Posts tagged: Spokane City Hall
At last week’s Planning, Community and Economic Development committee meeting, Spokane city planning director Scott Chesney was discussing the Larry H. Miller empire and its request to temporarily shut down some streets while the car dealer did some re-arrangement.
Not exciting stuff.
Then, off-handedly, Chesney told committee members that it was important to keep the Jefferson Street viaduct open during this work because it was the only railroad bridge tall enough to accommodate the double-decker bus that the Spokane Transit Authority was thinking about bringing into its fleet.
With visions of those huge, red buses that ply the streets of London dancing through our heads, we called up STA.
“They were looking at it for the EWU route because ridership has skyrocketed,” said Molly Myers, STA’s spokeswoman. “It was just an idea to be able to double capacity. That is a suggestion that came up during our planning process during brainstorming. It never got to that level of specificity.”
So we let it lie. Until Monday, when we saw this.
The Spokane City Council on Monday likely violated state law by meeting during an anthrax scare which closed City Hall to the public.
Firefighters and police were called to City Hall just prior to the council meeting’s scheduled 3:30 p.m. start after an employee found white powder in a package of office supplies. City spokeswoman Marlene Feist sent a news release at 3:25 p.m. that said the session would go on even though the public was no longer allowed to enter City Hall.
The building reopened about an hour later, after firefighters determined the power to be corn starch. The council meeting ended about the same time.
State law stipulates that City Council meetings be open to the public.
Feist noted that there was no public testimony scheduled and that the meeting was carried live on the city’s cable station.
Greg Overstreet, former open government ombudsman in the state attorney general’s office, said state law allows members of the public to be barred from a council meeting only for an executive session or for unruly behavior. Monday’s meeting wasn’t an executive session, during which council members could meet privately to discuss certain matters like the purchase of real estate. Even if no votes are held, meetings must be open, he said.
“It would be a terrible precedent if local governments could lock the doors and tell people to just watch it on TV,” said Overstreet, a private attorney who focuses on public access issues.