Thursday, December 8, 2016

How local law enforcement plans to use that extra $300,000 to fight property crime

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 10:21 AM

Spokane police chief Craig Meidl speaks before the Senate Law & Justice Committee about how SPD and the Spokane County sheriff's office is spending an extra $300,000 to fight property crimes
  • Spokane police chief Craig Meidl speaks before the Senate Law & Justice Committee about how SPD and the Spokane County sheriff's office is spending an extra $300,000 to fight property crimes

Earlier this year, thanks in part to a big Inlander story about the property crime epidemic in Washington state, law enforcement agencies in Spokane County received a one-time boost of $300,000 from the legislature to fight property crime.

After decreasingly significantly during 2014 and 2015, property crime has been increasing slightly during the first half of 2016 — vehicle thefts, in particular, have been increasing.

Because of a mistake by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs — which is dispersing the $300,000 — local law enforcement haven't actually received the funding yet, putting law enforcement two months behind their planned roll-out schedule.

While $15,000 will be taken up with indirect costs of the Association, here's how the police and sheriff's department plan to spend the rest of the money:

$60,000: Informational ad campaign
This won't go directly to making you safer. Rather, it will go to buy ads to inform you how to make yourself safer. They've already met with a public relations firm, which would buy advertisements aimed at "hardening" soft targets. Like: Lock your car. Don't leave purses or laptops or priceless family heirlooms sitting in the front seat. Open garages or unlocked homes tend to tempt thieves.

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Gift Guide, outdoor pot farm ban, pizzagate guy talks and other headlines

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 9:12 AM


GIFT GUIDE: What you should get people who already have everything (and other ideas for everyone else on your list)

NEWS: Spokane County commissioners quietly voted to temporarily ban new outdoor weed farms. Why the secrecy?

What We've Been...
We decided to resurrect an old blog series where staffers recommend various forms of entertainment, libations and tomfoolery. This week, allow us to rave about what we've been watching.


Weather forecasters are predicting one to two inches of snow to hit Spokane starting Thursday afternoon through Friday. (KREM)

• A Spokane woman will spend five years in jail after she was caught stealing thousands of pieces of mail. (Spokesman-Review)

• The Seattle Times is making "significant reductions" to its staff through buy-outs and layoffs. Last year around this time, the Times cut 15 staffers. (The Stranger)

• "I just wanted to do some good and went about it the wrong way," Edgar Maddison Welch, the man who fired a gun inside a Washington D.C. pizza joint, tells a New York Times reporter in the first interview since his arrest. "The intel on this wasn't 100 percent."

The 28-year-old says he went to investigate a fake news story that Hillary Clinton was somehow linked to a child sex slave ring operating out of the pizzeria. Read the rest of his answers here. (New York Times)
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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Snoop Dogg drops by, Riverfront Park gets on track and morning headlines

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 9:37 AM

The Rep. Matt Shea proposal is not the first time some in Eastern Washington have wanted to become their own state.
  • The Rep. Matt Shea proposal is not the first time some in Eastern Washington have wanted to become their own state.


Dogg Day
Snoop "Snoop Dogg" Dogg is coming to a weed shop in Spokane, despite the rapper's famous opposition to marijuana and marijuana-related paraphernalia.

A Mountain of Value
Pay only $10 to ski at Schweitzer this Friday, to help out a few charities.

Bach This Way
Northwest Bach Festival's Zuill Bailey just got himself a Grammy nomination. Just like Kanye.

The Maple Glaze of Defeat
Why Donut Parade is closing.


Spokane Innovators
James Mitchell, a psychologist who used to have offices in Spokane, says now more than ever we should get all Jack Bauer on our interrogation sessions. (Buzzfeed)

Park Place
Riverfront Park is on track, despite a tumultuous year. (Spokesman-Review)

Nature of the State

Yeah, guys, Eastern Washington is not going to become a new state. (KXLY)


A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World and Shoot Up a Pizzeria Before the Truth Can Put its Pants On
How fake news led to real gunfire. (Washington Post)

When A Drug War Turns Into Drug Warcrimes

The brutal president of the Philippines leads a drug war that becomes a slaughter. (New York Times)

The First Taste Is Free

A tiny private college in Massachusetts offers the first two years of college for free. (The Atlantic)
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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pentagon's cover-up, Baumgartner's amendment plan and morning headlines

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 9:13 AM


ARTS & CULTURE: Here are some ways you can help local families during the holidays.

MUSIC: Guns N' Roses has scheduled a show at The Gorge for September 3, 3017.


