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Ballot measures: Look who wants to buy your vote

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Nov. 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm with 4 Comments »
November 4, 2011 4:25 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Ballot measures account for most of the action in this off-year election, including gargantuan media battles over a couple of them.

Voters beware: All three initiatives on the state ballot have something in common – each got nearly all of its funding from a single source. A summary of our past recommendations:

Initiative 1183

Commercial fortunes are at stake with I-1183, which would privatize the sale of hard liquor in Washington. It promises immense profits to Costco, which has broken state spending records promoting it.

On the other side, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America – representing business profiting from the status quo – is funding a ferocious opposition.

Also in the mix are unions out to protect the employees of state liquor stores who could lose their jobs if Costco has its way with the electorate.

Amid the flurry of confusing ads, it’s easy to overlook the fundamental issue: Should the sale of liquor be tightly controlled or greatly expanded under a profit-driven model? We’re swayed by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control, which has concluded that privatization increases the abuse of alcohol and the social problems it fuels.

Initiative 1163

This measure is the handiwork of a single union, the Service Employees International Union, which is again exploiting the plight of elderly and disabled to advance its interests.

I-1163 would increase training requirements for home care workers from 34 to 75 hours. The training is provided by a SEIU affiliate and is free – funded by the state – for SEIU members. The guarantee isn’t extended to most nonmembers, creating an incentive to join.

This self-dealing might be excusable if the SEIU had included some mechanism for funding the training. Instead, I-1163 would dump that problem in the lap of a Legislature facing a $2-plus billion shortfall – potentially forcing legislators to subsidize the SEIU agenda at the expense of other critical state services.

Initiative 1125

This is one of Tim Eyman’s more clownish productions, a hodgepodge of attacks on state highway funding, mass transit and congestion-management measures. Its theme is anti-toll; it threatens to dry up bondholder investment in critical transportation projects by politicizing toll-setting decisions.

Artfully concealed in I-1125 is a bomb designed to kill a voter-approved extension of light rail to Bellevue. By some strange coincidence, Bellevue real estate magnate Kemper Freeman – a fanatical opponent of light rail – turns out to be the money behind the measure.

Pierce County Proposition 1

Pierce County’s emergency dispatch services have a structural problem and a technological problem. Proposition 1 would fix them both with a sales tax increment that would add a penny to a $10 purchase.

Structurally, the existing system is fractured into a patchwork of dispatch agencies run by jurisdictions jealous of their turfs. Four separate “primary call centers” take the county’s 911 calls; calls for fire and medical emergencies are in turn handed off to two additional centers run by fire departments.

Over the years, the different agencies bought different radio systems; some are already obsolete, and some will be obsolete in a few years. One result: First responders cannot communicate with each other at times, resulting in hazardous situations.

Proposition 1 would purchase digital emergency communications systems, ensuring that the entire country is covered by state-of-the-art radio technology. It would also create a seamless, countywide dispatch agency – another advance into the 21st century.

Tacoma Initiative 1

This measure would order Tacoma police to make adult marijuana offenses their “lowest enforcement priority.” Yet the Tacoma Police Department already treats minor pot possession as its lowest priority or something close to it. Police Chief Don Ramsdell has said that the initiative wouldn’t make any difference in the way officers dealt with marijuana cases.

The real effect of the initiative’s passage would be a political statement marijuana advocates would use to undermine other city restrictions on the drug. Like a lot of the ruses surrounding medical marijuana, this looks more like subterfuge than an honest discussion of decriminalization. Just say no.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. To the TNT:

    To the best of my knowledge, The one issue that will make up my mind on how to vote on this has not been addressed by a fact checker organization:

    Will the state get more tax revenue if the initiative passes or fails?

    In this economy with services being cut left & right, that is the only issue that matters to me. The social issues are not nearly as important to me at this time as the economic ones, & unless I’m blind, the media has 100% dropped the ball on this one.

    TNT staff, I would greatly appreciate an answer.

  2. On the off chance that anyone other than myself cares (I still can’t believe i haven’t even heard this mentioned in the local media) I just called the Wa Liquor board. I was told by someone named Brian who is apparently the Communications director for the LB the projection is the state will make more $’s if 1183 passes.

  3. Educator1 says:

    County Prop 1: Just another atempt of the county to take control of emergency services. Why do they want to tax 500 to 1 billion dollars for just a 30 millon dollar fix?

    Did you notice the county says they need a new building for dispatching and just solc a 12 thousand square foot building to a church for use as a child care center????

  4. Educator1 says:

    Alcohol: The center for disease control and the AMA have not done any studies to date that show private business increases alcohol consumption over state owned stores.

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