In Brief

by Pia K. Hansen and Cara Gardner

CCX Siting a Done Deal -- SPOKANE -- When the Public Facilities District (PFD) met on Tuesday afternoon to make a decision on property acquisition, it got a bit of a surprise: board member Tom Power stood up and unveiled yet another proposal for the convention center expansion. Power suggested simply adding an extra floor to the existing center -- a plan he said would make for a bigger facility at roughly the same price.

"The only downside is booked business," explained Power. "This is a major problem because business will be interrupted during construction."

Power asked the board to take additional time to look into his proposal, but he didn't get a lot of support.

"I think Mr. Power's project has merit, but... it now will halt an otherwise good development," said John Brewer of the Spokane Visitors and Convention Center, adding that $21 million worth of business is already scheduled for the period the convention center would have to be closed if a new floor was to be added.

Former city council president Rob Higgins encouraged the PFD board to listen closely to Power. "I already presented you with a memo listing 10 reasons why we shouldn't do what we are doing," said Higgins. "I'd love to have the board bring in someone to look at the proposals, who doesn't have a vested interest in any of this."

After a half-hour executive session and following evaluation of the purchase agreements the meeting was initially called to deal with, the PFD board moved to purchase the property where Azteca is currently located, as well as part of the property that's owned by the DoubleTree Hotel to make room for the expansion.

"Yes, that means Tom Power's plan is out," said Kevin Twohig, CEO of the PFD after the meeting. "We have now spent $10 million to acquire property on the east side of the convention center. We have a $15 million total in the budget, and I expect there will be a balance of about $4.5 million left that could go toward the parking structure on the south side of the center. But there are now a lot of players in this project, so it's impossible for me to say right now where the money is going to end up."

This Living Planet -- COEUR D'ALENE -- If you still haven't made it to any of the Earth Day events during the past week, there's still a chance to celebrate nature. On Saturday, the Kootenai Environmental Alliance (KEA) will host a tree planting ceremony at the Harding Family Center in Coeur d'Alene. The ceremony will be a tribute to the late Art Manley, a former Idaho State Senator who helped found the KEA in 1972.

If tree planting isn't on your agenda, head over to the Sandpoint Public Library for a double screening of two important Earth Day-related documentaries. Beginning tonight at 7 pm, viewers can see Escape from Affluenza, which looks into the paradigm of over-work, debt and over-consumption in contemporary America. Created by John deGraaf and Vivia Boe, "Escape from Affluenza" shows examples of how people are opting for more fulfilling, less filling schedules and material possessions. Next up will be The Next Industrial Revolution, by William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart. McDonough, an architect, and Braungart, a chemist, take a look at the business world's spiraling cycles of production and consumption.

Tree planting will take place on Saturday, April 24, 411 N. 15th Street, at 1 pm. The double features will show tonight, April 22, from 7-9 pm at the Sandpoint Public Library, 1407 Cedar St., Sandpoint, Idaho.

The Bluest Eye -- CHENEY, Wash. -- How do you teach an all-white, all-Christian group of third-graders in Iowa about the effects of racism and bigotry? After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, one teacher started an experimental project in the school that taught what discrimination really felt like. Her goal was to get her students to internalize the damaging effects of racism and to understand what others go through. The exercise, called "Blue Eyed, Brown Eyed," focused on dividing students based on a physical characteristic that they had no control over -- in this case, their eye color. The project was not only extremely successful, but it also made her famous. Jane Elliot is now one of America's most respected figures on discrimination and prejudice.

Jane Elliot will be at Eastern Washington University on Tuesday, April 27, at 7 pm in Showalter Hall. Elliot's presentation, "Anatomy of Hate," will be just one of several events to promote diversity.

Publication date: 04/22/04