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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Harmonious Council Approves Hiring Lobbyist City Also Votes To Vacate Part Of Street Near Gonzaga

A Spokane City Council still basking in the warmth of its weekend retreat spent much of Monday evening in unanimous agreement.

“We’re entering a new state of euphoria and togetherness,” Mayor Jack Geraghty said with a broad grin just before the council meeting.

The council spent the past weekend setting priorities, learning to communicate and getting to know each other with the help of a California consultant.

With the retreat still fresh in their minds, council members voted unanimously on nearly every agenda item, including hiring a lobbyist for the current state legislative session.

Council members agreed to spend $20,000 on an outside lobbying team to look out for the city’s interests in Olympia.

For the past 13 years, the city has sent a staff person to the state’s capital for two to three days of every week during the 15-week legislative session.

Sweeping changes in the Legislature, as well as the state’s tendency to shift responsibilities to city and county governments, makes it difficult for a commuting representative to keep track, said Councilman Joel Crosby, the council’s legislative liaison.

According to their contract, Jackie White of Olympia and Bob Mack of Tacoma will keep track of issues relating to city government and report back weekly to the council. They’ll also alert council members when it’s necessary to testify before the Legislature.

The two already lobby legislators for the Spokane Transit Authority, and the cities of Tacoma and Bellevue.

The $20,000 contract will be paid for by cuts in the legal department’s travel budget and the elimination of a federal lobbyist.

Mamie Picard, a frequent critic of city spending, said a glut of information exists on legislative activities in the form of publications and toll-free numbers.

“There’s all kind of information out there telling us what’s going on,” Picard said. “We don’t need it filtered” through lobbyists.

Also Monday, the council:

Unanimously approved $400,000 in grants recommended by the Human Services Advisory Board.

The money will be divided among nearly 50 agencies, including the Spokane Food Bank, the Martin Luther King Center, the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery and Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs.

Approved by a 6-1 vote the vacation of Van Gorp Place from Sharp Avenue to Boone Avenue after nearly two hours of testimony.

Gonzaga University plans to build a 42-unit student housing complex on property bounded by Pearl and Lidgerwood streets, and Sharp and Boone Avenues.

Councilman Chris Anderson cast the lone dissenting vote of the evening, saying he wasn’t about to favor the interests of one neighbor over that of several.

Residents complained the vacation would only increase traffic problems in their already congested neighborhood.

xxxx Upcoming action The Spokane City Council scheduled a Jan. 30 public hearing on a proposal to remove a traffic barrier that was recently installed to prevent left turns at 29th and Pittsburg. Some residents sought the barrier to reduce traffic, but others have complained that the barrier forces more traffic onto other streets.

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