News

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MB: City official under investigation and Paris sues Fox News

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 8:56 AM

HERE

Jan Quintrall, division director of business and development services, is being investigated for her hiring of temp worker. (INLANDER)

The Washington House is considering an “ag-gag” bill meant to deter animal rights activists from secretly filming agricultural operations. (S-R)

Avian Flu has been discovered in southern Idaho. (S-R)

THERE

Last night, an obscure politician named Barack Obama gave a long speech outlining his goals and vision for the country. A couple people listened. Best of luck to this ambitious political newcomer. (WaPo)

Facebook has announced that it’s cracking down on hoaxes or deliberately deceitful material on the social networking site. (Reuters)

The mayor of Paris plans to sue Fox News for basically making stuff up about the city. (Guardian) 


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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Immigration initiative ready to hit streets

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 3:45 PM

Jackie Murray wants to change how the city handles immigration.
  • Jackie Murray wants to change how the city handles immigration.

Supporters of an initiative that would overturn a city ordinance barring employees, including police, from asking about someone’s immigration status can start collecting the 2,500 valid signatures needed to get it on the November ballot after clearing a legal hurdle today.

In Spokane, citizen initiatives need to be cleared by the Office of the Hearing Examiner, which makes sure that they’re not too legally zany, before supporters can start collecting signatures.

The initiative was given the green light by the office earlier today in a six-page memorandum that basically states that the measure fits within the legal parameters established by the city.

The sponsor of the initiative is Jackie Murray, a 59-year-old Spokane truck driver. The issue has already been the subject of a long and heated city council session held earlier this month.
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Civil Service Commission will investigate Quintrall's hiring of temp

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 1:36 PM

Jan Quintrall, division director of business and development services for Spokane. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Jan Quintrall, division director of business and development services for Spokane.

The Spokane Civil Service Commission voted earlier today to investigate whether or not the city’s Business & Development Services Division had violated the civil service system by improperly hiring a temporary worker.

On January 6, Joe Cavanaugh, president of AFSCME Local 270, complained to the commission that Jacqueline Luenow, who was hired as a temporary worker, was performing work that should go to an employee that had gone through the city’s civil service system. City employees hired through the merit-based civil service system must pass an exam and are given union protection.

Cavanaugh told the commission that he understood that there is a place for seasonal or temporary workers in city government, such as Parks and Recreation, which sees its staffing needs change depending on the season. However, he said that he is concerned that the position held by Luenow, who supervises clerical employees, should have gone to an employee that had gone through the civil service system and he wanted the commission to look into it.

“Temporary-seasonal [workers], as I’ve stated earlier and I’ll state it again, are to supplement the [civil service] workforce not supplant it,” he said.

Jan Quintrall, division director of business and development services who has been at the center of hiring-and-firing controversies in the past, made an appearance at the meeting and told the commission that she had originally asked city council to make the position exempt from civil service requirements but was turned down. She said she then approached the commission to begin the civil service testing and hiring process for the position in November and is still waiting. In the meantime, she said, the work needed to be done and she hired a temp.

“It’s a stop-gap just to make sure we have supervision of these clerks,” she said.

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MB: Post Falls looks into "instant racing;" Obama's State of the Union is tonight

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 9:46 AM


HERE

We have some great photos from Monday's MLK Day parade and rally. (Inlander)

Do YOU know the difference between "instant racing terminals" and slot machines? Post Falls cops are on the case. (S-R)

A bit of a feel-good story here, as some folks stopped to help an injured eagle at the side of the road. (KHQ)

THERE

The MLK Day festivities in Seattle were not exactly peaceful. (Seattle Times)

The president gives his State of the Union Address tonight; plan your TV viewing accordingly. (WaPo)

That AirAsia flight apparently climbed too fast before crashing into the ocean. (BBC)
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Monday, January 19, 2015

PHOTOS: MLK Day rally and march

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 2:05 PM

About 2,000 people took part in Spokane’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally and march, starting and ending at the convention center. Before the march, speakers stressed the importance of unity and the need for continued action for racial equality, ending with Rev. Happy Watkins delivering Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The scene on Spokane Falls Boulevard - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • The scene on Spokane Falls Boulevard

Spokane NAACP President Rachel Dolezal and Inlander commentator - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Spokane NAACP President Rachel Dolezal and Inlander commentator

Eastern Washington University junior and Black Student Union President Satori Butler - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington University junior and Black Student Union President Satori Butler

Olinda Stone sings "Never Give Up." - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Olinda Stone sings "Never Give Up."

