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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Spokane

Town hall date misprinted on McMorris Rodgers mailer

Staff for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said they realized too late their error in the published date for an upcoming Spokane town hall event on a mailer that hit the district last week.

A Cathy McMorris Rodgers mailer lists the wrong date for a town hall meeting

The glossy mailer lists the date of the event as Thursday, Aug. 18, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Lincoln Center in north Spokane. But the 18th is a Monday, not a Thursday.

A spokeswoman confirmed the event will take place Monday, Aug. 18. The error was discovered after the mailers had been sent to the printer, the spokeswoman said, and a newsletter with the correct date was sent out electronically to digital subscribers of the congresswoman's emails.

McMorris Rodgers is expected to speak for an hour at the event Monday, which follows a strong showing in the four-person primary for the seat she's held since 2005. She last visited Spokane for a town hall a year ago, where many attendees wore their hearts on their sleeves.

Chud Wendle joins McMorris Rodgers’ local staff

Spokane-native Chud Wendle has joined Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' local office as district director, the congresswoman announced this week.

“I was intrigued from day one, by the challenges and opportunities this job would present,” Wendle said.

A member of the Wendle family that owns several area car dealerships, Chud Wendle was named McMorris Rodgers' district director and will be working out of her office in downtown Spokane. Wendle has spent the past six years in Pullman, where he worked in real estate and ran a frozen yogurt and cupcake shop with his wife, Cindy.

Wendle said his job description includes being the “eyes and ears” for the congresswoman in the district. He will handle legislative matters, though he will be available to assist with McMorris Rodgers' re-election campaign. She faces challengers

Tom HorneJoe Pakootas and Dave Wilson in the primary concluding next week. (Editor's note: Republican challenger Tom Horne was incorrectly left off the list of challengers in an earlier version of this post.)

The congresswoman approached Wendle to direct her district office, he said, about the time his wife took a new position in Spokane. They return to the Lilac City with their three sons: Ben, Nick and Jack. Wendle said his family is excited to return to Spokane, where he was born and raised.

In a statement announcing the hire, McMorris Rodgers praised Wendle's ties to the community and nonprofit work.

“Chud brings over a decade of experience and involvement in Eastern Washington, having worked with numerous local non-profit organizations, including Goodwill Industries and United Way of both Pullman and Spokane,” McMorris Rodgers said in the statement.

Wendle said he was pleased to be working for McMorris Rodgers.

“I’ve always respected the work that the congresswoman does,” he said

Spokane listed among ‘best cities for conservatives’

Conservatives in Spokane, take heart. Your U.S. senators, governor and roughly half your city council may be Democrats or liberals, but you live in the 12th best city for conservatives.

This according to Estately, a web site for  house shopping that claims to have some 976,000 MLS listings. True, the web site only lists 13 cities, so Spokane almost didn't make the baker's dozen topped by Oklahoma City. But it did manage to make the grade, even if it seems like the authors were a bit selective in the conservative points they picked.

Washington state  is divided in half like a McDonald’s McDLT. The west side is the left side, the rainy and wet side, the urban side filled with Seattle liberals. On the east side of the Cascade Mountains is the state’s Republican stronghold, a population of ranchers, farmers, and others actively trying to create a separate state independent from Western Washington. Spokane is the metropolitan center for Eastern Washington, as well as the Inland Northwest. It’s the largest city between Seattle and Minneapolis and the most conservative large city in the Pacific Northwest.

 Among the “famous locals” they list Bing Crosby, Craig T. Nelson, John Stockton and Ryne Sandberg.

In order to enhance Spokane's Red Cred, they also say the percent voting for President Obama in 2012 was 45.6 percent, parenthetically adding that's a Spokane County total. And that's true, as far as it goes. The county total has some deeply red precincts from Spokane Valley, Mead, the suburbs and the exurbs. The actual vote for Obama in the City of Spokane was 56 percent.

Use of Force and Snowmageddon: A tale of Spokane’s savings account

Snowmageddon 2008 and Spokane's Use of Force Commission don't have much in common.

One was the harshest winter in a generation that paralyzed Spokane, and the other aims to reform the Spokane Police Department. 

But both are tied together by one of the city's savings accounts.

