Tuesday's Scan: Costco? Who says we're from Costco?

They may have spent $20 million on the liquor vote but suddenly Costco's representatives want to go silent. Green Mountain Lookout may survive another summer.
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They may have spent $20 million on the liquor vote but suddenly Costco's representatives want to go silent. Green Mountain Lookout may survive another summer.

In Alan J. Pakula's brilliant film adaptation of Woodward and Bernstein's All the President's Men, Bob Woodward, played by Robert Redford, confronts an attorney named Markham during the arraignment of the Watergate burglars. "Markham," Woodward says. "Mr. Markham, are you here in connection with the Watergate burglary?"  

"I'm not here," Markham says.  

The scene, emblematic of absurd denials, was replayed in Olympia last week (minus E. Howard Hunt) as a team of Costco attorneys attended a state Supreme Court hearing challenging Initiative 1183, the Costco-underwritten measure that privatizes state liquor sales. Is there a compelling reason for attorneys to act so taciturn and Markham-like?  

"In my experience it's tradition that after newsworthy oral arguments before the Supreme Court, the lawyers talk with reporters. Sometimes this happens in the chambers. Sometimes out in the foyer. Other times on the steps of the Temple of Justice," Austin Jenkins writes in the Washington Ledge. "But on Thursday, neither [attorney David] Burman nor anyone from the Costco delegation would speak on the record. In fact, Costco Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Joel Benoliel wouldn't even identify himself to me. Instead, Benoliel — whom I later identified based on his picture — referred KOMO's Bryan Johnson and me to the state's attorney."   

Wasn't the whole purpose of I-1183 to de-bureaucratize and facilitate the purchase of hooch by impulsive miscreants like this Scan's author? In practice,  liquor privatization could evolve into a monopoly, sidelining smaller businesses that hope to cash in. Are there adequate safeguards for little-guy booze peddlers or will they simply need to become more entrepreneurial?   

"After the state's voters gave big retailers the right to sell liquor starting June 1, at least one chain is invoking a right that elbows out some slim small-store competition," the Seattle Times' Melissa Allison writes. "QFC is enforcing contracts at some of its locations that prohibit private liquor stores from operating in the same shopping centers, according to real-estate brokers involved in two local deals, one in Issaquah and the other in Kirkland. The restrictions, which are legal, are causing some people to scramble for new locations after they won rights in an auction to operate one of the state's 167 existing liquor stores."   

Snohomish County Councilmember Brian Sullivan's mother did not raise a quitter. As the The Herald's Jerry Cornfield writes, "Democratic Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan said Monday he's not giving up on his dream to serve in Congress. He said he will remain a candidate in the special election to serve the final month of U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee's term even though the field ballooned to 11 people last Friday, including five who want the job well into the future."

Politics notwithstanding, it would be pretty sweet to witness Sullivan power past the crowded field and emerge triumphant. He or some other non-ambitious (write in PETER H. JACKSON) candidate who wouldn't attempt to game the system, but rather promote the interests and greater good of the district (PETER H. JACKSON needs health insurance) in a farsighted, nonpartisan manner.  

The Green Moutain Lookout in Washington's Glacier Peak Wilderness Area may live to see another summer. Sens. Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, and Rep. Rick Larsen have elbowed U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to do everthing legally kosher to put the kibosh on the lookout's destruction. As the Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes, "U.S. District Judge John Coughenour, ruling on a suit by Montana-based Wilderness Watch, recently ordered the U.S. Forest Service to remove the lookout.  The Seattle U.S. Attorney’s office has filed a motion to have the ruling remanded to allow the Forest Service to assess whether the historic lookout can remain." The question revolves around helicopters used to reconstruct the lookout, a clear violation of the U.S. Wilderness Act of 1964. Arguably, someone should get a letter of reprimand from the U.S. Forest Service, but tear down an historic lookout? The remedy doesn't exactly square with the violation.  

Lastly, if a tsunami comes this way, early warning may be a wee tougher to gauge. As KPLU's Tom Banse reports, "One quarter (12 of 39) of U.S.-operated tsunami warning buoys in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are out of service. That includes the two tsunami detection buoys directly off the Pacific Northwest coast. But the warning system has some redundancy built in." Let's hope that "redundancy" saves us.  

Link Summary

Washington Ledge, "Does $20M buy you the right to remain silent?"

Seattle Times, "QFC blocks new liquor stores from some shopping centers"

The Herald,  "Sullivan won't drop out of special election"

Seattlepi.com, "Lawmakers: Don't let suit wreck Green Mtn. lookout"

KPLU, "Quarter of Pacific NW tsunami buoys out of service"


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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