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Editor's column: In Olympia, they’re buckling under the pressure
As the Legislature dawdles in its endless special session, officials in Olympia are slowly going crazy in a Night of the Living Dead scenario.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn was driven to drink by the delay, and then driven to drive. After enjoyed a family night out with wife and sons at the local Swiss Sportsman Club, he heaved a 0.11 into the Orting P.D. breathalyzer at 3 a.m. and was taken into custody, which is what they do to important people. The rest of us they just arrest.
Dorn was eventually loosed upon the public again, where he gathered advisors to write a statement. When that proved insufficient he added a few attorneys to help write another statement, from which we gather he’s really sorry for whatever they say he did, and that he will never do it again, not that he did admit to doing anything serious to begin with. As a role model to thousands of students, he has to do the right thing by lawyering up and never admitting to anything.
Fortunately, the Legislature has provided for this situation with the Drunken Elected Officials Act, officially known as the diversion program. It’s for important people and others willing to mortgage their lives on expensive lawyers. Dorn will likely admit to something, tell a judge he’s sorry, pay a fine, and get himself diverted from jail and a permanent DWI record. In a few years, it will be like it never happened, wiped cleaner than history in “1984.”
The Legislature’s inaction in the face of the greatest fiscal emergency in decades also drove Attorney General Rob McKenna to distraction. The straight-laced legal eagle downed half a dozen root beers, but to no effect. So he joined the states’ rights lawsuit against the new federal health car program, because it requires people to buy medical insurance. Single-handedly, his blue state was joining hands with southern red state yahoos who won’t even admit they lost the Civil War. McKenna, a likely Republican candidate for governor in 2012, was just trying to look acceptable to the Tea Party folks. To add to the effect, he walked into Brooks Brothers in downtown Seattle and asked in his newly-adopted drawl for bib overalls, a flannel shirt and red bandana. Learning his favorite store doesn’t carry such things, he got directions to Cabela’s and decided to get a shootin’ iron to complete the ensemble. Luckily, he drove past Randy Dorn’s Prius without incident.
Meanwhile, the Legislature is still at loggerheads over taxes. The Democrats, who control things, all agree it is essential to raise taxes, they just can’t decide on who. The Democratic governor is so frustrated she threatened to shuck the whole thing and just order the bureaucrats to cut everything by 20 percent. This was the best laugh the legislators have had all year, and now the governor is the most famous comedian in the state.
The legislators are keen on raising taxes on people who can’t vote, particularly the candy, soda and bottled water used by children. Unfortunately, that won’t raise all they want and now that felons can vote, they can’t even raise taxes on orange jump suits.
But the word Monday was that they had some new ideas, perhaps taxing public officials who make fools of themselves. Judging from the antics in Olympia, this may be the greatest money-maker of all time.