Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, February 29, 2008

2007: The Year of the Corridor

Well, the votes are in and the results have been tabulated. A whopping 128 Palousitics readers weighed in on what they considered to be the top Pullman news story for 2007.

Based on the fact that three out of the top five stories concerned the past (Fred Russell found guilty), present (widening of SR 270) and future (Moscow appeals stall Hawkins development) of the Pullman-Moscow corridor, I hereby declare 2007 the "Year of the Corridor."

Here they are, your Top 10 Pullman news stories for 2007:

1. Fred Russell found guilty - 35.16%

Six years later and 300 miles away, Fred Russell, Whitman County's Most Wanted, finally faced justice for a horiffic crash that killed three WSU students and injured several others.

2. Resurgence of WSU men's basketball - 10.94%

Wake up the Cougar hardwood ghosts. Friel. Harshman. Heathcote. Raveling. In his first year, head coach Tony Bennett guided the Cougar men's basketball team to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994 and first tournament win since 1982. After the magical 2006-2007 season, Bennett garnered more national coaching awards than any other PAC-10 coach since the legendary John Wooden in 1972, being named PAC-10 Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year by numerous organizations and media outlets.

3. Islamofascism Awareness Week at WSU - 9.38%

Hard to believe it's just been six years since 9/11. The WSU College Republicans were faced with threats of facing the "fury of progressive voices for tolerance on the Palouse" for screening a film that actually reminded people that there are some radical Muslims out there that crash planes into buildings, cut people's heads off and blow up subway trains. Overall though, the usual suspects behaved themselves and nobody ended up on "Hannity & Colmes."

4. Moscow appeals stall Hawkins development - 8.59%

Different dreams. The struggle between competing visions for the Palouse, eco-communalism vs. stopping retail sales leakage, seemed to be epitomized by the struggle over the proposed 700,000 square foot shopping mall being developed by the Hawkins Companies of Boise on the Washingon side of the state line. Whitman County officals worked hard to bring the project to fruition, but Mayor Nancy Chaney fought Hakwins to a standstill with appeals of water rights transfers approved by the Department of Ecology. However, the November city council election in Moscow brought a dramatic change to the political landscape...

5. Moscow-Pullman highway expanded - 7.03%

Prompted in part by the 2001 accident for which Fred Russell was found guilty of three counts of vehicular manslaughter, the Washington State Department of Transportation finally completed the oft-delayed widening of SR 270 between Pullman and Moscow, thus greatly enhancing safety, and eventually commerce, on the six mile stretch of road.

6. Five arsons in one morning - 6.25%

Pullman residents awakened on the morning of November 15 to find that a serial arsonist was on a rampage, setting fire to two garages, a vehicle, a duplex, and an apartment building within the space of two hours. Luckily, no one was killed. At this date, police still have no suspect in the case.

7. Weller upsets Sorensen in City Council race - 5.47%

"Every vote counts." You always hear it, but November's Pullman City Council election proved the old adage to be true. 26-year old underdog Nathan Weller unseated incumbent City Councilman Al Sorensen in Ward 2 by a scant 10 votes, which prompted a recount by Sorensen.

8. (tie) WSU football coaching changes; Doba out, Wulff in - 3.91%

A triumphant 2003 Holiday Bowl win over future national champs Texas and three Apple Cup victories couldn't save WSU head football coach Bill Doba's job. Many felt that Doba had squandered opportunities for greatness after having WSU's all-time leading passer (Alex Brink) and a running back who led the NCAA in rushing in 2005 (Jerome Harrison) on the roster. After Doba "resigned," he was replaced by former Coug football player and Eastern Washington head coach, Paul Wulff.

8. (tie) Costly stormwater requirements imposed by state - 3.91%

There aren't any salmon in the Palouse River watershed, and never have been, thanks to Palouse Falls. But that didn't stop the Washington Department of Ecology from imposing a gigantic unfunded mandate on the city of Pullman. In order to have stormwater runoff that is almost fit to drink, it is going to cost the city (and you the taxpayer) millions of dollars. Pullman and several other eastern Washington cities are appealing the decision.

8. (tie) Elson Floyd takes helm at WSU - 3.91%

Elson Floyd, who took over as the 10th WSU president, is the first African-American to hold the position. Floyd came in and immediately made an impact, proposing some controversial reallocation of resources and dismissing some long-term employees.

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