Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: Initiative 1183

Nov.
9th

KISS principle prevailed in Washington’s elections

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

In the middle of the hardest economy most of us have known, the citizens of Pierce County on Tuesday approved a new tax. A sales tax, no less, to pay for better 911 system.

OK, it wasn’t a big tax – just an extra penny on a $10 purchase. But it wouldn’t have had a meatball’s chance in a pack of Rottweilers if citizens hadn’t been persuaded they were getting value for their money.

In this case, the value was considerable:

A unified countywide dispatch system to replace the balkanized hodgepodge of agencies that now handle emergency calls. A 21st-century digital radio system to replace aging and obsolete technology. Police, firefighters and dispatchers who can locate and talk to each other across Pierce County in a seamless communications system.

Proponents were selling something easy to understand – public safety – and voters bought it.

Like the election results or lump them – and we lump some of them – Washingtonians were persuaded by clarity when they filled out their ballots.
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Nov.
5th

Ballot measures: Look who wants to buy your vote

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.
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Oct.
22nd

We’re better off without I-1183’s liquor privatization

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A year ago, the editorial board of The News Tribune endorsed a measure that would have privatized the sale of liquor in Washington. We all make mistakes.

We endorsed last year’s Initiative 1100 because it was clearly better than a competing privatization scheme, Initiative 1105. By a split decision, we also concluded that selling liquor simply wasn’t a core function of state government.

That was philosophy. We’ve since been swayed by practical reality. The reality is that dramatically expanding access to distilled spirits – which this year’s Initiative 1183 would do – is bound to have social costs that outweigh the benefits of privatization.

We’re also not enamored by the spectacle of a single company, Costco, attempting to purchase an election and buy a state policy that would pump untold millions into its bottom line.

I-1183 is tailored to favor large-volume buyers of wholesale whiskey, rum, etc. The initiative’s value to Costco – one of the kings of volume purchasing – is such that the company has so far invested more than $22 million in the campaign to pass it. This constitutes nearly all of the money behind I-1183.
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