News

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

City's new pay-by-phone meter system being tested downtown

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 3:16 PM

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Starting the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday, the City of Spokane launched a test period for its new, pay-by-phone parking meter system at a section of downtown parking spaces.
Forty-one "smart" meters on Post Street between City Hall and Riverfront Park offer the pay-by-phone option. We tested it out last week to see how it works.

First, I would advise those interested in using the system to download the app for their Android or iPhone before heading out, and to enter the personal information required.

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The city is using the Quick Pay app, which is linked on its parking services page. Or, find it by searching in the apps store on your phone. It's free to install and use.

After installing, users are prompted to create an account, enter their vehicle's license plate number and a brief description of their car, along with a source of payment from a debit/credit card. Users who drive multiple vehicles can also easily add those to their account.

I set out downtown to see how the app worked. For someone who rarely has any change to plug meters, I've embraced the card-friendly meters around downtown installed last fall. As someone who's also encountered issues with these before (like a card not reading when it's rained, or just not working at all, forcing me to move and find another meter) having a third backup plan to avoid being ticketed is awesome.

After finding a spot right in front of City Hall, I launched the app and attempted to scan the QR code on the meter label (photo below) that explains how to use the new system. It didn't work. Neither did the NFC (near-field communication) technology, which the label indicated was another way to tell the app what spot you're parking in. 

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The glitch (it worked later during a second attempt) seemed to be that the QR code was failing to redirect to the correct page within the app. So, I tried the third option — texting the parking stall code (10989) to the number listed on the meter (see right screenshot). Finally, it worked. Then I received a text message confirming that I'd just paid for an hour of parking, with the option to add 15 minutes of time via text, for up to one additional hour than I'd paid for. The meter I'd parked at had a 2 hour limit, which is still enforced even though users can add more time to meters remotely, says city spokeswoman Julie Happy.

However, if you are at the meter for the two full hours of time, she says the system does let users to pay for a final, 15-minute grace period before they must leave that particular meter.

Immediately after adding time to the meter I noticed the time did not show up on the meter's clock. This system won't show the time you've just added using your phone, but Happy says parking attendants will still know you've paid for the time after they run your plate number in their database. 

"I parked in front of City Hall and watched [an attendant] pull up my car and then he walked away," she adds of her experience testing the system.

The trial period for the pay-by-phone system is expected to run for the next several weeks, and Happy says if all goes well, sometime in early 2015 the city will begin rolling out the option to the rest of the 3,000 smart meters around downtown.

If users encounter problems using the new payment method, Happy encourages them to email her ([email protected]), or contact the city's parking services department (232-8836).

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"Black Spokane" looks at civil rights in the Inland Northwest

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 12:58 PM

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For a region largely composed of white people, we often need reminders to take note of the Inland Northwest's minority populations, the civil rights movements throughout the area's history, and those still in progress.

On Wednesday, Gonzaga University Unity Multicultural Education Center presents a free lecture by Dr. Dwayne Mack, chair in African American History at Berea University, called "Black Spokane: The Civil Rights Struggles in the Inland Northwest." It starts at 7 pm in the Barbieri Courtroom of the Gonzaga law school. 

Though Spokane may be overlooked when it comes to black history, its involvement in civil rights activism stretches from black migration in the 1880s to the election of the first black mayor of Spokane, James Chase. Mack discussion outlines Spokane's important place in the context of 20th century equality efforts. 

Mack's new book on the subject, published this year, will be available for purchase for those interested in further study of our region's unique contributions to the civil rights movement. 


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MB: Med school saga continues, new Secretary of Defense and Mariners buy big bat

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 9:14 AM


HERE

A federal judge postponed the "Kettle Falls Five" medical marijuana trial to February. (INLANDER) Read our cover story about the case here.

