Irish For A Day -- SPOKANE - The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick (FSOSP) will host Spokane's annual St. Patty's Day Parade on Saturday, March 15, kicking off at noon, on Spokane Falls Boulevard. This parade is one of the largest on the West Coast, attracting 80,000 to 100,000 onlookers a year, with 200 entries of all sorts.
This year's Irish Man and Woman of the year are local artist Harold Balazs and FSOSP member Sue Leinen.
Balazs chuckles at the idea of being Irish Man of the Year, despite his Hungarian ancestry. "It's always nice to be thought well of, even if it is the Irish." Leinen has been working hard for years to organize the dignitary luncheon. This is the first year she will get to be a dignitary.
FSOSP hosts an annual luncheon before the parade, honoring the dignitaries and presenting this year's charity donations to YMCA's Partners for Youth Program, America's Kids Run and the Spokane Police Department.
Park Peace Rally -- SPOKANE -- The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) has planned yet another peace rally, this Saturday at Riverfront Park. As with several previous times, this rally coincides with peace rallies in San Francisco, New York and many other cities across the country.
"This one is maybe a little low-key compared to the others we have done," says Rusty Nelson, from PJALS. "It came together in a pretty short time, what with the March 17 deadline moving closer and everything."
Nelson spent a night in jail together with two other protesters after an early morning protest outside Fairchild Air Force Base last Thursday. A group of 24 protesters was holding signs protesting war with Iraq outside the main gate to the base, and 10 were arrested for disorderly conduct when they blocked morning traffic trying to enter the base.
In a huge show of force, no less than five police and public safety organizations - including personnel from Fairchild, the Washington State Patrol and the Sheriff's Tactical Team - monitored the protest.
"We don't have plans for more protests at Fairchild," says Nelson. "We're watching what the plans are for our troops that are being put in harm's way."
At Saturday's rally, singer Kathy Colton will perform, followed by an extended open mike session.
"People can give their own personal peace statements there," says Nelson. "There is an interesting confluence going on, since the St. Patrick's Day parade is going on at the same time, but we'll welcome people regardless of why they are downtown."
PJALS peace rally is on Saturday, March 15, at 1 pm at the Clock Tower in Riverfront Park. Call: 838-7870.
Get HIP to this Timely Tip -- SPOKANE - If you have health insurance, consider yourself fortunate. Washington state has about 720,000 uninsured people; 43,000 live in Spokane County, a quarter of them are children.
This is National Cover the Uninsured Week, where healthcare advocates work on solutions to what they call a national healthcare crisis. The Health Improvement Project (HIP) is joining forces with the Spokane Alliance and the Inland Northwest Business Coalition on Health to get people thinking about the issues.
"We want to educate not only the residents but policy and decision makers on the local and state levels," says Lisa Capoccia, projects administrator for HIP, adding that many resist comprehensive healthcare because they don't realize it's actually cheaper.
Dan Baumgarten, executive director of HIP, agrees: "We should be asking not how much it would cost everyone to get health coverage, but how much we would save. We don't let people get sick and die on the street; they get care. So the care they get ends up costing us all more than it would if they were in a preventative system."
HIP also links uninsured people and smaller employers with existing insurance options and with Health for All resource specialists, who help them navigate existing options.
Baumgarten says the Spokane Alliance is working on Senate bill 5998 and House bill 2015, sponsored by senators Jim West and Lisa Brown.
"Both bills have provisions that would allow for a project called Expanded Choice," Baumgarten says. "It would use public dollars blended with private dollars to leverage employers who are not offering coverage."
Visit www.hipspokane.org or call Health for All at 1-866-444-3066.