Council Sidesteps Mayor; Forms Sustainability Committee

Dec 17, 2018

Members of the climate change activist group 350 Spokane urged the council to form an ad hoc citizens' committee.
Credit 350 Spokane

The Spokane City Council has taken the latest step in a disagreement with the mayor about an renewable electricity ordinance the council passed last summer.

On Monday night, the council agreed to form its own ad hoc citizens’ committee to suggest ways to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The move is an answer to the mayor’s refusal to nominate members for an 11-member citizens’ commission called for by the ordinance. It was a point made by Brian Henning from the climate change activist group 350 Spokane.

“As my middle school-aged daughter Nora recently asked in reaction to this, she asked, ‘How is it possible? How can the mayor simply ignore laws that he doesn’t like?’" Henning said. "I have to admit that I wasn’t quite sure what to say to her. What I do know is that it is disturbingly undemocratic.”

The measure directs the city to run its own operations exclusively using renewable electricity sources, such as water, the sun and wind, by the year 2020. It also sets a goal of 2030 for 100% electricity from renewable sources for the rest of the city.

The mayor vetoed the ordinance, saying the city had already set ambitious guidelines. The council overrode the veto.

The citizens’ commission was to include representatives from the city, business and Avista, as well as low-income people and environmental groups.