Posted by Charles Rehberg on Oct 09, 2017
North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
October 9, 2017
Briefly:  The club’s officers and directors meet Wednesday at 4 p.m. on Oct. 18 at the Mountain West Bank branch on North Division.
Cruising? Spokane Aurora Northwest Rotary Club is selling $20 tickets for its annual cruise fund raising campaign.  Club member Bruce Johnson is the contact.  The club, which meets at the Kalispel Golf Club, said Rotarians are invited every-other Thursdays to golf on meeting dates for just $59 per member.
Speed date 1: Schools and council candidates
          Four candidates joined club members Oct. 9 on the first of three weeks of rotating “speed dates” to discuss topics in the Nov. 7 elections.  After introductory remarks, each candidate spent 5 minutes at each of four tables for a quick glance at the issues.
          City Council candidates Tim Benn and Kate Burke of northeast Spokane talked about the North Corridor Freeway and economic development.
          School District 81 candidates Michael Wiser and Jennifer Thomas focused on growing academic achievement and “breaking the cycle of poverty”.
          Benn, 39, said Spokane needs more pro-active economic initiatives. “We are not seeing prosperity and we are blocking business in some areas,” Benn said.  He added that Spokane “still has 140 miles of dirt roads.”  Benn is a former campaign manager for Councilman Mike Fagan.
          Burke, 28, said that like Rotary projects “you put your money where your mouth is,” for achieving Spokane progress.  Burke works on the legislative staff of State Sen. Andy Billig, D-3rd.  She has been endorsed by Councilwoman Amber Waldref, who has completed two terms and is term-limited by council rules.
          Wiser, 44, was appointed to the School Board six months ago.  He talked about the lack of “great equalizer in development. It’s too easy to see by each zip code who are not achieving,” he said.
          Thomas, 40, said, “It’s really important to be invested in our schools and important to Spokane to break its cycle of poverty.”
          At one speed-date table, Wiser was asked to talk about the recent Freeman High School shooting, in which a sophomore student killed one student and wounded three other students.
          “Schools can’t do it all,” said Wiser.  He said parents and mental health councilors need to be involved, especially in suicide issues.  He said one safety improvement is limiting schools at all levels to have “single points of entry.”
          Wiser doesn’t favor heavily-armed guards at schools, preferring to have resource staffers “pick up a radio” (for help) first.  He favors using pepper spray than guns.
          Asked about differences between District-developed charter schools and independent charter schools, Wiser said the District has something as a sort of “fiscal steward” role.
          Wiser is vice president of strategic planning for CHAS Health.
          Asked about District challenges, Thomas said Spokane schools “are generally phenomenal,” but added “parents need a stronger voice and how to use their voices.”  She said it is especially important to use key education programs to break the area’s cycle of poverty.
          Of the Freeman shooting, Thomas said the shooting “could have happened in Spokane, but the entry single point is important, because the (Freeman) student came in the back door.”
          She said mental illness programs should be strengthened, especially watching warning signs.  Thomas said at one mental health facility “no juvenile beds were available.”
          Thomas previously worked for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.  She now is business development for the Jonah Project non-profit organization.
          Benn said the freeway corridor “is my hot button; I live just two blocks away.”  He said “we need to put pressure on the legislature to fund the freeway.”  He added that the corridor should be “a North-South economic plan, and a deal-maker, not a North-South bypass route.”
          Asked about proposed Beacon Hill and other projects, Benn said added burdens on developers “are chasing people away,” with hurdles and higher housing costs.
          Benn operates a child day care center.
          Burke said the $961 million funding for the freeway corridor is on schedule to complete in 2020.  She worries “how Hillyard will be changed” with the freeway.  She knows how major a freeway can made through the district, adding “it could go either way, and WASDOT (state transportation) is still worried.”
          She hopes that “we can make Hillyard a point of pride,” adding that “a North Perry district could be developed like the successful South Perry district.”
          Burke works with a non-profit agency dealing with youth-at-risk and is a YWCA board member.
The bulletin producers:
          Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
          Photos: Eric Johnson
          Program coordinator: Brad Stark