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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

ON THE ISSUES: Mike Fagan, candidate for Spokane City Council District 1

Fagan has come under fire for recent statements about vaccinations.
Fagan has come under fire for recent statements about vaccinations.

Explain your political philosophy. Who is your political hero?

Fagan: I align with and am a proponent for smaller government, and less regulation. I try my best to be fair and equitable while always staying on a moral and ethical path.  I don't have "a" political hero. I admire a lot of leaders past and present like the apostles of Christ and the signers of the constitution, who risked all including their lives. I admire president Reagan and his legacy as the great communicator, Martin Luther King for his legacy on equal rights. 

Describe the current relationship between the City Council and the mayor. If you think the relationship's productive, explain why. If you think the relationship should change, explain why and how you would change it.

Fagan: I believe that a veto proof majority is unhealthy for the city of Spokane. With this type of government, the forward progress of the city and it's people are impacted greatly by spinning wheels. I believe that more political balance, and a variety of philosophies is needed to ensure that policies are thoroughly vetted to limit the potential for unintended consequences, and/or power struggles which may take the city in a negative direction.

Last year, voters overwhelmingly approved a 20-year street levy. Under the city's integrated streets policy (also known as Complete Streets), part of that money will go toward pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Do you support that money, as well as other funding, going toward alternative transportation? Why or why not? Do you support the city's work on road diets?

Fagan: It is painful to see that for the cost of a police officer or fireman, we are laying down a mile of bike lane ($63,350.00 per mile) to accommodate a very small part of the population (in Spokane 1-2%). We are a nation that loves our cars and will continue to be so for a long time. Complete streets is social engineering with justifications being used which cost the the tax payer alot of money and possibly their property. Take Portland for instance;  Build it and they will come they said. I refer to the bus and light rail lines there. They built it and no body came until the tax payers stepped up with another $800 million in business and residential incentives for the bus lines and at least $2 billion more on the rail lines, and it continues to fail in some regards. The justifications being used to the need for road diets is nothing but pulling the emotion strings in the name of safety and commerce when we are going to have to come back to it in the future due to rising population and better economy driving need. If there is a specific traffic and/or intersection safety issue, we should be concentrating on those specific issues and not addressing those kinds of problems by casting a wide net, wasting tax payer dollars. 

Should the Spokane Police Ombudsman have more or less powers to independently investigate alleged police misconduct?

Fagan: I believe that the Ombudsman program has not been given a fair opportunity to work the way it was designed in Spokane due to the issues it has faced with the commission member controversy and the lack of Ombudsman. I have been contacted by citizens who have had dealings with this program and the results have been 50/50. I firmly believe that the Ombudsman program is one of, if not the most important board or commission we have in the city because it truly belongs to the citizens for purposes of ensuring police accountability and re-establishing trust between the citizens and the police.   

Do you support the city's recent issuance of $200 million in municipal bonds? Why or why not?

Fagan: It was $200 million in green bonds for the purpose of addressing a mandate that the city has been aware of for the last 20 years. It is sad that previous administrations and councils feigned this responsibility, and it put the current government and tax payers in a tricky spot. While I don't appreciate the mandate, it is my understanding that had we not engaged in an approach,  the city and the taxpayer would have been made to move forward under a court decree at a much greater cost and little to no control. I did support the bonds for the expressed purpose and intent of protecting tax payers from what could have been double or more of the cost and little to no control in how we get the river clean. 

What's the most underutilized revenue source for the city of Spokane?

Fagan: Every administration that I can remember has pointed out the amounts of city owned land, homes, and other properties as being a large untapped financial resource. The Condon administration has updated the inventory and is moving forward to sell some properties, and get those properties back on the tax rolls.  I do not believe that the city should be a land lord, and should only have control of a sufficient number of properties in order to accommodate the public interest i.e. row for streets, commerce, and safety. 

Do you support the city's decision to sue Monsanto over PCBs in the Spokane River? Explain.

