You've gotten your return-by-Nov. 2 general-election ballot in the mail. Now what?
Well, first of all, ignore everything you see about the election on television, especially the commercials.
In the aftermath of the disastrous "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision early this year, which essentially gave us a cruel "one-corporate-dollar, one-vote" parody of democracy, this election is being flooded with money - mostly from big corporations, and mostly for TV ads that range from misleading to flatly dishonest.
Nowhere can our corporatocracy be better seen than in the statewide initiative process, where five of the six measures that qualified for the ballot did so with truckloads of money from companies hoping to enrich themselves by persuading us to add or eliminate laws.
For all but Initiative 1098, there's an overriding consideration: Do we really want our initiative process to devolve into laws by and for whomever can afford them? The only way companies will stop buying their way onto ballots is if it's a bad investment. That means rejecting these measures.
Here's a quick look at a few of the more prominent items on this year's ballot and how I'm voting on each.
Initiative 1053 - No
Tim Eyman likes to pretend he's working for the little guy, the beleaguered taxpayer. It's never been less true than this year, when he hopes to pass this law that would require an unachievable two-thirds majority to pass any tax or fee increase through Olympia.
Who's hoping to avoid higher industry-specific measures to help plug our state's gaping budget holes? BP (gave Eyman $65,000 for I-1053); Tesoro ($65,000); ConocoPhillips and Shell ($50,000 each); Bank of America, Wells Fargo and US Bank ($27,500); and so on.
This would lead to taking a meat-cleaver to Washington's already-bare-bones budget - all to save these companies a few bucks.
Initiative 1082 - No
The Building Industry Association of Washington, the state's most active and conservative trade group, is bankrolling this effort to privatize the state's workers' comp-insurance system. Bad, bad idea.
The same companies that scrimp on worker safety in the first place are virtually guaranteed to go with plans that don't cover anything.
Initiative 1098 - Yes
The one exception to this year's onslaught of corporate-friendly initiatives, this creates a high earners' income tax, using those revenues to reduce property and small-business taxes.
The TV ads from opponents are about as deceptive as can be. This won't cost jobs, but it will save most taxpayers a lot of money - and it is an important first step in reforming our state's tax structure, the most regressive and most poorly suited to a modern economy of any in the country.
Initiatives 1100, 1105 - No
The two measures seek to dismantle the state liquor-store system in favor of commercial sales. Costco has poured more than a million dollars into I-1100 (with more from Walmart and other big-box retailers), for obvious reasons: It favors big retailers and bottlers, so smaller craft brewers responded with the somewhat fairer I-1105.
Both, however, would cost the state lots of lost revenue and make hard booze exponentially more available.
If you're so desperate for Jack Daniels at 10 p.m. that you need the convenience of being able to buy it at your nearest gas station, at least pick I-1105. But if that sounds like you, you might consider cutting back.
Initiative 1107 - No
Speaking of deceptive ads, how 'bout the American Beverage Association's (Coke, Pepsi, et al) campaign that calls this a repeal on a "tax on groceries." Well, if you live on Snickers and Dr. Pepper, sure, but the state Legislature passed its tax last spring on soda, candy and chewing gum to help close the budget gap - because these are unnecessary, unhealthy products.
U.S. senator - Patty Murray
I'm not much of a Patty Murray fan, but the thought of someone as profoundly slimy as Dino Rossi in the U.S. Senate for six years - caucusing with some truly crazy people and obeying Wall Street's every command - is depressing beyond words.
State Supreme Court, Pos. 6 - Richard Sanders
I disagree with him on a lot of things and wouldn't want nine (or even five) of him on the bench. But given our state court's current composition, it's valuable to have someone who's a principled libertarian willing to strike down our government when it intrudes on people's rights.
Seattle Municipal Court
Pos. 1 - Edsonya Charles
Pos. 6 - Michael Salvador Hurtado
Referendum 52 - Yes
This requires the state to issue $505 million in bonds to fund energy-efficient construction renovations in school buildings. It more than pays for itself long term and is desperately needed in the short term.
King County Proposition No. 1 - No
This is a sales-tax hike to pay for criminal-justice programs. As much as it's difficult to cut public-safety expenses, in this economy, it's not the time to add still more regressive sales taxes.
Seattle School District Prop. 1 - Yes
A protest vote against this operating levy is nearly useless; you're better off approving it now (otherwise, they'll just resubmit it until it passes) and going to the school-board meetings to influence how the money is actually spent.
Sen. Joint Resolution No. 8225 - No
This "reduces" the state debt by allowing bean-counters to not include the amount expected to be offset by federal funds received for that purpose. It's the same sort of chicanery Enron and major accounting firms have perfected over the last couple of decades. It obscures rather than clarifies, which is the whole point.
Engrossed Sub. House Joint Res. No. 4220 - Yes
This enables judges to refuse bail for accused very violent offenders.
King County Charter Amendment No. 2: - Yes
This is campaign-finance housekeeping.
Charter Ammnts Nos. 1-3
Yes on all three.
GEOV PARRISH is cofounder of Eat the State! He also reviews news of the week on "Mind Over Matters" on KEXP 90.3 FM.[[In-content Ad]]