It’s 2018 and it’s still business as usual in Spokane

Despite an overwhelming verdict, the Spokane Public Schools board should ignore the results of Tuesday’s advisory vote on the location of a new football stadium and build it downtown anyway.


The stadium needs to go downtown. Period. We shouldn’t let a misinformed advisory vote impact a project that would positively affect the city and benefit the youth sporting community for the next 30 years.

Source: Dave Nichols: Board should ignore advisory vote, build stadium downtown | The Spokesman-Review

Democracy sucks, doesn’t it? If you don’t get what you want, then the voters are obviously stupid so the elite should just over rule those stupid peons.

Big downtown landowners deserve subsidy programs and every one knows they are so much smarter than you! The newspaper publisher is the largest landholder downtown but … oh never mind that!

Nothing has changed in Spokane. It’s still the same old powerful elite pulling the strings. This one is just so obvious and embarrassing.

How #RachelDolezal left Spokane’s reputation a mess

Incredibly, no one in Spokane noticed this? Seriously? Hurricane Rachel blew through and left behind a mess, confused racial issues and embarrassed local institutions and media for playing along for years.

Take a look at this broad overview of her history: The Real Rachel Dolezal | News | The Pacific Northwest Inlander | News, Politics, Music, Calendar, Events in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and the Inland Northwest.

Spokane Bloomsday Run 2015 – Historical trend through 2015

Data comes from the Bloomsday run sponsor web site and news reports.  There were 42,214 finishers in 2015; the # of registered runners is estimated from the Bloomsday organizer’s Friday statement that there 44,800 registered and an expectation of an additional 1,500 registrants before race start. This estimate is inline with recent years where 91% of those registered, finished.



KHQ TV has a history of vastly over stating the number of participants. Once again, KHQ claims that there were 60,000+ participants:


Past charts on Bloomsday – with more links are here.

STA Proposition 1 promoters say tax will benefit Puget Sound transit!

We cannot make this stuff up – right there on their web site it says:

  • A “Yes” vote on Proposition 1 will reduce “the operating costs of Sound Transit Authority“.
  • “A “Yes” vote for increased funding for Sound Transit Authority means more than 1,000 new jobs for Spokane County.”

Here is a screen capture of their web page – click for full size view.


Guess they copied old campaign literature from Sound Transit, an organization that was officially known as Regional Transit Authority but began using the name “Sound Transit” in 1997 (not Sound Transit Authority).

STA plans to purchase the Tesla of buses: Have we forgotten the STA’s hybrid bus boondoggle (or this)? Apparently.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking expansions and improvements in public transit. But with this history of goof ups and waste, should STA be trusted?


EXCLUSIVE: Spokane Public Facilities District (PFD) Attendance Trend through 2013

The Spokane Public Facilities District (PFD) operates the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, the Spokane Convention Center and the Spokane INB Performing Arts Center.

Attendance (usage) trend through end of 2013 for all PFD facilities, combined:


Based on the following trend line,  the INB will close in 2025 when it is no longer in use:


Convention Center attendance less than 2001

The third expansion project is nearly done – considering attendance is less than 2001, a year-over-year increase should not be difficult to achieve in 2014 or 2015.


Spokane Arena Saw a 10% increase Y-o-Y

Without the Arena, the PFD’s total attendance would have sunk further in 2013. The two spikes are the years that the U.S. Figure Skating Championships were held in Spokane. The PFD produced and released economic studies based on exactly those two years and forecast future economic benefits to Spokane would be identical to those atypical years.

Even with gains in 2013, attendance in 2013 remains less than in 1999.


The Spokane Chiefs and the Spokane Shock accounted for more than half of total Arena attendance in 2012. The new 2014 WSU-GU basketball game may help the Arena see better usage.

The above attendance trend charts have never appeared in Spokane media. The attendance charts do not appear on the PFD’s web sites. (Similarly, Spokane Airports has a nice redesign of their web site – but it appears they have removed their passenger usage information. The data is available, with a bit of work, from the FAA and BTS.)

The long term trends illustrate a root cause problem for all of Spokane – the lack of accountability and the failure to hold management (not just a problem at the PFD but at other organizations’ too) accountable for obvious measures of project success or failure.

With the abysmal performance and track record shown in the charts, why do we still have a CEO for life of the PFD? Or CEOs for life at other local organizations that fail to meet milestones and objectives?

Update: That question can now be answered: Because the Spokesman-Review’s owners own a big section of downtown Spokane and the newspaper has launched an all out propaganda war, running repeated stories about how wonderful the Convention Center expansion is for Spokane. The paper has made a mockery of itself with over the top propaganda to benefit the PFD and the downtown business cartel.


All data came from EWU Community Indicators of Spokane and Spokane PFD web site documents. 

Data sources and Alternate Data Confirmation follows.

Read more of this post

“The X Report”

A review of some “big picture” economic indicators for the Spokane area.

