Editorial Comment: Spokane should oppose coal trains

Coal trains would bring pollution and congestion through the inland Northwest en route to ports on the coast of the Pacific Ocean with no direct benefit to us. (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

The #spokanerising Project opposes plans to increase coal shipments through the inland Northwest. Such shipments, estimated at 18 additional trains daily to supply the Gateway Pacific Terminal alone, would harm our neighborhoods and threaten our neighborhood vitality. Collectively, the coal conglomerates want to ship an additional 150 million tons of coal every year to China and other developing Asian nations. That’s enough to fill 10,000 more trains every year, and most of them would roll through Spokane’s neighborhoods and its downtown.

Spokane should be the epicenter of this debate. As the largest inland city on the route from the Powder River Basin to the coast, we stand to lose the most from the export proposals. Think about the impact of 18+ additional trains at Witter Aquatics Center, located across the street from Avista Utilities at Perry and Mission. Think about the impact of 18+ additional trains on the burgeoning University District, set to be a full-scale medical and graduate school. Think about the impact of 18+ additional trains downtown, where Expo 74 promised to clean up a dirty, seedy central business district–and then delivered. Who’s going to want to develop in neighborhoods like that? Who’s going to want to increase neighborhood vitality in a neighborhood where trains diminish property values and destroy quality of life? Coal trains are antithetical to increased positive development.

We learned a lot from Expo, but if these coal export proposals are developed, then we risk going back on the commitments and the changes that we made. We risk going back to before 1974. And that’s not a risk that we should be taking.

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Good News: Egnyte opens Spokane-area office

Egnyte is a cloud data services firm offering their product primarily to business customers, including such conglomerates as Home Depot and Ikea.

A Silicon Valley cloud computing and data services firm with $30 million in VC funding has opened a Spokane-area office. In a significant expansion, one of only two United States locations outside of Mountain View where Egnyte has chosen to locate an office (they have offices in the U.K. and Poland). And while the location unfortunately is not in the central business district (it’s at the Pring Center at 15404 E. Springfield in Spokane Valley), it still represents a move in the right direction in terms of attracting technology firms and engineers in order to solve our current deficit of young urban professionals. Hopefully this expansion starts a trend of tech companies forgoing growth in expensive areas like Seattle and Denver in favor of smaller cities like Spokane that offer arguably more value.

If you happen to be seeking a job and are involved in sales, Egnyte is currently hiring for this new Spokane Valley office. Two positions, a Salesforce.com Developer/Admin and an Account Manager, are open, and you can apply online.

Which other technology firms would you like to see open offices in the Spokane area?

Shame on you, KHQ

A recognizable voice takes on a hostile inflection. Provocative questions are raised as questions appear on-screen. “More state funding is needed…but at what cost? And why does Spokane need this when STA routes are already in place?”

Barring the fallacious nature of that question (Who or what gives KHQ the authority to say that STA has sufficient route coverage? Isn’t that for STA and urban planners to decide?), it is clear the KHQ has overstepped its bounds with the promotion of this story. The role of the news media is to inform the public; not inform the public opinion. By taking a clearly anti-trolleybus stance in the run-up to Thursday, the station has chosen to pass judgment and deliberately influence the opinions of citizens. But their role as a news agency is not to tell viewers what is right or wrong. It is to tell viewers, clearly and precisely, the news. And only the news. Their job is to report, not to reflect.

Now, even if their main story finds that the trolleybus proposal is a good one that should be funded, a majority of their viewers, who do not watch KHQ Local News but do turn in for NBC primetime, will be under the impression that the plan is a bad one that should be tossed out. Simply because the promotional said as much.

We decry this shoddy communications tactic, and urge KHQ to make a full apology, post-haste. If you respect responsible journalism and envision a greater transportation future for Spokane than simply road improvements, we urge you to visit KHQ’s Facebook Page and leave a note in support of transit alternatives and opposing their ridiculous ad. And don’t forget to watch the story on Thursday and tell them what you think. The local media should not take sides in these critical debates about our city’s future. They should report the news. Only the news.

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