Friday, May 15, 2015

Spokane Riverkeeper joins lawsuit against new oil train regulations

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 10:38 AM

Clean water advocate the Spokane Riverkeeper has joined a coalition of other environmental groups suing the Obama administration over what they say are inadequate safeguards on potentially explosive oil trains.

On May 14, Spokane Riverkeeper joined ForestEthics, Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance, Washington Environmental Council, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Center for Biological Diversity in filing a lawsuit against the Obama administration in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals over its new oil train safety standards.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation put in place a new set of standards intended to make the increasing number of oil trains traversing the country (including Spokane) less likely to derail and explode. The standards include enhanced braking on trains, reduced operating speeds and retrofits of existing tank cars.

Shortly after being announced, the new standards drew criticism from Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell.

“The new DOT rule is just like saying let the oil trains roll. It does nothing to address explosive volatility, very little to reduce the threat of rail car punctures, and is too slow on the removal of the most dangerous cars,” said Cantwell in a statement. “It’s more of a status quo rule than the real safety changes needed to protect the public and first responders.”

According to the lawsuit, the new rules were written “arbitrarily, capriciously, and contrary to law.” The rules, according to the lawsuit, have an “unduly long” 10-year phase-out period for DOT-111s and CPC-1232s, tank cars that critics say are unsafe for transporting oil. The lawsuit also faults the new rules for giving local jurisdictions inadequate notification and having a less protective standard for retrofitted tank cars.
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MB: Bear burglarizes car, man who died in custody identified, BB King dies

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


A hungry bear broke into a car and stole a tupperware in Sandpoint, Idaho. The black bear left paw marks everywhere and did about $4,600 in damage. (KREM)

Spokane's new smart parking meters are raking in an additional $9,000 per week for the city. (KXLY)

The man who died while in police custody Wednesday somewhere between jail and the hospital has been identified as 37-year-old Lorenzo Hayes. Police say Hayes was a "midlevel" meth and heroin dealer. They expect a toxicology report will shed light on what drugs were in his system at the time of death. (Spokesman-Review)


Where you grow up affects the likelihood you'll get married, with people in northern Utah and southern Idaho among the most likely to choose marriage. People who grow up in liberal areas are the least likely to marry. (New York Times)

Jeb Bush isn't sure how he feels about the decision his brother made to invade Iraq back in 2003. Over the course of the week Bush has come full circle on the issue. His current position? He wouldn't have invaded. (Washington Post)

The King of Blues, BB King, died in his sleep last night. King was 89. (BBC)
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dave Dahl of Dave's Killer Bread heading to Spokane to accept mayoral proclamation, talk second chances

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 2:49 PM

  • Courtesy of Dave Dahl

Dave Dahl, of Dave's Killer Bread fame, will be in Spokane next week to promote the opening of the Fulcrum Institute's new Ash Street Workforce Studio and accept a mayoral proclamation. 

Dahl, cofounder of the Milwaukie, Oregon-based organic bread company, is known for his story of a second (and now third) chance after spending 15 years in and out of jail up until 2004. When he was released, he joined his family's bread-making business, and with a renewed outlook on life and tons of ideas pinging around in his head, he opened Dave's Killer Bread in August of 2005. 

DKB is now sold in all 50 states and very financially successful. The company has grown to about 300 employees, about 100 of which are formerly incarcerated individuals like Dahl. He says he didn't start the company with the intention of hiring ex-cons, but he was so grateful to the second chance his family gave him, that he felt he should do something for others in a similar situation. 

Dahl will attend next Monday's City Council meeting (6 p.m., Council chambers), during which Mayor Condon will announce Second Chance Week to promote the city's new "ban the box" policy. It will be the first time Dahl will speak publicly since his most recent arrest after a mental breakdown in November 2013 in which he rammed a couple police cruisers with a black Cadillac Escalade. 

Tuesday, Dahl will speak at a luncheon hosted by the Fulcrum Institute to promote the opening of the new Ash Street Workforce Training Station, a place where ex-cons can learn employable jobs skills and get low-income housing. 

