Last week, Spokane County’s big Urban Growth Area expansion was rejected by the state of Washington’s Growth Management Hearings Board. While Spokane County has a chance to appeal the decision, many properties have already been established in the expanded area.
In the months between when the County Commissioners approved the Urban Growth Area expansion and when the Growth Management Hearings Board rejected it, 640 lots, across six different properties countywide, put their roots down, according to a map from the Department of Commerce. Four of those lots are for the Central Valley School District, while the other 636 are for residential development. Of that total, 181 lots are in the South Glenrose area, where local neighbors have been challenging the development.
Land within Urban Growth Areas allows developers to build much more densely. So if a developer has land outside the UGA and it suddenly comes into the UGA, that land becomes much more valuable. Those quick-acting developers will be allowed to put dense development on that property even though the expansion was ruled invalid.
Under Washington state’s law, properties are “vested” as soon as a developer turns in a valid predevelopment application. To land use advocates, it’s a loophole that allows large amounts of sprawl to duck Washington state’s growth management legislation: All developer-friendly commissioners have to do is to expand the urban growth area, and even if they’re legally required to reverse their decision, the vested development stays.
In Olympia, some legislators are talking about introducing legislation to change the vesting law.
"The prospect we are seeing in Spokane County of developments being permitted under an illegal land use map is concerning, and we are exploring ways to prevent a repeat of this situation in the future," state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) wrote in a statement to the Center for Justice in November.
Meanwhile, County Commissioner Todd Mielke isn’t surprised that the Growth Management Hearings Board rejected the county’s expansion.
“In the nine years I’ve been a county commissioner, the Growth Management Hearings Board has ruled against us nearly every time… We do absolutely nothing right in their eyes,” Mielke says. “We have appealed every decision to the courts.” Most of the time, he says, those appeals have been successful. It's possible that, if the County appeals, all or part of the expansion will be ruled valid.
Department of Commerce's Map of Vested Projects In Spokane County (zoom in to make it larger)
In this week's cover story, we took a look at both the promise of the local aerospace industry and the impressive influence Boeing wields on Washington state.
With Boeing looking nationally to build the 777x after the union rejected their contract, states across the nation have been competing for the aerospace giant’s affections. Lately, a major part of Boeing’s strategy has been to pit states, even internal pieces of Boeing’s company, against each other.
“The whole idea is to have choice,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney told shareholders back in May. “Now that we have internal competition, we are going to get much better deals.”
But what, exactly, Boeing has been asking those states for has been a mystery.
Yesterday, Tim Logan, reporter for the St. Louis Dispatch in Missouri has obtained a copy of Boeing’s Nov. 22 “request for proposal,” despite it being shrouded in non-disclosure agreements. Logan doesn’t elaborate on how he managed to get the document, and wasn’t willing to post the entire thing online. But in a phone call today, he provided some context.
St. Louis, Mo., has been a haven for Boeing’s defense industry business, ever since Boeing engulfed the defense manufacturer McDonnell Douglas in 1997.
“Boeing has 16,000 people here,” Logan says. “It’s probably their second or third biggest operation in their country.”
But with sequestration chipping away at the defense industry, and with the possibility of even more defense cuts and base closures looming in the future, St. Louis has been hoping to diversify into Boeing’s commercial business.
Boeing’s request for proposal listed pieces Boeing needs for the 777x plant, and a lot more things it wants:
— Boeing needs to be able to obtain or build either a single 4.2 million-square foot factory dedicated to constructing the entire airplane, or two separate sites, one that would construct the wing, another that would build the fuselage and put it all together.
— An airport with a 9,000 foot runway.
— Easy access to a highway and direct railroad tracks.
— A deep-sea port capable of handling large container ships. That’s a plus for Washington, and a downside for Missouri, which — as anyone who’s checked a map lately can tell — is quite a drive away from the nearest ocean.
But that’s the case for about half of Boeing’s suitors, Logan says. “It’s unclear from that document how important that is to Boeing,” he says.
— A bevy of incentives and tax breaks, including free (or deeply discounted) property, facility construction, and on-site infrastructure. Boeing would like a vastly reduced tax burden.
Missouri just passed a $1.7 billion incentive package for the aerospace giant, though that’s not nearly as big as Washington’s record $8.7 billion tax incentive.
