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Tonight council will vote on “most disturbing budget proposal”

Tonight the city council will be voting on the most disturbing budget proposal that we've seen in some time. Mayor Condon is proposing $20,000 INCREASES for some of his staff while cutting police, fire fighters and even libraries. Below is my letter to Councilman Mike Allen. I hope you will write a letter of your own TODAY and let your council person know how disturbing this budget is.

Dear Councilman Allen,

Spokane City Council
Spokane City Council

I am writing to express my deep concern about the budget that Mayor Condon has proposed for the City of Spokane. His sales pitch for the budget claims to focus on “affordability, accountability, and alignment.” The budget may be aligned with Mayor Condon’s values of privatization and shifting wealth upward, but it reflects neither accountability nor affordability.

It is absolutely unconscionable to give raises of $20,000 to two managers while cutting fire fighters, police officers, and public libraries. The mayor argues that those people are doing more work because of his restructuring. Spokane would be better off if the $52,000 being given in raises for just three managers was used to add one position and offer one more family a living wage. That way the money would be more likely to go back into our economy to create more jobs and help fuel the recovery. Lower income people buy groceries and clothes, not stocks and bonds.

I am also deeply concerned that the city does not seem to have learned its lesson from the national economic story of the last four years. We need to get Spokane out of its ongoing economic doldrums. And we know from two national experiments with ‘trickle-down’ economics that IT DOES NOT WORK.

Our national economy is finally starting a slow recovery because President Obama fought to invest in jobs and economic stimulus. Most competent economists point out that we’d be doing even better if we’d invested more in those areas. Does Spokane learn from this experience? No, instead our leaders chose sterile ideology rather than real recovery.

The mayor claims that he’s making a budget for “the long term”, but we are not in ‘long term’ times. We are in a stagnant recession. We have reserves, yet the Mayor brags about not using them. If the reserves are not there to help our local economy to recover from the worst recession since the 1920’s WHAT ARE THEY FOR? And to compound the error, the Mayor recommends (and the council follows) refusing to use the 1 percent property tax levy that is available.

People in Spokane are homeless and hungry. Whole families are shivering in the cold. This winter people will die because we, as a community, refuse to care for those who’ve been hardest hit by the recession.

In your first term on the council, I experienced you as a reasonable, moderate voice. We appreciated things that you were able to help accomplish for our district. When you were elected back onto the council, I had hoped that you would continue that tone.  Instead you’ve become one of the four ideologues on the council. I do not believe that this serves the city or your constituents. Please reconsider your support for this approach to the budget. Our people are hurting and they need a council that will make an economic recovery FOR ALL THE PEOPLE more important than raises for a few, or contracts with private contractors to improve the city’s communication. We don’t need more effective propaganda. We need more jobs for middle and lower income families. Your constituents hope that these values will be reflected in your votes on Monday night.

Sincerely,

The Rev. Deb. Conklin

St. Paul's and Liberty Park United Methodist Churches

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3 comments

  1. The Reverend Debra Conklin

    Tonight’s council meeting must have been deeply frustrating for those who spent three hours listening and testifying, trying to somehow get what has become known (politely) as the Block of Four to consider mitigating the damage of the Mayor’s budget.
    Councilman Fagan actually went after our city libraries, suggesting that we eliminate any services that do not include checking books in and out and providing access to computers. Money saved by eliminating programs such as reading time for children, AV resources for library users, and various sorts of information services (does he really want to eliminate reference librarians??) could be used to balance the city budget elsewhere. Surely this is Libertarianism run amok?
    The response of Councilwoman McLaughlin to testimony from several people that they supported the 1% property tax levy increase that this council has now rejected twice: we’ll set up a fund so that you can make a voluntary charitable contribution. She seems to think that this will prove that no one really supports a tax increase. What it really proves is that there is no limit to the hyperbole she will use. The point of a tax is that everyone in the same situation pays the same tax – thus funding our community infrastructure.
    The most disturbing comment came from Councilman Salvatori, who accused those who supported the tax levy increase of being reverse Robin Hoods. This from one who voted for a budget that gave $80,000 of salary increases to upper level management (people with 6 figure salaries) while eliminating services for the ordinary people (average income @ $45,000 depending on source). So Spokane continues the national trend of shifting income and wealth ever upward to the more well-off.
    And Councilman Allen tried to discredit those trying to mitigate the damage by accusing them of throwing stuff against the wall to see if anything would stick. He seems to think that those of us watching are unaware that the process did not offer any other way to try to mitigate the damage once Mayor Condon and the Block of Four adamantly refused to negotiate any changes. He tried to convince the spectators that the Block of Four was actually open to such negotiation.
    i am deeply disappointed in these people who purport to represent the people of Spokane. My thanks to all those who spent the night at City Hall testifying. You may not have changed the outcome, but you made the council members show their true values.

  2. I just read about that. It sounds so similar to the epic same-sex marriage meeting, and the panhandling meeting. Rev. Ekloff said he thinks they have their minds completely made up BEFORE the meetings even start – from this, I can imagine why people would think that…

  3. The Reverend Debra Conklin

    Pretty much they do have their minds made up before the meeting. That’s why its so important to send them your input ahead of the meeting. Showing up and testifying on the night of the vote is more about pr than any expectation that any council member will change their mind.

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