City of Spokane Proposition 1
“Save your children” as a Republican electoral tactic comes to Spokane
Local Republicans are taking cues from national Republican focus-group-tested rhetoric. City of Spokane Proposition 1 plays on every human’s protectiveness of children—and uses that protective impulse to build on the Republican narrative that unsheltered homeless people, painted as an entire group, are lawless, drug-addicted, mentally ill, undeserving, thieving, lawbreaking “others”, a grave threat to be threatened with incarceration—and certainly to be kept far away from children.
Last week Spokane Superior Court Judge Tony Hazel cleared the way for the appearance of attorney Brian Hansen’s and Larry Stone’s City of Spokane anti-homeless camping initiative (Proposition 1) appearing on the November ballot.
Proposition No. 1
City of Spokane
Initiative Prohibiting Encampments Near Schools, Parks, Playgrounds, & Child Care Facilities
Shall the Spokane Municipal Code be amended to prohibit encampments within 1,000 feet of any public or private school, public park, playground, or licensed child care facility as set forth in Ordinance No. C-36408?
Are there good reasons to vote “No” on this proposition? Yes, and here they are: Proposition 1 is a thinly disguised effort to get around Martin v. Boise, the 2018 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision holding, based on the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, “that cities cannot enforce anti-camping ordinances if they do not have enough homeless shelter beds available for their homeless population.”
Proposition 1’s 1000 foot from “any public or private school, public park, playground, or licensed child care facility” encompasses the majority of the land in the City of Spokane (see the map below thanks to the work of Spokane Community Against Racism [SCAR]).
Consider the complexities of enforcement: Who will carry with them a 1000 foot measuring tape to ensure compliance? Proposition 1 is a recipe for police intimidation of the homeless (who would be powerless to contest distances)—and a recipe for prolonged and very expensive taxpayer-funded legal contests over the constitutionality of the new ordinance’s enforcement.
As always, follow the money. City of Spokane Proposition 1’s primary financial backer is “Stone Lawrence”. He donated $90K of a current total of $170K given by just ten monied Republican businesses and individuals to “Clean and Safe Spokane” (see the table at the bottom of this post). Recall that Lawrence B (Larry) Stone is the beneficiary of Mayor Woodward’s lease of the TRAC Shelter. Mr. Stone’s money and direction of the inane, simplistic video “Curing Spokane” was arguably responsible for the slim margin by which Woodward was elected in 2019. Note also that the effort to gather signatures for Prop 1 was not made by any of the monetary contributors to “Clean and Safe Spokane”—this is no grassroots effort, this is another monied effort at political manipulation. Larry Stone and company spent $70,000 with Groundgame Political Solutions, LLC, of Jefferson City, Missouri, for “Voter signature/petition gathering costs”. It seems unlikely that Mr. Stone ever met one of the paid signature gatherers for his Proposition 1—much less gathered signatures himself.
City of Spokane Proposition 1 is the thinly disguised 2023 Larry Stone equivalent to his 2019 “Curing Spokane”. If passed it will cost us taxpayers hundreds of thousand of dollars in legal fees. See it for what it is and vote NO.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. We see the same Republican “othering” tactic leveled against other marginalized targets: anyone not conforming to strict male/female gender (all to be feared as “groomers” of children); women facing difficult reproductive medical decisions with the help of their families and doctors (all presumed to seek, for frivolous reasons, “abortion on demand until the moment of birth”—”killing babies”); legitimate historians accused of making white children “feel bad” for teaching the accurate history of systemic racism (banning of “CRT”), and, especially warped, the QAnon meme of Democrats as “pedophiles” (Pizzagate conspiracy theory). The Republican (and general authoritarian) narrative of demonizing and “othering” marginalized groups runs rampant in Republican rhetoric. The use of manufactured fear, marginalization, and hate is effective—until voters begin to recognize how their emotions are being abused and manipulated.
P.P.S. Below is a snapshot as of August 29 of all the contributors to “Clean and Safe Spokane - 2023”, the “Single Election Committee” pushing for passage of City of Spokane Proposition 1. Unfortunately, at least for now, if you want to check up on the then current donations to “Clean and Safe Spokane” with the Public Disclosure Commission (pdc.wa.gov) it will require more than clicking the link to “Campaign Contributions” listed at vote.wa.gov page for Prop 1. You will need to know the name “Clean and Safe Spokane” and enter it into the “Committee Name” box on the page at the PDC to which that link leads.
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