If you've got an old beat-up truck that you never seem to be able to get rid of, you'll understand why we're endorsing Phil Harris for a third term. Like the truck, Harris is not somebody we're particularly proud of -- he's got his fair share of outdated, even appalling ideas to be sure -- but he's reliable and he gets the job done. Somehow, when you see Harris talk, with his plain-spoken drawl and that little skiff of hair, you see the face of Spokane County. Since the mid-1990s, the Spokane County Board of Commissioners has put its house in order and have made a compelling case that they've got the best-run county in the state. They're not perfect, especially in the areas of community involvement and managing personnel, but by local standards they're pretty good. And as a group, this board seems to represent the county well.
We would be open to change, but not for its own sake. Louise Chadez, while a very thoughtful person, did not offer us enough reasons to support making a switch. (Note to Dems: Better candidates needed.)
Initiative 776 -- Here's your chance to strike two blows for all that is pure and just. If you vote no on Initiative 776, you can stop a dumb idea in its tracks and help send Tim Eyman into retirement from state politics. I-776 continues Eyman's obsession with $30 vehicle tabs. Now he and his gang want to override the authority of local governments to levy local fees on vehicles other than cars and to spend those fees to maintain some semblance of a modern society. The damage from Eyman's other brainchild, I-695, is now well-known, with the state in a $2 billion hole, Boeing waving goodbye and everybody wondering why the state can't afford to fix its roads. Although he was never elected, we found out how much Eyman likes playing politics earlier this year when it was revealed that he was soliciting campaign contributions for his tax crusades only to spend them on his right-on-the-golf course lifestyle. The legislature has been afraid of its shadow ever since Eyman started hiring mercenaries to collect signatures and second-guess their work. Let's get this guy off everybody's back once and for all. If his latest dumb idea is defeated, maybe he'll get the hint.
Proposition 1 -- Conservation Futures
Without open space, this is all just one big subdivision. Our civic forefathers knew that, as they set aside parklands within the city. Today, a little-known state program administered by the county allows a small tax to be diverted to purchasing sensitive natural areas. Vote yes, and the county commissioners will extend the program for another three years. Property owners will pay six cents per every $100,000 of value. Since 1994, 3,300 acres of prime real estate has been set aside for the common good. Call it a civic savings account or just a continuation of a proud local civic tradition -- however you justify it, it's not a lot of money, but it goes a long way.
Proposition 2 -- Billboards
Is it legal to ban billboards? Of course it is, and if you've traveled around the country, you'd notice that. Although there's not much else to look at, those "Wall Drug" billboards in South Dakota seem to have taken the place of the bison as the prairie's most plentiful residents. But drive through Massachusetts -- no billboards. Whether we want or don't want billboards is entirely up to us. In Spokane County, enormous signs were constructed when public officials were asleep at the wheel. Here's our chance to phase them out -- phase being a key word, as it will allow the owners of the signs to be sure to recoup their investments. A beautiful community is a prosperous community, and if we start to take these kinds of issues seriously, who knows where it could lead? Maybe even to tackling the grandaddy of all eyesores, Spalding Auto Parts.
Pick up next week's Inlander for more endorsements.