Eastern WA council bans newspapers from City Hall

April 29, 2022 GMT

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Spokane Valley City Council in eastern Washington in an unusual move has banned newspapers from the City Hall lobby.

The council voted 4-2 this week to prohibit third-party publications from the lobbies of City Hall and the Spokane Valley Police Precinct, The Spokesman-Review reported.

The decision most notably affects free newspapers owned by council member Ben Wick, and one that runs advertisements.

The City Council had previously considered banning newspapers from all public properties, but a multipurpose facility that includes the Spokane Valley Senior Center was exempted.

Mayor Pam Haley and council members Rod Higgins, Arne Woodard and Laura Padden said the ban was necessary, with some arguing the papers can’t be on city property because they contain campaign ads and election coverage.

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City Attorney Cary Driskell has said allowing the free papers in the City Hall foyer could be construed as a violation of state law.

However, the state agency that oversees Washington disclosure laws and campaign finance said allowing newspapers in the lobby doesn’t violate state law.

Kim Bradford, deputy director of the Public Disclosure Commission, said agency staff have reviewed Spokane Valley’s third-party publication concerns and concluded the distribution of free newspapers in City Hall is legal. Bradford emphasized the opinion represents staff consensus and isn’t a formal ruling.

Council members Tim Hattenburg and Brandi Peetz voted against the newspaper ban.

Peetz said the situation has been a waste of city resources.