Friday, September 23, 2016

Spokane Public Schools recognized for improving equality in AP courses

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 2:23 PM

Steven Gering, Spokane Public Schools chief academic officer - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Steven Gering, Spokane Public Schools chief academic officer

For years, minority groups have been underrepresented in Advanced Placement classrooms across the country. Even though black and Latino students make up 37 percent of students in high schools in the U.S., only 27 percent enrolled in AP courses that offer college-level curricula, and only 18 percent passed an AP exam, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Over the last five to six years, Spokane Public Schools has made an effort to get more students to take more rigorous coursework. In the process, says Chief Academic Officer Steven Gering, the district has discovered that sometimes the reason students don't take higher-level coursework is simple: they don't think they can. Or they don't know what they'd be getting into. 

"Some of it was kids saying, 'If somebody encouraged me, I would do it,'" Gering says. 

So Spokane Public Schools has made an effort to do just that, and they're seeing it make a difference. The U.S. Department of Education recognized Spokane Public Schools this week as one of the first districts in the nation to commit to including students of all backgrounds in AP courses, which many colleges see as a evidence that applicants can challenge themselves academically. That puts them on a list of 117 districts who are now part of the Lead Higher Initiative through Equal Opportunity Schools, an effort to identify 100,000 "low-income students and students of color" ready for AP courses by fall 2017.

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WSU police investigate graffiti with the N-word and "Trump 2016"

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 10:04 AM

Student Haniyyah Dixon tweeted this picture of what she saw in the basement of a WSU library - HANIYYAH DIXON
  • Haniyyah Dixon
  • Student Haniyyah Dixon tweeted this picture of what she saw in the basement of a WSU library

Haniyyah Dixon, a WSU student, says she was walking around the basement of the library with her boyfriend Wednesday when she saw the N-word written above "— TRUMP 2016."

She gasped, she says, then left the Terrell Library and called her dad, "because I was really upset." Her dad told her to tell somebody in the library, but instead she posted the picture on Twitter, writing to WSU President Kirk Schulz's account, "If you let the Republican Student Union build that 'wall,' in my eyes this is what you will be supporting." 

She was referring to the WSU College Republicans' plan to build a controversial "Trump wall" in October supporting Donald Trump. It would likely resemble a plywood wall erected at the University of Washington earlier this year in support of Trump's plan to build a wall along the southern border to halt illegal immigration.

"I think I tweeted that picture more out of anger than I did anything else, just to show that it was happening," Dixon says.

The school has since removed the graffiti. Schulz retweeted the image and wrote, "This is completely unacceptable at WSU & does not represent the inclusive & diverse environment we all strive for." 

Melynda Huskey, WSU vice president of student affairs, says she sent a photo of the message to WSU police. 

Steve Hansen, assistant WSU police chief, says police are conducting an investigation.

"We will look into it the best we can," Hansen says. "I'm not sure what, if any, leads we have at the moment."

Dixon, even though she mentioned the WSU College Republicans' plan to build a Trump wall, says she doesn't think anyone in the club wrote the epithet, and doesn't think the club is racist. But she says Trump makes it OK for people to say racist things like that. 

"People have freedom of speech, but some things you shouldn't put in a library," Dixon says. "I just felt like them being able to build that wall, that only supports what people think about Trump, or what Trump thinks about people of color." 

James Allsup, the club's president, says he and the "entirety of WSU College Republicans disavow this kind of vandalism," adding that, "racial epithets have no place in the political discourse." 

"I also believe that accusations of racism, Nazism, and bigotry have no place in the political discourse and would call on our political opponents on campus to choose their words carefully," Allsup says. 

Allsup says the handwriting on the racial slur "appears to be feminine" while the handwriting on the bottom that reads "Trump 2016," looks more masculine, and he hopes the school finds out who wrote the words. 

WSU says there are no security cameras in the area where the message was written. 

Dixon, from Tacoma, says she thinks the graffiti was put there to elicit some sort of reaction. She says it saddened her even if whoever did it thought of the graffiti as a joke. 

