Tag Archives: Initiative 917

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.


U.S. Representatives Reichert, McMorris, and Hastings vote to cut Washington’s Minimum Wage

Our three Washington State Republican Representatives in Congress just voted to cut the minimum wage in 7 states, including Washington.

In an editorial today, the Seattle PI called the Republican House of Representatives a “Reverse Robin Hood” in passing a new law that “would rob wages from the poor to benefit the rich

Just before Congress left for its August recess the House approved a bill to raise the the national minimum wage to $7.25 an hour – coupling it with increased cuts in the estate tax.
But as the PI notes:

For workers in seven states — including Washington — the bill actually is a pay cut for many employees because it requires that tips now be calculated into the minimum wage. Current state law excludes tips.

The bill “is the first time in history that the federal government has acted to put a ceiling on minimum wage levels, rather than establishing a national floor from which the states can make improvements,” says Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute.

The new federal law would mandate that the minimum wage be as little as $2.13 for workers who get tips, calling it a “tip credit.” Folks who earn minimum wage are now paid $7.63 an hour in Washington state — plus tips. Thus the new law could reduce the hourly wage as much as $5.50 an hour. Washington Republican Reps. Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris and Doc Hastings voted yea — and against current state law.”

The New York Times yesterday editorialized on the trading of a minimum wage increase for the estate tax cuts as “Fooling the Voters” and called it “an attempt at extortion.”

“…a $2.10 an hour increase in the minimum wage, to be phased in over three years; and a multibillion-dollar estate-tax cut. That’s the deal House Republicans are really offering a few more dollars for 6.6 million working Americans; billions more for some 8,000 of the wealthiest families.”

“There is no way to justify providing yet another enormous tax shelter to the nation’’s wealthiest heirs in the face of huge budget deficits, growing income inequality and looming government obligations for Social Security and Medicare

The Washington Post likewise noted what was at stake here:

“Appended to the minimum wage hike that the vast majority of them opposed was a provision genuinely dear to their hearts: a cut in the estate tax that chiefly benefits the super-rich and that will reduce government revenue over the next decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by $753 billion. The shortfall could well lead to offsetting cuts in programs that benefit the same working poor that the minimum-wage increase would help. But who cares about the poor? The whole point of the exercise was to come up with a bill that might force some Democrats to vote for an estate tax cut they would otherwise oppose, and enable Republicans to claim they weren’t really the Dickensian grotesques that many of them in fact are.

Which may be why the Republicans’ midnight orations in favor of raising the wage bore minimal resemblance to, say, the Sermon on the Mount. Their tone was best captured by Tennessee Rep. Zach Wamp, a Mayberry Machiavelli if ever there was one, who could not restrain himself from telling House Democrats, “You have seen us really outfox you on this issue tonight.

Wamp’s taunt can serve as the credo for this entire Republican Congress, which legislates only when, and because, it can outfox the Democrats. It is the credo of the Bush administration as well, which views even its signature policy — its war on terrorism — as its foremost wedge issue against the Democrats. Combine this hyper-partisan ethos with a far-right ideology that sees no role for the government even as our corporate welfare state crumbles and our planet turns to toast, and you get a more do-nothing government than Harry Truman could have even imagined.”

I particularly liked the part about being outfoxed. Haven’t I heard something like that recently from Eyman’s cronie when he called the press to a press conference on turning in the anti-discrimination referendum but was really promoting his anti-transportation Initiative 917. The press didn’t like that.

No one likes to be toyed with and made fun of. The American public doesn’t either. Congress has serious business to do to attend to the needs of America. Republicans are enjoying playing games and avoiding big issues. They would rather vote on the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance than try to figure out how to end the war in Iraq. They would rather play games than increase fuel efficiency standards for cars or consider other ways to reduce energy demand.

Come November, voters will remember the Republican machine helping the super rich and corporate America while ignoring health care and education. Republicans continue to show their true colors. Voters only need to open their eyes.

Strike Two on Eyman’s Initiative 917!

Last Friday Tim Eyman’s Initiative 917 did not pass the random sampling test to qualify for the November ballot. As reported first by the blog Postman on Politics a random sample of 4% of the signatures turned in, showed that I-917’s error and invalid rate was 17.96%. This included 24 duplicate signatures.

This means that the Washington Secretary of State will have to check every signature on I-917 against state voter registration lists, one by one, until more than 224,880 are found valid. To get onto the November ballot, as I have previously discussed, means Eyman must have an invalid rate on I-917 which is below 15.46%.

He has never previously qualified an initiative with that low an invalid rate. Looks like a strikeout is coming.

Strike one was not turning in enough signatures.

Strike two was not validating with a 4% random sample.

Get ready for Strike Three!

Initiative 917 would seriously cut existing funds for transportation improvements in Washington State.

