Friday, March 30, 2012

Watch Two Artists Beat Each Other Up

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Ever desired to see two local artists really beat the crap out of each other? Well, friend, you're in luck. 

In conjunction with their exhibition, "Escalation" (read our story about it here), visual artists Scott Kolbo and Lance Sinemma will suit up tomorrow night and beat the hell out of each other with big "letterpress boxing gloves." It's the end-cap to the month-long showing, where viewers got to vote for which "side" would win. You'll see tonight who that is. 

It all goes down Saturday night at 5:30 pm at the Saranac Art Projects (25 W. Main Ave.). It'll look something like this: 

Escalation from Scott Kolbo on Vimeo.


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Sensible Spokane pushing measure to make marijuana a lower legal priority

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 3:15 PM

The Sensible Spokane Alliance is collecting signatures in an effort to make marijuana the lowest police priority and bar local officials from cooperating with federal agents to investigate and prosecute adult marijuana offenses.

“It would lower the priority of law enforcement towards marijuana to the very bottom of all crimes,” says Sensible Spokane Alliance chair Ian Moody. “If this were to become a law, it would make it so that local law enforcement could not assist federal officers in investigations towards local marijuana use.”

The alliance has been collecting signatures for the last three weeks from Spokane County. Petitions for registered voters in Spokane Valley and Cheney will begin circulating on Monday, April 2. If enough signatures are gathered from Spokane, Spokane Valley and Cheney, the issue will be put on official ballots.

“Our petition is related to directly legalizing marijuana, but as of now medical marijuana is the only marijuana legal, so this law would help people who need that resource,” says Moody.

According to Sensible Spokane Alliance, lowering police priority on marijuana will stop wasting law enforcement resources, free up jail space for violent criminals, protect the Fourth Amendment Right to Privacy, and end racial, cultural, and economic disparities.

They argue that marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco and that adults should have legal access to safer recreation. According to Moody, the goal is for marijuana to be taxed, thus spurring economic growth.

“If marijuana is legalized in Washington, our goal is to protect the community and the rights for the people if discrimination persists or if the federal government doesn’t respect the state’s laws,” says Moody. “We think that adults could make intelligent decisions, and with regulations, marijuana can be used responsibly by legal adults.”

Cheney must turn out 840 signatures by June 23 to place a measure on the November 2012 general election ballot. Spokane must gather 4,070 signatures by March 6, 2013, to place a measure on the November 2013 general election ballot, and Spokane Valley requires 10,000 signatures by October 2, 2012, to place a measure on a 2013 special election ballot.

"It’s all a piece of a big messy puzzle and we are just trying to do our part as locals to push for the next steps on a state and then a federal level,” says Moody. “Marijuana should be brought off the black market and regulated.”

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THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Coathangers! 6 Foot!

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 1:56 PM

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TONIGHT!

The Flying Spiders take over the Blue Spark tonight with Portland-based dream-pop band, Point Juncture WA and Octoninjitsu FreeForce. 9 pm. $5. Gotta be 21.

An amazing lineup tonight at Mootsy's, including local rockers Myth Ship, garage rockers White Mystery and the punchy, punk rock sounds of the Coathangers — who we profiled this week. Check them out at 10 pm. $7. Gotta be 21.

SATURDAY!

Beloved longtime local swing masters, 6 Foot Swing, throw a massive and sure-to-be-swanky CD Release show tomorrow at the A Club. $10; $22-$27 for VIP seating. Gotta be 21. Read about them here.

Dude! Kansas is playing tomorrow at WSU! Carry on My Wayward Son! 8 pm. $30-$40. Beasley Coliseum. All-ages.

The Dead Winter Carpenters, a California Americana band that's passed through here more than a few times, kicks off a two day residency at the Red Room Tomorrow. They'll play Saturday night with locals Folkinception, and again on Sunday night there with Terrible Buttons. Shows start each night at 8 pm. $7. Gotta be 21.

SUNDAY!

Puerto Rico’s Los Vigilantes reinforce that — as cheesy as it sounds — music transcends culture. I’d argue that it’s impossible to not dance to this band, even if you’re the type who pronounces the double-L in “tortilla” like a honky. Los Vigilantes has emerged from the garage punk scene of San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a sound that hearkens back to the early days of rock ’n’ roll. Doo-wop vocals back up nearly every song, with lots of tra-la-la-la-las. 9 pm at the Baby Bar. Free. Gotta be 21. 

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Spokane Police are changing their response to property crime

Posted on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 12:37 PM

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In lieu of assigning detectives to investigate property crimes, Spokane Police will use cameras, patrol officers and crime analysis to foil thieves, they announced this morning.

"We are taking a data-driven, analytical approach to our work on property crimes to deliver results that will improve the safety of our citizens," Chief Scott Stephens told a press conference.

