Wednesday, March 4, 2015

MB: Haskell speaks, chicken nuggets lose the antibiotics and trials begin

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 10:04 AM


A transient woman dies after being run over by a wastewater truck. (KXLY)

The former NIC federal aid director, accused of trying to trade financial aid for sex, could face even more charges, like  "lying to a federal agent and misusing federal funds." (SR)

Juror's acquit the Kettle Falls Five on most charges. (SR)

Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell finally sits down for an interview about the controversial Facebook comments of his wife. (KHQ)


McDonald's is ditching the antibiotics in its chicken nuggets. (NYT)

The Boston Marathon Bombing trial begins. (NYT)

The Supreme Court seems divided as arguments over the legality of Obamacare subsidies begin. (Washington Post)


Vox culture editor Todd VanDerWerff has an idea for a new Star Trek TV series, True Detective-style (Vox)
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Nudists express concerns about bikini barista initiative

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 9:23 AM

Last night, Spokane City Council considered what to do with a citizen initiative that would specify what parts of the body can be bared in public. The initiative was spearheaded by a group of moms who want more restrictions on so-called “bikini baristas,” or coffee stands where scantily clad women (or women not clad in anything at all) serve drive-thru customers coffee, sometimes in plain view of children.

Guess who showed up during the public comment period to speak against the measure? If you guessed that the owners of Spokane’s bikini barista stands showed up to call the supporters of the measure a bunch of prudes who were afraid of lady parts and to denounce the initiative as a threat to their business, guess again.
Councilman Mike Fagan has been particularly outspoken about bikini barista. - JAKE THOMAS
  • Jake Thomas
  • Councilman Mike Fagan has been particularly outspoken about bikini barista.

Instead, it was nudists who turned out to tell the city's legislative body that the proposed initiative should be stopped in its tracks before it could rob Spokane residents of their freedom to romp around in the buff.

“The initiative is a broad brush fix for a specific problem, which is the bikini baristas,” local nudist Kathy Smith told the council, adding, “The initiative has unintended consequences and attacks nudists who do not engage in that practice.”

Dave Smith, another nudist who is involved in local nudist organizations, told the council that some of the behaviors the initiative targets are already covered by Spokane's municipal code, and he was concerned that all the nude events held at restaurants, bed and breakfasts and private homes in Spokane could be jeopardized if it became law.

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MB: Pot trials, gas taxes and another Clinton scandal

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 8:50 AM


Idaho's expensive boondoggle of a broadband network has collapsed. For many North Idaho school districts, that's a good thing. (Spokesman-Review)

A gas tax increase passes the Republican-controlled Washington Senate. And Democrat Andy Billig voted against it. (Spokesman-Review)

Dispatches from the "Kettle Falls Five" federal marijuana trial by former Inlander reporter Heidi Groover. (The Stranger)

The mural on the empty lot near Division Street has been vandalized. (KXLY)

Hillary Clinton may have exclusively used her private e-mail account when Secretary of State, a choice that could not only have run afoul of public records law, but may have been a significant security risk. (New York Times)

How Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu and American President Barack Obama had their falling out. (New York Times)

Because cities don't track assaults in taxi cabs, we don't know if they're any safer than an Uber ride. (The Atlantic)

House of Cards' third season started pretty unsatisfyingly. Here's why. (Grantland)
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Gonzaga recognized by Peace Corps director for alumni volunteers' dedication

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 11:02 AM

This evening, the Peace Corps visits Gonzaga University to honor and celebrate the school's top ranking for Peace Corps volunteers.

As a part of a Peace Corps Week event, the humanitarian organization's associate director, Helen Lowman, heads to campus to thank Gonzaga for its consistently high involvement in the program, as well as to discuss the strong partnership that has formed between the two groups.

Peace Corps Associate Director Helen Lowman is in town to recognize Gonzaga's efforts in the program.
  • Peace Corps Associate Director Helen Lowman is in town to recognize Gonzaga's efforts in the program.

