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Spin Control

Archive for April 2009

Tanker bids this summer?

The Air Force should be releasing the draft version sometime in May of its “request for proposal” on a new aerial refueling tanker.

That’s one of the things Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and members of the Greater Spokane Inc. delegation learned during their visit to the Pentagon today.

In a telephonic press conference this afternoon, McMorris Rodgers said Air Force officials said a new tanker, refered to as the KC-X, “remains the No. 1 priority.” They expect to award the contract, worth an estimated $35 billion, in the first half of 2010.

Talk of a new tanker has been bandied about since 2001, and has gone through several missteps, miscues and mess-ups. Some were the fault of Congress, others, the fault of the military.

“They recognize there have been some misstakes made,” McMorris Rodgers said.

The latest iteration has some powerful members of Congress suggesting the Air Force split the deal between Boeing and Norhrop-Grumman-Airbus, to avoid the Texas death match the two airplane manufacturers are locked in…

Thursday fun video: Tired of Specter hype?

If you think Sen. Arlen Specter’s change of party affiliation should have been reported like this:

“So this guy, Arlen Specter, he used to be a Democrat long time ago, then he was a Republican, and then this week, he like became a Democrat again….

Or if you’re just tired of TV news reporters trying to make this into the biggest event of the week, you will probably really enjoy Jon Stewart’s take on it.


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Changeling
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And in defending themselves against liberal bias, have any of the television networks bothered to look back at how the Democratic switches to the GOP were reported in 1995-96. For example, did they make quite as big of a deal out of Ben Nighthorse Campbell’s decision?

Although I haven’t checked, but I’d bet the rent they didn’t.

Thursday video: Veep flu advice

Vice President Joe Biden offers suggestions on avoiding the swine flu on Thursday’s “Today Show.”

Wait a minute on that election change

A Shaw Island man filed Wednesday for a referendum to block the new law that would change the way Washington allocates its Electoral College votes.

The bill was signed this week by Gov. Chris Gregoire, and mentioned in Spin Control on Tuesday.

David John Anderson filed a request for the referendum with the Secretary of State’s office. He’ll have until July 25 to gather 120,577 valid signatures from Washington voters. If he’s successful, voters will decide in November whether they approve of the measure.

Technically, the law is put on hold until the referendum issue is resolved. But practically speaking, it’s probably on hold for much longer, because it requires states with a majority of Electoral College votes to enact similar legislation.

Popping in at the Pentagon

Greater Spokane Inc. is on its annual “mission to Washington, D.C.” where it will have a first-ever audience with the two top Air Force honchos, AF Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and AF Secretary Michael Donley.

The mission is a yearly opportunity for local government and business types — many of whom deplore federal spending and the size of the federal deficit — to lobby members of Congress for some money for programs in the Inland Northwest. One of the things they desperately want is for the Air Force to build a new aerial refueling tanker to replace the KC-135 … and stick the first couple dozen of them at Fairchild Air Force base.

They’ll get no argument from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who will be escorting them to the Pentagon, her staff reports in a press release. The Eastern Washington Republican notes that Fairchild crews are flying tankers that are more than 50 years old and “we wouldn’t get on a passenger plane that old. Our military shouldn’t have to rely on planes that old, either.”

Or, as GSI President Rich Hadley put it: “We thought about driving a ‘57 Ford to D.C. to make the point that the KC-135 refueling tankers must be replaced and that Fairchild AFB is ready to be the first operational base to accept them.”

Which suggests a number of questions…

Wednesday’s fun video: If you went to bed early last night

Tired of hearing about Arlen Specter becoming a Democrat? Barack Obama hitting the 100 day mark? Us too, except for when Jon Stewart reports it.

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How to Judge a Guy in 100 Days
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Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

As the U.S. goes, so goes WA

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill today that could dramatically change presidential elections in  years to come. It could result in Washington voters picking one candidate, but the state’s Electoral College votes going to another.

SB 5569 is part of a national movement to “reform” the Electoral College system by tying it to the popular vote. If enough states sign onto the idea, the state’s will give their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Think of that for a minute.

