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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sue Lani Madsen: What do you bring to the conversation?

Every column has a context affecting the tone and topic. Writing on Wednesday for Thursday morning publication, today’s context is preparation for a panel discussion called “Beyond Politics: Beginning the Conversation.”

Sue Lani Madsen: One year later … what’s in a name?

It’s the anniversary of ... something, but we can’t agree on its name. There is no common narrative yet for the events of Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington D.C. If your political bias leans left, it’s labeled an insurrection and the worst attack on our democracy in history. If your political bias leans right, it was a nasty riot capping off a summer of riots.

Sue Lani Madsen: Peace on earth, goodwill toward men

In 2021, the traditional angelic greeting of “peace on earth and goodwill to men” is likely to lead to less peace and a lot of ill will. We have become a nation focused on amplifying diversity over building commonality. We have forgotten the necessity of a common language to a healthy culture.

Sue Lani Madsen: It’s all in the numbers

Gov. Jay Inslee used West Side manufactured solar panels for a backdrop last Monday to introduce this year’s Democratic agenda on climate change. In addition to a new state Office of Climate Commitment and Accountability, the proposals included rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles. One question from the attending press pool stood out. “If someone wants to buy a $50,000 new electric vehicle and they make $50,000 a year, how does that pencil out?”

Sue Lani Madsen: Why it’s hard to pull the plug

The problem was obvious and the cure seemed simple in 2008. Electronic health records were becoming ubiquitous in both public and private health care, but on a variety of platforms which couldn’t speak to each other. Mustering out of service under DoD care meant physically carrying a stack of paper records to the VA to scan into their system. The Department of Defense and the VA each had their own EHR systems, and relied on the pre-Internet “tennis shoe network” to communicate.

Sue Lani Madsen: Got power for Thanksgiving? 25 years later - be thankful

Gov. Mike Lowry declared a disaster within the 24 hours of the first exploding transformer. Hospital staff stayed over for second shifts when colleagues couldn’t make it to work, trapped by jumbles of downed trees. Traffic lights went black and power lines decorated icy intersections. The Spokane County Department of Emergency Management lost power, county commissioners having cut DEM’s request for an emergency generator. It was an “I told you so moment” for new deputy director Dave Byrnes, and an “oops” that would be rectified the next year. An Emergency Operations Center was hastily set up in the basement of the downtown city fire station.

Sue Lane Madsen: Electric vehicles – we aren’t there yet

They sound attractive. They really do. Especially for those of us who live 15 or more miles from a gas station. And especially after arriving home and only then noticing the gas gauge is on E for empty. We have fuel stored in the garage for just such a contingency, but how much more convenient to simply plug in the car?

Sue Lane Madsen: Closing the trust gap

The Biden administration is looking for ways to close the tax gap, the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid. But that’s not where the problem starts. It starts with the trust gap.

Sue Lani Madsen: Following the science – the political science

Either there is an ongoing public health emergency requiring extreme measures, or there isn’t. If it’s a crisis, why does a “large event vaccine verification emergency order” announced by the governor on Oct. 14 not go into effect until Nov. 15?

Sue Lani Madsen: Every sheep needs a sheepdog, every community needs police

Storytelling is the oldest and most effective means of communicating abstract ideas. But stories only work when the listeners and the tellers share context. So when the Inlander ran an article with a headline screaming “Spokane cops read children’s book authored by controversial ‘Killology’ trainer to preschoolers,” it was clear the writer and those he interviewed didn’t understand the underlying analogy.

Sue Lane Madsen: Redistricting: Doing the political shuffle

Time for The Big Dance. Not the NCAA March Madness version but the once-a-decade post-census political shuffle. The four members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission have issued their first maps with proposed boundary changes for both legislative and congressional districts. In Eastern Washington, there’s at least one textbook example of gerrymandering.

Sue Lani Madsen: COVID-19: Unasked questions

Rarely does one get an answer to an unasked question. When the media is dominated by a single narrative, stifled questions shut down critical conversations about public health and the health care system.

Sue Lani Madsen: Trust gap hinders police reform

A dozen new laws revising and extending existing RCW’s (Revised Code of Washington) were intended to address a lack of trust between some community members and the officers hired to serve and protect them. For those who see all institutions as systemically racist, the solution to fear was to legislatively limit officers’ discretion and increase officers’ liability.