"I couldn't believe that somebody I was going to school with thinks like that," Dixon says. 
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WSU fees, Idaho insurance hikes, police shooting news and more headlines

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 9:18 AM


INHEALTH: The science behind kids' love of sweets; plus, a $40,000 challenge

NEWS: Spokane police will not face charges in West Wynn Motel shooting

WSU wants students to fork over extra money to help pay coach Mike Leach's salary.
  • WSU wants students to fork over extra money to help pay coach Mike Leach's salary.

WSU president proposes new fees
Hoping to make the school's athletic department financially viable, the president of Washington State University has proposed asking students to kick in another $50 per semester. The idea is being widely panned. (Spokesman-Review)

Idaho preparing for insurance rate hikes
The Idaho Department of Insurance unveiled its approved health insurance rates for all individuals and small group health plans for 2017.  Across the state, the average rate for individual plans offered on the state health insurance exchange will be almost a quarter higher in 2017. (Boise Weekly)

Renfro accused of bad behavior behind bars
Accused cop killer Johnathan Renfro, currently incarcerated in Kootenai County jail, allegedly made weapons, planned to escape and bragged about shooting an officer, according to revelations made in court. (CDA Press)


Officer involved in shooting released
A Tulsa, Oklahoma, officer who shot an unarmed black man has been charged with manslaughter and released on a $50,000 bond. The shooting, which was captured on video, has sparked national outrage. 

Charlotte mayor calls for release of police shooting video 
The mayor of Charlotte North Carolina is requesting that a video capturing the police shooting of black man be released to the public. The incident caused protests in the city. 

Hackers stole info from 500 million Yahoo users
Yahoo has revealed that state-sponsored hackers broke into the company's network and stole names, email addresses, telephone numbers and other sensitive information in 2014. 
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

[UPDATED] VIDEO: Spokane police will not face charges in West Wynn Motel shooting

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 1:58 PM

Aaron Johnson, pictured during his most recent stay at Eastern State Hospital.
  • Aaron Johnson, pictured during his most recent stay at Eastern State Hospital.

The two Spokane officers involved in the shooting of 32-year-old Aaron Johnson outside his room at the West Wynn Motel will not face criminal charges, according to the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office.

Johnson was hospitalized after the May 2 shooting, but he survived. He has been locked up in the Spokane County Jail ever since. This is the second time in three years police have used lethal force against Johnson. He was shot by officers outside Truth Ministries Spokane in 2014. The officers were not aware of this before arriving at the motel, Capt. Tracie Meidl says.

Spokane police released redacted police reports and body camera footage from some of the officers involved in addition to surveillance footage from outside the West Wynn Motel during a news conference Wednesday.

The released information includes body camera footage from Officer Stephen Anderson, who was present at the time of the shooting, as well as footage from other responding officers.
The footage does not include that of Officer Shane Phillips, who shot at Johnson nine times, striking him six times.

At the time of the incident, Spokane police were having issues with their body cameras, Meidl says. 

Meidl explains some officers would turn their cameras off to preserve battery life, which was the case for Phillips. Within the past couple months, every Spokane police officer has received a new, upgraded body camera, though an official policy telling officers exactly how and when to use those cameras has yet to be approved.

The video footage from the body camera of Officer Anderson is embedded below. (Warning: It contains graphic images.)

The video footage released seems to be consistent with officer reports and dispatch reports. 

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Chief candidates talk property crime, Hillary Between Two Ferns and other news

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 9:31 AM


NEWS: We asked each of the four police chief candidates how they would address the property crime problem in Spokane. Here's what they had to say.

MUSIC: Music Editor Laura Johnson on why new isn't always better, especially when it comes to musical instruments. Behold: The Organ. The Brass. The Guitar.

ELECTION: Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will debate next week. You can join us for a boozy watch party at nYne starting at 5 pm next Monday. Oh, and here's a fun little drinking game to get you started.