Earlier this month, we wrote about Mayor David Condon's 2014 budget proposal, in which he proposed adding 25 new officers to the force by paying off an old street bond with funds primarily from the contigency reserve. At that time, we said the fund was “intended to be saved for emergencies, such as 'Snowmageddon' in 2008, Ice Storm '96 and the eruption of Mount St. Helens.”

Which is true. That's the intent of the fund. But at last week's Finance Committee meeting, city Finance Director Gavin Cooley detailed how the fund has been used in the last ten years. Only one of the five times it's been dipped into could be described as an emergency, as most people would define it. (Of course, city leaders could make a case for the other four.)

In 2003, they dipped into the fund for a $1 million withdrawal, which went towards paying for early retirements for some of the city's workers. 

In 2008, $500,000 was taken out for the apocalyptic Snowmageddon, which dumped 100 inches of snow on us, snarling traffic, shutting the city down and cursing the lives of every person to lift a snow shovel that dreaded winter. 

In 2009, another $400,000 was taken out for more early retirements.

In 2011, the city used $336,000 to purchase JustWare, a fancy new computer program used to integrate our region's criminal justice system.

And earlier this year, $1.112 million of contingency reserve funding was used to implement some recommendations from the Use of Force Commission, which we wrote about today.

So, obviously, the fund isn't used simply to combat the excesses of Mother Nature. She just isn't that punishing in the Inland Northwest. And that's why the city is reviewing how it uses this fund. 

But for the time being, the city is using it for one time purposes, which go toward budget reduction, police accountability or snow plows. We can all agree on that last one.

House Majority Leader grabs a Spokane cup o’ joe

A member of U.S. House of Representatives leadership grabbed some java to go at a Spokane-area Dutch Bros. Coffee this morning. And it wasn't who you might think.

Franchise owner and state Republican lawmaker Kevin Parker hosted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at one of his drive-thru espresso stands this morning, tweeting out “Look who stopped by our coffee stand this morning.” Accompanying the pic was a shot of both men grinning in front of a drive-thru window, ties not included.

Parker said Cantor was in town to attend an area fundraiser for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Thursday night. While there, Parker talked to Cantor about the business he started, and the Virginia Republican expressed some interest in seeing one of the stands before he left from the airport Friday morning.

Cantor, who graduated from Columbia University in New York with a Master of Science degree in Real Estate Development in 1989, worked at his family's real estate firm for a decade in the '90s while beginning his political career in the Virginia State House of Delegates. Parker was surprised and impressed by Cantor's private sector acumen.

“He's a pretty big business guy,” Parker said Friday afternoon.

Breaking Ground at Huntington Park

Flanked by earthmovers and pickups, with the Riverfront Park gondolas gliding overhead, Scott Morris talked fondly Tuesday of the year 1889, city parks, Spokane and the company he runs, Avista.

“We, in a sense, grew up together,” Morris said to a gathering of about 50 people from the city and Avista. The energy company was founded almost 125 years ago, and Manito and Riverfront parks were created, in part, by cooperation between his company and the city.

And now there’s another partnership between the city and energy company, and it will end with more outdoor public space.

As Morris and Spokane Mayor David Condon climbed into two bulldozers and moved some dirt around, a new Huntington Park moved that much closer to realization. The four-acre park runs along the lower Spokane Falls on the south side of the river. Huntington and Riverfront parks will be connected by a plaza running between City Hall and the old Washington Water Power building.

Spokane stays ahead of Tacoma in population

OLYMPIA — The honor of the Avis of Washington population goes once again to Spokane.

The state Office of Financial Management released its annual population estimates today, which show overall population is up slightly, pretty much all around the state.

Seattle, of course, is the largest city. Spokane is No. 2, with an estimated 210,000. Tacoma is third at 199,600. For more numbers, check out this story on the main webpage.

The race to place sometimes sets off a competition between some newspaper columnists in the two cities. Spin Control has not engaged in denigrating Tacoma in the past, and will refrain from doing so now. But we can't speak for some of our ink-stained brethren.

Spokane gets mention on White House blog of Sims

Before he became a honcho in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ron Sims was King County executive for three terms and was on the county council before that. So it's sometimes easy for folks to forget that he has Spokane roots.

Sims, however, does not. As the White House blog marks Black History Month with stories of African Americans “contributing to President Obama's goals for winning the future,” his is one of the biographies posted.

And it starts with Sims saying that all people are shaped by where they grew up and “I grew up in Spokane, Washington, which is in the eastern part of the state, and had the opportunity to attend what is now known as Central Washington University.  My parents were engaged in the community, and in the weight of things, I am James and Lydia Sims’ son through and through.”

Senate debate: Candidates in, cleaver out

Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi have arrived for the first televised debate in Washington’s state Senate race.

That means the partisans who arrived to cheer one or jeer the other have dispersed, but not before a person taking issue with their demonstration was detained by police for brandishing a cleaver at the Murray demonstrators.

The man had driven past several times, flashing half of the old “Peace” sign and eventually waving a cleaver out his car window. From inside the studio, it’s not immediately clear if he was just detained, cited or taken to that buildilng behind the courthouse for a discussion about the right and wrong time to flash cutlery.

Say what you will, I’ll bet there won’t be any cleavers brandished at the debate in Seattle on Sunday.

Debate starts live at 7 p.m.

From another perspective, Tacoma really is Washington’s second city

 

Our good friends at the political blog at The News Tribune in Tacoma appear to be challenging us to a friendly Swivel chart war.

Responding to our bar chart showing that Spokane is the second largest city in the state — with a 2,000-person lead over Tacoma — The News Tribune’s Political Buzz reminded us that Pierce County has a signficant lead over Spokane County and easily claims the highly coveted title of “Washington’s Second County.” We at Spin Control do not dispute this title, only its relevance.

Early sales tax numbers show continued rough times for local governments

 Early numbers aren’t looking good for Spokane and other local governments hoping to avoid more budget gloom.

Sales tax distributions for the first two months of 2010 were the lowest since 2005 for Spokane, Spokane County, Spokane Valley and the Spokane Transit Authority.

Because of the increased cost of doing business, largely from of salary increases and the spiking costs of health insurance, local governments usually need rising tax revenue to maintain services with the same number of employees.

Sales taxes are only one source of revenue, but they are a signficant one, especially for STA, which doesn’t have property or utility taxes.

Will Spokane maintain its edge as Washington’s second city?

 

When Census forms arrive in the mail this week, remember, pride may be at stake.

In the middle part of the last decade, fears rose that Spokane would lose its rank as Washington’s second largest city. But Spokane ended the Aughts (is that what we’re calling them?) about where it started — about 2,000 people ahead of Tacoma, at least according to state estimates

Census figures, however, are what counts most. The numbers for 2010 won’t be released until next year.

Yi Zhao, Washington’s chief demographer, said that because Spokane has about 8,000 more residential units than Tacoma, it appears unlikely that Tacoma will pass Spokane in the near future. But, she added: “You never know.”

There’s a map for: Spokane city turnout

Turnout in the city of Spokane for the Nov. 3 election averages just under 50 percent with just a few ballots yet to count.

But it varied significantly around the city, as is typical for most elections. This map divides the city’s precincts into four equal segments based on turnout and shows heavier turnout in the south and northwest, and light voting in the north central and northeast.

 

Are we smart or what? Well, duh

Spokane is smarter than Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue and Salem, but not smarter than Eugene or Seattle.

At least, that’s what the Natural Resources Defense Council says in its latest lists of “smarter cities,” which ranks small, medium and large cities on the environmental intelligence.

Spokane ranked sixth among medium cities, just below Eugene and above Huntsville, Ala. Tacoma may be closing in on Spokane in population, but it’s No. 54 on the NRDC. Boise? It’s No. 52.

Don’t get too big-headed, though. Seattle ranked No. 1 among the large cities.

Want to see the lists or read more about how the council came up with them? Click here.

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:

Stimulus money for law enforcement

More than $1.5 million in federal money is being offered to law enforcement agencies in Spokane and Kootenai counties for new equipment, training or personnel.

The money, part of the economic stimulus package, was added to an existing program known as the Edward Byrne Justice Assistant Grants, which is designed to get more police on the street, more training and equipment to agencies, and more help for crime victims, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said.

The White House is promising to review all requests and approve or reject them within two weeks, a Cantwell spokeswoman said.

The program divides the money between states and local governments. Under its formula, the City of Spokane will be available to request more than $824,000, Spokane Valley $207,600 and Spokane County almost $195,000.

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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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