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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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State Democrats will take 2 percent

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Olympia State Democrats, buffeted by bad publicity, have backed away from demands that taxpayers finance a 12 percent interest payment on the party’s $730,000 refund from the hand recount of the 2004 governor’s contest.

The party will accept the 2 percent interest the state earned on the money.

After Republican Dino Rossi narrowly won the first two counts last fall, Democrats ordered a hand recount and were forced to put up $730,000 to cover the costs. Under state law, Democrats get their money back because the recount reversed the results of the election, giving the office to Democrat Christine Gregoire.

Democrats were skewered in the media when they threatened legal action if the secretary of state didn’t also include 12 percent interest. The party now has relented and will accept the check for $737,062.50.

“We’re just happy to put this behind us once and for all,” state Chairman Paul Berendt told The News Tribune of Tacoma in an account published today. “But I still maintain that there is an important principle involved, and that is that the state, no matter what public opinion is, should not be seizing the assets of any private party or individual.

“And we viewed the seizure of these assets as an unhealthy and perhaps dangerous precedent.”

He said 12 percent, which would have produced about $44,000 over the period the state had the Democrats’ money, is a common number used by the courts. But Berendt said the party wanted to avoid another court fight.

“I think we would win if we did, but I think we need to put the whole election contest and all of the issues behind us at this point,” he said.

Former Seattle P-I editor dies at 66

Seattle J.D. Alexander, a former Seattle Post-Intelligencer editor and publisher who liked hard news, good writing and straight talk, has died at a hospital near his home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Alexander, 66, suffered from pulmonary hypertension.

His family said he was under hospice care for six weeks before his death Tuesday.

“He was a tough and demanding leader who cared about community, cared about readers and felt that journalists owed those readers their very best efforts day in and day out,” said Ken Bunting, P-I executive editor.

Alexander served as executive editor at the P-I from 1986 to 1993, when he was named publisher and editor. He became a consultant for the Hearst Corp. in 2000.

His most famous one-liner at the P-I was: “Morale is highly overrated.” But he threw lavish holiday parties for his staff.

Bob Danzig, a former Hearst Newspapers president, said Alexander “breathed excellence, imagination and daring into any product he touched.”

Alexander, a native of North Carolina, completed a degree in English and history at Wake Forest University after four years as a writer for the U.S. Air Force. He began his newspaper career at the Winston-Salem Journal, moving to the Washington Post in 1967.

He was an assistant national editor at the Post when the Watergate scandal broke.

“One thing he always told me was how his name was in ‘All the President’s Men,’ ” said P-I columnist Robert Jamieson. “He could tell you exactly what page it was on.”

Work crew digs up American Indian skeleton

Oroville, Wash. A public works crew replacing a city water line in north-central Washington has unearthed the remains of an American Indian man.

The remains unearthed Monday were believed to be between 500 and 1,000 years old, said Joe Pakootas, chairman of the Colville Confederated Tribes.

The remains were believed to be from a man 30 to 40 years old when he died.

Tribal archeologists called to the site also found a few artifacts, in addition to the grave. The remains will be reburied with the artifacts at an American Indian cemetery near Ellisforde, south of Oroville, Pakootas said.

The city crew had installed about 500 feet of pipe when one worker noticed a bone in the already-excavated dirt being used to refill the trench. Oroville police then secured the site and contacted the tribes.

Pakootas said Oroville is the aboriginal territory of the Okanogan band, one of the 12 bands that make up the Colville tribes.

He said there is little reason for scientists to interfere with reburial, since the bones are not unusually old.

Fire kills 17,000 chickens, destroys barn

Yelm, Wash. About 17,000 chickens were killed in a weekend fire that leveled a barn at a poultry farm here.

The blaze started at about 4 p.m. Saturday in a barn at Draper Valley Farms, said Chief Rita Hutcheson of the Southeast Thurston County fire district.

The barn was about the size of a football field, and the fire started in the middle, making it nearly impossible to stop, Hutcheson said. The wooden barn had a sawdust floor and was heated with propane, Hutcheson said.

Firefighters were able to save four surrounding barns, about 30 feet apart.

Firefighters from Rainier, Lacey, Tenino, McLane and East Olympia were called in to fight the blaze, she said.

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