News Mar 7, 2012 at 4:00 am

Is Costco's initiative to privatize liquor sales coming back to bite it in the ass? (And will the rest of us get screwed as a result?)


If the Liquor Board changes the intent of the initiative as it is proposing to do, then liquor prices will go up 30% at bars and restaurants because Southern and Young's will have a duopoly on the marketplace - they together will control over 90% of the liquor distribution market.

Expect retail prices at the average grocery store to be up to 64% higher than you pay now at a State owned store.

The proponents of this initiative lied about it lowering prices. Consumers and small business owners are about to get fucked.

The first hope is that the LCB doesn't add to the problem by reinterpreting the initiative and punish Costco (who admittedly suck for pushing this initiative to start with, it's so bad on so many levels).

The second hope is the current lawsuit trying to throw this whole thing out.
If you think a 64% markup makes any business sense at all you are out of your mind. No one is going to pay $22 for a bottle of Schmirnoff, or $36 for a bottle of Jack.
Hello Indian Reservation!! 2 bottles of whiskey, a gross of bottle rockets and a carton of smokes please.
TOtally, #3 - Online stores and Indian Rez.
@1 ""If the Liquor Board changes the intent of the initiative [...]"

I am not all that interested in your predictions or hyperbole, but I do find that the implication of your preface quite interesting. Is the intent of Costco, or douche-nozzles like Eyman, or any initiative writer for that matter, actually important?

I'd love to see opinions from legal professionals, but it would seem to me that any legislative intent, insofar as it would ever have anything to do with the application and interpretation of the law, would have to derive from the understanding of the electorate at the time they voted in the initiative, as I would argue they are doing the "law-making" for all intents and purposes.
How on earth would you determine "the understanding of the electorate at the time they voted in the initiative"? Were such a thing possible, I suspect you would find the electorate's entire understanding of the initiative can be summed up in 3 words, "privatize liquor sales". You think they all went ahead and read section xviii, subsection 23-2, clause c.3 before they voted?
Fuckin English, how does it work.
@7 What they're saying is that we're gonna pay more, not less, for alcohol.
Why doesn't Costco just apply for a distributor license?
Even better, why don't they buy out a current distributor? Recently. Kings try to buy out K & L (bud distributor, but distributes hard alcohol in Alaska)at way more then it was worth. The family of K& L were ready to sell. Kings is such a small moms and pops organization, they couldn't secure the funding for the sale. If Costco buys out a current distributor of soft sales, it isn't that much to bump up to hard sales.
More pointedly, the WSLCB seems intent on punishing voters of diminishing their control on hard liquor. It also begs the question whether any of the WSLCB members have interests in Young's or Southern's.
Toldja. Idiots.

This is what you voted for. This is the way the liquor business runs in the US of A. Distributorships are monopolies. Palookaville. You just traded a regulated one for an unregulated one. Way to go.

The other big fights are central warehousing, the meaning of "at that location", section 302 which was ruled unconstitutional in Cowlitz Co. (mark your calender for Mar 19), and many, many more.

AND... the very instant the state is out of the liquor business, expect the goo-goos to do to drinkers exactly what they've done to smokers.
Someone was hittin the Kirkland Brand Vodka pretty hard when they wrote up the initiative.
Are we forgetting Costco is a wholesale as well as retail company? Don't you think Costco can afford lawyers smart enough to write an initiative with their best interests in mind?
@13 "Don't you think Costco can afford lawyers smart enough to write an initiative with their best interests in mind?"

The definitely can afford to do so, but in so far as the language is open to different interpretations, it may be that they failed.

@6 "I suspect you would find the electorate's entire understanding of the initiative can be summed up in 3 words, "privatize liquor sales"."


I argued up there that #1's idea that Costco's "open new markets, make more money" should not be given much consideration when the courts have to determine if the law meant per day or per transaction in it's limitations.
#2: Go across the border to the North. $31 for a fifth of Jack Daniel's #7, and $24 and $28 for Smirnoff Red and Blue labels.
Every flippin jihadic moron that said hells yeah to kicking the state stores out owes me money for extra scotch costs. Every damn one of you. I hate you all and hope you die.

