Thursday, December 30, 2010

Greenstone Homes vs. the Department of Ecology

Posted By on Thu, Dec 30, 2010 at 2:38 PM

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Greenstone Homes – the company behind the revitalization of Kendall Yards in downtown Spokane – has long projected an environmentally-friendly image. Kendall Yards’ master plan, for example, calls for it to be the first neighborhood in the city to earn  LEED neighborhood development certification.

So why is the company being fined for chopping down trees?

The Washington State Department of Ecology says it has fined Greenstone $15,000 for cutting down a “large number of mature cottonwood trees on the shorelands of Liberty Lake in violation of the Spokane County Shoreline Master Program.”

The Department of Ecology says the trees were within 50 feet of the shoreline, a violation of regulations.

“It takes away habitat and bird nesting area and it takes away shade,” Ecology spokeswoman Jani Gilbert says in an email. “That destroys the character of the natural shoreline.

“In 2010 Greenstone sought and was denied authorization from Spokane County Planning to remove the… cottonwood trees,” Gilbert adds.

But Jim Frank, owner of Greenstone, disagrees.

“[That is an] absolute fabrication,” Frank says. “We never sought, we never requested, we never talked to them.”

A controlling interest in the property in question – MacKenzie Beach, in Liberty Lake – was purchased by Greenstone precisely to ward off high-density urban development that could harm the environment and frustrate neighbors, Frank says. The neighborhood specifically asked Greenstone to purchase it.

But in 2007, while tearing down several crude cabins in the area, they marked several “dead or diseased” trees for removal, Frank says. The DOE agreed the demolition permit was valid, Frank says, but asked him not to tear down the trees. For three years, Frank says, they worked on the rest of the project, reducing the density, the number of lots, and donating land and public access points to the county.

And then Greenstone tore down “six or seven” of the cottonwood trees, Frank says. They were never denied permission from the Department of Ecology, he says.

That’s because, Frank says, they don’t need it. He cites several exemptions for cutting down trees in the shoreline rules: Preparation for a single family home, activities that cost less than $5,000 dollars, and tree removal that specifically follows forestry policies – no clear cutting – can all be exempt from a shoreline permit, Frank says.

“If you go out there today, you’ll see a very substantial grove of trees,” Frank says. “We did not cut down or eliminate all the trees.”

Here may be the point of contention: Frank says the trees removed were between 50 and 100 feet away from the shore, where DOE says they were within 50 feet or closer to the shore.

Frank plans to appeal.

“It’s bullying,” Frank says. “It’s bullying on the part of DOE. DOE wants a more stringent shoreline regulation than exists under state law. And so they bully people. They don’t follow the law… I can give you dozens of examples of people who have cut down trees. DOE has done nothing about any of them… They don’t have a consistent or uniform enforcement program. DOE has been essentially absent at Liberty Lake for the last generation. It’s ridiculous.”

Usually the Department of Ecology sends out a notice of correction first before leveling a fine. But Gilbert says that since Greenstone was warned not to remove the trees in 2007, a fine was issued immediately. According to the DOE, Greenstone must also cease all “clearing, grading and excavating within 200 feet of the ordinary high water mark of Liberty Lake until the current violation is resolved with Ecology.” Non-compliance costs $1,000 a day. 

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MORNING HEADLINES: YouTube Oscar, a new Ice Age

Posted on Thu, Dec 30, 2010 at 9:53 AM

Snow drunk — Yesterday, Spokane was named the 21st drunkest city in all of America. And the a local drunk dude pulling his kids on sleds behind an ATV crashed them into a parked police car, sending them to the hospital. Coincidence? I think not. Ramon Noggles, the dad, was arrested and taken to jail. (SR)

Gondola hero — They're not just for your visiting family, anymore, because the gondolas are totally great for rescuing people that have fallen in the icy depths of the Spokane River. (KXLY)

The Big Freeze — All that snow that fell yesterday is expected to stick around forever, heralding a new ice age that should cover the Inland Northwest under a mile of ice and slow moving glaciers. Giant marmots with tusks will rule this part of the world and any human that survives will lead a short, brutish existence and probably die before the age of 30. At least, that's how cold it feels today. At least it's sunny. (KREM) 

I'd like to thank the academy, and iMovie — Roger Ebert has declared a YouTube video to be Oscar worthy. Is it? 

