Tim Eyman has ascended to political nirvana—and all we got was this lousy initiative.
Yes, the Mukilteo everyman is now a full-time politico. Just a month and a half after the founding father of tax-cutting Initiative 695 and early sponsor of antiaffirmative action Initiative 200 made his election night retirement announcement, Eyman has already outlined plans for two new initiatives. He's also formed his own citizen-government political action committee, which has been given the unlikely title of Permanent Offense. If voters don't take permanent offense at Eyman's transition from citizen-agitator to PAC-man, they can always gripe about his latest dumb ideas.
Actually, his first concept would probably sell with the I-695 crowd. Dubbed "Son of 695," this measure would repeal recent tax increases approved by local governments in anticipation of I-695 taking effect on the first of the year. It would also fix a couple legal blunders Eyman made in drafting the original I-695. Of course we wouldn't need this measure if Eyman knew what he was doing the first time around, but at least he's trying to clean up his own messes.
Far more interesting is the second shell in Eyman's legislative shotgun. This measure, dubbed the "Traffic Improvement Initiative," would undo years of transportation planning and decree the official superiority of the single-occupant automobile. Eyman would like to reserve 90 percent of state transportation funding for highways, ban restricted "car pool" freeway lanes, and— incredibly—scrap the Sound Transit rail/bus plan and redirect funding to more freeways.
Now wait a minute. Wasn't Eyman the guy who wanted to make sure the public approved all new taxes? Well, Sound Transit got almost 60 percent backing from voters in the urbanized sections of King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. It seems Mr. Big Shot no longer listens to the voice of the people.
And if I-695 is destined to spend a long time in court, what about this turkey? Can the citizens of the state really dictate that residents of three Puget Sound counties foot the bill for fixing the entire state's road system? It's doubtful, but Eyman's latest parade of errors should keep government lawyers busy (and well-paid) for years to come. And you—Joe and Jane Taxpayer— will get the bill for Tim's bungling.
So, who's going to stop him? Probably not the courts. Definitely not the Republican Party, whose waffling, poll-watching, Clintonesque leader Dale Foreman morphed into the amazing Jello Man when he realized I-695 had widespread support. Never mind that the tax-cutting measure gutted the funding for Foreman's own highway repair program.
But now Tim's timing may be seriously off. If both his initiatives qualify for next fall's ballot, it will be far too soon for supporters to make the case that I-695's cuts were harmless. While Eyman was able to downplay I-695's ill effects on the state ferry system and public transit, his new pro-car proposal makes no bones about its aim of eliminating both programs.
The "little guys" made Tim Eyman. And they can dump him just as quickly.
What does it cost to win a Seattle City Council open seat? This year, the average successful candidate spent $143,801, the average loser $93,458. Heidi Wills was the big money raiser with $183,702, and she still ended up $5,200 in the red. (Not to worry, that's only about one-quarter of a fundraiser for Ms. Megabucks). Jim Compton was the biggest deficit spender, with a $24,049 campaign debt, although he could get that under 10 grand simply by writing off his final personal loan to the campaign. Judy Nicastro was the only candidate to win despite being outspent (by a healthy $97,702 for opponent Cheryl Chow to $83,010 for Judy, not including a pair of independent expenditure campaigns supporting the former). And that thrifty Charlie Chong was the only candidate to finish the campaign with money in the bank—a whopping $475. That's enough funding for at least one good party.
A few good Greens
Buy local, recycle, and don't even think about watering your lawn—the Green Party is taking over.
Or has taken over, if you believe the press releases. The Green Party of Seattle is fond of pointing out that, when Judy Nicastro and Heidi Wills take office next month, five of our nine City Council members will be card-carrying Greens (Peter Steinbrueck, Nick Licata, and Richard Conlin are the other three).
Unfortunately, among those who don't believe the hype is the national Green Party leadership. According to the party's national Web site, 73 Green Party members hold public office in 17 states. None of the Seattle City Council members made the list.
The problem is that unlike the party stalwarts on the national list, Seattle officials are seen as fair-weather Greens. According to Michael Feinstein, an elected Green council member in the California city of Santa Monica, the Green Party is interested in establishing itself as a political third party, not an endorsement group. The Seattle folks didn't make the cut because all are still actively aligned with the Democratic Party. "There is a perception among some office holders that the people the Seattle Greens claim really straddle the fence," he says.
He's right. Washington voters don't register by party, but all our council "Greens" actively courted the endorsement of Democratic Party organizations, and several have party roots going back years (such as former Metropolitan Democratic Club Chair Nick Licata and Party Rising Star Award-winner Wills). Don't wait up for Seattle's green-ish councillors to renounce their Demo pasts and become full-time Green Party members—Green presidential candidate Ralph Nader drew less than 1 percent of the vote in 1996, the party's best national showing ever.