You can read more on this story at

“Secretary of State to Conduct Full Signature Check on Initiative 917”

Seattle Times “Initiative 917 Faces Count of Signatures

Seattle PI “Odds against car-tab initiative”

Secretary of State Begins Signature Count on Four Initiatives”

Believe it or Not. Eyman Weights Initiative Petitions to Determine Count.

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 917 to cut transportation funding in Washington State is in deep trouble because he literally weights his boxes of petitions to determine how many petitions, and I guess signatures, he has. It seems he has trouble with large numbers so counting and weighting boxes is his alternative.

While Eyman claims he turned in 300,353 signatures, the Secretary of State tallied the signatures they received and found only 266,006. This means I-917 is in danger of not being validated.

Eyman claims he has no count of the actual number of petitions for I-917 he turned into the Washington Secretary of State. He says he never did that for any of his campaigns. He has no photocopies of the petitions. Instead he weighs his I-917 petitions but then didn’t keep any record of what they weighed. .

It’s fine with me. I’m glad Eyman still hasn’t figured out how to do initiative campaigns after all these years. I’m just laughing. I thought he was stupid when he printed up petitions a few years ago that had the incorrect text on the back. I thought he was stupid when he printed up petitions this year that had an almost impossible to find declaration on the back of the petition that petitioners needed to sign.

Then Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna came to his rescue a month ago to help him by saying the law the Washington State Legislature wrote really meant the opposite of what it said. I wonder if Rob McKenna also advised Eyman about this bizarre procedure of weighting petition boxes to qualify an initiative.

Eyman claimed he weighted the boxes and wrote the weight on the boxes he turned into the Secretary of State, but Eyman kept no record of those weights. The Secretary of State recycled the boxes, not knowing anything about Eyman’s unique way of “knowing” how many signatures he had. Who would?

I have turned in petitions for a number of campaigns before, including I-394, I-61, I-547, I-97, I-99, and others but have never thought of weighting boxes of petitions to figure out how many petitions and signatures we had. But we did keep a tally of petition sheets and numbers of signatures.

Somehow Eyman got a signature count which he claims was 300,353. To “verify” it, he did what many conservative think tanks do. They manipulate the media. They know their figures are inaccurate or made up or questionable if coming directly from them. . But they only need one media source to quote what they said. Then they claim the media who quoted them as the source of the information next time they talk about it. You know, “Today the Seattle Times said …..” . Now the Seattle Times is the source of the inaccurate or misleading information.

Eyman, obviously knowing he did not have enough signatures, used a hand written note with his purported signature count on it. He asked the receptionist in the Washington State Secretary of State’s office to hand stamp the note when he turned his petitions in with the signatures. He had the media photograph it. Now he could claim that the Secretary of State’s Offices had accepted that many signatures. It’s a pretty cheap trick.

You can actually see this bogus receipt that Eyman claims in the Spokane Review article by Rich Roessler. But he and everyone else knows this is not a receipt with any legal standing. The receptionist is just that, a receptionist. She didn’t make any count of the signatures nor does she have any legal standing to sign any receipt. Eyman knows that. The signature count is his, not hers.

The whole thing thing is a fool’s play. It’s a con game. Eyman’s turned in enough petitions before for initiative campaigns to know how it works. He knows full well the Secretary of State’s office doesn’t count the signatures the day you turn them in. What they do is publicly count the number of petition sheets that actually get turned in and you get a receipt for that.

The petitions are then copied and counting of actual signatures is done the next day. All transfer of petitions for copying and counting is accompanied by a member of the State Patrol.

If Eyman knew how many signatures he had, he would also have an idea of the minimum number of petition sheets he had to turn in. Not every petition sheet is full,but iIf every sheet were full of signatures, at 20 a page, he needed to turn in a minimum of 15,177 sheets to reach 300,352. The 34,346 signatures of this count that Eyman claimed to have turned in, but didn’t, would equal some 1728 sheets if every sheet had 20 signatures. But Eyman hasn’t been saying the petition count he got was wrong. Seems he wasn’t paying any attention to this.

What is disturbing about this is that Eyman gets so much media play for this little farce of his. Any fool with enough money can get an initiative on the ballot but Eyman, even with a sugar money daddy named Michael Dunmire, still stumbles around, bungling simple record keeping. This a guy who likes to criticize state government, but he can’t even run his small 3 person campaign.

At some point more of the media will see Eyman for the fool he is, but giving any credence to his false claim that the signatures were stolen, is no more than Eyman continuing to play with the media.

He is trying to keep his campaign business alive and knows that the media loves drama. How interesting would it be to say: “I messed up and can’t even add up how many petitions and signatures I have. I have trouble counting and keeping track of large numbers, like over 100,000, so instead I weight boxes.” ?