“Here, Boeing didn’t even lift a finger” to get those incentives, Logan says. Missouri politicians and business groups rolling out the red carpet for the company of their own accord.
— Support for workforce training. The quality and availability of the workforce has been touted as one of Washington’s greatest strengths.
After all, in the world of aerospace, perfection matters. While Washington’s local mechanics union refusal to accept a proposed contract led Boeing to look elsewhere, the union has emphasized the unique skills they provide.
“The margins for error are measured in microns,” says Bryan Corliss, spokesman for the machinists union District 751. “Even something you’d think would be simple like drilling a hole, you need to know how much the machine is going to slip with titanium instead of aluminum.”
One particular hole in the 747, Corliss says, requires standing on the top of a ladder, looking through a mirror, and drilling backwards over your shoulder. Not the sort of thing that can be taught by anything but experience.
Missouri has their own mechanists union, part of the same larger International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers that frustrated Boeing in Washington.
Both states have legislators pushing to turn their states to become “right to work,” a move which would make most mandatory union dues illegal, and cripple most unions. But where the likelihood of Washington becoming a right-to-work state is small, the political climate in Missouri might be more receptive.
The requests for proposal are due next Tuesday.
A year since same-sex marriage became legal in Washington state, 17 percent of marriages have been same-sex couples. (Inlander)
Spokane’s Julianna Pena is the first female Ultimate Fighter winner, and all-around badass. (S-R)
A Spokane Valley man is accused of breaking into more than a dozen apartment complex laundry rooms to steal quarters.
The University of Washington has a new football coach: Boise State’s Chris Petersen. (Idaho Statesman)
An Idaho child died when a dump truck slammed into a school bus near Boise. (Idaho Statesman)
A King County sheriff’s deputy who threatened to arrest the editor of the Stranger during a confrontation in July has now been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Full account from Stranger editor Dominic Holden here. (Seattle Times/Stranger)
Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa and an “international emblem of dignity and forbearance,” died at 95. (NYT)
A suicide bomber and gunmen attacked Yemen’s defense ministry, killing 52 people. (Reuters)
After massive protests this week, Ukraine’s president was rethinking his plan to pass over a European Union agreement in favor of getting closer with Russia. Now it seems he’s cozying up with Putin after all. (Guardian)
Now, a year to the day after same-sex marriage became legal in Washington, the state health department says same-sex couples have made up 17 percent of marriages over the last 10 months. More than 7,000 same-sex couples married between last December and Sept. 30, and nearly a quarter of them have come from out of state (including from as far away as Texas).
Here's the full health department release:
Washington same sex couples: follow-up data report released
OLYMPIA — It’s the one year anniversary of the state’s same sex marriage law, and the latest statistics shows same sex couples made up 17 percent of marriages in Washington in that time. Between the law’s effective date, December 6, 2012, and the most recent complete month of data, September 30, 2013, there were 7,071 same sex couples among the 42,408 total couples who married in the state during that period of time.
So far, most of the state’s same sex marriages, 62 percent, occurred between two women. The top five Washington counties where same sex marriages occurred were King County with 3,452; Clark County with 785; Pierce County with 486; Snohomish County with 330; and Thurston County with 300 marriages. Garfield County is the only county in Washington where no same sex marriages were performed. These numbers may not represent the number of marriage licenses granted by these counties.
It appears Washington’s same sex marriage law is drawing people to the state to marry. In 24 percent of same sex marriages, both spouses live in another state. There were 524 same sex marriages in which both parties lived in Oregon. For 170 same sex marriages, the couple lived in Texas, and, for 155 same sex marriages, the couple lived in California. Among opposite sex couples, both spouses were from another state in only 6 percent of marriages.
Each person getting married in Washington can choose whether they would like their marriage certificate to refer to them as bride, groom, or spouse. Within both male and female same sex marriages, most individuals preferred to use the term spouse. On June 30, 2014, all Washington same sex registered domestic partnerships will be converted to same sex marriages unless at least one partner is 62 years of age or older, the couple has gotten legally married, or the couple has legally dissolved their domestic partnership.
The state Department of Health may not yet have received records for all marriages during the reporting period. All information on a marriage certificate, including gender, is reported by the couple or the officiant. After the ceremony, the officiant files the marriage certificate with the county auditor that issued the marriage license and the auditor files the marriage certificate with the state health department.
