by Goldy, 11/30/2004, 12:43 PM

The Seattle Times reports today that outgoing Gov. Gary Locke has said there should be a full, statewide recount in the race to succeed him.

And once that count is done, he said, all sides should agree the race is over.

Um, Gary… once that count is done, state law (Chapter 29A.64 RCW) says that the race is over.

In other news, Secretary of State Sam Reed has apparently certified the results of the election, declaring Diana Dino Rossi the governor-elect. Whether or not he actually becomes governor will inevitably depend on the outcome of the hand recount.

With a statistically meaningless 42 vote margin out of 2.8 million votes cast, the governor’s race is still a crap shoot.

by Goldy, 11/29/2004, 7:42 PM

The following label really does appear on laptop bags, briefcases and backpacks from Port Angeles and Seattle based Tom Bihn Designs:

The French care instructions translate as follows:

Wash with warm water
Use mild soap
Dry flat
Do not use bleach
Do not dry in the dryer
Do not iron
We are sorry that
Our President is an idiot
We did not vote for him

by Goldy, 11/29/2004, 12:26 PM

A precinct-level analysis by the Seattle Times revealed that President Bush’s support slipped from 2000 in Eastside suburbs, including some of the ritzier neighborhoods. [Bush's Eastside support slipped]

This is not just a local phenomena; even while Republicans have cemented their hold on an ever expanding red exurbia, close-in suburbs have been gradually shifting Democratic. For example, in Philadelphia’s affluent Main Line — a longtime bastion of “Rockefeller Republicanism” — Kerry carried some precincts by historic margins as Republicans finally seemed to realize that the national party left them years ago. And in traditionally Republican Mercer Island, Democrats now hold two out of the three legislative seats.

To me, this is one of the few hopeful signs that came out of an otherwise bleak election season. And it suggests a strategy for rebuilding a Democratic majority.

Just like the Democrats lost their base in the South with their support of civil rights legislation in the sixties, the GOP risks alienating their moderate, suburban base by abandoning fiscal conservatism to focus on right-wing social issues at home, and military and economic imperialism abroad. The neo-cons may dominate the national Republican leadership, but they do not represent the majority of suburban voters.

Families move to places like Mercer Island for better public schools, cleaner streets, safer neighborhoods, and all the other public services that a higher property tax base provides. These are people who believe in government because they benefit from it every day, and they routinely tax themselves to pay for the services they want.

These are people with whom urban Democrats have common ground, and we have an opportunity to exploit the wedge the neo-cons have provided, to expand our base politically and geographically. For in addition to a shared belief that good government is necessary to maintaining a high quality of life, suburban and city voters have a mutual interest in maintaining an economically and culturally vibrant urban core.

I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, yet I always considered myself a Philadelphian; it is this larger sense of community that Democrats must encourage in metropolitan areas around the nation if we are to have a hope of expanding our political base. To do so we must continue to be a party of progressive ideals, while remaining tempered by fiscal responsibility. We must focus on efficiently providing the level of public services voters demand, by maintaining an adequate and fair tax structure.

And urban Democrats must do a better job of reaching out across the city line to work with our suburban neighbors on solving our regional problems. I’m not suggesting compromise as a political expediency, but rather the type of collaborative engagement that fosters consensus and creativity. We’re both trying to improve education, reduce traffic, increase public safety, etc… if throwing money at a problem isn’t the only solution, then perhaps Seattle has something to learn from Mercer Island?

On the larger, divisive social issues that Republicans all too often successfully exploit to their advantage, Democrats must learn a rhetorical lesson from the opposition, and deconstruct these debates to the real world choices that people understand. For example, if the abortion debate remains a choice between dead and mangled fetuses versus a vague and unwritten Constitutional “right to privacy”, abortion foes will win. But when the public is faced with a choice between dead fetuses and young women dying of sepsis from back-alley abortions… well… that’s the kind of brutally compelling argument that led to legalized abortion in the first place.

But Democrats must also recognize that there are some issues on which we are clearly in the minority, and we must not replicate the Republican leadership’s penchant for arrogantly ramming an unwanted social agenda down the throats of the public. Political leadership is not about giving voters what they want, or what we want. It is about patiently and persuasively building a consensus where none existed before.

Democrats must not shy away from voicing their support for issues like gay marriage — if that is what they truly believe — but to attempt to impose gay marriage on an unwilling public through legislation or litigation is to invite the sort of costly political backlash we saw in the November election. The legal protections of civil union may be the least we can offer to committed, unmarried couples… but at the moment, it may also be the most.

