Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bikini barista initiative fails to make ballot

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 12:40 PM

A citizen-led initiative that would codify what body parts can be barred in public in Spokane won’t be on the November ballot after it failed to get the needed signatures.

The initiative was sponsored by Beth Solscheid, who along with other local moms concerned about bikini barista stands in town collected over 3,000 signatures to qualify it for the November ballot. Supporters of the initiative say they’re not against bikini barista stands, and their gripe is with stands that feature women wearing nothing or next to nothing, with some located in very public places.

If passed, the initiative would have specifically stated what body parts can be barred in public.

According to numbers from the County Auditor’s Office, only 53 percent of the signatures were valid. Nearly 18 percent of the signatures were deemed invalid because individuals who signed it lived outside of Spokane. The second most common reason, at 16 percent, was the person who signed wasn’t registered to vote.

Mike McLaughlin, Spokane County elections manager, says that sometimes a signature gatherer will collect signatures outside of a grocery store near the city limits. People who reside outside Spokane might shop at these stores, and, while they’re there, put an invalid signature on a petition, he says.

Supporters of the initiative collected more than the required 2,477 signatures to serve as a buffer against invalid signatures and had high hopes that the measure would easily pass scrutiny.

Solscheid couldn’t be reached for comment, but a long-winded post on the campaign’s Facebook page from Kimberly Curry expressed disappointment with the results and faulted the city council for taking action on the issue.

“At every grocery store we stood outside of collecting signatures over the last year, all the doors we knocked and luncheons we spoke at people asked why our City Council was not exerting leadership over city affairs by putting this issue on the ballot rather than five mothers standing outside, often times with their children, doing the job for them,” reads the post. 

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Parents rights in ID, pimping in Spokane and a huge election in Israel today

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 7:28 AM


Owners of the Moezy Tavern aren't happy with Spokane's plan to put Monroe on a so-called "road diet." (KREM)

The Idaho Senate passed a "parents rights" bill, a move that worries Idaho educators. (Spokesman-Review)

Spokane detectives believe a man in custody for pimping out underage girls might have more victims than they first thought. (KXLY)


When it comes to harvesting state and local government tax breaks, no one does it better than Boeing. (Seattle Times)

The University of Montana is grieving three unrelated students deaths over the weekend. (Missoulian)


Israel votes today, and the results could be huge for the future of the Middle East. (BBC)

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, congressional Republicans are trying to repeal Obamacare — again. (New York Times)

A professional football player for the San Francisco 49ers retired at 24 citing fear of long-term head trauma. The NFL should probably be a little worried about the long-term effects of his action. (Washington Post)
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Monday, March 16, 2015

MB: Putin's back, Netanyahu might lose, and new memorial at Spokane Arena

Posted By on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 7:25 AM


The Gonzaga and Eastern Washington basketball teams are both playing in the South region of the NCAA "March Madness" basketball tournament. One of your coworkers has probably already hit you up about an office pool. (KXLY)

A house fire on Wall had the Spokane Fire Department's full attention early Monday morning. One person was injured. (KREM)

Take a look at an artist rendering of a new veterans memorial slated for a spot outside the Spokane Arena in time for Veterans Day. (Spokesman-Review)


Israel's election on Tuesday is going to be a close one, and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is telling supporters he might lose. (Washington Post)

Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't sick, dead, or removed via coup. He was just taking a break from the public eye since March 5. (BBC)

The first in a two-part series on fleeing a fundamentalist Mormon enclave is a good read. (Al-Jazeera America)
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Pictures of Stephanie Renee Meier, her family, and her memorial

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 1:37 PM

In this week's Inlander, we profiled the life of Stephanie Renee Meier, the homeless woman who died after being run over by a city maintenance truck . The following pictures are of Meier's life, and of her family after her death.
Meier and her sister Denise as children. - PROVIDED BY STEPHANIE RENEE MEIER'S FAMILY
  • Provided by Stephanie Renee Meier's family
  • Meier and her sister Denise as children.
Art had always been a part of Meier's identity. But in the last period of her life, Meier's artwork increasingly became a crucial part of her self-expression. - PROVIDED BY STEPHANIE RENEE MEIER'S FAMILY
  • Provided by Stephanie Renee Meier's family
  • Art had always been a part of Meier's identity. But in the last period of her life, Meier's artwork increasingly became a crucial part of her self-expression.
Meier and her husband, Dan, years ago. - PROVIDED BY STEPHANIE RENEE MEIER'S FAMILY
  • Provided by Stephanie Renee Meier's family
  • Meier and her husband, Dan, years ago.

