I am writing in response to "The Boise Story: Idaho's Arts Capital," (12/16/04). I enjoyed the story but thought it left the impression that Spokane does not have a Percent for Art Program or public art. The City of Spokane has a long history of public art projects - in our parks, in our city libraries and in other neighborhoods. The Percent for Art Ordinance was championed by our current mayor, Jim West, when he was a city council member. Many significant works by local, regional, national and internationally recognized artists have been purchased through this program. The city has been progressive to this end. There are over 60 major works in the city's collection and many smaller works. Some of the artists in Spokane's collection have received international recognition, including Judy Pfaff, who was recently awarded the MacArthur "genius" grant. For more information about the art in the city's collection, you may get the "Spokane Art Sites Guide" or the "Spokane Sculpture Walk" brochures by calling 625-6050 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The murals program of the city of Spokane has been privately funded by businesses and grants for more than 15 years and is not part of the Percent for Art Program. More than 3,000 citizens have participated in this program through the "people's gallery" projects.
Karen R. Mobley
Spokane Arts Director
Your writers brought back good information on how the arts have enhanced the dynamic reputation of Boise, Idaho. Although the arts have taken cuts (along with everything else) at Spokane's City Hall, I would like to point out that the biannual Visual Arts Tour will take place as usual on Friday, Feb. 4, 2005. The baton has passed from the Spokane Arts Commission to Spokane Art School, which is taking the lead in continuing this popular event. Karl Hollander, the new director of the Spokane Art School, and the SAS board are enthusiastic in their support. Artists Sami Perry, Karen Kaiser, Bob Evans and Rosemary Coffman have stepped up to the plate to organize the Visual Arts Tour. They expect more than 30 galleries and other venues to participate again along with the enormously successful Raw Space, where all regional artists are invited to send in their registrations early and display their work. This will be held at the Burlington Coat Factory space across from River Park Square. Additional support has been provided by the Spokane Arts Commission and the Downtown Spokane Partnership. Mark your calendars to have a great time from 5-9 pm on Feb. 4!
First of all, congratulations on putting together an extremely interesting and detailed comparison of Boise versus Spokane. The article was very well written, thoroughly entertaining and I read every paragraph. It's my opinion that Spokane does compare quite favorably with Boise. The thing that Spokanites continually do, though, is compare Spokane to Seattle or Portland, which is misleading. Seattle and Portland are in a different league altogether. What we can do is keep comparing Spokane to the likes of Boise, Tacoma and Des Moines, and I think we hold our own pretty well.
Yes, Spokane does have its share of problems. The biggest one, in my opinion, has been bad leadership over the past two decades. Witness the RPS debacle, which has sucked the life and money out of this city for far, far too long. Put a period in it and move on!
The other thing I think contributes to holding Spokane back is its inability to grasp and accept change. I think Spokane has many advantages over Boise. Let's count them all. First, Spokane has had a successful world's fair while Boise has not. Spokane is home to the (sometimes) largest timed road race in the world, Bloomsday, and of course we are home to the world's largest three-on-three basketball tournament, Hoopfest. Again, Boise doesn't have these. Spokane needs to continue to think big, as it sometimes tries to do, with for example, creating a university and a gay district, as well as all the talk about the creation of a Gorge Park by the river. Why the leaders of the Spokane and Coeur d' Alene areas have not gotten together to put in a bid for the Winter Olympics is beyond me, what with all the ski resorts clustered around the area.
I see the city as not always living or thinking up to its potential, but it really does try from time to time. About the only advantage that I see Boise as having is what you stated: It's the largest city in Idaho, and it's the capital as well. Here in Washington, Spokane has to compete with Seattle/Tacoma, and to a lesser extent with Vancouver. Since we have already fallen behind to being third in the state according to population, that we cannot afford to fall to the fourth-largest city in the area, with Boise pulling ahead of Spokane if they keep annexing like we don't seem to be doing very quickly here.
Time to Celebrate
I just finished reading your article "Is Boise Better?" (12/16/04). I do agree attitudes need to change in the Spokane area for this city to move forward. The attitude of Spokane being sub-standard has to end! The citizens of the region need to emphasize Spokane strengths such as it historical heritage, regional hub for the Inland Northwest, scenic and geographical setting among the many assets. True, there are areas to improve on: higher living wages; reducing poverty; and improving older parts of the city.
I do think city leaders need to think proactively on moving the city forward as a stronger regional city. For example, restoring better regional air service to Montana and other Northwest cities would encourage longer-distance flights from Spokane and also would make it easier for isolated areas to come to the city for recreational weekends. This would boost the economy. A light rail system would encourage more growth in the downtown business district and reduce traffic. Annexing adjacent land would increase the city's population and tax base.