The city's property crimes unit was disbanded last year, though the police continued to respond to calls about the crimes. David Condon, in his run for mayor, vowed to craft a response to burglaries and car prowlings within his first 100 days in office.

Police will keep tabs on repeat offenders, analyze crime data to spot emerging trends, and focus resources on parts of the city that are most affected by crime, says Major Frank Scalise.

Stephens says 50 percent of crime in the city takes place in about 6 percent of neighborhood blocks.

Officers will also use cameras that can read license plates and employ special teams of patrol officers to analyze data and better target offenders, Scalise says.

According to police data, burglaries and vehicle thefts peaked last November and have been on the decline as of February. Vehicle prowling also peaked in November and was on the decline, but has since been increasing, according to the data. 

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MORNING BRIEFING: Double Video Friday

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 7:36 AM

HERE

Spokane's City Council will discuss gay marriage — and some say a nonbinding resolution is on track to pass. (SR)

This weekend, bring a cat home! (SR)

Ferris High School students put on a play about suicide tonight. (KREM)

It's wet. (SR)

THERE

Idaho promotes itself as giant potato. (SR) 

Apple saves face. (Reuters)

Pesticides are killing bees. This is bad. (NYT)

There's some money up for grabs today. (KREM) 

DOUBLE VIDEO FRIDAY!!!!!


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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday music: To Sweat? Or not to Sweat?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Almost the weekend! Get started on your music fix early, tonight, with two very different shows. 

Choice #1: Unicycle Loves You and True FO at the Baby Bar. Free. 10 pm.

Spokane ain’t exactly a rock-skip away from Austin, Texas — and yet, somehow, we’re lucky enough to see a slew of bands from South By Southwest coming our way. Like Chicago’s Unicycle Loves You, a band that takes the freshness of someone like Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and smashes it together with the whale sounds and moans of, say, My Bloody Valentine. On “Mountain Lungs,” the band conjures up this great, sun-soaked optimism, and then on “Evil Unmasked,” Unicycle Loves You just makes a lot of scary, strange sounds. In Spokane’s local music scene — a scene that flocks to experimentation — this band should be welcomed with keys to the city. Or just a Baby Bar T-shirt.

Unicycle Loves You - Justine from Unicycle Loves You on Vimeo.

Choice #2: KEITH SWEAT at Coeur d'Alene Casino. $50! 7 pm.

I mean, what else could he have been? An accountant? With a birth name like Keith Sweat, the guy could have only been a gigolo or an R&B singer. Sweat took the high road, crooning his way to the top of the Billboard charts with the sexiest, sweatiest R&B songs of the era. Remember that video for “Twisted?” Where Sweat gets all sweaty with the assassin chick? Or “Nobody,” where he lays on the Sweat all thick: “I want your body to the very last drop.” Not just anybody can get away with that kind of funny business.

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Gonzaga's Desmond Tutu commencement plans catalyze backlash, petition

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 1:11 PM

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Gonzaga University, like many religious academic institutions, see-saws in perpetual tension between its Catholic tradition and its broadacademic focus. Is it okay for the school to perform the VaginaMonologues? Have a pro-life clubon campus? Havea non-Jesuit president?

If you thought the selection of Archbishop DesmondTutu (Nobel peace laureate, apartheid-toppler, preacher against injusticeand for forgiveness) commencement speaker, would avoid that sort of tension,apparently, you thought wrong.

Now, Tutu’s the subject of a critical petition from a few Gonzaga alumni.

First came a blog from the Cardinal Newman Society – a group with the goal to“help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education” –which takes this angle on the story: “Gonzagato Honor Pro-Abortion Rights Archbishop Desmond Tutu”

The specific problem they have with Tutu: “Archbishop Tutu earned the 1984Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to subdue violence in racially torn SouthAfrica during apartheid. But as admirable as that work has been, Tutu also endorsed a constitutionalamendment in South Africa to legalize abortion and evenendorsed the work of the abortion chain Marie Stopes. “

To the Cardinal Newman Society, it’s a violation of a bishop’s directivestating that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defianceof our fundamental moral principles.”

Today, alumni Patrick Kirby (who graduated from Gonzaga’s law school in 1993)and Maureen Kirby (who graduated from a Gonzaga Masters of OrganizationalLeadership program in 1996) have launched a petitiondrive to drum up their opposition.

“As alumni, faculty, staff, students and other friends of Gonzaga University,we are deeply troubled that Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu will give the 2012commencement address and be honored with an honorary Doctor of Lawsdegree,” they write. “If this occurs on May 13 as has been announced, it willmark a sad day in Gonzaga’s history.”

Patrick Kirby says this has been in discussion among local Catholic, on theinternet and over e-mail for some time. Now they have launched a campaign, upsetover Tutu’s support for abortion, gay-rights, and critiques of Israel. He sayshis petition has some support among a few members of Gonzaga’s faculty andstaff, though the didn’t feel comfortable naming who they were.

