Tim Eyman says the campaign for Initiative 517 will make Wenatchee its poster child, accusing city officials of arrogance, obstinance and “disrespect of the people you claim to represent.”
I-517 aims to allow the public to vote on local initiatives without court interference, like the effort to force the removal of Wenatchee’s red-light cameras. The city of Wenatchee successfully sued to stop the local challenge, which would have required a public vote on whether to keep the cameras.
“I-517 allows us to put the brightest spotlight on your arrogance, your obstinance and your disrespect of the people you claim to represent,” Eyman wrote in an email to the mayor and City Council on Monday.
The comment does not sit well with Mayor Frank Kuntz.
“He called me arrogant, obstinate and disrespectful, and I’ve never met the man,” Kuntz said Monday. “I guess I question his judgment.”
On Jan. 3, Eyman turned in 345,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office. He said he expects the filing will place I-517 on the November 2013 ballot.
It would set penalties for harassment of signature gatherers and signers and would allot a year, instead of the current six months, for signatures to be collected.
But the main focus, according to Eyman, is to create a new state law that would allow a vote on any initiative that qualifies for the ballot, even if a lawsuit has been filed against the measure.
Eyman takes aim at a Washington Supreme Court decision that upheld that the state Legislature specifically gave the power to regulate red-light camera use to city councils, and that such council action is not subject to direct voter approval. A similar ruling by a Chelan County Superior Court judge quashed an anti-red-light camera campaign that was waged locally.
Red-light cameras are operating at three Wenatchee intersections: at Kittitas and Mission streets, at Fifth Street and Chelan Avenue, and at Orondo and Chelan avenues.
Police Chief Tom Robbins said in January that he would like to see two more red-light cameras. They would monitor traffic heading south on North Wenatchee Avenue at the Maiden Lane intersection, and traffic heading north off of Miller Street onto Wenatchee Avenue.
He said he would also like the council to consider installing cameras to ticket speeders at some local school crossing zones. The number of schools would be determined by feasibility studies and school officials.
In an email to the mayor and City Council on Monday, Eyman called Wenatchee the poster child for his initiative 517 campaign. In a phone interview Monday afternoon, he said the initiative would create a new state law “that makes it 100 percent clear that the discretion about putting a measure on or not to a vote is up to the citizens.”
Dee Riggs: 664-7147