The Spokane VA Hospital ER is now keeping shorter hours. (KXLY)

The battle for medical school dominance in Spokane continues with UW looking to team up with Gonzaga (KHQ) and local lawmakers proposing legislation that would give control to WSU. (S-R)

THERE
The Mariners may suck even less next year after signing free agent Nelson Cruz. (ST)

Barring any last minute changes, Ashton Carter, the former second-in-command at the Pentagon, is President Obama’s top choice to replace outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. (CNN)

And because reading is cool … The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2014 list is out today. (NYT) 
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Monday, December 1, 2014

Federal judge postpones "Kettle Falls Five" medical marijuana trial

Posted By on Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Larry Harvey, one of the "Kettle Falls Five" defendants, now has until at least February to prepare his defense after a judge delayed the trial set to begin today. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Larry Harvey, one of the "Kettle Falls Five" defendants, now has until at least February to prepare his defense after a judge delayed the trial set to begin today.

A highly anticipated federal medical marijuana trial against a family dubbed the “Kettle Falls Five” scheduled to begin today will now wait until at least February following a continuance from the new judge taking over the case. The new trial date is set for Feb. 23.

Larry Harvey, 70, one of the defendants, filed a speedy trial waiver today, asking for more time to coordinate witnesses. Federal agents charged Harvey and others with illegally manufacturing marijuana after spotting his personal grow operation near Colville during an aerial search in 2012.

“If they put me in prison, it’s a life sentence for me,” says Harvey, who faces a sentence of at least 10 years if convicted.

In October, the Inlander wrote extensively about the Harvey case and the existing conflicts between state and federal law on marijuana. Many other publications as well as advocacy groups have singled out the Kettle Falls Five case as an example of the troubling legal gray areas surrounding marijuana legalization.

Marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access also issued a news release today saying an upcoming U.S. Senate measure could shift DOJ practices on medical marijuana cases, revoking funding for such prosecutions.

Federal Judge Thomas Rice recently handed down the continuance after taking over for Judge Fred Van Sickle last month.


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MB: Black Friday sales down, CdA SWAT standoff and Sounders are out

Posted By on Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 10:05 AM


HERE

Spokane is finally ready to move ahead with a long-sought beautification project for the Division Street Gateway. (S-R)

A SWAT standoff in Coeur d’Alene ended in a fugitive’s death this weekend. (CdAPress)

This week, Initiative 594, requiring tougher gun background checks, goes into effect. (S-T)

THERE
Black Friday shopping was down this year according to one retail group. (KHQ) But luckily, it is Cyber Monday today. (LAT)

The Sounders dreams of continuing in the MLS playoffs were squashed last night (Seattle P-I).

Order your Girl Scout cookies online as early as this month. Samoas for days! (NYT)
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Friday, November 28, 2014

MB: A new proposal to set the mayor's salary; pot shop doorbusters; and Black Friday protests

Posted By on Fri, Nov 28, 2014 at 9:26 AM


HERE


Today through New Year’s, don't be surprised if you park downtown and your meter is already paid for. (S-R)

Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan wants the city’s Salary Review Commission to determine the mayor’s salary, a proposal that could appear on the February ballot. (S-R)

You can snag doorbuster deals today — "Green Friday" — at local pot shops. (KREM)

THERE

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, are continuing demonstrations at Black Friday retailers. (Reuters)

A gunman in Austin was shot to death by police early Friday morning after opening fire on the police headquarters, Mexican consulate and federal courthouse. (NBC)

Two little boys in New York were rescued yesterday after spending eight hours trapped in a snow bank. (ABC)
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Weekly report: Hunt your own tree, Dakota drilling and turkey transfers

Posted By on Thu, Nov 27, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Crews haul away an 88-foot Engelmann Spruce from the Colville National Forest, near Usk, Wash., to serve as this year's U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in November 2013. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Crews haul away an 88-foot Engelmann Spruce from the Colville National Forest, near Usk, Wash., to serve as this year's U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in November 2013.

OUTLANDER serves as a weekly round up of Inland Northwest outdoor recreation and natural resources news. This feature will highlight a wide variety of issues and events, ranging from camping stories to national environmental disputes. We’ll also try to include some scenic photos. Feel free to pass along suggestions or curiosities that celebrate the Great Outdoors.

