by Goldy, 10/31/2004, 5:15 PM

According ESPN, the Green Bay Packers win over the Washington Redskins today guarantees a Kerry victory on Tuesday:

If history holds, the 28-14 result portends a victory for Kerry on Tuesday because the result of the Redskins’ final home game before the presidential election has always accurately predicted the White House winner. If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins. If they lose, the incumbent party is ousted.

Nearly as ominous for Bush is the fact that incumbents polling under 50% almost never win reelection.

by Goldy, 10/31/2004, 10:48 AM

Polling firm Zogby International reported the results of the first nationwide text messaging poll, finding that young, cell phone users favor Kerry 55% to 40%.

Much has been made about the fact that traditional polling may underreport support for Kerry, because it does not reach voters without land lines, who tend to be young and urban. While the Zogby poll shows overwhelming support for Kerry in this demographic (18-29 year-old likely voters), it is not clear what, if anything, it says about the traditional polls. Zogby points out that the results are almost identical to those for 18-29 year-olds with land lines.

What is clear is that if young voters — many of whom will be voting for the first time — turn out in large numbers, they will decide the election in Kerry’s favor.

by Goldy, 10/30/2004, 10:55 AM

It is not surprising that in all his literature, yard signs, and radio ads, and in all his media appearances, Tim Eyman never mentions what Initiative 892 actually does: legalize slot machines. What is curious, is how little time he spends on his familiar property tax message, instead choosing to focus on the real rhetorical theme of the initiative: “Stick it to the Tribes!”

His PDC reports show no expenditures on polling or focus groups, so I’m assuming this racist appeal comes directly from Tim’s heart. After all, the first initiative Tim sponsored was the anti-affirmative action I-200. (And yes, John Carlson, I know you deserve the credit for passing it… though why you so fervently want the credit, escapes me.)

An editorial in yesterday’s Seattle P-I (“Native slurs“) shows just how low I-892 supporters are willing to take this argument, and how shameless they are in promoting it. The editorial mentions a series of pro-892 political cartoons that have been offered to local newspapers, “that use offensive stereotypes to depict Indians.”

The cartoons depict Indians in loincloths, headbands and feathers and include the phrases “keep ‘um cigarette tax, keep ‘um sales tax, keep ‘um gas tax, too,” apparently trying to make the common I-892 proponents’ argument that tribal casinos have an unfair competitive advantage over non-tribal gambling businesses.

In debating Tim on the radio and in person, I always steered away from the tribal issue, so I could relentlessly focus on the single, winning message of the No campaign: I-892 legalizes slot machines and puts them into our neighborhoods. (It’s a beautiful thing when a political soundbite is both effective, and the incontrovertible truth.) If I strayed off-message, it was only to reinforce it by talking about the very real dangers of problem gambling.

This type of rhetorical discipline was as painful for me as it was out of character. I am opposed to legalizing slots, even at tribal casinos. But I sympathize with the tribes, their unique economic and social challenges, and their long, tragic history at the hands of the “Us” in Eyman’s Orwellian-named PAC, “Just Treat Us The Same.”

And at times, I felt ashamed, biting my tongue as Tim attempted to stoke the fires of racial hatred. I could have rejoined by pointing out that the tribes are sovereign nations — essentially, local governments — and that the vast majority of casino profits are used to provide services to their citizens, like education, health care, roads, etc. I could have repeated Pierce County Executive John Landenberg’s assertions that the tribes have saved county taxpayers millions by building their own schools and health clinics, and eliminating their burden on social services. Or I could have simply appealed to a sense of historical justice, suggesting that if Tim wanted to be treated the same, we should steal his Mukilteo McMansion and move him to a reservation.

But responding to Tim would have allowed him to control the terms of the debate, thus clouding the issue for voters. The issue is gambling. Voters don’t want more of it, especially not in their neighborhoods… and especially, especially not slot machines.

Tim is banking that voters resent the tribes more than they revile slot machines. Racial resentment proved to be a winning theme in the I-200 campaign, and Tim is apparently hoping that “Us” hates Indians at least as much as they hate black people.

