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Posts tagged: Envision Spokane

Envision Spokane to appeal judge’s ruling barring them from the ballot

Envision Spokane will appeal a judge's ruling that kicked them off this November's ballot.

“We’re not going to take this laying down,” Brad Read, board president of Envision Spokane, said Tuesday. “She chose to side with the powerful interests to tell the people of Spokane what they could vote on.”

Read called Spokane Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno's ruling an “attack on democracy,” and said his board voted unanimously to appeal her decision.

Read doesn't expect his group's Community Bill of Rights initiative to appear on the ballot this fall simply because time won't allow it.

On Friday, Moreno barred Envision's initiative and one from Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution from the ballot, siding with a coalition of government and business interests, which argued that the initiatives would have created regulations and protections that were not within the city's power to enact. Moreno said the provisions within the measures either conflicted with state and federal law or infringed upon the power of local government to set policy.

Chris Nerison, who leads SMAC, said Friday he would not appeal the decision.

Read our piece on her ruling here.

Some politicians trust the voters only so far

The progression of thought for some politicians about the wisdom of the voters can be as predictable as it is ironic.

At the end of the first campaign, most winners are honored – and sometimes pleasantly surprised – at being chosen by voters. It is the rare first victory speech that doesn’t include the phrase “humbled by the trust the people have placed in me”, or words to that effect.

Over time and subsequent victories, that evolves for many into the certitude that the voters are making the wise decision. Later, some decide that voters smart enough to elect them aren’t smart enough to make other decisions that might be laid before them.

The journey goes from “Let the Voters Decide!” to “What do they know?”

City Council members seem dangerously down this road. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Lawyers say city could challenge charter changes before election

The city may have grounds to challenge two proposed charter amendments and seek court orders to keep them off the ballot, lawyers have told the Spokane City Council.

Groups supporting the initiatives say that would be “a direct subversion of the democratic process” but the Spokane Home Builders Association is urging the city to go to court.

To read the rest of this item or to comment, continue inside the blog.


Documents:

Council considers blocking citizen initiatives

Signatures on petitions in support of two proposed citizens’ initiatives in Spokane will be counted and verified. But council members hinted Monday that they may block the proposals from the ballot even if activists collected enough support.

The Spokane City Council voted 6-0 on Monday to ask the Spokane County Auditor’s Office to verify the signatures collected for Envision Spokane’s Community Bill of Rights and Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution’s initiative that would, in part, outlaw people representing corporations from discussing legislation with elected leaders in private settings.

Both groups have collected significantly more signatures than necessary to place the initiatives on the November ballot, but some City Council members said they believe the proposals are unconstitutional.

Third time a charm for Envision Spokane?

Envision Spokane on Thursday filed its Community Bill of Rights initiative with the Spokane City Clerk's office.

This is the third time the group has filed a Community Bill of Rights. It succeeded the previous two times in collecting the needed signatures to place the item on the ballot. Its 2009 proposal was easily defeated by voters, but its 2011 scaled-back version nearly passed. The initiative filed on Thursday mirrors the 2011 version (the petition filed on Thursday is linked to this post).

By filing now, the initiative is locked into initiative rules that currently are on the books. On Monday, the Spokane City Council will consider changing the initiative process to eliminate the filing method preferred by Envision Spokane. That method allows groups to place a question before voters without input from the City Attorney's Office.

The question could be put before voters this year or next, but if they want it on the ballot this year, they'll need to collect substantially more signatures.


Documents:

2011 elections: Who’s spending what

OLYMPIA – Led by a multi-million dollar battle for who controls liquor sales in Washington, initiatives and candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot have spent more than $18 million on trying to sway voters in the last three weeks.

This may come as no surprise to state residents who can’t turn on the television without seeing firefighters argue whether voters’ lives will be better or worse if state-run liquor stores go the way of the Model T. Other state initiative campaigns have their own TV messages, and campaigns big and small are filling mail boxes with slick mailers.

