"Panic has set in to the MoveOn.org crowd. To them, transparency and choice are very threatening."
An observer at the Aug. 26 Sequim City Council hearing could be forgiven for being confused by what they witnessed.
First, there were competing sign-waving folks outside the meeting venue. Everyone who attended appeared to be focused on the last item on the agenda—the two local initiatives that had qualified to be on the general ballot in November.
The first measure, titled "Proposition 1" would make collective bargaining sessions between the city and any public-sector unions open to the public. The second, Prop 2, would allow Sequim city employees to have the choice of being in the union or not. They could not be fired from their job if they were not in the union. Transparency and choice were clearly frightening concepts to MOVE ON.org, which appealed to its hard-core followers to picket the meeting.
It is a little funny, and odd, that a far-left organization originally created and funded by George Soros to help Bill Clinton survive the political scandals plaguing the twilight years of his presidency would even be involved in opposing citizen initiatives about transparency or choice in the city of Sequim. However, panic has clearly set in with the MoveON crowd, and to them, transparency and choice means "The Wolf is at the Door."
Yes, it is silly, but this is MoveOn. Nothing to see here.
Then, in an effort to get its message across to the Sequim council members, MoveOn.org bused many of its members up from Port Townsend in Jefferson County. Apparently there just weren't enough liberal activists on hand, so they needed to import a few from out of town.
For some reason, the local public-sector unions were not able to supply their own workers, who might benefit from these initiatives, but they outsourced their presence to private-sector unions from the construction trades. We've seen this before. If these public-sector workers are really so concerned, where are they protesting? If a meeting is after 5 p.m., do they always have to rely on the private-sector unions to do their work for them?
This is a question that has not been answered.
For some reason, the Move.On crowd got particularly irate at this pro-transparency and pro- worker choice protestor, whose sign says it all. They were vicious, angry, and verbally assaulted him at every opportunity. It was humorous to note just how many intellectual somersaults the MoveON crowd made trying to justify their origins as a tool for a "good" billionaire, but attacking all others if there was even a chance that the evil "Koch Brothers" might be involved.
It doesn't make sense, but the MoveOn crowd rarely does.
The Sequim City Council didn't do itself any favors by demanding that citizens not clap, and there certainly was no political courage in throwing the lone missing councilman under the bus by claiming they couldn't vote on these issues until he got back into town. However, as city council meetings go, it was fairly typical, as 100 Sequim residents spent a few hours watching the lawmakers go through the motions to discuss issues about which nobody cared before they got to the main event.
The first seven speakers who testified during the public comment time were very positive about the two initiatives, and included several local residents who were involved in collecting the signatures on these initiatives. After that, things got strange. Green Party member Nelson Cone, an opponent of transparency and choice, rambled on about how terrible Bob Williams and the Freedom Foundation were for supporting voter ID and school-choice measures. Another MoveOn member warned the council members that transparency was a "slippery slope."
To politicians and labor bosses, sure. But it's hard to understand who else would be concerned with more government transparency.
By the end of the evening, it was just another Sequim City Council meeting, with more attendees than normal, and while many MoveOn folk had to catch the bus back to Port Townsend, a few supporters and opponents of the propositions stayed around discussing the issue outside the building.
Expect more episodes like this as cities like Chelan, Shelton and Blaine consider similar local initiatives. Sequim, by the way, has a long history of actively opposing citizen initiatives, even when the majority of residents vote for them, as the city squandered its legal resources to fight and eventually overturn a 1996 citizen initiative to require voter approval for revenue-backed bonds (This took 10 years and multiple legal challenges by the City of Sequim to deny the citizens the right to vote on revenue-backed bond debt issued by the city).
It appears that court involvement will probably be part of the process once again.
Having studied the history of local citizen initiatives over the past few years in Washington State, it does appear politicians and bureaucrats oppose nothing as strongly as citizen activism—particularly if their constituents demand something different than the Big Plans of the governing elite.
From citizen opposition to red-light cameras in Mukilteo (70% approval) to citizen opposition to destroying historic libraries in Renton (76.4% approval), to citizen opposition to central-planning schemes in Vancouver, the bureaucrats will spare no expense or excuse to stop citizen involvement.
The city of Sequim appears poised to join with MoveOn, the Green Party and other special interests to continue this trend of opposition to local citizen involvement. In the end, however, freedom and transparency are difficult to suppress — even for politicians and bureaucrats.
Related Sequim Local Initiative Stories:
- Clallam County Auditor Certifies Signatures on Two Citizen Initiatives
- Sequim Activists Turn In Labor Reform Initiatives Signatures
- Initiative Petitions would have Sequim Voters Weight in on City Employee Union Bargaining
- Petitions Verified to Make Sequim City Hall Union Talks Public; Now Issue Goes to City Council
- Volunteers in Sequim Collecting City Initiative Signatures
- Sequim Employment Measures get Signature Approval
- City Propositions Draw Ire, Praise from Community
- Making Political Change in Your Local Government
Related Stories of Politicians and Bureaucrats Attempting to Overturn or Oppose Local Citizen Initiatives:
City of Sequim vs. Citizen Malkasian and "Ratepayer Responsibility Act" Initiative
Red Light Cameras In Mukilteo (Passed with 70.71% in favor):
- State High Court Strikes Down Red-Light Initiative
- Mukilteo Red Light Camera Initiative Moves Forward Despite Council Vote
- Eyman's Red Light Camera Initiative Passes in Mukilteo
- Mukilteo's Red-Light-Camera Initiative Will Cruise to Ballot
- Local Voters Can't Ban Red-Light Cameras, State Supreme Court Says
- Mukilteo Citizens For Simple Government v. City of Mukilteo
Save the Renton Cedar River Library — Don't Go With Central Plan Scheme to Move It (Citizen initiative — 76.4% in favor)
- Cedar River Library Overwhelming Favorite of Renton Voters
- Renton Votes to Keep Uniquely Located Library
- After Amazing Grass-Roots Campaign, Renton Cedar River Library Wins 76% to 24%!
- This Renton Vote Ensures That A River Continues to Run Through It
- A Childish $10 Million Tantrum in Renton to Punish Voters
Citizen Initiative to overturn Critical Areas Ordinance in Clallum County (Prop 6) in 2001 (killed by judges)
Citizen Initiative to stop Columbia River Crossing Light Rail Project — Vancouver, WA — 2013
- Vancouver Council Says Anti-CRC Measure Won't Be Voted On
- Backers of Voting on Light Rail Raise Money to Pay Attorney
Seattle Charter Amendment to vote by district — 2013 (Approved by 65.92%)