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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: Seattle’s Indigenous People’s Day misses the mark

Monday is cause for minor celebration in Spokane as one of the few weekdays of the year in which “free parking” is not just a square on the Monopoly board.

The city sets aside a handful of holidays to spare motorists the expense of plugging meters, but most are days like Thanksgiving and Christmas, during which there’s less demand for parking spaces except from the poor working stiffs who must come to the office to man the phones or monitor the computers while everyone else is home with the family.

Columbus Day has fallen in the pantheon of American holidays, so it is a regular workday for most of us. But the city still gives people free parking, presumably because the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria didn’t have to plug meters when they dropped anchor in the New World.

The holiday has fallen even further in Seattle, where the City Council decided recently to replace it with Indigenous People’s Day. This managed to please some Native Americans, who have a long list of horribles that start a few minutes after Columbus stuck the flag of Spain on a beach in the Bahamas. It also managed to anger some Italian-Americans, who celebrate the day as part of their heritage, Chris being a paisan. The day is marked by parades in some parts of the country, although in Seattle, not so much.

Seattle’s Italian-Americans rightly point out that indigenous people in Washington and throughout the country already had another day set aside as Native American Heritage Day. It was recognized with legislation passed this spring and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, attended by members of local tribes in traditional dress.

Native American Heritage Day, for those like the council too busy to catch the signing on TVW, is the fourth Friday of November, which is to say the day after Thanksgiving. That’s another holiday that rubs some Native Americans the wrong way, considering the Pilgrims and the folks who followed them to North America exhibited behavior that seemed less than thankful for the help of the Wampanoags in 1621.

But this all begs the question: Don’t Native Americans deserve a holiday all on its own, one that isn’t somehow tied to another holiday that commemorates things they’d rather forget?

Say what, part one

Last week’s debate between U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas veered briefly into immigration policy, with both candidates being asked to address the topic in the context of the need for farm labor and secure borders.

Pakootas tossed off a line that would have passed as an overworked cliché for most people, but it got him a laugh.

“We are a nation of immigrants,” the former chairman of the Colville Confederated Tribes deadpanned, then added: “Most of us, anyway.”

Say what, part two

Keeping track of legislative committees can be a chore for the public during the session, because some panels string several topics together and because the House and Senate have come up with different titles for groups with the same purview. Between sessions, even legislators have trouble.

Take last week, when two House committees held a joint session over problems with the state’s new legal marijuana businesses obtaining bank services.

Rep. Steve Kirby, chairman of the Business and Financial Services Committee, opened the first half of the session and noted he’d turn the gavel over to Rep. Chris Hurst, chairman of the other committee, about halfway through. But he couldn’t quite remember its name.

“I’ve never known the name. It’s a weird name and I don’t even worry about it,” Kirby said.

“You’re on the committee,” Hurst said.

True, said Kirby, but he still doesn’t know the name.

For the record, it’s the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. We sometimes call it the sin committee because it has jurisdiction over booze, pot and gambling.

Spin Control, a weekly column by political reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items and reader comments at blogs/spincontrol.
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