Was Barry Russell being made the scapegoat?  Here’s the back stories.

Jonathan Brunt has a very informative article in today’s S-R:

October 11, 2009 in City

Park deal’s failure rankles

Land swap near Albi falls apart, triggering finger-pointing

[Note:  Clink on “print” in the header to view the entire article]

I posted this comment in today’s article thread to give some of the back story reasons why Barry Russell, the Parks director, may have been given the boot.  My sources indicate the main reason for  Russell’s leaving had more to do with the pending MOBIUS Project than anything else.  He was not a happy camper re this lease deal and was told to suck it up by the Park Board.  See the letters below to the S-R editor by a source of mine that the S-R that have not run even though Ast. Editor Doug Floyd  has run similar pieces without the mention of the Cowles family connection.

There may be more reasons why Mayor Verner canned Russell.  Check these other related issues and you decide whose interests are being facilitated.  All may not be as it appears to be.

Ron the Cop

Previous post here:

The Secret Dahlia Society, the MOBIUS Project, and the Cowles family connection

Ron_the_Cop on October 11 at 4:41 a.m.

Good article Mr. Brunt.  My sources also say also brewing in the background of why Mr. Russell may have “resigned” or became the scapegoat. Mr. Russell was in a very difficult position serving too masters. There was a component of the MOBIUS Project too.:

The Secret Dahlia Society, the MOBIUS Project, and the Cowles family connection

Mr. Russell was not a fan of the MOBIUS lease and was told to suck it up by the Park Board. A regular commenter at S-R’s Community Comment had said:

“I think the Park Director knew way too much and wanted out while he could still salvage his career and indeed, his life and self respect. Nobody wants to wake up from a cold cocking in the night to find their hands duct taped to the steering wheel of a minivan parked in the RPS parking lot on the top level. Then hearing the engine suddenly revving way, way up”


Another source has written several letters to the editor on this topic too. I will post his letter later this morning in my piece on the Secret Dahlia Society:

Hello, I have now submitted two letters to the Spokesman Review revealing the facts about the Mobius lease on the north bank of Riverfront Park for $1.00 a year. My first letter was not printed. I then submitted another letter last Wednesday October 7th leaving out the Cowles’ names, and no response at all from the newspaper. The Mobius group knows the science center will lose big bucks. That’s why on their website there is a parking garage and several larger buildings. They think that will absorb their losses. NOT A CHANCE. With 15% of what ever they have planned as far as businesses to give back to the City or Park Board, they would have to contribute 1.5 to 2.0 million a year to break even. That’s not going to happen. In the case of the Riverpark Square Parking garage the tax payer really got stuck in the wallet and purse for 100 million dollars. This will happen again with this Mobius lease. THIS GROUP WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR LOSSES. It will again go back to the Park Board or City to suck up the debt. A blatant land heist for personal use with no responsibilty for financial losses is what the Park Board has approved and the City Council is about to lay it’s blessing on the robbery. Something must be done to stop this process. Any ideas?

Then of course there is the running battle between the Park Board, the Mayor, the Council and the special citizens committee appointed to advise on the last park bond chaired by Mr. Crow. This includes the adult softball league that has exclusive use of Franklin Park thanks to the Park Board and for the most park Joe Albi too at taxpayer expense. The Little League was used as a pawn to shill for the park bond but was aced out of Albi in favor of adult softball and was sent packing to the Northside Landfill:

Northside Landfill Little League Project – Spokane, WA

I have an equity issue with adult softball being heavily subsidized at taxpayer expense when other youth sports are precluded from using these same public facilities. To some degree an argument can be made that the voters were misled in the last park bond election.

The exclusive use lease of Franklin Park by the adult softball league expired at the end of December 08. Now that adult softball has most of the fields at Albi, Franklin Park should be made available for other youth sports. I’m not sympathetic to this may interfere with tournament play that there are bids out by adult softball for the 2010 season. A transition schedule between Albi and Franklin could be worked out.

BTW Ms. McLaughlin, my councilperson, should quit riding the fence on this issue. Ms. Kearney her opponent in the upcoming election has taken a clear position on these issues.


Letter to the S-R Editor re the MOBIUS Project that was not run:


Mr. Camden’s article left out some important facts about the MOBIUS Project Group draft lease. Voters rejected this project over a decade ago. The proponents spent over $150,000 campaigning for it and still lost. It was the most expensive single campaign in Spokane history. Why was it defeated?
Science centers lose money. My research estimates $1.5 million in red ink annually for the Spokane Science center. The proposed fifty-year lease at $l per year also allows for subleasing to other parties. This lease confers valuable parkland to a group that will have no financial responsibility when it fails.  Who will pick up the tab? Not MOBIUS.  It will leave the taxpayers stuck paying the bills. Sound familiar?

MOBIUS Board Members, Wanda and Anne Cowles, are from the family that stuck the public with the RPS parking garage.  The RPS bailout will eventually cost the taxpayers of Spokane $100 million.  Can Spokane take another hit like this? No!

The unelected Park Board approved this lease.  The City Council will now review this draft lease agreement. This is a heist of public property with no recourse. “Halt before default” is the cry. Demand the City Council put this to a public vote.

Interestingly enough S-R Assistant Editor/OP-ED Mr. Floyd later chose to run this letter.  You decide what the difference is between these letters:

Letters / Aug. 28, 2009

Mobius will be money loser

Regarding articles about the city contracting with Mobius for $1-a-year lease for a science center:
When the citizens voted in 1999 to acquire the north bank land for development, we were under the assumption that an amusement center was going there. Something money-making. The Review and TV had stories about the city maybe contracting with Disney to build Disney-type rides there; and a people mover would be built along the Howard Street corridor.
Not that I’m against a science center. However, it will NOT make money, like an amusment park would. Let’s say kids are $5 and adults $7.50 admission, family with two kids would cost $25. Most people will go once, and that’s it, whereas an amusment park will draw people over and over.
So, put an amusement park on the north bank, and if Mobius wants to spend $29.5 million, then put the science center in the Pavilion (half of the Pavilion is empty from a previous failed science center) and leave the IMAX where it’s at. The aging Pavilion would then be saved from the wrecking ball, as it’s falling apart, and it’s either that or the Park Board will want millions of dollars to save it.

Richard Trerise