Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Electoral Storm - Fog of War

How do you get a questionable initiative passed? Don't tell people what they're voting on!

I-892 is the initiative to expand gambling in the State of Washington by allowing electronic slot machines outside of tribal casinos, using the money to reduce state property taxes. Even that statement of what machines are allowed is a little foggy, since supporters refer to the machines as "electronic scratch-and-win" machines, and detractors refer to them as good-old "slot machines". But you won't find either collection of words on the intiative-backers' signs or mailers.

The yard sign versions says "Lower Property Taxes! I-892". That's it. There's not a lot of nuance or room for explanation on a lawn sign, but its putting like saying "Free Ice Cream!' and waiting until you're in the store to read you the fine print ("With purchase of three jumbo cones!"). There are a lot of those signs up, including a pretty gaggle of them right in front of one of the local gambling hall (which, poor souls, do not have elctronic slot machines).

The mailer, a bright yellow monstrosity, goes into greater detail, but still doesn't seem to have room to mention "Electronic Slot Machines" - only the advantages - Save up to 15% on your state property taxes! No reduction in services! AMVETS, Eagles, and Elks can bolster their fundraising! Taverns and cardrooms can compete! And, the killer, This is the only initiative that lowers taxes!

Uh-huh. Well, the last one IS true, since this was the only one to survive the signature process. I don't see taverns taking a major hit without the omnipresent slot machines that make Reno such a family-friendly city. And I'm trying to find out if the AMVETS, Eagles, and Elks appreciate this offer from large Canadian Casino operations (who are funding this bill) to help out. And the big savings sound just a little bit pie-in-the-sky, since EVERYONE can have one (indeed, if this passes into law, a community can't just get rid of the slots, it has to get rid of ALL games of chance in their community - this particular idea got more barbs than one of Uncle Joshes' pork frogs (that's a jig-type of fishing lure)).

All in all, its pretty impressive, and plows into new depths of "How Dumb Do You Think the Voters Are?" We may just be dumb enough to buy this. In which case, I'm waiting for the same arguments to show up for legalizing prostitution ("We have to compete with Nevada! We're lowering taxes!")

More later,