Local students cast ballots in statewide mock election

November 15, 2011

Though most students in primary and secondary schools do not meet the minimum voting age, the under-18 crowd still participated in the November election — sort of.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed invited students in kindergarten to 12th grade to participate in the 2011 State Mock Election, a state-sponsored educational effort designed to establish voter participation later in life.

In the Issaquah School District, classes at Sunset and Sunny Hills elementary schools, Pine Lake Middle School and Issaquah High School joined the mock election. The librarian at Sunset Elementary even handed out “I Voted” stickers to students.

Older students voted for the same statewide measures as adults in the real election. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade received more age-appropriate measures.

Issaquah School District students endorsed the liquor privatization measure, Initiative 1183, 58 percent to 42 percent. Local students also backed the tolling measure, Initiative 1125, 60 percent to 40 percent, and the long-term care measure, Initiative 1163, 71 percent to 29 percent.

Statewide, 13,901 students participated in the process.

Press Editorial

October 4, 2011

Yes on I-1183 to end state liquor business

Initiative 1183 — putting liquor sales in the hands of retailers instead of the state —is worth a yes vote. Last year, voters were asked a similar question, challenging the state’s monopoly on liquor sales. The voters said no. But I-1183 is vastly different.

For one thing, small stores like mini-marts will not be allowed to sell liquor, squelching the fear that teens will have more access than ever. Only stores larger than 10,000 square feet will qualify, unless a smaller store is the only option in town.

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Costco-backed I-1183 aims to remove state from liquor business

September 20, 2011

Months after a measure to privatize the state’s Prohibition-era liquor system failed, Issaquah-based Costco ordered another round, and spearheaded a similar measure for the November ballot.

Initiative 1183 aims to remove the state from the business of distributing and selling hard liquor. The measure is less comprehensive than Initiative 1100, a Costco-backed privatization measure rejected last November.

A colorful brand of Puerto Rican rum occupies a shelf at the state liquor store on Northwest Gilman Boulevard. By Greg Farrar

If passed, I-1183 calls for state-run liquor stores to close by June 2012. The measure also aims to require the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Unlike the unsuccessful initiative from last year, I-1183 limits hard liquor sales to stores of at least 10,000 square feet. (The average Costco encompasses about 140,000 square feet.) I-1100 aimed to allow smaller retailers, such as gas stations and convenience stores, to sell hard liquor.

Still, opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

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Issaquah residents defied trends in November election

December 14, 2010

The ballot measure to create a state income tax failed just about everywhere outside of left-leaning Seattle and Vashon Island — except for a precinct nestled along Lake Sammamish.

Initiative 1098 received ironclad support — 80 percent — in the precinct. The catch: King County records indicate the precinct has 11 registered voters; 10 participated in the Nov. 2 election.

The information about the Lake Sammamish precinct comes from a detailed analysis of the precinct results in the recent election. (Issaquah is carved into 30 precincts.)

The neighborhood-level data — released a month after the election — illustrates how the Issaquah electorate bucked state trends on some issues and rejected incumbents even as the candidates cruised to re-election.

The dueling liquor initiatives on the ballot, 1100 and 1105, received uneven support from Issaquah voters.

Initiative 1100, a liquor privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco — the largest employer in the city — received broad backing in the city even as the measure came up short statewide.

Initiative 1105 failed in every Issaquah precinct and only managed to garner 35 percent of the vote statewide.

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City Council decides against property tax hike for 2011

November 23, 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 — or $1.38 per $1,000 in assessed value in property taxes.

The council followed a recommendation from Mayor Ava Frisinger to avoid a property tax hike for 2011. Members decided against the increase Nov. 15.

Frisinger proposed a $30.4 million general fund budget for next year — a slight increase from the $29.8 million general fund budget in 2010.

The general fund is used to pay for police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

Money collected from property taxes accounted for almost a quarter of the general fund revenue in the 2010 budget.

Overall, Issaquah residents pay $10.80 per $1,000 in assessed value in property taxes to the Issaquah School District, King County, and numerous state and regional districts. The school district receives the largest slice — 44 percent.

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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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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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