I know that may sound like a cynical, harsh, and unnecessarily blunt assessment. But if I-892 loses as overwhelmingly as recent polls suggest, it will encouragingly show that Tim’s racist rhetoric has as little appeal with voters as the two anti-government initiatives he has failed to qualify the past two years.

Tim Eyman has ceased to be relevant with voters. Eventually, the media will wake up to this, and allow his state-wide celebrity to slowly ebb away.

by Goldy, 10/29/2004, 10:54 AM

Bush continues to try to spin his way out of it, but the Al Qaqaa story is sticking. As reported here yesterday, an embedded news crew from a Minneapolis TV station captured video of the munitions dump nine days after the fall of Baghdad. Now The NY Times reports that weapons inspectors have confirmed that the footage was shot at Al Qaqaa, and shows the high explosives in question.

“The photographs are consistent with what I know of Al Qaqaa,” said David A. Kay, a former American official who led the recent hunt in Iraq for unconventional weapons and visited the vast site. “The damning thing is the seals. The Iraqis didn’t use seals on anything. So I’m absolutely sure that’s an I.A.E.A. seal.”

One weapons expert said the videotape and some of the agency’s photographs of the HMX stockpiles “were such good matches it looked like they were taken by the same camera on the same day.”

Independent experts said several other factors – the geography; the number of bunkers; the seals on some of the bunker doors; the boxes, crates and barrels similar to those seen by weapon inspectors – confirm that the videotape was taken at Al Qaqaa.

Yesterday the right-wing media echo chamber went into overdrive, suggesting the explosives might have been moved before the US invasion. Today, the party line is that the munitions represented less than one percent of Iraq’s stockpile.

But of course, that’s not the point. Bush says he went into Iraq to make America safer, but by failing to put enough troops on the ground to win the peace, he has allowed dangerous weapons to fall into the hands of terrorists and insurgents.

Bush’s incompetence has cost American lives. And tragically, may continue to cost American lives for years to come.

by Goldy, 10/28/2004, 10:05 PM

According to a KOMO TV/Seattle P-I poll, voters are getting the message on Initiative 892. The poll of 800 likely voters, taken Monday and Tuesday showed only 29 percent of voters supporting I-892, with a whopping 64 percent opposed.

Eyman, cocky SOB that he is, is already wearing a victory T-shirt, claiming “The reality is tax-cutting is politically incorrect.” (Yeah Tim, so is race baiting.) Tim continues, “They tell the pollster one thing, but they do something different at the ballot box. So, I’m still dripping with optimism.”

Well… he’s dripping with something.

“Every year we get a poll that says we are going to lose and the voters vote for it on election day. So based on experience that’s pretty standard stuff.”

To prove his point, Eyman pulled out a Seattle P-I story from exactly two years ago. It showed a KOMO TV/Seattle P-I poll showing overwhelming opposition to the car tab measure, Initiative 776.

True enough, I-776 passed, even though opinion polls showed it trailing 53 percent to 39 percent. But it just barely squeaked by… and to repeat that upset, I-892 would have to close 35 point gap!

Not likely.

Still, we all need to continue working just as hard to defeat this dangerous initiative. The bigger the margin of defeat, the better.

by Goldy, 10/28/2004, 11:42 AM

Yesterday President Bush accused John Kerry of making “wild charges” about explosives missing from the Al Qaqaa munitions dump, and the right-wing media echo chamber has been working overtime to suggest that the explosives disappeared before the start of the Iraq War.

But video footage has emerged from a Minneapolis TV news crew embedded with the 101st Airborne Division, showing bunker after bunker of material labeled “explosives” on April 18, nine days after the fall of Baghdad. KSTP-5 Eyewitness News reports that GPS data confirmed the crew was on the southern edge of the facility, and their footage shows crates of explosives clearly marked “Al Qaqaa.”

Soldiers are shown opening bunkers with bolt cutters, but KSTP reports that once the doors were opened, they weren’t secured, and remained open after the news crew and military went back to their base.

“We weren’t quite sure what were looking at, but we saw so much of it and it didn’t appear that this was being secured in any way,” said photojournalist Joe Caffrey.

Fertile ground for looting? That’s exactly what The NY Times reports under the self-explanatory headline: “4 Iraqis Tell of Looting at Munitions Site in ’03“.