In 1976, even though Washington voters backed Gerald Ford, Washington’s votes would have gone to Jimmy Carter. In 1988, even though Washington voters backed Michael Dukakis, the electoral votes would have gone to George H.W. Bush. In 2004, even though the state’s voters went for John Kerry, Washington’s electoral votes would have gone to George W. Bush.

Tuesday video: Specter announces switch

As promised, better video on the Arlen Specter defection/switch/change/betrayal. This includes footage from the senator himself.

Tuesday video: Specter switching sides

Some early video on Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania deciding to switch from the Republicans to the Democrats.

Admittedly it’s a bit annoying, particularly the number of times the MSNBC reporter says it’s “huge.” We’ll try to find better video, with a bit more thoughtful reporting…although, this is, after all, cable television.

Sims clears Senate hurdle

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee approved the nomination of King County Executive Ron Sims for a high-ranking job in the Obama administration.

Sims has been nominated for the No. 2 spot at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sen. Patty Murray’s office announced Sims got a unanimous voice vote approval from the committee. He must now get approval of the full Senate, but that vote has not yet been scheduled.

Fun video: In case you missed Monday

The folks at TalkingPointsMemo say Monday really had only one topic. Oink.

Fun video: Deja flu?

We went through a swine flu scare in the 1970s. Seems like National Lampoon dubbed it “Swine Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” but I might be misremembering that.

But there were some absolutely terrible public service announcement with that non-pandemic. Have a look, if for nothing else than the hair styles.

 

Counting down to 100


President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office are up on Wednesday. Prepare for more reports like the one above from the national media.

Because of that milestone, The Spokesman-Review is collecting comments from readers on what they think of his presidency so far: Specifically, whether you’ve changed your mind about him, and why or why not?

Keep it clean and under 100 words, and we’ll print the best responses in Wednesday’s paper, and have even more available on line.

Spin Control readers can contribute just be clicking on comment.

For the newspaper version, we’ll need your name or your e-mail address.

 

Peaceful protest at City Hall

A group of young adults tried to bring some attention to the kidnapping of children in Uganda by camping outside Spokane City Hall over the weekend until they could be “rescued.”

They were part of a national protest called “Invisible children” which set up demonstrations in some 80 cities around the United States.They started Saturday at Lewis and Clark High School, about 160 strong, on Saturday, then shifted to City Hall on Sunday where they passed the time drawing on the sidewalks and streets with chalk and wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags.

By Monday morning, about 30 were on or around the grassy knoll outside the Post Street entrance to the council chambers. According to the rules for the nationwide protest, they couldn’t leave until a high-ranking government leader or a celebrity came to make a public statement on behalf of the kidnapped children, thus “rescuing” the protesters and setting them free.

Considering that the kidnapping of children in Uganda and other East African countries is pretty far down on the list of local concerns, just about anything they did would raise consciousness to some higher level. So they can count themselves successful.

But the protest had a few unusual twists.

Guess who’s not coming to dinner

As different as Spokane County’s two major political parties are, they have one thing in common: They always need more money.

Because of that, until just a few years ago they had something else in common: Once a year, they’d rent a hotel ballroom, throw a big fund-raising soiree named for historical figures, invite a “name” speaker, charge several times what the rubber chicken dinner cost to be put on the plate and try to raise some operating scratch.

Republicans in Spokane, like GOP members almost everywhere, have a Lincoln Day Dinner, sometime close to Feb. 12.

Spokane Democrats used to have the rough equivalent, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, named for two presidents traditionally identified with the genesis of their party. Republicans try to reclaim Thomas Jefferson from time to time, pointing out that his party was the Democratic-Republicans, but never get anywhere with it.

A few years ago, in a fit of what some members called out-reach and others called political correctness run amok, Spokane Democrats changed the name to the Legacy Dinner. Whatever their party-founding credentials, some Democratic leaders felt it inappropriate to hold a dinner named for a couple of white guys who owned slaves, or, in Jackson’s case, wreaked havoc on Native Americans. (Any native Brits upset that Jackson kicked the crap out of their ancestors in New Orleans in 1814 apparently kept quiet.)

So it was until 2009. Recently, the Legacy Dinner also was scrapped.

Can we get a bang out of Tree City-hood?

