Thursday, January 31, 2013

SpIFF Sampler: Get a taste of the festival with film trailers

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 2:44 PM

There’s a substantial lineup of SpIFF films this year, and you can read about each one in this week’s Inlander. But if you’re more a watcher than a reader, here’s a trailer sampler with six narrative films and six documentaries.

NARRATIVE

Rebelle (War Witch) • Feb. 10, 6:30 pm

The Thieves • Feb. 2, 7 pm

In The Fog • Feb. 5, 6:30 pm

Dead Dad • Feb. 8, 5 pm

Le Tableau (The Painting) • Feb. 2, 1 pm

Roza/Rose • Feb. 1, 5:30 pm

DOCUMENTARY

In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey • Feb. 1 at 9:30pm and Feb. 2 at noon

The Iran Job • Feb. 1, 7 pm

The Mountain Runners • Feb. 1, 9 pm

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines • Feb. 4 at 6:45 pm and Feb. 10 at 11:30 am

Bert Stern: Original Madman • Feb. 3, 2 pm

This Ain’t California (trailer is somewhat NSFW) • Feb. 2, 4:30 pm


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Mayor to give State of City speech next week

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 11:27 AM

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Spokane, get ready for a whole lot of this guy up in your grill . . .

Mayor David Condon will give his State of the City speech next Friday, Feb. 8, during a 7:30 am meeting at the Spokane Convention Center. If you're too lazy to wake up, he'll give it again — Spokane needs to hear it twice! —at City Council Chambers on Friday, Feb. 22, at noon.

What will he talk about? Maybe budget and police cuts and more money for police and water rates and streamlining government. What won't he talk about? Maybe those big pay raises he gave a few city managers

For a relaxing time, make it City Hall Eyeball time.

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MORNING BRIEFING: Spokane developer arrested for alleged Ponzi scheme

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 9:39 AM

HERE

Yesterday, Federal authorities arrested Spokane developer Greg Jeffreys -- who's been considered largely responsible for the demise of the Ridpath Hotel -- along with his wife, Kimberly Jeffreys, and his girlfriend, Shannon Stiltner, under a 73-count indictment for their alleged roles in numerous fraudulent activities. (S-R)

An accidental shooting on Tuesday has quickly evolved into a messy murder cover up attempt, a 19-year-old man's death and a manslaughter charge for the accidental shooter. (S-R)

A man wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants mask robbed a drive-up coffee stand last night in Coeur d'Alene. (CdA Press)

The escaped inmate from Geiger Corrections Center was taken into custody last night after being pulled out of the Spokane River at High Bridge Park. 

THERE

The U.S. Justice Department wants to block beer giant Anheuser-Busch's proposal to buy control of Mexican beer company Grupo Modelo for $20.1 billion, arguing the merger would reduce U.S. beer market competition. (NYT)

Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska and a twice-wounded Vietnam vet, is expected to face some tough questions today during his confirmation hearing for his nomination as U.S. secretary of defense. (CNN)

A teenage girl from Chicago who performed at President Obama's second inauguration was shot to death earlier this week as she sought cover from a rainstorm in a park shelter. 

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Less than a month until Spokane Restaurant Week, and menus are going up

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 2:27 PM

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There’s no turning back now — Spokane Restaurant Week had a kickoff soiree yesterday evening at the Lincoln Center. It’s less than a month until the event officially begins on Feb. 22, and the event gave organizers an excuse to remind participating restaurants about getting their menus posted by the end of this week. 

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(If you’re still thinking, ‘What is this restaurant week thing?’ — here’s the post we wrote before, here’s the story announcing it and here’s the FAQ on the Spokane Restaurant Week site.)

A big part of Restaurant Week is making an opportunity for restaurants to attract new diners, but there are other businesses trying to attract the attention of restaurants. URM Food Service, a Spokane Restaurant Week sponsor, organized a variety of appetizers showcasing some of their products. Chefs had helpfully turned those ingredients into tasty salads, desserts and bite-size appetizers.  

