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Random thoughts on recent events

Do you feel gas prices will ever come down? Me either. But how much of the current situation is really attributable to the lack of refinery capacity due to damage caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita? Oil companies couldn’t have manufactured a better excuse to raise prices than two natural disasters within three weeks. That lack of capacity can’t possibly be linked to the fact that environmental restrictions have prevented any new oil refineries from being built anywhere in America in more than 30 years, could it?

A bit of trivia… The very last new oil refinery was actually built in modules at the Port of Tacoma, and barged to Valdez, Alaska, where they were assembled — in the 1970’s.

That leads us to I-912 — the gas tax initiative — which will pass, and by an overwhelming margin. Two recurring themes I keep hearing are that voters are offended the legislature passed it using the emergency clause, stealing their right of referendum. The other is that Christine Gregoire campaigned on a “no new taxes” platform, and with no obvious mandate to govern considering how she came into office, signed the largest tax increases in state history into law.

There is certainly a lot more anger still simmering over the governor’s race than Democrats want to acknowledge. Voters didn’t appreciate the level of arrogance and contempt demonstrated by the legislature or the governor, and will vote out the gas tax, hoping it sends a message. As usual, that message will be ignored in Olympia. And if it is, look for the voters anger to boil over next November.

Speaking of Gregoire, at a recent charity auction I attended, a signed copy of Dino Rossi’s soon to be published new book sold for substantially more than dinner with the governor.

It appears Jack Hamilton, one of the major cheeses in the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners is gearing up to challenge Commissioner Patty Lent in a Republican primary next year. KAPO honestly believes it’s primarily responsible for Lent’s election, and is livid she has refused to dance exclusively to its tune.

The fact she’s enormously popular with moderate and conservative Democrats as well as most local Republicans, except the extreme far-right conservatives — and KAPO — seems totally lost on the Republican leadership. Hamilton won’t even begin to attract the crossover vote he’ll need to win — the way Lent did to beat Tim Botkin. Yet party leaders are actively encouraging him to go after her.

The unquestionable skill of local Republicans at inventing new ways to shoot themselves in the foot is truly awe inspiring. Here they have an incumbent commissioner and a Republican majority on the county commission for the first time in what, something like a half-century? Meanwhile, Democrats, with no viable candidate in the wings, are pulling out all the stops to romance Lent into switching parties, with Hamilton and the Republican leadership playing right into their hands! What are they thinking?

You read it here first: Lent will beat Hamilton like a drum in a bloody primary, which will completely annihilate whatever relationship KAPO has left with her by then. She will also beat just about any other prospective opponent — especially a liberal Democrat — in a district that’s slowly but steadily inching to the right.

Bainbridge elitists are now carping about the Washington State Ferries’ modernization of its Eagle Harbor maintenance facility. Many would prefer a mixed-use development including condos and upscale retail on the waterfront site. Never mind the fact that such an upscale retail/residential development would be sitting right smack on top of a bona fide, documented, EPA Superfund site.

Most taxpayers — except apparently those on Bainbridge Island — are fed up with what they view as an enormously bloated, wasteful and inefficient WSF bureaucracy. To its credit, when WSF does make a sensible, financially sustainable business decision, what happens? Selfish, NIMBY Bainbridge snobs whine it’s interfering with their “quality of life.” That site has been home to industrial marine activity for well over a century. Get over it.

The primary results in Port Orchard were no surprise, as voters booted first-term incumbent councilmen Ron Rider and Todd Cramer. This doesn’t bode well for Mayor Kim Abel or Council Member Rita Dilenno, both already on thin ice with SK’s business community, and up for re-election next year. Cramer, Rider, and Dilenno usually support the mayor, who in spite of lots of bluster, hasn’t really accomplished much. However, she is credited with running off immensely popular, longtime city engineer Larry Curles.

Interesting to watch will be the council matchup between former mayor Jay Weatherill and political newcomer Fred Chang. Weatherill has remained close to council members Rick Wyatt, John Clauson, Bob Gieger, and Carolyn Powers. Meanwhile, Chang, the top primary vote-getter, is tight with Abel and Dilenno.

Look for Abel to face stiff opposition next year, which will be heavily funded by a discontented business community. But what could be real interesting would be seeing her challenged by Curles.

According to the Public Disclosure Commission attorneys have contributed $2,061,707.73 to the No on I-330 campaign while doctors have contributed $856,110.54 to Doctors, Nurses, and Patients for a Healthy Washington . Is it just me, or does it look like attorneys have a lot more to lose than doctors if I-330 passes?

Finally, all through the local debate surrounding the proposed NASCAR track, I keep hearing people referring to “Corporate Welfare.” I want to know where that corporate welfare office is actually located — so I can go sign up.

 
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Lary Coppola's picture
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