Retabulation 2004, Health Care, Business

RETABULATION 2004

Christine Gregoire is Washington's governor—unless or until a judge throws out the election results. All the hot air in the blogosphere, on talk radio, and at Republican Party press events might have some confused, so here's what's real in a nutshell: Democrat Gregoire won; Republican Dino Rossi lost. On Thursday, Dec. 30, Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed certified that Gregoire is the governor-elect because she won the third, and by law definitive, count of ballots. In the days before, Republicans tried to get counties to include new ballots after election officials had finished. That didn't work because it's illegal. Next, Rossi called for a revote, which other Republicans, including GOP legend Dan Evans, agree would be a good idea. That isn't going to work, either, because without court intervention that's illegal, too. Now the GOP is thundering about differences between vote totals and the number of people who voted—a common and expected discrepancy officials resolve in the months after an election. It is certainly possible the GOP will turn up evidence, by a Jan. 22 deadline, to convince a judge to declare Gregoire's victory void. But until that happens, it's just whining. The chances of judicial nullification? No judge in Washington has ever thrown out a statewide result. It's far more likely that Gregoire will take the oath next Wednesday, Jan. 12, and govern for four years. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

More on the election

HEALTH CARE

Good news on the public mental-health front. Last week, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services temporarily backed off enforcement of new rules that prohibit county-level mental-health systems from using Medicaid money to serve low-income people who don't individually qualify for Medicaid. The move is a reprieve for more than 5,000 who have been receiving mental-health treatment, and it takes pressure off state lawmakers, who were being called on to enact an emergency appropriation to cover treatment through June 30, when a new state budget kicks in. "Non-Medicaids" will still be an issue in the Legislature, because the feds will enforce the new rules July 1. The resulting loss of federal money: $80 million over two years. PHILIP DAWDY

BUSINESS

Starbucks Coffee says it will print famous quotations on coffee cups to promote products and help reach a goal of opening 30,000 stores worldwide. The company hasn't said whose quotes it will honor. Maybe Chairman Howard Schultz will make the cut with his trademark mantra: "Everything matters." The company says it wants quotes to create a vocal buzz. Perhaps coffee-oriented sayings? T.S. Eliot: "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." Or Ingrid Bergman: "Thank you for your coffee, seignior. I shall miss that when we leave Casablanca." Other coffee sayings we dug up probably wouldn't qualify: "Coffee is particularly rich in rodent carcinogens, so there is little point in worrying about minute concentrations of synthetic pesticides in the water used to brew it" (Tom Addiscott, British health researcher). Or: "Caffeinism: a state of chronic toxicity resulting from excess caffeine consumption and a major contributing factor to heart disease, hypertension, stomach ailments, diabetes, and sleep disorders" (Stephen Cherniske, author of Caffeine Blues). Oh well, as I always say, "A man has to believe in something. I believe I'll have another cuppa joe." And you can quote me. RICK ANDERSON

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