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Local beer and wine was also available to highlight Drink Local, a sort of unofficial part of Spokane Restaurant Week — it’s not required that participating restaurants serve local beverages, though it’s highly encouraged and many already do. And why wouldn’t they? That’s Wallace Brewing Company’s Red Light Irish Red up in the very top photo, and it was quite tasty.

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Will Rep. Raul Labrador help Sen. Marco Rubio sell his immigration compromise, or stand in the way?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 12:48 PM

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Expect this week to play prominently in future presidential debates. It’s when Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Florida) first big test as a contender for the GOP presidential nomination began.

Rubio and seven other senators, ranging from Republicans John McCain and Lindsay Graham to Democrats like Chuck Schumer, unveiled a controversial framework Sunday for overhauling the immigration system. It would increase border security, employment verification, and enforcement, but it would also provide a way for current illegal immigrants to become citizens.

That’s what’s caught a lot of attention.  

But a framework is a long way from a bill, and eight Senators is a long way from 51 Senators, and passing the Senate is a long way from passing the Republican-controlled House. For that last task, the key may be Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador.

Newly installed on the immigration subcommittee of the House Judiciary committee, he’s been a regular guest on talk shows about the issue. Labrador, a former immigration attorney, has been portrayed, by former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and others, as a key force in both forming policy around immigration and in convincing fellow conservative Republicans to hop on board. 

Labrador says that he’s spoken with Rubio.

The big question is whether they agree on policy. Rubio’s explicitly called for a “path to citizenship.” Liberals hear that and worry it might be citizenship in name only, while some conservative bloggers worry Rubio may be offering “amnesty.”

Rubio has been making the rounds on AM talk radio, wooing skeptical hosts like Rush Limbaugh to his way of thinking.

But convincing Labrador may be even more tricky. Idaho is much more conservative than Florida. A letter to the editor of the Coeur d’Alene Press today laments, “Did Idaho elect Raul Labrador to the US House of Representatives to broker adeal for amnesty that Barack Obama will accept?…  No amnesty deal, Raul. Represent Americans!”

Labrador’s on record pushing for guest worker programs, believing that the current immigration system is broken. But he has repeatedly said he’s opposed to a path to citizenship. In 2011 he told Politico, “We can’t just give people a pathway. That’s just out of question.” His language against amnesty has been even stronger. In a statement published in 2010 on his campaign site, he said, “Let me make it clear — I do not support amnesty for illegals. Let me say it again: no amnesty … not now, not ever. Those here illegally must return to their home countries and apply to re-enter per the laws of the United States of America.”

I asked Labrador’s spokesman to send over the representative’s thoughts on the Senate framework. Labrador appears open, but skeptical. Here’s his statement.

“The Senate’s framework for comprehensive immigration reform is a much-neededstep in the right direction. Both parties in both the House and the Senate haverecognized that our immigration system is broken and I applaud the bipartisanefforts of these senators in creating this framework.

But the devil, as always, is in the details. I have always said that aspecial pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants is inconsistent with ourshared belief in respect for the law.  We cannot expect others to truly respectour laws if we do not have a consistent set of principles, so I will evaluatethe proposed “tough but fair” provision regarding citizenship. Rewarding thosewho have knowingly broken our laws is unfair to the millions of people who havepatiently obeyed our laws and worked within the system. 

Any immigration reform must be fair to those immigrants who have come herelegally, fair to those who are caught up in a broken system and fair to theAmerican people who expect the rule of law to be followed.  I look forward tocontinuing my own work on immigration reform with my House colleagues in bothparties.”

But if Rubio interprets “path to citizenship” too strictly, he could gain Labrador’s support but lose support from the Democratic side. Watch closely to see if Labrador —famously willing to stand against party leadership — budges, Rubio does, or the whole thing comes apart.

As the Senate and House continue to debate the issue, make sure to check out our Feb. 7 cover story by Joe O’Sullivan, which will take a look at the personal side of immigration.


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Use of Force Commission taking last comments

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 11:45 AM

After more than a year of public input and institutional introspection, the city's Use of Force Commission plans to hold its final public comment meeting at 2 pm today on recommended reforms at the Spokane Police Department. 

The independent commission released its 29-page draft report in late December, outlining 26 recommendations to improve operations and procedures at the department.

