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Eye On Olympia

Archive for June 2006

State boots 848 felons from voting rolls…

Even as the state battles in court over whether it can ban some felons from voting, it’s booting other felons from the rolls.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Sam Reed announced that Washington has cancelled the voter registrations of 848 felons.

“We are upholding the law,” Reed said in a press release. The 848, he said, are either incarcerated or on probation.

Lawmakers four years ago approved creation of a statewide voter registration database, merging information that was previously kept by the state’s 39 counties. By comparing registrations, the state has previously scrubbed 55,000 names from the list — most of which were people who’d registered in one county, then moved and registered again in another one.

Trooper on guard…

Okay, we’ll write it first: There’s a new Trooper on patrol at the governor’s mansion in Olympia.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and her family have a new shiba puppy to replace former First Dog “Franz”, the family’s longtime pomeranian. Franz was struck and killed by a car earlier this year while in the care of family friends.

“He has big paws to fill,” said Mike Gregoire.

Gregoire trotted out the new dog, Trooper, at the end of her usual weekly news conference Monday. The State Patrol found them the dog, hence the name.

“I said `Well we’re really not interested in a puppy,’” Gregoire said. “Mike said `Let’s go look.’ Well, have you ever seen an ugly puppy?”

So they took him home.

Like Franz, Trooper seems like he’ll be a good fit for politics. He soon got used to camera flashes Monday, yawning as he perched in the hands of Gregoire and her husband, Mike.

Both are clearly doting on the dog already. He’s apparently discovered that Mike, a retired state investigator, is an easy mark for treats at mealtime.

Given the governor’s description, it sounds like Trooper’s ready to run for office.

“He’s an independent little guy,” she said. “The breed is independent, bold, bright, very social, loves little kids and (is) an escape artist.”

Oh, that Vancouver…

In another bit of international diplomacy, Gov. Chris Gregoire and top staff are headed tonight to Victoria, British Columbia, for a dinner and day of meetings with BC Premier Gordon Campbell and his staff.

On the agenda: border security, mutual aid in emergencies, public health and pandemics, economic development and the 2010 Olympics (in B.C.), early learning and crystal methamphetamine.

Gregoire is making a full-court press internationally, recently hosting the Chinese and Mexican presidents, traveling on official visits to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and pitching Washington software, coffee, aircraft, crops, wines and other products.

President visits Seattle, stumps for Reichert…

President George Bush swooped into Seattle’s “Gold Coast” Friday, headlining a $1,000-a-person Republican fundraiser at an Internet millionaire’s mansion in the tiny city of Medina.

“I’m excited and honored. He has had a really wonderful week,” said state GOP chairwoman Diane Tebelius, ticking off recent news, including the death of Iraq’s top terrorist and Bush’s surprise visit to Baghdad.

Hundreds of donors, some paying $10,000 to have their photos taken with the president, were expected at the event, which was closed to journalists. The money will be split between the state GOP and freshman Congressman Dave Reichert, who’s running for re-election against Democratic political newcomer Darcy Burner.

“Although the President and I don’t agree on everything, I have great respect for the tremendous responsibility the leader of the free world must bear every day,” Reichert said in a written statement. “I welcome President Bush and I welcome his support for my re-election campaign.”

Less welcoming were the demonstrators at a downtown mall and at intersections along the motorcade route between Boeing Field and the $10 million estate of businessman Peter Neupert. Bush swept by, accompanied by two armored limousines, a long string of SUVs and communication vehicles, and scores of state and local motorcycle police.

“From this end, he got a lot of fingers,” said Carnation’s Gary Davis, with Veterans for Peace. “We didn’t have a flag to put on our fingers.”

Taking a little bite of the Apple…

State insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler has fined Apple Computer, Inc. $100,000 for selling tens of thousands of service contracts in Washington without registering.

Under a seven-year-old law, any company that sells a service contract — a promise to repair or replace a computer, appliance or other product — must register with Kreidler’s office.

Customers who spend the extra money for such a plan, Kreidler said, “assume the company has taken the basic step of registering in our state.”

Apple, he said, didn’t. Yet it sold 43,080 service contracts here between 2000 and 2004.