Spokane Airport passenger usage remains weak – now less than in 1995.

chart_1 (1)

We call this “growth”, of course. (See the Comments to this post to see how a rise in passenger use was called a positive economic indicator by local promoters in 2001, 2005 and 2006 but when passenger levels declined they now pretend passenger usage no longer matters. Right.)

Felts Field air operations fell off a cliff:

chart_2 (2)

Total air operations in the area have collapsed (but local political leaders refer to this as “continued growth of aviation!” – may be if we turn the chart upside down!)

CombinedSIAFeltsAllOps-3Non-stop year-round destination cities have declined from 18 to 11 (including the subsidized daily flight to Los Angeles).

The rate of growth in jobs (for the entire County) has slowed. The area is no longer producing jobs at the same rate as natural population growth (from births and inbound migration, over time). That means the population is getting larger but the number of jobs is not keeping up. Here’s a chart highlighting the slow down in job growth:


Spokane County non-farm jobs trend – mostly flat since 1998.


City of Spokane jobs have been going down for about two decades – there is no increase in net jobs since the mid 1990s.

Can you spot the increase in jobs created by the Convention Center expansions? The total number of jobs in the City of Spokane has continued to fall, even after passing their expansion initiatives. (Chart from US BLS, updated to early 2014.) The City of Spokane has flat lined. 


Unfortunately, Spokane was ranked as the worst metro area out of 100 for job growth in a 2012 poll.

While the United States has recovered nearly all jobs lost since the 2008 downturn, and Washington State has recovered more than all the jobs lost since the downturn, Spokane County has recovered about half the jobs lost. Here are the charts for the U.S. as a whole, the State of Washington, and then Spokane County.

(At the end of 2014, there are some indications that the US economy may be headed into a slowdown. If this happens, the effects on Spokane would be bad, very bad, as Spokane has not yet fully recovered from the 2008 downturn.) (deleted as the economic situation seems to have stabilized since that was written)


  • US jobs regained – about 100%
  • WA jobs regained – more than 100%
  • Spokane County jobs regained: 52% using seasonally adjusted totals, or 44% using non seasonally adjusted data

United States

(From US BLS)


Washington State


Spokane County


Median Family Income Compared to Other Washington Cities

Spokane’s economic situation is not good: Spokane ranks 53d out of 59 Washington cities for median family income

Spokane’s Housing Stock is Old – Highlighting the Limited Economic Growth in the Area

Growing cities, with growing economies, show newer housing – Spokane has a stock of old housing, indicating low growth. The boom years are obvious in this chart – 20% of homes here were built in 1900-1919 (mining boom), and 31% in 1940-1959  (aluminum processing boom, post World War II growth of families):


Here is a typical growing city housing age pattern (in this example, Olympia, WA) – in a modern, growing city, you can see that more homes are built to meet the demand of contemporary growth.


Spokane has essentially no growth and hence, very little new home construction compared to thriving cities. More example cities are here.

Home Sales

Chart of the number of home sales from 2000 to 2014 (only through spring as this chart is slightly out of date):

image The original chart for the above (from used a logarithmic scale for the Y-Axis which makes the peaks and valleys nearly flat.  A software tool was used to convert the log scale chart into a linearly scaled Y-Axis to show the trend in a format that most readers understand.

The next chart shows that median sales prices are basically flat since 2006.


Income and spending lag:

This chart shows how taxable spending per household has trended downwards in the past decade. The data for this chart is based on retail sales taxes collected through 2011. Since then (not shown in chart), retails sales have begun to grow again.

The blue line shows real median household income while the red line is an indicator of spending per household.


Per Capita Income Trend Is Downwards

This chart has not been updated since 2008 but per WSU’s CORE research report, current per capita income is at 2007 levels. Per capita income is continuing to sink over the long term, relative to elsewhere. The lines in this chart indicate Spokane per capita income as a percent of the average per capita income in the state of Washington (red) and the U.S. as a whole (blue). Over time, the per capita income in Spokane, relative to everywhere else, goes down. Note that GSI will be happy to show you a chart of rising per capita income in the area – their chart is true too. But the problem is that Spokane incomes rise much slower than elsewhere such that over time, Spokane residents fall further and further behind the rest of the state and the country.

The Spokane County GDP per capita is unchanged from 2001 through 2011 (see bottom line in chart) – in other worlds, flat lined, like Convention Center attendance (well, not quite the same – the PFD’s facility usage actually went down over this period):


A chart of pay in Spokane County versus King County

Attracting high skilled talent for high paying job categories is tough due to the large difference in pay between Spokane and the other big city in Washington:


The next chart has not been updated but the trend remains the same today. Incomes in the rest of the state climb twice as fast as those in Spokane.  The blue line represents the rate of increase in Washington State; the red line is the rate of increase in Spokane County. Over 30 years, Spokane pay is falling further and further behind the rest of the state.


