposed to I-933 at www.noon933.org You can volunteer to help spread the message about the deceitful tactics of the proponents of Initiative 933.

see also these other recent posts on MajorityRulesBlog
Initiative 933 – Who is Howie Rich?
-A Simple Reason to Oppose Initiative 933

In addition check out these recent posts on DailyKos:
Yes on 933 is Lying to Rural Property Rights Activists about Eminent Domain by reifman


Initiative 933 – Who is Howie Rich?

Who is Howard Rich? Voters in Washington might want to know since the organization he chairs, Americans for Limited Government, has contributed $260,000 to the Farm Bureau’s effort to eliminate zoning and growth management protections for property owners in Washington State.

Initiative 933 is a snake hiding in the grass. Supporters say it will prevent the government taking away your property without compensation. In reality, it allows developers to extort taxpayers to either pay them for not doing a development that zoning and growth management laws prohibit or force government to waive the laws and regulations that protect homeowners and businesses from inappropriate and environmentally damaging development.

How desperate are the supporters of I-933? The yeson933 website contains a Saturday morning cartoonist video comparing developers to the Mafia in collusion with a corrupt government. What? And it says the issue is the misuse of eminent domain.

Problem is I-933 is not about eminent domain. And one of the biggest supporters of I-933, is New York State real estate developer Howie Rich. I agree he is the villain but not as this cartoon tries to misrepresent the issue. Talk about an attempt to confuse the voters. Or maybe its really an attempt to create controversy and get media attention. The truth doesn’t really matter it seems.

There has been some good work going on elsewhere tracking who Howie Rich is, because he and his cronies at Americans for Limited Government, have been throwing lots of money around to promote not just “Pay or Waive” initiatives , but also Tabor style initiatives to limit government spending and also judicial races.

One great source of information is a website www.HowieRichExposed.com On this site you will find a treasure trove of information. Areas covered include: “Howies Issues, Hidden Money, Shadowy Players and Dirty Tactics” Also there are sections on how you can fight back.

As NOW on PBS reported last week, “Organizations associated with Rich have funneled nearly $7 million into 2006 state initiatives aiming to limit government in 12 states, according to an investigation by The Oregonian published last month. Rich has generally declined to reveal how much of the money comes from his personal wealth, and is not required by campaign finance laws to report how much he privately funds his various groups.”

You can view NOW’s video clip here.

A check with the Oregonian figures shows that the contribution amount is dated as of Aug 4, 2006 and does not include Washington’s $260,000.

A blog out of Oregon, Boregasm , has been writing prolifically about Rich and Americans for Limited Government. It is very verbose and now numbers 18 separate lengthy posts but is great reading. Clicking on the link above will take you to “Reportage on Perfidy Made Simple, or, Read the Series in Series” which provides separate links to each of the 18 posts.

NOW credits Hart Williams who writes Boregasm as the inspiration for their story. You can connect to Hart Williams interview on NOW here.

To help prevent out of state developers like Howie Rich in New York from trying to dictate what kind of laws we have and how we choose to live in Washington State connect to the Noon933 campaign. Volunteer to help. Give them a contribution. Speak up now for local control of our future. Tell your friends and neighbors to vote NO on I-933 on Nov. 7.

A Simple Reason to Oppose Initiative 933.

Washington State on the November, 2006 ballot is really an attempt by the development community to create something called “developers rights”. Developers rights mean that individual property owners rights and community property rights disappear. That is because these developer rights would eliminate zoning and growth management regulations that protect individual property owners in a community.

The problem with I-933 is that while it supposedly says government must compensate you for any “damage” a regulation does to you, it says nothing about your being compensated for any damage your neighbor may do to you. By removing zoning and growth management protections. your neighbor can set up a motorcycle track, or a junk auto yard or a pig farm next door and you can’t stop them.

If I-933 passes you lose your protections and can actually see your property values go down. When your neighbor has the right to do whatever they want with their land it means you won’t be able to stop inappropriate development unless you pay them to not do it. Community and neighborhood values no longer count. The value of your land can decrease, especially when there is no longer any community certainty as to the future uses of land in the community.

Do you have the money to pay to stop a a WalMart or a junkyard or a gambling casino from being built next to you? Neither does our government. I-933 is legislation by developer interests to legalize extortion. What happens is that local governments have to give in and let them do whatever they want. They can’t afford to compensate for all alleged development.

As the Skagit Valley Herald noted in a recent editorial, I-933 is part of a national effort by libertarians like New York developer Howard Rich who pumped some $400,000 into the signature drive to put I-933 on this November’s ballot. Howard Rich don’t live or vote in Washington State.

I-933 is written to actually go back 10 years to determine its starting point for regulations and zoning. That in itself is a major flaw in the initiative. You’re not even voting for things as they are now.

And it also means that all future zoning changes and changes to growth management laws will open up government to lawsuits over “potential development”loses. There will no longer be any challenges to inappropriate development because any attempt to stop or change a project will be taken to court asking for “damages” or the unlimited “right to build.”

All because some rich East Coast Libertarians joined with the Washington State Farm Bureau – which represents corporate farmers – to argue that developers rights should trump individual and community rights.

Read more about the I-933 campaign by going to the Noon933 campaign website.

The Big Initiative Donors in Washington State

Not surprising, big donors are once again dominating initiative campaigns in Washington state this year. See Initiative reports from PDC.

With his August 8, 2006 donation of another $150,000, real estate developer Martin Selig has now given a whopping $807,500 to the Initiative 920 campaign to abolish Washington State’s estate tax.

Coming in second is the married couple of Michael and Phyllis Dunmire of Woodinville who have been almost single handedly paying for Tim Eyman’s Halloween Madness at the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia. They contributed $357,500 supporting his latest attempt to reduce transportation funding – Initiative 917. The outcome of that effort still remains in doubt as every signature is being checked on the petitions he filed.

Coming in third is the Libertarian moneybags of numerous term limits, tax cutting measures and developer’s rights initiatives across the country. Americans for Limited Government, which is not based in Washington State but in Illinois, gave $200,000 to help collect signatures for Initiative 933 – the Farm Bureau’s effort to eliminate zoning and growth management controls that protect individual homeowners. The measure is best called a Developers Rights Initiative since they are the main beneficiaries.

The person behind Americans for Limited Government is Howard Rich. He is a billionaire real estate developer who lives in New York. Expect to see more money from him in the I-933 campaign. Americans for Limited Government gave some $827,000 to AZHope to collect signatures in an effort to put a developer’s rights initiative on the Arizona ballot this November.