City Council decides against property tax hike

November 16, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 16, 2010

The anemic economy has prompted the City Council to decide against a property tax increase for 2011.

The unanimous decision holds the property tax rate at the 2008 level. The council followed a recommendation from Mayor Ava Frisinger to avoid a property tax hike for 2011. Members voted on the measure Monday night.

The city collects $1.38 per $1,000 in assessed value in property taxes.

The mayor proposed a $30.4 million general fund budget for next year — a slight increase from the $29.8 million general fund budget in 2010. Money collected from property taxes accounted for almost a quarter of the general fund revenue in the 2010 budget.

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Costco-backed liquor initiative floats

November 9, 2010

Costco Wholesale poured millions to a campaign to loosen state liquor regulations, only to come up dry on Election Day.

Issaquah-based Costco backed Initiative 1100, a liquor privatization measure. The initiative aimed to close state-run liquor outlets and roll back Prohibition-era policies to allow hard liquor to be sold in grocery stores, gas stations and elsewhere. In Issaquah, the measure could have allowed liquor sales at up to 22 businesses.

The initiative also aimed to allow volume discounts on alcohol and eliminate the state markup on hard liquor.

The electorate defeated I-1100 and the other liquor privatization measure on the ballot, Initiative 1105.

I-1100 trailed statewide — about 53 percent to 47 percent. I-1105 received only 35 percent of the vote.

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Costco-backed liquor privatization initiative defeated

November 4, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 4, 2010

Costco Wholesale has battled for years to loosen state liquor regulations — and voters have rejected the latest effort by the Issaquah-based company to change Washington’s state-run liquor system.

Initiative 1100, a liquor privatization measure on the Nov. 2 ballot, trailed statewide by about 80,000 votes of about 1.6 million cast statewide late Wednesday. In King County, the measure had a slight lead late Wednesday, by about 2,500 votes out of 418,000 cast.

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Dino Rossi trails in U.S. Senate race as count continues

November 3, 2010

Dino Rossi, U.S. Senate candidate, kisses wife Terry as children (from left) Jake, Joseph, Juliauna and Jillian look on during a GOP celebration in Bellevue Tuesday. By Greg Farrar

State Senate races remain too close to call

UPDATED — 5:55 p.m. Nov. 3, 2010

Republican Dino Rossi, a Sammamish resident and former Issaquah state senator, trailed incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray by about 24,800 votes Wednesday afternoon, though the number could shift in the days ahead as mail ballots reach elections offices statewide.

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Statehouse incumbents appear to be headed for re-election

November 2, 2010

UPDATED — 9:20 p.m. Nov. 2, 2010

Incumbents in the race to represent Issaquah in Olympia — Republicans Glenn Anderson and Jay Rodne, and Democrat Judy Clibborn — pulled far ahead of opponents in initial election results released Tuesday night.

The representatives trounced little known or under-funded candidates to cruise to re-election.

Meanwhile, Democrat Marcie Maxwell appeared to be locked into a close contest against Republican Peter Dunbar to retain the state House of Representatives seat she clinched in 2008. The same scenario appeared to be the case for Democrat Randy Gordon and Republican Steve Litzow in a state Senate bout.

The measure to increase the King County sales tax rate to pay for criminal justice services trailed in early returns and a state liquor-privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco lagged.

Republican Dino Rossi, a Sammamish resident and former Issaquah state senator, remained locked in a tight race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat in a close fight for a fourth term.

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Initiatives could allow liquor sales at up to 22 local businesses

October 19, 2010

Liquor profits pour about $300,000 into city coffers

Like the Costco Wholesale outposts in dozens of other states, Washington warehouses could add Kirkland Signature vodka and dozens of other store- and name-brand spirits to store shelves — if the electorate approves a historic change to state liquor regulations next month.

The decision to redo state liquor regulations appears on the November ballot in the form of dueling initiatives, 1100 and 1105. Issaquah-based Costco is the biggest backer behind Initiative 1100.

The measures aim to close state-run liquor stores and roll back Prohibition-era policies to allow hard liquor to be sold in grocery stores, gas stations and other retailers.

“This has been an ongoing effort for 20 years to modernize some antiquated regulations that go back more than 75 years,” Joel Benoliel, Costco senior vice president and chief legal officer, said last week. “The world has changed since, almost literally, the horse-and-buggy days, when Prohibition ended.”

Washington and 17 other states still control liquor sales and distribution.

Like past clashes related to state liquor rules, questions about public safety and underage drinking dominate the debate.

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Off the Press

October 5, 2010

Failed initiatives feature tapeworm, ninja gear

The list of numbers on the November ballot reads a little bit like a secret code ready to be cracked: 1053, 1082, 1098, 1100. I could continue.

The nine initiatives, resolutions and the referendum on the ballot contain something for everybody: tax hikes, tax rollbacks, liquor, funding for “green” schools, tougher bail rules for dangerous felons and liquor (again).

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