Beyond Politics

A local Panel on our political divisions–and homelessness

This coming Wednesday, January 19th, between 5 and 7PM, EWU and “Spokane Talks” will present a livestreamed panel discussion entitled “Beyond Politics: Starting the Discussion”. I expect an interesting presentationn. Two topics will be addressed: The polluted information environment that contributes to our political division—and the issue of homelessness. 

Jim Wavada, a friend of mine and one of the two panel hosts, presents all the background detail for how this panel came about in the quote at the foot of this email. I find the background very interesting—but it is probably not essential to getting something out of the panel. Seeing a variety of local political figures having a civilized bi-partisan discussion about two topics of local and national interest and importance ought to be educational.

As Jim explains below, if you want to want to submit a question to the panel you will need to connect with the livestream. That livestream should be available on the Facebook page of KHQ or the Facebook page of Spokane Talks (recommended—the lead-in is already posted there). If you find Facebook as frustrating as I do (or if you don’t have an account and don’t want one at Facebook) and you don’t need to ask a question, I think will work just as well. I did not need to sign in to an account at to search for “Spokane Talks”. There I believe the “Beyond Politics will appear on January 19 at 5PM. If you go there now you can watch the recording of a livestream entitled “A Conversation with Breean Beggs”, the President of the City of Spokane City Council, discussing city government and homelessness. The first five or ten minutes offers a civics lesson and background you might find useful preparatory to Wednesday’s livestream of Beyond Politics. 

Set up a reminder in your calendar for Wednesday, January 19, at 5PM.

Keep to the high ground,


From Jim Wavada:

I want to encourage you all to tune into a community forum/panel discussion this coming Wednesday, Jan. 19th being live streamed on the KHQ facebook page, at’s facebook page and on YouTube from 5:00 – 7:00 PM.

I’m Jim Wavada, local Democrat, frequent “corrector of Sue Lani Madsen’s missives” in the Spokesman-Review, and author of the yet to be adopted Spokane County Democratic 2021 platform update. 

I will be co-hosting “Beyond Politics: Starting the Discussion” with Spokane’s beloved conservative voice, Spokesman-Review weekly columnist, author, architect, EMT, and goat rancher Sue Lani Madsen. One wonders how she finds the time!

This was not Sue Lani’s nor my idea. The panel is the inspiration of Spokane businessman and Iranian immigrant Mike Gahvarehchee, who told us his mantra is that we can tackle any big problems if we just unite around solving them long enough to get it done.  But Mike took this idea to J. Kent Adams, who took it to Sue Lani Madsen, and she reached out to me to co-host it with her because of our frequent civilized jousts over just about everything. I liked this concept right away when she emailed me about it with the invitation to co-host.

Per Sue Lani’s suggestion, we have each recruited a panel of a half dozen people each whom we believe can speak to the conservative or liberal points of view in Spokane County. The format is a little like the old McLaughlin Group program we loved to watch back in the day. Ms. Madsen and I will open the discussion with a question to the panelists assembled with us at EWU-Spokane’s Catalyst Building.   We will then mediate a discussion of their respective answers with an eye toward identifying signs of shared values and interests, not just positions. Both of us swear we will NOT adopt McLaughlin’s rude trademark interruptions of “Wrong!” We promise. But you get the idea.

This is a forum where it will be okay to disagree agreeably. We don’t anticipate any hallelujah moments or miracle conversions; but we do hope to demonstrate that we can still discuss how we can possibly work together to solve real problems. We hope this will be the first of several such community discussion we moderate.

In this inaugural forum, we will first address the polluted information environment that seems to have led to our increasingly conflicting understandings of our shared history and working realities today. As we have seen from the pandemic, some realities don’t care about which narrative we have decided to believe. The virus doesn’t care about your political leanings. It will make you sick or kill you either way. Homelessness isn’t an exclusively Republican or Democratic tragedy. It’s everyone’s problem. We all own it. We’ll talk about how we can break through these manufactured narratives that constrain our thinking and perception that for the first hour.

In the second hour, we will talk about one of those immutable realities in Spokane, homelessness. We will attempt to apply what we learn in the first session to an open discussion of homelessness as a real problem that will require us to tear down the political battlements at least long enough to take a serious look at how we can apply our humanity and compassion to such a tragic and stubborn challenge.

We don’t expect to solve the problem, no way; but maybe we can reach some agreement that there is no single, best solution and that we need to work together to address this issue.

To give you an idea what to expect, I have recruited the following panelists: State Senator Andy Billig, State Rep. Marcus Riccelli both video-calling in from Olympia to participate in the second session on homelessness; along with those from the first session, including Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs; Pastor Andy Castro Lang of Westminster Congregationalist Church; Yvette Joseph, Colville Confederated Tribes and State Committeewoman, Spokane County Democrats; and retired legislator and local lawyer Dennis Dellwo.

I’m not sure who Madsen has actually confirmed to this point; but I believe she will have State Sen. Jeff Holy; Chris Cargill, Washington Policy Center; Pam Haley, mayor of City of Spokane Valley; Phillip Tyler, former Spokane County NAACP president; and Craig Meidl, Spokane Police Chief.

As you can see, it’s an interesting contrast of political leanings, and a whole lot of bright and articulate people, so it should be an interesting dicussion.

Mr. Gahvarehchee is paying the bills for this production, for the technicians who put this together onsite at the net zero energy Catalyst Building, to the equipment rental or purchases needed to the appetizers and coffee that will keep us going.   EWU is our host at the Catalyst Building. Somewhat infamous local conservative J. Kent Adams, owner of Spokane Talks Media, an open, for-rent streaming service, is providing the technology that will live stream this session. 

Oh, I almost forgot. If you tune in through one of the two Facebook sites, you will be able to submit questions and comments. With such a large panel of “articulate” leaders on set, I can’t promise your questions will actually be addressed during the session; but we will try to get to as many of them as we can.

So please come join us, Wednesday night, 5:00 PM streaming on or KHQ’s Facebook page. If you just want to watch and don’t want to comment, I understand it is available on YouTube’s live stream as well. [see above]