Of course, a precinct-level analysis can be a little like reading tea leaves or entrails, and I wouldn’t want my right-wing friends at Sound Politics to label me a political haruspex. In the end, voters tend to vote for candidates, not issues, and so divining demographic trends from a single election can be misleading. After all, our state GOP is making a big deal about the so-called “Dinocrats” who may have cost Gregoire the gubernatorial election, but few are suggesting that this portends Washington turning red in 2008.

What I do know is that moderate suburban Republicans are increasingly willing to buck party loyalty and vote for Democratic candidates, representing a clear opportunity for Democrats to permanently expand their base. There is an urge to look at the huge swath of red on the electoral map and ask if we need to redefine the Democratic Party to appeal to this disaffected middle America.

But for a party firmly rooted in our nation’s urban centers, a potential Democratic majority can be found much closer to home. In fact, it’s just across the city line.

by Goldy, 11/28/2004, 9:34 AM

In the unlikely event I ever run for office, I’m likely to rue my penchant for criticizing the opinions of the Seattle Times editorial board. (Hell, I’m likely to rue half of what I write here.) I just hope they give me credit for the times I highlight my agreement with them.

Like today’s editorial: “Congress overreached in IRS oversight gambit.”

The bill gives agents of appropriations chairmen access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and “any tax returns or return information contained therein.”

Now that is scary.

It certainly is. In the words of Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

But then, loyal Republicans shouldn’t worry, as I doubt the Republican leadership intended to use this arrogant abuse of power against them.

[Speaking of corruption, it's just a lame-ass internet poll, but I find it amusing that in my poll of "Who is more corrupt?", "corrupt people" is currently coming in last, behind both Republicans and Democrats. I think that says something about how much the two sides trust each other.]

by Goldy, 11/27/2004, 1:35 PM

Of all the many strategic weaknesses that currently disadvantage the Democratic Party, perhaps the greatest is the fact that it is so… democratic. I don’t know that party leaders actually value dissent from within, but they certainly seem incapable of squashing it.

Republicans on the other hand, have no such problem. And as the NY Times reveals, the current GOP leadership is taking party unity to a new extreme through rule changes in both the House and the Senate. First Tom DeLay maneuvered to make his position as majority leader ethics-proof, and now his counterpart in the Senate, Bill Frist, has passed rule changes designed to gag the few remaining Republican moderates. [Senator Frist Tightens the Screws]

The rule undercuts members’ independence by giving Dr. Frist the power to fill the first two vacancies on all committees. This hobbles seniority, which has been the traditional path to power. The leader now has a cudgel for shaping the “world’s greatest deliberative body” into a chorus line. Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, chronic Republican maverick, got to the heart of the matter in skewering her leader’s accomplishment: “There is only one reason for that change, and it is to punish people.”

Washington State GOPolitburo chair Chris Vance has clearly displayed the same ham-handed penchant towards rigid party unity as his national counterparts (if not the same aptitude). So all you self-proclaimed “Dinocrats” get ready for some disappointment should Rossi win the re-recount. Even if Rossi were really as moderate as his soft-spoken ads made him out to be (he’s not), the GOP and its right-wing backers don’t tolerate marching to the beat of a different drummer. I expect a Rossi administration to cheerfully goose-step along.

by Goldy, 11/26/2004, 9:03 AM

I’m taking a break from the debate over recounts and re-recounts, to talk for a moment about something a little less on the minds of most voters… my eternal damnation.

In a piece reprinted today in the Seattle P-I (“It’s sure to get tougher for secular liberals“), NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes about a subject that I’ve touched upon a couple of times (here and here), the fact that millions of evangelical Christians believe that I am going to Hell… and soon.

Well, not just me, but all nonbelievers. Jews, Muslims, Catholics, atheists, (and I’m guessing, Democratic-voting evangelicals too)… in short, just about anybody who doesn’t believe what they believe.

And not only do they think we’re all going to Hell, but when I hear them talk or write about it, I often detect a bit self-righteous gloating.

What does this have to do with politics? Well, just a word of caution to my Republican friends about their political allies in the Christian right, who many analysts believe swung the presidential election: it’s not just us secular liberals who need to worry… they believe you are going to Hell, too!

That’s right, all you conservative bloggers over at Sound Politics, Christ is coming back to toss you howling and screeching into a pit of eternal fire. (Well… maybe not Marsha.)