Looters stormed the weapons site at Al Qaqaa in the days after American troops swept through the area in early April 2003 on their way to Baghdad, gutting office buildings, carrying off munitions and even dismantling heavy machinery, three Iraqi witnesses and a regional security chief said Wednesday.

The Iraqis described an orgy of theft so extensive that enterprising residents rented their trucks to looters.

Two of the witnesses, employees of Al Qaqaa, said they asked the Americans to protect the site “but were told it was not the soldiers’ responsibility.”

No. As Commander-in-Chief, the responsibility to keep these weapons out of the hands of terrorists and insurgents was President Bush’s. He was one the one who sent away the international arms inspectors who had monitored the site and noted seals were in place as late as a month before the war. He was the one who didn’t put enough troops on the ground to secure the peace.

And ultimately, he is the one who is responsible if these looted weapons are used to kill and maim American troops.

by Goldy, 10/28/2004, 9:37 AM

I know it seems like a minor issue just days before the most important election in generations, but I just wanted to thank the Seattle City Council: “City Council spurns Nickels on parking fees for city parks“.

“We shouldn’t nickel and dime our citizens to death,” Council President Jan Drago said.

You took the words right out of mouth, Jan. Literally. [Mayor Nickels-and-diming us at Seattle parks]

by Goldy, 10/27/2004, 12:08 PM

Since Tim Eyman places so much emphasis on following the money of campaign contributions, it is interesting to note once again that I-892′s biggest backer is Richmond B.C. based Great Canadian Gaming Corporation… to the tune of $210,000 (US) thus far. (That we know of.)

How important is I-892 to Great Canadian? Important enough that Canadian investment bankers are closely following the initiative.

How do I know? Web stats.

My web stats will sometimes show me the domains of visitors, and the search words they used to find my site. And lately I’ve noticed quite a few Canadian visitors, some clearly identifiable as financial institutions.

For example, today alone I’ve seen a number of visits from Toronto based TD Bank Financial Group, googling phrases like “initiative 892 latest poll” or “latest poll on washington state slots”.

TD Bank has a lot riding on this initiative. On September 30, 2004 they led a $150 million bond offering on behalf of Great Canadian, and agreed to provide an additional $100 million in credit. Some of that money will surely be used to finance Great Canadian’s plans to dominate the WA gambling market… and if I-892 passes, the return on investment will soar.

So if a Canadian bank with over CDN $300 billion in assets is following I-892 so closely, you get an idea of how profitable its passage would be for its corporate sponsors.

by Goldy, 10/27/2004, 9:45 AM

Just a quick link to Floyd McKay’s guest column in The Seattle Times: “I-892: Eyman finally gives us something we can unite against“. I have expressed many of the sentiments regarding I-892′s impact on WA’s quality of life… but never quite so eloquently as Floyd.

Eyman has never been shy about dealing the race card, dismissing the “No” campaign’s claim that they represent a broad coalition as “laughable” in light of the fact that nearly all their money comes from the tribes. But this is not just convenient political rhetoric; it says something very important about Tim.

See, for Tim… money is the only thing of value.

But as Floyd points out, I-892 is opposed by an unusual coalition of “conservative Christians and secular liberals.” These are people who don’t always agree on the definition of “family values” — they have come together to oppose I-892 out of the shared belief that our families are more valuable than money.

by Goldy, 10/26/2004, 2:33 PM

I’m not sure whether I’m amused or annoyed at the recent spate of press coverage over the “misleading” ballot title for I-884, an initiative that raises $1 billion for education. [Ballot title for education-funding tax measure is clarified]

The ballot title describes a “1 percent” increase in the state sales tax, when more accurate language might have said “1 percentage point” or “1 cent.” Critics argue that this really represents a 15 percent increase, from 6.5 to 7.5 percent. Of course, if the ballot title had said “15 percent” voters’ jaws would have dropped, as many of them would have wrongly understood it to imply an additional 15 cents on the dollar.

So which language would have been more appropriate? “1 percent”, while technically inaccurate, does a fairly good job of conveying the true impact of the initiative in the voters’ vernacular. “15 percent” is mathematically correct, but would likely mislead a large number of voters.

