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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Weekly report: Hunt your own tree, Dakota drilling and turkey transfers

Posted By on Thu, Nov 27, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Crews haul away an 88-foot Engelmann Spruce from the Colville National Forest, near Usk, Wash., to serve as this year's U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in November 2013. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Crews haul away an 88-foot Engelmann Spruce from the Colville National Forest, near Usk, Wash., to serve as this year's U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in November 2013.

OUTLANDER serves as a weekly round up of Inland Northwest outdoor recreation and natural resources news. This feature will highlight a wide variety of issues and events, ranging from camping stories to national environmental disputes. We’ll also try to include some scenic photos. Feel free to pass along suggestions or curiosities that celebrate the Great Outdoors.

Happy Thanksgiving! Today officially starts the holiday season. Check out information on cutting your own Christmas tree in the Colville National Forest, or from national forest in Idaho. Get out there and find the perfect tree, just like the U.S. Capitol tree from last year. (Inlander/USFS)

Federal officials revoke permit for controversial wolf hunting derby scheduled for January in Idaho. (AP)

Learn a little about the the Inland Northwest’s redband trout in a new “Trout Tuesday” feature. (USFWS)

Mining proposals threaten Cabinet Mountain wilderness. And the potential impact on bear populations. (S-R)

Suggestions for the best early season snoeshoeing trails in the Cascade and Olympic mountains. (Seattle Times)

North Dakota oil industry largely governed through warnings and self-regulation. And a look at what oil wells would look like if above ground. (NYT)

A small North Dakota town grapples with constant train traffic. (Reuters)

Ghostly photos from the Idaho range. (Outdoor Photographer)

In a bizarre and tragic twist, investigators find a hiker took photos of a black bear in New Jersey prior to fatal attack. (NJ.com)

Some predictions for the next year in outdoor adventure, extreme sports and fitness. (Outside)

Turkey Day: How wild turkey transfer programs improve genetic diversity. (The Nature Conservancy)


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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ballot proposal would change how Spokane mayor's salary gets set

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 2:10 PM

While most city officials seem open to a proposal filed today to change how the mayor’s salary gets set, Spokane city council members may conflict over the timing of a ballot measure that would put the matter before voters next year.

Councilman Mike Fagan filed a ballot proposal today that would alter the city’s charter to have the Salary Review Commission, the same entity that sets the city council’s salaries, evaluate and set salary for the mayor. The issue arose earlier this fall after a preliminary budget included a $7,000 raise for the mayor.

Councilman Mike Fagan - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Councilman Mike Fagan

“It’s very, very simple,” he says. “All we’re proposing is using the same mechanism [as applies to the council.] That is as simple as you can get.”

City council members had voiced strong opposition to the mayor’s proposed raise, sparking a strong public debate over whether the existing charter rules still served as the best method for determining salary.

Mayor David Condon has since declined the raise and the city council on Monday approved a 2015 budget that stripped out a number of proposed raises for city officials and exempt employee positions.

Meanwhile, Fagan scheduled three public forums on the issue, noting a total combined attendance of just 10 people. In hopes of putting the issue before voters on the February ballot, he hurried to file a proposal this week for the council.

“I made the decision to step forward and address the issue myself,” he says.

The ballot proposal would shift responsibility for the mayor’s salary to the Salary Review Commission. Fagan noted that commission might have to be restructured to ensure an impartial decision, but he felt it would be the best alternative. The mayor proposed a similar change recently as part of an Affordability Plan.

“It’s something that the mayor supports,” city spokesman Brian Coddington says, “and it’s probably the next step in the conversation.”

Council President Ben Stuckart says there has not been much prior conversation, arguing Fagan filed the proposal without bringing it through the regular committee process. Stuckart says he doesn’t oppose the idea, but opposes the way it has been rushed through the process.

“The timing needs to be discussed," he says.

Stuckart explains Spokane Public Schools and Spokane Transit Authority officials have contacted him about the potential impact on their upcoming ballot measures. The council president says the salary issue unnecessarily “muddies the water.”

When the proposal comes before the council, Stuckart says, he plans to argue for delaying the issue until the ballot in August. Fagan says he doesn’t understand why Stuckart would let schools or the STA dictate how the city operates.

“Changing the charter is really, really an important thing,” Fagan says. “If this was as hot-buttoned as everybody says it was, why are we pushing this back to August?”

The council will likely discuss the issue in greater detail next week.