Back in October, we told you about the Spokane City Council's wish list for the upcoming state legislative session. Topping the list: Give us the money to finally finish the older-than-the-council-members idea of a North-South Freeway. (More about what it will take to get that funding here.) This week, the council finalized the list — a combination of their wishes and the mayor's — and now hands it off to the city's lobbyists heading into the session, which starts Jan. 13.
Greater Spokane Inc., the region's combination chamber of commerce/economic development group, has also finalized its wish list. Spoiler alert: Cash for the North-South Freeway is also GSI's top priority.
Below are both lists. (Note the removal from the city's list of a request to increase punishment for vehicle prowling. That item was added by the mayor, but removed Monday by the council because of worries that such a change could undermine justice reform efforts aimed at reducing the number of nonviolent offenders in jail.)
The city's 2014 legislative priorities:
GSI's 2014 legislative priorities:
Back in April, we wrote a long cover story investigating the way that bullying had changed in Inland Northwest schools – and how students were fighting back. The advent of social media meant it had more difficult than ever for kids to escape their tormenters.
We focused mostly on the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene school districts, and touched on stories from Mead and East Valley districts. But it was Central Valley the story ended up impacting.
This spring, Brandon Deyarmin, assistant principal of Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley, ran across the article.
“It’s one thing about talking in general about what’s happening, but the individual that went to Mt. Spokane [High School] — that made it personal to me,” Deyarmin says, referring to the story of Christopher Borth, who experienced intense anxiety due to bullying. “I saw his face. I saw his name. I’ve got four kids who range from 20 down to 5.”
While Central Valley already has state-mandated rules and procedures in place to address bullying, Deyarmin thought the school could be doing more. He saw Tommy Williams, Jr.’s “See It, Say it” anti-bullying program mentioned in the article, and thought it showed promise.
The high school has already begun to use Williams’ program. He visited each grade level during the first few days of school and met with staff. Williams’ strategy forms a large group of students dedicated to confronting bullying and comforting victims.
Next Monday at 7 pm in its auditorium, Central Valley High School will hold a meeting for parents, where students will present on the anti-bullying campaign.
“With bullying we’re always being reactive to it, because it gets brought into our office. We just thought as a building, ‘How can we be proactive?’” Deyarmin says. “We have kids who have come to us in the past, and have asked, ‘What more can we do to get the word out that this isn't OK?’”
At a press conference today, flanked by Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub and Spokane Police Guild President John Gately, Mayor David Condon called his latest plan for civilian oversight of the Spokane Police Department "a model for independent civilian police oversight in the state of Washington."
The plan is based on an agreement with the Spokane Police Guild that the Spokane City Council rejected last month based on concerns it didn't go far enough to empower the city's police ombudsman, but now even some of the most vocal council critics are reversing course.
Councilman Steve Salvatori, who led an early effort to empower the ombudsman outside the police department, calls the plan "as good as we're going to get" and says he believes it "satisfies the charter." Citizens voted in February to add language to the charter calling for a "totally independent" ombudsman and a citizen commission to oversee him or her.
The guild agreement allows for the creation of that commission, which the mayor has said he believes adds new independence because the commission (instead of the mayor's office) would have the final say about department investigations with which the ombudsman was unsatisfied. A separate ordinance addresses cases where the ombudsman commission continually feels the police department is not adequately investigating a complaint. It allows the commission to seek review by a third party, like the Washington State Patrol or another city's ombudsman. Neither the agreement nor the ordinance would allow the ombudsman to open his own investigations outside of the police department process, as some community activists have called for. (We wrote about the plan here in this week's issue, and have included the full text of the ordinance at the bottom of this post.)
"I don't know how much farther independent we can get," Guild President Gately said, citing the commission, which will be made up of mayor and city council appointees.
One unanswered question has been whether the guild truly favors this plan or whether it might file an unfair labor practice complaint against the city after the ordinance has passed. At the press conference, Gately refused to assure reporters that the union wouldn't file such a complaint, but Condon promised his legal team would defend it if challenged. (This hasn't always been the case.)