Happy Thanksgiving! Today officially starts the holiday season. Check out information on cutting your own Christmas tree in the Colville National Forest, or from national forest in Idaho. Get out there and find the perfect tree, just like the U.S. Capitol tree from last year. (Inlander/USFS)

Federal officials revoke permit for controversial wolf hunting derby scheduled for January in Idaho. (AP)

Learn a little about the the Inland Northwest’s redband trout in a new “Trout Tuesday” feature. (USFWS)

Mining proposals threaten Cabinet Mountain wilderness. And the potential impact on bear populations. (S-R)

Suggestions for the best early season snoeshoeing trails in the Cascade and Olympic mountains. (Seattle Times)

North Dakota oil industry largely governed through warnings and self-regulation. And a look at what oil wells would look like if above ground. (NYT)

A small North Dakota town grapples with constant train traffic. (Reuters)

Ghostly photos from the Idaho range. (Outdoor Photographer)

In a bizarre and tragic twist, investigators find a hiker took photos of a black bear in New Jersey prior to fatal attack. (NJ.com)

Some predictions for the next year in outdoor adventure, extreme sports and fitness. (Outside)

Turkey Day: How wild turkey transfer programs improve genetic diversity. (The Nature Conservancy)


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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ballot proposal would change how Spokane mayor's salary gets set

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 2:10 PM

While most city officials seem open to a proposal filed today to change how the mayor’s salary gets set, Spokane city council members may conflict over the timing of a ballot measure that would put the matter before voters next year.

Councilman Mike Fagan filed a ballot proposal today that would alter the city’s charter to have the Salary Review Commission, the same entity that sets the city council’s salaries, evaluate and set salary for the mayor. The issue arose earlier this fall after a preliminary budget included a $7,000 raise for the mayor.

Councilman Mike Fagan - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Councilman Mike Fagan

“It’s very, very simple,” he says. “All we’re proposing is using the same mechanism [as applies to the council.] That is as simple as you can get.”

City council members had voiced strong opposition to the mayor’s proposed raise, sparking a strong public debate over whether the existing charter rules still served as the best method for determining salary.

Mayor David Condon has since declined the raise and the city council on Monday approved a 2015 budget that stripped out a number of proposed raises for city officials and exempt employee positions.

Meanwhile, Fagan scheduled three public forums on the issue, noting a total combined attendance of just 10 people. In hopes of putting the issue before voters on the February ballot, he hurried to file a proposal this week for the council.

“I made the decision to step forward and address the issue myself,” he says.

The ballot proposal would shift responsibility for the mayor’s salary to the Salary Review Commission. Fagan noted that commission might have to be restructured to ensure an impartial decision, but he felt it would be the best alternative. The mayor proposed a similar change recently as part of an Affordability Plan.

“It’s something that the mayor supports,” city spokesman Brian Coddington says, “and it’s probably the next step in the conversation.”

Council President Ben Stuckart says there has not been much prior conversation, arguing Fagan filed the proposal without bringing it through the regular committee process. Stuckart says he doesn’t oppose the idea, but opposes the way it has been rushed through the process.

“The timing needs to be discussed," he says.

Stuckart explains Spokane Public Schools and Spokane Transit Authority officials have contacted him about the potential impact on their upcoming ballot measures. The council president says the salary issue unnecessarily “muddies the water.”

When the proposal comes before the council, Stuckart says, he plans to argue for delaying the issue until the ballot in August. Fagan says he doesn’t understand why Stuckart would let schools or the STA dictate how the city operates.

“Changing the charter is really, really an important thing,” Fagan says. “If this was as hot-buttoned as everybody says it was, why are we pushing this back to August?”

The council will likely discuss the issue in greater detail next week.


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MB: Ferguson protests spring up in Spokane and across the country; FDA requires calorie counts

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 9:40 AM


HERE


More than 200 people rallied outside Spokane City Hall last night in solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. (Inlander)

Former deputy Spokane County prosecutor Marriya Wright won't do jail time for helping a criminal avoid arrest. (S-R)

The city of Spokane was found guilty yesterday of wrongly firing a city employee who suffered a stroke. (S-R)

THERE

In the wake of the recent grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, protesters staged demonstrations in more than 170 cities across the country. (CNN)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had heart surgery this morning. She is expected to be discharged within two days. (NBC) 

The Food and Drug Administration is requiring chain restaurants and other eating establishments to post calorie counts on their menus (NYT)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVE!

