Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Verner turns to print media over back-pay scrap

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has taken an ad out in this week's Inlander to respond to the controversy surrounding revelations that she requested a salary assessment and retirement benefits after leaving office.

Diane Rice, Verner's daughter and a former campaign staffer, says that the ex-mayor wanted to clarify her request and to explain to the public and the people who supported her in office what Rice called a misunderstanding.

Verner writes in the ad that she wants people to understand that her intent was only ever to serve the city of Spokane and that, when she inquired about the money that she turned down during her time in office, she was not asking for it back.

She posted the same note on Facebook earlier this month.

“When I requested a salary adjustment, my motive was to determine whether my retirement pay could be calculated on the allocated salary of the position under the City Charter, rather than based on the greatly-reduced salary I chose to accept,” Verner says in the ad.

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Hump Day

Posted on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Each Wednesday on Bloglander, we give you a taste of happy hours going on at bars around town that night. (Read previous posts.)

Paddy's Sports Bar, in Coeur d'Alene, serves up happy hour all day. Specials include: $10 buckets of domestic beer. 

Swinging Doors, in north Spokane, ushers in happy hour from 8 am-6 pm. Specials include: $3.25 wells and $3.25 domestic drafts.

Rick's Ringside, in north Spokane, celebrates happy hour from 4-7 pm. Specials include: $3 wells and $2.50 domestic drafts.

Post Street Ale House, in downtown Spokane, serves up happy hour from 3-6 pm. Specials include: half off all beer, wine and cocktails.

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MORNING BRIEFING: Jail Escapes and Feather-Boa Dinosaurs?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 8:17 AM


Regional lawmakers respond to President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address — but most of them weren't buying it. "He had a good delivery, but he always does," Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) told the Spokesman.

Two female inmates at Geiger Corrections Center made a run for it Tuesday night. But they didn't get very far — and now they just compounded their sentences with a first-degree escape charge. Good thinkin' ladies. Wait. Is jail not fun like ... ?

Back in the early 00's, it was the Rookery Block. Today, city officials are honing in on Spokane's latest hairy mole: the Ridpath Hotel. (SR)



As President Barack Obama was delivering the State of the Union last night, Navy Seals were in a shootout with Somali pirates. (NYT)

Scientists use all kinds of wacky technology to reveal that some flying dinosaurs may have worn a "black feather boa." (FOX News)

Tell your boss: your brain needs you to stay home to play Skyrim. (Reuters)


Hello from ant1mat3rie on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sitcom entropy and plot overload

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 4:30 PM

It’s a law of nature, like gravity or thermodynamics. Usually after the fifth season – but probably sooner – even the funniest sitcoms will start to show signs of fading. The fading will grow increasingly more rapid, until its powered only by a covenant between Chuck Lorre and the Devil. A lot of reasons are given for the odd decline of these once great-shows – one of the biggest is the way characters become more exaggerated, more cartoony, as time progresses.

But one thing not as commonly cited, is the interesting changes in the style of storytelling that begin to occur. At first the show limits itself to two plots per episode – the best episodes often have only one plot.

Yet, that changes. Increasingly, as a show gets older, the plot becomes more packed – you don’t just have an “A” story and a “B” story, you have a “C” story and “D” story as well. Many of these stories never get satisfying endings. A latter-day Simpsons plot veers, ADHD-like, between a dozen different scenes, ideas and worlds. A chili cooking contest catalyzed the entire plot of a (relatively) early Simpsons episode, but in a latter-day episode a chili-cookoff would just be a place where the Simpsons meet a crazy Texas businessman, who takes him to his ranch in the second half, which then turns into a quest where Marge and Homer race against each other to find a mysterious treasure (with a cameo by the Black Eyed Peas!)

The result are discordant largely incoherent episodes. (The best episodes of Community, almost always, have one large plot – or two intersecting – where the worst episodes have up to three.) A plot-packed sitcom becomes hit-and-run comedy, visit a premise, make five jokes, and then leave. The plots go from something that aids the rhythm and buildup of the jokes, to something that hinders any sort of connection with the plot.

The big question, of course, is why. On Twitter, MacClean’s TV critic Jaime Weinman guesses that it’s because, in their later years, Sitcoms have covered their basic episode-long plots already. Fat Husband can only realize he’s forgotten Hot Sarcastic Wife’s anniversary so many times before the writers have to find another plot.

