“Riverfront Park face-lift seen as legacy project”

Riverfront Park face-lift seen as legacy project – Spokesman.com – Sept. 28, 2014.

It’s unsigned – no reporter has their name on this free political advertisement.

There is no mention of the publisher’s ownership of land across the street from the park. Conflicts of interest do not matter in fake news stories.

The Park needs to be fixed up. But can Spokane rely on the largest downtown landholder and beneficiary of public spending to write unsigned news stories about these activities?

These public projects benefit downtown landowners, of which the paper’s owner, is one of the largest. Amid declining circulation, the Spokesman-Review has devolved into real estate investment promotions.  That’s sad.

(Hey, this blog is unsigned too – but we can disclose we do not own any land that benefits yay or nay on these projects)

STA – “savings on fuel and maintenance would more than pay for the added cost up-front”

The $800,000 sticker price on the 41-foot model is high compared with the Gillig buses currently in the STA fleet. A conventional Gillig diesel bus costs $378,000 and a Gillig electric hybrid diesel is $550,000.

However, savings on fuel and maintenance would more than pay for the added cost up-front over the expected 12-year-life of the Proterra, said Dale Hill, company founder.

via STA officials view company’s latest electric bus model – Spokesman.com – Sept. 17, 2014.

Hmmmm…. that sounds familiar.  Here is what the STA said about the discredited electric hybrid diesels on March 24, 2009:

The acquisition of new buses, including the hybrids, will reduce ongoing maintenance costs for older buses as well as save on fuel costs.

In reality, “Spokane Transit Authority squandered taxpayer money on expensive buses” as the savings never came.

Typical of Spokane institutions, no one was held accountable for bad decisions, hence, it remains business as usual. And probably more squandered money, more puffy press releases and then a hidden reference years later to the program being abandoned.

STA buses to join 21st century

“Talking bus” route and stop announcements are being added to STA buses. Many other cities have had these “smart bus” systems for some time – audible announcements are required by the Americans with Disability Act: STA Begins “Smart Bus” Initiative – Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com.

King County began experimenting with smart bus and automated stop announcements in 2001. Pierce (County) Transit added these features in 2009.  Los Angeles began adding this in 2006. Spokane is just starting to build out its Smart Bus Initiative in 2014 as part of a ten year upgrade project. The Federal government allocated taxpayer funding for the Smart Bus Technology Modernization program in 2008. Funding for Spokane was buried in a bill by Senator Patty Murray in 2007. More information about the “intelligent” transportation system for the area is in this SRTC document.

As usual, Spokane is years behind but pretends its hip and cool when its merely catching up.  Businesses looking to be on the forward edge are not going to locate in a community that is perpetually years behind. It’s nice that STA is catching up but let’s not pretend we are the “bus of the future”.


Spokane Medical School: UW says WSU feasibility study is badly flawed

WSU hired a national consulting firm named MGT of America to produce a feasibility study for a WSU medical school. MGT’s report says Washington needs a WSU medical school.

The University of Washington responds that the consultant’s study done for WSU “contains a number of deep flaws”.

Many of the key justifications cited for starting, funding, and accrediting a second public medical school in Washington are based upon faulty assumptions, omissions, and erroneous data that draw into question many of the report’s central conclusions. These flaws raise significant concern about the actual feasibility of a WSU medical school and are important questions that require answers.

Local Spokane promoters and politicians previously relied on a consultant’s report on the economic impacts of the Spokane Medical School. However, that report was essentially a work of fiction, as pointed out in this blog’s analysis – “Forecast Economic Impacts of the Spokane Medical School“.

This blog would like to see a med school in Spokane and is supportive of WSU running such a med school. But both parties have engaged in flaky promotional efforts.

Update: WSU’s study may have left out the fully accredited Pacific Northwest University of Health Science’s, College of Osteopathic Medicine, in Washington, with another 140 or so medical students beyond those at the UW.


“Amgen’s exit a new blow for Seattle biotech industry”

Amgen’s exit a new blow for Seattle biotech industry | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times.

Seattle’s biotech sector has been in free fall for a decade, unfortunately.