Spokane is once again a “Tree City”. It’s a designation that only goes to municipalities that meet certain conditions (explained below.)

To celebrate our Tree City-hood, which we’ve achieved for six straight years. Spokane Parks and Rec are having a “to-do” Saturday from 11 a.m to 2 p.m.

It’s at the Finch Arboretum. You know, the place where the department recently earned national fame (or is it notoriety) for blowing up the burrows of ground squirrels, with the critters inside.


If you think you hear a 21-gun salute, make sure that it’s actually, you know, guns.

Criteria for Tree Cities inside:

Friday fun video2: Texas secession

For anyone getting tired of the talk of Texas seceding from the union, here’s a video with a one word suggestion: Go.

Friday fun video: Thursday, quickly

If you were busy with other stuff Thursday, here’s the TalkingPointsMemo synopsis:

County to builders: We’re closed Friday

In a move designed to help save money, Spokane County’s Building and Planning offices will be closed on Fridays, starting the first week of May.

County officials announced this week they’d negotiated a “memorandum of understanding” with two  unions that represent staff in the department, which issues building permits and inspects construction projects to ensure they meet codes.

The staff of 39 will go from working 37.5 hours per week to working 32 hours a week, and the office will only be open from 7:30 a.m to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. After May 4, no permits will be issued and no sites will be inspected on Fridays “until further notice,” a county spokeswoman said.

The change quickly drew criticism from the construction community, which needs permits to start projects and inspections to complete them.

“That is outrageous,” Kate McCaslin, chief executive officer of Associated Builders and Contractors, said. “Do they think that the world just stops on Friday? They no longer operate in the real world.”

About those Obama birth cert. documents

Reader John W. Snyder Jr. wrote recently to find out whatever happened to the documents Chief Justice John Roberts got down in Moscow, Idaho, on President Obama’s birth certificates. (If that made you say “Huh?” Catch up at this link.)

Here’s the update:

Copies of Dr. Orly Taitz’s documents were forwarded to the Supreme Court clerk’s office, but were sent back because they weren’t in a form the court could accept, a spokeswoman for the court said. The court suggested they be resubmitted in a form that could be accepted.

Dr. Taitz confirmed Wednesday she got the documents, and the letter from the clerk. She takes some issue with what the court is suggesting. . .

Earth Day Greetings

Happy Earth Day. Sorry I didn’t get you a card or a present.

To make up for it, Spin Control is passing along (without harming the environment as far as we can tell) Earth Day sentiments from elected officials. Inside the blog are paperless reproductions of E.D. statements from Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, and audio from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Others will be posted if they come in

Today’s fun video: Stewart on torture memos

The torture memos were the talk of the talk shows last weekend, which means they were in for a look by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show Monday evening.

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Some conversation with that Tea Party?

The folks over at Huckleberries are holding forth on Tea Parties as a result of Sunday’s Spin Control Column on what Democrats and Republicans should learn from last week’s demonstrations.

It’s getting lively, as often happens at Huckleberries.Click here to join in the online conversation.

Coming this week: Congress does green stuff, pets

A pair of hearings this week in the other Washington might have some interest to local folks.

On Tuesday, Sen. Patty Murray heads a hearing on the state’s needs for a “green economy work force.” It will feature some folks involved in training and educating workers. And, you can watch it live, starting at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, by clicking on this link.

On Wednesday, a House subcommittee takes up a bill causing a stir among pet store owners, and potentially, pet owners. It’s HR 669, the Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, which could put federal limits on any nonnative animal being introduced to an area.

So what? Well, according to some worried pet shop owners, around these parts nonnative species could conceivably include any hamster, guinea pig, chamelion, gecko, parrot, parakeet…

The story has some local legs: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers attempted to field a question about the bill during last Thursday’s call-in show on KSPS-TV. A store called Reptile Addictions on East Sprague in the Spokane Valley is collecting signatures on a petition opposing the bill.

The bill doesn’t outright ban anything, it sets up a process to make lists of approved and unapproved species. But that’s just the first step, some folks will tell you.

Remember: when hamsters are outlawed, only outlaws will have hamsters.

