SPOKANE, Wash. – Early Tuesday morning, an article from the Guardian titled “How Gonzaga became the last hope for the struggling city of Spokane” started making the rounds on the Internet.
The piece was written by Cody Delistraty, a Spokane native. Read a little bit further and one might question when he made his last visit to his hometown.
Delistraty made some points about the success of Gonzaga’s basketball program bringing the larger Spokane community together. That is true. One thing the majority of Spokanites tend to agree on is the success and potential of the Zags.
However, Delistraty followed by making several negatives claims about our lovely city, several of them with unattributed statistics and figures. KREM 2 decided to fact-check them.
CLAIM: “In 1881, Spokane was founded as a lumber and mining town.”
VERIFY: According to the Downtown Spokane Heritage Walk, Spokane was founded in 1873 by James Nettle Glover. The city was incorporated in 1881.
CLAIM: “In 1974, there was a world expo that brought a trolley system, a gondola ride, and a more expanded downtown, replete with carousel and Ferris wheel, but the carousel is now closed most of the year, the Ferris wheel now rusted.”
VERIFY: The Looff Carrousel was installed into Natatorium Park in 1909. It was moved to Riverfront Park in 1975, according to Riverfront Park’s website.
Additionally, the carousel was taken down on Monday as crews prepare to restore it. A quick check at the website would even show the redevelopment plans for the carousel.
CLAIM: “The air smells of Ponderosa bark, and the city experiences all four seasons: temperatures soar over a hundred degrees in May and drop below zero in December.”
VERIFY: KREM 2 reached out to the National Weather Service to verify the monthly highs in May for the last three years.
The highest temperature Spokane saw in May of 2016 was 82 degrees. In May of 2015, it was 83 degrees. In May of 2014, it was 80 degrees.
According to the NWS, the highest temperature Spokane has ever reached in the month of May was 95 degrees in 1928.
CLAIM: “Last year, Spokane ranked as the 22nd most dangerous city in the United States, up from 26th the year before.”
VERIFY: The study was done by a company called Safewise. The Inlander broke down the report and found that Safewise failed to clarify that they weighted violent crimes and property crimes as the same. No, murder and petty theft are not equivalent.
CLAIM: “Last year alone, there were 10 murders, 1,100 violent crimes, and 12,000 property crimes.”
VERIFY: KREM 2 has reached out to the Spokane Police Department to get specific statistics on crime in 2016.
The FBI states violent crimes are composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
According to the Spokane Police Department, there were 10 murders in Spokane in 2016.
According to SPD’s most recent CompStat report, from January 1, 2016 to October 1, 2016, Spokane saw 8 criminal homicides, 101 rapes, 27 commercial robberies, 192 personal robberies, 394 non-DV aggravated assaults and 165 DV aggravated assaults.
Those added together equal 887 violent crimes.
The October report also included nonviolent crimes. Spokane residents experienced 858 residential burglaries, 564 garage burglaries, 366 commercial burglaries, 8355 larcenies, 1392 vehicle thefts and 24 cases of arson.
In total, that is 11,559 cases of nonviolent crime.
SPD officials said the numbers listed in the Guardian article were inflated.
*Note: These statistics were recorded from January 1, 2016 to October 1, 2016. November and December are not included in these statistics because the Spokane Police Department updated their system. According to PIO Shane Phillips, the reports from November and December may not be available. KREM 2 is working to clarify specific crime statistics for the months of November and December 2016. This story will be updated.
CLAIM: “Over 17% of Spokane’s population lives below the poverty line.”
VERIFY: According to the Employment Security Department of Washington State, between 2010 and 2014, 16.3 percent of the population in Spokane County was living below the poverty level.
CLAIM: “There was an arena football team for a few years (the Spokane Shock), but that disappeared when not enough people showed up to games”
VERIFY: Spokane’s arena football team, now the Spokane Empire, has played active seasons ever since its establishment in 2005. They even earned a name and mascot in 2016.
Delistraty’s claims about the success of this year’s team are valid. The Zags have a shot at success in the NCAA Tournament thanks to players like Williams-Goss and Karnowski who are prepared for battle.
“It might seem trivial or silly to claim that the quality of a town’s sport’s team could ‘save’ that city or fundamentally change its residences’ quality of life,” Delistraty wrote.
Mr. Delistraty, it is trivial and silly to make that claim. Yes, the Zags are undeniably a strong force that brings the Spokane community together. But, there are so many other places and people you have forgotten.
KREM 2 has reached out to the Guardian for comment.