Transfer payments are now about 23% of area personal income.

Transfer payments are primarily Federal payments made without a contemporary service or product delivered in return. Examples include disability payments, unemployment compensation, Medicare/Medicaid payments, government pensions and other government benefit programs. In other words, almost $1 out of every $4 here is government payouts, not earnings from contemporary work. The problem is not that there are transfer payments – the problem is that the steady growth in transfer payments is not sustainable.

Spokane’s Heavily Subsidized Economy

The primary purpose of the Spokane Public Facilities District, like nearly all municipal convention centers, is to provide a tax subsidy to the local hotel and restaurant industry. This use of publicly funded convention centers as a hidden subsidy of local hotels is widely documented in the convention center industry literature. In Spokane, it is codified – one member of the five member Board of the Spokane PFD is required to be someone working in the hotel industry. There is no requirement that, say, the PFD Board include a member of the general public to represent the interests of Spokane residents and taxpayers (the peons do not rank in this community).

The long vacant Ridpath Hotel may get re-opened and turned into downtown condos some day. But only with substantial tax subsides. About 1/4th of the cost is proposed to be funded by tax credits issued after declaring the not very old hotel as a historic building.  The city is also proposing to give Federal Housing and Urban Development grants to the developer. More taxpayer subsidies for downtown.

The proposed Spokane Field House in downtown is an extension of the PFD’s subsidy program to local hotels. Taxpayers will fund a downtown sports complex with the goal of bringing in some outside visitors to fill downtown hotels and restaurants. This is an indirect subsidy to Walt Worthy’s “convention center” hotel across the street.

Indeed, the PFD’s own economic study shows who actually benefits – and its hotels and restaurants:


The sad thing about all these subsidies to the hotel industry is that they do not actually work.

Here is a chart of hospitality industry jobs in Spokane County.  After THREE expansions of the Convention Center, we have fewer jobs in the hotel industry than we did in 1999 when we first began expanding the Convention Center!

Hospitality industry employment chart from the US BLS from 1993 to 2014:


The downtown meme of ever expanding public facilities and more subsidies turns out not to have met the original claims for increasing jobs. Today we have fewer hotel jobs and fewer overall jobs in the City of Spokane than before the expansion. Expanding the Convention Center has resulted in FEWER JOBS.

Nothing happens in Spokane unless the local oligarchs are subsidized by the taxpayers. This is a form of transfer payments from poor people to developers.

Now we hang our hat on future medical school with an exaggerated economic benefit calculation  (local promoters nationwide engage in absurd and inflated exaggerations of all economic studies – most of these studies are not worth the digital ink they’ve spilled – same for Spokane). And of course, salvation will come with a heated pedestrian bike bridge!

Spokane needs real industry, designing and building products. From insect traps to pharmaceutical manufacturing to perhaps restoration of the lost high tech manufacturing sector, these are the sectors that generate real growth and jobs. But we just keep subsidizing downtown businesses that fail to deliver on their promises. Always have, and always will. Consequently, Spokane is going no where – the trends all remain negative (see charts above).

The Primary Economic Cluster in Spokane is Land Development

The primary economic cluster of Spokane is manipulating government so land speculators can profit. Here is a quote from Bob Herold of the Inlander:

“Well, I’ve learned that in Spokane, economic development most often begins and ends with making a profit off land speculation. It’s a cultural thing, and government’s job here is to help make the speculation pay off.”

And this business model works well for those who have influence. The largest media operator is one of the largest landowners in the region and has a long history of using their media influence to push government programs that benefit the owners (see The Fancher Report, the non-fiction novel Breaking Blue, or this blog for examples).

Contemporary examples include:  repeated Convention Center expansions (and their inability to meet any objectives) the “grand iconic unique in the world (except its notheated pedestrian/bike bridge, a proposed downtown “trolley” to benefit downtown, the “growing University District” (whose numbers show no growth) and the past and future for a light rail line that passes by the oligarchs’ properties runs from the underused airport to downtown and then to Liberty Lake (remember the two votes on that last decade?)

Update: Another economic cluster is government funded torture research hidden away in our small town. It’s a big industry in Spokane. Really big.


We cannot draw an accurate long term crime trend chart because of changes made in the reporting system last decade that resulted in a drop in crime reports. We’ll leave this topic with this chart – in 2011 and 2010, the auto theft rate in Spokane was the 4th highest in the nation but dropped in 2012 to 9th place:



A related crime problem is the culture and general corruption of the police in Spokane.  A week hardly goes by without yet another police scandal – from having sex on duty to running steroids and drugs to shooting people in the back of the head to killing Otto Zehm. This is likely a symptom of the difficulty in attracting high quality, high performing individuals to Spokane. And that is not just a police problem but one that impacts a wide swath of organizations both public and private.

