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The commentary, "Powers in Wonderland," in the June 21 edition of The Inlander, missed the mark. The "central sticking point" is the city's inability to see the forest for the trees. River Park Square put three different written proposals on the table last year. We, not the mayor, initiated several meetings earlier this year to talk about business solutions. While we struggled to find someone to talk to at City Hall, city leadership quietly, but deliberately, encouraged the bondholders to initiate a securities fraud suit in federal court against itself and others.


The city's actions put the garage bonds at risk of default, threatened to lower the city's weakened bond rating and reduced cash flow to the HUD loan.


The "simple truth" is when we put this project together with the city, city leadership encouraged us to put an unprecedented investment into downtown. Why? Because the city needed a plan to save downtown and prevent lost tax revenue if the downtown died. We were glad to do our part. Nevertheless, it was clear that without city participation in the garage, the project could not have happened.


We followed through on our commitment to build a project that has generated jobs and tax revenues and is a catalyst for other downtown investment, even though it cost us $14 million more than planned. The result: the city back-pedals on its commitments, enjoys millions of dollars of taxes/fees, sees unprecedented downtown resurgence and works to get sued.


The money the city receives annually from River Park Square more than offsets any garage expenses. Add all the other revitalization occurring in downtown ($340 million worth), and the project is a significant net gain for Spokane, not a "deal gone bad."


And what about "sharing the pain"? Our company is protecting bondholders and the city by funding garage operations out of our pocket. We are "sharing the pain" to date to the tune of $3.5 million. Meanwhile, the city has raked in over $6 million in money that wouldn't be here if downtown had died. I would love to share THAT pain.


Why is the city spending millions of citizen dollars on outside lawyers? Why isn't it willing to spend the time necessary to sit at the table with us and others to improve the garage performance and protect the city's long-term interests? Therein lies the true "sticking point."





Betsy Cowles


chairman, Cowles Publishing Company


Spokane, Wash.





I was dismayed over the negative and one-sided feeling I got from your article, "The Bare Minimum," in the June 14 edition of The Inlander. It raised many questions and observations that I would like to share with the hope that you will write a sequel, which might provide balance.


I wonder where people, who insist on a "livable wage," think the money will come from? As employers are asked to pay higher wages they need to pass the increases on to the customers. The customers, in most cases, are the same people asking for increased wages. So you increase the wage so that you can increase your expenses. Doesn't really make any economic sense -- if you look at how economics works.


Doesn't anybody ever realize that you choose to work at low wages? You do that when you accept the salary offered at the job. It has been said, economic theory again, you are paid what you are worth -- or your employment value is what you are paid. There are no guarantees in this life.


But there has never been a barrier to working part time at a small business of your own from home. It entitles you to extra income and extra tax deductions. So you earn more and keep more of it. You can work yourself out of a job and make more money than a job will ever pay. It's possible for anyone.


It appears to me that we spend far too much time and effort encouraging people to remain victims instead of researching the information that provides education, hope, vision and motivation. We seem to keep telling people how bad off they are instead of how they could get ahead. The media, and your article, strike me as feeding that "feel sorry for myself" syndrome.


Life is so filled with opportunity. Knowledge is so available. We live in America after all. Foreign residents are in awe of what the average American has. It is so much better than other places -- there are so many more choices. But the public must understand that it needs to put forth effort to get ahead, and the effort must be in the right direction. Knowledge is power only when acted upon. Opportunity is only opportunity when it is seized. Poverty is not just a state of mind. It is also a state of choices.


Please don't perpetuate this nonsense that somehow people deserve something for existing on this planet.





Gail Howard


Spokane, Wash.

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