Envision Spokane speaks out about community bill of rights

By James Ziegler

On July 13 crowds of people gathered in front of City Hall to protest Envision Spokane's controversial community bill of rights. The protest drew media attention for the opposition but lacked comment from Envision.

Spokane Metro Magazine caught up with Envision's director Kai Huschke at the Rocket Bakery on South Hill to get his rebuttal to the opposition's top reasons the community bill of rights shouldn't go on the ballot.

Opposition:"It's socialism run rampant in Spokane."

Huschke: This is about community orientation . . . . What's the point of government if it's not for the people? Which is very, much a democratic principle. I mean this is what this country was supposedly founded on and actually, within democracy, there is supposed to be this high notion about social aspect to one another, meaning we're supposed to be caring for one another . . . It's not looking to really have government run our lives, as socialism would be parallel to. It's us letting government know how we want our government to run.

Opposition: The city can't afford it.

Huschke: There's only really two real mandates that are different from what the city is currently supposed to be doing. If there is expense it's going to be very minimal.

Opposition: It would result in a "mountain" of law suits.

Huschke: The only one [amendment] that I'm aware of of which the city is on the hook to defend is the neighborhood amendment. So as neighborhood plans are created and become legally enforceable, it is the responsibility of the city to defend those neighborhood plans. The other ones [amendments] aren't under the obligation of the city to litigate. And I think it's happened before, even in this community. When the human rights ordinance was passed about giving benefits to same sex couples who are city employees, that was one of the arguments of opponents to it. That it's going to create unbelievable amounts of litigation, cost money, clog up the courts. Since that has been in place, not one legal suit.

Saving strays of a different color:

Ferret Haven is one of only a couple no-kill ferret shelters in Spokane.

By James Ziegler

Ferret Haven of Spokane looks just like the house next door from the outside. Located in the basement of owner Paul Johnson, only the letters “FH” by the front door hint that this is the home of a no-kill ferret shelter.

In 1996, Johnson who has been a ferret lover since '83, called around to local animal shelters to see how they dealt with ferrets.

“A lot them would say that if they get a ferret in they'd euthanize it if none of their people took it home,” Johnson said. “So I decided, 'oh that can't really continue.' So I asked them how many ferrets they usually took care of in a year.”

The answer came 'oh 5-6.'

“So we expected a small number,” Johnson said with a chuckle. “We get about 40 to 60 a year.”

In the shelter, cages are labeled with letters to group which ferrets get along with each other for play time. Not all ferrets get along naturally and some don't get along with any other ferrets but almost all love human companionship.

Adoption through the Ferret Haven runs about $100. That's cheaper than pet stores but if you're looking at ferret ownership price shouldn't be the only consideration. Johnson recommends reading up on ferrets before buying and even visiting a shelter to get some experience handling them. While ferrets are 100% domesticated and have been for thousands of years, they're not for everyone. These lively, fun-loving creatures can be quite a handful but, “You can't have a bad day when you're taking care of ferrets,” Johnson said.

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