We end up with local organizations having the same leadership for a quarter century, a sure sign of stagnation. From head dog catcher to GSI to the PFD to the STA -while some organizations are effective, some are not – yet their leadership is held on forever. There is no accountability for the PFD’s failure (by the core metrics of attendees and local jobs) or GSI’s long term ineffectiveness (as seen in the overall local economy numbers).

Bad leaders come to Spokane to retire on the job. And no one cares. In fact, one Washington State labor economist concluded that Spokane attracts unemployed people 🙂

Mental Health

Youth suicide rate is 4 to 6 times greater than the State of Washington and Washington’s suicide rate is higher than the national rate.


How Bad is the Suicide Rate?

(There are counties, especially with high populations of native American populations living in poverty, such as in Alaska, where the suicide rates are much higher.)

Update July 5, 2018

Spokane depression rate higher than state, national averages according to a study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

For each successful suicide, there are 7 hospitalizations for attempted suicides, and 15 ER visits for suicide. There are even more cases of depression that result in 9-1-1 calls to the police (but which do not end up in an ER), and even more cases than that of people who never seek help. (Also see these youth suicide statistics). Multiplying that times the rates in the chart above yields a staggering number of severely depressed people in the area. Throw in the reports of bodies turning up in parks and rivers and you get the picture.

Nearby Kootenai County, Idaho has the 2nd highest rate of suicide in Idaho.

The Spokane Regional Health District says health is an indicator of the economy. This is an indicator of despair and hopelessness. And its off the radar as recommendations for reporters discourage reporting of suicides.

Related to the above, the annual days of sunshine in Spokane is on par with Seattle. But don’t tell that to the Spokane Visitors Bureau which believes Spokane has 260 days of clear skies per year!

Telling Outright Lies is the Local Pastime

A selection of prominent lies and the liars who tell them is listed here.

The basic culture of Spokane seems to be based on lies and deceit, causing the area to repeatedly earn a designation as the Scam and Fraud Capitol of America.

The Problem is Ignorance 

The long term trend in the Spokane area economy has been poor – its been treading water for 15 years.

In spite of much media PR puffery, people have a sense that things are bad. And the data confirm it is a bad situation.

Much of the local media act as cheerleaders, engage in “errors of omission” (a method of telling a lie which fits right into the local culture), and hide poor performance of elected and non-elected leaders. Failed leaders are not held accountable – instead, long term declining attendance at Spokane Public Facilities District is defended and actively covered up by the local newspaper. A decline in airport usage is called “continued growth” – and not one person in Spokane’s media even bats an eye at the egregious lie.  Visit Spokane claims it is nearly always clear and sunny in Spokane. A local promoter misquotes a tech industry publication to falsely claim Spokane is a high tech hot spot (when the publication actually said Spokane is NOT a high tech hot spot).

To this day, the Spokesman-Review is pained to present data in easy to understand charts, even when the State provides the charts for free. For example, here is the September 2014 employment chart and here is how they babbled on about this in words:


The chart cannot be spun – Spokane has recovered about half of the jobs lost in the economic downturn while the State and the nation have recovered more than 100%. By hiding this from readers and viewers, Spokane’s local media censors the news through “lying by omission”.  Except for The Inlander, perhaps. (Note – former SR staffer Ryan Pitts left the SR to work on CensusReporter, a tool to make it easy for reporters to obtain Census data in easy to read charts. Tools exist. It’s not hard to illustrate stores with charts. But its hard to spin actual data.)

The outright lies and exaggerations are non-stop – hence, Spokane remains the scam and fraud capitol of America – but the zero credibility local media itself is complicit in re-telling and defending the lies (follow the links on this blog to see specific examples of the local media’s participation).

When land speculation is one of the top 3 industry clusters and the media is conflicted with land ownership and development,  reporting is warped.

The public has been intentionally kept in the dark as to the true state of Spokane – but many have seen these issues for a long time. Out of town visitors arrive and often the first thing they say is “Spokane looks like a run down dump” (check out the weeds growing out of the streets and sidewalks in August and you can see why).

This blog shed a light on the truth that has been hidden from the public – by showing the actual data, in simple to read charts, that directly contradict the local memes. Data is the enemy of propagandists in the local media.

The X Report

This site will remain on line as “The X Report“, just as “The Fancher Report” (summary here) lives on today, or how local corruption is documented in “Breaking Blue” or at Camus Magazine and other web sites.  It is no longer safe to publish skeptical inquiry on the Internet.

Before I moved to Spokane, an old friend who grew up here said, “X, Spokane is just a small town. Only bigger.”

Was not sure what he meant back then – but now I know: And he was right!

Nothing has changed in decades. Three decades of economic studies reached identical conclusions and were filed on dusty shelves never to be looked at again. Spokane remains behind the times, never reaching up to its potential as the 2nd largest city in Washington – but always hoping for an external savior (the current meme is the medical school brouhaha) to drop in and save the day. Before that it was regional health care. Before that Spokane was going to be an information technology center on par with Austin, Texas or may be even Silicon Valley. Before that it was going to be a manufacturing mecca. So we come up with an incoherent cluster strategy for economic growth.