If you ask me, the real problem is not the ballot title, but the process by which they are assigned. The final arbiter is the Thurston County Superior Court, with no possibility of appeal, even though the passage of an initiative can hinge on a single sentence.

Take Initiative 892, for example. Both the attorney general and the court preferred a legalistic, but highly misleading phrasing, that referred to slot machines as “electronic scratch ticket machines.” In an email dated March 15, James Pharris, the AG who wrote the original ballot title said:

It’s legally very important not to describe the machines as “slot machines” which as such are illegal in this state

Really Jim?

As it turns out, according to an opinion written by Mr. Pharris in 1996, the Washington Constitution makes no distinction:

The court went on to find that slot machines were a form of mechanical lottery, first noting cases of other states so holding and then making the following observation:

We are firmly of the opinion that slot machines of the variety here involved, their operation–singly and collectively–are mechanical lotteries. The machines constitute mechanical devices which dispense with the necessity of tickets and salesmen, and possibly, other details–mechanical or otherwise–which are generally necessary in the operation of lottery schemes or plans. The scheme or plan involved, rather than any mechanical device employed, constitutes the gist of the question, and determines whether a particular operation constitutes a lottery.

Id. at 152, (italics in the original). The court therefore held unconstitutional a law which would have allowed slot machines in private or nonprofit clubs.

As Mr. Pharris points out, the courts find “slot machines” to be “a form of mechanical lottery”. So what exactly was so “legally very important” about not calling them “slot machines” in the ballot title? Was it important enough to mislead voters? For that is clearly what the phrase “electronic scratch ticket machine” does.

I-892 legalizes slot machines. They look like slot machines. They play like slot machines. They are just as profitable as slot machines… and they are just as addictive. Indeed the industry makes no distinction between “video slots” and “video lottery terminals”, because the only real difference is the software that runs them. Put two of them side-by-side, and you couldn’t tell them apart.

Given a less legalistic, and more honest ballot title, I-892 wouldn’t have had a snowballs chance of passing. As it is, it will still go down to defeat, but only after an expensive and concerted effort to educate the public about what the initiative really does.

I stumbled into the public debate last year, attacking an initiative process badly in need of reform. A year later, it hasn’t gotten any better.

by Goldy, 10/25/2004, 3:47 PM

According to a new statement by a security guard, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation not only routinely covers up loan sharking activities at its casinos, but it actually helps them conduct their illegal business!

I also know that some staff members and supervisors at Great Canadian Casinos assist loan sharks by telling them which customers have been losing and how much they lost.

This shocking allegation comes in a four-page Witness Statement of Nebojsa Kalajdzic, employed for three years as a security guard at several of Great Canadian’s casinos. In it, he says that he is making the statement voluntarily, even though “I realize that I may lose my job as a consequence.”

The statement is dated Sept. 24 2004. Sure enough, he was summarily fired on October 22.

Mr. Kalajdzic corroborates allegations by former colleagues Proka Avramovic and Boki Sikimic whose depositions I excerpted and posted for download last week. [Keep loansharks, prostitutes, drug dealers, mobsters, and Canadians out of our neighborhoods: Vote No on I-892!]

Mr. Kalajdzic describes a Great Canadian where it is “well known” that loan sharking is “widespread” and “tolerated by management.” He says that many loan sharks are “personally known to employees and casino management,” and that the casinos are so infested, that it is common to see “as many loan sharks as players at tables.”

The allegations echo those made by Mr. Sikimic and Mr. Avramovic, who both report that management told them to “look the other way” despite their legal obligation to report such activities to BC authorities. Mr. Kalajdzic wasn’t even permitted to act in defense of a female customer:

I saw a known loan shark and a customer engaged in an argument. I was told that the loan shark had grabbed the customer’s purse containing her identification and was refusing to give it back unless she paid him $9,000.00 to cover a loan made to her. The loan shark left the casino with the purse. I was told by the Shift Manager, Christopher Strongman, that I was not to get involved and that the issue should be resolved between the parties.

A single incident? No… this is company policy:

I have been told by my supervisor, Milan Bajic, and others at Great Canadian to “look the other way” when I see loan sharking activity take place.