The company is now registered.

Judge throws out tax-limiting I-747…

Breaking: King County Judge Mary Roberts has just thrown out 2001’s Initiative 747 as unconstitutional. The measure had imposed a 1 percent cap on property tax increases, unless voters approved more.

The lawsuit was brought by environmental, welfare rights, citizens groups and Whitman County.

Reached by phone, initiative promoter Tim Eyman said he hadn’t heard the ruling yet. But he said he wouldn’t be surprised if Roberts ruled against his initiative.

“Of course it’s a king county judge, so it wouldn’t shock me in the least,” said Eyman.

He predicts as appeal, which would be done by the state Attorney General’s office.


And to find out what happened to that sparkling-cider bottle after the press conference…

For more on the collapse of Eyman’s referendum, read our print story from this morning’s paper.

Some church leaders said Tuesday evening they might try again – but this time, probably without Eyman.

“It’s almost inconceivable to me that we can’t get 112,000 signatures, when we can get 20,000 people to a stadium downtown,” said Gary Randall, with the Faith and Freedom Network.

Randall was not a fan of Eyman’s tactics – refusing to reveal how many signatures he’d gathered, dressing as Darth Vader and calling himself “the Dark Lord” before TV cameras, and finally refusing to return Randall’s calls. Even the scheduling of the final press conference – on 6/6/06 – rankled.

“I just prayed that it wouldn’t get worse than Darth Vader today,” Randall said.

Eyman’s running late as the clock ticks down…

Tim Eyman, who said yesterday that he’ll be turning in his Referendum 65 petitions today at 4 p.m. now says he’s running late. He’ll be turning them in “closer to 5” he said in a phone call. Mike Fagan, flying in to Sea-Tac after gathering the last petitions from the group’s Spokane mailing address, landed around 3:30 p.m., he said.

The deadline for submitting referendum petitions is 5 p.m.

Stay tuned…

“Feel like you’ve been duped this morning? Well, you have.”

It was the best-covered non-event in Olympia Monday.

Tim Eyman, who’d announced in an email last week that he’d be “bringing down petitions” to the Secretary of State’s office Monday, showed up Monday as promised. Reporters figured “bringing down” petitions meaned “turning in” petitions, as did the Secretary of State’s office, which had seven staffers on hand, ready to count the thousands of petitions they expected. (Two were temps, hired at $12-$14 an hour just for this.)

As it turned out, all Eyman had was a thin sheaf of petitions for Referendum 65, which would veto a new state law making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The deadline for turning in the required 112,440 signatures is 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Eyman was dressed as Star Wars villain Darth Vader, complete with helmet, red light saber, knee boots and, yes, a plastic codpiece.

TV crews and print photogs angled for shots as Eyman strode down the street, followed by assistants wheeling a cart with four big document boxes. After a swing through the Secretary of State’s office, where clerks stood ready to tally signatures*, Eyman stepped outside to a face-ful of microphones.

He peeled off the mask, unfolded a copy of his speech, and announced…

That he’d be back tomorrow.

He wasn’t turning any petitions in. In fact, he said he doesn’t know how many signatures have been gathered.

“We’re processing the mail right now,” he said. “Frankly, we have no idea.” (He did, however, know that he has 142,613 signatures for a tax initiative he’s also running this year.) “…We get waves of petitions at the end of every signature drive.”

“Feel like you’ve been duped this morning?” Eyman supporter Mike Fagan of Spokane told the crowd of reporters. “Well, you have.”

“We’re willing to do whatever’s necessary,” Eyman said. “…There’s no such thing as bad press. That’s just the reality.”

*Strangest moment of a strange morning: When Eyman, still clad in his Darth Vader suit, silently pointed his light saber at a startled elderly state worker sitting at a table, ready to count the petitions he was supposedly going to turn in. She stared up at him. One of Eyman’s assistants silently handed her a child’s greeting card — it had a racing car on it. Inside was a note thanking the state workers for their hard work.


Tim Eyman says that, yes, he’ll drop off petitions for Referendum 65 on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Secretary of State’s office at 520 Union Street in Olympia. (CORRECTION: Eyman said he’d be “bringing down” petitions.)

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

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