By Ralph Schwartz
Randy Elmore and Stoney Bird agree on one thing, at least: Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517, which would protect citizen initiatives from lawsuits intended to block them from the ballot.
Elmore, a conservative who lobbied against Bellingham’s red-light cameras, and Bird, a liberal who tried to keep coal trains out of the city, drove together to Olympia today to testify before a Senate committee in favor of I-517.
Eyman characterized it as the “Odd Couple” goes to Olympia, and, to be honest, he really wanted me to write about it.
I accommodated him here on this blog. He wanted me to call Elmore and Bird after the hearing ended at noon today, but I passed. I told Eyman about being busy, having to manage my time, etc.
Little did I know he was working the other end of the transaction as well.
Bird and Elmore called me from Elmore’s car on northbound Interstate 5, after the hearing. We did talk, and I’ll relate some of their words here shortly.
But I should note, the reason they called is that after the hearing, Eyman told the two men, “This reporter, Ralph Schwartz, he really wants to talk to you.”
Well played, Mr. Eyman.
So what did Elmore and Bird have to say for themselves as they were returning home?
They told me Eyman talked the two of them into the trip, as well. Bird had never testified in front of the Legislature before.
“I certainly never testified for anything related to Tim Eyman,” Bird said.
“I think that the initiative/referendum process is an interesting tool and a useful tool. Elected officials don’t like the people interfering with their process. … I saw this initiative as a way to maybe right that, put people on an equal footing with government.”
At Eyman’s prompting, I asked Bird what these two strange political bedfellows talked about on the long drive from Bellingham to Olympia.
“Books. Beer. Movies.”