Now that Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan has publicly called Gov. Inslee a taxing whore, do we label Fagan initiative king Tim Eyman’s punk? No, let’s be more respectful and grant that Fagan has been Eyman’s partner in crime. Together they have led one of the most destructive movements in Washington state’s history. Their anti-tax initiative industry has helped to bankrupt the state and destroy vital public services and infrastructure.
Decades ago, our Legislature prostituted Washington’s initiative process by legalizing payment for signature gathering. A populist tradition reflecting grass-roots organizing degenerated into purchase of public policy by the highest corporate bidder. Profiteers like Eyman and Fagan, affecting a sort of right-wing anarchist appeal to the most base instincts of naïve voters, have helped transfer wealth and power from the public to the rich.
These changes have encouraged corporations to endure repeated rejections of privatization by the Legislature or at the ballot. As Costco demonstrated, persistence eventually closed Washington state liquor stores. Since then, it is common to see highly intoxicated teens raiding the liquor aisles of grocery stores, and injuring staff with those bottles upon their escape.
No, this wasn’t an Eyman/Fagan initiative, but serves the same class of plutocrats.