Continue reading »

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MB: Hero teens: Alleged abductor deserves sympathy, Gov supports med school

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 9:16 AM


The teenagers who stopped a 15-year-old from abducting a toddler are now saying that the would-be abductor deserves our sympathy. (KREM)

One of the lawsuits against the troubled and currently defunct Daiquiri Factory has been dismissed. (KREM)

Gov. Jay Inslee implied that he’s cool with a medical school in Spokane, but he’s not sure how it will be paid for. (Spokesman-Review)


An investigation into an elder abuse case concerning Harper Lee, the beloved author of To Kill a Mockingbird, is closed, concluding that the celebrated author is in full possession of her “mental faculties.” (Guardian)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, fearing extradition to the U.S., may be catching a break with Swedish prosecutors offering to travel to London to interview him regarding sexual assault allegations. (BBC)

Barack Obama says he’s embarassed for the 47 Republican senators who sent a letter to leaders of Iran. (VICE News)

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spokane’s Chief Financial Officer once dated the homeless woman hit by the city truck

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 11:46 AM

Stephanie Renee Meier at the Oregon coast at age 14 or 15, around the time she dated Gavin Cooley. She was hit and killed by a city truck while she slept on the edge of a driveway last week. - PHOTO COURTESY OF STEPHANIE RENEE MEIER'S FAMILY
  • Photo courtesy of Stephanie Renee Meier's family
  • Stephanie Renee Meier at the Oregon coast at age 14 or 15, around the time she dated Gavin Cooley. She was hit and killed by a city truck while she slept on the edge of a driveway last week.

Gavin Cooley has been the Chief Financial Officer of the city of Spokane through four mayoral administrations. He’s the guy you talk to if you want the big budget details, if you want to talk bond ratings, or the city investment pool.

Stephanie Renee Meier, who went by Renee, is a woman you may have seen on the news or read about in the Inlander this week. Her life ended last week when she was hit by a City of Spokane truck. She was homeless, living in a field in West Spokane. She suffered from serious mental illness, had been arrested multiple times, and her family struggled to figure out how to help her.

And there was a time when Gavin Cooley and Renee were boyfriend and girlfriend. Of a sort, anyway.

Cooley was in 9th grade, and Renee was in 8th. And Cooley really, really wanted to kiss her. And no wonder. She was pretty, artistic, had a wonderful soft voice, and by far, was the best skier on Spokane Mountaineer Racing Team. Better than Cooley, for sure.

Cooley, Renee, and the rest of the team would travel around the Pacific Northwest, skiing together in big races. He remembers the time that she broke her ski. But she, always clever, always tenacious, adapted. She kept skiing on one ski, slalom style. “I think she spent about two months skiing on one ski,” Cooley says. “She was beating most everybody on the ski-team on one ski. I remember being really irritated.”

She was adventurous, daring and stubborn, Cooley remembers. “She was what you’d expect from an 8th grade girl with a great personality,” he says. “Renee had that fierce independence…We were riding up the chair all day long, I never once heard her complain.”

They held hands, went to movies together, ate lime green Jell-O and Zoom oatmeal. They slept in cheap sleeping bags up at the Mt. Spokane Ski Chalet, spending weekends clearing brush.

But he never kissed her. Back then, he didn’t have the nerve.

The following decades showed just how much two lives can diverge.

“I think back then, there was nothing even remotely hinting that anything could happen like this,” Cooley says about the accident, and the events that led up to it. But over the years, he says, the team got the sense that she was struggling with all sorts of issues.

In 2003, the same year Cooley was nominated for CFO by Mayor John Powers, a Spokesman-Review article began like this:

If the city of Spokane drew a composite of its poor, the result might look something like Stephanie Meier.

A single mother juggling 12 college credits and the care of five children, Meier has fallen further behind in the last year.

In October, she lost her $1,000-a-month job as a blackjack dealer. She owes more than $200 on her telephone bill and worries her electricity will be shut off.

Her one-word analysis of Mayor John Power's program to pull her from poverty? "Gibberish.”

Cooley says he ran into her at a Safeway recently. “She was very sharp, recognized me from a distance,” he says. But she didn’t bring up what she was going through.

“She wasn’t someone who reached out for help at all. That wasn’t her style,” Cooley says. “It wasn’t like she was turning to anyone saying ‘I’m homeless.’” (She did ask for help from several social service agencies, however, including the Women’s Hearth and the Hope House.)

He looks around at what happens, and so far, doesn’t see a solution. “I wish there were policy implications,” Cooley says.

There’s an additional grim connection here. Risk management, the city department that essentially handles the city’s insurance, is involved any time there’s an accident. And while Cooley isn’t directly involved in risk management, it is in his division.

