Category Archives: Local Politics

For all political posts (local scope).

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.

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.