• Two Spokane Police officers will not face charges in the May 2 shooting at the West Wynn Motel. Aaron Johnson, the man shot by police, survived and is currently booked into Spokane County Jail on assault charges. Johnson also survived being shot by Spokane Police in 2014. (Spokesman-Review)

• A second night of protests in the wake of police shooting in Charlotte, N.C., erupted into violence and chaos. One man was shot, and after initial reports that he was killed, officials now say the unidentified man is on life support. Police say four officers were also injured. The North Carolina shooting followed two other deadly officer involved shootings in Columbus, Ohio, and Tulsa, Okla. (New York Times)

• Every member of the WNBA's Indiana Fever knelt and locked arms during the national anthem last night, protesting recent police shootings. The demonstration was started by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and it's spreading. (The Atlantic)

• The Coeur d'Alene City Council approved the annexation of the southern tip of Blackwell Island Tuesday evening after a request from Duane Hagadone. Hagadone Corp. owns 24 acres of the island and operates two businesses on the property. The annexation allows those businesses to connect to city water and sewer. (Coeur d'Alene Press)

• Gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant (R) called on Gov. Jay Inslee to release reports on staffing and other problems in Western State Hospital, the state's largest psychiatric hospital. Bryant (AP)

• The best Hillary Clinton interview on the internet today: Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How the four candidates for Spokane police chief would tackle property crime

Posted By and on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 4:00 PM

The four men competing to be Spokane's next permanent police chief sat through a round of media questions yesterday. The Inlander asked each how they would address The Property Crime Problem

Earlier this week, Spokane Mayor David Condon called property crimes in Spokane the city's "number one issue," and submitted a proposal to allocate more resources toward addressing the problem, which includes pumping $1.7 million more into the police department. $1.6 million of that would go toward investigations, according to the Spokesman-Review.

Here's what each of the four candidates said: 

Craig Meidl
Acting City of Spokane Police Chief
  • Young Kwak Photo
  • Craig Meidl

A longtime Spokane cop, Meidl was a member of police leadership as property crime spiked up around 2011 through 2014, and as it began to settle back down in the last two years.

"People are tired of property crimes in the city of Spokane," Meidl says.

Property crimes are one reason why he took Capt. Brad Arleth off the lead of a race-data project that he'd been praised for.

"Every single media person I talked with today, just talked about property crimes. We need our precinct captains — who are the tip of the spear for our responses to property crimes — to focus on those property crimes" Meidl says. "The more that's put on their plate, the more distracted they are at focusing on property crimes."

Fighting property crime means working with the community to hit the root causes. The challenge, he says, are resources. He cites the example of a call last summer when he came across a man who admitted he was on meth. Meidl suggested drug rehab. At the time the meth addict was interested.

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Why was Spokane Police Capt. Brad Arleth removed from his big race-data project?

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 12:13 PM

Acting Chief Craig Meidl speaking at a nomination ceremony in 2016. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak Photo
  • Acting Chief Craig Meidl speaking at a nomination ceremony in 2016.

A long-anticipated research project into Spokane police contacts with the public, and how race informs those contacts, will move forward after spending a year on the shelf. The Spokane City Council Monday night approved $16,000 to fund the second phase of Eastern Washington University professor Ed Byrnes' research.

Byrnes began working with SPD Capt. Brad Arleth on the project back in 2012, and released a preliminary report in 2015. But as the next, more in-depth phase of the project gets underway, Arleth has been replaced.

One month after Spokane's acting Police Chief Craig Meidl was nominated by the mayor as Spokane's top cop, he sent an email to Byrnes. Arleth would no longer be working on the research project digging into minority contacts with police, Meidl informed Byrnes. Instead, Asst. Chief Justin Lundgren would be the liaison between Byrnes and the department.

Results from the first report indicated some disparities in contact between officers and certain minority groups, though Byrnes and Arleth cautioned that they needed a bigger data set to paint a more complete picture. That report also showed that Spokane police were more likely to search and arrest certain racial minorities, though there were not racial disparities in uses of force. 

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Police chief candidates speak, protests in NC and morning headlines

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 9:30 AM

*Results may vary. May not represent the final police chief pick. Void where prohibited.
  • *Results may vary. May not represent the final police chief pick. Void where prohibited.