Gonzaga has been in the top five in the Small Colleges and Universities category (schools with less than 5,000 undergraduate students) for the last five years, and has been in the No. 1 spot for the last three. Gonzaga has consistently had more than 20 undergraduate alumni participate in the program, while the runners-up in the category hardly ever reach the 20 mark.

Washington as a state has been a powerhouse for Peace Corps numbers, with a number of universities in the state holding top rankings in other categories. This year the University of Washington holds the No. 1 spot in the Large College category with 72 volunteers, while Western Washington University holds the top spot in the Medium College category with 47.

During 2014, 20 Gonzaga alumni volunteered with Peace Corps, and since its founding in 1961, GU has sent 330 alumni. These high numbers are in part thanks to a Peace Corps Master's International program that exists at Gonzaga through the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program. In this program, recently graduated students can earn a masters degree in TESL and Studies in Language and Culture by spending two full years in a classroom setting to build a foundation in these two areas, and then finish up by serving 27 months as a Peace Corps volunteer. 

The free event is at Gonzaga's Jundt Art Museum, in Room 110, from 4:30- 6 pm. 

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MB: ISIS battles, crammed hotels, and tiny maggots

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 9:29 AM


Maggots, and a new state rule, may wreck Spokane's entire yard waste recycling program. (Spokesman-Review)

A House bill would make it more expensive for journalists, and others, to get public records. (Spokesman-Review)

In Boise, Add the Words protesters are blocking the entrance to the Idaho Senate. (Spokesman-Review)

Big tournaments leave some sports teams searching for hotel space in Spokane. (KREM)

Iraq's trying to take Tikrit back from ISIS. (New York Times)

Bibi's comin', y'all. (New York Times)

Chief Justice John Roberts broke with his conservative justices to save Obamacare once. Will he do it again? (Washington Post)

Stopping ISIS is hard. (The Atlantic)


Whatever happened to Adrien Brody? This.
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Friday, February 27, 2015

Why one tiny Lake Pend Oreille high school ditched hot lunches

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 3:16 PM

A titular "sack" used for "sack lunches."
  • A titular "sack" used for "sack lunches."

They're both in the same Lake Pend Oreille school district, but Sandpoint High School and Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School have some pretty major differences. 

Sandpoint High's in the comparatively urban tourist town of Sandpoint, while Clark Fork's about 30 miles away, in a much more rural area. Sandpoint High has 967 students enrolled. Clark Fork only has 88. And Sandpoint still serves hot lunch. At Clark Fork, hot lunches are no longer an option.

Yesterday, KREM reported on the frustrated Clark Fork community members — unsatisfied with the quality of the lunches (complaints range from stale bread to sour milk) — who have banded together to serve homemade hot lunch to students anyway.  

The idea of getting rid of hot lunches to save money seemed an unusual one, so I called up Shawn Woodward of the Lake Pend Oreille School District to find out the story. 

He says the district's big dilemma was one of volume and reimbursement rates. Since there were only around 20 kids eating lunch, the hot lunch reimbursement from the federal government didn't even come close to covering the cost. And that cost was significant, about $56,000 a year for the district, Woodward says. Assuming 20 kids eating lunch on average, and 180 school days, and it'd be a lot cheaper for the students to eat out (say, get the "Moose Breath" Burger at the nearby Cabinet Mountain Bar & Grill) every single day.

So the district had a choice: Eat that cost every year for the two dozen or so students who eat lunch. Or find an alternative. 

"What we ended up wanting to do is make sure no kid out there went without a meal," Woodward says. By switching from hot lunch to cold lunch they're now able to offer every student "free" lunch, and still save the district about $30,000 — almost as much as an Idaho first-year teacher salary.

The district is looking at cutting about $1 million from the budget this spring, and every little bit helps. Even if the levy passes on March 10, that budget deficit will remain. Sandpoint provides a strong property tax base compared to much of Idaho, but so far hasn't taken advantage of that. 

