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"Special Deliveries" to Wealthy WA CEOs

October 19, 2010

SEATTLE - Some of Washington's wealthiest CEOs will be getting special deliveries today, chiding them for participating in what's being called "the opposite of charity."

In six cities around Washington, in-home caregivers and some of their clients will be making unusual field trips. They're visiting the local offices of companies that have donated large sums to influence the outcome of the election coming up in two weeks. The visiting protesters are in favor of Initiative 1098, an income tax on wealthy Washingtonians to help pay for health care and education.

Caregiver Chris Hardin of Port Townsend says he's angry that so much out-of-state corporate money has been spent to sway voters, both on ballot measures and individual candidates.

"You know, with the whole 'corporate personhood' thing, companies that have the most money are basically going to be able to elect the officials they want, and those officials won't be actually working for us - and that's not a democracy. We can't be living in a society like that."

Those who oppose I-1098 say it's unfair to tax only the wealthy. The protesters will picket and deliver letters to company CEOs about the impact of their campaign contributions on state-funded services for people with disabilities, and those who are elderly and home-bound.

Caregiver Mike Roth says he's protesting on behalf of his two clients in West Seattle, whose hours of in-home help are being cut - again. One is quadriplegic, and he says neither could live alone without assistance. After working in nursing homes for 20 years, Roth doesn't believe that's the appropriate 'next step' for either of them.

"I'm serious! I would not wish that on anybody who has a home of their own and is stable and situated. No, no - that's totally the wrong approach."

The protesters say Washington needs to raise more money. That's why they oppose Tim Eyman's Initiative 1053, which requires a two-thirds majority in the Legislature for any tax increases. They say California has a similar law and its legislature is often gridlocked as a result. Eyman supporters counter that the state needs to spend less.

The protests are planned in Everett, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and the Tri-Cities.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA