Pin It

Eyeman shifts gears 

& & by James Bush & & & &

Look out, world: Tim Eyman is learning from his mistakes. The leader of Washington's tax revolt is practicing voluntary simplicity with his latest offering, Initiative 747. It would limit annual property tax increases by cities, counties and the state itself to 1 percent. That's all.

Eyman admits that he has sometimes tried to do too much with a single initiative. "You complicate the measure, you sometimes make it more difficult for people to understand what you're trying to do," he says. "We don't need to get the whole kitchen sink into one proposal in order to have a positive impact."

Eyman's complicated initiatives have proven popular with voters but vulnerable in court. Let's check Tim's scorecard:

* Initiative 200 (1998), a measure to ban racial preferences in government hiring and contracting. The voters approved, and it was never challenged.

* Initiative 695 (1999), an effort to slash car tab fees and require a vote on all tax and fee increases. The voters approved, but the measure was later struck down by the Washington State Supreme Court (although its car tab component had by then been codified by the state legislature).

* Initiative 722 (2000), a complicated three-part property tax limitation proposal. The voters approved, but most experts believe the initiative, which is the subject of an active court challenge, will be struck down.

* Initiative 745 (2000), a measure to shift transit funding to road building. Voters rejected it.

Although last year's I-722 already trimmed the allowed annual local property tax boost from 6 percent to 2 percent, Eyman notes that municipalities have ignored that message of moderation from cash-strapped taxpayers. "What we're trying to do is tighten the belt further," he says. Because local governments have put the measure on hold by challenging it in court, "you've basically got politicians robbing the taxpayers of any kind of tax relief," Eyman believes.

The Mukilteo businessman and his political organization, Permanent Offense, were originally planning a pair of initiatives for this year's ballot. Just days before proposing I-747, he was still pushing a proposal to force a public vote on all tax and fee increases, even though the state's high court had already ruled this form of direct democracy unconstitutional.

Knoll Lowney, a Seattle attorney and chair of the whimsically titled Eyman watchdog group Permanently Offended, says the initiative sponsor seems to have finally wised up. "This might be his attempt to retrench himself," he says. Lowney continues, optimistically, "There's a big question whether people are going to want to legislate through Tim Eyman on this issue."

Lowney credits his organization's criticism of Eyman's earlier proposals in getting the initiative-monger to back down. "As far as I'm concerned, if we're able to knock out a harmful initiative just by doing some PR work, we've had a major success," he says.

But Eyman's single-initiative strategy also may backfire. Last year, opponents decided to concentrate on defeating the weaker of his two initiatives; this year, they've only got I-747 to kick around.

Even with the criticism, Washington's initiative king has maintained his sense of humor. Eyman notes that the number of his initiative -- 747 -- is the same as the Boeing Co.'s most famous airplane. "Everything we've ever done, [Boeing] has opposed," he says. "It would be funny to see the headline 'Boeing opposes 747.' "

& & & lt;i & This story first appeared in Seattle Weekly. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Recall and Response
  • Recall and Response

    The attempt to remove Spokane Mayor David Condon from office may be a long shot, but he isn't taking any chances
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Shades of Black Lives
  • Shades of Black Lives

    A Spokane County detective's Facebook post about Black Lives Matter sparks debate among local law enforcement
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Fires Hit Home
  • Fires Hit Home

    Tens of thousands of acres burn around Spokane on Sunday and Monday; plus, DOJ weighs in on concerns over bail system
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap

Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Wednesday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment


election 2016

green zone


trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • A New Voice
  • A New Voice

    The Black Lens, continues Spokane's long tradition of African-American publications
    • Jan 21, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation