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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Down To Earth

Spokane politics as usual

We’ve been hammering on the Sustainability Action Plan for quite some time. By now, you may know about the anticlimactic City Council meeting last Monday. In short, Councilman Mike Allen threw in a last minute amendment that stressed the council was just "accepting" the report which was approved on a 5-2 vote. The supporters were Allen and Council President Joe Shogan and Council members Steve Corker, Al French and Richard Rush. Council members Bob Apple and Nancy McLaughlin rejected it.

The highlight was Mayor Mary Verner. She gave perhaps the best speech by a Spokane politician we’ve heard, the calm voice of reason amidst all the chaos. She flatly addressed the criticism with “partisan politics are an insult to the work of the task force.” And she personalized each council members individual interests in union with aspects of the plan, which showed the broad range of sustainability. (The SAP is not just about climate change and peak oil after all.) Example: How Apple and Shogan have fought for improving low-income neighborhoods and small businesses, how Allen has pushed for performance measures, French for building. “Great things happen to those who plan ahead,” she added, and it became clearer as she went along that her disappointment at the attempts to derail progress in Spokane was palpable. (We're looking for a transcript.)



What followed later was one of the most awkward scenes in all of political Christendom. McLaughlin, read from report after report about “global cooling,” stammering and acknowledging the she was in way over her head. The Spokane Skeptic said (admin. warning: there’s profanity in his post) “you remember those presentations in 7th grade, where people got up in front of the class and basically read what they had copied out of the encyclopedia the night before and obviously had no idea what the #@$% they were talking about? That was McLaughlin last night.”

That sounds harsh but how did this happen? Apple, for all of his charming Hillyard peculiarity, criticized the economic points and the divineness of the plan. He repeated environmental issues should be shouldered by “the fed” as this is the “wrong time and the wrong place for climate change.” We obviously disagree with everything he said but at least he was intelligible in making a point. McLaughlin was like---and we know we’re going to partisan purgatory for this---Sarah Palin talking about the Russians in her backyard when asked about foreign diplomacy.

(If you haven’t already, please read The Spovangelist’s thoughts on Monday night.)

Stray Observations:

--Aside from Verner’s speech, Corker’s was the best. He didn’t speak in terms of merely accepting the report and information like Shogan and Allen instead he talked of enjoying the responsibility to be able to consider quality of life 30 and 40 years down the road.

--French, visibly upset at his Inlander portrayal---he did look like The Burger King in a tasty illustration---ranted on term limits and media accuracy while Shogan, who was interviewed for the article, squirmed.

--Is Shogan a jerk? As Council President, he does a horrendous job of time efficiency, and when he gets angry he becomes one of those people that enjoys what little power he has, raising his voice to a commenter, “sit down while I think about what to do next.”

--Again, Shogan. Audience members wore green shirts, green ribbons, and green stickers simply saying “I support a sustainable Spokane.” Without seeing the text of the sticker or perhaps thinking “The Green Party” was alive and well in Spokane, Shogan said this was not allowed. He asked Lands Council executive director and task force member Mike Peterson to show him the sticker and then changed his mind. It was embarrassing. We heard somebody say “What is this, the 1950’s?

--When each member had to present their weekly reports so we know what they’ve been up to, McLaughin said without skipping a beat: Observing national prayer day, a dedication of local humor columnist Doug Clark’s bench, and inevitably a lecture on how global warming isn’t a problem.

--Rush should run for Mayor. Of course, after Verner becomes the first Mayor to be re-elected since 1975. That date is significant because the city was still enthusiastic about the Expo transformation one year later, which sadly supports the argument citizens haven’t had much to be excited about besides political feuds since.

Down To Earth

The DTE blog is committed to reporting and sharing environmental news and sustainability information from across the Inland Northwest.