Our partner Mike Fagan was a star on Monday

by | May 22, 2019

On Monday, I traveled from Mukilteo to Spokane to testify before the Spokane City Council.  As most of you know, our partner Mike Fagan is now a city councilmember there.  Two very liberal initiatives qualified for the ballot — local initiatives in the city — and the council was debating whether or not to sue its own citizens to keep the initiatives off the ballot.  During my 3 minutes of testimony, I got the chance to express my view that government suing its citizens was offensive even though these two initiatives aren’t my cup of tea (they certainly don’t fit with my value system). 

          But the star of the meeting was councilmember Mike Fagan.  After listening to hours of testimony and when it came time for the councilmembers to vote, he said this:

“As your elected servant and leader, I have taken an oath to support and defend the constitutions of the United States and the state of Washington.  My duty is to protect and maintain individual rights, and preserve the public trust.

The matter at hand concerns two initiatives which I do not support.  I do not believe they are good for my constituents.  Nonetheless, let me reiterate some basic principles:

ARTICLE 1, SECTION 1, WASHINGTON STATE CONSTITUTION, REGARDING POLITICAL POWER.  All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

ARTICLE 1, SECTION 4 WASHINGTON STATE CONSTITUTION, REGARDING RIGHT OF PETITION AND ASSEMBLAGE.  The right of petition and of the people peaceably to assemble for the common good shall never be abridged.

When it comes to these initiatives, we mustn’t let the trees allow us to lose sight of the forest:  The First Amendment.

A US supreme court justice, in a recent case, wrote:  “If there is a bedrock principle of the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

Some find the First Amendment to be inconvenient.  But inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to respect free speech, especially when the ideas expressed are contrary to our own beliefs.

As for this proposed lawsuit, I view it as offensive as the IRS’ recent targeting of conservative groups.  In both instances, we’re talking about the government using its superior resources to squelch ideas that it opposes.  That is no different than what the IRS has admitted to doing.

No one up here today is as close to this issue than I am because of what I do and who I am.  Letting the voters decide on initiatives is part of my DNA.

I have heard many arguments as to why these are bad initiatives and each of those arguments are very good reasons to vote no.  But I have heard no argument – no argument whatsoever – that persuades me to support using the power of government to sue its own citizens to prevent the people from voting on qualified, certified initiatives.

I have full faith in the voters that they will make the right decision on both initiatives.

And so I oppose these resolutions because they authorize the government to sue our own citizens.  I think that’s wrong and so I’ll be voting no.”

         Mike’s principled position prevailed.  The council voted 4-3 against suing its own citizens.   

         I just wanted to share that story with all of you.

         As you know, our new initiative — LET THE VOTERS DECIDE ON A 2/3-FOR-TAXES CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT — gives taxpayers the chance to reiterate their support for the 2/3.  With our initiative, we’re going to let the voters decide on a 2/3-for-taxes constitutional amendment. 

         Without the 2/3, this year’s Legislature is proving why it is necessary.  Our new initiative is, by far, the most powerful way we have to fight back against Olympia’s insatiable appetite for higher taxes.