Fun_People Archive
28 Sep
The People's Choice

Date: Thu, 28 Sep 95 12:27:26 -0700
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: The People's Choice

[This item is a bit regional; non-Seattle-area Fun_Persons will just have to  
imagine what's been going on with ballot measures in and around the Emerald  
City (BTW, it used to be called "the Queen City," but the Frederick & Nelson  
department store threatened to relocate unless it was changed)...  -psl]

 From: Robert Drucker <>
 Subject: The People's Choice


Seattle, Washington:  In an unusual move, King County executive Gary Locke
today declared martial law in this populous western Washington county.  The
emergency regulations, which officials declared to be in effect "until the
voters are ready to act in a civilized manner", include a general curfew,
suspension of civil liberties, and closure of most newspapers and radio and
television stations.  Only the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and KOMO-TV were
allowed to remain in operation in their capacity as official agencies of
the county.

The county's action was taken after a final tally of Tuesday's primary
election vote determined that King County Proposition 1 had failed by a
narrow margin.  The proposition would have imposed a sales tax increase from
8.3 to 8.4 percent in order to pay for a new baseball stadium for the
Seattle Mariners.

In a prepared statement appearing as a Post-Intelligencer editorial, Mr.
Locke explained the reasons for the county's action.  He said that the
voters were "out of touch with the people" and that the narrow defeat of
the proposition was "a great victory" that displayed "overwhelming support
for Baseball in King County."  He went on to explain that "black is white",
"war is peace", and "we have always been at war with Eurasia."

The decision to impose martial law was apparently made after plans to settle
the crisis through an emergency session of the Washington State legislature
fell apart due to political bickering.  Republicans wanted to save the
stadium by imposing a 54.4 percent state sales tax that would apply only to
purchases made by King County residents, and simultaneously eliminating all
business taxes within the state.  Democrats opposed the plan, claiming that
it would require eliminating all non-baseball related government services
in order to leave enough funds to build the stadium.  Republicans countered
that the Democrats were employing "scare tactics" and accused them of
"putting politics ahead of baseball."

State Democrats had offered an alternative plan, which entailed asking the
Clinton Administration to declare King County a federal disaster area and
diverting Superfund monies to build the ballpark.  However, key Republicans
opposed the idea unless the relief money was awarded as a "block grant"
without federal regulations.  Under current federal law, federal disaster
relief for building baseball stadiums is subject to environmental and safety
regulations, including strict standards on the securing of roof tiles.

The martial law idea apparently originated with the Mariners owners
themselves, and was quickly embraced by all parties.  Under martial law,
county officials are free to examine voting records and raise funds for the
stadium by seizing the property and assets of the nearly 250,000 voters who
opposed the stadium tax.  The county assessor's office released preliminary
estimates that this would produce immediate revenues of $10 to $50 billion,
which would then be dispersed to sports franchises and other needy

In a related story, the Seattle-based Nordstrom department store is reported
to have asked the city to close all streets except Pine Street and 5th
Avenue.  A spokesman for the city issued a statement saying "This is a
reasonable request. We'll let the voters decide."

[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []