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Gregoire speaks to school employees at Riverfront

Governor gets personal with jokes, anecdotes

Gov. Chris Gregoire on Friday excited a friendly crowd made up of members of the Public School Employees union who recently earned a 12 percent boost in pay from the state.

Facing about 200 supporters in Riverfront Park, Gregoire made some bathroom humor, joked about how she was turned away at a bar and generally steered clear of any promises for more education funding.

“The bottom line is we need folks like you to ensure the kids get a family away from home when they are at school,” she said to cheers.

But the 61-year-old governor also earned some laughs when she told how she was turned away at a bar last weekend in Olympia.

“If you want to go out (for) a beer with me, I often forget my ID,” Gregoire said in jest. “I saw it on CNN last night. When that young man turned me away, I thought, ‘What is he looking at?’ If only I could see something like that in the mirror in the morning.”

She also brought laughs when she relayed a recent encounter in a bathroom, conjuring up images of Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. But in her story, Gregoire said the woman in the stall next to her repeatedly questioned aloud whether the governor would show up at that event. When the two women met at the sink, the woman gasped when she recognized Gregoire.

“She immediately regrouped, hit me on the shoulder and said, ‘While I’ve got you here, can I get a photo with you,’ ” Gregoire said. “I said it’s been memorable talking with you. And you can have a photo, but not in the lady’s restroom.”

Joking aside, the governor said she’s not sleeping well as she faces a big event – and not the November election against Republican Dino Rossi. Gregoire said she was talking about the Aug. 9 wedding of her daughter at the governor’s mansion.

As for promises for more funding for schools, none came during the short speech and rally.

“First of all, we are waiting for the Education Funding Task Force. I told them do your job … and answer the question whether we are investing enough,” she said. “I think the obvious answer is no. So I am waiting to see what they are going to say.”

However, Gregoire did question a line in a recent ad by Rossi who promised “better schools.”

“I have no idea what he is talking about. He has yet to fill in the blank, what does that mean,” she said. “I think we have made more progress in four years than in any time in history.”

A call to Rossi’s campaign was not returned Friday.

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