With the official start of summer behind us, the thoughts of many readers turn toward sunshine and cookouts and vacations. That doesn’t mean there aren’t pressing affairs of state issues facing residents, nor does it negate the vital role played by The Answer Man.
Question: For the past two weeks, groups of people at work have been screaming at the TV while watching football games. But the Seahawks season doesn’t start until August, right?
Answer: The “football” they are watching is the World Cup, sort of the Olympics of international soccer.
Q: Oh, soccer. Why don’t they just call it that?
A: Certain American soccer fans insist on using European — and Asian and South American and Central American and African — terms for the sport. It makes them feel superior to non-fans.
Q: Terms like what?
A: They get their affectation on by calling uniforms “kits,” playing fields “pitches,” cleats “boots” and the standings “tables.”
Q: I have no idea what you just said. Perhaps if they used terms we all use more people would watch.
A: Perhaps that is true. But that same segment of American soccer fans don’t really want the sport to be too popular (see above reference to feeling superior).
Q: Is there an American team playing?
A: Oh yes. They are what’s called “the group of death” because the other three teams are all quite good and only two of the four can advance in the tournament.
Q: Isn’t it true that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best?
A: I just want to get out of group.
Q: Group therapy maybe. I keep asking — for a friend, of course — when will Washingtonians be able to buy pot legally. You keep saying “soon” but I — I mean, my friend — still can’t score. Why is this taking so long?
Q: What does that mean?
A: I don’t know, but it seems to be the response from state officials whenever the timetable comes up. Last sort-of-firm date was early July. I’m not sure, though, if that is 2014.
Q: Doesn’t the state need the money from marijuana taxes? Isn’t the state Supreme Court getting ready to throw the Legislature in jail for its slow response to the court’s order to boost education funding?
A: I’m not certain that the next free meal legislative leaders will get will consist of Nutriloaf and cherry Kool-Aid. But the court’s patience with the Legislature is growing thin.
Q: Welcome to the club. But my local legislator says lawmakers added $1 billion to public education over the last two sessions. Isn’t that a lot?
A: It is unless you need to add somewhere in the range of $4 billion before 2018 to meet the court’s order. And knowing the tendency of politicians to procrastinate, the court ordered steady progress toward that goal. No waiting to the last minute, bingeing on coffee and pizza while cramming for the final exam.
Q: So the court wants the Legislature to put more money in before the September contempt hearing?
A: No, it is actually simpler than that — raising a good question as to why lawmakers are making this so hard. The court wants a specific plan and timetable as to how lawmakers intend to phase in the funding between now and 2018. Three times the court has asked for such a plan, and three times the legislators have failed.
Q: Maybe the dog ate it. One last thing … I read that a candidate in Central Washington is offering voters a free gun if they vote for him. Is that legal?
A: Actually Clint Didier is entering voters in a raffle to win guns if they “like” him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.
Q: Will it work?
A: It can’t hurt. You’d need dental floss to find ideological space between the eight GOP candidates to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings. But Didier is the only one who has declared “Like me, win a gun.” So far.
Q: Thanks for your help, for what it’s worth.
A: USA! USA! USA!
Peter Callaghan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.