Apparently I had only half the story when I wrote about the burglary at the I-901 campaign’s Green Lake offices, where petitions containing about 1000 signatures were stolen. As first reported yesterday in the Tacoma News Tribune, and again today in the Seattle Times, there was actually a second break-in over the weekend targeting the anti-smoking initiative, this one at the Lacey offices of Progressive Campaigns, the signature gathering firm that collected about half of I-901’s signatures.
At the Green Lake office the perpetrators scavenged through desk drawers and boxes, taking only petitions, while leaving cash and laptop computers behind. There were no petitions in the Lacey office, and nothing was stolen.
The burglary in Lacey was similar to the one in Green Lake, with a shattered window, said Lacey police detective Lt. Phil Comstock.
Comstock said that, although the crimes were being investigated independently, there appear to be links between the break-ins. Police said they have few leads.
[I-901 campaign spokesman] Peter McCollum said he was unsure why the theft occurred and didn’t want to speculate.
“Could be something as sinister as political motives or it could be something as silly as a prank,” McCollum said.
I have no problem speculating. It was the sinister political motives thing.
The Times article quotes I-901 opponent Gary Murrey, vice president of the Great American Gaming Corp. — a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp. — which operates four of the state’s largest non-tribal casinos, in Lakewood, Tukwila, Everett and Kent. Forgive me for being a tad suspicious, but this is the same Canadian company that bankrolled last year’s slot machine initiative, I-892, and it is reasonable to expect that Great Canadian will bring the same shady ethical and legal standards to its WA operations that it allegedly brought to its loanshark-infested B.C. casinos, and its Hong Kong based floating brothel.
And dirty tricks are nothing new to this issue. Last year, when anti-smoking advocates attempted to push an I-901-like initiative, opponents helped scuttle the effort by filing a similarly titled initiative intended to confuse voters. So Murrey tried the same ruse again this year.
Murrey has filed a rival measure, Initiative 911, which would ban smoking indoors in places where children were present but would allow adults older than 21 to light up in businesses such as bars and minicasinos.
Hey, I have an idea Gary. Since you seem to care so much about children, why don’t we just raise the legal gambling age to 21, so we won’t have so many minors illegally smoking and drinking in your casinos, huh? Maybe I’ll file that initiative.
In any case, our Canadian neighbors have failed once again to jigger WA’s initiative process to their advantage; I-901 has collected more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, and I-911 hasn’t. That I-901 opponents would stoop to petty burglaries is a sign of desperation. But it should come as no surprise that an industry with a well-earned reputation as a cesspool of organized crime and addiction, might organize a crime in defense of an addictive and destructive habit like smoking.