Rev. Percy "Happy" Watkins delivers Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Rev. Percy "Happy" Watkins delivers Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Tahlyke Chenevert reads a poem. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Tahlyke Chenevert reads a poem.

Holding a "Black Lives Matter" sign, Ivery Rose, center, and other marchers on Spokane Falls Blvd. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Holding a "Black Lives Matter" sign, Ivery Rose, center, and other marchers on Spokane Falls Blvd.

Holding an "Equality = Peace" sign: Kili Eaglebear - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Holding an "Equality = Peace" sign: Kili Eaglebear

6 year old Cedriana Bradley, left, and her 5 year old sister Aalyiah - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 6 year old Cedriana Bradley, left, and her 5 year old sister Aalyiah


On Main Avenue - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • On Main Avenue

YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak

Mark Newbold, with a Cherokee Nation flag - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Mark Newbold, with a Cherokee Nation flag

5 year old Lily French, with an "Every Person Has 'Worth'!" sign. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 5 year old Lily French, with an "Every Person Has 'Worth'!" sign.

North Hill Christian Church Rev. Chris Snow - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • North Hill Christian Church Rev. Chris Snow

YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak

Amber Abrahamsson, center, with a "Black Lives Matter" sign. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Amber Abrahamsson, center, with a "Black Lives Matter" sign.

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MB: Cancer in the Kettle Falls Five, rich getting richer, GOP debates

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 9:21 AM


HERE

Larry Harvey, a member of a family dubbed the “Kettle Falls Five” who are all facing stiff federal drug charges for growing medical pot, has cancer. (HuffPost)

His lawyer, citing a recent congressional action, has filed a motion to dismiss the case. (INLANDER)

More than 1,000 people gathered outside Idaho’s Capitol to push for a civil rights bill that might get passed this year. (S-R)

The Seattle Seahawks are going back to the Super Bowl. (S-R)

THERE

The world’s wealthiest 1 percent will soon own more than half the world’s wealth. (BBC)

Are you excited for the endless presidential debates in anticipation of the 2016 elections? Sorry to be a downer, but the Republican National Committee is trying to have fewer this time around. (CSM)

Remember when alleged North Korean hackers attacked Sony? Well, it looks like the U.S. hacked North Korea first. (NYT)

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Rachel Dolezal explains why "Shorty can't breathe either" is problematic

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 5:02 PM

The sign outside the Hillside Inn Restaurant
  • The sign outside the Hillside Inn Restaurant

Newly elected Spokane NAACP President Rachel Dolezal was surprised yesterday when she received a phone call from a Spokesman-Review reporter, asking for her thoughts on a message posted on a sign outside a local diner: "Shorty can't breathe either." 

The sign, erected in the parking lot of the Hillside Inn Restaurant, was inspired by the death of  88-year-old WWII veteran Delbert "Shorty" Belton.  Dolezal, who's also an Inlander columnist, hadn't heard about it, so she thought she'd take a look for herself. Around 1 pm Thursday afternoon, after she got off work, Dolezal drove over to the Hillside Inn and asked to speak with the owner, Annie Pennington, about its phrasing. 

In August 2013, Belton was beaten to death by two black teenagers. One of the suspects, Kenan Adams-Kinard, pleaded guilty to murder earlier this month. His accused accomplice, Demetrius Glenn, is scheduled to go to trial in March. Pennington, who used to serve Belton at the restaurant, told the Spokesman she changed the sign after Adams-Kinard pleaded guilty. "It’s nothing racial,” she said. “We did it in honor of Shorty because he’s a selfless, helpless old man, and if we don’t take care of our grandpas, no one will."

