Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How Seattle's $15 minimum wage kneecapped opposition to statewide wage hike

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 4:48 PM

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signs a bill to gradually increase Seattle's minimum wage to $15 in 2014. - SEATTLE.GOV
  • Seattle.Gov
  • Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signs a bill to gradually increase Seattle's minimum wage to $15 in 2014.

If polls and campaign contributions are anything to go by, Washington state — which, at $9.47 already had one of the highest minimum wages in the country — is about ready to boost its minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020.

This month, a KOMO News/Strategies 360 poll found the Raise Up Washington initiative, which would also guarantee sick leave for all workers, was leading with 62 percent supporting.

And the cash difference was even more dramatic: As of last week, over $3.3 million in cash contributions had been raised for Raise Up Washington. That's more than 50 times as much as the anemic $66,500 in cash raised by the No on 1433 campaign. 

It's big difference from 2013, when the city of SeaTac — population 27,875 — was the site of a massive battle over an initiative to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour. Supporters gathered $1.6 million, while opponents managed to raise over $650,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat it.

But despite this initiative applying to the entire state of 7 million, opponents have only raised about a tenth of that this year. The wind appears to have gone out of the opposition. 

Some of that could be simply the fatigue of defeat: Why dump money into a cause you'll probably lose? 

"They see the same polls we see," says Jack Sorensen, spokesman for Raise Up Washington. 

Yvette Ollada, the spokeswoman for the "no" campaign, suggests many concerned businesses know they won't be able to compete with initiative funders like billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.

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Pearl Jam among 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees; see the complete list here

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 11:15 AM

Pearl Jam is pretty much guaranteed to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
  • Pearl Jam is pretty much guaranteed to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Bank on Pearl Jam. Bet on Joan Baez and Tupac. And argue among yourselves about the relative merits of ELO vs. The Cars vs. Chic. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its list of candidates for induction in 2017, and as always, there is plenty for music geeks to debate beyond simply the existence of any sort of "hall of fame" dedicated to music that's historically been all about rebelling against the authorities and mainstream acceptance. Obviously the Rock Hall includes everything from folk to hip-hop as well as traditional guitar rock, so let the arguments commence on the merits of the nominees. 

To be eligible this year, artists had to release their first single or album in 1991 or before, so this year's first-time nominees include Pearl Jam, Jane's Addiction and Depeche Mode. There are also several artists making a return appearance to voters' ballots, including Yes, Janet Jackson and The Cars. Each year, only five artists are selected; last year's inductees included Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Chicago, N.W.A. and Steve Miller. 

Besides the 800 industry folks who vote, you can cast a vote as well; the top five selections of us regular folks' will make up a "fans ballot" that will help ultimately decide this year's inductees. You can go vote right here

Below, you'll find the complete list of nominees that you can vote for, along with my analysis of how likely the artist is to be inducted in 2017. Please, no wagering (unless I get a cut): 

Pearl Jam — Probably the only sure thing among the newly eligible artists, thanks to the band's longevity, myriad good works for charity and fans' rights (ie. fighting Ticketmaster) and their continued relevance on the tour circuit. Chance of induction: 100%

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Trump's 'rigged' election rhetoric, sex-trafficking sting and morning headlines

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 9:14 AM



NEWS: In case you missed them, read our stories on the state's gubernatorial race and the Spokane County Commissioner race in this week's paper. 


Sex trafficking investigation
Two people were arrested and 16 women were recovered in Spokane and Airway Heights as part of a statewide sex trafficking investigation. In total, 14 people were arrested in Washington who were suspected of forcing 72 people — and five children — into prostitution. (Spokesman-Review)

WSU fall has student in critical condition
For the third time this semester, a Washington State University student fell off a deck. This student, 18-year-old Nathan Hopkins, was taken to the hospital after he fell 11 feet and went unconscious. He's in critical condition. (KREM)

Climbing graduation rates
The country's graduation rates are now at a record-high 83 percent, according to a new report. In Spokane, the graduation rate is 84.5 percent, up 10 percent since five years ago. (KXLY)


Conspiracy theory
As Donald Trump has dropped in the polls, his rhetoric calling the election "rigged" has increased. That has alarmed government officials and both Democrats and Republicans.

Bush out
Billy Bush, the man Donald Trump trusted enough to talk about sexual assault with, has been cut from NBC's Today show. 

Broken promises

The apocalyptic battle that Islamic State leaders had promised would take place in the village of Dabiq will have to come ... some other time. They lost the village to Syrian rebels in a matter of hours over the weekend. 
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Monday, October 17, 2016

Firestorm's anniversary, Seahawks and local real estate

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 9:57 AM

Stirring speakers, slam poets, Suds & Cinema and more
 CONCERT REVIEW: Indigo Girls and Spokane Symphony meld seamlessly
• ELECTION 2016: How has Jay Inslee really done as Washington's governor?