I knew this would result in a worse deal, it was all right there in the law if you idiot teabagging morons had bothered to read with your brains instead of your assholes.
lol I like you, 16.
Cuz Washington sucks.
What is cheaper in WA State? If your going to be a media slut at least make the bed? You pay more for everything.
This article talks about the limits on retailer-to-retailer sales. However, in this instance, wouldn't Costco be functioning as a wholesaler?
It is not Costco's fault the current crop of liquor distributors and the WSLCB are corrupt.

Nothing a lawsuit can't fix.
Boohoo Stranger. I seem to recall you all being big supporters of privatization. Now consumers will pay more, while state workers lose jobs, small businesses get screwed, and the state loses revenue. Awesome all around
@17 re: @16: I second that!

@18: You could always move.
@21: The Stranger editorialized against 1183, endorsed a "no" vote, and wrote extensively about the unfavorable terms of the initiative as written.

(Funny how, with massive price spikes all but confirmed, the odious and self-righteous asshole from this thread is nowhere to be found.)

Washington would still suck if I left.

As with everything in WA State we the people are waiting for someone to take charge and hold a steady course so influx and price and demand and the skin flint tin horns are left behind?

We (supposedly) have no control over the price of anything and as well the economic forcasters cant predict anything so your going to loose your shirt and your home and your school?

Toll road,gas price gas,tax that tax this and the little guy gets pushed out.

get on your knees for the banks as they are the ones who own everything?

next year it will be a new ball of wax 7-11 will have its own brand of gin. and the market will be competitive and not haveing growing pains? untill then you snooze you loose and you should have stocked your wine cellar before the state had its panty tantrum.
@25: I wasn't being flippant re: my comment @18.

Yes, there is indeed a lot of political tea bag / Tim Eyesore-related bullshit destroying what's good here in Washington State. As a native, I have traveled across the United States and frankly wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Despite ample problems in Olympia, including the ridiculous inability to balance the state budget, home is where my heart is.

I guess it's a good thing I don't consume hard liquor.
So Much for you ignorant assholes (yes YOU) who voted to privatize liquor sales.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, HA!
Dumbfuck @ 27...

Arizona has a three-tiered distribution system...

...just like Washington is going to have. Distributor/Wholesaler (NOT Costco, BTW)/Retailer.

PS-The State taxes you pay on your favorite brain cell killer?'ll stll pay 'em. Sucker.

(the dumbfuck @ 28 was commenting to the dumbfuck @ 24)
I suppose we all better buy up stockpiles of booze at the state stores before they close or go private.
We're fucked. We gave away the one monopoly we had that generated more revenue for the state than anything else and are now ready to get reemed by big business. I knew this would happen...

Goddamn fucking Teahadist revolt...
Ya know, I would have been fine with the state maintaining the monopoly, if they had some stores open till 2, open on sundays, and more locations maybe.

Back at ya, twerp.
Yes, this initiative is bad on so many levels, as many of us understood it had to be, given the realities of our regressive and dysfunctional tax policies, and an irrational initiative system that lets any kook with an idea dress it up with help from people with money (who expect your idea to bring them more) and stick it on the ballot. It's like jigging for squid: every now and then, you catch one.

Voters (that's you, citizen squid) decided long ago that taxing liquor, retail sales, business, building, and a confusing tangle of other things was good policy, so our state has used the system you built to pay for all the services we have demanded of government.

We have usurped the judgment of the very judges we elected to judge, demanded by initiative that the courts mandate unthoughtful, unproductive, and needlessly expensive sentencing practices, despite evidence this will only make impacts on communities worse and more expensive; spend a lot of money on "security", which will only make matters worse and more expensive; Buy a bunch of snowplows, garages to house them and mechanics to maintain them, despite evidence this will only make impacts on communities worse and more expensive; and the demands for service go on, and on, and on.

Taxes, after all, in the words of justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, "the price we pay for a civilized society", and we, voters, have weighed-in through our elected representatives about what services we require. Our challenge has been to build a system of taxation that can fund our demands in perpetuity. As has been apparent in headlines and committee rooms for decades, the voters of Washington continue to do this very poorly, demanding the legislature fulfill under-analyzed knee-jerk mandates that poll well (throw away the key, clear my street, build me a bridge, provide emergency services, hospitals, libraries, sewers, power, water, public health and safety systems...), and then pitching a fit when work costs money. Dude, get real, there is no tooth fairy.