But nothing has fundamentally changed. At this point, its down to more land speculation and more transfers to the oligarchs who will bleed the cash cow dry as long as they can keep it bleeding. And not one god damned local politician gives a hoot at the obvious decay and decline – they just continue to play along to earn bennies for themselves.

And because of that, this might be the very last post on this blog. The web site will stay online and be known as “The X Report”.


This blog is taking a break. No idea if it will return. Hard to imagine but 1/4th of all the posts made on this web site were never published! There are nearly 200 posts sitting in draft form 🙂 They were not published for many reasons including timeliness (the information was useful for a limited time), insufficient time to complete the post, insufficient data, or for a few I feared I would be run out of town if I let them fly. Ouch!

Spokane Employment and Unemployment data

(This was first published on Dec 15, 2014, but later moved out of sequence, to this location on the blog.)

Spokane County total non-farm employment, as reported by the Washington ESD:



Chart 1

Total non-farm employment, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:


 Chart 2

The Washington ESD data is said to come from the BLS. However, a close inspection reveals a difference in the most recent data. By taking the WA ESD data and then subtracting the BLS data, we create a new table showing the difference in the values:


Table 1

As shown in the table, starting in late 2013, Washington ESD adjusts the BLS data upwards. In 2014, the total non-farm employment count has been adjusted upwards. There may be valid reasons for these adjustments but no explanation is provided.

We next compare the counts released of past years, as reported in 2013, to the count of past  years, as reported this month in 2014. Here is June 2013 report:


Chart 3

Look at the January row in Chart 1, above, and compare the values to the January row in Chart 3.  Specifically, look at January 2009:

  • In 2013, ESD reported January 2009 employment of 210,800.
  • In 2014, ESD reported January 2009 employment of 213,900.

The employment numbers are estimates – not an actual count and there is an associated error range or confidence interval about the estimate. Based on the later revisions, it seems this estimate is about + / – 1.5 percentile points from later revisions. That is wide confidence interval.

This blog presents the WA ESD charts and data but has previously seen unexplained revisions in even the current monthly report. For that reason, the BLS data series is preferred.


Moody’s ranks Spokane #289 (4th quintile) for employment growth and identifies these Strengths and Weaknesses:


  • Low cost of doing business, especially office rents and energy.
  • Large healthcare industry provides stability.


  • Dearth of high-wage, export-oriented industries.
  • Incomes are further below the national average than living costs.
  • Little exposure to aerospace manufacturing and few avenues to capitalize on growth elsewhere in Washington.

Hmmm … that must be in error because Greater Spokane says:

Our region’s Aerospace industry is soaring to new heights with area businesses taking full advantage of the need for new and efficient aircraft. Worldwide, the Aerospace industry is booming with innovation, new products and increased competition.

Spokane and the Inland Northwest are home to more than 120 manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and organizations related to the worldwide aerospace industry. With a diversified product and service base, Spokane businesses are landing dozens of contracts each year.

Actually, this is probably an indicator that Spokane’s leading export commodity is, unfortunately, bull shit. By the ship load.

Meanwhile, Spokane Rock Products laid off a big chunk of their asphalt paving division – read the comments to the news report (in Spokane, the comments frequently explain the real story). Far less housing construction means less road paving and fewer workers needed.

Visit Spokane and KXLY get punked

(Update: this post was originally posted on Dec 12 but the date was later set to Oct 1 to move it “out of order” in the list of posts to appear below “The X Report” post.)

TheChive list identifies Spokane as one of U.S. most underrated cities | Spokane/E. WA –  (screen snap shot)

Visit Spokane President says:

“What’s nice is underrated for us in our vernacular for us is undiscovered, so to have someone say, ‘You need to give them a look. They’re worth it’ Awesome! We love it,” Visit Spokane President Cheryl Kilday said.

Visit Spokane just got punked.

TheChive spreads viral photos, videos, and Internet memes, including hoaxes, with an emphasis on young female bodies. Here is a snapshot of their main page:


TheChive’s sidebar (oh, it gets better further down their page):


Why not check out the full list of hot girls?  More cleavage should push KXLY’s ratings up a bit!

Or may be this entire section of TheChive – devoted to “GIRLS CATEGORIES“:


Among the skimpy non-objective criteria are that Spokane has lots of beer and “alcoholic beverages”.

KXLY thinks the above is news you-need-to-know while they black out real news about local boobs.


Visit Spokane is proud of this endorsement from TheChive!

Visit Spokane, is the Convention Center sales department, and lies about Spokane weather too. There is more nonsense on their web site – like claiming 8 airlines serve Spokane while the airport itself counts 6. Granted, they are sales idiots but the on going lies are a little thick.

The above screen captures from TheChive are reproduced here under a Fair Use claim for the purpose of critique and commentary. This post will be moved out of the #1 post spot later.

