December 23, 2008

Ridpath Creditility Gap

Did anyone ever believe this?

December 19, 2008

Snow Storm Communications

Communication is a wonderful thing.

If you remember, the City waited for more than a day last winter to fire up the plows when the snow began falling heavily. The delay caused crews to fall hopelessly behind, people began screaming and Mary Verner took five days before even addressing the issue publically.

Fast forward to this week: The record snow fall caused gridlock in Downtown, businesses closed and the city took on the eerie feeling that reminded me of when Mount St. Helens erupted. But while it’ll be extremely difficult to get around for the next several days and many schools and businesses are still locked up there’s not the public stress and outcry that we saw last year.

Why? Two things are different. First the City pulled the trigger early and threw everything it had at the storm. The second and most important difference is that Administration told us that it was on top of the situation and has kept us fully informed for the past two days. Almost hourly updates were posted on the City’s website which included plowing maps, weather reports cameras showing city streets. The Spokane Police Department used its RSS to push out information that was invaluable to everyone. And the Spokane Fire Department regularly updated its website to let us know where the biggest problems were.

With winter not even officially here yet we could see much more of this over the coming months. But as long as local governments continue to communicate and make progress on the problem residents will be supportive.

Now if we could only get Diamond Parking to let us know when its sidewalks will be shoveled…

December 9, 2008

Success in an Uncertain Climate

The rest of the country may be wringing its hands wondering what to do during uncertain economic times but not here in Spokane. Many groups are moving forward on large, very cool projects that clearly indicate that we are definitely not the same community that all but folded its tent during the severe economic down turn in the early 80s.

Just a few years after Expo 74 downtown began shutting off the lights as skywalks fell vacant, companies moved out of the core and governments sat by and watched. Now we see public, private and non-profit agencies pushing forward with projects worth millions of dollars that just a few years ago didn’t appear as if they’d get off the ground. The difference between now and then: strategic partnerships, better planning and good communications.

A great recent example is the emerging University District. When he was still at the City of Spokane, Tom Reese led the initial planning stages for the U-District that laid the foundation for others to carry out the vision. The Downtown Spokane Partnership and WSU-Spokane joined forces and enlisted the help of local governments, Spokane’s legislative delegation and private companies to create a specific U-District plan. The payoff came last week when Arthritis Northwest, WSU-Spokane, the DSP and Denver based developer NexCore announced the construction of a three-story, 60,000 square foot medical building---the catalyst that will launch the entire development of the 55 acre U-District.

Several years, a few false starts and hours or work were needed to accomplish this goal. The key was having a vision, creating plans to achieve it and having backup ideas just in case the first plans didn’t work out---which is exactly what happened. Other local groups with great ideas such as Mobius and the Parks Board can learn from this successful effort as they push their projects forward.

December 1, 2008

Local TV's Future

The question I'm asked most often is whether I miss being on TV. The answwer has always been a steadfast No! Lots of reasons why---including a New York Times article which confirms my decision.

This is already happening in Spokane. KXLY laid off 18 people a month ago, KHQ-TV Sports Director John Fritz resigned in early November---my guess is he'll be replaced by a part timer. Look for other anchors to head out the door in 2009. It's a trend that began several years ago---it's nice to be ahead of the curve. More TV folks will be looking to do the same.