Only the first 75 people would get to make verbal comments. There was some consternation earlier in the day when about 35 green shirts, some of them being paid to stand in line, took places in line today. The first five in line were red shirts who showed up around 7:45 am.
Green shirt commenters spoke about the need for jobs, boosting the economy, and there was a remark or two about the misguided red shirts. My impression was that most of the comments were not substantive. While the green shirts were speaking, I talked to a man wearing a green shirt who had #36. He said he was from Spokane and he was speaking because he was tired of the environmentalists running everything. He realizes we need to take care of the environment, but we need jobs, too. And even though the jobs were in Whatcom County and not in Spokane, the state and the economy as a whole would benefit. I asked him about the guidance concerning substantive comments and he misunderstood what I was talking about. He pointed to a blue sheet of paper on his chair, "It's right there. It's just bullet points." Bullet points? I calmly asked if I could see it. He rolled it up and gave me a suspicious look. "No."
I ran into Bart Mihailovich, Spokane Riverkeeper. He was thrilled that the hearing was taking place in Spokane and that so many people had attended. He shared my concern about the comments being substantive. Bart arrived in time to be included in the 75, but had given his number to a little girl who wanted to speak. Nice.
Pens are in hand.
I later ran into City Councilman Jon Snyder who had a different take on the comments. "Every time you see them (the panel) pick up a pen, you're saying something they're concerned about." Jon had some very nice rhetoric in his two-minute speech. He was concise and on point. He questioned the impact of increased gate times on emergency responders and the transportation plan. Pens were in the panel members' hands.
As the evening progressed, the red shirt comments did address more impacts on the community, water, air, and more of the various communities being represented. I also noticed that after the bulk of the green shorts spoke, their numbers noticeably dwindled.
By the way, when speaker #36 was called up, the gentleman I spoke with was nowhere to be seen and had been replaced by former state senator Jeff Baxter of Spokane Valley. Well, it's not like Ben Stuckart arrived at 7:30 am and waited all day so he could be the first speaker.
Whenever there was applause or an outburst, the announcer would chastise everyone with a reminder that they were not to do so. After the fourth-grade girl from Roosevelt Elementary spoke, the crowd cheered.
"I'm going to let that one go."
Darn right you will.
The hearing was moving so smoothly that they announced that more people could sign up to speak and they would get as many in as possible until 7:00 pm. Several ran to the sign up desk. I left around 6:20 so I could get home at a decent time since I was letting Spokane Transit do the driving.
You have until Jan 21, 2013, to submit your comments and there's an easy online form you can use.