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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Spokane Bill of Rights

Forces mustering against city “Bill of Rights”

Opposition appears to be mounting, although not necessarily coalescing, against the proposed Spokane Bill of Rights which will get a hearing Monday evening with the City Council.

Note: this is simply a hearing for forwarding the measure to the Spokane County Elections Office to have the signatures on its petitions checked. Technically, it’s not a hearing on the merits or demerits of the proposal.

But being as how this is the Spokane City Council, technicalities like that are unlikely to keep most of the people testifying, or some of the councilmembers, from meandering into all the good or ill the proposed charterl change would do.

Before that happens, a newly formed group of opponents will hold a rally against the measure at 5 p.m. outside of City Hall. The effort is led by Michael Cathcart, who was active in the local push for Ron Paul for the GOP presidential nomination last year, and Mike Fagan, a city council candidate.

Meanwhile, the Greater Hillyard Business Association sent letters to all council members last Friday, asking them to withhold support for the measure.

And on Monday, former City Councilman and current council candidate Steve Eugster sent Mayor Mary Verner and the council a memo arguing they should reject the petitions as illegal because the proposal violates the “single subject” rule of the charter’s provisions on initiatives. That essentially a legal version of the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle that says you can’t toss a bunch of things into a measure being put before the voters.

The proposed charter amendment has sections that deal with health care, wages and the rights of the environment, but supporters contend it doesn’t run afoul of the single subject provision because they are all rights to be contained in a “bill of rights” just as those first amendments to the U.S. Constiution were grouped together.

Last week Council President Joe Shogan signalled that the council should follow precedent, regardless of the members’ individual opinions on the measure, and send the petitions for the validation check. If they have the signatures, the city should let voters decide, he suggested. If they don’t, well, game over.

To read more about all this, go inside the blog.

City Charter change hearing on Monday

The proposed “Spokane Bill of Rights” will get a hearing Monday evening on whether it should go to the next phase of qualifying for the November ballot.

The Spokane City Council will hold the hearing at its regular 6 p.m. legislative session prior to a vote on sending the petitions to the Spokane County Auditor’s office for signature verification.

The vote is almost pro forma unless something about the initiative is misleading or illegal.

At a special meeting Thursday afternoon to approve the hearing, several councilmembers had questions about the way the petitions were printed or whether the proposal would generate legal challenges because of possible conflicts with state law. Those are discussions that should be held Monday, attorney Mike Piccolo said.

Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she’d been approached by people who complained a copy of the charter change wasn’t available to read when they were signing petitions.

But the petitions had the full language of the charter change on the back of the signature page.

 Council President Joe Shogan noted the city has a tradition of not blocking proposed charter changes from reaching the ballot.

“We have a history of not interfering with the initiative process regardless of our personal beliefs,” he said. “It’s better to err on the side of going forward and letting the people decide.”

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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.

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