If anyone was sitting around waiting for an update, you might have realized that this isn’t going anywhere this year. A month of so back I got a voice message from Rep. Hunt’s LA saying that there won’t be a bill this year.
I had suggested, probably too late, that it be attached to whatever initiative reform legislation they were already talking about, but it looks like that stuff isn’t going anywhere either.
Looks like, in baseball as in government and citizenship, there is always next year.
I can’t tell you, the meeting was moved to Nov. 29. And, I’m probably going to have to call to change that meeting time too, since I have something going on that morning for work, most likely. Crap-a-doodle. I’m not very good at being a lobbyist, I can’t even get the scheduling thing down.
If you just happened upon this blog, and you were wondering what the heck this is all about, and whether I’m actually dead and so is the idea, fear not. I’m not, its not.
I’ve been off working on other related projects, like this one that is meant to collect other great ideas like mine and put them together.
Also, I’m still trying to get a meeting with my local representative who is on the right committee.
There is something going on that I can’t figure out. On the local level, in Seattle and Bellingham, there are handful of progressive municipal initiative campaigns up and running. And, none of them are posting their initiative petitions online.
This is even more troubling because both Bellingham and Seattle (along with Spokane) allow printer sized (8.5 by 11 inch) petitions, which would make it a snap for folks to print out, sign and submit.
On the other hand, the three big conservative statewide initiative campaigns (917, 920 and 933) each have a pdf of their petition on their website. Even though someone would have to go down to a copy place to get it printed, the conservative campaigns are making it much easier for the regular guy to get inolved.
From the couple of emails I’ve gotten from folks involved in progressive initiatives, they seem to have the impression that by allowing anyone to print out, sign and submit a petition they would be allowing for signature fraud.
What do you think?
That the initiative process has been used in Washington in the past ten years to run rough-shod over state government's finances isn't evidence that the initiative system is broken, it is evidence that initiatives are the territory of the rich. Regular people, folks not like Michael Dunmire, don't get their ideas (or ideas they like) on the ballot.
Since the beginnig of Tim Eyman career, Dunmire has donated $1 million, almost totally to the Eyman initiatives blowing holes in the state's taxing authority.
It should also be noted that Eyman’s scandals have finally caught up with him, at least in terms of his so-called “grass roots” support. Of the $593,000 he raised for Initiative 900, over $514,000 can from a single source: investment banker Michael Dunmire of Woodinville. All it takes to qualify for the ballot is a half million dollars worth of paid signatures, and with a deep pocketed sugar daddy like Dunmire, Eyman is virtually assured ballot access. But that won’t mean his latest $30 car tab initiative has popular support.
That initiatives supported by Dunmire make it on the ballot is not a reflection on the public will.
It is a cynical reflection that if you have enough money, you can get your idea on the ballot and control the debate. While it is impossible, even unconstitutional, to stop guys like Dunmire from supporting ideas with all the money in the world, you can allow the rest of us to shoulder up to him.
By making the bar of participation so high in the initiattive process (for example, large sized initiative petitions) that state is benefiting people who can pay the price over folks who can't write $25,000 checks.
Both Evergreen Politics and Horse’s Ass wrote about (printer) Democracy yesterday, with a relatively thoughtful comment thread resulting from the HA post. David at HA initially kicked it off by pointing out that my solution would be only helpful as part of a larger reform of the initiative process, which he listed here.
Most of his ideas are good (except for the filing fee one), and I agree that we need to regularly look closely at the process to make sure it does what we want it to do.
One of the other commenters on HA pointed out that if we’re going to let people print petitions on a smaller page, we should make sure folks can read what is written. One of the states I reviewed in the post below in addition to requiring a particular size, also sets a minimum type font (I think it was 7 point). The smallest type font on my sample petition is 6 point, but for me is legible. Good point though, I should try to read something about legibility of small type fonts.
Good discussion over at Washblog, some good criticism of the idea.
One good point was the security of the petitions, if we made it easier for anyone to print out and collect signatures, who would know what they were signing was a legit petition or simply a fake knock-off of a real one they had heard about.
My response would be that there is a risk of that happening right now, the only thing stopping people is that its hard to print out fake petitions when they have to be so large. I guess you have to weigh the benefits of a cheaper and easier to access initiative process against the possibility of people wrecking the party.
Nathan brought up a good point about people printing out their own petitions and how it would relate to PDC reporting. That’s something I need to talk to someone about. Thanks Nathan.
He also wrote that it would be labor intensive for the SOS office to make sure everyone was turning in “true” petitions and not knock-offs (see above), but I think that would be a process handled by the campaign itself prior to turning it their signatures. That is something I hope they do already.