Different City Council, Same Bullshit, Spokane Edition

by Travis Mateer

The City Council “horseshoe” in Spokane is backed by a mural featuring two Magpies. Why two Magpies? Well, I looked into it, and would you believe there seems to be some significance behind having two Magpies featured in this Council chambers?

Across different cultures, magpies have taken on varied symbolic roles. In Western tales, they’re often painted as cunning tricksters or omens of good and bad fortune. The age-old rhyme, “One for sorrow, two for joy,” which counts the number of magpies seen to predict one’s fate, underscores their mythical stature. In contrast, Eastern traditions, especially in China, view magpies as harbingers of joy and happiness, often associated with the tale of two star-crossed lovers represented by the stars Altair and Vega, meeting once a year with the magpie’s help.

How do Magpies help Altair and Vega hookup? They form a bridge to assist the lovers in crossing the celestial river created as a barrier by angry sky gods to keep them apart. Isn’t that nice?

Before entering chambers I was given a flyer about Fluoride because apparently that is one issue riling up some people in Spokane. Several public comments were made asking Council to JUST SAY NO to the cost of putting this shit in the water.

Since the place I’m currently living has a newspaper associating my name with White Supremacists and hate speech, I took special interest in the comments defending Mayor Nadine Woodward from the controversy that ensued after she attended a Sean Feught prayer event where State Representative, Matt Shea, was present.

Did you know this controversy made national headlines? Here’s how the Rolling Stone reported on it:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN you combine a Christian nationalist musician and a disgraced former state representative-turned-pastor accused of domestic terrorism? According to local lawmakers and faith leaders in Washington state, it’s a recipe for “bigotry” cloaked “in religious language.”

Controversy has erupted in Spokane after Mayor Nadine Woodward appeared at a “Let Us Worship” event on Aug. 20, hosted by Christian singer Sean Feucht with special guest Matt Shea, a former state representative in Washington accused of domestic terrorism. The mayor’s appearance alongside Shea, as well as comments made by Feuch about a religious “wildfire” ravaging Spokane — while actual fires destroyed parts of the county — has angered members of the community.

For some additional context on Shea, let’s see what NPR has to say about him (emphasis mine):

Six-term Washington state Rep. Matt Shea is accused of participating “in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States,” according to a report released Thursday.

Independent investigators commissioned by the Washington State House of Representatives found that Shea, as a leader of the Patriot Movement, “planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States government” between 2014 and 2016.

The report also concluded that Shea was involved in training young people to fight a “holy war.” He created a pamphlet called Biblical Basis for War and advocated replacing the government with a theocracy and “the killing of all males who do not agree.”

Chat messages showed Shea, a lawyer who was first elected in 2008, condoned intimidation of opponents, political activists, government officials and Muslims. He also offered to conduct background checks on political opponents.

Hmmm, didn’t Council member, Gwen Jones, conduct informal background checks on local activists? Yes she did, and that little fact came out in court, during the trial where local activist, Brandon Bryant, was facing FELONY criminal charges and up to 10 years in prison.

What else happened at the Spokane City Council? A homeless woman spoke, and some other people mentioned a war or something happening far, far away. When one of them spoke, they all silently stood up, then sat down. Impressive.

Did I meet up with any White Supremacists? While I don’t generally ask how supremely awesome the fellow whites I speak with think they are, no, I don’t think any of the people I interacted with White Supremacists.

I wasn’t able to make any comments because I missed the cut-off, so I’ll have to wait until next time to introduce myself. Yes, there WILL be a next time, because Spokane continues to fascinate me.

If you appreciate the expanding scope of my interests, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to support my work, and making a donation at my about page is another.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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3 Responses to Different City Council, Same Bullshit, Spokane Edition

  1. Roger says:

    Since you mentioned “wildfires”, both literal and symbolic, I think it would be appropriate to say that the inclusion of the commentary by both Rolling Stone and NPR is entirely “inflammatory and incendiary”, although after researching Matt Shea, I will admit that the terms might be relevant. Nevertheless..

    Was he ever convicted of the charges thrown at him? Or did this minor furor just dry up and blow away?

  2. Roger says:

    I have never read Rolling Stone and I quit listening to NPR quite a few years ago, so it doesn’t bother me that you mention them–in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I think that a “burn” now and then helps to keep them (and others of the same ilk) at least a little more honest.

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