by Inlander Staff Strong Mayor, Weak Turnout? -- The mantra in support of putting the strong mayor recall on the September ballot was to "let the people decide." Fair enough, but on any primary ballot, you should really say, "let some of the people decide." It's no secret, but Spokane County election turnout statistics show that primaries attract a lot fewer voters than general elections. The primary of last September attracted 36 percent of registered voters, while the November ballot attracted 59 percent. And in 2000, when the strong mayor election was held, 43 percent cast ballots in the primary and 76 percent came out in November (which was also a presidential election year). This is why advocates of things like Valley incorporation and convention center expansion seek a vote outside the November general election. Small turnouts, the strategy goes, make anything possible.
Sure, a November ballot with mayoral candidates and a referendum on it would be confusing, but what recent ballot hasn't been confusing? Voters can figure it out, and at least the November ballot would really have been the best proof of what "the people" want.
A Great Year To Be a CEO -- As unemployment reaches new highs seemingly by the month, there's one sector that's not only secure but flourishing. That's right, if you're a CEO, the ups and downs of the economy are no bother at all. At least that's what a new report by the Corporate Library, an independent business research group, says. According to the group's study of more than 1,000 public corporations, CEO compensation was up 17 percent in 2002 over the year before.
Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone has the highest salary of the CEOs studied at $3.6 million per year, but as the analysis shows, that's just where pay starts. CEOs also routinely get bonuses, direct payments and stock options. Redstone's bonus for 2002 was also the highest, at $16.5 million. His company was up about 10 percent over 2001. Home Depot's stock, meanwhile, dropped 53 percent in 2002 -- yet its CEO, Robert Nardelli, pocketed $11.2 million in total compensation.
Strange Bedfellows -- You may have heard that Congressman Butch Otter (R-Idaho) is lining up against the PATRIOT Act. A handful of elected officials like Otter advocate having the law expire next year. Not content to wait, the Green Party-dominated town of Arcata, Calif., recently enacted an ordinance specifically preventing city officials -- including the chief of police -- from helping the feds enforce the Act.
Clearly, it may take some odd alliances to overturn the PATRIOT Act, and when you seen Otter on the same side as one of the nation's most hippiefied towns, the planets might just be coming into alignment.