Spokane Convention Center charges a fee to watch the 4th of July Fireworks

Riverfront Park fireworks display organizers charge to watch from PFD steps.

This is new

Organizers charged people who wanted to sit on the stairs behind the convention center.   It cost $5 to $10 for a seat on the stairs. It cost $20 for seats on the dock.


All of the money from the tickets goes to the convention center.

The most likely reason for the new fee is to inflate the attendance count at the underused Convention Center. You can be sure that those who paid the new fee will be counted as Convention Center attendees. In spite of 3 expansions, the facilities continue to have fewer attendees than they did 15 years ago.

New online game – spot the Spokane Convention Center expansion bump in local employment!

The Spokane Convention Center is building its 3rd expansion since the year 2000.

They promised us more jobs – can you spot the jobs increase in the City of Spokane?

Total jobs in the City of Spokane are now less than in 1996  (data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics):LAUCT536700000000005_742370_1398301192417

Good thing Spokane has such a booming economy with huge job growth typical of the State!  Oh wait, its once fast growing job market collapsed and has since flat lined.

Of course, they also promised more jobs and more visitors. Surely this shows up in the hotel industry employment, as a great proxy for visitors to Spokane? After all 54% of all money spent by convention center visitors, they say, goes to the hotel industry.

Hospitality (hotels) industry employment in the City of Spokane since 1993 (data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics):


Just eyeballing the chart the low point is about the high point in 1997. Hmmmm.

Well, at least they have increasing attendance at the PFD facilities, thanks to all those expansion projects!

The Spokesman-Review says the PFD is awesome and doing fantastic!  And we all know everything the Spokesman-Review publishes is highly accurate, never spun as a propaganda – of course!


Okay, so all those visitors are not hiding out at the Convention Center. Where could they possibly be?

They said expansion would produce more visitors so the airport surely shows lots more passengers?

SIA Jun 2013


Sure is a mystery to us. They promised more jobs and more visitors. They must be hiding here somewhere. May be selling prostitution on East Sprague or door-to-door meth sales?

They could not possibly have lied to us, could they? Could they? …

I know, let’s build a Spokane Field House downtown because that will surely increase visitors and jobs! Then add a heated pedestrian/bike bridge. But why stop there? Let’s build a downtown trolley! And then light rail to the airport! 

But whatever we do, don’t let the Spokane Indians build a casino/shopping/entertainment/convention center complex because the Spokane area doesn’t need more jobs. And besides, it would compete with the downtown business cartel. Oops. We were not supposed to say that.

Related: All those self promotion programs to attract tourists dollars  look to be a fraud too.

Keywords: Bloomsday Run, Lilac Festival, Parade, Marching Bands, Floats, Walk

Spokane Propaganda-Style

After an officer involved shooting, we should wait for the results of the investigation before passing judgement. 

Recently, an officer involved shooting took place in Spokane Valley. Sadly, it appeared to be “suicide by cop” by a heavily armed individual who had telephoned 9-1-1 with his intentions. Not much controversy there. We all have sympathy for the victim, the victim’s families, the deputies and their families. This must be awful for all involved.

Days after a shooting, law enforcement issues a press release with the names of the officers or deputies. These releases routinely list the training, commendations and awards, and sometimes past work experience of those involved.

Here’s the text of a local law enforcement press release – there is something odd here – see if you can spot which”one of these doesn’t go with the others”:

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is releasing the names of the deputies involved in the shooting incident that occurred at Sullivan and Indiana the night of February 11, 2014.

Deputy Brett Hubbell-14 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and SWAT Team Leader

Received a Certificate of Appreciation in 2010 for his professional work with a bank robbery investigation Sheriff’s Office Patrol Procedures lead instructor He’s received over 10 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism. 3 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Jeff Thurman- 12 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and K9 handler with Laslo

Emergency Vehicle Operations and Control (EVOC) Lead Instructor and Subject Matter Expert for Pursuit Review Sheriff’s Office Field Training Officer Patrol Procedures Instructor Chief Tactical Flight Officer for SCSO Air 1 Received the 2013 National Tactical Flight Officer of the Year Award by the Airborne Law Enforcement Association Received a Certificate of Appreciation in 2010 for his professionalism and patience Received Certificates of Commendation in 2011 and 2012 for his excellent work. He’s received over 15 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism 6 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Dale Moyer-7 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and SWAT Team member

In 2011 he received the Sheriff’s Star Award for his excellent work and professionalism. Sheriff’s Office SWAT and Patrol Procedures Instructor He’s received 3 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism. 12 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO Received a Life Saving Award for helping a suicidal female in Kootenai County Previous law enforcement instructor at North Idaho College Joint Agency Drug Task Force detective, Field Training Officer, Patrol Procedures Instructor and Citizens on Patrol Instructor for Kootenai County Veteran-U.S Army Active Duty/Reserve

Deputy Ryan Walter-7 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and SWAT Team member

He’s received over 10 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism 2 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Brian Hirzel-5 year Sheriff’s Office veteran

17 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Randy Watts has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 10 months

Prior to joining SCSO, he served in the U.S. Navy Helicopter Systems Operator-Search and Rescue Swimmer Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) instructor with the Join Personnel Recover Agency

The SIRR Team’s investigation of the incident is ongoing. No additional information is available at this time.

