By Tom Grant
There is a solution to the problem of the River Park Square parking garage. The path is clear because the Washington State Supreme Court pointed it out.
In two previous lawsuits, the state court has been asked to decide whether the parking garage deal was a device for making an unlawful gift of public money to a private entity. The Washington State Constitution forbids such gifts.
The Supreme Court responded in the first case that it had insufficient evidence of civic intent to donate money. In the second case, it reversed the order of the local court on separate grounds without addressing the constitutional issue.
I submit that in the time since that ruling, clear evidence has emerged to demonstrate that city leaders intended to donate millions of dollars of public money to the developer. For instance, the sworn deposition of City Council member Roberta Greene would support that claim. City real estate experts told the council to pay no more than $18million for the garage. Greene admits that would have killed the deal. City Council members then took over negotiations and, often meeting in secret, came up with a plan to use a special appraisal method to jack up the price of the garage to nearly $30 million.
Greene admits she knew the resulting price
was above market value. She also knew the new ‘‘appraisal" was based on false premises. Yet she and other council members pushed the deal through. Why? Not because they saw a public need for a parking garage, but because they saw a need to donate an extra $10 million to the developer in order to ensure the downtown mall would be redeveloped.
The city of Spokane must take this evidence back to the Washington State
Supreme Court and ask the court to declare that this garage transaction violated the state Constitution. Such a ruling would void the River Park Square deal.
Developer Betsy Cowles would get the garage back. Her company would have to return $26 million to the bondholders. The bonding companies and consultants and law firms would fight over the remaining losses. This is equitable, for it puts what's private back in private hands. It involves no charge of fraud. And it's permanent because the state Supreme Court will have the last word.
We can put the parking garage debacle behind us. And if this city is to move on, we must.
By Steve Corker
I believe I have the experience to be a good mayor for a great city. I am a lifelong Democrat. I'm proud to support organized labor and to work to protect our environment.
Our current mayor has been such a disappointment, putting on airs and acting like royalty. Working people don't deserve such treatment. I have no further political ambitions. My children have graduated from college, and I have the time to devote full service as your mayor.
To the union member, I have been a strong supporter of the right of workers to organize and have held union membership myself. For 20 years, working with John Leinen, I edited and helped write the Labor Council ‘‘Labor World." I have the endorsement of the Spokane Firefighters.
To the community volunteer, I have served as the chairman of the board or president of 14 nonprofit groups from Cancer Patient Care to the Youth Employment Service to a National Foundation for the Prevention of Child Abuse. I was named United Way's Washington State Volunteer of the Year in 1991, received the Exchange Club's Golden Deeds lifetime community achievement
award and was recognized as one of KPBX Public Radio's Volunteer of the Year recipients. I was the founding commissioner of the Spokane Arts Commission, leading legislative efforts for its formation in the 1970s. I was president of Allied Arts of Spokane and in 1977 was named Arts Person of the Year. I have supported the arts all my life.
To the business person, I have run my own business. I have met payrolls. I am currently on the board of a $1.5 billion corporation, serving on its audit committee. I have been the CEO of four corporations. I have been a member of the Gonzaga University School of Business faculty, an adjunct assistant professor since 1981.
To the parent, I helped raise two children, a son who recently graduated from Western Washington University and is studying for his CPA examination. My daughter, who just graduated from Williams College, will be studying languages at Gonzaga University this year before returning to Williams for her graduate degree. I know what kind of community can help families raise their children.
A mayor should never forget he is simply an employee of the citizens. I'll do my best, using the experience I have and the knowledge that I gain from working for you. I appreciate your support.
By Sheri Barnard
The heart of our city is in trouble. As I stood on Riverside Avenue last week on my way to an appointment, I was deeply saddened by the state of the city in downtown Spokane on Riverside Avenue between Wall and Washington, but including surrounding areas.
Dodson's Jewelry is the only retail shop left and reminds us of the elegance and beauty possible. The sidewalks are crumbling, the streets are in disrepair -- the historical heart of our great city has a dagger through it that
will prevent the arteries (our inner neighborhoods) from receiving the blood they need to thrive and survive.
From Carnegie Square, to the Davenport District, to the new and restored buildings around Division and east to SIRTI, downtown is filled with possibilities. The now two-way Post Street is magnificent.
But how could our city leaders allow our center to be so totally neglected?
Upon election as mayor, I will immediately invite a cross section of business owners and representatives of the community to come to the table to:
Review the historical significance of the Mohawk/Rookery/Merton block and work to determine the most positive future for this area. I call on Mr. Wendell Reugh to stop the plans for demolition and to clean up the debris and dirt now as a civic duty and great legacy to Spokane.