Perhaps that’s Great Canadian’s corporate motto… “Look the other way” …? It certainly would apply to the way they’ve successfully abused Canadian libel law to scare the Washington media from revealing their role in I-892, and questioning the business practices of a company that seeks to dominate the state’s gambling industry.

Richmond BC based Great Canadian is I-892′s biggest financial backer ($215,000 thus far), and stands to gain the most from its passage: over $20 million a year from its current four casinos. In public statements it has declared its intent of duplicating here the market domination it enjoys in BC.

Yes… these are just “allegations”, but if these allegations were made against the tribal casinos, don’t you think this would be headline news?

Why…? Why is the press ignoring this scandal?! I-892 is as much a “Great Canadian initiative” as it is Eyman’s, and the media has a responsibility to ask legitimate questions about their business practices.

Don’t love the First Amendment enough to exercise your rights at the risk of a Canadian slap suit? Fine. Don’t mention the allegations of prostitution, racketeering, profit skimming, drugs, rape, and illegal cigarette sales. (Though I’ve been talking about it since the end of June, and they haven’t sued me yet.)

But I’m pleading with my friends in the media to give this loan sharking story some legs! Ask your lawyers… this is a safe subject — even in Canada — now that the libel documents have been filed.

Voters have a right to know. And the media is letting them down.

by Goldy, 10/24/2004, 11:10 PM

George W. Bush has refined his message in the final days of the campaign: “Vote for Kerry and we’ll all be eaten by wolves.” Or something like that. Perhaps its meant to be metaphorical.

Of course, getting eaten by wolves may actually be preferable to a second Bush administration… an administration so stunningly incompetent that it has actually managed to make the world more dangerous by eliminating a madman like Saddam Hussein.

Take this scary headline from The NY Times: “Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq“.

The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives – used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons – are missing from one of Iraq’s most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man’s land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.

Good thing there weren’t any “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, else we probably would have lost those too.

by Goldy, 10/24/2004, 9:42 AM

I have penned many a rant complaining about the way the media covers Tim Eyman, specifically how they continue to give undeserved credibility to his bullshit numbers.

A great example was earlier in the year, when I sent out repeated emails to the media regarding Tim’s claim that I-892 set aside $11 million a year to treat problem gambling. I showed that using Tim’s own revenue projections, the number was less than $4 million. I showed my math. I explained that Tim apparently didn’t understand his own initiative, and was calculating on the wrong number.

And then, a reporter who was certainly familiar with my missives wrote:

The measure would also earmark 1 percent of those funds for problem gambling treatment, an amount Eyman says would total about $11 million, though critics say the number is greatly exaggerated.

I’m sure he thought he was being objective… but a truly objective and responsible reporter would have fact checked Eyman’s numbers before presenting them as remotely credible, especially in light of the indisputable math I had presented.

(Just like the Seattle Times should have fact checked Eyman’s patently false claim that Dave Ross had endorsed I-892. You know… they could have actually given Dave Ross a call, and asked him.)

I dredge all this up because I actually want to compliment a reporter for covering I-892 responsibly. In today’s Bremerton Sun, Susie Oh show’s you the right way to frame Tim’s unsubstantiated claims: “Pull the lever: Slots vs. Taxes“.

Susie repeats Eyman’s revenue claims, but does not present them in way that makes them appear equally credible as the OFM projections. There’s a good reason for this: the OFM shows its math, Tim does not.

Tim Eyman is an admitted liar who has made a career of deceiving voters, contributors, the PDC, and the media. And journalists are deceiving themselves if they think simply putting his claims in quotes somehow constitutes objective reporting. Tim’s numbers are based on rhetorical expedience, not research. Knowing this, it is time the media starts holding him to higher standard.

I-892 has been a grand deception from the start… a gambling initiative, masquerading as a tax cut proposal, masquerading as an appeal to racial hatred. Nothing Tim says can be taken at face value.

by Goldy, 10/23/2004, 12:30 PM

I occasionally find it therapeutic to call Tim Eyman names. I’ve called him a “lying, thieving, blowhard”, a “lying sack of shit”, and of course, my claim to fame, a “horse’s ass.”