Campaigns were required this week to report all spending through Tuesday to the State Public Disclosure Commission. While more money will be spent by some campaigns that remain flush with cash, that won’t be reported until Dec. 12, when most bills are paid and many campaigns tally their final account.

Tuesday’s deadline covers some of the most intense spending of any campaign season…

Click to go inside to read the rest of this item.

Council may add two more questions on ‘Community Bill of Rights’

Spokane voters could get a hint from the Spokane City Council when deciding the fate of a citizens’ initiative on the November ballot.

The Spokane City Council will consider on Monday the addition of two nonbinding questions for the November election. The two proposals would ask voters how the council should respond to Envision Spokane’s Community Bill of Rights if it’s approved: Raise taxes or slash services.

The questions are the same as ones posed to voters two years ago when Envision Spokane first placed a Community Bill of Rights before voters. Envision's list failed in a landslide.

Envision Spokane leaders, who attribute the big defeat in 2009 in large part to the advisory questions, say adding them to the ballot again is meant only to turn voters against their initiative.

“It just proves that the system needs to change because they can in a stroke of a few minutes influence what we did over months of a hard work,” said Brad Read, president of Envision’s board.

But City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said not putting the questions on the ballot may give voters the impression that there no longer is a cost associated.

“I believe that we need to stay consistent with the message that Prop 1 may potentially cost the taxpayers a great deal of money.” McLaughlin said.

Read said that changes made in the new proposal should eliminate fears that the city would have to shift tax money to cover rights listed in the Envision’s proposal.

Removed from the 2009 Community Bill of Rights are stipulations that would have required the city of Spokane to guarantee residents affordable preventive health care, affordable housing and affordable and renewable energy.

Sunday Spin: Get ready for Round 2 on Bill of Rights

Conspicuous by their absence last Monday were leaders of Greater Spokane Inc., when the City Council voted to place the latest version of a Community Bill of Rights before voters.
That shouldn’t be taken as a sign the business community is okey-dokey with the ballot measure.
The council had no choice in the matter, as some members made clear. Envision Spokane gathered the necessary signatures to put a charter change on the ballot, and that, pretty much, was that.
Two years ago, there was a bit more in play. . .

Spokane GOP to oppose Community Bill of Rights

The Spokane County Republican Party voted this week to oppose a Spokane City Charter amendment going on the ballot in November.

On Monday, the City Council voted to place the Community Bill of Rights on the Nov. 8 general election ballot after Envision Spokane, a local citizen action group, turned in more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Unlike 2009, when a longer proposal from Envision Spokane also qualified for the ballot, the council has no apparent plans to add some “poison pill” measures to the ballot ahead of the current CBR.

A day later, the GOP's executive committee voted to work against the ballot measure, contending it will “strip Citizens of their property and business rights, while burdening City government with costly mandates that will further cripple the City’s ability to provide services.”

The two political parties usually stay out of the nonpartisan candidate races — with some conspicuous exceptions over the years — but often weigh in on ballot measures.

To read the proposed Community Bill of Rights, click here.

Community Bill of Rights, Round 2

Envision Spokane's second attempt at a Community Bill of Rights may be the highlight of tonight's Spokane City Council meeting.

The council has a  hearing set near the end of its regular 6 p.m. session for the proposal, which can be found here.

Envision Spokane obtained enough signatures to put the proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot, so the council doesn't really  have much choice in the matter. Not having a choice about something and not having anything to say about it are two very different things for the council.

Envision Spokane turns in signatures for new ‘Bill of Rights’

Spokane voters may get a chance to consider a new list of proposals from Envision Spokane on the November ballot.

Kai Huschke, campaign coordinator of Envision Spokane, said the group turned in signatures on Friday and Monday for its new version of the “Community Bill of Rights.”

The group's first attempt at passing a “Community Bill of Rights” failed in 2009 with only 21 percent support.