The ski team has been texting each other non-stop since Renee’s death, he says. They’ve been calling each other, sharing memories, trying to make sense of it all.  

“Tragic is one of those words that goes overused. In the Greek meaning, there’s some greatness there, and there’s an unavoidable tragedy,” Cooley says. “She’d had that greatness in there… and there seemed in last 15 to 20 years… a sense of unavoidable tragedy.”

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No ID teacher pay raise, treasonous senators and boozing Secret Service agents

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 9:25 AM


Lincoln County sheriff’s deputies have arrested a 15-year-old boy on charges related to brazen and creepy alleged abduction of a toddler in broad daylight. (KXLY)

Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop for Spokane. (Spokesman-Review)

Legislators in Idaho have a killed a proposal to boost teacher pay in the Gem State, for now. (CDA Press)


In Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis that has drawn national attention for recent racially charged upheaval, two police officers were shot after the police chief resigned. (CNN)

More than 150,000 people have signed petition calling for charges to be brought against 47 Republican senators who sent a letter to leaders in Iran questioning the viability of negotiations with the U.S. (Agence- France Presse)

Two Secret Service agents are said to have crashed a government car in security barricades after drinking late night at a part. (Washington Post)
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

MB: Idaho school levies, WSU med school moves forward and reporter mugged

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 9:15 AM


Voters in Coeur d’Alene and elsewhere in Northern Idaho voted to support school levies. (CDA Press)

A program run by the Spokane Police Department is having success in cracking down on habitual car thieves. (KXLY)

The state Senate has passed a bill that would allow Washington State University to open its own medical school in Spokane. (Spokesman-Review)


Iraqi government forces are making progress against the Islamic State. (BBC)

A reporter in South Africa was mugged on camera. (Huffington Post)

Iran’s foreign minister has responded to a letter from Senate Republicans by saying that they don’t understand international law nor the U.S. Constitution. (NPR)

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

MB: No new cell towers in Spokane, guns in Kootenai County and new Apple watch

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 9:27 AM


City council voted to put a moratorium on new cell towers in the city. (INLANDER)

Remember that dust-up over Lesley Haskell, the wife of county prosecutor Larry Haskell, posting Islamaphobic comments to Facebook? Well, it looks like it's even worse. (Spokesman-Review)

The number of concealed weapon permits residents of Kootenai County applied for has increased by 10 percent. (CDA Press)


Senate Republicans are being accused of undercutting the president’s foreign policy by sending a letter to leaders of Iran questioning the viability of negotiations with the U.S. (New York Times)

The dog show world has been rocked been alleged poisoning of an Irish Setter. (BBC)

Are you ready for the new Apple watch? Good. Now know that it won’t be available until April. (Reuters)

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City council halts new cell towers

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 9:15 AM

Last night, Spokane City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance that places a six-month moratorium on the construction of new cell towers in residential areas of the city - and it’s expected to get the city sued.

The ordinance was crafted in response to concerns voiced by residents that new towers were popping up in their neighborhoods with little notice and even less recourse if they objected to the structures.

The newly passed ordinance halts the establishment, permitting and franchising of new cell towers in residential areas (on both public and private property) for a six-month period, during which city council will consider a more comprehensive approach to at Spokane’s technology infrastructure.

“What this really does is it gives us a six-month pause to say, hey, how do we want these to look? How do we want these to build? [How do] we want the placement and appearance to look like?” said Councilman Mike Allen, who introduced the ordinance.

Stuckart noted that he had been working on an ordinance that would give residents notice that potentially ugly and unwanted developments like cell phone towers would be sited close to their homes. The moratorium goes further by halting the development of the offending structures altogether.

Mike Piccolo, legal counsel for the city’s legislative body, warned that the ordinance will invite a lawsuit, but members of the city council seemed to think it was worth it.

“Oh, we will get sued,” said City Council President Ben Stuckart, who went on to add that, “I think it's important, and I think in this instance we should fight for our citizens.”

Allen, speaking after the meeting, said that under Washington state law, if a business follows development rules they are considered “vested” and would have grounds for a lawsuit if a government entity suddenly changed the rules midstream.

Under the ordinance, companies could still apply to build towers and any applications that are under six months old could still go forward.

During the public comment period, no representatives from telecommunications companies showed up to complain. Instead, residents spoke of how they got notices that a cell tower was going to be placed in close proximity to their home and they weren’t given adequate notice to object. Many praised the council’s actions.

“Rarely am I speechless,” said Patricia Hansen, a South Hill neighborhood activist. “Tonight I am speechless.”

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