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Spin Control: Film industry tax breaks fine, but tie them to reviews

Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich, right, greets Democrats before speaking at a party fundraiser Saturday in Woodinville, Wash. (Associated Press)
Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich, right, greets Democrats before speaking at a party fundraiser Saturday in Woodinville, Wash. (Associated Press)

OLYMPIA – The Senate agreed last week to extend tax breaks for film companies that shoot movies and TV shows in Washington. That makes good economic sense, considering a movie being shot in Spokane generates jobs as well as a certain amount of buzz that can’t be measured in monetary terms but definitely boosts community spirit.

Spotting stars like Samuel L. Jackson or Cuba Gooding Jr. at downtown hotels, bars and coffee shops is great sport. Even the most jaded among us can’t resist watching a locally shot production like “The Basket” and saying, “Well you know, the climactic basketball game is actually played in the Masonic Temple.”

But in this day of hyper vigilance over tax loopholes, it might be wise for the House to add an amendment with some limitations on the exemptions. That is, we won’t give incentives to clunkers that use our communities as a backdrop. Instead, we’ll double the taxes for the real turkeys that get shot here.

Not to mention any by name, but a certain Grade Z detective flick that was so bad it went straight to DVD definitely did the city no favors. Even worse was the disc’s “extras” that had one star describing Spokane as having lots of “film noir stuff.” Yes, the city is full of guys in fedoras who refer to their handguns as “gats” and women in big hats who like to be called “dames.”

Say WA? Kucinich for Congress?

Western Washington liberals are abuzz with the prospect of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the sometime presidential candidate and quintessential progressive, coming west if he is drawn out of his congressional district. Ohio is losing two districts, Washington is gaining one, and one or two congressional incumbents might be running for something else next year.

So there are some possibilities – on paper. But a writer for the Huffington Post did some research last week that revealed no sitting member of Congress has been elected to consecutive House terms after moving to a new state. History’s not on his side.

Neither are politics. No one knows where Washington’s new district will be, or the new political makeup of the nine districts that must be redrawn a little or a lot. Republicans would probably like nothing better than to have a candidate they can hang the carpetbagger label on from the get-go.

Plus, the record suggests Kucinich wasn’t all that popular the last time Washington voters had a chance to pick him. In 2004, he was still in the presidential sweepstakes when Washington Democrats held precinct caucuses, and finished a distant third, behind John Kerry and Howard Dean.

The Democrats’ farm team may be a bit weak in some parts of Washington. But a win by Kucinich would suggest it’s not even up to single A short season standards. (No disrespect intended, Indians fans.)

Redistricting hearings coming in July

On a more realistic electoral note, the state’s Redistricting Commission is beginning hearings around the state to hear opinions on how it should redraw the congressional and legislative district lines.

The hearings started in the South Puget Sound last week. They’ll make it to Spokane on July 12, time and place to be determined.

Return to sender. Address unknown

Initiative-meister and red-light-camera-hater Tim Eyman is urging adherents to send emails to city leaders around the state decrying the tactics of a leading camera purveyor.

The Spokane mayor and City Council members were included in his missive to supporters, asking them to urge leaders to take a stand on “sleazeball” tactics of ATS, the red-light company that operates the systems in Spokane and many other communities. News accounts last week showed the company waged an “Astroturf” campaign on The Spokesman-Review and Everett Herald websites to support the systems when locals criticized them.

Spokane city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said city officials had only received a handful of emails Thursday. That seemed low until a check of Eyman’s email links revealed the addresses were wrong for several Spokane officials.

Spin Control, a weekly column by Olympia Bureau Chief Jim Camden, appears online with daily items, reader comments and videos at spincontrol.