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Posts tagged as “Spokane”

First take

Would the Rachel Dolezal thing - she being the (biologically at least) caucasian woman who led the Spokane chapter of the NAACP - have happened in a part of the country where the racial mix was a little deeper? For a city of its size, Spokane is pretty white, and it's next door to a part of the country that's renowned for its whiteness.

It's a strange sorta scandal matter, logically of little interest to anyone outside of Spokane, and logically not of much interest to any there much outside of the NAACO community.

Mike Kennedy of Coeur d'Alene posted on Facebook this morning about national news reports on the subject, quoting one as saying, " the country reeled over the news that the former NAACP leader had resigned...". Kennedy: "Reeled? Are you serious? No one "reeled" over this for God's sake. A self-promoting local lady (with whom many of us are acquainted) created some kind of alternate reality, appears to be quite deceptive, and was publicly called to task over it. She was in her position for a mere 5 months, and the locals in her Spokane chapter seemed quite happy to have her move on. No one "reeled"."

It's early summer doldrums, and the news week is relatively quiet.

Is there anything here that might prompt a reasonable discussion? Well, sure. Why not a white leader of an NAACP chapter (other other organizations like it0, if that's who the membership wants to elect? What does race mean in many cases in this country, when we have a president who is biracial but who is widely identified, and largely self-identifies, as black - and ever-growing numbers of people are multi-racial?

Not crisis-level front-burner questions, perhaps, but legitimate ones. Maybe something to ponder in a quiet season.

The fireworks ban

Most places have limitations of some sort on 4th of July fireworks, but outright bans are relatively uncommon. Spokane, and communities around it, have had such a ban for 17 years.

From a city release: "Fireworks-related fires in the City of Spokane dropped from 1,044 in the 10 years prior to the ban to just 46 in the 10 years after the ban. In a similar manner, fireworks-caused injuries dropped from 290 to 37. In 2008, no injuries from fireworks were reported in the City of Spokane; there were five small grass fires. Clearly, most people are honoring the ban. Violations of the ban can be reported to Crime Check at 456-2233."

And: "The Colville Tribe lost over $15 million in timber on July 4, 2003, after someone lit a bottle rocket from a boat on Lake Roosevelt. In 2006, about $6 million in damage to schools in Washington State was caused by fireworks."

Odds are, most northwesterners still are unlikely to want to go there. But food for some thought anyway.

A non-comdemnatory entity

A notable opinion out today from the Division III Washington Court of Appeals, on the subject of public and semi-public power over private property. Anyone concerned about the extent of government powers of eminent domain might look at it with some relief.

We've long looked askance at the proliferation of quasi-governmental entities; our general view has been that a bright line is better, that something should either be governmental or should not. Maybe this decision will offer a little encouragement along those lines.

Spokane Airports, et al v. RMA, Inc. d/b/a Spokane Airways, et al concerns an airport-related condemnation. The background is a little bureaucratic, but hang in for the conclusion. (more…)

A tale of two bonds

spokane schools

From the Spokane School District 81 website

Those into parsing the details of election returns will want to turn toward a post on the Spokane Spokesman-Review Spin Control blog, which gets into the distinctive results of two March 10 public bonding votes in Spokane. One (the larger) passed, the other failed. The votes weren't close.

In fact, the one that passed, a $288 million school bond, was estimated at 15 times larger than the city of Spokane bond, which failed.

Why that result? Reporter Jim Camden points to a much larger campaign budget for the school bond than for the city's - $145,000 to $6,600 - and more sophistication on the part of the school campaign. But there was also this: "the city bond issue was for a fairly amorphous set of projects, such as an evidence warehouse, some new courtrooms, an expansion of an animal shelter. The District 81 bond issue was for specific schools, and the approval margin is significantly higher in the neighborhoods around those schools, presumably because parents who live there know what needs to be done to their kids’ classrooms."

The mayor’s rap

You reach people where they are. So maybe rapping is an upcoming skill for politicians. Spokane Mayor Mary Verner seems to have worked that out, in rapping on stage and developing a YouTube video, which is getting substantial views, on the homelessness and poverty in her city.

The piece is called "Coming Together," and co-delivered with a university student, Josh Ogle (Gasmasq). Sample: "I'm Mary, I'm the mayor of the city, but the road here hasn't always been pretty/I've had money in my pockets but food stamps too, I've been looked up and down but somehow made it through."

Who owns the colleges?


At Gonzaga University/GU, Jennifer Raudebaugh

The news yesterday that The Society of Jesus (usually called the Jesuits), Oregon Province, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, is leading to a question of some significance: Who owns Gonzaga University and Seattle University, which are considered Jesuit institutions?

Predictably, the Jesuits say they are separately owned, and the plaintiffs suing them - this is a continuation of the long-running string of pedophile cases - say they are integrated enough that their assets, too, should be up for grabs.

It seems not an easy question. Look on the Oregon Province (it includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska) web site, and you'll find a number of references to Gonzaga and Seattle U, but little that explicitly links the church organization to them. The universities (and several other schools) are described as "educational ministries," but what does that mean in the context of ownership and asset?

A statement from Gonzaga President Rev. Robert J. Spitzer: "The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus is a completely separate organization from Gonzaga University. Gonzaga was separately incorporated and registered with the Secretary of State in Washington in 1894. Gonzaga University's assets are its own and not subject to others’ creditors." It sounds like a credible argument, but we have yet to know what a court will think.

And what does it mean to the communities? Seattle University is a very substantial institution and a significant force in Seattle, but Gonzaga is a really major player in Spokane. Questions about its future go directly to the front burner there.