Evil Empire? -- The article "The Two Towers" (12/ 18/03) is an interesting chronology of events, but it fails to make any critical assessment. Despite the portrayal, all is not well in Camelot. The article suggests that there isn't an organized group calling the shots in Spokane. This is wholly untrue. Those making decisions attend the same country club, are part of the same Chamber of Commerce and have dinner and work out at the same Spokane Club. This is a small group of individuals and not a group that looks for advice from members of other groups or organizations. Diversity of mind is not the goal of these insiders.
The Inlander no longer serves as a critical voice. That was more than made clear with its endorsement of Jim West, who is another member of this cast. Without a critical voice, there is no accountability. There is a weak attempt at criticizing the Spokesman's coverage of the Met debacle. Betsy Cowles has to mark her place in the family legacy, and what better way than to claim to be the one who took down the family rival, Paul Sandifur? It is ludicrous to think the Spokesman will police itself to avoid conflict of interest in its storytelling. The Spokesman is nothing more than a family tool. These people will continue to "Tower" above Spokane because even supposedly critical voices are kowtowing. The Inlander should be ashamed.
A Reformer Replies -- I just finished reading the article"The Two Towers" (12/18/03), about the battle between the Cowles and the Sandifurs, or the "establishment" and the "reformers." I thought that considering Ted McGregor's position as an observer and reporter, he did a pretty good job on the story. Of course, since I'm writing, there's a BUT involved here. I'm one of those so-called reformers McGregor refers to, and I'm actively engaged on this battleground.
First of all the term "reformer" doesn't really fit that well. We accept it because it's probably as close to a description as necessary, and a label isn't a concern anyhow. What we really do, though, is not so much reform as simply fight for what we see as the best course to follow for the people of Spokane in the political and economic arenas. Reformation isn't as important as representation, education and information dissemination (a lot of "-ations" in that line).
That's why we went after John Powers. Powers was, and I believe always will be, egotistically driven, and there was a moral and ethical issue concerning his performance. His sole mission after entering office was self-promotion, usually by co-opting the ideas, work and successes of others and putting his name and face in the public's eye as often as possible, irregardless of actual, personal accomplishments. Though he presumably took a strong stand against the Cowles family on RPS, it wasn't to benefit the community, but to relieve the legal burdens of his friends and fellow attorneys who were (and still are) responsible for much of went wrong on that project. Hell, the Siddoways even benefited financially from Powers capitalizing on the situation.
Powers wasn't a reformer in any sense of the word, and he wasn't looking out for the citizens. The truth is that the strategy promoted by Powers and Siddoway may well have cost the city any chance of recovery in the courts. We always knew that mediation was a long shot at best, with little chance of success because of the number of parties involved and the varying degrees of loss and responsibility. It's probably more likely that we'll mediate peace in the Middle East before RPS.
Those are some of the reasons we challenged Powers. It had nothing to do with whether or not he, or we, were reformers. It had more to do with what was right or wrong for Spokane.
Finally, I see a huge difference between the actions of Paul Sandifur and the Cowles siblings. Paul's interested in the overall health of the city and its occupants. Stacy and Betsy are interested in how much money they can make off the city and its occupants. RPS showed us that they have no qualms about taking taxpayer dollars, or laying their hands on government funds (CDBG) designed and set aside to help the poorest among us. Both families donate considerably to various organizations to help those who need it, but I believe the Cowles do it partially to create both a diversion and justification for other, more self-serving activities.
Anyhow, that's the view from the trenches. I can't speak for everyone in Spokane who's sided with the "Reformers," but I can speak for a great many of them who are engaged in the effort to move Spokane forward in a vehicle quite different than the one the Cowles group is driving. It's cost many of us a lot of time and money -- and it's worth every second and every penny.
Parenting 101 -- The progression of empires -- Roman, British -- can be analogous to a parent/child relationship. The child USA broke from parent Britain about 227 years ago. The parent wanted control and feared the loss of a prodigy. The restless child only wanted freedom and in its teens found it could survive. Current parent USA is approaching retirement. We feed our children by sending work and technology abroad. Young countries will want their freedom too as we once did. Falling in the sanctimonious smugness of complete power is a sure sign of senility. Praise the child and let it go. Isn't it better to see them grow into our teachers and friends than to admonish them to "go to their rooms"?
We'd Smoke 'em -- We are waging war against Iraq because they may have weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or the intent to acquire them and possibly share them with terrorists to use against us. But to date how many Americans have been killed by Iraq's alleged WMD? Zero. But how many non-smoking Americans nationwide will die on average this year and every year from the effects of breathing in secondhand cigarette smoke? 53,000 - nearly 18 times the death toll from the attacks on 9/11.
This is grim evidence of far more effective WMD than those we went to war to eliminate. If terrorists killed 53,000 Americans with WMD obtained from any country, it would glow in the dark after becoming a testing ground for our nuclear weapons. So why are we so complacent about this annual death toll from secondhand smoke? If we can mobilize as a state to support the global war on terrorism, then clearly we can get motivated to stop WMD that are killing us by the thousands via secondhand poisons each and every year. The 2004 legislative session will have two bills: House Bill 1868 and Senate Bill 5791, sponsored by Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe and Rep. Joe McDermott, to make all indoor public places in our state smoke- free. Please contact your state representatives and senators at www.leg.wa.gov and let them know that you don't want to be poisoned by secondhand smoke anymore.
Also, there is an alliance of organizations called Washington Breathe that is coordinating efforts to get these bills passed; join this alliance. Even if you are a smoker, support this effort to benefit your children and grandchildren. It does not matter what your political party affiliations are, whether you are liberal or conservative, black, white, rich, poor, gay or straight. The poison in secondhand smoke doesn't care; it just stinks, harms and kills. If that is not motivation enough for you, think about this; California has been smoke-free for years now. Their restaurant, bar and casino industries have not only survived, but thrived despite all the doom and gloom economic warnings from various groups opposed to the ban on indoor public smoking. So are those Californians just smarter then us or what?
Publication date: 1/08/03