When I travel, I tell people about the positive assets of the region (not just Spokane). I tell them about the Davenport Hotel, Lake Coeur d 'Alene and even places like Leavenworth! They come away with a positive impression. Looking objectively at our city, there have been many positive changes to our city. The future looks promising, with downtown housing, the University District and even light rail. It's time to celebrate the changes -- or, if you aren't happy, move to Seattle (ho-hum).
Yes, it is true Boise does have an attitude, but as a north-central Idaho native, I can say that it probably started when they stole Idaho's first state capital away from Lewiston.
Daniel L. Bielenberg
Taxes Are the Difference
What Boise has that Spokane doesn't is location inside a state that has a state income tax. The right-wingers in Washington state have us believing that the imposition of a state income tax leads to endless government spending and socialism. Yet, which state is closer to socialism? Washington. Perhaps it is the belief system of Idahoans that keeps the state spending in check.
At present Washington represents un-funded socialism while Idaho stands for free enterprise. The answer to Spokane's problems, both real and image-wise, is for Spokane to become part of Idaho.
I just watched with interest a City Council meeting - wow! Only financial managers or bankers will tell you, a bad deal is worse than any deal. The RPS deal was bad from the start, so they threaten bankruptcy and the City Council falls apart like a cheap suit in a rainstorm!
They get a loan, default on payments and the taxpayers get a $24 million bill, and we still don't own anything. What did the taxpayers get ... zero, and a large bill. Fraud? Double-dealing? Yes!
Is this the American way? Make bad deals, then surrender when the opposition distorts the facts. How about standing up for what's right? Money always rules.
They gave great, eloquent speeches, but in the end they all caved in -- to the money, not to the taxpayers.
We, too, stood up for the right way. The mayor and his group -- well, I am very disappointed, I know who I won't vote for next time. They don't support us taxpayers, so I won't support them.
No Vote Left Behind
The State Republican Party is trying to have the gubernatorial manual recount both ways. They didn't object when previously uncounted votes for Dino Rossi in Snohomish, Chelan and Whatcom counties were added this time. Now they are suing to prevent ballots expected to favor Christine Gregoire from being counted in King County.
The whole purpose of a recount is to find and correct mistakes in previous counts in order to produce the most accurate result possible. Candidates don't get to pick and choose which votes to include based on whom those votes may favor. Every properly cast vote must be counted.
The nearly 600 King County voters whose ballots are at issue voted correctly. It is not their fault that the electronic voting machines and election workers missed them the first and second times. Disenfranchising them would be unjust and immoral.
Whoever wins, it would be best for our state if the election is decided without a cloud of doubt. We don't want a reputation like Florida's. We citizens have the right to have our votes counted. No matter who the new governor is, we want to know that he or she won fairly and squarely, with every ballot counted.
Karen and David Shill
The Dance of Deduction
As much as we conservative voters would like Dino Rossi to win the gubernatorial election, we want the victory to be fair and untainted. But we still expect that those who voted should have their votes counted by the rules in force at the time, not by their intent. The rules were in place to speed up and make the process secure, and those who defied them should pay the consequences.
If the absentee ballot is properly signed and postmarked and it matches the signature on file, it ought to be considered even if the election office computer mistakenly couldn't count it the first time. But only ballots at the polls or by absentee that were properly marked as per instructions should be tabulated, period. Don't count underlined or circled names and absolutely reject those ballots with two names marked, even if one has a larger blot. Unless and until the legislature frames new laws about counting and recounting ballots, voters in elections must go to the dance with the one who brings them, like it or not.
Mom Knew Best
May I comment on the Critters Column in the inside back page of the Dec. 9 edition. Someone should remind Joel Smith and Cara Gardner what their mothers told them: "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all."
"Balancing a helmet of black hair above her brow" is surely no compliment. Apparently the writers are attempting humor, but it comes across as frivolous and devoid of real content. That applies to their entire page.
I am appalled that what is considered to be the most liberal and sensible news outlet in the area pulls no stops in ridiculing a famous, sincere, dedicated, articulate person. ("Critter Watch," 12/9/04). Your writers say Karen Davis, Ph.D. -- one of, if not the greatest authority in the world on chickens and other fowl -- "ditches the facts and gets anecdotal." But I guess the writers think that's OK because the audience is only made up of "white-hairs." Is it common practice for reporters to inform the readers that they are "weary" of the subject, that they are getting up to leave after an hour, plus their stomach is "queasy" and end with "Yuck"?
This is just a sample. If the authors think their comments are "cute," perhaps they should educate themselves on animal matters so they'll know the difference between cute and gross.