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Tim Eyman stumps for I-960

Click here to listen to Eyman talk about Initiative 960.

Adding to a continuing line of Washington state big wigs to appear recently in South Kitsap, the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce invited polarizing initiatives guru Tim Eyman to speak at its weekly luncheon Thursday.

Chamber Vice President — soon President-Elect — Chris Mutchler arranged the event for Eyman to discuss his newest project, Initiative 960, which solidifies legislation from 1993’s Initiative 601.

Eyman’s initiative would uphold an already-legislated rule requiring two-thirds approval for new taxes — or voter approval.

If the Legislature gets around this requirement by citing the emergency clause, which blocks voter referendums on legislation, the state must report the information in the next election’s voting pamphlet, listing the supporters of the initiative and asking for a non-binding, advisory vote on the tax.

Eyman explained the need for the bill by comparing elected officials to children at a toy store. They want it all, he argued.

“You really need to think of the politicians down in Olympia as children,” he said. “They’re going to ask for everything. What would happen if you said ‘yes’ to your children every single time.”

He argued that the $50 billion taken in from Washington voters is not being used properly, and requires more “adult supervision” for the elected officials’ use of that money.

The initiative, which presents information about new taxes to media outlets and voters pamphlets, is that supervision, Eyman said.

And it only supports legislation already in place.

Opponents to the bill have argued that the initiative is unnecessary and uses intimidation tactics to influence legislature, and that the bill would cost voters $1.8 million annually.

Additionally, any any of his initiatives comes with the name “Eyman” stamped across them — a condition that turns many voters away at the outset.

Eyman acknowledged this situation, and said he has met people who claim they like what the initiative says, but they’re leery of supporting something he’s behind.

“If it makes you feel better, visualize Mother Theresa sponsoring it,” Eyman said. “Make the decision based on public policy.”

Eyman said the issue comes down to the question, “Do you think that 960 on balance moves the state in a positive direction or a negative direction?”

The chamber definitely held some Eyman supporters, but at least one ended the discussion disputing his comments.

Property owner Howard Minor explained his long history in business and remembers a time when taxes were much lower.

“I appreciate a whole lot more paying what I am now,” Minor said.

Whichever opinion, Eyman’s visit held the group’s attention.

“What Tim has to say is a concern to a majority of the people we work with,” said Steve Hettema of the National Strategic Investment Corp.

The success of this and other speaking events, including Leavenworth Mayor Melvin Wyles and Rabbi Daniel Lapin, will certainly lead to other high-profile speakers.

In the coming year, Mutchler hopes to bring in more big names, such as Gov. Christine Gregoire, Dino Rossi — if he decides to run for governor again — and Seattle gardener Ciscoe Morris.

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