This summer we made our voices heard as the City Council took up three critical topics.
Protecting Abortion Access
After receiving messages and hearing testimony from many people who support reproductive freedom, including PJALS members, the Spokane City Council voted for a resolution to protect abortion access in Spokane on July 25.
This resolution publicly opposes the overturning of Roe v. Wade and makes it the official policy of the City of Spokane that “no employee or agent of the City within the scope of their duties for the City shall assist another state or government entity … with investigating, or prosecuting any individual’s exercise of their right to an abortion or pregnancy outcome … [or help with] investigating or prosecuting any abortion providers located in Spokane, Washington.” The resolution also reaffirmed state law protecting abortion rights and calls on federal legislators to codify those rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The Next Chapter on the Old East Central Library
As many PJALS members already know, on June 30 Mayor Woodward directed the Spokane Police Department to move into the old East Central Library, summarily ending all public process and cutting East Central’s elected representative, Council Member Betsy Wilkerson, out of the process. Organizations that applied to the City of Spokane to use the space were never informed their proposals were rejected, and residents of the East Central neighborhood were left in the dark.
On July 18, the Spokane City Council responded by passing an emergency ordinance to place the fate of the old East Central Library back into the hands of the community by classifying police precincts as “essential city facilities;” establishing a transparent and inclusive standard process for determining the placement of essential city facilities; and giving Spokane residents the right to sue the city if they feel the process isn’t properly followed, thus allowing the people to enforce the process. This ordinance retroactively applies to the old East Central Library.
Reported the Spokesman: “It’s not public safety legislation. It’s about community resource management, which is precisely why I voted for my council representative to legislate,” said Jac Archer, organizer for the Peace and Justice Action League in Spokane as well as Spokane Community Against Racism.
“Whatever the old library becomes – behavioral health, a cultural center or a police station – Spokane deserves an inclusive, collaborative and transparent process for deciding the fate of community resources, and that is what this ordinance gives us.”
The City of Spokane Attorney Should Represent Spokane
PJALS supports establishing an independent city Attorney. The City Council has placed on the ballot a proposition which would establish an independent City Attorney for the City of Spokane. If this proposition passes, this City Attorney will represent the City exclusively (while the City Council and Mayor secure their own, separate legal representation) and will serve a seven-year term. They will no longer serve at the pleasure of the mayor and cannot be fired unless the mayor and five City Council members agree to replace them. This independence could have far-reaching effects on negotiations between the city and the police guild, transparency, litigation with the city, and more.