Thursday, June 30, 2011

Far West Billiards is closing (everything half-off tonight)

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 4:13 PM

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For reasons as-yet unknown, Far West Billiards is closing its doors after tonight. Until then, all food and drinks are half-price, and food will be served until 2 am. 

Around 4 pm today, Far West employee Johnny Dandurand announced the closure on his Facebook page and word spread within minutes.

To go say goodbyes or get a first and last look at the downtown bar before it's gone, visit them from now until 2 am at 1001 W First Ave.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post on what happened to warrant the sudden closure, and what will become of photographer Geoff Scanlan's exhibit there, which would have opened tomorrow.

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Phone book lawsuit dismissed

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 9:06 AM

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A federal judge dismissed Dex One’s lawsuit against the City of Seattle’s Yellow Pages opt-out service, ruling that it does not violate the First Amendment, as several phone book companies argued.

“The route the City of Seattle has chosen to take is completely unnecessary,” Local Search Association President Neg Norton wrote in a statement Wednesday. “Seattle taxpayers should be outraged that the City continues to waste its resources on a system that is unnecessary and, we believe, illegal.”

The lawsuit was filed in May when Seattle launched its Stop Phone Books website. Phone book companies argued that directories provide community and political information in addition to ads and commercial information, comparing yellow pages to newspapers. The Inlander earlier looked into the growing controversy of phone books ("Paper Cuts," March 31, 2010).

The phone book companies argue that the city’s website will not protect privacy as well as their commercial site, www.yellowpagesoptout.com.

“We believe that the city’s redundant site is not necessary and is unfairly leading residents to believe it has spent the government’s time and the taxpayer’s money on something new…” says Norton in a statement.

But in his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart said that phone books are commercial speech, which has less protection under the Constitution.

The ruling comes shortly after state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, announced he would introduce a bill to take the opt-out registry statewide in 2012.

According to a statement, publishers intend to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

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MORNING HEADLINES: Fireworks, of all kinds

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 8:15 AM

A little extra stimulus -- Washington State is getting $98 million in new stimulus funding from the federal government. While a third goes to a new unemployment benefits computer system, the rest goes to pay unemployment benefits. A new rule, established in 2009, gives benefits to those who quit their job because of family emergencies, domestic abuse, or a moving spouse. (SR)

Loss of patriotism -- Airway Heights, once a haven of roman candles and cherry bombs, have now passed an ordinance banning setting them off on city streets and fields. Violators are fined $1000. (KREM)

Not-so-great escape -- A convicted murderer, from Spokane, had been given a 45-year sentence. He only got to five of those years before he tried to break out of prison, taking a corrections officer hostage with a pair of scissors and driving a forklift through a door, and was fatally shot. (KXLY)

The other forgotten war --  In Iraq -- remember Iraq? -- the death toll for American troops has spiked to a monthly high not seen since 2008. (NYT)

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Western governors in town (and in leather)

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter
  • Idaho Gov. Butch Otter

We always thought that when you were the governor you could pretty much wear whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted.

Apparently, we were wrong.

Governors from western states will cruise Lake Coeur d’Alene Thursday night, and they’re expected to dress the part. It will be the close of this year’s Western Governors’ Association meeting and according to the event agenda, “Western wear is encouraged.”

The rest of the time, we’re told, business casual will do.

Along with Washington’s Chris Gregoire and Idaho’s Butch Otter, governors from Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming are attending the conference today and Thursday at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

In panels and roundtables, the governors, other government officials, and business leaders will discuss education, energy and environmental policy.

Otter is the current chair of the group, Gregoire the vice chair. The two will lead the conference, moderating talks on veterans’ benefits, state employee health and energy development in the west.

Otter will pass the gavel onto Gregoire Thursday afternoon, a transfer made in the organization every year, says the group’s communications director, Karen Deike. Otter has focused on industry and energy efficiency in his year as chair, she says. Gregoire will announce her priorities when she receives the top spot.

