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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: Fairchild votes red; except on green

One of the most predictably conservative parts of Spokane County might be Precinct 6500 on the West Plains.

You may know its more familiar name, Fairchild Air Force Base, but when Spokane elections officials tally up the ballots, they divide the county into variously shaped polygons with four-digit numbers, and 6500 is the base, which is the home to Air Force families as well as air refueling tankers.

Precinct 6500 cast about 70 percent of its votes for Mitt Romney and Rob McKenna, 74 percent for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and 66.3 percent for GOP Senate candidate Mike Baumgartner. One could speculate on whether this was some sort of rebuke of the current commander in chief or a lack of conviction that the current Democratic senator, Maria Cantwell, or the congressman looking to be governor, Jay Inslee, worked as hard as claimed to get them some new air refueling tankers in a few years.

The precinct voted 80 percent for an initiative to require a supermajority vote on taxes, one of the highest percentages in the county.

So its conservative cred is pretty well established, even if it only voted against same-sex marriage by about 56 percent, which was middling for Spokane County.

It was predictably conservative on almost everything except Initiative 502, the law to legalize marijuana for personal use. That one split Fairchild almost exactly down the middle. It wound up in the no column by only 3 votes out of about 460 cast.

The Air Force has a zero-tolerance policy on marijuana use. Enlistees who test positive can be rejected, and airmen who get caught using it can be discharged.

State law removing the penalties for adults using marijuana in private aren’t going to mean a thing if the urine test from the Air Force lab comes back positive. It’s still an illegal drug under federal law. So what gives?

One possible explanation: Fairchild has always been a favorite last assignment in the Air Force, where a military member sheds the uniform and rejoins civilian life. Maybe some of those “yes” votes are from people looking a little way down the road.

Coming up box cars

Unlike King and Thurston counties, which opened for marriage licenses a few ticks after midnight Thursday, Spokane County held regular hours on the first day same-sex couples could apply. But it kept doors open a few extra hours on Friday. That was partly because Washington has a three-day waiting period and any couple who wants to get married this Wednesday had to get a license by Friday.

Wednesday’s date shows up as 12-12-12, and some people deep into numbers think that’s special because 12 means completeness. You know, 12 months in the year, 12 signs in the Zodiac, 12 days of Christmas. Plus, it’s easy for spouses with poor memories to lock in the anniversary date.

No more bawling about the ball

The location of Washington’s Inaugural Ball, the subject of much kvetching since it was announced several months ago, has changed. It will be back at the Capitol.

The Capitol grounds have been the traditional location for the inaugural celebration, and the domed Legislative Building even has a large reception room with a dance floor for an inaugural twirl.

A few months ago, however, the Inaugural Ball Committee announced it would hold the ball in the gymnasium of St. Martin’s University because of concerns over security and traffic control at the Capitol.

Some incoming office-holders who will be inaugurated Jan. 16 weren’t pleased. One high-ranking legislator said he wouldn’t be going because “I already attended a prom in high school.” A petition to return the ball to the Capitol circulated.

The committee held firm – until  Friday afternoon, when it announced the ball is being moved back “through a cooperative effort” with Gov.-elect Jay Inslee’s transition team and the Department of Enterprise Services.

“The logistical concerns that first demanded a move away from the Capitol have been discussed with the relevant players, managed and changes have been made that will help with accessibility and security,” Lisa Cosmillo, the committee spokeswoman, said in a press release.

Spin Control, a weekly column by Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items and voting result maps, at www. spincontrol.
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