Wamend.LincolnRally(By Stacey Cossey) Saturday, April 25th marked the launch of Wamend’s Initiative 735: Get BIG Money out of Elections!   Over a hundred Spokane and Northeastern Washington citizens took to the streets to protest the ‘big’ money that is flowing into our political system, influencing the outcome of our elections.

Ordinary citizens carried signs, marched across the Monroe Street Bridge and gathered around the statue of Abraham Lincoln.  In a statement of political art, Abraham is seen to ask “Whatever happened to a government of, by and for the people?”while the people reply “Get BIG Money out of Elections!”

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LaDuke and Moore on Politics and Human Dignity at EWU

mOORE AND LADUKEWinona LaDuke, Native American leader, spoke about political and spiritual solutions to our world’s problems in Showalter Hall at the Cheney campus of Eastern Washington University today, Wednesday.  Winona LaDuke is a well-known internationally recognized Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) author, speaker and activist.  She was joined by Liz Moore, an engaged local activist from the Spokane area. Liz is the Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Action League.

The speakers and audience explore questions and told stories about outreach to diverse communities, building alliances and partnerships for effecting social change, spirituality, and ways to learn from each other. They questions aimed at examining the challenges of advocating for social justice and organizing for social transformation in different cultures and environments.

 

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Why Does Avista Still Use Coal to Generate Electricity?

Coal plant closeup

Photo credit Erica Dellwo.

Avista Utilities has a reputation for supporting renewable energy in Eastern Washington—so why do they still power our homes and businesses with dirty out-of-state coal from Montana’s Colstrip Generating Facility?

Avista’s Reliance on Coal Power

The largest source of U.S. carbon pollution is burning fossil fuels for electricity. And Colstrip stands near the top of its industry according to the US. Environmental Protection Agency. Eastern Washington already faces the impacts of climate change including longer wildfire seasons, reduced snowpack and extended droughts. Meanwhile, Colstrip pumps more than 15 million tons of carbon pollution into the air every year from burning sub-bituminous coal from a nearby mine. That’s equal to the carbon pollution from half of all passenger cars in Washington State. Overall in Washington, coal provides about 20 percent of the state’s power but contributes more than 80 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.

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jacina rally

Photo Credit to Richard Bocook

That was the message at noon today, Friday, by the community and business owners on the double digit block of West Main Ave, downtown Spokane. Last Friday, a transgendered woman, Jacina Carla Scamahorn was assaulted, inside of Boots Bakery, at 24 West Main Ave.  The series of events that followed paints a picture of the Spokane Community that, as a whole, does not tolerate violence or bigotry against gays and transgendered.

Within days, the community demand quick action by the police.  On Monday evening, around a hundred citizens showed up at the scheduled Spokane City Council meeting to voice their outrage and ask for a quick action by the Spokane Police.  On that same day, Spokane Police posted online pictures of suspects that were capture by surveillance cameras, and local media covered the incident.  By Tuesday, Spokane Police arrested two suspects, 45-year old Adam Flippen and 43-year old Marc Fessler.

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breean head

Breean Beggs

I have admired Breean Beggs for a long time.  It is good see him involved in the public debate about why Sean Oie’s killer was released. I am also intrigue about Breean Beggs’ candidacy for Spokane County Prosecutor. Read the rest of this entry

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Photo Credit to Bryan Burke

Photo Credit to Bryan Burke

This does not surprise me.  From what I have heard about the management at Deaconess Hospital, Spokane, WA, and their Hospital in the Valley, Community Health Systems should have had a complaint filed at them sooner.

The hospitals in Spokane owned by non-profits don’t seem to have these problems.  We should never forget the value of the labor movement our capitalist economy.  Read the rest of this entry

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Immigration Reform

To the Editor:

In an historic bipartisan 68-32 vote, last June the US Senate passed an immigration reform bill that included a path to citizenship for eleven million illegal immigrants, an innovative temporary worker program, and increased visa numbers for skilled foreign workers, as well as a nationwide employment eligibility verification system and stricter border control.  This was a result of bipartisan cooperation among lawmakers, business groups, labor unions, agricultural interests, and immigration advocates. Although many predict that the bill would pass in the US House, the majority Republican leadership there refuses to bring it up.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects the bill would reduce federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the next decade. Furthermore, it is supported by such pro-business and pro-agriculture groups as the US Chamber of Commerce and the local Washington Growers League, an influential Eastern Washington agribusiness association working on immigration in an unusual alliance with the Washington Federation of State Employees.   Interestingly, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration has also expressed support.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers needs to represent her constituents, many in business and agriculture, by standing up to US House leadership so as to pass this bill.

Roz Luther

Spokane, WA

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Update on Labor Dispute at Deaconess and Valley Hospitals

While employees have been working for a good part a year without a contract, the upper management at Spokane Valley Hospital and Spokane Deaconess Hospital have agreed to a bargaining date. This Friday, March 21, Nurses, cleaning staff, and other medical workers represented by SEIU local will be negotiating with Tennessee-based Community Health Systems that manages the Hospitals. One of the most important issues is what staffing levels are needed to insure patients at Valley and Deaconess Hospitals are adequately protected from falls, infections, and other problems that prevent speedy recoveries and long-term health.  The Labor Union is insisting that higher staffing levels are needed to protect patient health.

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Valley Hospital Spokane Valley

Photo credit to Harvey Brown

(By Kevin Graman) Nurses and other medical workers await a bargaining date for long-awaited contracts with the Deaconess Hospital, Spokane, Wa. and Valley Hospital, Spokane Valley, Wa. Their key demand for more staffing to improve patient health and safety goes unanswered by the hospitals’ for-profit owner Community Health Systems Inc.

Meanwhile, Service Employees International Union 1199NW, the union that represents nurses at Valley Hospital and technical and service employees at both Valley and Deaconess Hospitals, presses its efforts to convince the state Legislature to follow California’s lead and impose mandatory nurse-patient ratios in Washington hospitals. Read the rest of this entry

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Different Drummers is a brisk paced family drama that is powered by the bond of friendship between two ten-year old boys who support each other no matter what. Just like Steven King’s “Stand by Me”, Different Drummers reminds you of what it was like to be ten years old and hanging out with your best friend – the best time in the world; the kind of laughs, adventures, mishaps, and “big” trouble that you just can’t match at any other time of your life. Co-writers and co-directors Don Caron and Lyle Hatcher capture that so in this story about the younger Lyle Hatchers childhood friendship.

It is also one of the best films that the Pacific Northwest has recently produced. If you doubt that Spokane writers, directors, and actors could do that, look at the seven awards they have already racked up. Different Drummers premiers this Friday at the AMC theaters in Spokane, WA. Drummers can also be found on Facebook. Read the rest of this entry

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