Midday Scan: It's Friday; time for Washington to get liquored up

It's time: Washington unleashes the private sale of liquor and all of its price implications. Meanwhile, on the Olympic Peninsula the Department of Agriculture has put the ixnay on discrimination and whooping cough has jumped the border.
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It's time: Washington unleashes the private sale of liquor and all of its price implications. Meanwhile, on the Olympic Peninsula the Department of Agriculture has put the ixnay on discrimination and whooping cough has jumped the border.

It's hooch day in Washington, a chance to purchase Rice Krispies and bananas along with swigs of Jose Cuervo and Maker's Mark all at the same store. In the annals of Northwest-tippler history, June 1, 2012, registers just behind December 31, 1932, when "medicinal" liquor was finally given the okay. And to think that the priggish state Supreme Court almost put the kibosh on Washington's Edenic new normal. 

The AP and the Herald's Jerry Cornfield report, "A divided state Supreme Court today upheld the voter-approved initiative putting sales and distribution of hard liquor in the hands of the private sector. The 5-4 ruling clears the way for supermarkets and warehouse retailers such as Costco and Wal-Mart to begin selling bourbon, vodka, and other spirits beginning Friday. Opponents had filed suit, arguing that it violates state rules requiring initiatives to address only one subject because it included a provision to set aside $10 million for public safety."  

The challenge now is to find affordable booze. As grandma warned you, "if you want to dance, ya gotta pay the piper." 

"Consumers’ first glimpse at free-market reform came with some sticker shock, in which prices at Safeway and Fred Meyer are ranging from 5 percent to 17 percent higher than under the state system. But some prices are lower, by 5 percent or 6 percent," the Seattlepi.com's Vanessa Ho writes. "One noticeable change is advertising. Before, in Washington’s no-frills liquor stores, the shelf price was the cash register price. All taxes and fees were rolled into that price. Now, retailers are free to advertise alluringly low prices, get you in their stores and then hit you with the sting of a $3.77 liter tax and 20.5 percent spirits tax at checkout."  

U.S. courts became the touchstone and guardians of justice during the American civil rights era, when the political class was too timid to act. The civil rights MO is repeating itself on issues of immigration and human rights, with the Pacific Northwest as the backdrop. The broader question is whether comprehensive immigration reform will move forward or if the rights of the undocumented will inch ahead (or backward) based on piecemeal judicial rulings or bureaucratic fiat.  

"The U.S. Forest Service's use of Border Patrol agents as language interpreters and for law enforcement in stops involving Latinos on the Olympic Peninsula is discriminatory, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a decision," the Seattle Times' Lornet Turnbull writes. "As a result, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights within the USDA, which oversees the Forest Service, has ordered the agency to establish a new national policy so that non-English speakers can use national forests and parks without 'an escalated risk of harm.' The USDA's lengthy and detailed decision is the result of an investigation into a complaint filed by a Hispanic woman in Forks, after her encounter last year with a Forest Service officer just outside the Olympic National Park."  

In the case of Journalist Mark Rahner, media, a physical disability, and alleged discrimination all intersect.  Rahner, a former Seattle Times scribe, is suing the paper under the ambit of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Rahner suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and said he could not work the night shift.) As the Seattle Weekly's Keegan Hamilton writes, "Although the court filings offer a fairly detailed description of Rahner's time at the Times, there's no explanation as to why the night shift would have aggravated his sleepy condition, and no independent verification of his claims that his bosses 'publicly criticized, denigrated, and humiliated' him." 

Lastly, we told you to get immunized. Now Washington's whooping cough epidemic has jumped the Columbia to Oregon. Joe Rojas-Burke has the story

Link Summary

The Herald, "State justices uphold liquor initiative, 5-4"

Seattlepi.com, "Liquor sticker shock: Why is booze so expensive?" 

Seattle Times, "Bias seen in Forest Service practice on Olympic Peninsula"

Seattle Weekly, "Jornalist Mark Rahner files lawsuit against Seattle Times alleging disability discrimination"

Oregonian, "Whooping cough cases surge in Oregon"



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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