Continue reading »

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MB: Man dies in police custody, schools on lockdown, search for plane turns up shipwreck

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 9:35 AM


A man died in the custody of the Spokane Police Department Wednesday. The man, who was being transported to jail for a violating a domestic violence no-contact order, told officers he had been "drinking something" before his arrest. (KREM)

Three local schools were placed on lockdown yesterday after receiving threatening calls. (KXLY)

Another yard has been filled with tires. Spokane Valley resident Keith Scholz says a man dumped several hundred tires on his property after asking to rent a storage container. (KHQ)


Divers hunting for the Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing last year happened upon an uncharted shipwreck. (BBC)

Now that gas is cheaper, consumers are buying more SUVs and fewer hybrid cars. (New York Times)

The Amtrak engineer from Tuesday's fatal train derailment can't recall the crash. The train was going over 100 MPH as it went into a curve where the speed limit is half that. (CNN)
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The revolving police ombudsman door: City Council getting anxious, assistant leaving

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 2:46 PM

The Spokane City Council Monday night passed a resolution that requests the police ombudsman selection committee come up with a list of three possible candidates for the interim ombudsman position ASAP. 

The resolution, submitted by councilman Jon Snyder, passed unanimously and aims to provide the counsel with a list of three people who would be ready to step in should the future police ombudsman unexpectedly resign again.

Tim Burns, the previous police ombudsman, resigned in January, and the position has been vacant ever since. 

As far as when the next police ombudsman will take office, councilman Mike Fagan said a June hire date is the best case scenario, as the ombudsman selection committee still has to select three candidates to present to the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission. 

City spokesman Brian Coddington tells the Inlander more than 36 applications for the permanent position have been submitted, including one from out of the country. The deadline to apply is May 15. 

But there's more shakeup in the police ombudsman office. The assistant to the non-existent ombudsman, Rebekah Hollwedel, announced her resignation late last week. Her last day will be May 20, but Mayor David Condon said the city is working to firm up a replacement, who will take over for Hollwedel as soon as she leaves. 

"I'm determined to make sure that office stays open in City Hall and that we continue to receive any information from citizens," Condon said. 

Hollwedel declined to comment for this post about her reasons for resigning.
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MB: Trains derail, teachers may strike, one step closer to Jurassic Park

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 9:38 AM


A freight train derailed just south of Wenatchee this morning. No one was hurt, but the track — which is used by about 20 trains each day— will be closed until engineers figure out what happened. (KHQ)

In the next week, Spokane public school employees will vote to decide if they will stage a one day strike between now and the end of the school year. (Spokesman)

Spokane County marijuana retailers sold $3.2 million worth of product in April, reaching an all time high. Sales have been climbing every month since the beginning of the year. (KREM)


An Amtrak train on its way to New York derailed in Philadelphia yesterday evening, killing at least six people and injuring many more. (New York Times)

Researchers manipulated chicken embryos, resulting in chicks with dinosaur snouts. (National Geographic)

One of the Islamic State’s top leaders was killed during an airstrike on a mosque in Iraq. (VICE)
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

MB: Hookerville debate rages on, South Hill tire collection, "Deflategate" nails Brady

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2015 at 9:27 AM


Women are getting really excited about hunting. The "growing interest of women in blood sports isn’t a stampede", though, according to the Spokesman. Just a trend that companies that sell hunting gear are taking note of. The average female hunter spends five days a year shooting at deer on private property, according to the results of a Whitworth University study. (Spokesman-Review)

South Spokane residents are beyond frustrated with their neighbor and his humongous tire collection. After visiting the home, fire department and health department officials are onboard, saying its time for the tires to roll off the property. (KREM)

To say Hookerville or not to say Hookerville, that was the question during the heated free speech debate at Monday's Spokane City Council meeting. Key takeaways? There is a town by the same name in Texas. They say Hookerville at their meetings, so why shouldn't people in Spokane? And, also, some council members worry banning one word could be a slippery slope to further infringement on free speech. (KXLY)


New England Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended for four games and fined $1 million over the whole deflategate debacle. (ESPN)

George Zimmerman, the guy acquitted of killing unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin a couple years ago, apparently has a lot of enemies. Monday, one of these individuals shot him. (VICE)

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake rattled Nepal this morning, killing dozens and injuring many more. (New York Times)

The world has a new most expensive painting: Picasso's Women of Algiers fetched $179.3 million at Christie's auction house. (BBC)
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Q&A: Sen. Patty Murray on compromise, the trade deal and abortion

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2015 at 12:58 PM

Sen. Patty Murray, negotiator
  • Sen. Patty Murray, negotiator

Last week, we published a story about how Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, despite her far-left ideology, has managed to become a unique force of compromise and deal-making in Congress. Here are a few additional selections from the interview. 

