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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Street punks ruin beauty of downtown

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

More proof that (certain) people are scum:

“In recent months nearly 50 Alberta spruce and boxwood trees outside Spokane’s luxurious Davenport Hotel have been ripped from their planters by thugs with the sensibilities of swamp creatures.

“Sidewalk urination near the hotel appears to be on the rise.

“Ditto for projectile vomiting, aggressive panhandling, loitering and other riff-raff variations.

The grim reality is detailed in “Quality of Life Issues – The Davenport Hotel.”

That’s the title Davenport director of security Chris Powell put on the cover of the white binder he created to chronicle the hotel’s ongoing war with dirtbags.

“It had to be graphic,” says the retired Washington State Patrol sergeant, whose hotel security staff began photographing and logging incidents of vandalism and beastly behavior last February.

This is a depressing but revealing read. Powell’s book offers the Davenport’s perspective on a problem I’ve seen repeated throughout the business core.

Street punks are taking over downtown Spokane, and we don’t have enough cops to stop them.

I felt my blood pressure rise 30 points while flipping through Powell’s book.

During one nocturnal spree in May, The Davenport lost a dozen trees. Each tree, adds Powell, costs about $70 to buy and replace.

Thank God I hadn’t eaten lunch. There’s a four-photograph vomit pictorial taken after some booze-soaked night crawler let loose with Technicolor results on a planter and the surrounding sidewalk.

Say a prayer for The Davenport cleaning staff.

Reaching the last page, I felt like grabbing a baseball bat and turning vigilante. It’s a shame to see such senseless and stupid destruction.

“We don’t want this to be downtown Spokane’s biggest public toilet,” says Tom McArthur, director of communications for the 283-room hotel.

“Think how you’d feel if you just remodeled your new home, and you woke up some morning to find somebody pulled up your trees and threw up on your porch. Well, this is Spokane’s living room and people are throwing up on the porch.”

The irony is that downtown Spokane looks better than ever these days.

The Davenport is still the crown jewel, but a number of flashy big-money developments have helped give the downtown a fresher look, a stronger pulse.

All the more reason to stop punks from whizzing all over our progress.

The solution isn’t all that complicated, says Powell.

The security ambassadors wandering around are dandy. But we need a bigger “real” police presence in the downtown and a no-tolerance policy toward offenders.

“Put cops on the street, and the situation will improve,” he says. “Daytime. Nighttime. All the time.” The message needs to go out – “Act like a civilized person or go to jail.”

Street punks need to know, Powell says, “there are going to be consequences – whatever it takes to turn around this mindset of ‘I resent nice. I resent anything that’s decent.’ “

I made a couple of calls Friday to get a police perspective on this. I couldn’t muster a police presence, either.

I do have a pretty good idea what the party line would be: Layoffs, budget crunch, overworked, making do …

Red ink has made the thin blue line thinner than ever.

But the downtown needs to be a higher policing priority. If it takes moving bodies from traffic patrol to walking a downtown beat, so be it.

McArthur points to New York and Seattle, cities that have benefited from a tougher stance on downtown street grime. “This is what cities do when they grow up,” he says.

Spokane can do the same, but the will has to be there.

As for street punks, McArthur offers an added word of advice.

“If you want to pull trees and pee in the woods – go work for Weyerhaeuser.”

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