Fagan: There is no doubt that there are multi-national corporations like Mansanto who, over the years have been major contributors to some of the environmental and health concerns that are in the forefront of people's minds today. The city saw an opportunity to join several other cities in this suit as a means to try and gain a way to help minimize the large expense that the city has placed upon the tax payer in our pursuit of a cleaner river faster. The city is also reaching out for state and federal grants where ever possible to again, mitigate some of the tax burden people are now having to shoulder due to this issue coming to a head.      

Should speed cameras be installed in school zones? Why or Why not?

Fagan: Not before the city exhausted all other means of public education, and enforcement to change driver behavior, including the lobbying of the state legislature to change drivers education from its current teachings back to defensive driving style of teaching and certification. The jump into the speed camera program is not about safety it is about revenue. 

The city has been without a planning director since Scott Chesney was ousted last November, a move that led, in part, to Jan Quintrall's sudden resignation earlier this year. Do you believe the city has suffered due to the unfilled planning director position? And, if asked for advice by the mayor, what qualities would you recommend in a planning director?

Fagan: I am sure that the lack of a director has had some impact on the city but minor at that. Qualities of a new director would include specific knowledge of the applicable statutes governing business and developer services requirements, flexibility and discretion using out of the box thinking for moving projects forward while adhering to those legal requirements, and the where with all to bring forward inconsistencies and conflict in those legal requirements which may require review and change to keep projects moving forward in a moral and ethical way. 

How many public relations professionals, otherwise known as spokesmen and spokeswomen, should the city employ? Explain.

Fagan: The city and the parks dept should be equipped with spokespersons. While I would tend to agree that the police dept had a need when we came into office due to the huge amount of changes and reforms, that were being made, once the brunt of the reforms were implemented, the need could have gone away. I believe that if a city dept has a need for a spokes person, this responsibility could be handled as an additional duty assignment like the police dept is currently using without creating the need for a standalone position costing tax payers more. 

Will you vote in favor of Envision Spokane's Worker Bill of Rights? Why or Why not?

Fagan: No, it is legally flawed, too ambiguous, and will invite legal actions against the city which will be paid for by the tax payers. The initiative is also a tool to grow government for the purposes of administering and enforcing programs on issues that should be left to the employer and their prospective employee. 

Should the city vacate two blocks of public right-of-way on Madison Avenue for use by a car dealership? Explain.

Fagan: No, the fair thing to do that the immediate businesses and neighborhood have been advocating for is to do a partial vacation of Madison. That street is one of only a couple that allow for north south travel through downtown and to lose it would inconvenience travelers, commerce, and access in general.  

Since its creation in 2007, the Spokane Investment Pool has grown to contain more than half a billion dollars. In the past five years, the city has borrowed money against the pool to buy new equipment for the fire and police departments, to (potentially) build a Centennial Trail bridge over Mission Avenue, to buy a new fire station in the West Plains, to buy a new property evidence facility and to pay for the land below the old YMCA in Riverfront Park. Do you support the city borrowing money against its investments, much of which is bonded debt? Explain.

Fagan: Only where it makes sense i.e. can a payback occur without affecting contingency reserves thereby affecting rates and/or taxes already being paid, is the loan financing something that the city absolutely needs, and what is the advantage and/or benefit to the tax payer? While I originally leaned towards supporting the SIP loan for fleet services and the Nelson service center, after getting into the long term impact of that loan, it became apparent to me that in 3-4 years time, the council would have been at the 15% ceiling established by code, and future loan capacity would have been in question. While I would consider this kind of financing to be the least cost and risk to the tax payer for short term needs, it also must be in the last resort category for me in order to support. 

Does Spokane have a sprawl problem? Should the city develop stronger policies encouraging infill? Is the current model working? Or should the city get out of the way and let development occur?

Fagan: No, Spokane does not have a sprawl problem, this has been affirmed by the likes of Smart Growth America. Please refer to my answer in #3 above.  How much more in incentives should the tax payer step up for in order to support infill when inconsistencies and policies exist between state GMA, city code and comprehensive plan, that only cost the investor, developer, and buyers more in the end? I believe that there is a balance that is required in everything that the city does. 

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.