Today I would like to point out that Tim is also an arrogant prick.

Take for example today’s piece in the Seattle P-I, “The financial losers of an I-892 passage“. The article reports on a study released by the Washington State Gambling Commission that shows local governments will lose tax revenues if voters approve I-892.

Tim’s reaction?

“I flat-out reject any conclusions they’re coming to,”

Just like he flat-out rejects similar findings by the Office of Financial Management. Why? Because they don’t match Tim’s numbers.

What an asshole. Or more accurately… an arrogant prick.

Two government agencies, one with expertise in financial projections, and the other with expertise in the gambling industry, conduct separate studies that come to remarkably similar conclusions. But Tim wants voters to flat-out reject them, and instead trust numbers provided by him, a professional liar, whose academic credentials consist of selling mail-order novelty watches to college fraternities.

Okay, perhaps that’s unfair. So let’s take a long, hard look at Tim’s research:

.
.
.
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Tim’s idea of exhaustive research is reading his own news clippings in bed. When Tim was hired on to front I-892, I immersed myself into research on the gambling industry, how it operated, and its impact on taxation, economic development and problem gambling. Tim’s preparation consisted of borrowing a chart from his I-864 campaign, and penning a few sound bites fomenting racial hatred against the tribes.

Tim pulls numbers out of his (horse’s) ass, and then has the gall to “flat-out reject” those provided by the experts. And the worst part about it is, this media strategy works! Tim’s numbers are figments of his own imagination, yet the media has never once asked him to show his math! The result is that the public comes away with the impression that the differing projections represent two extremes of a reasonable debate, and perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between.

The truth is that Tim Eyman is a lying, thieving, arrogant prick of a blowhard, with absolutely no credibility. And the media does the public a great disservice by giving ink to his lies without requiring him to back them up.

by Goldy, 10/23/2004, 12:04 AM

A few days ago I asked you to join the national boycott against Sinclair Broadcasting for their plans to preempt network programming to air “Stolen Honor”, a “documentary” criticizing John Kerry’s anti-war activism.

Well, public companies must react to public outrage, or face the financial consequences, and in the end, Sinclair backed down. Sort of. Instead they showed a one-hour news special “A POW Story: Politics, Pressure and the Media”, which the LA Times described as relatively balanced. Well, as balanced as you can expect from a neo-fascist media monopolist like Sinclair.

It’s nice to know that activism can work.

by Goldy, 10/22/2004, 11:38 PM

I know this may sound paranoid, but I am becoming increasingly concerned that we don’t actually live in a democracy anymore. To be honest, I’m not sure I can imagine a scenario in which George Bush wins this election… and I actually believe the results.

Take this article in The NY Times: “Big G.O.P Bid to Challenge Voters at Polls in Key States.”

As I have previously reported, Kerry’s hopes are pinned on massive voter registration drives that have resulted in Democrats gaining a five to one advantage in new registrations in battleground states like Ohio. The Republican solution? Don’t let these people vote.

Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.

Republicans say their efforts are necessary to guard against fraud. Yeah right.

Some officials said they worried that the challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.

No shit, Sherlock. That’s the whole point!

Barring an indisputable Kerry landslide, this election is going to be a disaster. We need international observers.

by Goldy, 10/22/2004, 9:34 AM

My morning routine is about to change. Instead of launching my RealOne Player and streaming the Al Franken Show over the internet, I’m just going to tune into 1090-AM, the newest station in the Air America Radio Network.

The Seattle Times reports today that starting 12:01 a.m. Monday morning, the newly renamed KPTK will switch format from country-music to “progressive talk,” joining liberal Air America’s 36 other local affiliates, plus XM and Sirius radio.

Clearly, there is money to be made in liberal talk radio, else media monopolists like Infinity (Viacom) wouldn’t put it on the air. According to Infinity VP Dave McDonald: “There are those in the radio business who believe that shows with a liberal perspective won’t get an audience. Air America in recent months has shattered that myth.”

