Writings and observations

First Take

We’re big fans over here of direct democracy – the ability of citizens to take control of legislating, whether for ideas good or bad (and in our view, they seem to balance out). But is it ever subject to abuse. . . You can structure legislation in all sorts of ways, ways that make an ideological point without acknowledging the consequences (like cutting taxes without saying what services will be sliced, or reducing classroom sizes without saying where the money will come from). Money speaks in initiatives too: In Washington, Tim Eyman is or isn’t a factor in state politics in a given year depending on whether he has a rich guy in his back pocket. But the Tacoma News Tribune points out today another problem too: People who solicit petition signatures for initiatives or other ballot items can, and sometimes do, misrepresent or outright lie – and there seems to be nothing the state can do about it. The specific trigger for the story is a new ballot issue that would change the Tacoma city charter, though it’s being billed mainly as a term limits proposal.

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