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Spin Control: Study the issues, candidates – like Dick’s vs. Ron’s

People who want to be elected to statewide office in 2012 are already wandering around the state, announcing their campaigns and trying to establish their bona fides with the good folks hereabouts.

Most candidates for state office have to come from Seattle, or at least the greater Pugetopolis, to have a chance of getting enough votes from the West Side of the state. This is not surprising, because to paraphrase Willy Sutton, that’s where the votes are.

But to prove they seek to represent the whole state, they must also campaign on the dry side of the Cascades, and cite their ties to Spokane or Walla Walla or Curlew, whether they be strong or tenuous. Jay Inslee’s stops in Yakima and Spokane last week as he kicked off the gubernatorial campaign was an example of someone with real, if somewhat dated, ties to the East Side. Inslee represented Central Washington’s 4th District for a term in the U.S. House, in 1993-’94.

Some candidates try to do more with less. I recall one candidate for statewide office who talked about his fond memories of Spokane, where the family always stopped on their way to the lake cabin when he was a child. Being remembered as the gateway to Idaho or a pleasant pit stop never seemed like much of a vote-getter.

When candidates start laying claim to knowing Spokane and understanding its people and their issues, then do something foolish like saying how they’re such a big fan of Gon-ZAH-ga basketball, it sometimes helps to give them a pop quiz on issues a real Spokanite would know.

So, Mr. Candidate, what was the theme of Expo ’74? What major league franchise has the Spokane Indians baseball team as their farm team? What’s the biggest crop growing on the Palouse? What does the GEG on your luggage tag mean when you fly into Spokane International? What was the Spokane City Hall building used for before it was City Hall? What was the original name of the North Spokane Corridor? Where was Sam’s Pit? Where are the burgers better, at Dick’s or Ron’s? (The last one is a trick question. There’s no right answer, it just reveals whether you’ve spent more time in Spokane or the Valley.)

Maybe you can think of other questions to test a candidate’s knowledge of Spokane. If so, go online to the Spin Control blog and suggest them.

Quitting the Quitline, pulling the plug on Living Will Registry

Recent casualties of state budget cuts include the state’s free Quitline, designed to help people stop smoking, and the Living Will Registry, where people could record their living wills and durable powers of attorney.

As the Associated Press reported last week, the state Health Department dropped its participation in the Quitline, which offered free help to smokers. The number, (800) 784-8669, still works. It’s operated by the American Cancer Society, which refers callers who have private insurance or Medicaid to stop-smoking help.

The department also stopped taking new entries in the Living Will Registry, which started four years ago. Since starting, it had received about 2,500 entries from people and had access to about 200 health care facilities. They remain on the registry, but no new submissions are being taken. The move saves the department about $104,000.

Get while the getting is good

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire starts her term as chairman of the Western Governors Association, taking over for Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and starting with an initiative to boost tourism, recreation and conservation in the West.

The initiative has a slogan, as any good initiative must. “Get Out West!”

The exclamation point comes with the slogan; it wasn’t added for emphasis. Providing the correct punctuation is probably a good thing, because with different punctuation and varying inflection, one could convey different meanings entirely.

Get … Out West. Get Out! West? Get out, West. Get. Out West.

Punctuation was one of the problems with a slogan Washington had for a brief time, a few years back: Say WA. Too many people interpreted it as Say WA?

OK, so that was a minor problem with Say WA, the bigger problem being the slogan itself. But still.

One more quiz

We have quiz questions for candidates above, and a Fourth of July quiz elsewhere in the paper and online. But there’s one more chance to test your knowledge on something a bit more substantial. The First Amendment Quiz, a 20-question online test about the Bill of Rights’ Numero Uno, was prepared by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. It can be found at Warning: It’s not for slackers.

Spin Control, a weekly column by Olympia bureau chief Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items, reader comments and videos at blogs/spincontrol.

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