After rejecting the guild agreement, some believed the mayor would return to the negotiating table with the guild and council members sent the administration a breakdown of their visions of the ombudsman office. In that, Council President Ben Stuckart, who previously told the Inlander, "The TA alone ... just doesn't meet what the voters wanted," described an ombudsman who could open his own investigations outside the police department's internal affairs process. (Most other council members were less specific.) Local oversight advocates, like those at the nonprofit Center for Justice, have called for a similar structure. Because the process of the ombudsman investigating complaints within the internal affairs process was already the status quo before the February charter amendment, they argue citizens were asking for more independence. In its final report earlier this year, the mayor's Use of Force Commission called giving the ombudsman the authority to conduct independent investigations "essential to both establishing objective oversight and building public trust."
From that report:
As a function of human nature, individuals who are part of a group are more likely to favor the interests of the group over “outsiders.” In the context of an investigation into a fellow group member’s alleged misconduct, the peer investigator is apt to be more selective about the investigation’s scope and depth, and may be inclined to avoid a transparent process. All of this behavior can compromise the quality of the investigation and negatively impact the public’s trust in the process and the institution. Conversely, the more independent the investigator, the more likely the investigation will be perceived to be credible to those involved and to the general public.
But the mayor and chief say the current setup, in which the ombudsman sits in on and asks questions during internal affairs investigations, combined with the new commission and the third-party "relief valve," offers the independence citizens want.
"This police department has changed radically in the last 12 months," Straub told reporters today. "We are finally delivering to this community what this community has always wanted: an outstanding police department. And look at what you have: You have the mayor of the city, you have the president of the guild and you have the police chief of this department saying, 'You want more oversight? No problem. You want a commission? No problem. You want to expand the ability of this commission to opine on what the police department does? Absolutely.'"
Straub and others at the city have argued state law prevents them from allowing an ombudsman to open independent investigations because the authority to call on officers to participate in interviews belongs only to the police chief. After an impassioned call on citizens to appreciate the hard work of local police officers, Straub seemed to acknowledge that voters may have had unfair expectations of just how much authority the ombudsman would get when they voted in February.
"To be perfectly honest with you, I think we should have had maybe a broader conversation before we did Prop. 1," Straub said. "But now we have Prop. 1 and I think the mayor and the police department and the guild and the Center for Justice and a whole bunch of other people are demonstrating that we're working on this as hard as we can."
Still, Stuckart and lawyers at the Center for Justice continue to argue that while state law may limit what the city can do by ordinance, there is no limit on what the mayor could have bargained for, and they say he should have negotiated for a fully independent ombudsman.
"They keep repeating that state law is our problem. That's pretty much a falsity," Stuckart says. "I don't believe the chief or the mayor really want a true version of the ombudsman like the Use of Force Commission recommended. Or were they afraid to ask?"
You can share your thoughts about the mayor's plan in a telephone town hall tomorrow at 6 pm (call 888-409-5380), at Friday's Community Assembly meeting in the Council Briefing Center at City Hall (808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.) or at a town hall meeting Dec. 12 at the West Central Community Center (1603 N. Belt St.).
Here is the full ordinance, which is expected to come to the city council for a vote on Dec. 16:
This week, Daniel Walters writes about the future of the aerospace industry in the Inland Northwest, including how potential aerospace employees are trained. Spokane Community College runs an aviation maintenance training program at Felts Field. The photos below show some of the different skills students learn in the two-year program.
Nurses at Deaconess hospitals are on strike. (Inlander)
This Kootenai County judge realllllly likes to play Dungeons and Dragons and that's a problem for some people. (Spokesman)
City Council Candidate John Ahern has asked for an official recount. Why? Yeah, we're wondering that, too. (Inlander)
A barn in North Spokane is on fire. (KXLY)
It is so damn cold out there. (KREM)
Radioactive material has gone missing in the Southwest. Yeah, that's a problem. (ABC)
A couple million Facebook and Twitter passwords have been stolen. (CNN)
Someone stole wine from a Seattle store. How much? Oh, just $600,000 worth. (Seattle Times)
Want a fair share of corporate profits? Buy shares of stock that pay dividends. Better…
Might want to have reconsidered legalizing pot. It is a stone around the city's neck…
It's so infuriating listening to these mega corporations making billons of dollars, and paying their…
Love the Grumpy Cat plushie!
Luke Williams Sr. was their father.