The August 6th primary ballot goes in the mail this week and it will set the line up for the general election in November.  I hope you will get informed and vote…both times!

One item Yakima City voters will find on the ballot this fall will be the request to change the Yakima City Charter to require a 2/3 majority to raise city taxes.  Under the current wording, with all 7 members present, a 4-3 simple majority is required…under the proposed change, the council would have to vote 5-2 to pass any new taxesThere is plenty here to talk about and we will over the next weeks but for now I wanted to share a part of an email Tim Eyman sent around the state late last week.  In it, Eyman, the poster boy for citizen signature gathered initiatives, compliments the Yakima’s local organizers for the “heroic and herculean” efforts to collect 44-hundred signed petitions.  But he also wrote in his news release “Their successful effort was supported by city council leaders Rick Ensey and Bill Lover and opposed and obstructed by Mayor Micah Cawley and city councilmember Dave Ettl.”

We had a few interesting and testy email exchanges over that which lead to Eyman’s decision not to appear on the Mike Bastinelli Show Friday afternoon.  Eyman told Mike he needed to “calm down”.  What got the always flamboyant and unflappable Mr. Eyman so upset was my objection to his use of the words  “opposed and obstructed.”

Oppose and obstruct are action & intent words.  Neither the Mayor nor I want or tried to prevent the voters from having a say on the 2/3 majority so the email as written isn’t true. I told him that in no uncertain terms.  Falsehoods in politics? Who knew?? But knowing the back story might help a bit.

When Councilman Bill Lover first raised the issue for a vote, I voted in favor of it passing.  My thinking at the time was that Yakima would probably vote for it and since I knew other jurisdictions had considered it, why not join them….minimal hassle but minimal impact.  I was surprised the measure failed 4 to 3.   At the time, that seemed to end it.  Lover suggested the idea might be brought back by voter initiative which is the second way a measure can get on the ballot.

Still, as days went by, the more I thought about it and the more I heard proponents try to characterize the council as a “Tax & Spend” organization--which it is not-- the more I felt the 2/3 majority higher threshold was perfect for Olympia or Washington, D.C. but was not needed locally.

Surprisingly, the issue came up again when Councilmember Sara Bristol wished to change her vote from no to yes and changing the loss into a victory.  One problem for the proponents, I was now prepared to reverse my vote as well.  Two members were absent the night of the second vote and we asked to table the vote until they returned.  No way, the proponents had the advantage and they meant to press it. The vote was 3-2 for passage which would have put the measure on the ballot.

But wait there’s more. When Council persons Adkison and Coffey returned, a third and final vote was held and the measure that once reclaimed victory from defeat, was this time, defeated for good.  Again the proponents suggested that it would come back by way of initiative…and it successfully has.

At the time of the discussion and the vote, the Mayor suggested it would be good for residents to gather the signatures required to make the ballot to demonstrate the level of interest in the measure.  An excellent idea.

Does that sound oppositional or obstructive to you?  It did to Tim Eyman.  The fact that I voted for it, changed my mind and then voted against it was a mind blowing obstruction to Eyman! (For a moment there I felt a little like John Kerry--I voted for the money before I voted against it--Yikes!)

My change of mind was the result of serious thought and some research and is a genuine new conclusion and that puts my vote right with the evolution of my opinion and in no way opposes or obstructs the citizen’s rights to bring it to the ballot.

The bottom line is this…there are two ways for any measure to get to the ballot.  The council can do it or the public can do it.  One takes 4 votes, the other takes, in this case, 44-hundred valid signatures.  Both are equally valid, one is a little more work for proponents but is also a good measure of the level of support. The council can close one door but it can’t close both. Council cannot obstruct.

Mr. Eyman doesn’t see it that way. Neither does Yakima Business Times publisher Bruce Smith.  More to come on him.


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So where do I stand on the 3/4 majority? That’s coming in Part 2.