State Sen. Pam Roach seems always to be living down something she's said. Her suggested solution, for example, to curb school violence is to arm adults and let them patrol the schoolyards; and her cure for the growing urban cougar problem is to hunt the cats with hounds. (Her thoughts on these matters prompted Seattle Times outdoor columnist Ron Judd, who listed Roach's party and district as "R-Pluto," to suggest a two-fer: having schoolkids kill cougars.) But it's that one, brief, passing outburst the last day of the 1998 legislative session that just won't go away. The Auburn Republican's memorable who-swiped-my-roses! tantrum was caught on tape, to the gleeful delight of Democrats. Replayed, the "I am incensed!" tirade casts the veteran legislator as an unstable Captain Queeg losing it when the strawberries turn up missing.
Seizing on a chance to aid Roach's opponent, contractor and Sierra Club card holder George Tracy, the Demos dispatched 5,000 cassette copies of the outburst to 31st District voters, who will decide in November whether to return Roach for another session. In a non-counting September primary vote, the speech didn't seem to much matter as Roach nailed more than 60 percent of the ballots.
But now the Roach rant is going worldwide. An unknown detractor has loaded the tape onto an Olympia Web site (www.olywa.net/mike/humor.htm), making it available to anyone on the Internet with audio capability. As an added gibe, the site features Roach's smiling face superimposed over the helmeted, black-garbed body of Darth Vader, grasping a bouquet of roses. When a visitor clicks on the picture to, as the caption says, "HEAR the power of the darkside!" a pounding Star Wars refrain rolls forth as Roach practically screeches:
"My flowers were not on the desk when I came in here today and nobody asked me if they could pick up and move them! But I want to go on record: I DON'T WANT EV-EN A PEN-CIL MOVED ON MY DESK! I am incensed that anyone would move or touch anything on a senator's desk and I want to find out who took my flowers off them and I intend to take action!"
Roach says she's being treated unfairly. "If it was a man who had a box of cigars taken from his desk, it wouldn't be a big deal," she said last week.
Just days before the rose theft, she said, notes were stolen from her desk; both thefts were in retaliation, she thinks, for her successful efforts to change DUI laws. And she knows who's behind it all—a senator "who was arrested for shoplifting last session" and a senate aide who has put the tape on the Net. "It's just a Democratic hit piece in a campaign year," she adds.