The leadership of the Washington State Federation of State Employees has lost their marbles. Piqued because they believe the Democrats in the Washington State Senate did not do enough to support to support them in the budget, they decided to not just not endorse any Democratic Senators in their early endorsement process; they decided to endorse a strong supporter of Eyman’s Initiative 1053 that will make their plight even worse next year if it passes.
They endorsed Republican Pam Roach who is hardly a friend of labor or raising revenue to pay state employees or fund any state services being cut. Roach spoke at Tim Eyman’s press conference when he filed I-1053 earlier this year. Roach is for cutting the state budget which means cutting state employees.
Initiative 1053 would restore the 2/3 voting requirement that Democrats in the Legislature suspended in order to raise the revenue they did this year – some $753 million, after not raising any revenue last year because of the provisions of Eyman’s I-960.
It’s one thing to argue the Democrats should have done more, like eliminate more special interest tax exemptions that deplete the state budget to benefit certain businesses and corporations. But it is the height of ill advised political posturing to turn around and support someone like Pam Roach.
If the Washington State Federation of State Employees thinks Democrats did not go far enough, then they should field their own candidates that support their position. There are many of us that believe that the Democrats could have been more aggressive in revising our tax code to make it fairer to working families and done more to eliminate tax exemptions that unnecessarily reduce overall revenue to benefit only a few special interest taxpayers.
A picture can say a thousand words. Go to the following post on the Pam Roach Report and view the picture at the bottom. These are the folks the Washington State Federation of State Employees is throwing their lot in with by endorsing Pam Roach. Pam Roach is seated with friends Senator Don Benton on one side and Tim Eyman on the other, flanked by Eyman financier Michael Dunmire.
Yes, the Federation of Washington State Employees has lost their marbles. Let’s hope this is only a temporary lapse as labor has been a strong force for tax reform in Washington State. We all make mistakes.
Yesterday I was in Olympia, testifying on SB 6665 before the Senate Committee on Government Operations & Elections. SB 6665 is an act relating to initiative filing fees and proposes to increase the fee from $5 to $250.
Times are tough in Olympia and our state is facing an additional $2.6 billion revenue shortfall in the current budget. This is not the only fee that the Legislature should increase but it has been at $5 for the last 99 years. What else do you know that still costs the same after a century? Certainly the costs of running government has not stayed the same for the last century.
Tim Eyman of course showed up to oppose the proposed fee increase that would more accurately reflect the increased cost of running government over the last 99 years. This of course is despite his yearly initiative push to cut taxes and revenue to fund government and his zest for reduced government spending.
Eyman argued that legislators don’t have to pay $5 to file their bills so why should he. The Committee Chair responded that they have to run for office, whereas initiative sponsors don’t.
But the fee itself is not the real issue as to why this bill should be passed. I’ve filed and run and won a number of initiative campaigns in the past and I’m a strong defender of the initiative process. I’m from back in the old days before paid signature gatherers, where we used volunteers to collect all the signatures. These days most campaigns raise $500,000 to $600,000 to pay for the signatures collected by contracted workers who get paid by the signature. This is what Eyman does. So in terms of the overall cost of a campaign to just get on the ballot, $250 is a reasonable fee.
But the real problem is that some initiative filers abuse the system. They file multiple initiatives to game the system to try to get a good ballot title. They also game it to try to get a good ballot number. Bill Sizemore did this in Oregon and 2 years ago the Oregon State Legislature made changes to their initiative law to stop this practice, by requiring that initiative sponsors show public support for their proposal before committing state resources and revenue to process an initiative. Oregon now requires that when an initiative is first filed that it include signatures of 1000 sponsors who are registered voters in the state.
What upset Senator Pam Roach was that I noted that Tim Eyman also did ballot title shopping. Ballot title shopping is where you file multiple versions of an initiative with minor word changes to try to get the most favorable wording of the ballot title and summary. This all runs up the state expenses to process and defend ballot titles if they are challenged by either the sponsor or someone else.
Last year Tim Eyman filed 24 initiatives, basically multiple versions on 3 different topics. Some were filed as initiatives to the people and some as initiatives to the legislature. He only collected signatures on one of these.
This year Eyman has already filed 5 versions of the same initiative, including 4 he filed on the first filing day for initiatives to the people. Obviously this calls into question Tim’s explanation that he filed multiple versions to get feedback and make changes.
The reality is that you don’t need to file multiple initiatives to get feedback. You can send anyone who want copies of the measures and ask for feedback on your draft before you file. This is the way most initiative sponsors do it. Copies can be sent to all the Legislators and the Governor and interested parties as well as lawyers. You can revise your drafts and ask for further comments.