Deike didn’t want to steal the governor’s thunder but says Gregoire has “some pretty exciting plans.”

More information about the organization and the meeting can be found at westgov.org.

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Spokane nursing home investigated after dehydrated patient dies

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 2:05 PM

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Staff at a Spokane nursing home with a history of problems failed to monitor and give enough fluids to a dehydrated resident, who subsequently died, according to state records obtained today by The Inlander.

The facility, Franklin Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center, is prohibited from accepting new patients until state regulators are satisfied the nursing home has addressed its substandard care. Regulators have also imposed a $3,000 fine.

Franklin Hill is operated by Milwaukee-headquartered Extendicare, which owns 264 care centers in North America, including Cherrywood Place in north Spokane, the Gardens in Spokane Valley and Ivy Court and Lacrosse Health and Rehabilitation Center in Coeur d'Alene.

“They [at Franklin Hills] have a history of noncompliance,” says Shirlee Steiner, regional administrator for DSHS Residential Care Services, which inspects nursing homes and long-term care facilities for licensing. “At one point, they were a special care facility, and that’s where you have more frequent investigations … mandated by the federal government.”

In this latest incident, an unidentified patient was admitted to the facility for rehab after several falls, according to state records. On June 3, he became ill and two nurses noticed the change in his condition, asking a third nurse to follow up. That nurse, identified only as "Staff B" in records, failed to further evaluate the man or contact a doctor.

The following day, June 4, a nursing assistant told Staff B that the patient hadn’t urinated during the night or that day, records state. Staff B inserted a catheter, no urine was returned, and a doctor was notified. An IV was ordered and for the next 17 hours no one checked on how much fluid the patient was getting.

At 5:45 am on June 5, the patient was found vomiting and in respiratory distress. Someone called 911 and the patient was taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with septic shock, pneumonia, kidney failure and respiratory failure. He died later that day. Follow-up investigation later determined the patient didn't receive the prescribed amount of fluid.

Trent Cunningham, administrator of Franklin Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center, tells The Inlander in a written statement:

“Our primary concern is, and has always been, the health and well-being of our residents. Due to privacy laws, we are unable to provide specific details regarding the services provided to any resident in our care. As is their standard practice, the state will return to the center to verify that we have addressed their concerns appropriately.”

Franklin Hills was the subject of a 2007 Spokesman-Review article, which noted the facility then had the worst record in the county for resident care. The facility’s problems in 2006 resulted in $4,500 in fines as well as a “stop-placement” order on new patients.

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John Waite's Terran marine costume was a one-time deal

Posted on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 1:13 PM

City council candidate John Waite told The Inlander today that he’s retooling his campaign: No longer will he wave campaign signs while dressed up as a StarCraft character.

You may remember Waite, who owns Merlyn’s Comics, Games and Books and is running to represent Spokane’s first district in the City Council, from his appearance in front of his store last month while dressed as a Terran marine from the popular computer game.

The costume actually belonged to a customer, Waite says, who didn’t want to wear it anymore since it weighed about 100 pounds. Someone suggested Waite put it on and promote his campaign.

“I think it was a fun incident and neat but it’s not something I want to run around and do,” Waite says. “I think I’m a serious candidate and don’t want people to think I’m doing this for fun.”

Waite says his priorities in office would be to balance the budget without laying people off or raising taxes. Calling for a “shared sacrifice,” Waite says he would propose pay freezes or cuts across the city administration.

While the costume may be gone, Waite says he still wants to include art as part of his campaign, saying that he will soon unveil “the coolest campaign signs ever made.”

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Happy Hour Specials

Posted on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 1:10 PM

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

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The Vin Rouge, on the south hill, serves up happy hour from 2-5:30 pm. Specials include: $2.50 bottles 20-20 Blonde .

The Viking, in north Spokane, ushers in happy hour from 2-6 pm. Specials include: $3 pints of Bud Light, Windmere and IPA.

