ZOMBIES AT CITY HALL
Over the past year, Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder has consistently sent out his “Tuesday AM Recap,” a brief electronic rundown of what happened during the previous night’s council meeting, interspersed with his opinions on things.
This week, he focused on the final public hearing about the 2011 budget, during which children stormed City Hall to protest the proposed closure of the East Side library.
The protest was partly organized by Cindy Zapotocky, the chair of the county Republican Party.
“This is zombie economics at its finest,” Snyder wrote, referring to Zapotocky’s continued opposition to levies and taxes that would pay for more library services. Zapotocky, he says, is “demanding public services and also demanding the right NOT to pay for them.”
On Tuesday morning, Zapotocky said that Snyder misunderstood her.
“Obviously, I’m for funding libraries,” she says. “But the city is not managing their funds properly. That’s my feeling. … I’ve talked to people like [council members] Bob Apple and Nancy McLaughlin. … They agree that there’s mismanagement going on.” When asked how she would fund libraries other than through dedicated funding sources, she said the city’s budget was “complex,” but she believed unionized city employees were “greedy.”
“It’s not like I’m trying to destroy the police department,” she says. “My dad was a union guy, I’m not anti-union. But they want 5 percent [cost-of-living adjustments], and here they are firing people in the private sector. People are losing their jobs. … Why be greedy? To me, it seems they’re being greedy.” (Nicholas Deshais)
VALLEY'S BIG SNOW DAY
This year is the Spokane Valley’s first real test of its new snowplowing operations. It used to be that the Valley would contract with Spokane County to plow its roads. But in December 2008, Spokane County suddenly told Spokane Valley that it would no longer be providing snowplowing services. Then-mayor Rich Munson was upset, telling the Spokesman-Review, “What is the next contract that they’re going to cut without full disclosure?” It just wasn’t mutually beneficial, county spokesman Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter says. The county was utilizing too many employees and spending too much money plowing Valley roads, leaving not nearly enough for the rest of the county.
The winter of 2009-10, fortunately, was a very light snow year.
That gave the Valley time to buy equipment, have it delivered, get it repaired and formulate a snowplowing strategy.
“It let us ease into it,” Spokane Valley spokeswoman Carolbelle Branch says.
In some ways, Spokane Valley is easier to plow than many areas of Spokane city or county. It’s comparatively flat. (Any hillside roads are plowed before flat residential roads.)
Now, the Valley has a full fleet — five snowplow/sander trucks, three plow/de-icer trucks and one backhoe. Three city equipment operators work for Spokane Valley, while 16 drivers are on contract. A bid request has been sent for companies able to provide on-call snowplow assistance in emergencies.
Snowplowing costs the Valley $700,000 annually. The city has $505,000 in reserve in case snowfall is especially heavy. So far, Branch says, there haven’t been any major problems.
“We’ve gone through and plowed the primary and secondary arterials and hillsides at least once, and probably at least twice,” she says. (Daniel Walters)