Sorry to have gotten a bit behind in the blog post. On Thursday, June 24, 2012, the panel briefly discussed the history of the initiative process in Washington State, and we were presented with a description of the pros and cons of the process.
While elected officials in today’s panel were comparatively under-represented, Representative Reykdal and Joni Balter of the Seattle Times presented points of view that discussed the challenges legislators face and the effects on policy-making as a result of the initiative process.
Tim Eyman is a strong defender of the initiative process, even in the light of a growing initiative industry and out-of-state influence in the Washington state initiative process. He felt it was “condescending” to assume that Washington voters were unduly influenced by media campaigns and made informed decisions regardless
Allison Holcomb presented an interesting perspective as a representative of the ACLU, which is supporting the marijuana initiative, yet seems to take issue with the initiative process in general. She pointed out that when we elect people to public office, we are essentially “hiring” them to do a job that most of us don’t have time to do. The process of government should include hiring the right people, and then letting them do their job.
An interesting note was Friday’s headline story in the Bellingham Herald regarding the alleged fraudulent signatures found in signatures gathered for I-74. (see Apparent fraud discovered on some I-74 signature sheets http://blogs.bellinghamherald.com/politics/politics/apparent-fraud-discovered-on-some-r-74-petition-sheets/)
In light of this, we would like to hear your perspectives. Please consider the following when formulating your response:
-Having an understanding of the initial populist orientation of the initiative process, and its current evolution to the “Industrialized” of process that exists in many cases today, how do you feel about the role of the initiative process in the state of Washington? Is the process simply part-time public micromanagement of government and ties the hands of elected officials? Or do the benefits of direct democracy outweigh the costs?