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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Gas tax repeal bid hits road, bumps

Jim Camden The Spokesman-Review

Anti gas-tax forces rolled through Spokane Thursday looking for signatures for I-912, the effort to repeal the tax that begins taking effect Friday. As expected, they played the Eastern Washington card, although the numbers got a little cloudy.

Seattle radio talk jock Mike Siegel warned there was no way to tell how any of the money would be spent. Supporters may tell you a certain amount will be spent on the Highway 520 bridge or the Alaskan Way Viaduct, but those are just suggestions, Siegel said.

The profligate state Department of Transportation might spend it elsewhere, he warned.

State Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, said the gas tax is a bad deal for Spokane, because only 2 percent will be spent here. Let the West Siders tax themselves and build toll roads if they need the money so badly, he said.

But if no one knows for sure where any money will be spent, as Siegel said, how can we know how bad a deal this is for Spokane, as Ahern said?

There is a list of suggested projects, Siegel explained. If those projects get the money as suggested, 2 percent are in Spokane. If not, who knows? Could be less, or more.

Here are the hard numbers: Unless the new law is repealed at the ballot box, the gas tax would go up by 3 cents this July 1; 3 cents next July 1; 2 cents in 2007; and 1.5 cents in 2008.

That’s 9.5 cents over three years, or about what a gallon of unleaded went up over the last 10 days in gas stations near downtown Spokane. But the oil companies are certain to put that money to better uses than the DOT would.

Initiative 912 sponsors want the state Supreme Court to delay the sale of bonds backed by the tax until after the election. Even though the tax takes effect Friday, signatures for the initiative don’t have to be in until July 8.

Lining up support

Judith Gilmore officially announced her campaign for Spokane City Council, but she’s clearly been working on it for months. One can tell just by looking at her stationery.

It’s not the campaign logo, which features a black-and-white headshot with her trademark red-frame glasses; it’s the list of names down the left side of people serving on various committees.

There are some familiar political names – former congressional candidates Bart Haggin and Tommy Flynn, former County Auditor Sadie Charlene Cooney, former county commissioner candidate Kathy Reid – and a mixture of environmental and neighborhood activists. Not all of the names listed will be voting for Gilmore for the northwest Spokane council seat, because they live elsewhere. Former Gov. Mike Lowry and King County Executive Ron Sims are listed on the steering committee.

Gilmore was Lowry’s rep in Eastern Washington when he was governor and worked on Sims’ gubernatorial campaign last year. Just because they can’t vote here “doesn’t mean they can’t help,” she said.

Interesting reading

Perusal of Mayor Jim West’s e-mails, made possible by a public records request filed by the newspaper, revealed some interesting things beyond the news report last week.

First, it is clear that the mayor is not immune from the spam that most of us get: offers of cheap prescriptions, cheap mortgages, and what Janis Joplin once called cheap thrills.

Second, even some people who write to the mayor don’t bother with Spell Checker. Someone wrote to denounce him as a “petaphile.”

Then again, maybe the writer actually is opposed to someone who loves pets. Or someone who loves People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

So help us

There’s an Internet rumor making the rounds via e-mail that the federal government changed an inscription on the new World War II memorial, in a dastardly effort to cut God out of the action.

Makes a good story, but it’s not true.

A plaque at the memorial contains a line from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech: “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.”

The Internet rumor is that some wimpy bureaucrat somewhere removed “So help us God” from the end of that sentence, and usually features an elderly woman walking away from the monument, shaking her head about how baby boomers might not know the difference but she remembers hearing the speech and she knows what’s what.

Nope, says the best debunker of urban myths, Roosevelt did say “So help us God,” but it was after “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph …”

That may, in fact, be the best-known and best-remembered line in FDR’s speech. But it’s not the one engraved on the memorial.

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