Those highly anticipated recommendations called for the department to embrace a culture of de-escalation, increase transparency and bolster community relations.

The commission is holding a final open public comment meeting at 2 pm today at the Northeast Community Center on North Cook Street. The meeting is scheduled to last about two hours depending on the number of speakers.

Commission Chairman Earl Martin says public comments on the preliminary recommendations will be reviewed and potentially incorporated into a final report later this year.

Emailed comments must also be submitted by today to: [email protected]

The Center for Justice also submitted a letter to the Mayor's Office on Monday asking the city to extend the commission's term for at least another three years to monitor the police department's implementation of the recommended reforms.

Center Director Rick Eichstaedt writes that the commission has offered many constructive recommendations, but the real test will be in whether the department can effectively pay for and adopt the reforms.

"Funding and implementation are key to the success of any reforms," he writes. "Our biggest concern is that the fine work of the Commission will be for naught — or at least severely compromised — absent a commitment to systemic implementation."

The center also submitted several comments on suggestions for improving the final report. Those comments can be read below.

Center for Justice comments on Use of Force report

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MORNING BRIEFING: Another stabbing, an escaped inmate and County Commissioners reject the Spokane Tribe's casino proposal

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 10:11 AM

HERE

There was yet another stabbing in Spokane last night. (S-R)

Spokane County Commissioners have filed a formal objection to the Spokane Tribe's plans to build a casino in Airway Heights. (S-R) 

Law enforcement officials are still on the lookout for Michael Wheeler, an escaped Geiger Corrections inmate. (KXLY)

THERE

The U.S. economy shrank for the first time in 3 1/2 years from October to December 2012. (AP)

Former U.S. Representative from Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords -- who was critically injured in a 2011 mass shooting -- addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee in its first gun control hearing since the Newtown, Conn. mass shooting. (NYT)

This morning, an Alabama man shot a school bus driver and then held a child who was on the bus hostage in an underground bunker. (MSNBC) 

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rumored hot wing crisis jeopardizes Super Bowl noshing, but not really

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 3:07 PM

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According to recent headlines, there’s a new threat to the most American of pasttimes — Super Bowl snacking — and it’s a looming shortage of hot wings. 

But there’s no need to panic. “We have plenty,” says Kessler Guthrie, owner of wing-famous Flamin’ Joe’s. It’s their busiest day of the year for to-go orders, he says, and they’re offering a 100-wing special with a free side order of waffle fries. (Lots of people order Super Bowl Sunday, but it’s a good idea to order at least a day in advance.) They order wings in bulk when the price is lower, Guthrie says, so that keeps the price down for consumers.

Elsewhere, The Tailgater confirms the 50-cent wing deal will continue this year, just like last Super Bowl, along with “a lot of swag drawings” and other celebratory specials.

This whole food crisis may sound familiar to bacon aficionados — last summer, a reported bacon shortage, dubbed “Aporkalypse,” threatened all kinds of favorite snacks and sandwiches. The panic turned out to be intentionally incited by Britain’s National Pig Association, but it drew attention to the very real problem of rising feed costs worldwide.

The alleged chicken wing crisis comes from the same drought crisis that affected a huge swath of the U.S. last year — chicken farmers had to scale back the number of birds they raised because of soaring feed prices. That means 12.3 million fewer wings for football fans to consume this Super Bowl, the National Chicken Council concluded, or a decrease of about 1 percent from last year.

Their report has a lot of other great nuggets about chicken wings, like the favorite dressing (ranch, preferred by 57 percent of wing-eaters) and how wings and football first got paired together (good timing). 

The report does not actually suggest there will be a Super Bowl wing shortage. In fact, the National Chicken Council’s chief economist and market analyst, Bill Roenigk, is quoted as saying: “The good news for consumers is that restaurants plan well in advance to ensure they have plenty of wings for the big game.”

The main effect is on prices, as the segment of the report titled “Wing-onomics” helpfully explains: 

“A chicken has two wings, and chicken companies are not able to produce wings without the rest of the chicken. Therefore, the supply of wings is limited by the total number of chickens produced. When the demand for wings is stronger than the demand for other chicken parts, the price of wings will go up, as it has this past year.”

