Boozy Picture: Two State Liquor Initiatives Both Supported and Opposed by Beer & Wine Sellers"/>
As if the initiatives to privatize state-controlled liquor sales weren't already complicated, booze sellers have now lined up on both sides of the fight. I-1100 and I-1105, which would put state liquor stores out of business, are backed by the fat wallets of beer and wine retailers and distributors hoping to cash in on a wide open spirits market. Now, the "no" campaign opposing the initiatives has gotten a cash infusion from no less than wholesale beer and wine sellers taking the opposite position. One is even playing both ends.
The National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association have each contributed $1 million to the Protect Our Communities campaign which, up until now, had been a coalition of mostly labor and social-service groups trying to head off likely voter approval of ending the state's retail liquor-control system.
"We think [the initiatives are] terrible public policy," John Guadnola, executive director of the state trade association told The Herald of Everett. "Whether or not you believe in privatization, this is a horrendous way to do it."
One wholesaler appears to be working both sides. Big booze distributor Young's Market of LA has given $1.2 million to support I-1105 while its northwest subsidiary, Young's Columbia, has just donated $306,000 to the state Beer and Wine Wholesalers - the group that just gave that million to oppose I-1105.
The big donors on all sides are in it for the bucks, naturally. For taxpayers, passage of either or both initiatives means trading away millions in state revenue (most of it flowing instead into big corporations such as Costco and Wal-Mart) for the convenience of buying hard stuff at the local market - at possibly higher prices. As former state Rep. Toby Nixon, an I-1100 supporter, told us earlier, the reality is the legislature could almost double the current per-bottle tax to make up for lost revenue.