Monday bonus video: Moms in Congress

Good Morning America did a piece this morning on “Moms in Congress”, featuring Cathy McMorris Rodgers fairly prominently. Not sure what the news peg was…the lead in suggests it’s “spring and fertility”, but perhaps it’s just a slow news day.


Monday a.m. video: If you slept in Sunday

Torture memos discussed on the Sunday morning news shows, courtesy of TalkingPointsMemo:

After Tea time, who wins?

Inland Northwest Democrats who belittle the Tea Party gatherings of last Wednesday do so at their peril.

Inland Northwest Republicans who embrace them wholeheartedly could be in for a few surprises.

In terms of number of venues and total participants, the demonstrations outstripped any protests in recent history.

The Spokane event may not have been significantly larger than the city’s biggest Iraq War protest in 2003. But even if both attracted between 2,000 and 3,000 people – crowd estimates are extremely difficult and notoriously unreliable, so there’s no sense even debating which had more people – it’s important to remember that Wednesday’s Tea Party in Spokane was one of about a dozen within a two-hour drive.

There may have been another 1,000 over time in Coeur d’Alene’s city park, plus gatherings in Colville and Colfax, Priest River and Moscow. If total numbers count…

Eugster, Allen running in South Spokane

The City Council race in South Spokane went from nothing to the potential for “really something” Friday morning as former Councilman Steve Eugster announced he’d run and incumbent Mike Allen said he’d seek the seat to which he was appointed

That sets up a competition between two candidates with “street cred” for the voters but with very different styles.

Eugster, a local attorney and government watchdog, served from 2000-2004, during one of the most contentious periods in city government as it shifted from a city manager form of government to a strong mayor and councilmembers elected by district. There was also that minor controversy known as River Park Square….

He acknowledged there may still be some people with negative opinions about him from that earlier stint on the council, but believes there are far more with positive opinions. And the public may prefer the fireworks of that previous council to the current sessions.

“The ‘Era of Good Feelings’ is putting us all to sleep,’” Eugster said.

Allen, an EWU executive, has served during a much more tranquil time politically, but challenging economically. He wants to win a four-year term to work on a comprehensive plan for city services, revenues and expenses, and a comprehensive strategy for economic development.

Allen, appointed to the seat vacated when Mary Verner became mayor, said he has served notice this week that he was resigning from his job because he plans to run. He’ll make a formal announcement in early May

Thursday fun video: The day, quickly

Fresh off the editing boards at 5 p.m. PST, the day in review from TalkingPointsMemo.

Got a question for your congresswoman?

Tonight’s your chance to ask it is coming up.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is appearing live on KSPS tonight and taking questions from the public. The show airs at 7 p.m. on Channel 7, and viewers can call 800-278-4315 to ask a question or send it by e-mail to congress@ksps.org.

E-mail questions are already being collected, so you don’t have to wait for start of the show to send yours in.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’m on the set with moderator Steve Becker to be asking questions and follow ups. But this really is not a shameless plug to get people to tune in to watch me (As someone with a face that’s perfect for radio, I expect to be on-camera considerably less than the congresswoman and Becker.)

 

Today’s video: Views of the tea parties

You’ve had a chance to read about the “tea parties”. For those who haven’t had enough of the accounts, here are some videos to watch:

O’Reilly on Fox News applauds “robust debate.”


Olberman points out problems with the DC protest.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy



Santelli, who sort of started the whole thing, “pretty proud of this.”


 

Your Tea times

We’re repeating — without comment, endorsement or admonishment — schedules for the “Tea Parties” around the Inland Northwest today:

Coeur d’Alene: 3 p.m., Independence Point, City Park.

Colfax: 4 p.m., Codger Pole on South Main Street.

Colville:1 p.m., County Courthouse, S.215 Oak St.

Moscow: Noon, Friendship Square, Downtown.

Newport: 4 p.m., Oldtown Bridge

Priest River: Noon, City Hall on High Street

Pullman: Noon. Corner of Bethel and Lund

Spokane: 4:30 p.m., INB Performing Arts Center breezeway.

Walla Walla: Noon, Land Title Plaza, First and Main

.

Tuesday’s video: The day, quickly

Tea Parties, pirates and puppies. That’s about it for Tuesday, according to TalkingPointsMemo.