Did you spot the single line on Deputy Brian Hirzel? That is odd for a deputy that has his very own topic page at the local newspaper!

From public records, Deputy Hirzel has been involved in three officer involved killings (2 by gun fire, one by hand). While the investigating agency announced he would be interviewed 3 days after the Creach shooting, the deputy was on vacation to Las Vegas, one of many factors that created controversy and cynicism.  There is a Mr. Hirzel that is also founder and principle investigator at Critical Investigations, LLC, a private investigation service in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (See additional footnote below as the web site appears to have been taken offline after this post).

Another of the deputies was involved in a previous shooting too, and this is not mentioned.

The Spokesman-Review read their own archives and pulled up the missing details.

Leaving out inconvenient detail is called “lying by omission. No one actually lied, no one said anything that was not true. But the intent is to influence by giving part of the story in a way to intentionally misrepresent- in other words, it is propaganda. The recent news story about the Spokane Arena left out the most important metric of all – the long term downward attendance trend and that attendance for 2012 is almost 1/3 less than the peak.  Dissembling is where true facts are presented in a way or in an ordering intended to lead one to an untruthful conclusion and is a common method used in propaganda.

This is what we call  Spokane Propaganda-Style!

This blog post is not about the officers involved or whether the shooting was justified or not – this story is about Spokane Propaganda-Style. Propaganda leads directly to cynicism and a loss of trust in local institutions and leaders. 


Footnote update:

Just wanted to clarify that we did not haphazardly link to a random web site.

 Deputy Hirzel’s LinkedIn page has a link on it to the Critical Investigations web site – see “Websites Company Website“. Portions of Deputy Hirzel’s LinkedIn page have almost identical wording to that used on the Critical Investigations web site.   The Critical Investigations web site appears to have been taken offline after this post was made here on this blog.  

An Internet Archive copy of the page is here

Screen shot of the main page is here: image capture

Spokane’s Potemkin Village Marketing Program

Years ago some one told me the Spokane Visitors Bureau put together a special map to avoid showing key visitors the run down appearance of much of Spokane. I thought he was joking.

He wasn’t joking – the map is for real and it’s called “Spokane City Drive“. The map weaves a path around the problems, potholes and empty buildings:

“We’re really concentrating, though, on how we pick the routes that we take them,” Kilday said. “Because there are days that traffic or construction or potholes all play a part into what we’re showing a meeting planner.”

Spokane develops strategy to sell itself to big conventions | Spokane.

In the future they will show off the heated pedestrian/bike bridge as the centerpiece of Spokane’s economic prosperity and city of the future!

Because the link to the VisitSpokane’s City Drive map sure as hell goes no where (its’a dead link – ain’t our marketing grand?)

LaunchPad INW Weekly Newsletter on local innovation and entrepreneurship

Check out LaunchPad INW – the original, local social networking (and in person networking) group has transitioned to a weekly newsletter sharing information on local innovation and entrepreneurship activities.

To learn more, read “Welcome to LaunchPad“.

Hoopfest’s Social Media Ambassadors

This year, Hoopfest features a new online presence with two social media ambassadors. They seem to be everywhere at Hoopfest 🙂

Erica is a recent WSU advertising graduate who now works in Los Angeles.  Amanda is a recent Ohio State economics graduate and is working in Colorado. She is known locally for her participation in the 2012 Olympics in the sharp shooting competition.

Both are accomplished young people and worthy of our admiration. But both left Spokane. Outsourcing our local promotional efforts to ex-residents who now live out of state might not be sending the right message!

Why do so many accomplished young people leave town for better opportunities?

Hoopfest economic impact

Promoters say 250,000 people will bring $38 million to Spokane: Hoopnomics: Hoopfest’s multi-million dollar impact on Spokane | Spokane/E. WA –

Where did the 250,000 estimate come from? A survey done in 2006.  Information on the survey is not available but some background information was referenced in a book, a portion of which is indexed by Google.

38 million divided by 250,000 is $152 per person being spent. The organizers assume half (125,000) are from out of town based on the 2006 survey. The survey did not distinguish between this estimated spending and spending that would have happened anyway:

The study did not account for the economic activities that may or may not have taken place in the absence of Hoopfest.

What that means: if a local participant spent some money on Hoopfest weekend, it is money they likely would have spent on something else. We end up with a transfer of spending from say, the Valley Mall or a movie theater, to a restaurant downtown. The overall impact to the local area is unchanged. Spending was shifted from beneficiaries in Spokane Valley to downtown Spokane. The net economic impact is zero.

