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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

During KSPS debate, Rush questions Allen’s work ethic

NOTE: This post has been corrected from an earlier version to accurately reflect the number of times Allen was recorded absent during Spokane Employees' Retirement System board meeting. An earlier version was incorrect because of a reporter error.

Before tonight's KSPS candidates debate was filmed last week, Councilman Richard Rush handed out the minutes for each meeting in 2009 of the Spokane Employees' Retirement System board to each debate panelist.

The records didn't come up in the debate. When asked about the minutes afterward, Rush pointed to the attendence listings that show Allen was absent for seven of the 10 meetings when Allen served as the City Council representative on the board. Rush said if Allen is so concerned about financial accountability, Allen should have been present.

Allen, who served two years on the City Council, is challenging Rush's bid for re-election.

Allen said this week that the pension meetings conflicted with his job at the time as an administrator at Eastern Washington University. He said he did attend, though often late, at least half of the meetings and is unsure why he was listed as absent, he said. Allen said missing meetings won’t be a problem now that he owns his own business.

“I control my own schedule now,” he said.

During the debate, Rush noted that one of Allen's signature issues when he was a councilman was working to formulate a capital facilities plan. After Allen left the council in 2009, Rush said he discovered that little work had been completed on it. Rush sponsored a law that was approved in July that requires that a "Capital Improvement Plan" be adopted each year to prioritize the city's facility needs.

"There are people who are largely statisfied with the satus quo and maintain that status quo and frequently don't do the work and allow the staff down at City Hall to step into the political vacuum to make public policy decisions," Rush said at the debate. "Then there the ones who go down there who are very active, like myself, who want to change the status quo."

Allen didn't respond directly to Rush's criticism during the debate.

"We'll have to agree to disagree on the cpaital program, which is a great thing for our city, I must say," Allen said at the debate. "I'm glad it was completed."

In an interview today, Allen expanded on his work on the plan. He said he pusued the issue with Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley and City Administrator Ted Danek and hoped to craft it based on San Francisco's capital plan. Rush worked with city attorneys and appears to have crafted a plan also based on San Francisco's, Allen said.

Allen said it's "disingenuous" to argue that he didn't advance the issue.

The KSPS debte will air tonight at 7 p.m.

Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt joined The Spokesman-Review in 2004. He is the government editor. He previously was a reporter who covered Spokane City Hall, Spokane County government and public safety.

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