But to me, that doesn’t seem to tell the whole story. If a show has already used so many different plots or setting, why blow through three or four more ideas in a single episode? I think there’s bigger problems at hand. The first is character-service. Shows, sometimes contractually, feel the need to have plots featuring every single one of their characters. Thus, the sub-five-minute subplot where Abed attends a “Who’s the Boss” class.

The bigger problem, I think, is confidence: My theory is that a showrunner thinks a writer’s pitch doesn’t have enough plot to fill up an episode, so she forces several half-baked pitches into one episode. The longer a show goes on, the more appeal comes in using those pitches that the showrunner doesn’t have confidence could deserve an entire episode. Instead of spending weeks refining that pitch, making the “Who’s the Boss” episode or the chili-cookoff episode last an entire 21 minutes (much shorter than sitcoms used to last.) So she takes the easy way out, cramming several disconnected ideas into one episode. Characters don’t need to have movement, after all, if the plot moves fast enough.

It’s sad, really. It gets tougher to maintain strongly-defined nuanced characters the longer a show goes on – and it becomes almost impossible if the plot drowns out character moments.

Aging sitcoms need to  slow down. Pick one story per episode. And write that story, and only that story.

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Woe to the 16 people who didn't move their cars in Browne's Addition

Posted on Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 2:59 PM

The city towed 16 cars out of Browne's Addition as its snow-plowing efforts got underway on Tuesday.

Plowing will continue tomorrow at 9 am on the east-west running streets, according to an email from the city.

You should probably move your car off the street. But if ends up getting towed, call 625-4100 and be prepared to give your license plate or vehicle identification number.

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MORNING BRIEFING: Chef de Felony? Boots on cats?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 7:56 AM


Ryan Michael Morales, chef/owner of downtown Spokane's Herbal Essence Cafe, turned himself in to Spokane Police on Monday night. The chef will be enjoying jail food for a bit: he was booked into Spokane County Jail on felony charges of hit-and-run and three counts of vehicular assault in connection with a Sunday night car crash. (Spokesman)

And we know West Central can be iffy … but a drive by??!! (KREM)

Now that the city has been plowed, Mayor Condon is deploying crews to tackle downtown berms, making lane changes all the more easy. (KXLY)


Gay marriage advocates statewide are chanting the name of Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) — the 25th senator to show support for legalization of gay marriage here. Some are saying this is just the beginning for the debate, though. (Seattle Times)

Hugo, the Descendants and the Artist top the list of Oscar nominees: announced this morning from Beverly Hills.

Seal and Heidi Klum are getting a divorce! Didn't they know they wouldn't survive UNLESS they got a little crazy?!


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Monday, January 23, 2012

Spokane's Bing Crosby Theater up for sale

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 3:55 PM

click image PASA47/FLICKR
  • pasa47/Flickr

The Bing Crosby Theater is up for sale. Owner Mitch Silver says that he has plans to sell it this year.

Silver bought the theater in 2004 for $788,000 from the Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co., after that company's financial meltdown. The building, constructed in 1915 and originally called the Metropolitan Theater of Preforming Arts, or simply “The Met,” requires some maintenance, according to Silver, including work on sidewalks and repairing water damage on the roof.

“At this point, we don’t have a sale,” says Silver. “I had someone interested but we could not make a deal.”

The building is now valued at $807,000, the Spokane County Assessor's office told the Journal of Business. Silver says that the building could sell for $1.3 million after repairs.

The Friends of the Bing Crosby Theater group, which helped rename the theater in 2006, has been interested in purchasing the building for the community, according to Silver.

“I would love to work with the group and give to the community,” Silver says. “I have met with them, but there are no concrete plans.”

Since the Building is registered with the Spokane Register of Historic Places, repairs will have to be cleared with the register's Landmark Commission to make sure that the restoration of the building respects the historic integrity of the theater, says Kristen Griffin, a historic preservation officer with the group.

“Rehabilitation of the building means that the building can be change to be useful, but we have to protect the building’s character,” she says. “The owners would have to agree to a particular set of standards.”

According to Silver, he plans to hold an auction for the building in the spring.