There are also non-economic impacts including having fun and community pride in hosting a large event.

Here is a comparison to Bloomsday – the majority of Bloomsday participants are local or regional. Obviously, both events have economic benefits but the benefits are likely less than the headline numbers presented by promoters and unquestionably repeated by the media.


Casino had no impact on Air Force tanker decision

From Daniel Walters at the comes this report:

Some continued to speculate about encroachment issues. “It would be very helpful to know whether the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino figured in the decision, if only to put the issue to rest for good,” the Spokesman-Review wrote in an editorial last week.

The answer is: No, the casino didn’t come into play.

“The proposed multi-use facility near Fairchild AFB was not considered in the decision process,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek says in a statement. While the Air Force assessed existing encroachment at Fairchild — like the mobile home park in the base’s crash zone — it was never a “key finding or a major consideration.” In fact, in the initial criteria used to select candidates for the tankers, encroachment was worth only a measly two points out of 100.

via Flight Diverted.

The Inlander provides journalism you will not find anywhere else in Spokane. Check them out.

The casino and encroachment argument  appears to have been about reducing competition for the Northern Quest Casino and the Downtown Business Partnership, as many suggested. Go here and page down to “The Proposed Spokane Tribe Casino, Hotel and Convention Facility” to better understand how the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino is a competitive threat to NQC and downtown Spokane.

2013 Spokane Bloomsday Run Total Participants and Historical Trend

(5/6/2013 Watch for a newer version of this coming out soon – with more interesting facts and charts!)

2013 Spokane Bloomsday Running Race Event

As of May 4th, the Spokesman-Review reports an estimate of 51,000 registrations expected. On May 5th, KREM reports 48,000 registrations.

On April 29th and again on April 30th,KHQ reported over 60,000 people would finish the race, which has never happened in the event’s history and considering the trend, seems unlikely.

In the chart below, 2013 is estimated at 51,000 per the Spokesman-Review and the number of finishers is estimated based on the ratio of completions in 2012. This chart will be updated when final numbers are available.

Update: Final number of registrations came in at 51,950. Based on that, I estimate 46,930 finishers. 

Nice shirts 🙂

chart_1Not to be out done by KHQ making up the 60,000 finishers number, KXLY falsely reports “Bloomsday 2013, as is the case with years past, is bigger and better than ever“.

Perhaps better but definitely not bigger!

Annual Days of Sunshine in Spokane

The weather this spring is awesome, isn’t it?

But how does Spokane’s weather stand up, by the numbers?

Annual Days of Sunshine in Washington – Current Results.

Spokane’s days of sunshine per year (on average) is surprisingly similar to Seattle. Not what many of us might have expected.

For Washington:

Some how, Spokane PR has converted 174 days into 260 days of sunshine, which is not true. (Update July 2018: Cities all across the U.S. claim they have “300+” days of sunshine-but it is completely bogus. Long ago, someone measured the number of days in which the sun shone for at least one minute. Yes, one minute. If there was a brief bit of sunlight on an otherwise cold and snowy day, that got counted as a “day of sunshine”. The metric is bogus and useless – yet visitor bureaus and local chamber of commerce groups routinely promote their city as having “300+” days of sunshine. Spokane manages to only rank 260 days with at least one minute of sunshine, however.)

For Oregon:

For Idaho:

How are those weather terms defined?

  • If the sun shines for 70% of the day time or more, its a “Sunny” day.
  • If the sun shines for between 21% and 69% of the day, its “Partly Sunny or Partly Cloudy” day. What’s the difference? The sun doesn’t shine at night so we call it “Partly cloudy”.
  • If the sun shines for less than 20% of the day, its “Cloudy”.

Spokane Area Economic Update Charts

(Update: By request I have turned comments back on for some recent posts. They were turned off, mostly, a year ago, since I spend little time on the blog now, and comments require monitoring. Hope that helps and thank you for your suggestions, ideas and corrections.)

The State’s “adjusted” employment data for Spokane County (thru November 2012) shows an upward spike:


The US government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics “raw” data for Spokane County  (through November) shows a subdued seasonal rise in jobs. (Data is from the US BLS “One Screen” database). In a traditional post recession recovery, we should be seeing a job growth rate similar to how it was before the recession took hold (pre-2008).


Hospital, Manufacturing, Education, Convention Center Attendance and More, after the break …

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Spokane Convention Center Expansion by the Numbers

Update April 4, 2012:

Update June 26, 2012:

Update January 2013:

The following chart was discovered at the EWU Community Indicators of Spokane web site. As you can see, the national skating championships created a spike in attendance at the arena. Since then, attendance appears to be at or below levels seen in 1999 levels. This chart should have been available to voters in April 2012 to help them evaluate the bond initiative.



The rest of the story … Read more of this post