- Spokane County's road budget is is being decimated by spring flooding.
If you haven't noticed, spring runoff has flooded local rivers and washed out dozens of roads in Spokane County. The damage to those roads is going to cost at least $9 MILLION IN REPAIRS, says Public Works Department spokeswoman Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter.
Road maintenance for the rest of the year could be threatened. It's only March, but the county is already $2 million over the maintenance budget for the year, Wheatley-Billeter says.
As of press time Tuesday, there were roughly two dozen roads closed due to washouts in Spokane County, not including roads closed in incorporated areas.
What damages the roads is when water pools on top, then freezes in the cracks, says National Weather Service meteorologist Rocco Pelatti.
"There's nothing we can do about this," Wheatley-Billeter says. "The ground is so heavily saturated that we're losing parts of the road. They're eroding away."
The county has received some extra supplies and equipment after both the county and the state of Washington declared a state of emergency last week. The county will also apply for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which should help with some road maintenance.
Wheatley-Billeter says the Public Works Department may ask Spokane county commissioners for more money later in the year, depending on what FEMA provides. (WILSON CRISCIONE)
THE BIG TENT'S STAKES
A conservative pundit and incendiary host of her self-titled nightly TV show, TOMI LAHREN is being benched for a week after expressing her pro-choice views and suggesting that conservatives who oppose a woman's right to choose are hypocrites.
Her show, Tomi, which is carried by right-wing commentator Glenn Beck's TheBlaze TV network, was suspended for a week following this statement last Friday on ABC's The View:
"I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say 'I'm for limited government, but I think that the government should decide what women should do with their bodies.' I can sit here and say that as a Republican ... 'You know what, I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well.'"
Lahren is the featured speaker at the Lincoln Day Dinner hosted by the Spokane County Republican Party in June. Despite the backlash, Spokane County GOP chairwoman Stephanie Cates says that Lahren is still scheduled to speak in Spokane.
"I believe in Reagan's Big Tent," Cates tweeted. "R's are no better than the left if we demand perfect alignment on all issues. I stand with @TomiLahren."
The 24-year-old's meteoric rise to national stardom (she has more than 4 million Facebook followers) has been fueled in part by viral rants circulated online. She has, for example, called the Black Lives Matter movement the "new KKK," said President Barack Obama's "Muslim sensitivity" was partly to blame for the 2015 Chattanooga shootings, and referred to refugees, those fleeing their home countries to escape war, persecution or death, as "rapeugees."
Lahren's recent comments have earned her the ire of conservatives, including Beck, her boss, who mocked her comment on Twitter and shared an article calling her "childish" and a "poser."
Lahren defended herself in a tweet: "Listen, I am not glorifying abortion. I don't personally advocate for it. I just don't think it's the government's place to dictate." (MITCH RYALS)