Spokane Valley, Wash.
(Editor's Note: In next week's Inlander we'll add a few bars to our list, including several in Spokane Valley.)
Blewett's Not Correct
Steve Blewett would have Inlander readers think his tenure as ombudsman of The Spokesman-Review was short-lived because we couldn't bear his criticism. ("Ombudsman Shuffle," 2/21/08) He's in denial.
Criticism is expected from an ombudsman, if it's informed criticism. But Steve failed to acquire the facts that would have made his criticism meaningful.
The main target of his Oct. 7 ombudsman offering was Richard Davis, whose self-syndicated column was running Wednesdays on our op-ed page. Blewett objected to giving regular exposure to a "PR flack." (A "PR flack" is one way to describe Davis' job as vice president-communications for the Association of Washington Business -- or, for that matter, Blewett's job for the 15 years he was director of public affairs for Washington Water Power Co.)
I've known Dick Davis for about a quarter of a century. He's been following and writing about state-level politics all that time and, yes, he's a business-oriented conservative. All of which is why I approached him in late 2006 about writing a column for us. At the time, three S-R staffers were writing regular opinion-page columns, all with a liberal angle. I thought we needed a bonafide conservative to add an alternative view.
Blewett obviously disagrees. But as he blasted our use of business-linked Davis, he simultaneously and falsely accused the editors of the S-R's Faith and Values page of shutting out alternative views.
Blewett insists he interviewed unnamed S-R staffers for his column, but he didn't talk to anyone directly involved. The decision to publish Dick Davis' column in the S-R was mine and mine alone. No one else was involved. And Steve Blewett never asked me a word about it.
It may not have changed his mind, which would be fine, but he could have explained to readers where my journalism was flawed. He could have cited the applicable standards and explained the values at stake.
An approach like that would have taken more work, of course, but it would have secured his role as ombudsman.
Editorial Page Editor
Take Off the "Wet Blanket"
I'm going to pretend I am The Inlander's Doug Nadvornick. I have to write a piece on a 2008 presidential candidate who recently visited Spokane ("Ron Paul Revolution", 2/7/08). I do background study on this unknown politician named Ron Paul, I get my content from the event, and I start writing. Since I can't change the fact that some 1,000 supporters showed up in spite of weather, I know I'll get good points with my boss if I keep it safe and just "wet blanket" the story. My commentary is careful to paint this "some guy" as having NO chance of winning a party nomination (I say that twice, to make sure the sheep readers absorb what I want them to conclude). My article passes muster with my boss; I've stuck with the party line supporting only those candidates that my inside media grapevine have approved, no matter that they are corrupt, bought liars all. I'm happy with my "work". We're done pretending. So, Doug, did you know the people that sat next to me at the Ron Paul visit were from Walla Walla? Maybe your media comrades in Walla Walla aren't putting out a wet-enough blanket on Paul. D'ya think they need a wake-up?
Help Each Other in the Snow
I was born and raised here in Spokane and remember many winters like the one we are having this season. If my memory serves me still, having reached into my 50s, this winter feels a lot like so many of the winters of my youth. What I clearly see different now from then is the selfishness of people.
We as young adults would go about our neighborhood and help out by shoveling the neighbors' driveways and walkways. Without asking for anything in return. Most of the time the benefactors of our generosity would give us a couple of dollars or a half-dozen cookies for our efforts. We would wave at the plows even after they plowed us in again for the second or third times. Then five minutes later we would have cleared our path to the street again and go back in for hot chocolate, or provoke the neighbors into a fun snowball fight. Winters were fun.
Now I operate a plow for the city of Spokane. Sometimes I'll catch a kid waving at me, rarely but sometimes even an adult will wave. Most of the time however it will be the one finger salute I see the most. I just cannot believe how angry people have become in general. I am completely baffled by the hostility shown these days. And the events of this year have completely confirmed my belief that we are lost as a society.
So here are my observations and suggestions. To Mayor Mary, listen to the employees you have charge over. We are the experts and we have been providing service to our citizens for years and years. We know what works and what has been tried in the past and failed.
Implement snow emergency ordinances and then vigorously enforce them! Place heavy fines for failure to comply and do not back off! Publish a compilation of good stratagems for the public to deal with the snow. Example: shovel or blow your snow into your yard, not the street, your grass will thank you later. If you must place piles of snow at the curb, place the snow pile on the side that will allow the plows to carry it away from your driveway instead of pushing it back in again. It is only common sense!
To Hillyard, my own neighborhood, I say get together with your fellow business owners and arrange to remove the snow yourselves. I observed this at Perry and 8th, where the owner of the Liberty Park Florist and Greenhouse hired a company to remove the snow from around the parking strip at the street curb thus allowing his customers unfettered access to his store.
Common sense and common courtesy I feel have perished. Hopefully we can find it again: If you think about it, more winters like this one are in our future and if you can't have fun and appreciate the beauty and necessity of snow... then, please move. After all, it is just snow.
An Alternative to Rep. Ahern
It is impressive when high school students become involved in the process of government. The students who went to Olympia to discuss increased funding for sex education and pregnancy prevention were advocating for issues that were important to them. I was very disappointed to read how State Representative John Ahern spoke to them. ("Aborted Mission," 1/31/08) Rather than listen to their position, he treated them with disrespect by repeatedly asking an inflammatory, aggressive question and then refusing to allow them to state their position. Every citizen should have an opportunity to let their elected officials know their views without being treated in such a way.
It is clear to me that we need a change in Olympia. Rep. Ahern has done little to represent the interests of his constituents in the 6th District. He has voted against school funding and investments in health care, and he opposes progressive issues that would improve our community. He has refused to work with his legislative colleagues to constructively address issues important to Spokane. He is simply out of touch with our needs, and he consistently demonstrates his narrow-minded views with anger and hostility.
That is why I am supporting John Driscoll for 6th District Representative. He will bring effective and enthusiastic representation to all of us. He believes in thoughtful, cost-effective government policies that benefit all people. John Driscoll, a father of three, has dedicated himself to public service through his work for a local nonprofit medical charity program, and he understands our community's needs. I know he will work for the values we all share, focusing on our quality of life by promoting high-caliber education, family wage jobs, and accessible high-quality health care for all.