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The Last Word
Pot, I-517, and...

Watching the state birth an entire bureaucracy for dealing with legalized marijuana has been a little like watching a late-season Mariners game — you know it’s going to be a meaningless comedy of errors. There’s no chance of making the playoffs, because the game is being played primarily with rookies and guys who started the season in the minors, along with a few end-of-their-career veterans.

I recently attended a meeting, where the speaker was Clallam County District Court Judge Rick Porter, discussing the state’s impending (it’s not yet legal) legalization, proposed enforcement, taxation, and marketing of reefer. The judge was a pretty entertaining speaker, and made a lot of his more serious points using humor.

However, the one point he made that really isn’t too funny when you think about it, yet elicited the biggest chuckle from the audience because no one was at all surprised, was this: By the time the state taxes pot at the grower level, processor lever, and again at the retail level, the cost will be about twice the current illegal street price. This was supposed to be a gold mine for the state, and it’s spending millions to create the bureaucracy to oversee it. Personally, I believe those geniuses down there could figure out how to lose money selling whiskey in a whorehouse.

One initiative on the November ballot would guarante the right to vote on qualified initiatives — I-517. It’s an initiative on initiatives if you will. I believe the right of initiative, and to petition our government to change things when it takes actions we don’t agree with, is the single most important tool citizens have to force our state government to listen to us. They’ve proven over and over again, that no matter what we think, they believe they know what’s best for us down there in Olympia. The initiative process is one of the few ways citizens have to keep the tax-and-spend zealots in check.

Anti-initiative extremists oppose I-517 because among other things, it will restrict their ability to continue the unbridled taxation this state has become famous for by silencing the voters ability to stop it.

Something I find really ironic is opponents are using property rights as a red herring to try and defeat it. In my view, that’s a bogus argument of convenience.

The truth is, I-517 has nothing at all to do with property rights. Court rulings going back more than three decades have reaffirmed the people’s constitutional right to petition in places open to the public, and those rights will continue.

I-517 also extends the time for collecting signatures, and deters opponents from bullying voters at signature-gathering locations. I’ve always been a strong supporter of the initiative process and will be voting for I-517 because I think it’s just common sense to preserve one of the few hammers citizens have to make Olympia listen.

 

If you live in the City of Port Orchard, you may have received a report sent by Mayor Tim Matthes concerning the Bethel Corridor. The report is filled with inaccuracies, and either ignorant misinformation or intentional lies — I’m not sure which — but either way, the citizens aren’t being told the truth.

Since leaving the mayor’s office, I’ve intentionally refrained from publicly commenting on Matthes’ administration. However, after reading that report, I can no longer sit quietly by as residents are deluged with what appears to be intentional misinformation. The report states, “When discussions were happening regarding the Bethel Corridor annexation, it was touted that the annexation would bring in a lot of revenue. What was never discussed was the costs to provide service and what the impact would be to the City.”

This is patently untrue. The costs were publicly discussed at great length during Finance Committee meetings, at several City Council meetings, and again in public hearings. For Matthes to tell citizens such a significant cost was “never discussed” is either a blatant lie — or the words of someone completely uninformed about the entire annexation process for Bethel, and how the City went about it.

The fact the City would incur costs for Bethel several months prior to any revenue being generated, was not only known, but planned for financially as well. As Mayor, he’s supposed to know that.

Also anticipated, and planned for were increased costs for law enforcement and the courts’ increased workload. Former Police Chief Al Townsend found grant money to cover a significant part of that cost, with the balance being paid from the anticipated $1.3 million in additional sales and property tax revenue generated by the annexation.

The report talks about the cost of right-of-way acquisition, while ignoring the fact former Development Director James Weaver authored a plan that would require developers to cede the necessary right-of-way to the City as a condition of being granted a development permit, as well as either installing or reimbursing the City for any necessary public works infrastructure to service their projects.

Matthes refused to meet during the transitional period until City Attorney Greg Jacoby forced his hand. Had we met for more than the 12 minutes we did, I would have gladly passed all this — and much more — information on to him. He just wasn’t interested.

 
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Lary Coppola's picture
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