• Spokane's Firestorm marks 25th anniversary
Gordon Maxwell dives over a fence as flames from Firestorm '91 rush towards him near Ponderosa in this award-winning photo by the late Kit King. Maxwell is a cook at a local restaurant. (Kit King / SR)
  • Gordon Maxwell dives over a fence as flames from Firestorm '91 rush towards him near Ponderosa in this award-winning photo by the late Kit King. Maxwell is a cook at a local restaurant. (Kit King / SR)

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Firestorm, and today the S-R reprinted a Jess Walter article from 1991 detailing the destruction (behind paywall). 

• GOP headquarters in N.C. is firebombed
No suspects yet.

• Richard Sherman melts down, but Seahawks hold onto to beat Atlanta
Coach Carroll says he's not worried about the tirade: “These guys have been through too much together, they care too much about one another. I’m not worried about it one bit."

• Local real estate continues to be hot
The Spokane Association of Realtors says the median home price in may was $200,000, up 14.3 percent from the same month last year. (KXLY)

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

CONCERT REVIEW: Indigo Girls and Spokane Symphony meld seamlessly

Posted By on Sun, Oct 16, 2016 at 3:00 PM

Indigo Girls' Amy Ray (left) and Emily Saliers melded well with the Spokane Symphony during their 17-song set. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Indigo Girls' Amy Ray (left) and Emily Saliers melded well with the Spokane Symphony during their 17-song set.

The pairing of pop musicians with a symphony orchestra can be a dicey thing, potentially leaving fans of the guest artist and the symphony both unsatisfied with the results. 

It's doubtful that will be the case for anyone who saw the Indigo Girls join forces with the Spokane Symphony Saturday night for a memorable couple hours at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. 

For Indigo Girls fans — and there were plenty, judging by the non-stop shouted requests and impromptu dancing dotting both sets — hearing 17 songs evolve from their folk-pop roots into lushly orchestrated epics was a treat. For symphony regulars, hearing the local musicians conducted by Jorge Luis Uzcátegui tackle something beyond classical music must have made for a distinctly different night at the symphony. And judging by the looks on the faces of many the symphony musicians themselves, they were having as much fun as the audience and featured headliners. 

The Indigo Girls' Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are total pros, capable of delivering an excellent show in virtually any environment, so it's no surprise the orchestrated versions of their catalog worked well. Possibly surprising to them, judging by their ecstatic response to the Spokane Symphony's efforts behind them on stage, was how well the songs would come across on this visit to Eastern Washington, the only symphony performance of their fall tour. 

The duo repeatedly gave the musicians love in their between-song banter, and Saliers called it the "best symphony show" she could remember. The audience was just as engaged, giving the Girls a standing ovation before they played a single song, and several more after. 

In many ways, the show resembled a typical Indigo Girls set, in terms of the mix of old favorites and newer songs, and tunes punctuated with Ray or Saliers exclaiming "Thanks, y'all!" Every song came with the Girls' swapping out acoustic guitars for electrics or mandolins or more acoustic guitars. All familiar activities for folks who have seen the duo over their three-plus decades on the road. 

But the orchestra definitely brought a welcome new feel to several songs. Ray's "Compromise" was brilliant and dramatic in its new iteration. The xylophone (maybe marimba?) that opened "Galileo" was a nice touch, as was the solo violin at the beginning of Saliers' "The Wood Song." Old favorite "Chickenman" was a treat, as the symphony members rocked out to keep up with Ray's stomping tune, and Saliers' "Ghost" was truly transporting for the audience, as she said it was for her when we chatted last week

All in all, it was both an excellent Indigo Girls performance and fun night at the symphony, and an altogether different type of show for both. As Saliers' said in introducing "Power of Two" and welcoming people to sing along, "I was going to say 'don't be afraid because it's a symphony show,' but I can tell you're not." 

Nope, the audience embraced this special combination just fine. 

1. Love Of Our Lives
2. Damo
3. Come a Long Way Emily
5. Virginia Woolf 
6. Happy in the Sorrow Key
7. Power of Two
8. Kid Fears
9. Galileo
10. Fugitive
11. The Wood Song
12. Yoke
13. Mystery
14. Chickenman
15. Ghost
16. Go
17. Closer to Fine
People on their feet and dancing—not a typical scene at the Spokane Symphony. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • People on their feet and dancing—not a typical scene at the Spokane Symphony.

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THIS WEEK: Stirring speakers, slam poets, Suds & Cinema and more

Posted By on Sun, Oct 16, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The Big Lebowski is this week's Suds & Cinema feature on Thursday.
  • The Big Lebowski is this week's Suds & Cinema feature on Thursday.

A bevy of excellent entertainment opportunities are out there for your consideration in our event listings and carefully selected Staff Picks. Take a virtual stroll through those when you have time. 

Here are a few highlights of the week ahead: 

Monday, Oct. 17

WORDS | Head over to Gonzaga for a talk led by University of Calgary professor Paul Chastko about the shale-energy revolution and its long-term effects on the region. The talk is called Back to the Future: North America's Petroleum Revolution and the Increased Transportation of Oil by Rail. That's a mouthful, but it's sure to be an intriguing talk. It's free, starts at 7 pm, and is in the school's Jepson Center. 