See you in Hell.

by Goldy, 11/25/2004, 10:22 AM

Yesterday I asked readers to try to convince me why Gregoire shouldn’t pay for a manual recount. The fact that none of you succeeded isn’t surprising, but I was disappointed by the lack of honesty.

The GOP isn’t asking Gregoire to concede for the good of the state, or out of honor or decency. They’re asking her to concede because they want Rossi to be governor, and they know that with a 42 vote margin out of 2.8 million cast, a manual recount would be a crap shoot.

Which, of course, is why Gregoire should ask for a manual recount. She could actually win, legally, and fair and square.

Not enough of an argument? Try these:

A) Manual counts are more accurate than machine counts. That is why WA, like every other state (I’ve looked at), either mandates a manual recount when the vote falls within a very close margin, or allows the candidates to request one. Machines are used because they are faster and cheaper, not because they are more accurate. Random errors tend to be statistically distributed among the candidates, thus a 1-2% error rate is acceptable in most elections… but not when the margin is less than 0.000015%.

B) This is not a “best out of three” series. It is utter bullshit to argue that Rossi won the first two counts, and that Gregoire winning on a third count would not be legitimate. The accuracy of machine counts fall outside the margin of this election; the only thing the recount proved was that a manual count is necessary to accurately determine the winner.

C) It’s the law. This isn’t a game… this is about who will be the next governor, and it would be irresponsible of Gregoire not to avail herself of any measure the law allows to assure her victory. Rossi’s BIAW backers used the law to their advantage when they pumped hundreds of thousands of workers comp dollars into his partisan campaign, and you can be sure they explore every avenue of the law each time they want to pave a farm or drain a wetland. Gregoire has a responsibility to her supporters to use the law to protect their interests.

The Seattle P-I makes the argument that Gregoire should indeed seek a manual recount, but pay for it statewide, rather than in selected precincts: “Count ‘em again, Sam.”

I don’t buy the P-I’s argument that there is some moral or ethical imperative that the D’s should pay for a statewide recount. But strategically, I say they should ask for a full statewide manual recount regardless. It wouldn’t be bad PR either.

After all, this is the only way we’ll ever know who actually won this election.

by Goldy, 11/24/2004, 12:51 PM

King County just posted their (first) recount results: Gregoire picked up 593, Rossi picked up 348, for a net Gregoire gain of 245 votes.

Surprisingly, Ruth Bennett picked up 1,317,792 votes to become the nation’s first Libertarian governor!

(Just kidding.)

Actually, this leaves Rossi with a lead of 42 votes out 2.8 million cast.

Now really… convince me why the Democrats shouldn’t pay for a hand recount?

by Goldy, 11/24/2004, 6:44 AM

Sometime later today King County will report final results from their recount in the governor’s race, just minutes before one side or the other announces that they will seek a second recount.

What… you were expecting a concession speech?

That’s what GOPolitburo chair Chris Vance would prefer, but then, his candidate is currently leading by 287 votes, so you can’t blame him for wanting to quit while he’s ahead. However, you can blame him for being such a whining, hypocrite about it:

“If Chris Gregoire is behind at the end of the day tomorrow, she should do the decent thing, the honorable thing, and concede the election,” Vance said yesterday.

Eat me.

Sorry for the strong words, but then, us D’s apparently aren’t “decent,” “honorable” people. Certainly not straight shooters like Chris Vance:

Vance did not rule out requesting a recount if Rossi falls behind. But he said Rossi is in a “fundamentally different position” than Gregoire

Yeah, that’s right… he’s winning. Watching Republicans count votes is kind of like watching Princeton play basketball… score first and they try to run out the clock.

The candidates spent $16 million on this race, and out of over 2.8 million votes counted the difference is still within the statistical margin of error. Whoever is behind at the end of the day (and I’m assuming it will be Gregoire) would be nuts not to ask for a recount.

Here’s how it works. Either side can pay for a hand recount in selected precincts, at a cost of $0.25 per ballot. If the results change the outcome of the election, the cost is refunded and a hand recount is performed statewide.

According to Chris Vance, a second recount would invite chaos:

“She’ll be dragging the state into uncharted territory,”

Actually Chris, it is charted quite thoroughly in Chapter 29A.64 RCW… a section of the law I’m sure you will be intimately familiar with in the unlikely event Rossi is trailing at the end of the day.

One other bold prediction… if today’s King County results, or those from a subsequent hand recount, do in fact reverse the outcome, we’re going to hear a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth from R’s accusing D’s of stealing the election. In fact, we’ve been hearing it for the past couple weeks, even as their candidate has steadily held the lead. And yet the vote count, recount, and re-recount will all have occurred under the bright lights of party and media observers, particularly in heavily Democratic King County.