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spokane is drunker than most

Posted on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 2:43 PM

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Glasses up, Spokane imbibers. We live in the 21st drunkest city in America.

I'll drink to that.

According to the Daily Beast, which compiled the list, we drink more on average than Seattle, Portland and Boise. Almost 20 percent of us are binge drinkers. And we consume about 12 drinks a month. Wait a minute... that's it?

At least we don't live in Milwaukee, the reigning champ. There, the streets run with cheap Schlitz. Congrats to those lushes. 

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Hump Day Happy Hour

Posted By on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Each Wednesday on Bloglander, we give you a taste of happy hours going on at bars around town that night. (Read previous posts.)

Tip off for the Zags game starts at 5:30. Where will you be?

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From 3-7 pm, Nyne (which also happens to have an indoor basketball court) will feature domestic drafts for $2.50, $3.50 for microbrews, $3 wells, $3 chips and salsa, $4 sliders, $6 flat bread platter and pork wings for $7.

At the Max at Mirabeau from 3-6 pm, domestic drafts are $2.90, microbrews and wells are $3.90 and select glasses of wine are $5. Bottles of wine are also half price along with appetizers.

The party will be hoppin' at Litz from 4-7 pm, with all whiskey shots available for $4. Wells are $3 and domestic bottles are $2.75. During the game pitchers of Bud Light go for $7 and they also are offering free spaghetti.

Chic-a-Ria has appetizers at 25 percent off and 50 cents off wells and draft beers.

At Clinkerdagger appetizers are half off from 3-6 pm. The green apple drop, cranberry mojito, pomegranate margarita, draft beers and house wines per glass are all $4.

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Suggested New Year's Resolutions for TV Showrunners

Posted By on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 11:48 AM

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It would be easy to write a list of my own New Year’s resolutions (“I resolve to stop ripping on Two and a Half Men until I actually sit down and watch an entire episode.”)

But resolutions are so easily broken. It’s much more enjoyable, therefore, to suggest New Year’s resolutions for other people, and then tsk-tsk from a distance when they break them.

So here’s a quick list of suggested New Year’s resolutions for the writers of our favorite TV shows. Add your additional suggestions in the comments.

“I resolve never to let a character say something negative about another character, and then use the phrase, ‘Ooh, he’s right behind me, isn’t he?'”

“I resolve to always have a flexible one-season plan, but never a locked-down five-season plan.”

“I resolve to readily abandon any long-term plan as soon as a better idea comes along.“

“I resolve to never introduce a mystery unless I have some vague notion of the answer.“

“If I must introduce a ‘mole’ into my action thriller, I resolve to not make it a character you’d ‘least expect.' I resolve to make the mole someone who, in retrospect, makes a sort of sense.”

“I resolve to writer fewer episodes featuring flashbacks and more featuring time travel.”

“Unless my name is Bryan Fuller and I’ve hired Morgan Freeman, I resolve to never use voice-over narration in my show.”

“I resolve to rarely ever have my characters directly state their feelings. If they ever do, I resolve to write that expression as fumbling, self-deceptive or particularly poetic.“

“I resolve to rewrite any sitcom episode speech that could easily be prefixed by Kyle or Stan from South Park saying, ‘You know, I learned something today ... '”

“I resolve to let Tim Minear write and direct at least one episode of my show, even though it will likely mean my show will be canceled within five episodes.”

“I resolve to find ways to make the fans happy, to make them applaud, to cause them to smile and cheer, but never — ever — by having their favorite characters hook up. In this area, I resolve to constantly deny fans their wishes. If their characters ever find romantic happiness with each other, I resolve to kill at least one of them within three episodes. I resolve for that to just be the way I roll.”

“I resolve to answer at least one ‘will-they or won’t-they?’ romantic pairing with a definitive ‘they won’t.’"

“I resolve to use fan-favorite secondary characters with steady moderation, because, like a giant cookie, sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing.“ (R)

“I resolve to introduce a character that has an interesting personality instead of rocking good looks. I resolve to not write any ‘fat jokes’ about this character, hilarious as my wit may be.”

