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

Group vows to disband

Organizers for disincorporation continue to seek support

An enthusiastic crowd of Spokane Valley residents vowed Monday to do what they could to disincorporate their 5-year-old city.

“I think we had 132 sign in,” meeting organizer Sally Jackson said.

At least 110 of them were still present when the meeting broke up, and most of them pledged to go door to door with a petition to force an election on dismantling the city government.

The deck is stacked against them by a state law that requires the petition to be signed by half of the city’s registered voters, which works out to more than 24,000 signatures. Two previous disincorporation drives, in 2003 and 2005, fell far short of the necessary total – although Jackson said about 10,000 voters signed in 2005.

Those who turned out Tuesday at University High School may have been on the mature side – “You saw a lot of Valley old-timers there,” Jackson said – but their rhetoric was energetic. Speaker after speaker insisted victory was possible despite the high bar.

“We basically are being taxed out of our homes because there were too many people asleep at the switch,” Gary Kivett said.

He referred to a popular belief that incorporation was approved in 2002, only because many opponents thought they didn’t need to vote. Three previous votes for Valley-wide incorporation and two proposals for smaller cities got no more than 44.3 percent support, but the final effort passed with 51.4 percent of the vote.

Michelle Grafos faulted the City Council for restricting public comments at meetings.

“They never take public comment,” Grafos said.

Actually, the council conducts public hearings on many items and has a public forum at each meeting. But the council limits the forum to topics that aren’t on the agenda.

Grafos also criticized the city’s proposed Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan, which she said unrealistically calls for a “grand boulevard” like the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

“They don’t think us peasants can do anything,” Jackson said, evoking the French Revolution. “Well, let’s show ’em.”

Jackson, who has been a leader in the local Democratic Party, told the audience six volunteers would be needed for each of the city’s 43 precincts.

“You get to know your neighbors and you get to know the Valley,” Jackson said. “Once you get used to it, it’s like eating popcorn: you can’t get enough of it.”

She said she and her husband, Ron, used to be able to do a third of a precinct by themselves when a quick canvass was needed, “but we’re past those days.”

Jackson is 77, and her husband suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

Everyone should bring a newcomer to the next meeting, Jackson urged. When she proposed a date, a man in the audience suggested “the 30th” would be better.

“The 30th of February?” Jackson shot back. “You’re from the City Council.”

The next meeting, on March 3, will provide an alternative to the council meeting that night. The critics will meet at 7 p.m. at the University High School auditorium.

Contact reporter John Craig at 927-2165 or by e-mail at johnc@spokesman.com.
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