Meanwhile, somebody like me questions discrepancies in faraway Ohio or Florida, and suddenly, we’re all wearing “aluminum hats.” But take a look at this commentary in the Philadelphia Inquirer from a mathematics professor at Temple University — “Errors in exit polls still a puzzle to many” — and tell me that we don’t deserve to be at least a little suspicious.

by Goldy, 11/23/2004, 2:09 PM

As of 4:50PM, with about 64 percent of the recount in, Rossi has expanded his lead by 55 votes to build an eye-popping 316 vote margin. I haven’t bothered to do the math myself, but according to the OCD people at Sound Politics, this actually represents a net shrinkage in Rossi’s projected margin. Go figure.

While I find their continued implication that a corrupt King County might throw the election to be, well, silly, Sound Politics still gets credit for the obscure vocabulary word of the day: “haruspex“.

Anyway… still waiting for King County to report.

(FYI… I’m just pulling the latest results from the Secretary of State’s web site, whenever I get around to it.)

by Goldy, 11/22/2004, 10:09 PM

I’m a little wary of Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, but he certainly made the right call by rejecting a deal that would have leveraged only $50 million in private money to secure $300 million in public financing to build a NASCAR track near Marysville. [Snohomish County out of the race for a NASCAR track]

Believe it or not, Tim Eyman and I do agree on some things, not the least of which being public financing of stadiums. Both of us opposed Seattle’s stadium binge, and both of us were rather pissed when the Legislature put up the money for Safeco Field despite a rejection at the polls.

I remember once hearing an interview with Ed Snyder, at the time the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, being asked about why he was building a new arena with private money (albeit on public land.) He said that if a stadium or arena doesn’t make business sense, it doesn’t make business sense, regardless of who’s paying for it.

I’m sure there are a lot of disappointed local NASCAR fans, but Reardon should be congratulated for his business-like decision.

by Goldy, 11/22/2004, 8:52 PM

It’s kind of silly speculating about these numbers until all the counties have reported, but hell, I might as well dance with girl that brung me.

With about a quarter of the votes recounted, Diana Dino Rossi has padded his margin by 25 votes to assume a mandate-inspiring landslide lead of 286 votes. (Anybody know how to type the sarcasm smiley?)

Of course, both R’s and D’s alike are breathlessly awaiting the recount from King County… D’s because they understand that Democratic-stronghold King, being by far the largest county in state, is the most likely place for Gregoire to pick up votes… and R’s because they’re a bunch of paranoid whiners.

Personally, I’m finding it a little hard to get worked up over reporting the scattershot results of this recount in progress. I’m waiting for the second recount.

by Goldy, 11/21/2004, 9:24 PM

The WA State GOP sued today to stop King County from hand counting ballots rejected by the scanning machines, but a federal judge refused to issue a restraining order. [Judge denies request that some King County ballots not be counted.] I suppose they’re hoping this will ultimately go to the Supreme Court, riding the sorry precedent of Bush v Gore.

Meanwhile, the Rossifarians are busy blowing smoke, trying to spin the recount into a bad trip. There’s no real news coming out of the recount thus far, but that hasn’t stopped conservative blog Sound Politics from posting tales of scandal and fraud based on such hard-nosed reporting as a Chris Vance press release.

Oh please. I know a lot about press releases, and one thing they ain’t, is news.

Oh, they may look like news — and they’re certainly intended to influence news coverage — but they are pure, unadulterated spin. I know. I’ve written hundreds of them, many of which have generated gobs of local, national, or trade-industry coverage.

Why would Sound Politics stoop so low as to cite a GOP press release as evidence of vote tampering? I’m guessing it’s because they’re afraid of what might happen if every vote is counted. Rossi might… lose.

Personally I think it’s a bit premature to be whining about a stolen election. If I were a betting man, I’d still put my money on Rossi. But clearly, the righties are worried. It makes me wonder if maybe they really do know something about the recount that the rest of us don’t?

by Goldy, 11/21/2004, 6:25 AM

Last week WA State GOPolitburo chair Chris Vance bemoaned Democratic efforts to contact King County voters whose ballots were rejected because their signature didn’t match, warning that the D’s were trying to “turn this into Florida.”

Well now the R’s are suing again, this time to prevent King County from manually counting ballots rejected by the optical scanning machines. [Republicans file suit to limit King County recount]

What exactly is Vance trying to stop?

