What’s my take on the proposed Yakima City Charter change that would require a 2/3 supermajority to pass taxes in Yakima?  Simple.  From my perspective we don’t need it but you can have it if you want it.  We aren’t opposed.

I can’t speak to the past when I wasn’t on council.  Maybe previous councils needed some kind of an artificial restraint to be fiscally responsible.  To the proponents of this measure today I would say, too late for those councils.   Since there is no limited window of opportunity here, why didn’t you champion this back then?

Looking ahead, well outside of my magic act, I can’t predict the future and neither can the 2/3 backers, still I suppose it is possible some future collective of council members could need a nudge toward responsibility.  So to the spiritual leaders of this effort I would say - If you fear for the future and you think needing an additional vote will somehow make a big difference, go for it.  Please proceed. But…

And it’s the “but” that matters most to me.

“But”  do it with dignity, do it with honor and honesty. But do it with respect for the council and the voters of Yakima.   If this is great for Yakima, be great in the campaign.  Bruce Smith is the Editor and Publisher of the Yakima Valley Business Times.  He has a paper and an opinion and he’s not afraid to use them.   That’s his right.  He and the crew that pushed for the proposed Charter change to a Strong Mayor form of government are the folks behind this.  Hey, everybody needs a Summer hobby.

Bruce writes some interesting and some outrageous things.  Over the years I have considered him a friend and I have admired and respected his train of thought and editorial output….but we have parted company on this issue.  Not because we have a deep disagreement about the 2/3 measure, “but” because of what he has shown he is willing to write and say in support of his position on the issue.

I am going to provide a few examples.  He’ll say they are OPINIONS meaning they cannot be verified like facts.  I will say when I write to you and when I tell you to your face what the truth is, you can believe it.

Back in mid-May Smith wrote “The council had the opportunity to put this charter change on the ballot, but—of course—they wouldn’t. That’s not surprising. Politics is all about power and most politician are not willing to give up power.”    The council was concerned not with power but with integrity. This is not a Tax and Spend council and there is nothing in the record to suggest otherwise.  We have acted cautiously and responsibly with taxing authority and we are proud of that. We don’t see the need for a higher threshold here.  We can’t say the same for Olympia or Washington D.C.   However, while we are against the idea of self limitation, that doesn’t mean we are opposed to public action if there is an appetite for that.  44-hundred signatures would indicate there is. Great.  Citizen action is just as valid as council-manic action in bringing something to the ballot. Asking the voters to make their case and bring an issue forward to the ballot is not a betrayal of them or the duties of our office…it is an alternative and accepted route. …I predict is passes with a 67% yes vote.


In the same article he also wrote “Ettl talks the anti-tax talk but doesn’t always walk the walk.”  That’s not an opinion, that is verifiable. Check my record. And while you are at it, check the limited number and types of taxes a council can levy…thankfully there aren’t many options…which is great.   I didn’t get elected to never raise a tax…I got elected as a guy who doesn’t favor increasing taxes if at all possible, as a guy that expects government to live within its means and to be as responsible with all our tax dollars as possible.  By  changing my mind and voting against the 2/3 majority,  Mr. Smith is compelled to question my entire philosophy and voting record.   In essence I am saying we are so good at holding down taxes we don’t need this to which he responds that I don’t hold down taxes???  C’mon…where’s the integrity in  that?

On a recent edition of the Mike Bastinelli  Show ( that feature some pretty good arguments during the breaks!)  Mike asked Bruce if he felt the council was “tax and spend” or  pro-tax.  He said No.  “but” in the May 17-31 article he writes “(I should say out of fairness, that Cawley, Coffey and Adkison are comparatively pro-tax.)”

What do you call it when someone says one thing to your face and writes another when you aren’t standing there?  I have my terms and phrases…don’t you?


I already admitted that I don’t have real psychic ability and that includes reading minds.  That is apparently no obstacle for Bruce Smith  who writes “In the meantime Ettl changed his mind.  I think he did so because he wanted to give political cover to his friend Cawley, who has ambitions for higher office and doesn’t want to be left hanging out on the wrong side of a tax vote.”  Smith maintains this even though we have personally gone over this a number of times before.  Cawley and I think quite a bit alike so we vote a lot alike…but my votes are my own.  The Mayor has no need for and does not receive any “cover” votes from me…I’m not even sure what that means…”but” even after he wrote that he believed me on the matter, he has still written otherwise on two occasions dealing with the 2/3 majority.  I am my own person on council and anyone saying otherwise is not saying the truth.  He is trying to discredit me, the mayor or us both.

Jump ahead to the June 28-July 12 edition of the Yakima Valley Business Times . describing the volunteer effort to collect signatures for the ballot Smith writes, “they did what citizens do when they are ignored by their elected officials…they took matters into their own hands. No citizens came forward and were ignored.  That is a gross misrepresentation. Councilman Lover brought it up, it was discussed and ultimately voted down.  Lover then suggested it would come forward as an initiative.

I guess Bruce Smith felt ignored because we didn’t vote his way but we only heard from the council, not from citizens. It is false to say we ignored citizens and he wrote that to paint the council as bad guys, a scare tactic to help sell his case. That’s wrong.

He also wrote “Keep in mind, all of this is happening because the Yakima City Council refused to let voters weigh in on the issue.  That is a lie.  Voter’s always have the option of weighing in and in fact HAVE weighed in on the issue through the signature process.  The council chose not to pass it as is our right and the citizens used the established “Plan B” as is their right to achieve the desired result.  How was anyone refused?  No one was opposed or obstructed as Bruce Smith and Tim Eyman would have you believe.   Again, a using a pejorative in an attempt to demonize the council.

Finally, “ettl originally voted in support of the measure, but—flip-flopped and killed the proposal.  He has a long list of reasons why he betrayed his decades long rhetoric against taxes but the rationalizations ring hollow…..It seems clear to me Ettl switched his vote to provide political cover for Cawley, his close friend.  Cawley is running for reelection this year and the last thing he needs is a tax limiting proposal on the same ballot.”   This one rally goes sideways…Cover vote…sound familiar?  Cawley is running unopposed. He doesn’t need any cover!  I have not one but TWO opponents and by changing my vote I wind up giving them a campaign issue.  A cover vote for Cawley under such circumstances is plain ridiculous as it doesn’t help him but could hurt me.  Smith leaves logic at the door in order to drag out his tried and untrue dig at me.  Why?  If the measure is so good for Yakima, such a no-brainer, why the lies and misrepresentations in promoting it?  Stay classy San Diego…and YAKIMA!

Bottom line—I am and will continue to be a good steward of money on council. Our council is fiscally responsible overall and that too will continue, and as such we are honest when we say we don’t need a 2/3 majority when  common sense and respect for the residents is in play.

If as voters you feel otherwise, work the process, cast the votes and we will respect and work with the outcome.  “BUT” just make sure respect is apparent in the campaign process and so far it hasn’t been.  Collecting signature with a promise of “lower taxes” isn’t true.  Don’t get me started.

You deserve a council with integrity and a media that watches and comments with a full measure of the same.  There is a reason for conflict of interest rules. Don’t forget the man who is the loudest and most misleading critic is the man with the most money in the game and the reputation on the line to make it happen…I guess the desire for outcome and desirous deportment is a tough act to balance.