by Inlander Readers & r & We Have Ignition ... & r & As The board of a new not-for-profit arts organization we are grateful for the Oct. 6 article promoting Ignite! Community Theatre's production of Arsenic and Old Lace. But we are concerned by some of the misconceptions created by Michael Bowen's article. A primary goal of Ignite! is to provide new opportunities for creative people in the Inland Northwest. We have enjoyed a tremendous amount of support and encouragement from many groups including Spokane Civic Theatre, Actors Repertory Theatre, Circle Moon Theatre and Spokane Interplayers Ensemble, with all of whom we share many volunteers and resources.

Ignite's mission is "To operate a community theatre with high artistic, educational and ethical standards and to serve as a resource to the community at large." One thing not covered in the article was that Ignite! is working hard to find a niche in the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene arts community by providing technical theatre training, theatre arts education, a budding Living History program and free reading stage productions.

The question has been raised, "Why another community theatre?" Just ask the actors and technicians. There are never enough opportunities for all of the wonderful talent in Spokane!

Judy Fitzpatrick, Scott Finlayson, Gil Cook, Lisa Caryl, Rebecca Cook, Chasity Kohlman, Renae Meredith, Signe Nall

Ignite! Community Theatre

Spokane's Dark Ages & r & When I open The Inlander, first I look to see if Bob Herold has an editorial. He makes your paper worth reading, even if there were no other content. Herold is always concise, correct and topical. Lately I've liked your sustainability coverage as well. Now go a step further and tell readers how to divest themselves of the profligacy we all share without becoming bitter, or feeling just a little stupid. I've been looking for a cultural meltdown since Barry Commoner wrote The Closing Circle in about 1971. I'm still waiting. Thirty-five years of bad news and consumer capitalism is still going like the Energizer Bunny. Show us how community might look if we stopped producing like rabbits. Betcha can't do it. Neil Postman's book in the '80s, Amusing Ourselves to Death, says it all.

The point I am trying to make is that examples of perfectly sustainable community are hard to come by. And perhaps folks who would rush us back to the Middle Ages are only prolonging the catastrophe rather than preventing it. I'd like to see Herold write about sustainable economics vis-a-vis our county commissioners. Economic growth is not the same thing as economic development, but few people in Spokane seem to make the distinction. Hey, wait a minute. Maybe we are living in the Middle Ages.

Don Hornbeck & r & Spokane, Wash.

Oil on the Brain & r & The comments offered by several individuals in "On the Street" (The Inlander, 9/29/05) were incredible. When asked to answer the question "How much oil do you think the world has left?" the responses of "enough to last a lifetime" and "there are different kinds of oils - like vegetable oil" must have been said in jest. To explain these types of responses in any other context is much too scary to comprehend.

Even those out of touch with reality must understand that our country is faced with a serious energy crisis. Isn't it time for all of us to get engaged and address this issue? It's time to stop listening to the Bush Administration's propaganda.

Carl Weik & r & Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

More on RPS & r & I'm tempted to respond to Cowles attorney Ladd Leavens's attacks on my reporting ("Conspiracy Denied," 10/6/05) by simply asking Inlander readers to consider the source. But that would take all the fun out of this.

Was there a conspiracy to purposely overvalue the River Park Square garage as an unlawful means to funnel $10 million or more to help Cowles real estate companies expand the RPS mall?

I think so and have been reporting facts about this for the past five years.

Leavens says no, and accuses me of exercising my "long running personal bias against River Park Square and its owners."

I'll concede this much: my pursuit of the RPS story was at least partly motivated by the fact that Cowles reporters were essentially ignoring it. But Leavens' column goes beyond assailing the messenger. It's a brazen effort to begin rewriting the history of what actually happened at RPS.

The gist of my recent article in Washington Law & amp; Politics is that O. Yale Lewis, the city's first special counsel for RPS, was appalled at the corrupt nature of the relationship between Cowles operatives and city officials. From his investigation, Lewis concluded there was a conspiracy to purposely overvalue the Cowles garage. For his efforts, he was replaced as special counsel.

Garage bondholders agreed with Lewis and used his work (and mine) to assemble their claims. They then mounted a successful securities fraud action that cost the city dearly. There's a precious irony here. As Leavens himself notes, he and other Cowles lawyers were able to limit the damage to his client because there was such a wealth of evidence that elected city officials were complicit in the deal. The city's argument -- that city leaders were duped by Betsy Cowles -- was roundly dismissed by Judge Edward Shea on summary judgment.

Leavens ignores the elephant in the room. The garage deal was illegal. IRS investigators concluded a year ago that the garage transaction's central purpose was to "unjustly" enrich Cowles real estate companies with tax-exempt bond proceeds. Leavens may think it's a shame that the volunteer board members of the Spokane Downtown Foundation (all of whom were selected by Cowles or her lawyers) got mixed up in this. But they were hardly innocent in this debacle, as the IRS report makes clear.

On the matter of the HUD loan, Leavens is being dishonest in his effort to smear me. He writes that I alleged "that the city did not obtain security for repayment of the HUD loan."

That's not what I wrote. What I actually reported is: "Cowles adamantly refused to fully secure the loan." (emphasis added). And it was because the loan was not fully secured that, by 2004, the city found itself faced with the potential loss of several million dollars in future federal block grants.

More importantly, the record does show that Cowles editors and city officials did mislead the public about the risks of the under-secured HUD loan. It is true, as Leavens writes, that the terms of the loan collateral were discussed publicly. The problem is that the terms and value of the Cowles Publishing "Guaranty" were repeatedly misrepresented during the March 30 and July 27, 1998 public meetings. [Key excerpts of these meetings can be viewed on the Camas Web site].

The record is also very clear that several key documents -- in which the city's risks were candidly laid out -- were kept under wraps. It wasn't until some of them were leaked to the Wall Street Journal (which used them in a Jan. 8, 1999, front-page story) that the public, in Spokane, began to get the real story about how risky the under-secured loan was. Not surprisingly, the response from Cowles lawyers was to take legal action to try to find out who leaked the documents.

Tim Connor & r & Spokane, Wash.

Correction & r & A recent story ("A Lot of Hot Air," 9/29/05) incorrectly stated that government agencies in Washington are required to seek out or support renewable energy sources. The state has a policy strongly encouraging consideration of such energy sources, but it is not mandated.

TPG Market @ Resurrection Records

Sun., June 13, 12-6 p.m.
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