Egan said hand counting is necessary and legal in several instances, including torn or crumpled ballots, partially filled in ovals, ballots where a candidate’s name is circled or checked, and ballots where a voter changed his or her mind and crossed out one oval and marked another.

Yup, sounds like Florida to me: the D’s are trying to count every vote, and the R’s are trying to stop them.

by Goldy, 11/20/2004, 7:01 PM

According to several reliable sources, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi is really… a woman. The putative winner of the Nov 2 election has denied that he was born Diana Rossi, but insisted that he has never referred to himself as a man, saying that other people wrote his legislative biography. When asked if his gender was misstated, Rossi said “If I saw it, it didn’t register.

According to Sec. of State Sam Reed it was not immediately clear what, if any effect this might have on the recount.

by Goldy, 11/19/2004, 9:24 AM

There’s been a rather heated discussion going on in a couple of threads about the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) and the way they use the “retro rebate” program in our workers compensation system to finance their highly partisan political campaigns. So I thought I’d give this topic it’s own thread.

FYI, the discussion was sparked by George Howland’s piece in the Seattle Weekly, “Political Capital“, in which he reveals that the BIAW is using insurance revenues from municipal governments to help finance their political activities. The article also gives some good insight into the winner-takes-all attitude of the BIAW:

This past election cycle, it spent between $1.7 million and $1.8 million, mostly in support of three candidates: Republican gubernatorial hopeful Dino Rossi, Republican Attorney General-elect Rob McKenna, and conservative state Supreme Court Justice-elect Jim Johnson. Erin Shannon, the BIAW’s public relations director, is thrilled with the results: “It was a big ‘Fuck you!’ to all the liberals out there.”

Replies Shannon of the BIAW: “We are kicking their ass. How many years have we whipped labor?”

I may not be an expert on workers compensation reform (yet), but one thing I know a thing or two about is PR. And their PR director’s choice of words was arrogant or calculated or both. Either way, it was revealing.

I like to wear my bias on my sleeve, so you should know that I first became aware of the BIAW last year during their campaign for Initiative 841. You can read my column in the Tacoma News Tribune, “I-841 ergonomics initiative is well-funded flimflam, to get an idea about who I believe we’re dealing with.

Lot’s of organizations across the ideological spectrum have partisan political agendas. But the BIAW stands out for a number of reasons. They are aggressive, relentless, effective… and I believe they have been working on a “big picture” strategy that ends with turning WA into a “right to work” state, effectively defunding Labor. This is a strategy intended to turn WA into a one party state along the lines of Texas.

The time has come for workers compensation reform that benefits both businesses and workers, and in the process, cuts off BIAW from it’s government money trough.


UPDATE: I just read Joel Connelly’s latest column in the P-I which includes the following comment pertinent to this discussion:

In looking at Rossi’s campaign, this greenie’s blood runs cold at the half-million-dollar investment by the state’s nastiest, most vocal anti-environmental lobby.

Will the Building Industry Association of Washington now move into the governor’s office, or simply use it as a business address?

Just so you know I’m not out in the wilderness on my opinion of the BIAW.

by Goldy, 11/18/2004, 3:52 PM

I’m hearing many unsubstantiated rumors regarding the recount in the governor’s race, and in the interest of fanning the flames of paranoia, and encouraging misplaced hope, I intend to repeat them.

Rudy writes:

FYI – just talked to a very informed friend imbedded in a county courthouse who said that many precincts are showing up over voted, meaning more votes cast than registered voters. None in King County.

I guess this means Gregoire wins, right?

by Goldy, 11/17/2004, 8:28 PM

All in all, it’s been a pretty good week for Christine Gregoire. I mean, apart from losing to shady real estate agent Dino Rossi by 261 votes.

Monday morning, all the spreadsheets trended Rossi, projecting a 3400 vote victory… well beyond the 2000-vote spread that would trigger an automatic recount. Gregoire’s ballot-count comeback was impressive, and while it just fell short, it easily puts the race within the margin of error in an election with 2.8 million votes cast.

Four years ago the senate race between Maria Cantwell and then-incumbent Slade Gorton went to a recount, and Cantwell padded her slim margin by an additional 291 votes. While it is true that no statewide election has ever been reversed on a recount, this time it is certainly within the realm of the possible. Not likely, but possible.

That said I am going to make a bold prediction. After carefully analyzing all the election data, extrapolating from historical patterns, and adjusting for several extenuating circumstances, I am ready to project….

A tie.

That’s right, you heard it here first: a tie.