But the press will surely bite on: “I turned in enough signatures and they stole them.” The lie gets you more coverage than the truth. Yell loud and cry foul. It worked for Rossi.

But Eyman’s day of reckoning is coming this week. Verification of a sample of signatures on I-917 should be done this week. As I posted recently, Eyman needs to have less that 15.57% of his signatures invalid. He’s never done that. It’s been noted that his previous initiatives have had invalid rates of 16% to 23%. If we’re lucky, wonder boy Eyman will show us once again what incompetence really is.

You can also read more at Postman on Politics and Andrew over at NPI Blog and Michael Hood at Blatherwatch. Blatherwatch is particularly interesting in that Eyman is meeting with a lot of skepticism on right-wing radio, eg John Carlson and Dori Monson.

Eyman’s Initiative 917 Skating on Thin Ice

With only 266,000 signatures, Washington State Initiative 917 will probably require a complete check of its signatures. To qualify for the fall ballot, 224,880 valid signatures are needed. The number is equal to 8% of those who voted in the last governor’s race.

Eyman could still validate I-917 if some 41,125 signatures were invalid because of voters not being registered, registered at the wrong address or signing more than once.

An initial 10,000 signatures will be sampled by the Washington Secretary of State. The signatures will be randomly selected by a computer. The percentage of invalid signatures for  I-917 must be below 15.46% for 224,880 signatures to be valid.

The Secretary of State’s Office has said that last year the signature invalid rate ranged from 13% to 26%. One factor that would affect Eyman’s invalid rate will be how actively his paid signature gatherers asked people if they were registered to vote.

My guess is that because paid signature gatherers are paid by the signature, there is not a huge incentive to be careful. David Goldstein over at Horsesass.org in his post stated that last year’s signature invalid rate was 13%, 16%, 17%, 19%, and 26%. That’s sort of like a 1 in 5 chance of making it with the number of signatures Eyman has on I-917.

Initiative 917 is another slash and burn initiative based on the concept of individual greed. Since it does a significant repeal of existing weight fees, big cars and trucks up to 10 tons would pay the same as small cars. Tabs would be all the same at $30. Yet big cars and trucks tear up roads to a greater degree.

Eyman somehow thinks that road and transit maintenance are free, that someone else pays to keep it all going.

I-917 would repeal a major part of the transportation package the Legislature passed in 2005. Last year’s attempt to repeal the gas tax lost at the polls. This measure goes after the other part of that transportation package and would remove $2.7 billion targeted to meet transportation needs in the state. I-917 also would repeal funding for Sound Transit, which is one of Eyman’s pet project. He would rather see more cars on the road than pay for transit.

If by some fluke I-917 squeaks past the Secretary of State by having enough valid signatures, it could still be challenged in court on the basis of not having enough petitioners sign their declaration that they personally collected the signatures. Some 3000 petitions, according to Goldstein’s article did not have the petitioner’s signature.

We posted on this issue last week. McKenna’s legal opinion on Ballot Petitions Aids and Abets this Year’s Right Wing Initiative Campaigns. The issue could be ripe for opponents to file a court challenge based on the those 3000 petitions without the signatures of paid signature gatherers.The combination of invalid signatures of voters and petitions not signed by those who gathered the signatures as required by law would be a lethal combination.

Update Initiative 917 Snafu by Eyman

Its obvious that any petitions Tim Eyman turns in to the Washington Secretary of State on Initiative 917 will be closely scrutinized as to complying with Washington State law. In tiny print on the bottom right corner of Eyman’s first initiative printing of I-917 there is a small declaration area as required by law but it does not provide a space for a signature.

The problem is that there is no indication that one has to both print and sign it for the petition to be accepted by the Secretary of State as there is only one line to write a name on. The declaration is hard to see and blends in with the initiative text. The Secretary of State’s official letter of Feb. 9, 2006 said the declaration had to be both printed and signed.

There is no notation on the front of the petition that the signature gatherer has to print and sign their names on the back. Eyman, in sending out his new “revised’ petition, does not tell his supporters that the old petition clearly has to be both printed and signed even though there is no space to do both.. All in all it makes things very confusing, hardly what one would expect from a so called professional initiative monger.

What I guess what it all means is that each petition is going to be closely scrutinized if he turns them in.

Is this petty or is it worth it? Well we are talking about proposed Washington State legislation that repeals the other half of last year’s legislative transportation package. Even though it wasn’t Eyman’s initiative, he championed Initiative 912 to repeal the gas tax, which the voters soundly defeated in November. This is the other half of the legislature’s transportation package.

So one can expect because of the proposed loss of millions and millions of transportation dollars for state, county and city transportation projects and that impact on businesses in Washington State that there will be a vigorous campaign to defeat I-917 if it were to be on the ballot.

