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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Olympia

WSU Cougars feel the love: “fools”, “provincial”, and “you should be ashamed”…

Can't go home for the night without noting a story by Jim Brunner in today's Seattle Times.

Brunner went to a legislative task force hearing Monday on the University of Washington's controversial proposal to tap $150 million in local taxes to help pay for part of a major overhaul of Husky Stadium.

Cougar fans, not surprisingly, are unenthusiastic about this idea. Here's a story I wrote in September about their efforts to derail the proposal, which one critic described as "just a brazen money grab."

Fast-forward to Monday. From Brunner's story:

During a break in the hearing, (Huskies booster Ron) Crockett bluntly told Bernard, "You guys are fools," adding for good measure that the WSU alums' arguments were "ludicrous" and "insane."

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, publicly berated the WSU alumni for their testimony.

"I think you are launching a provincial and parochial war," said Murray, whose district includes Husky Stadium. "You should be ashamed."

Murray warned the men they would be "setting off a bomb" if backers of UW and WSU started fighting against one another's projects.

(WSU alumnus Mike) Bernard responded that UW was to blame for that because of its unprecedented stadium-funding grab.

"The one who dropped the bomb is the UW, not WSU," he said.

Over at the UW's state blog, meanwhile, college president Mark Emmert dismissed the objections as "some dust getting thrown up."

In an open letter to the school's faculty senate, Emmert points out that boosters, high-end seats and other sources would pay for half the $300 million project. And in a weak economy, he suggests, the sensible thing to do is to spend the $150 million in local taxes on Husky Stadium.

From Emmert's letter: "What we have is a public works project to renovate the state's largest football stadium -- creating thousands of jobs at a time when the construction industry badly needs the work -- and the public dollars to help pay for the project are still years away."

Stay tuned.

Hat tip: April Coggins at Red County.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.