According to a little known clause enacted through I-747, the race will be decided by flipping Tim Eyman. Considering how two-faced Tim is, I suggest Gregoire calls “heads.”

by Goldy, 11/17/2004, 10:36 AM

[FINAL (sort of) NUMBERS]

Of roughly 2.8 million ballots cast:

Time     Rossi Lead   Projected Margin   Ballots Left
12:01am    19          599                6127
10:00am    64          468                6292
10:45am    67          464                6272
11:45am   156          504                5731
12:15am   156          500                5659
04:00pm   405          587                4296
04:30pm   -35          375                2721
04:50pm   -28          366                2521
05:00pm   -28          363                2471
05:20pm   -28          339                2221
05:40pm    92          369                1971
06:00pm   -13          272                 750
06:00pm   261          261                   0

But don’t forget… Maria Cantwell’s margin increased by 290 in the recount.

by Goldy, 11/17/2004, 12:04 AM

I’d like to take a break from speculating on the ballot count in the governor’s race to actually talk about something important. Underage gambling.

As my regular readers know, I was a vociferous opponent of Tim Eyman’s I-892, an initiative that would have put 18,255 slot machines into over 2000 locations in nearly every community in the state. But just because I-892 was crushed at the polls with less than 38% of the vote, doesn’t mean I’m going to let this issue die.

As an editorial in today’s Seattle P-I points out, I-892 was rejected because Washington voters simply don’t want more gambling. The No campaign had a very simple task — they didn’t have to convince voters that putting slot machines into our neighborhoods is a bad idea — they merely had to convince voters that I-892 would put slot machines into our neighborhoods.

Washingtonians understand that expanding gambling comes with social costs that simply are not worth the extra tax revenues. But I’m not sure we fully understand exactly how much gambling can cost us.

Our children.

Back on 9/30 I told you about an extraordinary documentary shot by some recent grads of Shorewood High School that showed teenagers — some as young as 12 — caught up in the current gambling craze (“Problem gambling isn’t kid’s play“.) The documentary was later the subject of a KING-5 TV special report: “Underage gambling out of control“.

Thanks to a tip from problem gambling advocate Jennifer McCausland, the Washington State Gambling Commission and Washington State Liquor Control Board conducted a joint sting operation at seven Seattle-area mini-casinos. WSGC officials were surprised to find that a “very young looking” sixteen-year-old was able to gamble and purchase alcohol at three of the seven targeted card rooms.

You’d think with a major gambling initiative on the ballot, this would have been big news in the weeks leading up to the election, but it’s only during the past week that this story is beginning to get a bit of play. Both KOMO-4 TV and KING-5 TV ran pieces yesterday showing seized surveillance footage from the sting operation. [Casinos busted for allowing 16-year-old to gamble, buy alcohol] It’s pretty stunning.

Eyman pooh-poohed it during the campaign, but Washington — and much of the rest of the nation — is facing a growing public health crisis: compulsive gambling, an addiction that is just as real and destructive as drug and alcohol abuse. The rapid expansion of gambling here and elsewhere only serves to normalize the experience for our children, while state lotteries spend millions of dollars marketing gambling as the ticket to Easy Street. And the current poker craze, fueled by coverage on ESPN (and even local TV!) will inevitably serve as a gateway towards a lifetime of addiction for an entire generation.

Yes, only 5% of adults are problem gamblers (although they account for as much as 60% of casino profits), but according to a 1999 study, the addiction already afflicted more than one in twelve WA teens. And that was before the poker craze, at a time when total state gambling revenues were half what they are today.

While Eyman promises a son-of-892, that’s not my main concern; the gambling industry is not going to throw good money after bad, and there’s no way he can qualify the initiative for the ballot without their cash.

My concern is that we have a unique opportunity to do something about this problem, and we can’t afford to blow it. I-892, the Shorewood High documentary and the WSGC sting operation have all helped to create public awareness of this growing crisis, while Democratic control of the Legislature offers a hope of funding problem gambling treatment and prevention programs. Such legislation was blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate last session, and regardless of who becomes the next Governor, we need to pressure Olympia to finally take action.

We need greater enforcement of underage gambling laws, and stricter penalties for their violation. But most important, we need to start educating parents and teens about the warning signs of problem gambling, and the very real dangers of lifelong addiction. Ms. McCausland’s Second Chance Washington is a great start, but it’s the responsibility of the commercial and tribal gambling industries to start paying for the problem they are creating.

This is not the last you’ll hear from me on this subject, regardless of what Tim does.