Opiate of the masses 
How a drug could help opiate addicts stabilize before getting long-term treatment. [Spokesman-Review]

Is that your Meidl answer? 
The police chief candidates are back at it again, talkin' at forums, and answerin' all manner of questions

The Fosters

Five years ago, I dug into the broken Washington state foster care system. Now, InvestigateWest takes another look at the system — and still finds it a mess. [InvestigateWest]


One man's hero is another man's Bin Laden. 
The alleged NY bomber's personal hero is Bin Laden. Me, my dad's my personal hero. Not Bin Laden. [New York Times]

Violence begets violence 

The shooting of an allegedly armed black man in North Carolina leads to violent protests. [Washington Post]

Please rise for President Bauer's Todd VanDerWerff thought the new TV show about Keifer Sutherland building the government up from scratch was pretty awesome. [Vox]
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trump Jr.'s Skittles, Tulsa cops kill unarmed black man, WSU may rethink athlete arrests and morning news

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 9:11 AM


: Former city attorney Nancy Isserlis is digging into the Straub investigation, and more specifically, into investigator Kris Cappel herself. 

: Our own Chey Scott really thought she would like Netflix's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. But in the end, she was let down. 


Football priorities
Following three felony arrests of WSU football players last week, and the media attention sparked by coach Mike Leach's accusation that his players are being targeted by police, and the fact that apparently none of those players have been disciplined by the team at all — one player has been expelled by the school and still played on Saturday — WSU president Kirk Schulz says the school may reconsider how it handles athlete arrests. Of course, that can't happen until after the season. (Spokesman-Review)

Budget plan
Mayor David Condon wants to address property crime in Spokane, so he's calling for an increase of 16.3 percent in funding to do so in his 2017 budget plan. And it's a budget the Spokesman-Review really wants you to click on, apparently, since the entire body of the article links to it. (Update: they fixed it)

The image tweeted by Donald Trump Jr. yesterday
  • The image tweeted by Donald Trump Jr. yesterday
Skittle controversy
Donald Trump Jr., remarkably, may be getting more media attention than his father this morning (but probably not) because of a tweet. The tweet had a picture of a bowl of Skittles, and asks, "If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refugee problem." This has caused outrage because, as many have pointed out, refugees are not pieces of candy

Terror suspect found
Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in bombings Manhattan and on the Jersey Shore, was caught yesterday following a manhunt. 

Shooting of an unarmed black man
Video surfaced yesterday of a white Oklahoma police officer shooting and killing a black man who can be seen walking away from officers with his hands up seconds beforehand. The officers were responding because the man's car had stalled. 
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Monday, September 19, 2016

Isserlis's lawyer is using public records to dig into the Straub investigation — and the investigator

Posted By on Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 4:13 PM

Basically like this, but more exciting. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
  • Daniel Walters photo illustration
  • Basically like this, but more exciting.

Nancy Isserlis is no longer the city attorney of Spokane. Kris Cappel has already completed her independent investigation into the way the City of Spokane handled the resignation of former Police Chief Frank Straub. 

But a fight between the two over the Cappel report's conclusion has continued. Cappel had accused Isserlis of intentionally withholding crucial documents until after the election. Isserlis, through her attorney, accused Cappel of defamation.

And now, in a poetic touch, both sides are gathering ammunition through the City of Spokane public records process — the same records process that Isserlis has been accused of impeding. 

On August 19, John Spencer Stewart made a huge records request to the city of Spokane, focusing — not on Straub — but on Cappel's investigation. Stewart, part of the team that successfully defended Isserlis in the lawsuit filed by Straub against her and other city officials, requested a vast variety of documents pertaining to the investigation, including:
"email, text messages, voice messages, telephone logs which including the time and date of telephone calls made and received, and any other form of communication between and among City employees, City Council members including, but not limited to, Council President Ben Stuckart and their staff, the investigation liaison group of four (Laura DeBacker McAloon, Brian McClatchey, Breean Beggs, and Rick Romero), and the Kutak Rock, LLP." 
On Aug. 29, Stewart followed up with the clerk's office, clarifying that he wanted his request to go back as far as when "discussion of the engagement of a private investigator or firm [first] took place."

He also requested the curriculum vitae for Cappel and any other members of her investigatory firm who may have authored the report.

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