When both cost and demand go up, you can be sure there are a few dishonest entrepreneurs scheming to make a quick buck: Two men were arrested in Atlanta this week for stealing $65,000 in chicken wings from their food storage employer. (Maybe they just really wanted the most amazing Super Bowl party ever.)

In other festive chicken news, Spokane’s own Uncle Dan’s will be the primary dressing supplier in the Super Bowl of wing-eating, held each year in Philadelphia. It will be bleu cheese dressing, which the National Chicken Council reports is most popular in the Northeast.

[Photo courtesy of the National Chicken Council, which has a whole gallery of astonishingly classy chicken wings]

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Food bank: 'Our shelves are bare'

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM

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The City Gate — a Christian nonprofit downtown, which has a meal program and a food bank that helps about 170 people a month — is begging for help feeding its clients.

"We served over 1,300 families including many homeless individuals because of our downtown location in 2012 and we are currently OUT OF FOOD to serve those who are coming in daily," writes Andra Phelps, the organization's public relations coordinator, in an email plea to members of the Spokane Homeless Coalition. (The emphasis is her own.)

Phelps went on to write that the last pickup the nonprofit got from 2nd Harvest, which supplies 250 food banks in the area, was "mostly bags of marshmelllows [sic] which means 2nd Harvest is struggling also." She clarified in a phone call with The Inlander that Second Harvest did provide produce, eggs and frozen foods, but barely any boxed or canned goods to send home with food bank clients.

We told you more about the ongoing struggle to fill food bank shelves back in November. 

Melissa Cloninger, director of community relations for Second Harvest, says the situation isn't so dire they're giving out "mostly marshmallows," but they are struggling to meet Spokane's total need. That's because Second Harvest would need more funding and infrastructure to distribute more food, not because of a shortage of farmers and grocers willing to donate. Last year, Second Harvest gave out 2 million more pounds of food than it did the year before, and more than double what it distributed in 2009. 

"It isn't necessarily indicative of our struggle to get donated food," Cloninger says. "City Gate is far more indicative of what we're all seeing, and [the need] is still unprecedented."  

If you'd like to lend a hand, check out Second Harvest's "How to help" page. To help The City Gate directly, find them at 170 S. Madison and open Tuesday through Friday 10-3. They're online here, on Facebook here, and available at 455-9670.

[The photo above is courtesy of The City Gate, and shows their nearly empty shelves last summer.]


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Hear the silky voices of your state legislators tomorrow night

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 10:39 AM

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Are you irate over the prospect of more state transportation funding? Puzzled why legislators can't curb human trafficking? Or maybe you just want to know how Gov. What's-his-name is going to work with Olympia to plug its massive education and budget deficits?

Well tomorrow, you can slip out of your clothes, dim the lights and call up your lawmakers. All three of Spokane's legislators — Sen. Andy Billig, along with Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli — are putting their silky, smooth voices on the line to take your questions. Details in the press release: 

MEDIA ADVISORY

Who: Sen. Andy Billig, Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli

What: Telephone town hall

When: 6 - 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 30

Where: 3rd Legislative District, Spokane

Why: To hold a live, interactive discussion with constituents about the 2013 legislative session currently underway in Olympia, and issues of particular interest to the greater Spokane region.

Under the telephone town hall format, thousands of 3rd LD constituents will receive a phone call to their homes at around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30. Those who choose to participate in the call may ask the legislators questions directly by pressing *3 on their phones. For the duration of the call, the legislators will take questions live on a variety of issues.

Residents who do not automatically receive a call, as well as members of the media, can join the live town hall beginning at 6:00 p.m. by dialing toll-free 1-877-229-8493, and entering ID code 18646 when prompted.

###

For more information:

Sen. Andy Billig, 360-786-7604 or [email protected]

Rep. Timm Ormsby, 360-786-7946 or [email protected]

Rep. Marcus Riccelli, 360-786-7888 or [email protected]

Staff: Adam Wilson, 360-786-7328 or [email protected]

Jennifer Waldref, 360-786-7201 or [email protected]

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