An ad criticizing the Spokane Valley City Council for overspending on former City Manager Mike Jackson’s termination and for “giving away” more than $400,000 in Community Development Block Grants ran in last week’s Valley Voice.
This is the second ad taken out by the Spokane Valley Business Association and it included the line “Take Back Our City,” making it sound a lot like a political campaign ad.
Councilman Sam Wood said that SVBA has a political agenda and is promoting an inaccurate “doom and gloom” view of Spokane Valley.
Wood said the council is showing financial prudence while working on developing sensible marijuana regulations, scrutinizing the municipal code to reduce cumbersome and unnecessary regulations, and completing the comprehensive plan.
“There are really good things happening in the Valley,” Wood said.
Resignations left the council with just four members instead of seven.
The City Council is expected to fill the final vacant seat by appointment next week. Five of the council’s seven seats – including those held by appointees – will be up for election in 2017.
Wood said the ad, which accuses Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard of giving the CDBG funds to the city of Rockford and the Carnhope Water District, is misleading.
“That process is transparent and regulated by the federal government,” Wood said. “It would appear that the Spokane Valley Business Association does not understand the process.”
Wood said the CDBG funds were earmarked for a sidewalk along Blake Road which residents clearly didn’t want, and that the council should listen to the people.
The ad also criticizes the Spokane Valley City Council for spending $152,000 on a contract with a Denver-based advertising agency that will help develop a city identity and a marketing campaign.
Wood said that contract was approved because it was recommended by the city’s economic development department and that previous councils have spent similar amounts. He said a stronger identity will mean more jobs and a stronger tax base for Spokane Valley.
SVBA president Diana Wilhite, a former Spokane Valley mayor, said she’s encountered many Spokane Valley residents who are unhappy with the council while she’s been doorbelling for Republican candidates.
“Many people told me they are unhappy with the council,” Wilhite said. “We feel like we should let the council know.”
Wilhite wouldn’t say if this is the early start of a political campaign against the sitting council or if more ads are forthcoming.
“We are getting ready to start having public meetings and talk about these things,” Wilhite said.
Of the sitting six council members, only Wood responded to repeated requests for comments on the SVBA ad.
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