HAVE A SEAT; NOW SHUT UP
The reading of official proclamations often gets scant attention at City Council meetings, with a smattering of polite applause after all the “whereases” and “wherefores” are finished.
On Monday, a sizeable crowd was on hand to hear the city proclaim this Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. The audience held a large contingent of single moms with babies, toddlers and youngsters, who either work at, live at or are alumnae of St. Margaret’s shelter. They came over to City Hall to applaud the proclamation. They know about hunger and homelessness.
Except ... Council President Joe Shogan, fierce watchdog of decorum that he is, barked out that a council chamber is no place for restive children, and the moms and kids had to leave. Now. The audience sat motionless, apparently stunned, so Shogan reiterated: “I’m serious.”
The cluster of moms and kids shuffled out into the lobby, deflated, and listened to the short proclamation through the glass.
“It was kind of embarrassing. It felt like we were being called out in front of everybody,” says Keshia Tavarez, an alumna of St. Margaret’s who now works at the clothing bank there.
Lauri Sweeny, a Jesuit volunteer at St. Margaret’s, says, “It takes a lot of work for families to get down here. Some of these moms took a bus to get to day care to get a bus to come here and have their voices heard.”
Anyone who rides buses in Spokane knows this may well represent hours in transit to hear minutes of proclamation.
“I came in [to St. Margaret’s] when I was hurting bad. I lived there 13 months,” Tavarez says of her time at the shelter.
Then she bundled up Carmen, 16 months, and Isaiah, 3, for the walk home.
INVASIVE MUSSELS INVADE?
The interior Northwest is the last bastion in America safe from the wave of remorseless, brainless invaders driven by an insatiable hunger for … plankton?
The plotline is akin to zombie movies: Zebra and quagga mussels are alien invasive freshwater species that have swarmed over much of America in the last 30 years. They filter nutrients out of lakes so efficiently they can collapse fisheries. With few things that kill them, they also clog water systems and dams as they form colonies in the billions.
Though legless, they jump watersheds by hitching rides on boats or trailers.
Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon have banded together in recent years with boat-check stations, waterway monitoring and awareness campaigns to try to keep the mussels out.
Late last week, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported that water sampling in Flathead Lake revealed the presence of larvae that two independent labs identified as likely zebra or quagga mussels. A third lab was less sure.
In the larval stage, mussels are known as veligers, and are free-floating as they seek a hard surface to colonize.
By the time veligers are found, mussel colonies are already established and there is really no way to get rid of them, one monitoring expert told The Inlander during a mussel scare in the Spokane River in 2009.
Montana FWP is sending divers into Flathead Lake to search for mussel colonies, the agency says on its website.