Morning Fizz

Is the Conflict of Interest Going to Go Away?

By Morning Fizz August 18, 2011

Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your Daily Morning Fizz.

1. As voters get set to consider full liquor privatization this fall (I-1183 would put the state's liquor business in private hands, turning the market over to outlets such as Costco and Trader Joe's that have over 10,000 square feet of retail space), semi-privatization is already underway.  Thanks to legislation passed during this year's special session, private companies will have the opportunity to bid on and run the distribution part of the state system.

The Office of Financial Management has issued a draft Request for Proposals for potential distributors and the state Senate Ways & Means Committee is taking public input on the proposal through August 25.

If the state doesn't get any bids it likes it can scrap the idea.

Costco lobbied against the bill because they're worried that if the state finds the proposals compelling, partial privatization may satisfy the public's appetite for privatization—and the state's quest for cash. [pullquote]Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist doesn't do his homework. Murray is on the US Senate Budget Committee.[/pullquote]

2. Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist put his foot in his mouth in the New York Times yesterday, saying deficit reduction supercommittee member US Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) ("the lady from Washington" as Norquist called her) "doesn't do budgets."

And we guess Norquist doesn't do his basic homework. Murray is on the US Senate Budget Committee. As Democratic blog Talking Points Memo pointed out:
"The lady from Washington," is the only female member of Senate leadership in either party, and the second highest-ranking member, male or female, of the Senate Budget Committee.

3. Speaking of Murray's position on the super committee: The Olympian editorialized yesterday that Murray should drop her post as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee while she's serving on the high-profile committee, which is tasked with finding  $1.5 trillion in government savings thanks to the debt limit deal.

They reason:
Earlier, Democrats named Murray as chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In that role Murray is expected to raise as much money and get as many Democrats elected to the United States Senate as possible next year.

So on the one hand, while she’s raising money from special interest groups to elect Democrats, Murray will be selecting programs important to those interest groups that will be trimmed or eliminated from the federal budget. That dual role causes a conflict of interest.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus criticized Murray’s appointment, saying it was “absolute proof that Democrats are not serious about deficit reduction.”

In a statement Priebus said, “As chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Murray is the Senate Democrats’ fundraiser-in-chief. The Select Committee is no place for someone whose top priority is fundraising and politics.”

The easiest way to resolve this issue is for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to name another senator to lead the campaign committee — duties Murray can resume after the deficit panel completes its important work.



How silly. Not the notion that she should step aside, but the notion that she should step aside temporarily. Is the conflict of interest going to go away if Sen. Murray knows all along that come January she's getting  back on the phone to dial for dollars?

4. Here's a followup to Tuesday afternoon's item about the city's change to sidewalk cafe rules that would allow restaurants to set up sidewalk seating, as opposed to current rules, even if the seating isn't flush against the restaurant itself. (Under the new rules, which are aimed at giving restaurants more options and amping street life in the city, the seating could pop up in tree pits or on the curbside.)

We wanted a sense of how many spots were interested in the exciting idea. The city doesn't have any hard data, but said they know of cafes on 4th Ave. in Belltown and California Ave. in West Seattle that applied for outdoor cafes, but didn't have the pedestrian room if the seating had to be up against the building face, but could have done it under the new concept.

The city also tells us anecdotally they know of spots on Pike St. in Capitol Hill in the 600 and 700 block where there's interest in the sidewalk cafes.

5. Speaking of nightlife, the Stranger has a story this week about clubs getting hit with an obscure tax that threatens to put the night spots out of business.

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