opine thread

- I don’t know how long term a victory it is, but Shell is out of Arctic drilling for now.

– Tim Eyman not being willing to go on TV to talk about his latest shitty initiative warms my heart.

It is time to get very afraid: Extremists, authoritarians now run the GOP — and no one can stop them

My Grandfather And The Plane That Changed Seattle

Right Wing Fantasy Obama: What Really Happened To John Boehner?

– I could watch that Richard Sherman punt return on a loop for ever.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Honest Political ads: Gil Fulbright for President.

Hassan Rouhani’s true feelings about the Iran Nuclear deal.

Roy Zimmerman: Give Measles a Chance:

Young Turks: Majority of Iowa Republicans want to ban Islam…because, religious freedom.

Mental Floss: 28 interesting facts about inventors.

The 2016 Clown Parade:

Ann Telnaes: The UN thinks Saudi Arabia is a defender of human rights.

Thom: The impact of a government shutdown.

Reformed Whores: Who should be on the $10 bill

Liberal Viewer: Will Kim Davis allow man to gay marry Jesus?

Pope Politics:

How will the world end?

David Pakman: Recessions happen 4 times more frequently under Republicans:

Minute Physics: Why do we put telescopes in space?

Thom: The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Gallinaceously Ugly!

Honest Political ads: The plan.

VSauce: Messages for the future.

Down Goes Boehner:

White House: West Wing Week.

Mental Floss Misconceptions about the film industry.

Meet the new Nightly Show hire:

Young Turks: Is Ted Nugent being anti-Semitic on Facebook?

Today’s Daily Inspiration with Dick Cheney.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.


- Well, John Boehner resigning is certainly a surprise.

– I’m glad the AG and the monitor think Seattle Police have turned the corner, even as I mostly see the work still ahead.

– How did you spend your bisexual awareness week?

Kshama Sawant Presents Open Letter to Chinese President Xi

– The US has plenty of room for refugees, and should be taking more, no matter what Donald Trump says.

<3 Welcome Back, Kam <3

So, $9.47

Goldy, as seems to be his thing now, calls some bullshit on Mark J. Perry of American Enterprise Institute. You should go read the whole thing, but basically Perry uses bad numbers to claim that the Seattle minimum wage is bad for jobs because the rest of the state is adding restaurant jobs faster than Pierce County. Again, Goldy points out that he isn’t just using Seattle numbers and tries to figure out what the actual number is, go read it. I’ll wait.

Back? Great because I’m kind of interested in the rest of the state. Perry says in a tweet that [sic for the whole thing, but if you read my Twitter, or this blog, I’m really not one to throw stones]:

In Washington state outside Seattle MSA, restaurant jobs are booming, up +5,600 since January vs. Seattle MSA -100 ??

While Goldy rightly questions in the piece why January, I can think of one thing that happened in Washington state in January: the minimum wage increased (with inflation) to $9.47 an hour. Last week I had a post noting that there are a few counties in Washington with a minimum wage high enough and a cost of living low enough that there is a living wage, at least for single people without children. Those are the only counties in the country where anyone working full time on the minimum wage has a living wage. Those are the counties where “restaurant jobs are booming” according to the AEI economist.

So that seems like a data point in favor of at least a $9.47 minimum wage nationally. Maybe we can just round it up to $10.10, like President Obama is pushing. Maybe then it will cover families as well as just some single people.

PDC Asks Attorney General to Expand Eyman Investigation to Include Current and Past Campaigns

dartheymanThe Washington State Public Disclosure Commission unanimously voted this morning to refer to the Attorney General the ongoing investigation of for-profit initiative sponsor Tim Eyman’s alleged misuse of campaign funds, including potential criminal charges. And in a move that could signal additional legal trouble for Eyman, the commissioners also asked the AG to expand the investigation beyond initiatives 1185 and 517, and into other current and past initiative campaigns.

Personally, I don’t really care if Tim actually serves any prison time. But given the seriousness of the allegations and the apparent strength of the evidence, anything short of a felony plea and seven-figure fine would be a disappointment.

Rent Control

A small step, to be sure, but the City Council voted 8-1 in favor of asking the state to let Seattle and other cities have rent control. I guess the next step would be some legislator from the city introducing it in the next session. Who would do that? Also, with a GOP state senate, I’m not sure what path that would take.

Still, this may be a thing to push Seattle (and non-Seattle, rent is high in a lot of places) elected officials further to the left. It’s a concrete thing if people support something in the legislature.

Also, remember when Judy Nicastro pushed for this sort of thing in the mind 90’s and all the political insider types just assumed nothing could ever happen? Fun times.

Open Thread Nine Dash Twenty-Three

- Now that Scott Walker is no longer running for President, we’ll only have like, 1000 or so GOP Presidential candidates to make fun of. Also, Scott Walker when he does terrible things as governor.

– I always feel a bit strange about numbers that I don’t have much context for. $600,000 seems like both a lot and not enough Federal money for body cameras for SPD.

About Those “Thousands and Thousands” of Planned Parenthood Alternatives

– The security zone for the Chinese President is strange to walk through.

