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Eye On Olympia

Archive for October 2005

When “yes” means “no”…

Both sides are discounting the possibility of voter confusion over Initiative 912, which can seem counterintuitive.

After all, a vote yes on I-912 is a vote against the recent gas tax increase. A vote no is a vote for the tax.

Some polls have suggested that voters are confused about which way they’re voting.

The initiative’s fans and foes, however, both say that they’re not worried. Both sides are talking about it at every chance, and the No on 912 side is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get its message — “vote no” — across.

“I think folks have gotten the message,” said Brett Bader, with Yes on 912. And if not, he said, the confusion’s likely to be on both sides, with the backward votes canceling each other out.

Initiatives you haven’t heard about yet…

Okay, so we haven’t even voted on the current crop of ballot measures (gas tax repeal, public smoking ban, doctor/lawyer fixes for malpractice woes, etc.)

But already, our mailbox and phone are heralding next year’s crop of direct democracy.

The list so far:
-Initiative pitchman/guru/gorilla Tim Eyman says he’ll launch a measure to do away with the $3.5 billion in new transportation taxes that this year’s anti-gas-tax measure wouldn’t touch. Things like an increase in motorhome registration fees, for example, and the new vehicle weight fees for small cars and trucks.
-Dennis Falk, whose Initiatve 402 abolished most of the state’s gift and inheritance tax 23 years ago, says now that the state has renewed its estate tax, he’ll be back with another measure to torpedo it.
-And then there are rumors among Seattle-area lawmakers of an initiative to require state gas-tax money to be spent in the same county where it’s collected. This would favor large counties like King and Spokane, but could cripple sprawling, sparsely populated counties throughout the state.

No sign yet of those hardy perennials: a state cap on credit card interest or a proposal to rename the state “Cascadia.”

Stay tuned.

For the record…

So where does Gov. Christine Gregoire stand on this year’s ballot measures? According to Carol Andrews, Gregoire’s spokeswoman:

I-330: (Doctor-backed malpractice insurance reforms): No.
I-336: (Lawyer backed malpractice reforms): No.
I-912: (Repealing the recent hike in the state’s gas tax): No.
I-900: (Requiring performance audits for state and local governments): No.
I-901: (Banning indoor public smoking in bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, etc.): Yes.

If only they’d make a product for Spokane’s potholes…

The folks at the liberal blog www.betterdonkey.org have come up with a fake commercial touting an alternative to the state’s gas tax increase: “Viaduct tape.”

(Hint: Once the website opens, scroll down. There are Quicktime and Windows versions of the commercial, in differing file sizes.)

Not a Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino crowd, apparently…

Gov. Christine Gregoire faced a sea of blank stares at Arthur B. Ness Elementary Monday, while touting the many benefits of Washington’s trade with China.

The governor’s question: What does China buy from us?

“Starbucks coffee” was one of the answers she was fishing for.

No dice. The students — who’d already come up with apples, airplanes and software — were at a loss.

Gregoire gave the puzzled students a hint.

“What really gets your parents going…What really gets them revved up?” she prompted. “Maybe first thing in the morning?”

Aha! A girl in the front row was sure she had the answer. She blurted it out.

“Beer!” she said.

(Thanks to S-R reporter Tom Lutey.)

And check your mailbox…

The state’s election guide will start arriving in mailboxes across the state on Saturday, Oct. 8, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Can’t wait? See it here .

And if you think it’s going to be too boring, here are a few choice samples:

— “Our opponents’ arguments are a collection of smokescreens,
half-truths and misleading soundbites, but what else would you
expect from a campaign run by trial lawyers?”

— “I-336 is the only initiative cracking down on frivolous
lawsuits without closing the courtroom doors on true and serious
medical negligence cases where someone lost a child, or is
confined to a wheelchair for life.”

— “Hearing politicians complain about I-900’s cost is laughable.”

— “No one should have to walk through
a cloud of toxic smoke to get inside a building.”

— Broken promises, huge tax increases, and disdain for the people
– Olympia at its worst.”

— “Our roads, highways and bridges are crumbling; threatening
our lives, leaving us stuck in traffic and wreaking havoc on our
nerves and pocketbooks.”

Working on the, um, vegetable gang…

State prisons have donated more than six tons of vegetables to food banks across the state this year, according to figures compiled by the state Department of Corrections.

The prison farm programs are designed to produce food for inmates, as well as work for them. The donations are from surplus crops.

What did their gardens grow? A few examples:

-At Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women, prisoners donated more than a ton of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and onions.
-The Monroe prison’s Special Offender Unit grew lettuce, herbs, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes.
-The horticulture program at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton donated more than 9,000 pounds of squash, lettuce, beans, cucumbers and peas to various food banks and a local senior center.

In a rented Prius near you…

The Seattle Times’ Northwest Weekend editor Brian Cantwell has embarked on a driving tour of some of the furthest reaches of the state (that’s us), and is blogging what he finds. It’s a fun read.

Just because we haven’t written the words “King County” in months…

The King County primary election has been certified and — flashback alert — there’s a recount.

Nope, the governor’s office wasn’t on the ballot. This time, the tallies of two candidates for King County Sheriff were so close that it would normally trigger an automatic manual recount.

Under a rarely-used state law, however, both candidates have agreed to a (quicker and cheaper) alternative: a machine recount of 10 randomly selected precincts in each of the counties 17 — yup, that’s seventeen — legislative districts.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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