Michael Baumgartner
  • Michael Baumgartner
Changing the rules
The state legislature has for years failed to meet its obligation to fully fund public schools as mandated by the state supreme court's McCleary decision. So what's the solution? According to state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, lawmakers should amend the state constitution to rewrite the parts that formed the basis for the court's ruling, instead of following it as currently written. (Spokesman-Review)

Skipping school
A 5-year-old girl somehow walked away from school at Sheridan Elementary, undetected by staff before an STA bus driver picked her up and brought her to police. Spokane Public Schools says security measures have been put in place to ensure it doesn't happen again. (KHQ)

Tax increase
Spokane county commissioners approved a 1-percent property tax increase yesterday in a 2-1 vote. Though that revenue typically would be used for road improvements, commissioners instead funneled it into the county's general fund to balance the budget. (Spokesman-Review)

Burying the evidence
The Pentagon requested a study to figure out how to become more efficient, but when the final report identified $125 billion in bureaucratic waste, Pentagon leaders tried to hide the results — until the Washington Post found them.

Spreading the truth

Donald Trump met yesterday with a former Democratic presidential candidate who won the popular vote and lost the election — not Hillary Clinton, but Al Gore. Gore says they had a "lengthy and very productive session."
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Monday, December 5, 2016

Donut Parade closes, Dakota-Access pipeline delayed and morning headlines

Posted By on Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 9:35 AM

Donut Parade is closed for good.
  • Donut Parade is closed for good.


• RALLY, Kyle Gass Band and The Santaland Diaries among this week's happening happenings.

• A new three-day music festival called Tinnabulation aims to put Spokane on the concert-destination map next fall.


Spokane's long-standing breakfast-pastry epicenter Donut Parade has closed its doors, announcing its demise via Facebook (Spokesman-Review):

Santa is Watching
'Tis the season for people to steal Christmas deliveries off of front porches, as has been happening on the South Hill already. (KXLY)

Heavy metal thunder
2016 comeback kings Guns 'n' Roses are scheduled to play The Gorge on Sept. 3, 2017. Let's see if Axl, Slash et al can keep their reunion going until then. (KREM)

Good tidings
A benefit for Post Falls murder victim Bo Kirk raised more than $10,000 for his family. (KHQ)


Um, okay?
President-elect Donald Trump continued his streak of picking controversial candidates for his cabinet, today choosing Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, despite Carson reportedly saying he wasn't qualified to lead another department, Health & Human Services, because the doctor had never run a federal agency. (CNN)

Dakota pipeline delayed
The voices of water protectors and environmentalists were apparently heard in the White House, as the Army Corps of Engineers announced Sunday it would not allow the Dakota Access pipeline to be built underneath a section of the Missouri River that serves the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. It is possible that decision could change when Trump takes over the White House.

Club catastrophe
The death toll stands at 35 so far as fire officials have suspended the search for victims of a warehouse fire that broke out during a concert Friday night in Oakland. Continuing the search in the unstable remains of the structure is considered to unsafe.
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Friday, December 2, 2016

Read notes local churchgoers wrote after Trump's election to show love to local refugees

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 3:30 PM

This week we have a story on how the friends, family and teachers of refugees are standing up in defense of their neighbors, survivors of war and devastation who Donald Trump's son has compared to poisonous Skittles.

And sure enough, just a few hours after we'd sent the story to print Tuesday, Trump decided to share some more of his early morning thoughts on refugees.

But in this week's story, I didn't want to focus on outrage over Trump or even on debunking misconceptions about American refugee policy. I wanted to focus on what Spokane was doing to show the people already here — many who'd gone through hell before ever getting here — they were loved.

A lot of these were relatively small acts that nevertheless can matter a lot.

Like the notes that three churches — Branches, Salem Lutheran and The Porch — wrote to local refugees.

Brent Hendricks, head of the refugee employment and assistance organization Global Neighborhood, says he got the idea from a former volunteer who'd moved to Nebraska. The volunteer was teaching English as a Second Language to refugee woman, noticed some of them were really freaked out after Trump's election, and so asked some of his colleagues to write little notes of support.

He decided to steal the idea and emailed a few churches he'd partnered with.

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NIC settles rape lawsuit, slain Tacoma cop identified and morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 9:49 AM


• GIFT GUIDE: Books, music, video games. You need presents, we got ideas.

• POLICE: Public records reveal the mood back in August when Mayor David Condon tapped then-Asst. Chief Craig Meidl for top cop.

• SEXUAL ASSAULT ON CAMPUS: North Idaho College settled a lawsuit with a woman who accused the school of disciplining her, and not her alleged attackers, when she reported she was gang-raped at an off-campus party.


