Election 2011: More Booze, Less Eyman, Same Seattle Council - and Costco Gets Money Back

In a sense, the two major statewide ballot issues yesterday were both traffic initiatives. Tim Eyman's effort to control highway tolls and derail mass transit is fittingly failing. Meanwhile good citizen Costco has apparently succeeded in increasing the roadway carnage with passage of its liquor-privatization measure.

As well, all incumbent Seattle City Council members easily steered around their opposition, assuring the snarled city of continued gridlock everywhere but on those ever-intruding bike paths .

The results from yesterday's Election 2011 left the I-1125 tolling plan trailing 49 to 51 percent, with another count update due today.

The I-1183 liquor privatization measure - essentially a corporate plot underwritten by Costco's $22 million campaign donation - was winning 60-40.

That means booze sales to the public at Costco and other stores as well as small mom-and-pop operations (true), are likely to begin in June.

State officials estimate the number of statewide sales outlets will increase from the current 328 state stores to 1,428 retail outlets.

But that doesn't include perhaps hundreds of outlets that could take advantage of the Costco Law loophole, which allows small stores to operate in an undefined gray zone.

As the law says, the Liquor Control Board "shall not deny" a liquor license to stores under 10,000 feet if there is no other liquor retailer in the "trade area," which is yet to be definitively defined.

Though in turn hundreds of state liquor employees will lose their jobs, at least their union spokesperson, Tom Geiger, got the answer to his question: "If a private company decides to spend tens of millions of dollars to pass a new law, to buy an election, can they do it?"

They not only did, fattening their bottom line, they're getting money back. As the Times notes this morning, only $18.5 million of Costco's $22.7 million donation was spent on the campaign, and officials said the $4 million difference will be returned, "presumably to Costco."

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