My First Spokane City Council Meeting

Last night, I attended my first Spokane City Council meeting so I could speak against Ordinance C35571, proposed by Council President Ben Stuckart. This ordinance was vetoed earlier by Spokane Mayor David A. Condon. This agenda item was a consideration of the veto. To override the veto, 5 out of the 7 council members had to vote for the ordinance.

The ordinance is described as the “Spokane Fair Elections Code”. Fair is far from the truth. I will describe three main reasons.

First, the ordinance cuts in half the amount that an ordinary citizen can give annually to local candidates, meanwhile such limits will not be imposed on political committees and parties. As a result, the power and influence of political contributions by political organizations will increase while the influence of individuals will decrease.

Second, any entity with a “contractual relationship with the city” valued over $50,000 is prohibited from campaign contributions to local candidates. Conversely, no such restrictions are given to unions. Such provisions create an unequal application of the law, or double-standard valuing the free-speech (i.e., money) that comes from unions more.

Third, the ordinance creates an unequal scenario for those seeking office. Incumbents, who already have a political office can reap benefits from being in power (e.g., publicity, networking). As well, they likely have a bank account of monies collected from previous campaigns. Under the Spokane Fair Elections Code, challengers will not be able to begin collecting campaign contributions until the election year begins on January 1, placing them at an extreme disadvantage. As well, they will not be able to self-fund their campaign prior to the start of the year.

Public testimony was evenly divided. Yet, the council voted 6 to 1 in favor of the motion to override the veto of the mayor. The only conservative on the Spokane City Council, Council Member, Mike Fagan voted against the motion. This outcome may be surprising to many in the eastern side of Washington State that leans Republican Red. Surprisingly, Spokane is governed by liberal blue activists.

This ordinance, proposed with no urgent situation in mind, was not tabled for suggested improvements. Instead, Stuckart sought to quickly move forward. Perhaps to avoid greater public scrutiny.

Being my first time attending a Spokane City Council Meeting, I didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived before the commencement of events, I signed up on the roster to speak. Pleasingly, everyone stood for the pledge of allegiance.

Early on, a gentleman went to the microphone to speak in support of Uber. When finished, I clapped backing his comments. I was immediately chastised by Stuckart for behaving inappropriately. Apparently, rules require attendees to remain silent as everyone speaks. I don’t have a problem with such rules maintaining civility. Although, it is sad that such rules are needed.

When it was my time to talk at the microphone, I focused on calmly reading my notes. The ball of the microphone seemed as large as my face blocking my view of the council members. I was nervous and worried my fears would impede my presentation. As I began, I kept my head down looking at my paper. About half-way through, I developed more confidence and started to look up more. The council members had a wide range of facial expressions. At the end of my delivery, I sought to counter a comment made by a previous speaker. My nervousness impaired my impromptu comeback, but I don’t regret trying. Of course, afterwards I felt more confident for the next time.

Book Review: Killing Patton

Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is the story of major battles and events in the final years of World War II with an emphasis on the life of General George Patton. Like other books in the Killing Series, this manuscript opens readers’ minds to the possibilities for different historic outcomes if certain individuals had acted otherwise. Sadly, this book strongly hints at the likely non-accidental death of General Patton by betraying figures.

Authors of history easily can insert their biases in recounting of events. I appreciate that Killing Patton, like other books in the Killing Series, offers specific details to substantiate perspectives shared. Readers will find the insights credible and worthy for contemplation.

I came away from this book convinced that no matter how difficult a person General Patton may have been to associate with, he was the best military leader. His leadership dependably delivered on the battlefield. Yet, if he was given the support (e.g., supplies and troops) he needed and requested, he would’ve delivered even more than his counterparts who repeatedly floundered. Additionally, if Patton were given the backing, he could’ve beat the Russians to Berlin potentially impacting the future of Europe. Unfortunately, former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) appears to have valued his comrade with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin more than Winston Churchill, the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This book explains that FDR apparently agreed to give parts of Germany and Eastern Europe to Stalin rather than compete to restrain Russian influence in the region. Meanwhile, General Patton wisely identified the Russians for the threat they were and wanted turn America’s attention that direction. Instead, FDR working through his generals and Wild Bill Donovan in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) marginalized General Patton until his unexpected death in Germany.

