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Spokane leaders decry think tank for bringing Walker to town

SPOKANE (May 16, 2019) — The Washington Policy Center, a conservative think tank that refuses to disclose its funders, invited controversial former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to be its keynote speaker at the WPC’s “2019 Solutions Summit” held Tuesday at Spokane’s Davenport Hotel. As expected, Walker touted his efforts to take away public employees’ ability to join together in unions at the event, telling local Republicans and business leaders that they should prepare for the day they gain control of Washington’s state government so they can swiftly do the same.

But before he even arrived, many in the Spokane community made in clear that Walker’s controversial agenda — and the think tank that invited him to town — don’t represent their interests and values. An open letter signed by more than 70 local business owners, community groups, elected officials, and unions — including the Spokane Regional Labor Council, AFL-CIO — was published as a full-page advertisement in The Spokesman-Review newspaper earlier this week. Headlined, “Washington Policy Center does not represent greater Spokane,” the letter reads:

Dear Friends,

As Spokane-area voters, workers, business people, civic leaders and faith leaders, we reject the divisive political agenda the Washington Policy Center is promoting in our community.

The Washington Policy Center has flown in controversial ex-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for a paid political event in Spokane. Walker is notorious for his attacks on public schools, the environment and workers’ rights — attacks that are out of sync with the values of Spokane-area residents.

The Washington Policy Center is attempting to spread that same divisive national agenda here in the Spokane region. We oppose their attempts to influence our community. The Washington Policy Center is not the independent “think tank” it claims to be, but a political operation that promotes the interests of the ultra-wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

In our opinion, the Washington Policy Center is not fully open and transparent about its funding, but it is clear that it is bankrolled by out-of-state corporate interests, foundations and billionaires to promote a national political agenda that is harmful to Spokane-area families and our economy.

The Washington Policy Center’s outsider agenda includes:

• Privatizing public education by diverting local public school funding to private organizations

• Weakening environmental protections, sacrificing clean air and water

• Restricting workers’ right to advocate for fair pay and working conditions, making it harder to support our families

Simply put, the Washington Policy Center doesn’t represent greater Spokane.

As residents of the Spokane region, we do not need or want out-of-state politicians, billionaires and groups like the Washington Policy Center telling us what’s best for our community or deciding which public policies we enact.

Unlike the groups funding the Washington Policy Center, we live here, and we actually care about what happens here. Our vision for the Inland Empire is a positive one — one in which all of us work together as a community to decide our future and that lifts up all of us.

We, the undersigned Spokane-area individuals and groups, are committed to working together to create a stronger, healthier, economically successful community for all of the residents of greater Spokane. We call on Greater Spokane, Inc., to join with us and not to co-sponsor divisive events such as the Washington Policy Center’s Solutions Summit.

Download this open letter to read the list of signers.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Anne Cowles, wife of Spokesman-Review Publisher/Owner Stacey Cowles, serves on the Washington Policy Center’s Board of Directors.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!