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MB: Ferguson protests spring up in Spokane and across the country; FDA requires calorie counts

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 9:40 AM


HERE


More than 200 people rallied outside Spokane City Hall last night in solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. (Inlander)

Former deputy Spokane County prosecutor Marriya Wright won't do jail time for helping a criminal avoid arrest. (S-R)

The city of Spokane was found guilty yesterday of wrongly firing a city employee who suffered a stroke. (S-R)

THERE

In the wake of the recent grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, protesters staged demonstrations in more than 170 cities across the country. (CNN)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had heart surgery this morning. She is expected to be discharged within two days. (NBC) 

The Food and Drug Administration is requiring chain restaurants and other eating establishments to post calorie counts on their menus (NYT)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVE!

Let's all listen to this holiday classic. 


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Photos: Solidarity Action for Ferguson

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 7:40 AM

More than 200 people attended Solidarity Action for Ferguson march and rally last night in response to Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson not being indicted for the shooting and killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. After a "die-in" in front of Spokane City Hall, symbolizing Brown's body being left in the street for hours after his death, marchers walked from City Hall to the STA Plaza and back chanting "no justice, no peace" and "hands up, don't shoot," among others.

Local NAACP chapter President and Inlander commentary contributor Rachel Dolezal, left, draws a chalk outline around her 20-year-old son Isaiah Dolezal as part of a "die-in" in front of City Hall. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Local NAACP chapter President and Inlander commentary contributor Rachel Dolezal, left, draws a chalk outline around her 20-year-old son Isaiah Dolezal as part of a "die-in" in front of City Hall.

Jackie Vaughn, bottom, walks down W. Spokane Falls Blvd. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Jackie Vaughn, bottom, walks down W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Twenty-year-old Isaiah Dolezal, right, carries a Pan-African flag as his 13-year-old brother Franklin Moore walks along his side down W. Spokane Falls Blvd. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Twenty-year-old Isaiah Dolezal, right, carries a Pan-African flag as his 13-year-old brother Franklin Moore walks along his side down W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Fred Ward, center, Jackie Vaughn, right, and others walk down N. Wall St. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Fred Ward, center, Jackie Vaughn, right, and others walk down N. Wall St.


Restoration Church Rev. Andre Dove, bottom, walks down Wall St. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Restoration Church Rev. Andre Dove, bottom, walks down Wall St.

Marguerite Wright, center, chants while walking down N. Wall St. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Marguerite Wright, center, chants while walking down N. Wall St.

Kellie Crawford, center, and others walk down W. 1st Ave., chanting "hands up, don't shoot." - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Kellie Crawford, center, and others walk down W. 1st Ave., chanting "hands up, don't shoot."

Yuri Borges chants while walking down W.1st Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Yuri Borges chants while walking down W.1st Ave.

Lanae Dedmond, right, and others chant while walking down S. Post Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Lanae Dedmond, right, and others chant while walking down S. Post Ave.

Marchers approach the STA Plaza on W. Sprague Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Marchers approach the STA Plaza on W. Sprague Ave.

Phillip Baker, center, marches with his hands up while chanting "hands up, don't shoot" on W. Sprague Ave. in front of the STA Plaza. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Phillip Baker, center, marches with his hands up while chanting "hands up, don't shoot" on W. Sprague Ave. in front of the STA Plaza.

Phillip Baker, left, chanting into a megaphone and Lanae Dedmond, center, walk down N. Wall St. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Phillip Baker, left, chanting into a megaphone and Lanae Dedmond, center, walk down N. Wall St.

Jacob Johns, center, carries his 2-year-old daughter Lily while walking down W. Main Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Jacob Johns, center, carries his 2-year-old daughter Lily while walking down W. Main Ave.

Nia Rivers, center, walks down W. Main Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Nia Rivers, center, walks down W. Main Ave.

Chare Gilliam chants while walking down N. Lincoln St. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Chare Gilliam chants while walking down N. Lincoln St.

Participants gather in front of City Hall after marching. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Participants gather in front of City Hall after marching.

Eight-year-old Jonathan, center, and his 11 year old brother Gabriel, right, hold candles in front of city hall. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eight-year-old Jonathan, center, and his 11 year old brother Gabriel, right, hold candles in front of city hall.

Nineteen-year-old Joshuena Williams, center, leads a chant in front of City Hall. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Nineteen-year-old Joshuena Williams, center, leads a chant in front of City Hall.

Israel Jones, center, holds a sign in front of city hall. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Israel Jones, center, holds a sign in front of city hall.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MB: City Council passes budget and Officer Darren Wilson won't face criminal charges

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 9:18 AM


HERE


The city council passed a $600 million budget last night that blocks raises for some members of Mayor Condon's administration. (Inlander)

Ferris High School Assistant Principal Todd Bender has resigned following child molestation charges. (S-R)

The city has developed an app that allows users to pay for parking downtown through their smart phones. (KXLY)

THERE

A grand jury in St. Louis County declined to bring criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. (NYT)

Chaos and violence erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the grand jury decision. (LAT) 

The grand jury decision also sparked protests across the country. A demonstration is planned for this evening in Spokane. (NBC/KXLY)


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City Council passes 2015 budget, blocks some high-ranking employee raises

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Spokane city councilmembers held a press conference last month to criticize the mayor's proposed 2015 budget, which they amended and passed Monday. - HEIDI GROOVER
  • Heidi Groover
  • Spokane city councilmembers held a press conference last month to criticize the mayor's proposed 2015 budget, which they amended and passed Monday.