The new list is paired down from 2009. It includes extra requirements for the approval of certain kinds of development and a rule that would say that corporations would “not be deemed as 'persons'” and could not interfere with the enforcement of the “Community Bill of Rights.”

City Clerk Terri Pfister said turned in 4,516 signatures. To earn a spot on the November ballot, at least 2,778 of them must be ruled valid by the Spokane County Elections Office. The requirement represents 5 percent of the number of people who voted in the city of Spokane in 2009.

Envision Spokane will make second run at ‘Community Bill of Rights’

Representatives from Envision Spokane on Wednesday moved forward on their plan to offer city voters a new version of its “Community Bill of Rights.”

In order to make the November ballot, the group will need to collect an amount of signatures from registered voters in Spokane equal to 5 percent of the total number who voted in Spokane in November 2009. That number is about 2,800.

The new proposal is a streamlined version of what the group proposed in 2009 when the longer proposal received only 21 percent support.

The new list would contain four rights, portions of which were in the 2009 proposal. They include extra requirements for the approval of certain kinds of development and protections for the Spokane River. Gone from Envision Spokane’s new “Community Bill of Rights” are stipulations for the city of Spokane to guarantee its residents affordable preventive health care, affordable housing, affordable and renewable energy and regulations on local banks.

A copy of the petition, which includes the proposal, is available here.

Where Prop 4 fared less awfully

There are few, if any, bright spots supporters of Envision Spokane’s Community Bill of Rights will find in last night’s count.

As a whole, Proposition 4 only garnered 25 percent support. It failed in all of the city’s nearly 125 precincts.

The measure won 40 percent support only in four precincts: downtown Spokane, one that covers most of Browne’s Addition and the western portion of Peaceful Valley, one precinct in East Central and one in the Bemiss Neighborhood, which is just south of Hillyard.

The worst showing was in a precinct bordering Latah Creek in the far south of the city where only 7.7 percent of voters supported the proposition.

Click here to download a high-resolution JPG of the above map.

All in

Here’s one of the more talked about election mailers distributed locally this campaign season.

It’s from Envision Spokane, the campaign in support of Proposition 4. It hit mailboxes last week.

What do you think? Is it effective?

Prop4: Where’s the money coming from?

Opponents of Proposition 4 have complained that out-of-town influence helped shape the proposed amendment to the Spokane City Charter. But the opponents rely heavily on national and state development interests to bankroll the campaigns against the proposal.

Led by the National Association of Home Builders, out-of-town business groups account for about 85 percent of the identified contributions to Save Our Spokane, which opposes Proposition 4’s Community Bill of Rights. Out-of-town business groups account for about 30 percent of identified contributions to the other opposition group, Jobs and Opportunities Benefiting Spokane, or JOBS. The national home builders association has funneled some $85,000 to the political action committee of its local affiliate.

Together, the two campaign committees have raised more than $275,000. When expense reports were filed last week, they had almost half of that total still available for a pre-election day push.

Envision Spokane, a group that spearheaded discussions that produced the proposed charter changes, has raised about $69,500, with $55,000 coming from Jim Sheehan, a retired local attorney who established the Center for Justice and owns the Community Building on Main Avenue. The largest out-of-town contribution for Envision Spokane was about $450 for the donated work of a graphic artist in Wauwato, Wash.

To read more, and for links to a list of the PAC contributors, go inside the blog

Campaign has some familiar names

One of the campaign organizations set up to oppose the “Community Bill of Rights” mentioned in this morning’s newspaper report has some familiar names.

Jobs & Opportunities Benefiting Spokane has hired Polis Political Services of Olympia and Brian Murray as political consultants.

