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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Situation calls for risk taker, Pied Piper

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Al Lacombe Special to Voice

Years ago I spotted an abandoned Forest Service outhouse while fishing on a Montana trout stream. As I mounted the facility’s throne some hornets called my attention to their nests located above the door. I certainly wasn’t “all together” as I bolted out the door. It had never occurred to me that I possessed either the speed or agility to compete in a Gunnysack Triathlon until that moment.

I don’t own a “Remember the Hornets” commemorative poster. In fact I seldom think of that moment unless my youngest son, the sole witness to the debacle, chooses to add a bit of humor to one of our mundane conversations. Further, I seldom use the term “stinging rebuke.” But that’s what flashed through my mind as I reviewed newspaper accounts concerning the events leading up to, and a synopsis of, the public comments made during the November meeting of Spokane Valley’s City Council. The “natives” were obviously restless as they delivered their Clintonesque message, “It’s the library, stupid!” The council’s reply seems to have been, “OK, have it your way – for a year!”

I know that I’m dragging a dead horse out of the closet, but honestly I’ve been a bit taken back and concerned with some of the stuff going on in my community. Whenever we have neighbors standing on corners shouting slogans and waving signs, one must assume we don’t have it all together.

Rough going marks the early stages of any venture, but it seems as though our community should be much closer to a consensus relating to where we’ve been and where we’re going, than we appear to be.

People who supported incorporation won the election. They promised that the colossus to the West would never annex our lands, and that we’d be able to live in a Utopia where the services rendered by our government would be superior to those we were currently receiving. Further, the words “increased taxation” were to be banished from our lexicon. If we ever reached those heavenly plains, I missed it.

What fries me is that I don’t know who or what is to blame for this civic malaise. We selected a bunch of fine citizens and established business leaders for the council. These folks have apparently been wrestling with a budgetary monster since day one. I think they’ve worked to strip every unnecessary expense from the city’s various budget categories. And I believe these dollars have been used to enhance targeted programs. Still, rumor has it that we’re short of cash.

How come? Where did the plan fall apart? Why aren’t we in the predicted land of milk and honey? I’ve been sharpening my pointing finger for a couple of months now, but haven’t found a deserving victim.

So, should we bag this city thing and throw in the communal towel? I don’t think so!

Our cause could be helped immensely if one of our current leaders were to become an Entrepreneurial Statesman. You ask, “What the heck is that?” Simply stated, we need a risk taker and a Pied Piper to lead us out of this mess. I’d like to see someone cogently define, and effectively explain, why the plan failed. We need to know which of the expected funds didn’t materialize, and why they were withheld.

Most recently incorporated cities in our state have made it through hard years with the help of a corps of hardy volunteers. We need to know if we’ve measured up to projected expectations in that area, too.

I would also like to see graphic models, which depict how the council has prioritized incoming revenues to improve the city’s service package. And finally we need to see how that package compares to the one being provided by the county for its residents.

I see our Entrepreneurial Statesman developing, and effectively participating in a convincing multimedia presentation which intelligently covers the questions listed above and concludes with a glimpse of a golden future for those of us living in this “City in the Valley.”