When approached by Dolezal, Pennington, Dolezal says, was "immediately defensive" and asked her to leave. According to the Spokesman, Pennington later called City Councilman Mike Fagan about complaints that the sign was "racist."
Screenshot of Mike Fagan's Facebook page
  • Screenshot of Mike Fagan's Facebook page


Now the controversy around the sign is playing out in the comments section of the Spokesman story and on Fagan's Facebook page, where he implicitly accuses Dolezal ("someone else who allegedly represents the local NAACP") of race-baiting and confronting Pennington. But that's not what happened, Dolezal says. 

"I just wanted to go inside and have a conversation and see if we could discuss the implications of appropriating the Eric Garner quote," Dolezal told the Inlander. "It just seems like there’s some dissonance with understanding the context, and so I wanted to invite a conversation and see if we could reach some understanding of it."

Garner, a black man, was killed in Staten Island last July from a police officer's chokehold. As he was restrained and wrestled to the ground by multiple officers, he repeated the words "I can't breathe" eight times before losing consciousness. After a New York grand jury declined to bring charges against the officer who killed him, Garner's words have become a rallying cry for protesters around the country in demonstrations against unprosecuted police killings of unarmed black men and boys, like Michael Brown, John Crawford and Tamir Rice.    

"If there's an analogy being made, I think it’s a bit bizarre," Dolezal says, "to draw that parallel with a movement that’s about people being murdered and those murders not being brought to justice at all, versus a case where there's probable cause and no proof of murder — and it certainly wasn't videotaped — yet there has been every effort to penalize the two teenagers."

"I can't breathe," Dolezal says, is also a "metaphor for that larger deficit of racial and social justice."

Long before Eric Garner and Michael Brown's deaths, Frantz Fanon, a Mozambique-born philosopher and anti-colonial revolutionary said, "We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe." 

"The strangling of Eric Garner's case reminds us of our cultural memory of the strangling through the nooses," she says. "That's the context for that statement. 

"There's still loss on all sides," she continues. "The sign is alienating and pushes back on an aspect of the community that is also hurting and in pain right now."
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Mobius loses its space in March, but the Spokane Public Library has come to its rescue

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 3:11 PM

Until the new location is ready, Mobius exhibits will migrate to the downtown Spokane library - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Until the new location is ready, Mobius exhibits will migrate to the downtown Spokane library

In retrospect, it may have been a poor choice to locate Mobius Science Center in a Cowles Co. building smack-dab in the middle of an in-demand retail sector. 

"Nationally, a successful science center and a retail environment usually don’t mix well," says Phil Lindsey, director of Mobius since April of last year. "You will find there are malls and such that do have museums in them. But they are rarely long term residents." 

In fact, none of the previous four science centers he worked at had been paying rent in a retail environment. And for the Mobius business model, it looked impossible. 

It had cost Mobius about $12 million to retrofit and open in the space in 2012, and from the very start, Mobius struggled to meet projections. (Anne Cowles, wife of Spokesman publisher Stacey Cowles, had been a member of the Mobius board when the Cowles site was selected, but had recused herself from discussions over the site selection) According to the Spokesman-Review, Mobius and the nearby Mobius Kids had paid $413,232 in lease payments in 2012, a massive chunk of the non-profit's budget.

Lindsey says the Cowles had been giving Mobius some relief on their lease payments when he arrived, but he knew the science center needed to relocate to be sustainable. 

That became doubly true when the Cowles Co. informed Mobius it needed to be out by the end of March to make way for another retailer. 

"We are getting the space back at the end of March and we have plans for the building," Bryn West, general manager for River Park Square and Cowles Co. landlord for Mobius. Contractually, however, she can't elaborate on what those plans are. "I hate to have all this this information at my fingertips, but [not be able] to breath a word of it." 

West says the Cowles Co. gave Mobius a heads up in early 2014 to give them plenty of time to figure out an alternative plan. The Cowles, after all, have long been advocates for a science center in Spokane.

"Its very close to our hearts," West says. "I want to make sure they're taken care of."

The good news: Last year, Avista stepped forward with an unbeatable deal. For the rock-bottom lease price of a dollar a year, Avista would let Mobius use its old 1911 brick building, right next to Riverfront Park and the Avista substation, as a new location. 

"This is part of Avista’s active partnership with the community," Avista spokeswoman Jessie Wuerst says. 

