Back during the campaign for Initiative 901, advocates of the smoking ban opined that for every smoker a business lost, four nonsmokers would gleefully take their place. It hasn't exactly worked out like that. Some Seattle bars and clubs have seen business take a hit in the wake of the state's five-month-old smoking ban, and there are waiters and bartenders around town who have lost tip income. (And wasn't the initiative about protecting workers?) Some bars and clubs have, of course, done better, and no one we know has closed shop over the ban. But now the partners in the Mirabeau Room, a 200-person club in Lower Queen Anne, have put the two-year-old enterprise on the market. Says Dave Meinert, one of the partners: "As soon as the smoking ban went in, we saw 200 bucks a day in lost sales" during happy hours. That works out to about $4,000 a month and was enough to tip the break-even business into the red. A nonsmoker who opposed the ban, Meinert is also annoyed by folks who have turned into wandering citizen enforcers. One, he claims, recently caught a customer smoking in the Mirabeau's lounge, took a picture with a cell-phone camera and sent it to Public Health–Seattle & King County. PHILIP DAWDY
Washington initiative king Tim Eyman is acting strange lately. On Wednesday, April 26, Seattle Weekly called Eyman to inquire about the progress of signature gathering for Referendum 65, his effort to overturn the new gay civil-rights law. R-65 needs 112,000 valid signatures by June 6 to make November's ballot. Eyman said, "We are making good progress." He followed up with an e-mail that said he had never seen so much energy and enthusiasm for any of his many previous initiatives. A couple of hours later, though, Eyman sent out a press release to all supporters and major news outlets that claimed R-65 was in big trouble. In the release, Eyman wrote that he only had 8,718 signatures in hand and had only raised $13,347 for the referendum, which means there won't be money for paid signature gathering. Eyman's main ally in the R-65 effort is Pastor Joseph Fuiten of the Faith and Freedom Network, a conservative Christian lobbying organization. Fuiten says he has around 2,900 signatures for R-65, and other members of his organization have around the same number. "It's a very low number," says Fuiten. "You need a spark to get the thing going." Either Eyman and Fuiten are playing some kind of public-relations game, or grassroots Christian conservatives are not the political force in this state that they once were. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.
Seattle City Council members Tom Rasmussen and Jean Godden have hit the 2007 campaign trail running, both hiring the mayor's master of fund-raising, Colby Underwood, to flush out re-election money. Rasmussen has $21,000 in the bank and Godden $20,000 for starters, albeit with many months and dollars to go. Underwood was the fund-raiser for council member Richard McIver and 2005 candidate Casey Corr and helped Mayor Greg Nickels collect $1.1 million for his two successful elections. But Rasmussen and Godden will be pressed to top the council fund-raising record of $274,000, set last year by Richard Conlin. (Newcomer Sally Clark, appointed to replace the retired Jim Compton, is off to a rough start for her 2006 confirmation at the polls, currently $657 in the hole, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission filings.) Meanwhile, Seattle Citizens for Free Speech, backers of Referendum 1, an effort to stave off a ban on table dancing and other restrictive strip-club rules, has raised more than $390,000. Support comes from just two backers, Seattle Amusement (Roger Forbes), $202,000, and Lake City LLC (Frank Colacurcios Jr. and Sr.), $190,000. This just in: Forbes and the Colacurcios run strip clubs. RICK ANDERSON
As immigrants again took to the streets Monday, May 1, to protest congressional proposals that would lead to increased detention and deportation (see "Protests That Work"), immigration attorneys were raising alarms about what they understood was a new policy at the Northwest Detention Center that exacerbated the criminalization of detainees. (See "They Could Be Citizens and They Might Be Deported," April 26.) In the past few weeks, attorneys who visited the Tacoma holding facility for immigrants facing deportation proceedings were told by officers that detainees were now being strip-searched after meeting with attorneys. Attorney Monika Batra recalls that one client declined to meet with her for that reason. "In our mind, that interferes with the right to due process," says Neha Chandola, legal director of the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project. After inquiries by Seattle Weekly, the federal agency responsible for running the center said that the strip-searching had occurred as a result of a miscommunication to officers. "As soon as the matter was brought to the attention of upper-level management, the matter was rectified," says Virginia Kice of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She adds that detainees allowed special "contact" visits, not separated by a glass partition, with anyone but an attorney are still subject to strip-searching. NINA SHAPIRO