In a sense, FDR helped create the cold war rather than recognizing the threat the Russians were to the future of the world. Granted, at some point the Russian threat needed to be dealt with. Regrettably, containment came after freely permitting the Russians to take over, control, abuse, rape, and murder many defenseless eastern Europeans and Germans.

It is interesting to read Killing Patton after reading Killing the Rising Sun. Both General Douglas MacArthur and General Patton recognized the threat from the Soviet Union in the post-World War II era. General Patton was sidelined and eventually probably killed. General MacArthur was given some power to confront the communist threat in Korea. He successfully landed troops at Inchon and reclaimed Seoul. Then, he was fired by President Harry S. Truman and the Joint Chief of Staff after he authorized pursuing combat into China against Truman’s orders. Rather than taking the battle to the communist super-powers, both of Americas mighty-generals’ careers were ended.

Understandably, America was tired of war, but the Korean conflict demonstrates that post-World War II military action was needed to contain communism (note that the later Vietnam conflict indicates containment was never fully realized). It appears that FDR and Truman kicked the problem down road as opposed to dealing with communism when they had the better opportunity. And, both generals who could’ve led the fight were forced out of power.

I come away from Killing Patton questioning the character and leadership of many noted Allied military leaders – General Dwight Eisenhower, General Omar Bradley, and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. General Eisenhower seemed more like a politician than a qualified battlefield tactician. Accordingly, it seems fitting he later became President of the United States. Similarly, I question the wisdom of FDR in allowing Donovan so much power to work with the Russians in intelligence activities. The partnership between the OSS and The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) near the end of World War II seems treasonous. That might explain why General Patton’s suspicious death isn’t a surprise.

State of Liberty Doesn’t Need Washington State’s Debt

One of the arguments heard against the idea of the eastern side of Washington breaking off into a new state (e.g., State of Liberty) is that the eastern side of the state "benefits" from the west side's money. How is the west side's money benefiting the east side when each resident owes almost $3k?

Why Should I Help Olympia?

According to a December 26, 2017 news article by Wendy Culverwell in The Tri-City Herald every Washington resident ‘owes’ $2,717 to pay Washington state’s $21 billion debt. When I hear such numbers, I wonder if I’d be willing to make such an additional financial sacrifice for the good of the state-wide community. After all, I’m all for doing my part for the common good. Unfortunately, the reality is I don’t trust the government to use my money prudently to pay off its debts, nor make sound financial decisions. I wonder, “Why are these debts present at all?”

First, I don’t trust that the State of Washington is spending my money on programs or projects that I would support. For example, how much of this money supports Planned Parenthood? Is this money being used for Light Rail?

Second, is this money being administered in the most cost-effective manner? After all, government has very low incentive for thrift. Can some of these projects and programs be better managed by private enterprise?

Third, is there any way to prevent wastefulness in the future? What stops politicians from deciding to overspend? Note that this article points out that Washington state treasurer, Duane Davidson, has refused requests from Republicans and Democrats to use the state’s emergency reserves for desired purposes. Why are either party’s members seeking to use the emergency fund rather than cut back on spending?

Since Washington is one of the “most highly leveraged states” in the nation, and there isn’t any likelihood that my tax money will be spent wisely, I have no desire to pitch in an extra $3k to solve the debt crisis. Rather, I expect that changes be put in place to prevent politicians from doing this in the future.

Term Limits or Constitutional Amendment?

Perhaps, one of the best ways to prevent such reckless financial accountability is for politicians to have term limits. Term limits would discourage career politicians and discourage the influence of lobbyists. Additionally, a constitutional amendment to the state’s constitution should be enacted to prevent deficit spending. Some may argue that such a law would hurt during a time of crisis. I wonder how many crises would be avoided if debts were avoided and savings pursued? I don’t mind the state government investing in its future with surplus revenue. Imagine a state government that only paid for programs and projects with cash. If government were collecting interest rather than paying interest, maybe we wouldn’t need as many taxes.

Can the State of Liberty Help?

