Don't listen to the Stranger Election Control Board on I-1100... they're all a bunch of drunks.

Honestly... have you ever been to the Stranger's offices? The hallways stink of urine and cheap whiskey, the floors are perpetually sticky with I-don't-wanna-know-what, and far from being the hipster hangout I imagined it to be, the whole ambience comes off as sorta like a cross between a homeless shelter and a gay, geeky, college frat house.

I mean, this is a "newspaper" that considers a single viewing of "His Girl Friday" to be the educational equivalent of a J-school degree, so the only journalism credential most of its reporters have is a cliched bottle of bourbon in their desk drawer. That is, assuming they even have a desk: Cienna squats over a laptop all day on the dirt floor of a kinda yurt-like structure she built entirely out of empty wine boxes.

So really, don't take seriously any of the arguments in the SECB's Yes endorsement on I-1100; they were all totally hammered when they wrote it. (Except, of course, for Dan; he just drifts around all day utterly and irreversibly high.) Which perhaps explains why the Stranger is so desperate to dramatically expand the availability of hard liquor, their offices being more than what, a half-block away from the nearest State Store. The DTs can be a bitch.

The fact is, the SECB's whole pro-1100 argument is based almost entirely on convenience: that the limited number and hours of State Stores just makes it too difficult to purchase a bottle of rotgut when, you know, they really, really need it. But is that reason enough for taxpayers to hand over tens of millions of dollars of revenue a year to corporate giants like Costco and Safeway and 7-11 in exchange for not only increasing convenience, but also increasing both the prevalence and cost of alcohol abuse?

See, not all alcoholics are as harmless and lovable as the car-less barflies at the Stranger, whose most abusive booze-fueled behavior is mostly targeted at the English language. Alcohol is the most widely abused drug available. It is the most devastating to families, and the most costly to businesses and government. And it is also by far the most deadly.

Yes, most people can be trusted to enjoy alcohol responsibly, but in terms of lost productivity, lost families and lost lives, alcohol abuse carries with it huge social and economic costs. And if you dramatically increase the availability while dramatically lowering the price—as I-1100 promises—you will inevitably increase both consumption and abuse.

That means more alcohol-related health costs, more domestic violence, more crime and more drunk driving fatalities. That's what's happened in other states that liberalized their liquor laws, and that's what will happen here.

And it also means more underaged drinking, as there isn't a study in the nation that doesn't show private retailers with dramatically lower compliance rates than government run State Stores. And while I'm not particularly ashamed or regretful about my own underaged drinking, I think the kids at the Stranger should have to get their booze the same way I did... by stealing it from their parents' liquor cabinet.

I don't disagree that our State Store system is an anachronistic relic of the post-prohibition era, one that our politicians would never dare attempt to implement today. But the same could be said about Social Security, and I don't see the Stranger making similar arguments for dismantling that.

And, I'm totally unswayed by the SECB's whining hissy-fit that this is what our legislators somehow deserve for refusing to act on their own; it's not legislators who will lose from this ill-conceived, industry-backed initiative, but the entire state. Personally, I live just three blocks from a Rainier Ave. gas station minimart, and I can't tell you how much I dread the convenience of late-night liquor sales.

The impact of this measure is too great, and the consequences potentially too costly to be left to an up or down vote on a mass-marketed initiative. Once we dismantle the State Stores we will never go back, so even if we were to pursue such a reform, we should only do so after a thoughtful and deliberative process.

That is why I emphatically urge you to ignore my drunken, impatient colleagues at the Stranger, and vote No on I-1100.