Nadine, Fear, and Numbers

Dear Group,

Of the mayoral candidates, Ben Stuckart is the only one not telling us to be fearful. Part of his message is that as Spokane Downtown becomes busier everyone feels safer–at all hours. Just because everyone downtown isn’t dressed in business attire shouldn’t be frightening. The other four candidates portray downtown as crime-ridden, an area to avoid. To listen to Nadine Woodward’s interview on Spokane Public Radio (at minute 2:26) is to see Downtown Spokane, and the Downtown Library in particular, as really scary places we must reclaim before we would dare visit. 

Either Ms. Woodward does not visit the Downtown Spokane Library or she sees the world through a different lens than I. Last Wednesday I visited the library to see for myself. I recommend the experience. In the lobby there was a used book sale. Upstairs it was quiet, clean, and pleasant, with perhaps a hundred people in a spacious setting reading books and computer screens. Several of the librarians and patrons were women of small stature, much smaller than Nadine. None of them was cowering in fear. Some patrons weren’t wearing business attire and some had several bags in their possession, but all were quiet and orderly. The air was fresh. There was an unobtrusive security guard occupied with such things as opening a meeting room door downstairs for a lecturer. 

I went back to Ms. Woodward’s Spokane Public Radio interview. She quickly glosses over the fact that Spokane crime statistics are down year-to-date in 2019 (by 13%). Instead she rushed to point out selected numbers comparing 2017 to 2018,  “Commercial robberies were up 300 percent!…Rapes were up 120 percent!…Those are “astronomical numbers!” 

Uh huh. Three hundred percent is a big number, not astronomical, but big, impressive. It is also a cherry-picked statistic. It is the biggest number she could find on the Downtown Precinct [P8] December 29, 2018 “Preliminary IBR Count.” In that raw count commercial burglaries went from 2 in 2017 to 8 in 2018. I’m surprised she didn’t use the arson statistic. After all, it went from 0 in 2017 to 1 in 2018, a 200 percent increase! She posted the raw data on her campaign website, where she also had the gall to once again blame the homeless for crime. Ms. Woodward’s breathless misuse of statistics and tarring of homeless population is appropriately taken to task by Shawn Vestal in two articles:

It may not seem like it, but crime in Spokane is down” and “Nadine Woodward views Spokane’s homelessness issues from an ‘aloof, fearful distance’”

Please share those articles widely, visit the downtown and the Downtown Library yourself…and write a letter to the editor about your experience. 

I want a mayor who understands statistics, a mayor who actually visits downtown, a mayor with reality based understanding of the problems and comprehensive plan to chip away at them. That mayor is Ben Stuckart.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. You can see the July 6, 2019 Preliminary Crime report here. With some inspection you will note Ms. Woodward cherry-picks her numbers again, carefully avoiding the majority of numbers showing that crime is actually down in 2019 YTD. She or her staff must consider us ignorant fools.

P.P.S. Ms. Woodward’s “Spokane Solution” for her trumped up crime wave is to move the downtown Spokane Police Precinct from the Intermodal Center at 1st and Bernard “back into the core” of downtown Spokane. In the Spokane Public Radio interview she had to be prompted to consider hiring more police, balking, it seemed, because that might cost taxpayers some money (and moving the precinct is cost free?).

P.P.P.S. When I was still a practicing surgeon, we had an office on the north side of Spokane because a lot of folks living north considered coming downtown to be a day trip. People who rarely visit downtown may accept Ms. Woodward’s message of fear. Get the word out.