Murray may be more familiar to Spokane residents. He was a senior aide to Jim West when West was in the state Senate, and was appointed to the seat when West was elected mayor of Spokane in 2003, finishing slightly ahead in the voting by precinct committee officers and getting the nod from Spokane County commisioners. Murray ran for the seat in 2004, but lost in the primary to Brad Benson, the state Representative who finished second in the precinct committee officer voting. Murray and another former West aide, Cody George, started Vintage Hill winery two years ago. 

Although based in Olympia, Stan Shore of Polis has been involved in Spokane area politics for many years. He, too, had ties to West and several of the Spokane Republican’s legislative campaigns. He was involved  in 2000 in a last-minute attack against John Powers, part of an effort from a web of third party committees set up by Metropolitan Mortgage that led to a $10,000 PDC fine. A master of last-minute campaign mailers, he’s drawn praise from allies and screams from opponents in several other city and legislative races. Because of his long-time ties to West, he helped with West’s unsuccessful fight against recall in 2005, although he worked on that one for free.

Also receiving money from JOBS is Moore Information out of Portland, which has a long history of polling in Washington state, mostly but not exclusively for Republican clients. 

PDC will investigate charter group’s funding

The state Public Disclosure Commission is opening a formal investigation into a complaint the home builders filed last month against Envision Spokane.

The Spokane Home Builders Association filed a complaint last month, alleging the citizens group  did not file all the necessary information on where they get their money and how it was spent during the time they were working on the Community Bill of Rights, a proposed amendment to the City Charter that will appear on the November ballot.

Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman for the PDC, said the case was assigned to a staff investigators after an initial review.

The formal investigation may take about 120 days, she said. About three-fourths of all initial complaints are assigned to a staff investigator after they are submitted and undergo an initial review.  

Can city leaders trust the voters?

Funny thing about elected officials and candidates who must, by nature, rely on the wisdom of voters for their jobs: Sometimes they don’t trust voters to make the right decision when it comes to something other than voting for them.

That seems to be what’s going on with the political hand-wringing over a Spokane City Charter change that’s being billed by the sponsoring group Envision Spokane as a “Community Bill of Rights.”

Whether it is, in fact, a bill of rights or a bill in waiting for future litigation is something remains to be seen. Envision Spokane turned in more than enough signatures to qualify it for the November election, the Spokane County Elections Office said, and that is usually enough to earn a proposed charter amendment a spot on a ballot.

Before the Spokane City Council voted 5-2 to send the charter change to the elections office for the signature check, an array of speakers argued it was too vague, too likely to generate litigation or too toxic for local business. Some of the 60 or so foes gathered outside City Hall before the meeting and likened the proposal to socialism, communism or Marxism.

(Note to self: Check Das Kapital to see what Marx and Engels had to say about neighborhood councils. Must’ve slept through that lecture in Poly Sci class.)

Envision Spo has the numbers

Envision Spokane turned in more than enough signatures on petitions for a proposed City Charter change to put its Community Bill of Rights on the November ballot.

Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin reports this morning the office finished the final verification process about 9:30 a.m., and will certify the results at 2:30 p.m. After that the office will send formal notification to the city.

The group turned in petitions with a total of 5,097 signatures, and needed at least 2,795 of them to be from registered city voters. Elections workers checked 4,019 and verified a totla of 2,891 before finishing late Wednesday. That’s a rejection rate of about 28 percent, which is “right in the ballpark” for most petitions, McLaughlin said.

Eugster v. Shogan on the charter change

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Eugster v. Shogan, take 1
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Eugster v. Shogan, take 2

Monday night’s Spokane City Council meeting had plenty of discussion about Envision Spokane’s proposed “Spokane Bill of Rights.”

Colleague Jonathan Brunt captured these two exchanges between former Councilman and current candidate Steve Eugster and Council President Joe Shogan. in the first, Eugster is saying he’s going on for just a bit longer…he actually went about 8 more minutes, but who’s counting?…and the second occurs right before the council takes a break in the action.

One thing about this ballot measure, it does get people excited. And it isn’t even definitely on the ballot, yet.

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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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