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Charter school initiative filed

OLYMPIA — An initiative that would allow the state to form as many as 40 charter schools over the next five years was filed today with the Secretary of State in an effort to get the proposal on the November ballot.

They would be "public charters" which mean they'd be non-profits with the same academic standards as other public schools, but would be exempt from some regulations on curriculum and budget.

The League of Education Voters, which filed the proposal, and its allies have less than two months to gather the 241,153 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. A short time span for most campaigns, although Costco managed to get enough signatures for its "get the state out of the liquor business" initiative in less time last year.

Mark Funk, a campaign spokesman, said the group would use both volunteer and paid-signature collectors to get enough signatures in the short time available. The campaign hasn't raised any money yet, but expects to get contributions from people and groups who have long supported that aspect of education reform, and most money will likely come from individual rather than corporate sources, Funk said.

Washington voters rejected charter schools in 2004, and the Legislature has considered but not passed them since then. Legislation similar to the initiative was introduced with fanfare early in the last legislative session with bipartisan sponsors, but it met with strong opposition from Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislative leaders in both chambers, and eventually died.

Text of the initiative can be found here.

Poll: McKenna ahead of Inslee; Obama ahead of Perry, Romney

OLYMPIA — For those who are Jonesing for some campaign-style polling, a Seattle political consulting firm is trying to supply a fix.

It has a new poll of 500 voters that suggest if the election were held today,  Republican Rob McKenna would beat Democrat Jay Inslee for governor. And President Barack Obama would beat either of the two current GOP frontrunners, Rick Perry or Mitt Romney, for president in Washington state.

Two initiatives on this November's ballot would also pass, according to the Strategies 360 poll.

But there are some caveats and some details beneath the surface of the raw numbers, Kevin Ingham, the firm's vice president for polling, explained Monday morning in the big rollout of the numbers.

To read the rest of this item, click here to go inside the blog.

Taking sides, kicking in bucks on I-1183

OLYMPIA – This year’s ballot measure to get state government out of the liquor business is shaping up as another multi-million dollar fight that will pit one of Washington’s largest discount retailers against alcohol wholesalers.

Also taking sides are the state’s grocery stores, with some big national chains like Safeway backing the proposal and some regional chains like Rosauer’s working against it.

To read the rest of this post, click here to go inside the blog.

It’s no longer just Costco money on I-1183

OLYMPIA — We may have to stop calling Initiative 1183, the ballot measure that would get the state out of the wholesale land retail liquor business, "The Costco Initiative."

The proposal now has another source of funding: Trader Joe's.

Costco is by far and away the biggest source of cash for I-1183, and this will be the discount giant's second attempt to change state liquor laws in a way that would allow it to sell and possibly distribute liquor in its stores.

Costco has put roughly $1,082637.40 in cash into the campaign. And that doesn't count more than $1.2 million it chalked up through in-kind contributions for things like employees who were paid for their time manning the signature gathering tables in the stores or the national petition gathering firm it hired on the way to setting a record for the fastest qualifying signature campaign in state historyo.

Late last month, Trader Joe's tossed $50,000 into the pot. So as of July 26, it became the 98 percent Costco initiative. The date May 26 on the PDC form, is wrong, but of course we all figured that because no one would let a check for 50K sit around for two months before taking it to the bank. 

So what does this mean? Maybe if I-1183 passes, Washington residents won't have to pay a fee and join Costco to get a really good deal on booze.

One liquor initiative has signatures; second expects to

OLYMPIA – Washington state’s 77-year control of liquor sales may be in doubt.
Sponsors of one ballot measure to turn the sale of all liquor over to private stores, Initiative 1100, say they will turn in nearly 350,000 signatures today cqWEDS, a number that practically guarantees the proposal will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The campaign manager for a separate measure to privatize liquor sales, Initiative 1105, says it too expects to have more than enough signatures to turn in by July 2, raising the prospect of two competing plans for voters to sort out this fall.
Getting the state out of the liquor business has been a familiar refrain in the Legislature for decades…

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