“Just because he has a Nobel peace prize doesn’t give him a license for aninvitation to speak at a Catholic university,” Kirby says over the phone today.“It’s shocking. It’s offensive. It’s stupid.”

Representatives from Gonzaga did not immediately return phone calls requestfor a comment.

The petition has received national traction, not only being written up by theCardinal Newman Society, but being tweeted by @AmericanPapist, a conservativeCatholic blogger with over 10,000 twitter followers.

This is not the first time a Tutu being chosen as a commencement speaker hasreceived backlash. The notion that the University of St. Thomas,in Minnesota, didn’t want Tutu to speak  due to comments about Israel ended upcreating a nationalfirestorm in 2007. The University of St. Thomas later changed its mind, andextended an invitation.

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Local eco-developer's $2.6 million crowdsourcing campaign

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM

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Generally, when someone cold-calls a journalist and tells a sad story of the world conspiring against them, the truth tends to be muddier. And the more you look into it, the muddier this sort of thing tends to get. 

In the case of Cassie Price, though, and her dad Ross Taylor — who are trying to save their eco-development near Dishman-Mica from foreclosure — the picture just kept getting clearer.

The more experts we talked to, the more people said it was a great bit of ethical development in a good location and a solid financial upside. Green builders think it's a no-brainer. Greater Spokane Incorporated thinks it'll bring $175-180 million to the area in addition to 50 living-wage jobs.

So what's holding it up? Investors, banks, investment bankers, Brad Pitt —Price asked everyone and no one is interested in lending. They told her "Cool project, too bad it's now. Wait 5 years," Price told us. But of course, they don't have five years. Their lender could seize the land as early as April 30.

The only problem is the money. Price couldn't get it from traditional sources, so she decided to go very, very non-traditional. She took it to the people.

Yesterday, as our story was going to print, Cassie Price started a $2.6 million crowdsourcing campaign on the website IndieGoGo (functionally similar to the much-buzzed-about Kickstarter).

It raised $3500 in its first few hours of existence. It needs to raise much much more.

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Former mayor Mary Verner responds to our story about requests for back pay

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 10:40 AM

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We wrote a story this week revealing that shortly before she asked for back pay and a pension adjustment, outgoing Mayor Mary Verner signed a city law restricting voluntary salary reductions for City Council members. (Click here to download PDFs of Verner's backpay and pension request letters.)

Due to some communication mix-ups, Verner's full response came after deadline, so here it be:

Note that my letter . . . asks for evaluation of my retirement benefit as if I had constructively received my salary. This is the point completely missed in previous press coverage, but was entirely the point of my request for the City to evaluate the almost $300,000 in salary I forfeited over my term as Mayor. I asked for an evaluation of my retirement as if I had received the full salary. I have not yet received a response to this central question. I have received only the response that I will not receive any back pay, which is exactly the response I anticipated.

Again, I have not received any back pay or any bump in retirement. And I have not filed a claim. I merely made the inquiry and moved on to new endeavors. I’m not waiting for any different response from the City. My only remaining curiosity about this topic is why a news reporter would still belabor it over 3 months later.

Regarding the Council’s ordinance, it was a clarification needed to address a void between the Council’s and individual Council Members’ authorities and the mandate of the Salary Commission. The Council chose not to address the Mayor’s salary in their ordinance, deferring to the separation of duties under the City Charter. However, the ambiguity in law addressed by this ordinance still persists as it regards the Mayor’s lawful ability to decline all or a portion of the Charter-mandated salary.

There were legal memoranda from the City Attorney in 2007 and 2009 regarding whether an elected official may decline part of his or her salary. During my term, I made the executive decision to decline any amounts over $100,000/year, even though legal advice was not supportive. I did this so the City could keep other lower-paid employees, so we could pay for small contracts not otherwise covered in the budget, and we could meet other City expenses during a time of plummeting City revenues. I have no regrets about this decision; it was the right thing to do.

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MORNING BRIEFING: Joseph Duncan, George Zimmerman and ... Ron Burgundy?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 7:17 AM

HERE

Here's a name we haven't heard in forever, and one we thought we wouldn't hear again: serial killer Joseph Duncan will get new day in court. The death row inmate will get a hearing in order to assess how competent, mentally, he was when deciding to represent himself. (SR)

Speculations and rumors arise in Spirit Lake teen's mysterious death. (KREM)

Hanford will get a visit from the bigwigs this spring. (Tri-City Herald)

That heavy rain we're getting is making the Spokane River stanky. (KXLY) 

THERE

Newly released video shows that George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin, didn't even have a scratch on him. He recently claimed that he was in a death struggle with Martin, and was acting out of self-defense. (Huffington Post)

Autism is on the rise in the US. (Reuters)

Famous banjo player Earl Scruggs has died at age 88. (NYT)

I'M RON BURGUNDY?

We never lost hope that you'd be back, Ron.

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