– Even if that Trump questioner was a plant (and there’s no evidence of it), any decent candidate, or human, would be able come up with a good answer.

Viola Davis’ Emmy speech was so great.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle


First the pre-Drinking Liberally event: You are invited to a fundraiser for Seattle City Council Candidate Michael Maddux. Join your fellow progressives as Michael shares his vision for the future of Seattle. The BBQ will be fired up, the keg will be tapped, and plenty of great company will be on hand to share ideas about how to move Seattle forward. The 1995 ALDS Championship game will be shown, commercial free. All are Welcome…and bring a friend of two! The 6:30 pm fundraiser is at 2034 Minor Ave E, Seattle WA 98102.

Then join us a few blocks away at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern for the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally. There we’ll share even more conversations about politics over a beverage. We meet every Tuesday at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. You’ll find us in the small room at the back of the tavern. Our starting time is 8:00 pm.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings happening this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities chapter also meets. On Wednesday, the Burien and Bellingham chapters meet. The Spokane, Kent, and Woodinville chapters meet on Thursday.

There are 184 chapters of Living Liberally, including seventeen in Washington state, four in Oregon and two in Idaho. Chances are good there’s a chapter meeting near you.

PDC Staff Finds Eyman Committed Numerous Serious Violations; Goldy Proven Exactly Right

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 12.56.22 PM

In a report released today (pdf), Public Disclosure Commission staff recommend referring the latest case against Tim Eyman to the Attorney General to pursue “appropriate legal action”:

PDC staff recommends that the Commission find that Tim Eyman, Voters Want More Choices, and Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives committed multiple apparent violations of RCW 42.17A as described above. Given the seriousness of the apparent violations, staff recommends that the Commission conclude that the Commission’s penalty authority is inadequate to address the violations. Accordingly, staff recommends that the Commission refer the matter to the Washington Attorney General to initiate appropriate legal action against the Respondents.

Commissioners will meet on Thursday to consider the staff recommendations. Given that Eyman is accused of laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars for both personal and political use, and that the PDC’s penalty authority is capped at a mere $10,000 fine, the Commission will almost certainly accept staff recommendations. And no, I’m not using the word “laundering” recklessly—that’s pretty much what the PDC report describes. (Other words that come to mind are “wire fraud,” “mail fraud,” “kickbacks,” and “bribery.”)

And that’s just during 2012. For me, the most gratifying finding in the staff report is the conclusion that these kickbacks had likely been going on for years:

on multiple occasions between 2004 and 2011, after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in committee funds to Citizen Solutions to qualify his initiatives for the ballot, Mr. Eyman then sought and received payments back from the firm ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per campaign.

Which is exactly what I concluded back in 2006 when I wrote: “I’ve always suspected that Eyman has a financial stake in Citizens Solutions, or receives some kind of monetary ‘consideration.’” And it wasn’t a lucky guess. We knew that Eyman’s campaigns were substantially overpaying for their signatures. This was the only logical explanation why.

Hate to say “I told you so,” but… no, wait… I LOVE to say “I told you so!”

Corrupt, obviously, but illegal? Well, imagine you are a manager at a public agency or private corporation, and you extract personal payments from a vendor in return for awarding contracts. That is certainly illegal. Whether Eyman has the same legal fiduciary responsibility to the people funding his campaigns as he would to an employer, I don’t know. But there’s little question he’s violated the law in covering these transactions up.

My hope is that Attorney General Bob Ferguson throws the book at Eyman and extracts a felony plea at the very the least (under RCW 42.17A.750). I’m not so interested in sending Eyman to prison as I am in ending his corrupt for-profit initiative business, but I’d also encourage federal prosecutors to take a look at the evidence as well: For if in fact he used payments from Citizen Solutions, and to Virginia-based Citizens in Charge, to illegally cover up the I-517 money trail, then Eyman may have violated federal law too.

A civil fine, however large, clearly isn’t enough to force Eyman to obey the law—he paid a $55,000 fine in 2002 and didn’t miss a beat. A criminal conviction may be the only way insure the integrity of our public disclosure system.

Open Thread 9/21

- If Cyrus Habib were to unseat Brad Owen as Lt. Governor, it would make him the second Lt. Governor since statehood. I’m pretty sure. Owen has served that position for a lot of useless time.

– Patty Murray’s pro-Planned Parenthood editorial in The Seattle Times is pretty badass, even if it stresses bipartisanship more than I’d like.


Abortion Is Healthcare, and Healthcare Is a Right

Federal Court Rules Center for Medical Progress and BioMax Can’t Plead the Fifth

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Larry Wilmore: Debunking FAUX News’ mythical “War on Cops”.

Some kid’s bootleg South Park.

The 2016 Clown Show:

Matthew Filipowicz and Emily Atkin: Teabagger threat to Obamacare in Kentucky.

Mental Floss: 24 facts about musicals.

Larry Wilmore: County jerk’s office and Oath Keepers.

