Faced with a potential election challenge from City Attorney Mark "Misdemeanors Matter" Sidran, Mayor Paul Schell has switched into crimefighter mode. Why, just the other day, Hizzoner was hanging with Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as they jointly touted the continued downturn in Seattle's crime statistics
Starting in 1997, the year before Schell took office, the city has seen annual declines in its stats for total crimes reported, murders, thefts, burglaries, robberies, and assaults. Even the few pieces of bad news (the number of rapes reported rose in 1998; auto thefts were up in Schell's first two years in office) were mitigated by the 2000 crime numbers, which showed a drop in just about every form of evildoing and mayhem.
Home on the Grange
As Washington state legislators struggle to design a new primary election, it's important to remember that any bad situation can be made even worse through the use of the citizen initiative process.
To this end, the Washington State Grange is running Initiative 751, a measure that seeks to simulate our current blanket primary through a ballot containing a confusing jumble of "official" party candidates, "affiliated" party candidates, and independent candidates. The farmers' club is ready in case the courts strike down their primary system (which they probably would); then the state would be required to switch to a nonpartisan primary.
This would be a great idea, except, in their infinitesimal wisdom, the Grangesters designed their nonpartisan primary to move the top three vote-getters, rather than the top two, to the final ballot. Using this system in our last US Senate election, we'd have gotten Maria Cantwell, Slade Gorton, and Deborah Senn on the final ballot—and six more years of Slade. Ick.
This demonstrates why, in most civilizations, farmers don't write laws.
Love those tax cuts
When he was pushing his car tax- slashing Initiative 695, Tim Eyman accused his liberal foes of claiming that the sky was falling.
One year after I-695's passage, the sky is still intact, claims the conservative Washington Institute Foundation. Although irrelevant, this point is probably accurate. Legislators used a $1 billion budget surplus to plug funding holes, as Eyman had predicted they would, so the cuts aren't as dramatic as opponents had predicted. The real financial challenges of I-695 are long-term and cumulative (when combined with two raid-the-treasury measures school backers passed this year).
Give our tax-cutting zealots a couple years; they'll bring down that sky yet.