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Below is a comprehensive background on how Measure 1 made its way onto the ballot, including the efforts to enhance transparency and clarity.

Current Status:

As of the ruling, Measure 1 remained on the ballot for the November 7, 2023 general election. However, the efforts to enhance transparency and clarify the ballot language underscore the importance of community engagement and accountability in shaping policies related to public safety, criminal justice, and the allocation of tax revenue within Spokane County. The outcome of the vote will determine the future direction of these critical issues, with the community's voice playing a central role in the decision-making process.

The Initial Proposal:

The genesis of Measure 1 can be traced back to the deliberations of Spokane County Commissioners. In December, Commissioners Josh Kerns and Al French voted in favor of placing Measure 1 on the ballot. The proposal sought to introduce a 0.2% sales tax increase for 30 years to address various issues within the county's public safety and criminal justice systems. The primary goals were to improve correctional facilities and invest in behavioral health programs.

Timing and Controversy:

The timing of the proposal stirred controversy. It was introduced just before the swearing-in of new County Commissioners, Amber Waldref and Chris Jordan, both of whom were Democrats. Critics argued that the timing appeared to sideline the incoming commissioners and raised concerns about transparency and accountability. This timing controversy became a focal point in the ongoing discussions surrounding Measure 1.

Advocacy for Delay:

Amber Waldref and Chris Jordan, along with Spokane City Council President Lori Kinnear and Councilmember Zack Zappone, advocated for a delay in the vote on Measure 1. They cited the need for more time to engage in collaborative planning and community discussions. These leaders stressed that the lack of specific details about how the revenue would be allocated was a significant concern. Advocates for delay sought a more comprehensive approach that would involve a broader cross-section of the community in decision-making.

The Role of Petitioning Organizations:

In the midst of these debates, nine petitioning organizations played a crucial role in advocating for transparency and clarity. These organizations, including SCAR Spokane, Asians for Collective Liberation - Spokane, The Way to Justice, Health & Justice Recovery Alliance, Tenants Union of Washington - Spokane, Compassionate Addiction Treatment, Revive Center for Returning Citizens, Spokane NAACP, and Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS), pushed for a clearer understanding of how the ballot measure's funds would be utilized. They emphasized the importance of addressing systemic issues, racial disparities, and community involvement.

Judge's Ruling for Clarity:

The advocacy efforts for transparency bore fruit when, on August 29, 2023, Judge Tony Hazel ruled in favor of the nine petitioning organizations. The ruling required an amendment to the ballot language for Measure 1 to ensure that voters were fully informed about its essential contents. This decision marked a significant victory for transparency and accountability advocates, ensuring that voters would have a clearer understanding of the measure's implications when casting their ballots.

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