Finch Arboretum, what an embarrassment
Around the year 2000, my mother’s beloved twin sister passed away. We have a very large family and we wanted to commemorate her life by buying a tree through Finch Arboretum and having it planted there. The staff was wonderful, letting us know when it was to be planted so that family could be there. They planted it in a beautiful little glen with enough room for another tree to be planted for my mother when the time came. That happened in 2011.
Finch Arboretum is a jewel in Spokane, something that we can be so proud of. I have lived here for over 50 years, many of them as a member of the Spokane Floral Association, a local garden club started here in 1896. It was my pleasure to occasionally do community work at the arboretum. Over the years I marveled at what a beautiful place it was, how well it was kept.
This summer we had lots of out of town family and friends and one thing they wanted to do was see “our trees.” We had not been for several years. Imagine our shock and dismay at what we saw, the lawn so overgrown that you couldn’t even see the pathways and everything sorely in need of water. This took a while to get this way, why was it allowed?
What can politicians do about inflation?
In the Nov. 4 business section (“Albertsons to hand over $4 billion to owners), we see Albertsons which owns Safeway and multiple other grocery stores, is paying a “special” $4 billion dividend to its shareholders, controlled by private equity firms, including Cerberis, that owns 29% of Albertsons stock.
This is before a planned merger with Kroeger, the other behemoth grocery giant. This will result in fewer options for consumers to buy groceries and will allow the resultant company to raise prices, since they will have greatly reduced competition. We lose the benefits of free market capitalism when industries are controlled by one or a few large corporations. Additionally, this large dividend before the merger drains the cash from the newly merged company, which will likely drive store closures, layoffs and justification for increased consumer prices and services from the company after the merger.
When we see companies with exceptionally high profit margins during inflationary times, (many companies in the second quarter of 2022 had the highest profit margins since the 1950s) it indicates that they have been able to raise prices because those were the prices the market is able to bear and those prices were higher than would be passed on from increased costs from rising labor costs, rising transportation costs and rising material costs.
If you are concerned about inflation, then please become aware and educate yourself about how anti-trust regulation supports a healthy free market system. Please support leaders that prioritize enforcement of anti-trust regulation.
City Council leadership
I had a chance to sit down with former Mayor Sherry Barnard this past month where she shared some entertaining and powerful stories about how the mayor and council worked together regardless of politics and agendas to accomplish so much during her leadership.
From this conversation I was reminded that when leaders like Mayor Barnard, former council members Greene, Salvatori, Corker and Allen focused on the city’s mission, vision and values as the benchmark for their decisions while always recognizing that it was their responsibility to pursue the greatest good for the entire city we moved forward. These leaders plus many before this current council did not just seek the satisfaction of specific group’s agenda but focused on what was best for the city as a whole.
It’s time for our current council, including Council President Beggs, to learn from those that have previously led our city with a servant leader mindset versus continuing to be fixated on specific agendas while continuing to position, posture and point fingers. Reimagining public safety, defunding the police, controlling the redistricting map with a politically driven approach, running an initiative to control the city attorney, forcing the purchase of Tesla’s for police cars and overriding the community’s desire to repurpose the East Central Library into a police precinct are a few examples of the games and agendas of the current council.
Spokane deserves leadership that wants to move the city forward, versus playing games according to agendas.
Parent’s mental health deserves more
Supporting families through improved governmental policies is urgent for Spokane families. Anxiety and depression amongst teenagers have increased 59% between 2007 and 2017, the rate for girls far outpacing boys. This rate will align with the mental health of those who become parents. Further, Spokane County’s metrics around poor mental health exceed those of the state, making our teen’s experience a proxy for a more pervasive, unaddressed issue.
A recent focus group was held between a local teen parent serving organization and WA’s HealthCare Authority, to better understand the teen’s experience while pregnant and postpartum. It surfaced only half were offered a mental health screening during and after pregnancy. Further, the parents revealed even when they expressed current mental health conditions, they had to be their own advocates, often repeatedly, to explore solutions.
Mental health factors go unaddressed due to stigma, bias and historical underinvestment. Recent research confirms one in five women (and one in 10 dads) will suffer from a mental health disorder like postpartum depression and less than 15% receive treatment. The prevalence increases to 25% for low income women and amongst low income women with young children, 60%. There are active maternal mental health policies (bit.ly/3G6nUFN; bit.ly/3NWMLhl) that we need to advance to turn the tides.
Our families deserve better. Please urge local reps to support these urgent mental health resources.