Look out, Spokompton, you may just become Spokamsterdam. Now that Washington state has Legalized Pot, local officials now smell a different kind of green. But as they pondered the issue last week, the question of whether Spokanites want to be known for drug tourism hung over the room like stale smoke.
“Seattle is set to become the pot capital for America for tourism,” says Councilman Mike Allen.
Can Spokane cash in, too? Cheryl Kilday, president of Visit Spokane, says she’s studying Spokane’s potential as a destination for wayward weed seekers. But “we also want to get the pulse of the community, find out how much backlash that might create,” Kilday says, adding, “It’s something that we’re definitely pursuing.”
Councilman Jon Snyder says there’s already a private club in Olympia where members can get together and toke. “I’m worried in nine months we’ll have a bunch of those before we know how to regulate them,” Snyder says.
“I’m more interested in wine, but I will tell you from my times in Amsterdam, I mean it is huge, huge business,” Allen says. At which point the entire room wonders what Allen was doing in Amsterdam.
“Every train I was ever on in Europe was full of Americans taking the train, going to Amsterdam,” Allen adds.
City Council President Ben Stuckart, meanwhile, muses on the idea of cramming vacationing stoners into the mammoth hotel developer Walt Worthy wants to build next to the Convention Center.
“We’ve got to fill 700 more hotel rooms,” Stuckart says. “Let’s fill them.”
— JOE O’SULLIVAN
In a Special City Election where two of the three measures on the ballot passed by more than 30 percent, the one mandating a supermajority to pass tax increases barely eked by.
Prop. 2, championed by Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, passed by 51 percent and amended the City Charter to require five of seven council members (instead of four) to support any tax increases. Proponents promised it would mean more thoughtful, less divisive tax policies. Others worried it gives the minority too much power to halt needed revenue streams.
Council President Ben Stuckart, who campaigned against the measure, calls its passage by a simple majority “ironic” and says he worries about the implications of changing the City Charter too often.
Voters also passed a tax to support local libraries and an amendment adding an independent police ombudsman to the City Charter. The ombudsman amendment, pushed by the Center for Justice and Councilmen Steve Salvatori and Mike Allen, officially puts the office and a commission to select an ombudsman into the charter.