Well in Senator Roach’s opinion I had impuned the motives of Tim Eyman by noting that he ballot title shopped his initiatives. She started ranting that I should cease testifying and be removed from the hearing. Senator Darlene Fairley, the Chair of the Committee basically ignored her and allowed the Hearing to continue.
Pam Roach is an ardent Eyman supporter and is a sponsor of his current measure to try to reimpose, if repealed, the I-960 provisions that currently allow 1/3 of the Legislators to prevent 2/3 of the Legislators from raising revenue or repealing any under-performing tax exemptions. It is a backdoor governing approach that gives the conservative Republicans minority control over the state budget even though voters clearly elected a majority of Democrats.
What they can’t win at the ballot box by electing a majority of conservatives and other Republicans to run the Legislature, they are doing by changing the operating rules of the Legislature to give a minority veto power over the budget.
Initiative 960 and Eyman’s current initiative are unconstitutional. The Washington State Constitution says that the Legislature shall act by majority rule. The Legislature by simple majority vote can repeal I-960. They need to do that and move on to raise revenue to keep essential services. Cutting $2.6 billion means huge job losses which will make the recession even worse. It’s time to eliminate the unconstitutional abuse of power by conservatives. Democrats need to step up and act.
In the first returns from King County Elections released just after 8 PM tonight, Sherril Huff, the current Elections Director for King County, has taken a strong lead over the 5 other candidates in the special election to fill the office of King County Elections Director. She is receiving 44% of the vote. David Irons is coming in second with only 19% of the vote. The 9:00 PM count is below:
Sherril Huff ……………..75,983….. 44.00%
David Irons……………. 33,200……19.23%
Pam Roach ……………..28,896 ……16.73%
Bill Anderson …………..14,775…….. 8.56%
Julie Kempf …………….12,069 ……..6.99%
Christopher Clifford,….6,854 ………3.97%
Write-in……………………… 895……….. .52%
The turnout as expected in ballots mailed in is only 15% at present. For the importance of the office this is rather bleak but for the Republicans who pushed for this “nonpartisan” election it has to be a big disappointment. Sherril Huff’s lead looks very difficult to overcome and the candidate appointed to run the Elections Office by Democrat Ron Sims is the probable winner.
Irons raised the most money at $158,000 , $132,000 of his own money. His last report showed him spending $107,176 of his money – $75,000 on direct mail.
Sherril Huff meanwhile raised some $56,761. Some $30,000 came from the Washington State Democrats.
Pam Roach only raised $3,200 and was limited from raising money while the Legislature is in session.
The right wing builder group, the BIAW, that has previously spent enormous amounts of money trying to get its conservative candidates onto the Washington State Supreme Court, get Dino Rossi elected Governor and helped Rob McKenna in 2004 get elected, has just dumped $26,500 into Republican Pam Roach’s campaign for King County Elections Director, according to the Seattle Times.
Even so, she is far behind fellow Republican David Irons who according to PDC records has raised $115,536, of which $103,460 comes out of his personal pocket. Irons is spending some $75,489 on last minute mailings and automated robo calls.
Considering the Office pays $160,000 a year, the campaign spending is still luke warm.
Meanwhile Sherril Huff, the candidate backed by Democrats, has been slow on raising money. Latest reports show her having raised $21,236 and spent $46, 845.
One wonders where Ron Sims is and why he has not been helping more.. After all he is the King County Executive who appointed her to the position several years ago and in December worked to get other Democratic candidates, like Jason Osgood who ran for Secretary of State in Nov. and Port Commissioner Lloyd Hara, to exit the race. They had more name recognition than Huff.
One would have assumed Ron Sims would have made a stronger commitment to raise money for the candidate he supported because the name Sherril Huff is not exactly a household word. Sure she is technically the “incumbent” and comes highly recommended, getting 35 of the state’s 39 county auditors to endorse her but this race is such a sleeper that one of the two Republican candidates might win this race just by turning out hard core Republican votes based on residual name recognition alone.
The economy of course is terrible, so deep pockets like David Irons has and special interest money like the BIAW is spending, are working the Republican side of this election. The Democrats are doing grassroots efforts but you have to wonder why more money is not flowing into Huff’s campaign.. She has raised the most money from individuals but this is after all a county wide race, not a legislative district race and being the only viable Democratic supported candidate you would expect more support.
This little gem of a special election devised by Republican operatives with no primary is so far seeing only 10% of the ballots for this all mail election being sent back to King County Elections. A low turnout election can be unpredictable but with such a low turnout Irons’ willingness to commit his own money is significant as is the BIAW’s smelling the possibility of a Republican win for this seemingly nonpartisan race.
Democrats better get busy this weekend spreading the word to their family, friends and neighbors to vote for Huff. And of course money can help pay the bills so people who want to see the professional elections person win, not a right wing Republican, should contribute now to Sherril Huff at her website electsherrilhuff.com
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