Now some, if not all my comments may be regurgitating the same arguments that many conservatives in this state have mentioned before. It may seem like a waste of time preaching against the financial waste coming out of Olympia. Let me go back to my original question – How is the west side's money benefiting the east side when each resident owes almost $3k? Realistically, the politicians in the State of Washington are not going to change their reckless spending activities. Term limits and a constitutional amendment preventing such waste are not going to easily pass.

So, what about the possibility of the more conservative east side of the state breaking off from the liberal west side? While it is likely for conservatives to leave the state, I am hopeful that State of Liberty independence is a greater possibility than term limits or a surplus only spending constitutional amendment. I’m tired of hearing the west side arrogantly boast that their money is needed by the east side. The important point is, we don’t need the debt.

I applaud Washington state treasurer, Duane Davidson’s efforts to help the state’s financial debt crisis. Rather than tapping into the state’s emergency reserve, every effort needs to be made to cut spending. Are all the projects and programs in Washington state necessary or best provided for by government? If not, then they should be considered for cuts. Our state will thrive more if we get out of debt and pay for projects and programs with cash.

Book Review: Killing the Rising Sun

Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is a great resource for anyone trying to learn more about United States history. This book focuses on America’s military role in the South Pacific including development of the atomic bombs that were later dropped on Japan helping end the war.

The rise and expansion of the Japanese empire is described including conquests into China prior to United States involvement after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The fall of the Philippines is recorded including the capture of Filipino and American soldiers (including Lieutenant General Jonathan “Skinny” Wainwright) on Bataan and Corregidor. The captured solders were later tortured and killed while on the Bataan Death March or in the miserable confines of prison camps for three and a half years.

General Douglas MacArthur fled the Philippines and pledged to return to liberate that country after the Japanese conquest. This eventually lead to military campaigns such as the assault on Peleliu, the effort to retake the Philippines, the struggle for Iwo Jima, and the battle for Okinawa. Fascinating, yet tragic stories of heroism are shared. Conversely, so are horrific descriptions of Japanese abuse and torment of apprehended soldiers, as well as the sanctioned rape (e.g., comfort women).

The story includes details of Colonel Paul Tibbets preparing for and eventually dropping August 6th, 1945 the first atomic bomb (Little Boy) on Hiroshima while flying the Enola Gay.  As well as specifics on August 9th, as the less famous Major Chuck Sweeney flew the Bockscar dropping the atomic bomb (Fat Man) on Nagasaki. After the bombings, details of the bombings after-effects are described so that the reader can appreciate the impact.

Throughout the book, O’Reilly and Dugard present conflicting alternatives for major players (e.g. President Harry Truman) in world events. For instance, a significant dilemma presented is whether dropping the atomic bombs were a better option than the alternative of a land invasion of Japan. Part of the consideration is the number of American solider lives that would be lost in a ground and air assault as compared to the large number of Japanese civilian deaths. Meanwhile, similar efforts to develop nuclear weaponry was being undertaken by the cruel German and Russian governments.

Books in this series by O’Reilly and Dugard always provide thought-provoking facts and details regarding events including insights to how history could’ve been different if certain proceedings otherwise transpired. In September 1950, as commander in charge of repelling communist advances into Korea, MacArthur successfully recaptured Seoul after leading an amphibious invasion at Incheon. When Chinese forces later joined in the fight against American troops, MacArthur authorized strikes into China. MacArthur’s actions disobeyed orders from President Truman. Yet, I wonder how the world would be changed if President Truman hadn’t relieved General MacArthur of his command in April 1951. What would have been the result if MacArthur had been allowed to take the fight to the Chinese? Intriguingly, Truman’s actions ruined his popularity and influenced him not to seek reelection in 1952, while MacArthur returned home a popular hero.

I recommend reading this book. American’s of all political persuasions and backgrounds should be able to appreciate the history O’Reilly and Dugard are trying to describe. You don’t have to be proficient in history to read this text. This book is a great introduction into World War II. I read it before Killing Patton, an earlier script in this series.

Note: I finished this book near the end of the summer in 2016. I wrote this review many months later at the end of December. Accordingly, I back-dated this post.