Recent electoral history is rife with examples o this failure of analysis. We insisted on putting the monorail concept into play before we had completed even a rudimentary analysis, so it could not succeed. We may well have done the same thing to the liquor system.

We watched Costco spend millions over years to convince us to give it control over our broken system, and now are complaining that it is going to do exactly what the people in Costco's PR department convinced the voters to ask it to do, which is make more money for Costco. Remember, it was YOU who said the rich can do a better job of managing your money than you can. So now, when you have to pay for what you bought, you complain it isn't what you wanted. A personal problem, if ever I heard one.

"Business sense" is exactly what Costco spent so much money to lead voters to believe it was introducing into the system, and it did so, exactly as advertised. So now we have added profit-making to a system originally designed as a way to pay for voter demands through taxation (the things we pay to get what we want from our society). Government exists to address the desires of citizens.
Business exists to address the desires of owners. Why the surprise? Way to go.

The truth is beginning to dawn that the changes the "government is a waste of money" people are causing may only make impacts on communities worse and more expensive. Way to go.

Yes, reservation jokesters, anybody can break the law and avoid personal responsibility for the functions of society, but law is the only way voters can enforce the rules we want. If you are really tired of society and want the wild west, move to Afghanistan, where no tax collectors will bother you. Good luck with war-lords and no laws.

I will not even attempt to address any positions beginning with "all you gotta do is", "it's government's fault", "it's the union's fault this won't work", or "why don't they just". These vacuous voices help us get into these errors of failed analysis to begin with.

We did, indeed, trade an arcane but cost-effective and well-regulated taxation system for an expensive unregulated one. Way to go.

Cheap liquor, by the way, has never been the priority of Washington voters. Arizona gets cheap vodka, we get schools, roads, bridges, trauma centers, police, curb-cuts, and other things we want.

If we keep privatizing government functions, we will keep wondering why the CEOs have yachts, but our children have no schools. Way to go.

We will keep on getting into these dilemmas until we figure out how to put analysis into the initiative system and make our taxation system rational. Rational, by the way, does not mean free. Carry your weight.

Since when did they let Arizona in the real world?
I think I love you, Songbird.
If prices are gonna go up, can we sue Costco for fraud, since they promised us prices would go down? That was a big part of what they hinged the initiative on, wasn't it? "If you do this for us, we'll bring prices down!" So, they committed fraud?
People keep harping on how we were all fooled by Costco, how much money Costco spent on initiative 1183 and how much money they are going to make.

Newsflash.... WE KNEW ALL THAT!

1.We would have voted the same whether Costco spent 20-dollars or 20-million. Having the government compete in the same marketplace of a product the government also regulates is both unfair and ludicrous.

2. Costco is a business. Which is in business to make money. I hope they become a shining beacon of how the private sector can do it better then the public sector and they rake in bucketloads of money with this initiative. Creating more jobs and opportunity for everyone such as the new Costco being built across the street from Alderwood Mall.

3. And the state will actually make MORE money due to that 17% tax that going to get tacked on.

Then the state can focus on what the business of the state should have been in the first place. Regulation. And lets be honest folks, no state does regulation better than this Gregoire land nanny state.
Why do I feel like I'm watching the scene from National Lampoon's Animal House in which the Deltas had their fraternity charter revoked, all got expelled, Flounder just threw up on Dean Wormer for gleefully announcing that he had notified their local draft boards and told them they were now all eligible for military service, and Delta Fraternity President Robert Hoover is left saying 'I KNEW it!...I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!'??

And voters STILL yelled, Toga, Toga, Toga!

Welcome to the car wreck.
@39: I agree on what good Governor Gregoire, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Mary Anne Haugen, and Congressman Rick Larsen among others have done for Washington State.

Unfortunately, with the passing of I-1183, a lot of state jobs got voted out. I don't foresee privatization of liquor sales actually restoring our high unemployment rate or skyrocketing college tuition fees any time soon.
Whoops---I think I meant to say Senator Mary Margaret Haugen..?

Okay, I'n done.
Dang---sorry for another typo! "I'm" not "I'n".

Note to self: post no more blogs on Benadryl.
OKay---I really will shut up now.
@26: "I guess it's a good thing I don't consume hard liquor." What, can't mix booze with your anti-psychotic medication?
@46: Does your mom know you're out trolling?

Please wait...

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