When community boosters get together and talk about how to improve Spokane, there is usually some consensus: police reform, economic development and robust public services.
But in these ways, Spokane can’t necessarily do what it wants. First, it needs to ask the state’s permission.
So Spokane City Council members earlier this month approved their “wish list” for this year’s session of the Washington State Legislature. Among other things, the council wants to see tweaks to state law so it can: create a separate taxing district for Spokane libraries, get funding to complete the North-South corridor freeway, support efforts at maintaining mental health funding and allow universities to offer a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering.
The wish list also includes trying to make sure that when the city buys body cameras for Spokane Police Department officers, the new technology will be legal. But since some two-way recordings in Washington must have consent by both the recorder and recorded, no one is sure whether a privacy lawsuit could be launched against the city down the road.
“Our legal advisors out there say it’s fine,” says City Council President Ben Stuckart. “Seattle’s legal department says it’s not fine.”
But with such a big cost — Stuckart estimates it will cost more than $2 million over five years to equip Spokane police with body cameras — he wants to get it done right.
“I want to make sure that … the Legislature moves [on a body camera law] so we don’t get body cameras and then get sued and have a weird lawsuit on our hands about privacy,” he adds.
As for the library district, while Spokane County has state authority to create a district — which could collect revenue specific for that district — the city isn’t granted that same authority, according to Stuckart.