 

A surprising Tea Party tidbit

A crumpet, if you will, on Wednesday’s Tea Parties on the West Side.

Initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman is urging supporters to attend the Tea Parties to gather signatures for Initiative 1033, his latest attempt to rein in property taxes.

That’s not surprising; that’s just good strategy.

But what is surprising in a missive he sent to “Our thousands of supporters throughout the state (cc’d to the media, house & senate members, and Governor)” are his plans for the day. He’s speaking at the Tea Party in Olympia and Seattle. He’s got five minutes at the microphone at each event.

Tim Eyman speaking for only five minutes? Now that’s shocking.

Want the schedule for the Inland Northwest Tea Party nearest you. Click here to see the list blogged earlier today.

Getting TEA’d off?

From the Spokane Convention Center to Coeur d’Alene’s Independence Point to the Codger Pole in Colfax, tax protesters around the Northwest will be gathering Wednesday at TEA Parties.

No plans to serve Orange Pekoe, though.

TEA in this case stands for Taxed Enough Already. It’s a movement fueled in part by talk radio and talking head television, with assists from the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party, Libertarians and conservatives looking to put the breaks on federal spending to stimulate the economy.

Although organizers like to make reference to the Boston Tea Party, it’s unlikely that there will be much dumping of tea into bodies of water.

“That’s definitely not the plan,” said Gary Edgington, the organizer of the Spokane event, scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center breezeway. He’s hoping there won’t be hundreds or thousands of tea bags tossed in the nearby river that state and local environmental authorities would trace back to…him?

But there will be speech-making…

And we’re back, with video

This has kicked around for a week, but it seems to have legs: Did President Obama do right or wrong in greeting the king of Saudi Arabia.

After Tea time, who wins?

Inland Northwest Democrats who belittle the Tea Party gatherings of last Wednesday do so at their peril.

Inland Northwest Republicans who embrace them wholeheartedly could be in for a few surprises.

In terms of number of venues and total participants, the demonstrations outstripped any protests in recent history.

The Spokane event may not have been significantly larger than the city’s biggest Iraq War protest in 2003. But even if both attracted between 2,000 and 3,000 people – crowd estimates are extremely difficult and notoriously unreliable, so there’s no sense even debating which had more people – it’s important to remember that Wednesday’s Tea Party in Spokane was one of about a dozen within a two-hour drive.

There may have been another 1,000 over time in Coeur d’Alene’s city park, plus gatherings in Colville and Colfax, Priest River and Moscow. If total numbers count…

Easter fun video

The resurrection of chocolate bunnies, set to music.


Happy Easter!

Campaign rules to live by

For some, spring means it’s time to train for Bloomsday or get the Hoopfest team together. For others it’s time to lose a few pounds, tone up the abs or biceps and get ready for the lake.

But for anyone planning to run for office this year, spring is the time to get moving. The state moved the primary up to August a couple years back, and all the other deadlines moved up too. To have a campaign in full swing by June, you need to make up your mind pretty quickly.

Thus far, the campaigning has been light.. The City of Spokane has three council seats on the November ballot, and so far has three announced candidates. The City of Spokane Valley has four seats up, and three candidates.

Other surrounding towns and cities also have seats on the ballot, and city and county officials have various tax proposals they want to put on the ballot.

But before campaign season begins in earnest, Spin Control wants to offer its eight suggestions for candidates and campaigners:

Light blogging until Sunday

Spin Control is taking a few days off, but feel free to comment on anything that’s previously posted, and check back Sunday for a new post and video.

Phoning it in

State legislators like to make it back to the district from Olympia during the session to talk to the “real folks” with things like town hall meetings. With the crush of business this year, that’s difficult.

When one’s district is Northeastern Washington’s 7th, there’s another problem. The folks are so far flung — from Metaline to Tonasket to Odessa to Republic to Deer Park — that finding the right town to book the hall is difficult.

Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short are trying to get around this by having a telephonic town hall meeting. Think of it as a big party line (you remember party lines, right? OK, if you’re younger than about 50, probably not).  You dial in and can listen and talk.