Let's all listen to this holiday classic. 


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Photos: Solidarity Action for Ferguson

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 7:40 AM

More than 200 people attended Solidarity Action for Ferguson march and rally last night in response to Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson not being indicted for the shooting and killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. After a "die-in" in front of Spokane City Hall, symbolizing Brown's body being left in the street for hours after his death, marchers walked from City Hall to the STA Plaza and back chanting "no justice, no peace" and "hands up, don't shoot," among others.

Local NAACP chapter President and Inlander commentary contributor Rachel Dolezal, left, draws a chalk outline around her 20-year-old son Isaiah Dolezal as part of a "die-in" in front of City Hall. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Local NAACP chapter President and Inlander commentary contributor Rachel Dolezal, left, draws a chalk outline around her 20-year-old son Isaiah Dolezal as part of a "die-in" in front of City Hall.

Jackie Vaughn, bottom, walks down W. Spokane Falls Blvd. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Jackie Vaughn, bottom, walks down W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Twenty-year-old Isaiah Dolezal, right, carries a Pan-African flag as his 13-year-old brother Franklin Moore walks along his side down W. Spokane Falls Blvd. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Twenty-year-old Isaiah Dolezal, right, carries a Pan-African flag as his 13-year-old brother Franklin Moore walks along his side down W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Fred Ward, center, Jackie Vaughn, right, and others walk down N. Wall St. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Fred Ward, center, Jackie Vaughn, right, and others walk down N. Wall St.


Restoration Church Rev. Andre Dove, bottom, walks down Wall St. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Restoration Church Rev. Andre Dove, bottom, walks down Wall St.

Marguerite Wright, center, chants while walking down N. Wall St. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Marguerite Wright, center, chants while walking down N. Wall St.

Kellie Crawford, center, and others walk down W. 1st Ave., chanting "hands up, don't shoot." - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Kellie Crawford, center, and others walk down W. 1st Ave., chanting "hands up, don't shoot."

Yuri Borges chants while walking down W.1st Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Yuri Borges chants while walking down W.1st Ave.

Lanae Dedmond, right, and others chant while walking down S. Post Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Lanae Dedmond, right, and others chant while walking down S. Post Ave.

Marchers approach the STA Plaza on W. Sprague Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Marchers approach the STA Plaza on W. Sprague Ave.

Phillip Baker, center, marches with his hands up while chanting "hands up, don't shoot" on W. Sprague Ave. in front of the STA Plaza. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Phillip Baker, center, marches with his hands up while chanting "hands up, don't shoot" on W. Sprague Ave. in front of the STA Plaza.

Phillip Baker, left, chanting into a megaphone and Lanae Dedmond, center, walk down N. Wall St. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Phillip Baker, left, chanting into a megaphone and Lanae Dedmond, center, walk down N. Wall St.

Jacob Johns, center, carries his 2-year-old daughter Lily while walking down W. Main Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Jacob Johns, center, carries his 2-year-old daughter Lily while walking down W. Main Ave.

Nia Rivers, center, walks down W. Main Ave. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Nia Rivers, center, walks down W. Main Ave.

Chare Gilliam chants while walking down N. Lincoln St. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Chare Gilliam chants while walking down N. Lincoln St.

Participants gather in front of City Hall after marching. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Participants gather in front of City Hall after marching.

Eight-year-old Jonathan, center, and his 11 year old brother Gabriel, right, hold candles in front of city hall. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eight-year-old Jonathan, center, and his 11 year old brother Gabriel, right, hold candles in front of city hall.

Nineteen-year-old Joshuena Williams, center, leads a chant in front of City Hall. - YOUNG KWAK
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  • Nineteen-year-old Joshuena Williams, center, leads a chant in front of City Hall.

Israel Jones, center, holds a sign in front of city hall. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Israel Jones, center, holds a sign in front of city hall.

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