Paul Jacob

Repeat that: Eyman did’t do those things, the voters did. Eyman calculates that the people of Washington have saved themselves $15.5 billion in taxes by voting for the successful initiatives that he has pushed, working through a group called Voters Want More Choices . . . which he leads along with Jack and Mike Fagan. (The Fagans were very active in battling Republican George Nethercutt in 2000, after the former congressman broke his pledge to serve only three terms in the other Washington.)

This November, Voters Want More Choices sponsored I-1053, a statewide measure requiring tax increases to be passed by a two-thirds majority of both houses of the legislature, and fee increases be passed by a majority. The measure was written in response to the legislature’s repeal of a similar initiative, I-960, passed by voters back in 2007. The more recent go-round garnered 64 percent of the vote — the most ever for an Eyman-proposed issue.

In his spare time, Tim took on the red-light camera industry in his home town of Mukilteo, north of Seattle. He overcame the resistance of local officials to even holding a vote on the issue, and his measure to require public approval before installing any cameras and limiting fines to $20 won 70 percent of the vote.

What’s most essential about Tim Eyman is his understanding of the importance of the initiative and referendum process. “Initiatives allow you to fundamentally change public policy in a really substantial way,” he told the Washington Times. “It is the ultimate in truth in advertising. You can’t hide what your proposal does. Initiatives can’t change their mind after the election — unlike politicians.”

Like America’s Founders, Eyman understands that, ultimately, the principle of who decides is more important than the actual decision. “This is not a debate over is a toll good or bad, is a ferry fare increase good or bad, are car tab fees good or bad,” he recently told the Everett Herald. “It’s a question of who should decide.”

Eyman wants voters to decide. Many politicians, and many who want a government unlimited by voters, disrespectfully disagree.

What befuddles his opponents the most is Eyman’s pluck. He admits that he’s a little “obnoxious” at times. But he says citizens don’t get anywhere without some sort of “battering ram.”

Worse still, he enjoys the battle. He told Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey, “I take a mischievous glee in being the greatest thorn in the side of people who desperately need to be humbled.”

There are those who diminish Tim Eyman as being in the political process only to make money. But they are far removed from reality. A man of Eyman’s talents could make a lot more money in a different pursuit. It’s hard to imagine that his pension — if he has one, which I doubt — would rival those snagged by run-of-the-mill Evergreen State government employees.

In fact, to gain the funding necessary to place this year’s I-1053 on the ballot, Tim took a second mortgage out on his home for $250,000. He still owes $237,000. It’s not something someone “in it for the money” would do.

It is something freedom-lovers all across the country should help him pay off.

Eyman’s success is a testament to his smarts, his tenacity and his hard work. It also testifies to the ballot initiative process, whereby citizens can reform government and change the law by taking an issue to the ballot box for a decision by their fellow citizens.

Hate Tim Eyman? I adore the man.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.