Placard Patriots -- Liberal demonstrators in Spokane are rarer than spotted owls, but members of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane have flocked near the federal building downtown on Monroe. Every Tuesday evening for the past five months, during rush hour, demonstrators gather with paper signs decrying militarism and the erosion of civil liberties.
Talk about dedicated. PJALS organizer Rusty Nelson says, "I had one person who was disappointed we weren't going to be out there Christmas and New Year's."
Given the potential for war in Iraq, Nelson says the demonstrators will keep at it. "We want to be out there ahead of whatever's going to happen."
Your Papers, Please -- Whatever a person thinks of PJALS' peacenik sign-waving, their demonstrations show this is still the land of the somewhat free.
That's outside the federal building. Inside, however, authorities haven't grasped the concept "by the people, for the people." You need photo ID just to get in. That's unacceptable. Open government is about government being open to scrutiny -- not about the rest of us being scrutinized when we visit.
Into the Breach -- There's plenty of people willing to say what civic leaders should do and how they should do it, but fewer will stand in the breach. Here's your chance, and you don't even have to run for election: The City of Spokane has about a dozen vacancies for boards ranging from the library to parks, according to its Feb. 27 official newsletter. Information can be had from the mayor's office, 625-6250.
20 -- That's the square footage of retail space for every man, woman and child in the U.S. In 1986, there were 28,496 shopping centers in the country, representing a per capita square footage of 14.74, according to the National Research Bureau, a private group that studies the retail industry. Today, there are 45,827 centers, and the per capita space has grown to 20 feet. And there are 46 million more Americans now than in 1986, so you might think the average would have gone down somewhat.
Never, in other words, have so many shopped so much in so many different places.
The Day After -- "I'll be happy to answer that question on Wednesday morning."
That was Spokane Mayor John Powers, when asked by a reporter last week for a prediction of Tuesday's road bond vote. The vote, Powers says, is a metaphor for the Lilac City's civic life: "I think this is a time to assess the political will of the community. This is a community that needs to begin to believe in itself."