If you thought the holiday season might dampen the Spokane City Council's antipathy toward Mayor David Condon, think again.

The council passed a $600 million budget Monday night that has the potential to strip Condon's version of the budget of some of the raises for his cabinet and funds about $600,000 worth of programs and positions he'd skipped over.

The mayor drew ire earlier this year when he released his draft 2015 budget, which included raises averaging 2 percent for department heads within the city, including Police Chief Frank Straub, Fire Chief Bobby Williams and the mayor himself because the city charter says his salary should match the highest paid city employee (which, according to the new budget, would be Straub). A majority of the council took issue with the raises because other requests they'd made — including more funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, a new planner and an attorney to work for the council instead of the administration's legal department — weren't included.

"I'm committed to changing the imbalance in this budget," Councilmember Amber Waldref said at a press conference criticizing the mayor's budget in early October.

Condon argued that the raises were required by certain contract agreements (for example, Straub's salary is tied to what lower-ranking officers are paid, which is determined by contract negotiations) and "step increases" (essentially guaranteed raises that high-ranking officials get after they've been at the city for certain lengths of time). On his own raise, he later relented and said he wouldn't take the $7,000 increase he'd originally budgeted for. He also says he doesn't take the pension he's eligible for in order to save the city money.

Even so, City Council President Ben Stuckart cited a piece of the city's administrative policy that says employees "must have received a performance evaluation" in order to get their step increases. In a letter dated October 20, Stuckart asked the city's Human Resources Director Heather Lowe for copies of the performance evaluations for all exempt employees who'd been "deemed eligible for a step increase."

Two weeks later, Lowe wrote Stuckart back pointing him toward the administration's performance measures, which gauge whole departments' success based on certain types of services they provide rather than evaluating individual employees. She called the performance review process "extremely outdated and ineffective." So, how many employees did receive performance reviews and will therefore keep their budgeted raises?

"I assume none because of their answer [to my request]," Stuckart says.

In response, the council's adopted 2015 budget removes any raises for exempt employees who are not given performance evaluations by the end of 2014.

In another coup, the council defunded a controversial position within the fire department, redirecting that $108,000 salary to the department's overtime fund. The Assistant Director of Integrated Medical Services position, held by Mike Lopez, was funded through a budget transfer that some, including local fire union president and Stuckart ally Don Waller, have argued violated city code. Some on the council have also taken issue with the fact that Lopez's position, which is exempt from civil service, was created shortly before a court decision reversed the fire department's expansion of exempt positions. Stuckart told the Inlander Monday that he wasn't sure if the fire department could continue paying Lopez from its overtime fund, or whether the move would mean Lopez would be fired.

"All I know is how to move the money around," Stuckart said.

In other changes to the budget, the council funded the following:

  • a new code enforcement specialist ($68,127)
  • a new assistant planner ($86,656)
  • a new city council attorney, to work separately from the administration ($97,846)
  • a new compliance officer in the utilities department to enforce an ordinance the council will consider next month requiring the use of apprentices on city projects ($60,000)
  • $50,000 of additional human services funding
  • $50,000 of additional "neighborhood economic development" funding to be dispersed through contracts with organizations like Impact Capital
  • $108,000 for the COPS program to fund salaries, vehicle leases, IT and accounting, plus $24,427 for a half-time IT specialist to help meet the increased need from the COPS program
  • $15,000 to send the members of the newly formed Office of Police Ombudsman Commission to two trainings
  • $3,000 for bus passes to help transport people to warming centers

Stuckart says the money for those efforts came from a combination of excess revenue left over from last year's budget, money that had been directed toward reserves and savings on the implementation of the city's new emergency dispatch system. He says he didn't count on any of the potential savings from withholding the mayor's proposed raises since it remains unclear how much those savings could be. (Instead, those will go back into the corresponding departments.)

While the council's changes were dramatic in some ways, both council members and the administration's budget guru, Tim Dunivant, acknowledged that in the shadow of all $600 million in the budget, the council's changes were minimal.

After a brisk discussion and some public testimony in favor of the COPS funding, Councilman Mike Fagan cast the lone no vote. He says he doesn't support a new council attorney, the apprenticeship enforcement officer or the new planner. And while it was clear from the start he was in a very lonely minority, he remains ever the idealist.

