Off the Record on Caucuses, Husky Football and the Mountain View InnI’m back, and rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Sure, I’ve taken a week or two off lately, and yes, a few people have disagreed with some recent columns, but we’ve got so much to talk about and so little space to do it, so let’s skip the sour grapes and just get started. I’ve got a few things on my mind regarding topics far and wide, but, as always, let’s get the political stuff out of the way first.
Washington Caucus/Primaries: As a proud 44th Legislative District Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, I am eagerly awaiting this Saturday’s Presidential Caucuses. Having said that, I am still unclear on a few things: What the hell do I do? Why do we have a caucus instead of a primary? And does any of this even matter?
Cynical, I know, but my frustration peaked when I opened my state-issued primary ballot mailed to my residence last week. For Republicans, the presidential primary ballot carries a 50 percent weight. The state Republicans, in their wisdom, have decided to equally weigh the results of the caucuses and the primary results when proportioning their presidential delegates. The D’s, on the other hand, would rather have us all leave the privacy and warmth of our homes to take part in a dog-and-pony show where everyone’s private vote becomes a public ordeal.
And as bad as that sounds, ponder the fate of the independent voter: no caucus, no primary. For whatever reason, our state’s primary ballot (brought to us at a cost of around $10 million) requires voters to pledge themselves to either the R’s or the D’s before casting a vote for a preferred candidate. So, when it comes down to it, independents have the choice of lying or throwing away their ballot. I guess if they wanted to vote for Obama or Clinton, throwing away the ballot isn’t such a bad choice, as the state Dems don’t want to count any primary ballots anyway.
For more information on the State’s primary/caucus system, visit the following state party websites: www.wa-democrats.org, or www.wsrp.org. Independents need not apply.
The U-Dub, again: But this time, not the Snohomish County branch debate. I just wanted to say a few words about the Seattle Times four part investigative piece on the 2001 Rose Bowl team, titled “Victory and Ruins”. As a fan, supporter and UW student I read this piece from start to finish, and was both appalled and spellbound. The details behind the criminal activities of former players Jerramy Stevens, Jeremiah Pharms and Curtis Williams were shocking, as was the inactivity and lack of institutional control exhibited by both the UW under Coach Rick Neuheisel and AD Barbara Hedges and the King County Prosecutor’s Office under Norm Maleng.
Although many readers expressed outrage at the series, questioning the Times motive in running the story so close to both football’s national letter-of-intent commitment day and the U-Dub’s Feb. 5 trip to Olympia in search of matching funds for stadium renovations, I count myself among the many who took a positive message from this searing piece of journalism: the Dawgs of today even with a losing record, are far greater than the Rose Bowl champs of seven years ago. That said, President Mark Emmert said it best in his response to the series: winning and quality of character are not mutually exclusive traits. Hopefully Ty Willingham, Jake Locker and the boys prove that without a shadow of a doubt next season.
Journey to the Mountain View Inn: Two weekends ago, my girlfriend and I decided to escape the confines of Lake Stevens and check out the quirky Mountain View Inn, located seven or so miles outside Granite Falls on the Mt. Loop Highway. I had met the owner, a Granite Falls-based Private Investigator, during my time at the Journal, and had always wanted to check out his place.
We cruised up at around 7:00 p.m. on a cold Saturday evening, and about a mile outside Granite, the rain turned to snow. By the time we got to the Mountain View Inn, it seemed like we were in a different world. A foot or so of snow covered the ground and roads, and more was on the way. We parked next to a drift, and walked in to the folksy, comfortable roadside bar/diner in search of a motel room and a meal. The bartender, a friendly young red-head traded us a key to one of the eight riverside motel rooms for $60 bucks cash and a signature on a slip of paper, and we dumped our stuff in a nicely appointed (but definitely well-worn) room. Sure, the tap water smelled like hard-boiled eggs and the shower looked like it had lost a battle with a pack of unwashed dogs, but hey, that’s part of the fun, right?
Minutes later, we were seated in the lounge, surrounded by a boisterous group of locals enjoying a few spirits and some good times. I went with the Prime Rib special - nearly going with the steak and lobster (!?) and was presently surprised by both the quality and presentation of the meal. A few drinks ensued, and later we were serenaded well into the night by a talented and local karaoke fan.
I’ll spare the details of the rest of the night, but will tell you that a memorable time ensued, and that a return journey is definitely in the works. Thanks to the people of the Mountain View Inn for a one-of-a-kind night. I’ll say this you can’t go any shorter of a distance while completely escaping Lake Stevens. It seemed like we were light years away, which I guess is why I liked it so much. With so much going on here, like the airline commercial says, sometimes you just wanna get away.
Kevin Hulten is the former Managing Editor of the Lake Stevens Journal and an award-winning writer. Send comments or ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.