• Members of the city's Ethics Commission are crying foul after Mayor David Condon asked former city utilities director Rick Romero to help shape Condon's policy goals in his final years in office. The Ethics Commission has already rejected Romero's employment because of a city policy preventing retired employees from coming back to City Hall within a year. (Spokesman-Review)

• Retired Marine Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis is President-elect Donald Trump's pick as secretary of defense. Mattis has been critical of President Barack Obama's strategy in the Middle East. (New York Times)
Slain Tacoma police officer Reginald "Jake" Gutierrez
  • Slain Tacoma police officer Reginald "Jake" Gutierrez

• A Washington Department of Corrections worker says he was a scapegoat for the agency's sentence-calculating glitch that ended up releasing several prisoners early. David Dunnington, an IT business manager, was identified in a report as one of the six employees who contributed to the DOC's delay in fixing the problem and was demoted. (Seattle Times)

• The Tacoma police officer who was shot and killed Thursday while responding to a domestic violence call has been identified as Reginald "Jake" Gutierrez. Witnesses say he sacrificed himself to protect his partner and the wife of the man who allegedly shot him. The 38-year-old alleged shooter has not yet been identified. (Tri-City Herald, Seattle Times)

• Public colleges and universities in Washington state have to beef up their adjudication process when a student faces expulsion, according to a state Court of Appeals ruling. Only 12 of the 27 public institutions of higher education are giving students a chance to defend themselves, the court found. (Seattle Times)
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Thursday, December 1, 2016

In August, Stuckart suggested "recall" as consequence for mayor not submitting Meidl for council approval

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 12:56 PM

Things may be smooth now, but records reveal new insights into the turmoil frothing around the Craig Meidl appointment back in August - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • Things may be smooth now, but records reveal new insights into the turmoil frothing around the Craig Meidl appointment back in August

Records requests, at times, can be like time capsules from a different era. So sure, now things are pretty chummy — the council passed the mayor's budget quickly and unanimously on Monday.

But back at the beginning of August?

Well, that was a different, more chaotic time. A trove of emails obtained by the Inlander last week centered on the days leading up to Police Chief Craig Meidl's initial appointment, illuminate a few interesting things:

1. City Council President Ben Stuckart suggested a "recall" was the proper consequence if the mayor refused to seek confirmation from the city council.

It's important to consider just how tense things were back then: Meidl's initial appointment had come less than a week after the controversial report had been released about how the mayor had handled issues surrounding the previous police chief, Frank Straub. The report concluded that Mayor David Condon's administration had intentionally withheld documents about sexual harassment allegations about the chief until after the 2015 election. Condon fervently denied this.

The sudden appointment of Asst. Chief Craig Meidl, which bypassed the lengthy process other police chief candidates had gone through, tossed fuel on that fire. In particular, the mayor suggested he would not be seeking city council confirmation. At least not at first.

"Unfortunately, I made the difficult decision to not bring Chief Meidl for confirmation at this time out of an abundance of caution and concern for him and his career," Condon wrote in a statement to council shortly after. While he maintained he would eventually seek council approval, he did not lay out a timetable.

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NIC settles lawsuit with woman who says school ignored her gang-rape

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 10:45 AM


North Idaho College has settled a lawsuit with a woman who accused the school of disciplining her, and not her alleged attackers, after she reported being gang-raped near campus.

The woman's attorney, Rebecca Rainey, confirmed to the Inlander that North Idaho College settled the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court, for $75,000.

The college did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. In a statement, NIC spokesman Tom Greene said NIC settled to "limit the costs and distraction associated with lengthy litigation." It was paid through insurance and does not impact the school's operating budget.

"The settlement agreement expressly acknowledges that NIC denies any liability or wrongdoing regarding [the woman's] allegations in her lawsuit. [The woman] further agreed that the settlement was a compromise of doubtful and disputed claims and that she agrees to release NIC from any claims and to dismiss the current lawsuit."

The woman was a 17-year-old freshman at NIC in November 2013 when she says the assault took place. She was falling in and out of consciousness from intoxication, but says she recalls three men she knew sexually assaulting her. At one point, she says one man raped her, as another stood by "asking for a turn" before he did, too, according to the lawsuit.

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The 80s, support for refugees, Tacoma police officer killed and morning headlines

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 9:38 AM


As fear and anxiety over what a Trump presidency means for refugees, local residents find ways to show support.

MUSIC: No, it's not the former Soviet security agency, man. It's the Kyle Gass Band, or KGB. They're at the Big Dipper next Monday, and you should check them out.

THE 80s: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, leg warmers, synthesizers, the original Nintendo and, of course, Devo. For these reasons and more, we still love the 80s.


• A Tacoma police officer was shot and killed last night while responding to a domestic violence call. The 45-year-old officer has not yet been identified. The suspect, who was reportedly using two children as a shield, was killed by a Pierce County sheriff's deputy after an 11-hour standoff. Both children, 11 and 8 years old, are not injured, according to news reports. (News Tribune)

• A 10-year-old Spokane County boy is the 9th child in Washington state diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a polio-like disease (though the state Department of Health website cites 12 possible cases). Officials can identify no clear underlying cause. (Seattle Times)

• The police officer who shot and killed Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, will not be charged. The district attorney who announced the decision cited a "cocked" .380 semi-automatic with Scott's DNA on it as evidence that the officer's use of force was justified. A "generally peaceful" protest broke out after the DA's announcement. At least four people were arrested, according to news reports. The Charlotte Observer has published a trove of evidence officials used to make their decision. (Charlotte Observer)

• It's a longshot, but at least two Washington state electors have pledged to try and deny Donald Trump the presidency. (Seattle Times)
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