Historic Davenport Rooftop

A Great Work of Fiction

In the coming days, Spokane City Council will consider a contract for economic development services with Greater Spokane, Inc (GSI). Suffice it to say, the contents of said contract that lay before Spokane City Council provide a target-rich environment for SpokanePlanner. (Here’s a draft of the contract.)

And away we go… 

The contract starts with a proclamation that was clearly written by GSI, which professes and binds the City of Spokane to such false allegations that, for instance, “GSI convenes, coordinates, facilitates and leads economic development efforts that: [insert six broad and generic bullet points about economic development here]….”

I’m afraid GSI does nothing of the sort, no matter how broad or generic the bullet points are, nor do they have the authority to do what they proclaim they have the authority to do. The only thing that keeps GSI in business is the fact that local jurisdictions keep signing their B.S. contracts. Clearly, this draft contract between the City of Spokane and GSI was only loosely reviewed by any attorney. Any contract that starts with proclamations of GSI’s excellence was written by an attorney so much as this blog post was written by a bikini model.

Nearly the entire contract is an expression of meaningless GSI propaganda. There is no there, there. There is no beef. It’s a world of illusion. Thus, here’s my two cents of advice for Spokane City Council: throw away the contract GSI gave you and craft a new one that reflects your vision, not GSI’s.

It’s your contract. You’re paying them. Why do they get to dictate the terms of the agreement, like it’s somehow your pleasure to pay them for generic economic development services? After all, paying GSI to profess they are the economic development leaders within Spokane County is a service they will most certainly provide for free. Additionally, they’ll still attend City Council meetings to complain about what you’re doing. Thus, for goodness sake, the least you can do is place a clause in the contract that says, “GSI shall not publicly testify against Spokane City Council initiatives.” Why pay GSI to undermine you?

For that matter, why pay them at all? They act as a firewall between you and economic development opportunities. You’re delegating to a powerless, garden variety non-profit a scope of responsibilities that powerless, garden variety non-profits simply do not have the authority to exercise.

The business relationship dynamic between the city and GSI is all wrong. GSI is here to serve you, City Council. You are GSI’s client. Now, call me crazy, but when I pay firms to serve me, their scope of work does not include them coming to my board meetings to undermine the decisions I’m about to make. Perhaps I’m just a Spokane country bumpkin but, to my point of view, such things are an insult. If a consultant of mine pulled similar shenanigans, as GSI does to you, they would no longer have the privilege of consulting for me.

Alas, all the services the city has the privilege of receiving from GSI are services you will continue to receive whether or not you pay them for it. You are Spokane City Council. GSI goes through you to get things done, not the other way around.

GSI is a sum of its parts, a linguistic sleight of hand. Without the City of Spokane, Greater Spokane, Inc., simply becomes Greater, Inc.

Own the contract, or GSI owns you.