It’s shattered the myth because it is informative, entertaining, and damned funny. If you’re not already a regular listener, I urge you to tune in Monday.

by Goldy, 10/21/2004, 12:15 PM

Speaking of lying sacks of shit, how about David Fretz, president of Great American Gaming, a wholly-owned subsidiary of loanshark-infested Great Canadian Gaming of Richmond, B.C., who operates four of Washington’s largest non-tribal casinos. When The Seattle Times asked him to comment on Initiative 892, he blustered:

“Why don’t you talk to Tim Eyman? It’s his initiative, OK?”

Ewwww… what’s that smell?

As I’ve previously explained, hiring Tim to front this steaming pile of legislative excrement may have been a clever exercise in branding, but I-892 has always been more a Great Canadian initiative than an Eyman one.

Great Canadian is I-892′s biggest financial backer… $210,000 thus far (that we know about.) Great Canadian has the most to gain from I-892… over $20 million a year from slots, at their four existing casinos. And Great Canadian has been pushing virtually identical legislation for the past three years, as one of the dominant forces behind the Recreational Gaming Association and the Entertainment Industry Association.

Great Canadian CFO Anthony Martin brags to investors that their Washington casinos were “purpose built” with a special raised floor, in the expectation that I-892 would introduce slot machines into their “local community casinos.” Really. It’s on video.

But it’s not simply the opportunity to expand their addictive wares into Washington neighborhoods that excites Great Canadian, it’s the fact that our ass-backwards gambling taxes would make Washington slots nearly three times more profitable than those north of the border.

In British Columbia, a monopoly market with limited licenses, the taxation rate is 61 percent on table games, and 75 percent on slots. Washington, with unlimited licenses and local gambling tax rates of up to 20 percent, is a land of opportunity by comparison.

By comparison, under I-892 the state taxes slots at 35%, cutting out local gambling taxes entirely.

The Canadian tax model is more the norm than the exception. Indeed, taxpayers in neighboring Oregon get 71% of the take from video poker machines, more than twice what I-892 gives Washingtonians.

Think about it. If this was truly an “Eyman initiative”, he could have doubled the promised tax break, by cutting taxpayers a larger share.

Instead, for a $47,000 salary he sold out to I-892′s real sponsor, Great Canadian. They got a sweet deal. But it sure does stink.

by Goldy, 10/20/2004, 11:16 PM

I got an interesting prerecorded phone call tonight from the King County Republican Party, warning me that Washington’s morality is at risk due to liberal judges appointed by Democrats who have controlled the state for forty years. The message highlighted cases regarding same sex marriage and so-called “partial-birth abortion.”

A woman named “Jennifer” urged me to vote Republican in the upcoming election… presumably because Republicans are more moral than Democrats, and will thus appoint moral judges.

Of course, I think honesty is an integral part of morality, and problem is… we don’t appoint judges in Washington state! We elect them.

Now personally, I think we should appoint judges — I’m a pretty smart, informed guy, and God knows I’m not qualified to elect a judge.

But I am qualified to spot a lying sack of shit when I sniff one, and ewwww… what’s that smell? It’s the KCGOP!

(If you are fortunate enough to find this message on your voicemail, please save it and send me a transcript. Thanks!)

by Goldy, 10/20/2004, 1:29 PM

Well, I’d like to think that I kicked Tim Eyman’s ass on the “Dave Ross” Show this morning, but the truth is, I didn’t get a chance. Guest-host Allan Prell beat me to it.

I think the majority of the state’s talk radio hosts have become so accustomed to Tim’s routine refusal to answer questions directly (or honestly), that they just throw up their arms and let Tim have his rhetorical way… a kind of Tim-will-be-Tim resignation.

Allan, on the other hand, was totally unfamiliar with Tim (he even called him Tom once), and got genuinely pissed when Tim refused to answer his questions. There was one particularly amusing exchange where Timmy refused to name I-892′s biggest financial contributor, and Allan simply wouldn’t let Tim continue without first giving a direct answer. Tim even threatened to hang up.

Of course, when my turn came around, I was more than happy to directly answer the question for Tim: the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation!

And once again, the callers were overwhelmingly opposed to I-892.

I know the vote on I-892 is supposed to be close. And it probably will be. But I have a feeling that if progressives vote their minds, and conservatives vote their heart, I-892 could garner less than 40% of the vote… a crushing defeat.

All in all, not Timmy’s best performance.