On the environment that made Republicans willing to negotiate with her:
They got so stuck in a philosophical debate in their own turf, that they put us — if you will recall — into a government shutdown, sequestration taking place, people across the country wondering if we could even do anything in this country, wondering whether our democracy worked. Two businesses who were finding their international partners were not trusting our country to be able to do what we needed to do to manage a country.

That dynamic created the opportunity to work with Congressman Paul Ryan. Two very different people, two very different budgets, two very different philosophies. We challenged each other together, to look at each other not as foes, but as collaborators in trying to put together a budget. And that’s how we got that done. 
On how Murray and Ryan built the trust for compromise:
We had been talking, long before we’d ever got put into a room, to get to know each other. Who you are, what brings you here, what’s important to you? Knowing what’s important to somebody creates the groundwork to be able to listen to someone and trust them.

But the other thing is, inside that room, we had a really important agreement that what we talked about, that what we agreed upon, wouldn’t be used against the other person. And that trust is essential when you’re trying to work out a compromise. You have to put things on the table and trust that the person won’t go out and hold a press conference and say, “You won’t believe what Senator Murray was giving away.”

I think we were in an atmosphere before that time where the two sides were yelling from opposite sides of the football field, and not really trying to find common ground. One of the things we actually talked about as we put together an agreement was, how do we show that compromise can be awarded and supported and applauded, rather than compromise being something that everyone says, “I won’t do.“

We got government running again. We got our economy moving again. We got the votes in the House and the Senate. And, by the way, don’t [shut down the government] again.

Continue reading »

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MB: CdA officer memorial, prostitution arrests on Sprague and more

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2015 at 9:27 AM


A memorial service for the Coeur d' Alene police officer who was shot and killed last week was held Saturday. (Spokesman-Review)

Police arrested four men and impounded three cars during a prostitution sting on East Sprague Avenue Friday night. (KREM)

Dive teams recovered the wreckage of the airplane that crashed last week. (Q13 FOX)


New York governor cracks down on wage theft and worker health hazards at nail salons following an investigation by The New York Times. (New York Times)

Baltimore police catch heat for bringing 2,600 people to jail over a three-year period who were so severely injured that they couldn’t be booked. (The Baltimore Sun)

Kings from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Oman will not be attending the White House Summit at Camp David Thursday. (NPR)
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Three possible ways to get more affordable housing in Spokane

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2015 at 9:20 AM

In this week’s paper, we wrote about how despite cheap rents in Spokane County tens of thousands of residents shell out more than half their income in rents.

But what about solutions?

Matthew Cardinale, a Gonzaga University law student, thinks he has some. Earlier this spring, he completed a 118-page report on Spokane’s affordable housing situation and possible solutions as part of a research project on behalf of Councilwoman Candace Mumm that was supervised by Assistant City Attorney Mike Piccolo.

The report offers several solutions, including an ordinance that would require the Community, Housing and Human Services Department to issue an “Affordable Housing Impact Statement” for any legislation that will estimate its impact on Spokane’s stock of affordable housing. Austin, Texas, and San Diego, California, already have similar policies in place and Cardinale says they could go a long way toward preserving affordable housing in Spokane.

“[City Council] would have to be confronted with a statement every single time they change something,” says Cardinale.

Also included in his report is a recommendation that the city implement “inclusionary zoning,” which is basically a requirement that new building projects involving 25 units or more make 10 percent of them affordable to households making less than 30 percent of the area median income. To sweeten the deal for developers, his report recommends allowing buildings to exceed density requirements if they build more affordable housing.

“I think this is a great way to produce more affordable housing units because we are baking in those affordable housing units as we go,” says Cardinale, noting that Seattle might be in a different position had it adopted this approach before rents started skyrocketing. “It’s really appropriate for Spokane because we do expect more growth.”

Lastly, Cardinale recommends amending the city’s Multi-Family Property Tax Exemption program to spur the creation of more housing for low-income renters. He says that the tax exemption currently benefits developers producing housing for individuals with incomes at 80 percent of area median income. Cardinale says that individuals in this income bracket can afford market rates. Instead, he says, the tax credit should be used to incentivize building units for people making 30 percent or below the area median income because that’s where the need is greatest.

“We are giving away tax revenues to the tune of 12 years for the production of units that are close to or above market rate,” he says.
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