It now appears that one part of that campaign may be to vigorously scrutinize and challenge any petitions Eyman turns in because of the confusion and uncertainty he has created with his poorly designed petition. Because of the controvery, it is hoped Washington’s Secretary of State will be on top of this.

Eyman of course claims there is no problem, that his petitions are legal and that everyone is printing and signing their name. What would you expect him to say?

Some will question raising this issue now rather than waiting but there is not much reason to second guess. The fact is Eyman knows he has a problem or he would not have gone to all the effort and expense of redesigning and re-mailing his petitions. We are not bringing anything new to his attention. It is better to be aggressive and challenge Eyman and challenge the media to acknowledge that Eyman is not some professional initiative wizard. If Eyman was employed by someone else to run an initiative campaign he would have been fired by now. That’s why he goes to such great lengths to hide his mistakes.

Eyman Again Prints Up Invalid Initiative Petitions, Again Lies to his Supporters

For more information, contact Steve Zemke
stevezemke (at) msn (dot) com

Tim Eyman’s current Initiative 917 petitions for $30 license tabs are invalid and violate Washington state law. He has resent “redesigned” petitions to his supporters but lies and tells them that signatures on the old petitions are “valid”.

This directly contradicts an announcement issued by the Washington State Secretary of State on Feb. 19, 2006 and posted on their website.

Amazingly, this is not the first time Eyman has done this and lied to his supporters. In 2003, as first reported by MajorityRules.org he printed invalid petitions for Initiative 807.

That time he forgot to print the correct initiative text on the back of the petition. He sent out new petitions late in the signature drive and never got enough new signatures on the valid petition. He then also lied to his supporters that the invalid petitions were legal and to send them in.

Eyman has again just sent out a letter to his supporters, enclosing a new copy of his I-917 petition. He says the “redesigned I-917 petition makes things easier” and to “copy it and send in the old ones.”

Never does he say he made a mistake. The petition is “redesigned” because Tim did not comply with a law passed last year by the Washington State Legislature. The law became effective on Jan 1, 2006.

EHB 1222 requires that all initiative petitions now carry the following statement to be signed by the petition gatherer:

I,…………., swear or affirm under penalty of law that I circulated this sheet of the foregoing petition, and that, to the best of my knowledge, every person who signed this sheet of the foregoing petition knowingly and without any compensation or promise of compensation willingly signed his or her true name and that the information provided therewith is true and correct. I further acknowledge that under chapter 29A.84 RCW, forgery of signatures on this petiton constitutes a class C felony, and that by offering any consideration or grautity any person to induce them to sign a petition a gross misdemeanor, such violations being punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.

The Secretary of State’s Office declares that “It is the interpretation of the Secretary of State that this declaration must not only be printed on the back side of the petition sheet, but must also be signed by the signature gatherer, and the signature gatherer’s name must be printed in the appropriate location. To interpret the law as not requiring the oath would render the new law meaningless. It is therefore the interpretation of the Office of the Secretary of State that lack of a signature on the declaration will cause the petition sheet to be rejected pursuant to RCW 29A.72.170(1).

Now what is it that Tim does not understand about the official intrepretation of the law by the Secretary of State. Somehow he found out the petitions were invalid and decided to pay for reprinting them and remailing them.

In his letter, however he tells his supporters “All the signatures, whether on the old petition or redesigned petition, are valid and will count so get them filled out and sent back to me as soon as possible.” He then says “But we ask everyone to start using the new, redesigned petition because it’s better.” Didn’t he really mean to say legal?

Initiative 917 is Eyman’s latest attempt to enact $30 license tabs. I-917 also would roll back about $1.5 billion in vehicle and light truck weight fees and annual motor home fees passed last year by the Washington State Legislature.

My friends over at Permanent Defense and HorsesAss who have been working together with me fighting Tim Eyman’s bad initiatives over the last several years will be adding comment as this story develops.

Initiative Assigned Number: 917
Filed: 01/09/2006
Sponsor Mr. Tim Eyman Mr. M. J. Fagan Mr. Leo J. Fagan PO Box 18250 Spokane, WA 99228 (425) 493-8707 Fax (425) 493-1027

Ballot Title Initiative Measure No. 917 concerns limiting motor vehicle charges This measure would cap motor vehicle registration charges at $30 per year, repeal taxes and fees exceeding the $30 limit, calculate vehicle taxes and fees based on purchase price, and retire certain bonds. Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary This measure would limit motor vehicle registration charges to $30 per year for vehicles weighing less than 22,000 pounds, and would repeal certain fees and charges exceeding the limit. Replacement and reflectorized plate fees would be reduced. A new valuation schedule based on purchase price would be used in calculating motor vehicle taxes and fees. Regional transit authorities would be required to retire or defease outstanding bonds pledging motor vehicle taxes as security for repayment.