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MORNING BRIEFING: Shootings and Newt-ings

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 8:10 AM


Seems the cold weather didn't keep people from packing heat this weekend:

- two people were shot this weekend downtown … 

- an angry fella was arrested for attempted murder

- and someone — though they're not sure who — was leaking blood after a gun went off during a Northside home invasion. (Q6)

Meanwhile, KREM2 busts out this AMAZING graphic — edging out the competition on what seems to have been an otherwise slow news day.

A man was charged with voyeurism this weekend at the local Girl Scouts HQ. Like this ... ?

While the rest of the city moves on from last week's snowstorm, Browne's Addition will finally be plowed. Well… tomorrow. Or the next day. If they have time. (KREM)


Longtime Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno, died this weekend. Turns out, around the time he was fired amid a child sex abuse scandal involving defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, Paterno discovered he had cancer, too. No student protests this time. (NYT)

Republican Newt Gingrich sweeps the South Carolina primary this weekend. How many glitter bombs does it take this guy to quit?!


Please, someone get a teleprompter for National Anthem singers. Please.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Occupiers and amenders stage protest, panel

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 6:03 PM


A Spokane group mobilized outside the federal courthouse and inside Spokane City Hall today in a day-long event supporting the movement to end the influence of large corporations on government and elections.

The Move to Amend group in Spokane joined forces with the Occupy Spokane movement to participate in a protest called “Occupy the Courts.”

After a protest outside of the federal courthouse, members from the groups spoke to a group of panelists including former Spokane mayor Mary Verner, Peace and Justice Action League Director Liz Moore and local activist John Waite.

Move to Amend members ask that lawmakers rethink the Supreme Court's decision on the Citizens United case. In the 2010 decision, justices ruled that the Federal Elections Commission could not prevent corporations from giving unlimited sums of money to help support candidates for office, though they can't directly give or coordinate with a candidate's campaign. Individual donors are limited to giving just $2,500 to each candidate per election, according to federal law.

“Ultimately, our goals are to change the Constitution, either with a new Supreme Court that strikes down this really absurd decision or an amendment, if necessary, to explain specifically and explicitly that corporations are not natural persons,” says Bill Miller, who was part of the team that organized the events.

Move to Amend members say that they are not targeting small business and local business owners but large impersonal corporations, whom they deem greedy.

“It’s about the large transnational corporations,” says Miller. “It’s not about some mom and pop [businesses].”

Whereas Move to Amend’s main goal is to amend the Constitution to nullify the Citizens United decision, Occupy’s goals are to redistribute the wealth they say is monopolized by only a small portion of citizens.

One speaker, William Cruz, urged the panel to take action, saying that they had an opportunity to lead the nation in local protest and be an important part of the movement.

The Move to Amend Spokane group will join Occupy Spokane again on Saturday at noon at the carrousel in Riverfront Park to hold a march.

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CITY HALL EYEBALL: Investigate police, civil society tells Feds

Posted on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 4:11 PM


The Center for Justice and 17 other civil society groups sent a letter on Friday to U.S. Attorneys urging them to conduct a "patterns or practices" investigation of the Spokane Police Department.

The letter (pdf) to U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Michael Ormsby and Thomas Perez, an assistant attorney general in the justice department's civil rights division, comes on the heels of a similar letter sent by former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner after she was voted out of office in November.

Verner was writing in response to the conviction of Spokane police officer Karl Thompson related to the 2006 death of Otto Zehm after an encounter with Spokane police.

"The available record in Spokane indicates that the Zehm case was not an isolated incident," the letter from the Center reads.

The letter lays out a number of claims of impropriety against the Spokane Police Department: that the Police Guild undermines reform in the department; that Tasers are disproportionately used on blacks and Native Americans; that the city attorney's office conspired to cover up for the officers involved in the Zehm incident.

"At a minimum, the evidence gathered by federal prosecutors and the grand jury in advance and during the Thompson trial offer a disturbing glimpse into the culture of the Spokane Police Department," the letter concludes.

For their part, Police Guild representatives told the Spokesman in November that they'd be fine with the feds taking a look at the department, saying they have nothing to hide.

The letter was also endorsed by the Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane, Associated Students of Eastern Washington, and Scary Feminists, among others.

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