“I resolve to give the wife or girlfriend character one character trait beyond ‘naggy fun-killer.’”

“I resolve to figure out some other place to show businessmen meeting than ‘fancy restaurant’ or ‘mostly-clothed strip club.’ I resolve to find some other place to show journalists meeting their sources than ‘dark parking garage’ or ‘beneath a bridge embankment.’“

“I resolve to write at least one crazy-gutsy episode a year, one that will angrily divide fans and critics.”

“I resolve to specifically write, ‘there is to be no wacky music in this humorous scene’ in the script, and then underline it five times.”

“I resolve that, if my character must visit a therapist, he will not be Dr. Exposition.”

“I resolve to credit my co-writers whenever possible. If I win an award, I will let my co-writer give the speech.”

“I resolve to write my happy marriages like Eric and Tami Taylor and my failing marriages like Skyler and Walter White."

“I resolve to only dip into the well of crudity when the cleverness, wit and creativity of the joke truly justifies it, not because crudity can make for an easy Two and Half-Men-style lazy laugh line.” (See what I mean about how easy it is to break your New Year's resolution?)

Update: Shawn Ryan, showrunner for The Shield, Terriers, and now The Chicago Code, tweets that "Except for the narration, I'm on board [with this list]"

Chicago Code uses narration as a key storytelling device. We'll review it when it premieres in February.


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MORNING HEADLINES: Obama sells America, for free

Posted on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Since we've no place to go (except work) — Let it snow, I guess. Those in the know say we could have up to a foot of snow today. (KXLY)

Coeur d'Alene embezzlement — Police are investigating longtime Kootenai County deputy clerk, Sandy Martinson, for what could be big time money funneling. “Until the discovery of this betrayal of trust, Sandy was highly respected by me, her co-workers, and the community at large,” says current clerk, Dan English. “Even the possibility that these allegations are true leaves me with a profound and deep sense of shock and violation.” (SR)

Mega-loaded — A hearing officer recommended that huge trucks be allowed to travel a scenic highway in Idaho. (SR) 

Obama the Secret Muslim, wants to give the America back — The latest rightwing conspiracy has President Obama handing the U.S.A. to Native Americans. What'll they think of next? (Atlantic Wire) 

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thirty-two inches in 38 seconds: Snowmageddon is nigh

Posted on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 2:21 PM

With forecasters calling for up to 14 inches of snow over the next two days, we thought this video from last weekend's "Snowpocalypse" back east would be inspiring. Any videographers out there?

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

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Obama's gift to Washington: $17.6 million and heartburn

Posted on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Last year, Washington state lowered the number of uninsured kids in the state from 4.6 percent to 3.4 percent, thanks to a program called Apple Health for Kids, which helps about 700,000 kids get access to health care. Because of this, it was announced yesterday that the state received $17.6 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Right on time.

You may remember that earlier this month Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed eliminating the Basic Health program, which provides subsidized health care to about 66,000 needy people. Additionally, her budget proposal would kick thousands of children who might be in the country illegally off state insurance rolls. All of this was part of her effort to plug the $4.6 billion budget deficit.

The good news comes with some tough decision making. The almost $18 million in unexpected cash is unrestricted, meaning it can be used by the state in any way it wants. But activists are pushing her to reinvest in the Apple Health for Kids. According to the Tacoma News Tribune political blog, Gregoire has suggested she might eliminate the program to aid in her budget balancing.

And with many programs and pet projects on the line, many lawmakers are likely salivating at the new money.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, however, said in a statement she would like to see the money put back into Apple Health; "These bonus funds help us keep this successful program going in a tough budget environment," she said.

A total of $206 million was handed out to 15 states as part of an effort to increase health care access for uninsured kids. The program was authorized in February 2009 under the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. The other states are Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin.