The problem, obviously, is they never built a heated pedestrian/bike bridge! The Spokesman-Review assured us the essential requirement for a local biotech sector is the heated ped/bike bridge (really): Spokane’s biomedical economy will collapse without the heated ped/bike bridge

Seriously, if Seattle cannot retain its biotech industry, the likelihood of a huge biotech sector in Spokane is low. With or without heated pedestrian/bike bridges.



Seattle Times: State does not need a WSU Spokane med school

Now, as Washington State University tries to gain statewide support to build a new medical school in Spokane, some regional and national experts say there’s no longer a pressing national need for another one.

State might not need a WSU medical school, some experts say | Local News | The Seattle Times.

A lot of this is about market control. The UW, which has failed to provide adequate med school slots in the state, does not want WSU as a competitor in Spokane and would prefer to go down the WWAMI route of having med school students rotate through various locations. The UW argues its brand reputation is stellar and will attract top students while a first year start up med school run by WSU would start, on day one, with the lowest reputation of all med schools nationally.

WSU-Spokane argues that a med school is needed in eastern Washington to ensure doctors in rural areas even though there is no evidence this solves the root problem: pay is lower in small towns, which does not work for young doctors paying off med school debts, and the lifestyle may not be what young doctors are seeking.

Only a few years ago local Spokane promoters convinced us that a Spokane med school was essentially a done deal and would be opening shortly. Now its pushed out another decade or more.

Our past posts on the Spokane med school including the outrageous lies told about the alleged economic impact of a Spokane med school. In Spokane, people just cannot stop lying. I have never seen a community where lying is conducted so openly and passionately.

Spokane trolley cost estimates double

It was $36 million as recently as months ago: STA Votes To Approve Electric Trolley | News – KXLY.com.

Now its $72 million: STA considers $72 million trolley from Browne’s Addition to SCC

(Both KREM TV and the Spokesman-Review fail to mention the price doubling. Censoring the project history is bad journalism – or good fiction writing. )

Next year: $96 million? How about $129 million?

They are considering options that raise the price to $129 million for a system that is no better than a bus except its cooler. There is, in fact, no reason provided for this extraordinary expenditure except it has the cool factor.

As shown in many studies “there’s no clear evidence trolleys bring growth but it’s clear they’re expensive.”

What are the objective measures of success of this project?

There are none.

The only measure of success is they spend money, which is an easy target to reach! Indeed, with each passing month they keep increasing the price tag!  Spending Federal money is the only goal for this project.

Objective measures would set goals for:

  • Total passengers per day
  • Average passengers per trolley trip
  • Revenue earned per trip and per day
  • Operation costs per passenger per mile
  • Energy used per passenger per mile
  • Specific, measurable economic growth metrics

And management would be held accountable.  But lacking objective measures and that no one at STA management is ever held accountable, they’ll squander money once more. Remember their hybrid bus project that wasted money? All of the information needed to know that hybrids were a waste was available in advance. After the STA wasted the money, no one was held accountable.

The STA has not come up with a single meaningful reason for spending up to $129 million other than its “cool” and the Federal government would pay 80% of the costs. They will make absurd promises, just like the Convention Center expansion campaign lies about creating more jobs and visitors – when actual use of the PFD facilities has gone down during the past 15  years, jobs have gone down, and there is no evidence of an increase in visitors.

Meanwhile, the STA Plaza remodel is on hold after six years of planning – because the downtown business cartel did not approve. After six years of public involvement it now comes down to secret deal making between the business cartel and STA management. Update: It appears the downtown cartel will get its wish – at great taxpayer expense and rider inconvenience, the STA plaza will probably be moved out of downtown, throwing the entire STA system in to planning chaos (the STA plaza is THE central hub of the system).

The evidence that downtown trolley’s create economic growth is nil but they are the rage for mid-sized cities all over the country since the Feds offered grant money. Mostly they shift local money to those who will benefit (downtown businesses) and away from other local businesses that are not so well connected.

  • Proponents must come up with compelling, fact-based arguments for the trolley. “Cool factor” and “spending Federal money” do not cut it.
  • Proponents must develop a set of objective measures of project success.
  • Spokane’s news media must perform actual journalism in spite of their conflicts of interest (instead we are already seeing the puffy propaganda)
  • Local political leaders must ensure that the STA management is held accountable to specific, measurable objectives.

If these steps are not taken, this is just another feel good project designed to funnel other people’s tax money into the downtown business cartel, leaving most of Spokane worse off, in the long run.


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