Cyrus O'Leary's, in downtown Spokane, celebrates happy hour from 3-6 pm. Specials include: half-priced nachos and $1 off draft beers.

Lindaman's, in the south hill, serves up happy hour from 3-6 pm. Specials include: $1 off all glasses of wine and cocktails. 

Raw, in downtown Spokane, ushers in happy hour from 10 pm-midnight. Specials include: half off sushi rolls and $5 sakitinis. 


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Doctor Who and the pleasures of confusion

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 10:40 AM

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Too many television shows worry too much about making sure the viewer knows — at all times — precisely what’s going on. They do this through flashbacks, through exposition, through a sequential series of predictable events.

Which is too bad, really.

Throwing the viewing audience, hog-tied, into events they can’t possibly understand is one of the best things a television show can do.

Steven Moffat, showrunner for Doctor Who, understands the complicated pleasures of confusion. Both the series opener and the mid-season finale opened with several layers of “what? whaaat? whaaaat?” Why is he being shot? Why is that spaceship being blown up? Who is that girl in the spaceman suit?

Trying to figure out these types of odd-ball questions, or just hanging on for the ride as the show begins to answer them, gives the same sort of gleeful thrill as a popcorn action movie. It’s the Inception factor. “What is happening?” is an even more enjoyable mystery than “What happened?”

The fact that Doctor Who is a time-travel show means that starting in the middle of the story makes a perfect kind of sense. Plenty of other stories, of course, begin with big questions or start in the middle. But most other shows usually make a legion of mistakes with this technique — they halt the forward momentum of a narrative to didactically provide clarification. The narrative becomes fixated on either the past or present, making one or the other seem expendable, even boring. (See: Flash Forward, or weaker mid-run episodes of Lost.)

But what Doctor Who and Inception understands is that you don’t slow down to give answers or clarify the confusing opening moments — you give those answers and clarification parallel to the whizbang action and corridor-running, while adding more questions, more confusing moments, the entire time.

After all, confusion — or near confusion — is an exhilarating place for an audience to be.


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MORNING HEADLINES: Here comes the crash

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 7:42 AM

Texting while driving -- Invariably, if it turns out you were typing a text message to your friend while driving, and you hit and kill a pedestrian, you'll be in deep trouble. But what if you're a police officer typing a message into an onboard computer? (SR)

Bicycle justice -- There's nothing worse than swimming 2.4 miles and finding your bike missing. Fortunately, two stolen Ironman Triathlon bikes have been found, when the thieves tried to sell them to Pawn 1. (KREM)

Painting in traffic -- If you must fire paintballs, don't do it into I-90 traffic. (KXLY)

A more Spartan tomorrow -- To compensate for considerable debt, the Greeks have passed another round of austerity, featuring considerable cutbacks in social services. The Greek people have responded with measured disappointment, by which we mean rioting. (NYT)

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Restaurant Row Resolved

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Standing in front of city hall with local restaurant industry leaders and attorneys, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner announced that an agreement had been reached to addresses concerns regarding disputes between entertainment venue owners and the city.

The agreement would establish a Community Advisory Board that would arbitrate between the city and restaurants and bars, describing is as sort of a middle ground so that a venue can keep operating while it disputes a citation.

“Small local businesses are key to economic success,” Verner says. She also talked about a host of other pro-business steps the city has taken, such as upgrading the permitting process for businesses and repaving many streets.

Relations between the city and businesses were not always so cheery. Last year, the Spokane Alliance of Bars and Restaurants, or SABR, complained to city officials about the Good Neighbor Agreements many restaurants agree to in order to get business licenses, saying there was no way for businesses to dispute code violations, according to a statement from the mayor's office.

Jerry Davis, attorney for SABR, says he thought the process for resolving complaints would be long and arduous, but was surprised by how quickly all sides came into agreements.

“We got everything we wanted,” says SABR leader, RJ Portmann.

The agreement must now be approved by the city council, Verner says, but she expects it to pass.

— CHRIS STEIN

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