October 30, 2013 in City

Davenport owner Walt Worthy pressed by firefighter union over ads

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Davenport Hotel owner Walt Worthy said Tuesday that Spokane firefighters threatened to pull convention and meeting business from his hotel because of negative television ads in two Spokane City Council races this fall.

Worthy and the Davenport Hotel were linked to the ads through political contributions.

Jobs & Prosperity for Spokane, a political action committee, paid for ads that call public unions special interests trying to buy the two races.

The targets of the ads are Councilman Jon Snyder, running for re-election in District 2 in south Spokane, and Candace Mumm, seeking election to an open seat in District 3 in northwest Spokane.

The Spokane Homebuilders PAC gave $7,000 to Jobs & Prosperity for the campaign ad. Worthy contributed $1,000 to the Homebuilders PAC in January.

Worthy said he gave that money to support a previous campaign: a city charter amendment requiring a supermajority vote by the City Council to raise taxes, which voters approved in February.

The developer and hotelier said he had no intention of getting involved in the two contested council races on Tuesday’s ballot.

“We are not anti-union,” Worthy said. “We did not contribute one dollar to this endeavor.”

In his construction projects, Worthy has hired both union and nonunion contractors, he said.

Don Waller, president of Spokane firefighters Local 29, said the local has a longstanding policy of not doing business with anti-union companies.

He said union members viewed the ads as “basically a personal attack on us.”

Waller said a state firefighter convention planned for the Davenport next year could be moved to another location, along with three educational conferences in coming years. Worthy said the Davenport could lose $100,000 or more in business from each event if that happens.

“It’s the anti-union sentiment of the ad” that bothered firefighters, Waller said.

Waller said firefighters will reconsider their threat to move their business from the Davenport because of Worthy’s public explanation that he had no intention of joining the negative ad campaign.

Earlier this month, another developer disavowed any connection between his company and the negative television ads against Snyder and Mumm. Greenstone Corp. President Jason Wheaton told the Spokane City Council that the company didn’t want to be associated with the negative campaign. Like Worthy, Greenstone gave money to the Spokane Homebuilders PAC, which contributed to the ad campaign.

The two council races have drawn a combined $412,000 in campaign funding, making them the most expensive council campaign in city history, candidates have said.

That campaign funding includes $77,200 raised by Jobs & Prosperity PAC and $86,600 raised by an opposing PAC, Citizens for Honest Government.

Citizens for Honest Government has heavy union support, including $22,500 from firefighters Local 29.

Snyder has raised $74,600; his opponent, former GOP state Rep. John Ahern, has raised $25,000.

Mumm has raised $87,300. Her opponent, Michael Cannon, has $61,500 in campaign funds.

Kate McCaslin, who leads the Jobs & Prosperity PAC, said she is offended that public union employees would coerce a business.

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