For everyone involved, it looks like an eventual win-win. Mobius will get a larger space and have the ability to easily balance their budget without a big rent payment.  

"I think that they have found a financial model that's going to work for them," West says. "To bring in bigger and better exhibits and draw traffic."

The bad news: Renovating an ancient building to make way for Mobius, and figuring out a mass of specifics, takes time. Lindsey hopes the building will be ready by the end of the year, but that would be long after they were kicked out. In other words, until the new place is ready, Mobius needed to essentially find a friend's couch to crash on. 

That friend turned out to be the Spokane Public Library.

"We signed this agreement on Tuesday of just this week," says Andrew Chanse, Spokane Public Library district director. 

The library plans to relocate its children's section in its downtown location and put Mobius on the third floor. That gives the science center a little less than half the space it had previously, but through layout magic, Mobius will be able to fit in about two-thirds of their current exhibits in the space. 

The library — funded by levy dollars and the City of Spokane — won't charge Mobius for using the space. "We’re looking at it as a science exhibit, like we’ve developed in the past with Discover Earth and Discover Tech. We’re all about education and learning." It's all part of an experiment, Chanse says, to figure out if that space could continually to be used interactively after Mobius leaves.

And at Mobius, despite all the hoops it still has to jump through and deals it has to work out, there's a sense of relief. Not having massive lease checks constantly hanging over their head will do that. 

"We’re really excited by it," Lindsey says. "Nothing but huge potential for growth and the ability to deliver on our mission," 
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Lawyer in Kettle Falls Five case moves to dismiss charges

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 2:12 PM


The lawyer representing the Kettle Falls Five, an Eastern Washington family facing federal charges for growing medical marijuana, has filed a motion to dismiss the case.

The motion filed January 15 in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington by Robert Fischer argues that a congressional spending bill, signed into law by the president, makes it clear that federal money should not be used to pursue cases against individuals who possess or grow pot under their state’s medical marijuana programs.

The case involves Larry Harvey, a man in his 70s who used medical pot to treat gout, and his family who were raided in 2013 by federal agents for growing medical marijuana on their property. The family was charged with growing and distributing marijuana under federal law, and they could each face 10 years in prison if convicted.

Their situation highlights an ongoing conflict between the 23 states that have medical marijuana laws and the federal government, which does not recognize the illicit drug as having any sort of legitimate use.

Late last year, Congress passed a spending bill that contained a bipartisan amendment that cut off funding for the U.S. Department of Justice for activities that would prevent these states from “implementing” their laws. There is some concern that the wording of the legislation is sufficiently vague to allow the feds to continue to pursue medical marijuana growers and patients, but the motion argues that the legislative intent of Congress is clear:

“[T]he basic premise that ‘medical marijuana’ has no currently accepted medical use at all, is now in conflict with congressional intent in passing the Act, as shown from the record of the floor debates providing reasons for the passage of the Act. 

Motion to Dismiss


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City council has conditions for mystery downtown retailer

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 12:06 PM

news5-1.jpg
During a study session held yesterday afternoon, members of city council seemed open to a key request from a national retailer that’s interested in setting up shop in downtown Spokane. But before they signed off, council members had a few conditions of their own.

The Downtown Spokane Partnership is currently courting a large retailer to move into a property on the Northwest corner of Main and Wall streets. No one will say who the retailer is, but one of the company’s requirements before any deal is sealed is that the city to vacate 17 feet of the public right of way on Wall Street.

At the session, DSP President Mark Richard said that he’s heard “excellent feedback” from nearby property owners about the new prospective tenant. Council President Ben Stuckart went further saying that the project was “very, very important to the stability of downtown.”

Councilman Mike Allen suggested that two covenants be added to any vacation of the public right-of-way for the project. Under these covenants, if the building came down or if it remained vacant for five years, the public right-of-way would revert back to the city.

The Spokane Transit Authority is planning on using Wall Street for the route of its Central City Line. Although the vacation being requested by the prospective retailer wouldn’t interfere with the the STA’s plans, Stuckart said that he wanted an agreement that clarified that the project would not impede bus access.

Richard said he was “90 percent” certain the project would go forward and hoped to submit an application for vacation of the public-right-of-way by February.
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