They’re going to try this at 7 p.m. on April 16. To participate, one needs to call 1-877-229-8493, then enter the password number of 14789. They hope it will work like a call-in radio show.

Fun video: Stewart looks at defense budget

Jon Stewart questions how anyone can call a 4 percent increase in the defense budget a cut, and other things about Pentagon priorities.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Full Metal Budget
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Daily Show
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Beer drinkers, patriots

If you had a beer over the weekend, pat yourself on the back. You helped out the state economy.

A recent press release  says beer has nearly a $3 billion impact on Washington’s economy, supports 33,000 jobs and generates nearly $230 million in federal, state and local taxes.

And the people sending the press release would know this because? They’re the National Beer Wholesalers Association, and they get their facts from the Beer Institute.

The wholesalers note that beer directly employs more than 20,000 people as brewers, distributors, sales clerks, bartenders and ballpark venders. Not sure if the remainders, which would include substance abuse counselors and law enforcement personnel assigned to drunk driving patrols.

They can break it down for Idaho and other states, and can even give figures for each congressional district at a Web site.

So why does the Beer Institute want us to know all this?

Picking up trash with both hands?

Get Adobe Flash player

Robert Wheeler sat on a lawn chair in his front yard across from Corbin Park and watched the city’s new garbage truck strut its stuff by picking up cans on either side of the 33,000-pound vehicle.

“So this is the future of alley pickup?” Wheeler asked.

It is. And the concept of dropping alley pickup around Spokane is in the past.


Two-armed pickup

It’s such a nice day that anyone with time on their hands Wednesday morning should consider stopping by Corbin Park at 11 a.m., where the city plans to show off one of its newest vehicles.

A new garbage truck that can pick up cans on either side of the alley in a single pass. It’s sure to be a big event; even Mayor Mary Verner is supposed to be there.

Hmmm. Garbage pickup. Corbin Park. Alleys. Mary Verner.

Where have we seen those concepts all together in the past?

Oh, yeah…

Fun video: Singing the blues about being in the red

This little ditty about the economy isn’t bad for the first 90 seconds, although it does get a bit repetitive. In the old American Bandstand lingo, I’d give it an 85: some of  the words aren’t much, but it’s got a good beat…

Tuesday video: The day, quickly

What happened Tuesday, in a nutshell, from the folks at TalkingPointsMemo.

No May election in Spokane County

Spokane County voters will be asked to extend a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax for criminal justice programs in the August primary rather than May. County commissioners, who had scheduled a May special election last month, rescheduled it for two reasons on Tuesday: to save money, and to stay legal.


Monday video: If you slept through the news shows

If you slept in Sunday, or went to church, and forgot to tape the talking head shows, don’t feel bad. TalkingPointsMemo boils them down for you.

On the Web: Deep Throat would be proud

Follow the money. That’s what Deep Throat told Bob Woodward during Watergate. Or at least, that’s what Hal Holbrook told Robert Redford in the Hollywood version.

People have been repeating the admonition ever since. And the National Institute on Money in State Politics has borrowed it as the name for its new Web site, which allows the public to check out the campaign contributions in most states from the 2008 elections.

By clicking on Washington’s numbers, one can find that Democrats far outpaced Republicans in the biennial money grab, about $404 million to about $28.5 million. That Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi nearly achieved parity, $11.8 million to $11.6 million respectively. That Spokane Sen. Lisa Brown raised more money than any other Senate candidate, $393,000, even though she was running against an independent, unknown novice candidate. And so on.

Idaho numbers are up, too. The Gem State didn’t have the statewide races or ballot issues that help drive the dollar figures, but the legislative numbers are there for the looking.

Just wait, we’ll tell you eventually

On Thursday, Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick gathered with other city officials and about 100 of officers and civilian employees to talk about how the department might have to cut about $2 million in 2010. Tomorrow, Sen. Maria Cantwell will meet with about a dozen members of the local medical community for a roundtable to discuss improvements to the health care system.

These two very different meetings had two things in common.

 One is that they involve issues of major public concern. If the city cuts the Police Department by $2 million, it’s a pretty good bet we’ll have fewer cops on the street. Improving or reforming the health care system also affects the public – or at least those who get sick at some point in their life.

