I’m embarrassed to admit that I kinda like Seattle Times editorial columnist Bruce Ramsey… you know, as a person, not as an editorialist for chrisakes. But I’d like him a helluva lot more if he were a bit more consistent.
For example, today Bruce is outraged over legislative attempts to reform the initiative process (reforms that are brought up every session, yet predictably never get out of committee). Applying campaign finance limits to initiative campaigns? Spiteful. Requiring paid signature gatherers to register with the PDC? Punitive. Raising the $5 filing fee from its 1912 cost to something approaching an inflation-adjusted value (about $110)? Well… um… Bruce defiantly stamps his foot down:
[T]he state constitution declares that the people’s right of petition “shall never be abridged.”
Really, Bruce? Huh, I don’t remember you coming to my defense when your own editorial page urged a Thurston County court to bar Initiative 831 from the ballot, and I sure as hell don’t remember you pontificating about my “right of petition” when the judge issued a wholly unconstitutional order barring me from filing my petitions with the Secretary of State.
No, I guess denying me and my tens of thousands of supporters our right to petition our government was okay, because we weren’t taking the initiative process seriously enough for civic leaders like you and your fellow editors. Besides, I guess I should’ve been satisfied enough, having “successfully placed the phrase ‘horse’s ass’ into dozens of family newspapers.” As if I held a fucking gun to your heads.
In the end, a humorless assistant AG and a humorless Superior Court judge denied me my constitutional rights, knowing full well that I lacked the resources to file an appeal. Written in the form of a resolution, the AG argued that I-831 was not legislative in nature because it failed to amend the RCW, and thus was outside the scope of the initiative process. And so for only the second time in our history , the state stooped to pre-ballot review to invalidate a proposed measure.
And you and your paper cheered them on.
So here’s your chance to make amends Bruce. An initiative was recently filed seeking to change our state’s official seal to that of “a tapeworm dressed in a three piece suit attached to the taxpayer’s rectum.” I’m the last person to come out against the use of the initiative process for satirical purposes (even if it’s totally misguided considering that WA hasn’t raised a single tax since 2005), but I’ve read the initiative, and while it seeks to direct the Legislature to change the seal, like I-831, it doesn’t actually amend the RCW itself. Thus under the precedent set in Goldstein v. Gregoire, that should place it outside the scope of the initiative process.
So if you want to be consistent in your advocacy for the integrity of the initiative process, I would expect you and your editorial board to urge the AG to deny this initiative a title, and if it ultimately goes before a judge, to editorialize in favor of denying this petitioner the same fundamental rights that were denied to me.
Or… would that run counter to your impassioned defense of initiative sponsors against any and all obstacles?
I’m confused, Bruce. Perhaps you can explain why it’s so outrageous to, say, bar convicted sex offenders and identity thieves from being hired to gather our addresses and signatures, yet it’s okay to use the full legal resources of the state to harass a petitioner and bar his satirical initiative from the ballot? Or… would you argue that your ed board was wrong in advocating that I-831 be tossed from the ballot?
I await either an explanation or an apology.