Declaring it offensive, Spokane City Council members last night banned the term "Bridge to Hookerville" from use during meetings.
The decision came during the weekly open forum portion of Monday's council meeting after civic gadfly George McGrath used the term -- again -- to describe the planned pedestrian bridge spanning a wide rail corridor to link the north and south ends of the growing University District. The southern side of the district includes a stretch of East Sprague Avenue that's historically included a lot of prostitution activity.
Council member Karen Stratton halted McGrath's comments during the open forum, saying "we're all getting tired of the term." She added that it's disrespectful, asking that it be declared offensive and prohibited from being used during council meetings. Council President Ben Stuckart and others agreed.
Council rules require that members and meeting participants conduct themselves in ways that demonstrate mutual respect, and provide the council president with wide latitude to enforce them. Although council member Mike Allen expressed concern about prohibiting an entire phrase from further use, he agreed with the others that it was disrespectful.
McGrath expressed frustration, however, and accused the City Council of trying to censor him.
The planned pedestrian bridge has been panned by fiscal conservatives because of its estimated $16 million pricetag, though city officials have since trimmed it by at least a third and some within Spokane's legislative delegation are trying to get state money allocated to help with the cost.