The other common element was that the public wasn’t, or in the case of Cantwell’s health roundtable isn’t,  invited and for pretty much the same reason people often use when they want to meet away from the public eye:  Allowing the news media and the public in would inhibit the free exchange of comments and ideas.

In other words, people who have wise or valuable or otherwise important stuff to say might not say it in front of strangers. Or folks who don’t think like them. Or who don’t know what they know. Or who don’t understand what they understand.

On the Web: Everyone goofs sometimes

The only safe prediction to make is that you really can’t predict things.

Still, people keep making predictions. Now there’s Wrong Tomorrow,  a Web site that attempts to hold feet to the fire for pundits, authors, politicians and anyone else so sure of himself or herself that a prediction might spout forth. Among the big boo-boos:


“Two years from now, spam will be solved.” - Bill Gates in 2004.

“We could be looking at $10-a-gallon gas this winter.” - Matt Simmons, 2005

No charges in RPS garage death

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker will not file charges in the death of a woman who died when her car broke through a parking garage barrier and plunged five stories onto the ramp below.

Tucker said Friday he is closing the investigation of the death of Jo Ellen Savage after his office and the state Attorney General’s office concluded in separate reviews that there’s not enough evidence to prove the owners of the River Park Square garage were guilty of criminal recklessness or criminal negligence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Tucker, who had been reviewing since last September boxes of documents collected by federal prosecutors, released a letter from Assistant Attorney General Scott Marlow, saying state attorneys also believe it would be difficult to prove criminal charges against the officials of Cowles Co., or the corporation, for the Pullman woman’s death.

Neither their actions nor their inaction would be a “gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would exercise in the same situation.” Marlow wrote.

Spokane attorney Steve Eugster, a former city councilman who has challenged aspects of the River Park Square development for more than a decade, called Tucker’s decision “a whitewash.”

 

Thursday’s fun video: Quick. What just happened

Thursday in 100 seconds, from the always creative folks at TalkingPointsMemo.

City to PD: We may need cuts in 2010

Spokane Police were told Thursday to begin thinking creatively about a cut to their budget next year which could top $2 million.

Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Mayor Mary Verner and Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley held a closed-door meeting with more than 100 members of the department, both commissioned and civilian, to say that the budget looks steady for 2009 but cuts may be coming in 2010.

At a press briefing outside the meeting, Kirkpatrick emphasized that nothing has been settled and all options were “on the table.” All city departments have been told to look at ways to cut their budget by 4.07 percent in 2010, and for the police department, that would be about $2.2 million.

“We’re not making major changes right now in 2009,” Kirkpatrick said. “We must prepare for 2010.”

Personnel cuts of between 20 and 50 employees have been mentioned, but only as a starting point for discussions, Kirkpatrick said.

When the smoke clears in the parks

The Spokane Park Board has banned smoking in city parks.. Sort of.

It might change its mind next Thursday after a public hearing on whether to ban smoking in city parks…But don’t count on it.

If the ban holds, a person who lights up in a city park might get the evil eye, or maybe a good talking to from someone who disapproves… But there won’t be any tickets or fines.

Here’s what’s going on, as best as anyone can tell…

Today’s fun video: Colbert satirizes Beck

In the battle of the populists, who speaks for the folks, and who speaks for the faux? Stephen Colbert sends up Glen Beck in this segment.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The 10/31 Project
comedycentral.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

April 15: It’s party time

Tax protesters in Spokane will hold their own “tea party” this month as they try to mobilize and create a new citizens’ movement.

The Spokane Tea Party, described on its Web site as “a peaceful protest to the massive spending of dollars we do not have”,  will be held at 4:30 p.m. at the Convention Center.

The tea party movement is an outgrowth of a Chicago protest in which people gathered on the shores of Lake Michigan to protest federal deficit spending, and borrowed from the noted protest in 1773 in Boston Harbor. (What, you were sleeping in American History class your freshman year and have no idea what we’re talking about? Click here.)

Anyway, given the fact that the Convention Center is near a body of water, it’s a safe bet that someone will be tossing tea into the Spokane River. Which is probably OK, as long as there’s no phosphorous in it.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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