"You stand on principle," he said after the meeting. "You stand for what you believe."


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Monday, November 24, 2014

Dialing up the past: The return of the Tiki Lodge

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 3:15 PM

IMG_20141118_084715.jpg

If you've driven by the discount motel across from Frank's Diner recently, you may have noticed a change on the signage out front. This Spokane landmark has been purchased by Montana native Tim Rice, who wants to restore the Tiki Lodge (1420 W. Second Ave.) to its former glory.

"We plan on repainting the roof back to bright orange in the spring and maybe even have rotary phones in all of the rooms," says Rice, but the one feature they will not be bringing back is the pool due to cost. Rice now lives in Coeur d’Alene, and says he does not have many pictures of the hotel and would love to acquire more.
IMG_20141118_084743.jpg

"All I have is this one postcard of a Jackie O look-a-like lounging by the pool." he says. "The hotel never had Hawaiian-themed rooms. I think the Tiki Lodge and Trade Winds were just people in cold climates wishing they were warmer."
3906861819_d82c13e264_b.jpg


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MB: Jitterz Java robbed again; Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigns; and wild turkeys invade Spokane

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM


HERE


Spokane coffee stand Jitterz Java was robbed for the fourth time in less than a year on Sunday evening. (KXLY)

Inlander columnist Rachel Dolezal, former director of the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d'Alene, has been elected president of the Spokane NAACP. Congratulations, Rachel! (S-R)

Spokane attorney Robert Caruso, 76, has been charged with raping a 22-year-old woman last September. He unsuccessfully ran for  county prosecutor in 2006. (KXLY)

Beware! Wild turkeys are apparently invading Spokane. (S-R)

THERE

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has resigned. Officials say he was forced out because he "wasn't up for the job." (NBC)

Cleveland police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy playing with a toy air gun over the weekend. The officers involved were placed on leave. (CNN)

Tensions are high in Ferguson, Missouri, where residents (and a slew of reporters) are waiting to hear whether a grand jury indicts Officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting African-American teenager Michael Brown. (Reuters)
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Behind the Cover: State of Mind

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 11:08 AM

1118_INL_01SM.JPG


You may wonder why we ran a black and white photo on the cover this week. We run every page in color, week in and week out and I enjoying seeing the design, illustrations and photos in color. This was a conscious decision on my part. As I was briefed on the cover package, which included a mental health resources guide and seven mental health profiles, I knew pretty quickly I wanted the package to run in black and white. For me, removing color allowed me to focus primarily on the emotions of each photo. Color sometimes introduces distractions in the background, on a piece of clothing or something else in the frame. By removing those variables, I wanted readers to focus on the person, only.

My goal was to take a portrait of each person, and when possible some event or other part of their lives, which is reflected within the issue. For the cover, I wanted to show a tight portrait, face forward with a neutral expression. I didn't want to show happiness or sadness or anger or any other overt emotion. I wanted the eyes to do the talking, which is also why I shot the portrait with a wide aperture, to focus primarily on the eyes and leave as much of the rest of the image as blurry as possible.

As soon as I photographed Marieka McPhee, I knew that her portrait was the one I wanted for the cover. Staring right back at the camera, she had a strong and stoic expression that lent itself well for a cover image.  Below is the photo before the title text and masthead were added. To read more mental health stories from this issue, go to: http://www.inlander.com/spokane/ArticleArchives?tag=State%20of%20Mind.

Marieka McPhee - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Marieka McPhee

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MB: Mt. Spokane expansion approved, GOP files ACA suit; fire plane co. moves to West Plains

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 9:45 AM

HERE

The Washington state Parks Commission yesterday voted to approve a ski area expansion on Mt. Spokane's southwest facing slope. (KXLY)

City Council President Ben Stuckart agreed to pay a $250 fine for violating the city's ethics code. (Inlander)

The STA is moving forward with plans for a $72 million project to create the "Central City Line," a trolley line from Browne's Addition through downtown to Gonzaga and SCC. (S-R)

After two weeks of student protests over how Gonzaga addresses sexual assault, the school's Title IX coordinator has unexpectedly resigned. (Inlander)

Firefighting plane company Aero-Flight is moving its operations to the West Plains, expected to create about 65 jobs. (KHQ)

THERE

Well, it's happened — the House Republicans have filed their long-threatened lawsuit against the Obama Administration over the ACA. (CNN)

Predictions for the St. Louis grand jury's pending decision over charging Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. (WaPost)

Details are surfacing on Florida State shooter Myron May, who showed signs of distress and paranoia leading up to yesterday's events. (NY Daily News)

ALSO

Coming back from the dead, Nintendo is expected to have a smashing holiday season of sales. (Fortune)
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