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January 23, 2003

Let the posting begin.

Finished writing for money. Man, don't people know how to return phone calls anymore? Back to the fun.

For instance, if you're a Washingtonian you'll enjoy this AP article about Public Initiative scion (my new favorite word) Tim Eyman:
This comes from Tim Eyman's e-newsletter, which I've received since I-695. Not necessarily because I support what he does, but because I stay informed.

UPDATE: I just realized understanding this takes a lot of background. But here's the short version. Tim Eyman has made it a dangerous pasttime to pass
any and all initiatives in Washington state that limit the ability of city, county and state government from raising taxes without a public vote.

Except half of them have been ruled unconstitutional. Eyman last year was sanctioned for pockting money out of the funds collected for the Intiatives - after he said he never made more money.

He's not evil, but he is misguided. Recently a group has put forward an Initiative of its own to label Eyman "a horse's ass." Their point is that the Initiative process is flawed, being too easy to get one in the ballot. I like that point.
Just noticed the Horse's Ass site has started posting hate mail.
Reprinted below is an Associated Press article that will likely appear
in papers over the weekend.

Eyman heads into the lion's den

By DAVID AMMONS The Associated Press 1/17/03 10:00 PM

OLYMPIA (AP) -- Initiative king Tim Eyman, newly the butt of an initiative to have him declared a "horse's ass," on Friday made his first official visit to the Legislature, where he's sometimes called much worse.

Eyman often berates the Legislature and politicians, once storming Olympia with pitchfork-wielding "peasants" to verbally jab "King Locke and the royal knights." But he was respectful, mild-mannered and even nervous as he made his debut as a citizen lobbyist.

Eyman, who has sponsored initiatives for the past six years, said he's adding an Olympia lobbying aspect to his efforts to influence policy and protect the initiative process. He met privately with lawmakers and testified at the House State Government Committee on Friday, and said he'll be back.

"This was a little coming-out party, if you will, and a chance to interact with the (legislative) process," he told reporters.

Dressed in a suit and tie, the sometimes rowdy Eyman was the soul of decorum. He said he had notified Chairwoman Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, that he was coming and that "I wasn't going to come down here and do a circus."

What caught his attention was a little bill by Rep. Toby Nixon, R-Kirkland, to allow initiative sponsors to use standard-sized paper for their petitions. Right now they have to use oversized 11- by 14-inch paper, and that usually involves spending thousands of dollars getting petitions done by professional printers.

Eyman praised the simple change, which he said would make the initiative process cheaper and handier for the average citizen. He quickly turned his testimony into an appeal for lawmakers to keep their hands off the initiative process -- unless, of course, they want to make it easier.

Eyman, fearless in front of the cameras and on the campaign trail, was "incredibly nervous" when he took the witness chair.

"Since this is the first time, I ask you to be gentle," he told lawmakers.

"We'll be as gentle with you as you are with us," shot back Rep. Joe McDermott, D-Seattle.

Mostly, the exchange was even-tempered. Eyman restrained his usual rhetoric, and lawmakers didn't use the kind of anti-Eyman wrath they often dish up in private.

Eyman's initiatives have included measures to reduce the cost of car license tabs to $30 -- which cut state and local revenue by $750 million a year -- property-tax limits and numerous efforts to require public votes on taxes.

This year, he's running I-807, which would restore the spending limits and tax supermajority votes of I-601 that passed in 1993.

Earlier this week, Gov. Gary Locke complained about "budgeting by initiative." He didn't mention Eyman by name, but said state government can't cope with all the tax cuts and spending mandates right now. He has proposed suspending or amending three spending initiatives, none Eyman's.

Meanwhile, Eyman critic David Goldstein, a Seattle computer programmer and technical writer, is pushing an initiative that says "The citizens of the state of Washington do hereby proclaim that Tim Eyman is a horse's ass." That was a line Eyman used on himself when he revealed last year that he had taken campaign contributions as a salary fund.

Eyman said Friday he's still chortling over the initiative, even though it does say that copies would be sent to his wife and mother.

"Like they don't already know," he quipped.

He said Goldstein is unwittingly helping him by giving him a huge jolt of free publicity.

"The reality is, it's a rough and tumble business and you have to be able to laugh," Eyman said in an interview.

In his legislative appearance, he acknowledged that lawmakers and initiative sponsors have a built-in adversarial relationship.

"I know there is some chafing. There is that tension there," he said.

He said initiative foes have the Legislature's ear, and that he wanted to begin giving the perspective of initiative backers. He said lawmakers seldom try to open the initiative process, but often try to water it down by regulation.

He flatly rejected the idea that the process is being overused.

"One cannot possibly argue that the initiative process is out of control, when 99.99 percent of all decisions are made through representative democracy at the state and local level -- and only a minuscule number through the initiative process," Eyman said.

"The 200,000-signature hurdle will continue to, rightly, weed out the ideas that are not serious," he said. "There is the ultimate safety net of the voters themselves. If they think it's stupid, they're more than willing to vote it down."
Regards, Tim Eyman, ph: 425-493-9127, email: insignia@greekwatch.com
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