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Stakeholders voice concerns over Spokane rail initiative

August 23, 2017

“I’m extremely disappointed,” said Michael Cathcart. “The council could have pursued a judicial review to get a judge to rule on whether or not this is legal and should remain on the ballot.”


Cathcart is executive director of Better Spokane, a Spokane-based civic engagement organization advocating for greater business consideration in public policy decisions.


On Monday, July 31, the council will have the opportunity to place two additional advisory measures on the ballot, he added. This will allow residents to weigh in on the initiative and how the litigation of its effect might be paid for, either by raised taxes or budget cuts.


“The big concern is there will be a significant amount of cost to the taxpayers and residents in the city of Spokane for the significant amount of litigation that will take place in result of this passing.”


Last year, the city of Spokane’s hearing examiner deemed a nearly identical measure illegal as “federal authority over rail operations cannot be usurped through an exercise of local police powers.”


“I would say this measure is largely focused on trying to ban the shipment of fossil fuels. There are other dangerous products out there; chlorine is a great example of one transported by rail,” Cathcart said, “Yet it only essentially targets the fossil fuels.”


He added that the effort is “short-sighted,” as reducing the number of trains traveling through the city would only encourage more trucks on the road which are more likely to be involved in accidents and contribute to local traffic.


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