Liberal Viewer: Megyn Kelly wrong on law defending Kim Davis, anti-gay KY County Clerk.

Matt Binder: Jade Helm ends…without a hostile take-over.

Boy Builds Clock…Bigot’s Heads Explode:

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about disease.

Greenman: Lonnie and Koni, Senior glaciologists on climate change.

VSauce: The Zipf mystery.

Thom: The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Helobiously Ugly!

U.S. Closed for Business:

Sam Seder and Farron Cousins: It’s 2015 and the Wingdings are STILL talking about BENGHAAAAAZZZZZIIIIIII!!!1!!11!

White House: West Wing Week.

Congressional Hits and Misses of the Week.

Minute Physics: Why it’s impossible to tune a piano.
Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

Initiative 1185 Signature Firm Paid Tim Eyman $308,000

No Tim Eyman

Tim Eyman is a horse’s ass.

Three years ago I brought to my editors at The Stranger a scoop detailing the undisclosed funding of one Tim Eyman initiative with money raised from another, and they were so concerned about the seriousness of the allegations (I was accusing him of, you know, breaking the law), that they took the somewhat rare step of vetting the piece with the paper’s attorney before publishing. I was never concerned about libeling Eyman because the case I was making was so well documented, but regardless, I joked to the attorney at the time, Eyman would never sue anybody for libel out of fear that legal discovery would expose how much money he was secretly making on kickbacks from his favored signature gathering firm, Citizens Solutions.

Well, three years later, we now know how much: $308,000!

Voters Want More Choices, the Eyman-led political committee behind I-1185, paid Citizen Solutions nearly $623,000 between April and July 2012, according to court records. Overall, the firm earned $1.2 million for its efforts to get I-1185 on the ballot.

In July 2012, Citizen Solution paid $308,000 to Eyman’s [private company] Watchdog for Taxpayers. Eyman told the PDC that he was paid to find new clients for the firm.

That same month Eyman loaned $190,000 to Citizens in Charge which used it to pay for gathering signatures for I-517, according to court records.

Neither the payment nor the loan was reported to the Public Disclosure Commission, according to court documents.

I don’t know that there’s anything inherently illegal about Citizen Solutions paying Eyman $308,000, as long as he declares it on his taxes. It’s his failure to fully disclose I-517’s transactions that led to this investigation.

But given the unusually large gap between what the signature gatherers on the street say they’re being paid and the inflated cost of Eyman’s signature drives, it is fair to speculate that this isn’t the first or only payment that Eyman has received from Citizen Solutions. In fact, I publicly speculated exactly that way back in June, 2006:

I have another theory which, lacking the subpoena power to open up the private books of Eyman and Citizens Solutions I cannot possibly prove, but… I think Tim’s ripping off his patron, Woodenville investment banker Michael Dunmire, who’d already contributed $307,700 to I-917 through the end of May.

[…] Again, I can’t prove it, but I’ve always suspected that Eyman has a financial stake in Citizens Solutions, or receives some kind of monetary “consideration”, and while none of this may be illegal it is certainly dishonest. Something is just not right here, and knowing Timmy, I can’t help but suspect that he’s cooking the books for personal gain. Again.

Nine years later the Attorney General finally used his subpoena power to open up Eyman’s books on I-1185, and he found exactly what I predicted. And considering the inflated costs Eyman has paid over the years for printing and mailing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he earned “monetary considerations” from that too. We’ll never know for sure (unless he sues me for libel), but Eyman’s probably made several million dollars this way from his initiative campaigns over the years.

Ever since he emerged on the scene Eyman has gone to great pains to deny that he earns anything off his initiative campaigns. At first, he just plain lied about it. Then, he concocted this byzantine web of campaign committees and vendors and private corporations to cover up the money trail.

Of course, as long as you disclose it, it’s neither illegal nor unusual to pay oneself to run an initiative campaign. So why does Eyman hide it? I’m guessing because if his backers knew he was skimming 25 percent right off the top, they might have the common sense to cut out the middleman. And that would mean the end of Tim Eyman’s lucrative “volunteer” career.

ooopppeeennn ttthhhrrreeeaaaddd 9-18

- There are plenty of issues where local control doesn’t make sense, but rent control isn’t one of them, so get on board, the parts of the City Council that aren’t.

– Great job, Ballard Preservation Society

I had the good sense to miss the GOP Presidential debate the other night, but here are some links vaguely related to the GOP Presidential candidates:

Debunking Five Absurd Comments About Planned Parenthood From the GOP Debate

The Club For Growth doesn’t like Donald Trump, but I don’t like either of them.

– Maybe not such humble beginnings

No, Jeb Bush, Your Brother Did Not Keep Us Safe

Being afraid of the Downfall of Western Civilization means being afraid of equal rights and diplomacy. It’s resulted in an atmosphere that last night culminated in half the candidates refusing to even talk to foreign leaders– their entire approach to foreign policy is to sit on their porch with a shotgun and scream “get off my lawn!” It’s created a fractured party where many of them are more persuaded than ever that “allowing” people to have equal rights will topple our government.