"Our levy rate is about 50 percent lower than the state average in Idaho," Woodward says. "If you push the envelope too hard you start losing voters. They expect us to make hard decisions."

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MB: R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy, higher freeway speeds in WA, and llama drama

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 9:24 AM


Great news for people who like to go fast on the freeway: Washington state’s speed limit could raise to 75 mph. (Spokesman-Review)

VA officials confirmed its Spokane emergency room would not be resuming 24/7 operations in April. (KXLY)

In other important news, both Washington and Idaho lawmakers are considering doing away with daylight savings time. (KREM)

LaVerne Biel is running for Spokane City Council. (Inlander)

Eight people are dead after a shooting rampage in rural Missouri. (USA Today)

Two llamas nearly broke social media yesterday when they got loose at an assisted living facility just outside of Phenix. (AZ Central)

The Mariners are down at spring training! Are big things to come? Manager Lloyd McClendon offers a pessimistic view. (Seattle Times)

House of Cards season three starts today on Netflix (yeah, we’ll be holed up watching it all weekend, too). But what does the show say about our politics? (Washington Post)  

Leonard Nimoy died today after battling lung disease brought on by smoking. After his diagnosis, he tweeted: "Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you're diagnosed with lung damage it's too late. Grandpa says learn my lesson. Quit now." 
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LaVerne Biel running for council

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 9:15 AM

LaVerne Biel, a Perry District business owner, has announced she’s running for the Spokane City Council seat that will be left open when current Councilman Mike Allen steps down later this year.

She faces competition from John Waite, a downtown business owner, and Lori Kinnear, legislative assistant to Councilwoman Amber Waldref. Former Republican state Rep. John Ahern has also suggested he might run.

Previously she ran for the seat held by Jon Snyder in 2013. Allen, considered part of the council’s conservative minority, has endorsed her. Biel also has the endorsements of former councilmembers Nancy McLaughlin and Brad Stark.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

MB: It’s the Kettle Falls Three now, net neutrality vote and pot made legal in D.C.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 9:13 AM


Federal authorities have fined a Hauser corn maze $14,000 following the death of a Spokane Valley teenager killed while working last Halloween. (KREM)

It doesn’t have the same ring but the Kettle Falls Five have been trimmed to three after a last minute plea deal. (Spokesman-Review) Read our cover story on the defendants here.

Councilman Mike Allen will not seek reelection this fall. (Inlander)

The FCC’s vote today on net neutrality could change the Internet forever. Read a full breakdown of what that means exactly, here. (Washington Post)

Just like the other Washington, recreational use of pot is no longer illegal in Washington, D.C. (Reuters)

Sweet! Gonzaga men’s basketball nabbed the cover of this week’s (regional) issue of Sports Illustrated. (Sports Illustrated)

It's no longer a crime to commit adultery in South Korea. (BBC News) 

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Allen not running for city council re-election

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 4:53 PM

Councilman Mike Allen tells the Inlander that he will not seek reelection this fall.

Allen, often considered part of city council’s conservative minority, says that when he ran in 2011 he hoped to create an Office of the Police Ombudsman, find a permanent street-funding mechanism, restore Riverfront Park and other goals. He says that with those goals accomplished, he sees no reason to run.

Allen, who has a business background, considers himself more of a moderate than a conservative. 

“I’m always for balance,” he says.

Running for his seat is Lori Kinnear, legislative assistant for Councilwoman Amber Waldref, and downtown business owner John Waite. Both have left-leaning politics and if either of them prevail the council could have a 6-1 liberal majority.

Former Republican state Rep. John Ahern is also strongly considering running.

“I’m very dissatisfied with the city council,” he says. “It’s so left-leaning, I can’t believe it.”

If elected, Ahern says he would prioritize reversing an ordinance that prevent city workers from inquiring into people’s immigration status, which he says invites criminals and terrorist groups to Spokane. He also wants the city to put a moratorium on the growing, processing and selling of marijuana.

“What that council needs more than anything is adult supervision,” he says.

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