Create a new vision for Spokane that includes public/private parking buildings and removal of the majority of paved parking lots all over downtown.
Analyze the benefits to the community of providing 60-minute free parking instead of meters that discourage people from coming downtown, bringing new business and revenue into the city. Provide a free parking lot now and begin. Take a long, hard look at the downtown transit center, including selling the building and moving to a hub system outside the inner corridor with less polluting buses bringing people in and out.
Reduce fares to encourage ridership.
Research ways to encourage and assist developers in promoting living spaces.
This will not be an easy task, but it can be done. Many citizens have already expressed an interest in serving on this team. We can preserve our historic buildings, create new business in the area and restore the sense of a great downtown that is full of people and activity, morning, noon and night.
We must be brave enough to step back and take another look at what we want our city to be in the 21st century.
By Jim West
Because the current mayor has disappointed many, some are suggesting that we change the form of government, claiming our system has failed. I suggest we change mayors instead.
Are we better off today than we were three years ago when voters elected John Powers mayor? Three years ago, he told us that he was running to ‘‘strengthen our local economy, build trust between citizens and City Hall, and keep alive the spirit that has made Spokane a special place to call home."
Today, our economy is weaker, unemployment is at an all-time high and trust is at an all-time low. Our streets are still in disrepair, and city government still seems dysfunctional.
We can and must do better. By caring more about what gets done and less about who gets the credit, we can accomplish a lot. We can go from being a good community to being a great one by engaging everyone in the effort.
That's why I'm running for mayor of Spokane.
I grew up here, as did my parents. I went to the same schools as my mother and played in our parks and streets. I know Spokane.
Since returning from the military in 1974, I have served the people of Spokane as a deputy sheriff, City Council member, Scout leader, community volunteer, state representative and senator.
I've worked for Spokane in the Legislature, successfully bringing home needed construction jobs. I've passed legislation to encourage businesses to locate here and have worked to make our higher education facilities top notch. But without strong leadership in City Hall, these efforts have barely allowed us to keep pace.
It's time to recapture our spirit and rebuild this city. It's time to build the economy, create real jobs and tell those who say it can't be done that yes, it can, and we are the ones to do it. With the right leadership and everyone pulling together, we can do just about anything. We proved that when men and women of vision and courage captured the can-do spirit of Spokane and built Expo '74.
I'm asking for your vote. My proven leadership skills, ability to get things done and true love of this city will result in better streets, safer neighborhoods and a stronger local economy.
My hope is for a city we can be proud of again, one that works and cares for all its citizens.
By John Powers
This election places a simple question before the voters: Is Spokane better off under my leadership?
The answer is: YES -- and we must continue forward.
Accountability. My administration shaped the new government to be more fiscally responsible. We cut waste by $7 million, built a $3 million reserve and reduced taxes.
For six consecutive years prior to my election, the City Council raised real property taxes by over 4 percent per year. As strong mayor, I vetoed a council-approved tax increase. Taxes have declined over the past two years.
Our city is in better condition today than it was just two years ago:
‘‘Mayor Powers ... brought change to City Hall ... Spokane is, indeed, in better financial shape than when he took office." (Journal of Business, Jan. 30, 2003)
‘‘Spokane City government has been quick to adjust ... cutting costs, building up a reserve and keeping its debt very manageable." (Moody's Investor Service, June 3, 2003)
Improved services. Under my direction, the city has improved services to citizens. We reopened the main library on Saturday, streamlined permitting, saved domestic violence programs, increased human services funding and put more police on the streets, reducing crime over the past two years.
We are moving forward with a comprehensive plan to fix our streets and expand the Convention Center:
‘‘Mayor John Powers has a plan to fix Spokane's streets ... it's substantive and logical, and it deserves the community's support." (Journal of Business, July 3, 2003)
‘‘The Chamber would like to thank Mayor Powers ... for his leadership and for not wavering on this commitment." (Chamber leadership speaking in support of Convention Center expansion, July 21, 2003)
Creating jobs. With new initiatives, programs and capital projects, the city is partnering with the community to retain and create thousands of good jobs:
‘‘Mayor Powers led the charge to secure a Community Empowerment Zone, aiding over a dozen Spokane manufacturing and technology companies to expand their work force." (Mark Turner, president, Spokane Economic Development Council)
‘‘John Powers knows how to get things done. When it looked like the Boeing plant might close, he worked with me, Boeing, the community and other leaders to save those jobs by bringing Triumph Manufacturing to Spokane." (U.S. Sen. Patty Murray)
Spokane deserves an experienced, independent, strong leader that offers a proven record to better our community -- I ask you to do something Spokane voters have not done in 30 years -- re-elect a mayor. Join me as we continue to move Spokane forward.