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MORNING HEADLINES: Egypt and Michael Vick

Posted on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 10:34 AM

Kennewick man dies in Egypt — Mike Braun, a Kennewick resident, was one of eight people who died in an Egyptian bus crash over the holiday weekend. His partner, Sue Flink, suffered two broken legs. (SR)

Meteorologists double down — Remember when they said the snow would fall last night, culminating in up to five inches? Wrong again, but they're going all in by calling for up to nine inches tonight. (KREM) 

We're jobless, now more than ever! — Unemployment has hit an all-time high in Washington. In related news, the jobless are eating less fruits and vegetables, leading many to believe that when you don't have a job, you should eat things that actually taste good. (KREM, WSJ)

Obama: Vick fan — Lastly, it turns out the president is a fan of second chances. According to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, Obama called him to thank him for giving star quarterback Michael Vick a shot at redemption. Vick recently served prison time for the brutal treatment of dogs he was raising for dog-fighting. Facing the Tea Party and a slew of Republican challengers, Obama surely finds solace in the story of a second chance done well. (Atlantic Wire) 

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Alien invasions, arsenic and Molotov cocktails: UPCOMING BOOKS

Posted on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Here are some books that are coming out over the next month ... 

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Disaster Preparedness: A Memoir, by Heather Havrilesky (Riverhead, 250 pages, Dec. 30) The Salon.com journalist has written a memoir about the after-effects of divorce while living in 1970s North Carolina. Dad was a womanizing professor; Mom decided to move out; Heather and her sibs could never again trust whatever adults had to say. So Heather started planning escape routes in case of floods or alien invasions.

The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight for Justice, by Kathryn Bolkovac and Cari Lynn (Palgrave Macmillan, 250 pages, Jan. 4) According to Bolkovac, who won a wrongful termination lawsuit against them, DynCorp International (a private security firm) systematically kept Bosnian women in the late '90s in debt bondage and forced prostitution.

Being Polite to Hitler, by Robb Forman Dew (Little, Brown; 300 pages; Jan. 6) This novel is the third of a trilogy (following The Evidence Against Her, 2001, and The Truth of the Matter, 2005) about a family in small-town Ohio; this one covers 1953-73: polio scares, the space race, civil rights, etc. Dew, who's married to a history professor in Massachusetts, debuted with Dale Loves Sophie to Death back in 1981; Robert Penn Warren was her godfather.

Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche, by James S. Miller (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 430 pages, Jan. 4) Short biographies of 12 famous philosophers, focused on the question of how best to live the good life: Augustine found God within himself, while Nietzsche found no god anywhere.

Molotov's Magic Lantern: Travels in Russian History, by Rachel Polonsky (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 420 pages, Jan. 4) She travels to the land of Dostoyevsky and the Cossacks, then all the way to Siberia and Lake Baikal. But it all starts when she's invited to live in the once impressive, now rundown building which once housed Vyacheslav Molotov (as in cocktail, as in Stalin's second-in-command). A kind of literary travelogue of the grimmest aspects of Russian history.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany, by Susan Vreeland (Random House, 400 pages, Jan. 11) In 2005, art historians stumbled onto caches of letters proving that the famous Tiffany lamps weren't devised by Tiffany at all. He never publicly acknowledged that most of the creative work was done by "the Tiffany girls" under the direction of one Clara Driscoll. Vreeland, who specializes in fiction about art history (like Girl in Hyacinth Blue, about a Vermeer painting, told in reverse chronology), now presents this novelized version of Clara Driscoll's dilemma in choosing between career and marriage.

Death and the Virgin Queen: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart, by Chris Skidmore (St. Martin's Press/Phoenix, 450 pages, Jan. 18) Published in Britain last February to great acclaim (from Lady Antonia Fraser and Philippa Gregory, among others), this historical account by a current M.P. claims to solve a longtime mystery. In 1560, the most desirable match in Europe, just 27 years old, wanted to marry her non-royal lover, Robert Dudley. But then, under suspicious circumstances, Dudley's wife got dead. And now Skidmore's got the coroner's report.

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, by Deborah Blum (Penguin paperback reprint, 330 pages, Jan. 25) People used to think that radium would make you glow with power. Aconite is so powerful that the ancient Greeks thought it came from the saliva of Cerberus, the three-headed dog. And thallium makes your hair fall out. Today, we may have CSI and Bones, but Blum's book goes back to when chemists and detectives were just starting to figure it all out. Check out our Dec. 16 Gift Guide issue for more book-buying suggestions, along with our Books blog (see link at bottom of this page).

 

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