Midday Scan: Thursday's top stories around the region

A daughter's powerful letter about the still-unsolved assassination of her father, federal prosecutor Thomas Wales; senatorial politics; raw political maneuvering in Snohomish County; Gregoire vs. liquor privatization.

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Former Seattle Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas C. Wales (1952-2001)

A daughter's powerful letter about the still-unsolved assassination of her father, federal prosecutor Thomas Wales; senatorial politics; raw political maneuvering in Snohomish County; Gregoire vs. liquor privatization.

Amy Wales offers a persuasive and heartfelt letter to her late father, federal prosecutor Thomas Wales, ten years after his unsolved murder. Amy Wales's letter, as profound as it is emotionally searing, coincides with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's Wednesday (Sept. 28) announcement in Seattle that the Justice Department will renew its efforts to break the case. "There are people out there who know who killed you. They know the person or persons who conspired to take your life. But they are fearful to share information," Wales writes. "So I will do for them what you would offer to do for them. I will offer to carry their fear and their burden … if they can summon the courage, I will promise to advocate for their safe harbor. And when they come forward, they will know me by my gratitude and my compassion."

In 2007, the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin wrote the most comprehenive analysis of the Wales tragedy. To listen to the full reading of Amy Wales's "Dear Pops: A letter to a murdered father" go to the link at KPLU).

Politics can be a nasty beast, and to witness its machinations, raw and unbound, is to experience animals in the wild. Which brings us to Snohomish County. As Noah Haglund of the The Herald of Everett reports, the mudslinging in the race for Snohomish County Executive now involves accusations of improper complaints (there is such a thing). "State Rep. Mike Hope accused a staffer for County Executive Aaron Reardon of using a false name to file frivolous ethics complaints against him. Reardon said the employee had nothing to do with the complaints to the state Public Disclosure Commission and the Seattle Police Department, where Hope works as an officer," Haglund writes. Reardon went on to tell the paper that it was "a baseless accusation from a very, very desperate campaign."

The set-to is both entertaining and exhausting. "Now, take your best shot at me," Reardon told Hope at a Herald editorial-board meeting. Sigh. Fortunately for Reardon and Hope, there is no "none of the above" box to check.     

Washington's abstemious governor is weighing in on the issue of liquor privatization. In an interview with C.R. Douglas at Q13, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced her opposition to Initiative 1183. "The only way we get more money is if we sell a whole lot more," Gregoire said. (Thankfully, booze sales increase during hard economic times).  

Chris Grygiel of the Seattlepi.com writes: "I-1183 would privatize spirits sales. It also would generate new revenues for state and local governments, and dedicate money for public safety programs and restrict sales from convenience stores and gas stations. Those changes were made to combat concerns that last year’s privatization proposal pushed by Costco raised public safety risks and hurt government budgets. Stores that get liquor licenses would have to pay 17 percent of liquor revenues to the state under I-1183. Liquor distribution businesses would give the state as much as 10 percent of their revenues."

The central question: Will Gregoire's opposition influence still-on-the-fence voters? 

There is good news and bad news for incumbent Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell. As Publicola notes, Cantwell will likely win re-election in 2012. The bad news: She will probably be a member of the minority party. Real Clear Politics highlights the quasi-safe U.S. Senate seats including Diane Feinstein (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Bob Casey (Pa.), and Joe Manchin (W.Va.). However, the political numbers don't align for Senate Democrats to maintain majority control. 

What would a political sea change mean for Washington state? Sen. Patty Murray would lose her position as chair of the Senate Veterans Committee, her signature passion and vehicle for enhancing veteran services. Sen. Cantwell would give up the reins as chair of the subcommittee on energy (which falls under the rubric of the full Energy and Natural Resources Committee).  One of the more fascinating transitions to watch: Sen. Lisa Murkowski would assume the chairmanship of the critical Energy and Natural Resources Committee.   

Lastly, the inimitable Don Young of Alaska is pulling a Howard Beale as he girds to roll back federal regulations (in fact all federal regulations enacted since 1991). Young is mad as hell and he isn't going to take it anymore. As the Anchorage Daily News reports, "Alaska Rep. Don Young suggested Tuesday he plans to introduce a bill to repeal every regulation that's been put into effect in the last 20 years, an idea that could have huge implications for everything from aviation safety to oil drilling if it actually happened." Well, stranger things have happened.  

Link summary

KPLU"Dear Pops...A letter to a murdered father, Tom Wales"

Everett Herald, "County executive candidate questions source of complaint"

Seattlepi.com, "Gregoire on liquor privatization:Not right for Washington"

Publicola, "Cantwell wins but Democrats lose"

Anchorage Daily News, "Young wants to roll back all federal regulations since '91" 


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson