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Editorial: We hope we’re wrong about … And you?

What would a New Year’s Day be without some speculation about the year ahead in between endless quarters of Capital Fiesta Outback football?

So, in the spirit of be-careful-what-you-wish-for, we offer “Things we hope we are wrong about for 2012.”

We hope we are wrong about a sentence of probation imposed on Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson Jr., who was convicted in October of using unnecessary force to subdue Otto Zehm, then lying to investigators about the encounter. However exemplary his conduct may have been during a long career in law enforcement, Thompson should serve some time for his role in Zehm’s death.

We hope we are wrong about the feds declining to conduct a practices and procedures probe into the Spokane Police Department, because we fear City Hall will take this as a sign that everything’s ducky. Plus, the officers themselves might suggest that this means the ombudsman’s office doesn’t need enhanced powers to conduct investigations.

We hope we are wrong that the first time the state’s economic forecast turns somewhat rosy, interest groups and politicians will clamor for quick restorations of three years of budget cuts. We’re also concerned that all momentum on matching public employee compensation with taxpayer reality would be lost.

We hope we are wrong that a solution to the city of Spokane’s structural budget deficit falls victim to politics and infighting. The Citizens’ Financial Advisory Council has done stellar work examining the city’s revenue and expense. They got as far as they did by removing political questions and focusing on the reality of the situation. The empirical framework is now there to construct sound budgets that can ride out economic ups and downs. But politics can’t be kept at bay forever, and we fear the consequences of that inevitable intrusion.

We hope we are wrong about another round of nasty debate over extending the payroll tax holiday that ignores the hole that smaller contributions are creating in the Social Security Trust Fund. Allegedly, general fund revenues will be used as backfill. Allegedly.

We hope we are wrong about national elections swimming in money and starving for candor.

We hope we are wrong that the lucrative Pac-12 TV deal and the hiring of Mike Leach as football coach at Washington State University signal a new era of “Just win, baby!” on the Palouse. The pressure to succeed keeps expanding. The facilities arms race seemingly never ends. We’d hate to think that the next bubble to burst is college athletics because it got too big to fail.

We hope we are wrong about a dry spell that continues through the winter, depriving ski areas of needed snow, rafters and kayakers of spring runoff, and the region of filled reservoirs critical to hydroelectric power generation.

We hope we are wrong about ongoing circulation declines in newspapers and other print media that still do the fundamental reporting the talking heads could not do without. We hope our self-interest is not too transparent.

That’s it. Go ahead and add your own. You could be wrong, too.


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Editorial: Washington state lawmakers scramble to keep public in the dark

State lawmakers want to create a legislative loophole in Washington’s Public Records Act. While it’s nice to see Democrats and Republicans working together for once, it’s just too bad that their agreement is that the public is the enemy. As The Spokesman-Review’s Olympia reporter Jim Camden explained Feb. 22, lawmakers could vote on a bill today responding to a court order that the people of Washington are entitled to review legislative records.