Spin Control

NY Times discovers the coal train issue

Always fun to see how other folks view Spokane. Here's the take of a New York Times writer who reported this week on the controversy over coal ports and coal trains expanding in the Northwest.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Pacific Northwest’s sense of itself can sometimes seem green to the point of parody: a medium-roast blend of piney peaks and urban cool, populated by residents who look descended from lumberjacks or fishermen. . . .

Spokane grew up with the rattling of the rails as its theme song. As a transfer hub for freight and passenger service — four competing intercontinental lines once met on the edge of town — the city hitched its star to the idea of an America on the move. The graceful, filigreed architecture of downtown speaks to a moment around World War I when that economic chemistry reached its zenith.

But where the coastal areas around Seattle — a hotbed of energy-rail opposition — are largely liberal, Spokane is more conservative, and while the Puget Sound region has boomed in the post-recession years, Spokane has struggled. The unemployment rate here was 8.1 percent in June, according to federal figures, compared with 5.9 percent in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area.

Despite the somewhat condescending beginning and some over-reaching prose throughout, the story is an OK look at the controversy. Not great, but OK. And the photos, by former Spokesman-Review photojournalist and current local photographer Rajah Bose, are nice.




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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