LIVE BANDS | Halestorm are rising stars in the hard-rock scene, always packing a big crowd into whatever venue they're playing. For me, though, the true headliner of Monday's show is Lita Ford, once a bandmate of Joan Jett's in The Runaways and now a solo headliner reclaiming her crown as a metal queen. Dorothy opens the show, which just sold out on Friday, so you'll have to hit Craig's List to get some tix. Here's a clip of all the ladies doing the Runaways' "Cherry Bomb:"

Tuesday, Oct. 18

WORDS | You might think you're sick of election talk, but it's different when it comes from a pro like Pete Wehner, who worked in the George W. Bush White House and has since written for a variety of outlets on politics. It's free, in the Whitworth union building at 7 pm. 

Wednesday, Oct. 19

LIVE BANDS | The Pin! hosts a bevy of hard-hitting bands tonight, including North by North, Supervillain, Buddha Slave, Lucky Chase and Peru Rush

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Friday, October 14, 2016

THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Indigo Girls, Ringo Starr, Anthrax and more

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 4:24 PM


Tonight, Spokane's folk-forward group Folkinception hosts its own album-recording fundraiser at Iron Goat Brewing Co. The forthcoming CD will be the crowd-pleasing band's second, and their first album was funded by crowdsourcing as well (read about that right here). The show, which starts at 7 pm, is free to attend but donations are greatly appreciated.

With their new EP, Throw Your Head to the World!, local act Boat Race Weekend is still taking their emotional style of pop-punk quite seriously. The busy group — childhood best friends who formed a band in 2013 while attending Gonzaga University — will share the four-track EP in its entirety at Saturday’s release show at the Big Dipper, which starts at 7:30 pm and is $8 at the door. The EP was produced and recorded by Dawson Scholz of the Idaho-based the Ongoing Concept.

Over the decade's Erika Wennerstrom's songwriting has evolved, but she's still a bluesy belter at heart. To better give you a taste of her style, the singer-songwriter leaves her band, the Heartless Bastards, behind for her solo show at the Bartlett this Saturday. The show starts at 8 pm and is $15 the day of. 
This weekend, they're just two girls and an orchestra.
  • This weekend, they're just two girls and an orchestra.

Indigo Girls
hook up with the Spokane Symphony Saturday to deliver one of the most thrilling mash-ups of the season. Expect this totally live set to make you rethink the band's entire catalogue. The show starts at 8 pm and starts at $40. Read our fresh interview with the band right here. 

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3rd annual Big Lebowski Suds & Cinema coming up: Beer! Costumes! Free parking! A rug that ties the room together!

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 2:50 PM


Two years ago, we invited folks to watch the Big Lebowski with us for our Suds & Cinema series, our local beer-meets-movies event. We packed a theater with that screening, so we did it again the following year. That worked, too.

So, for the third year, we're doing a Lebowski celebration on Thursday, Oct. 20. And it's at a new venue for us — Riverside Place, which most of you know as the old Masonic Center. We've got a huge, creepy-cool room reserved for the screening, which features beer from No-Li Brewhouse, Lebowski-themed ice cream from Brain Freeze and also some other food options.

The parking, located on Main Avenue on the north side of the Masonic Center, is completely free if you're going to the movie. Admission is just $5 at the door, too.

And if you decide to dress up as a character from the movie, you could be walking home with some cold, hard cash from Horizon Credit Union. We'll have three categories: the Dude, Walter and Wild Card (any other character in the film). Winners of each category receive $50.

We'll be getting beers going at 6 pm, with the contest and movie starting around 7 pm.
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Actually, the DEA isn't going to ban opioid-like drug kratom — yet

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 11:30 AM


Last month, we reported the Drug Enforcement Agency's plans to ban kratom, the leaf from Asia with opioid-like effects. 

Turns out that's not happening anymore. 

After backlash from those who use the ground-up leaves, members of Congress, scientists who spoke of the potential to help people manage chronic pain and kick opioid addiction and basically the entire Internet, the DEA back-peddled in an unprecedented move.

DEA Special Agent Melvin Patterson told the Seattle Times that the agency has never reversed itself like this before.

Protesters even marched on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.

Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike objected to the DEA's impending ban in a letter saying the move "threatens the transparency of the scheduling process and its responsiveness to the input of both citizens and the scientific community."

So far, six states — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Vermont and Tennessee — have banned kratom on their own. But adding the plant to the DEA's list of Schedule 1 controlled substances would prevent scientists from studying it and would make it a felony to possess it. Other Schedule 1 substances include LSD, heroin, Ecstasy and marijuana and, by definition of the DEA, have "no currently accepted medical use." 

It its initial announcement, the DEA cited 15 kratom-related deaths, but 14 of those involved other drugs. 

This doesn't mean the DEA will never ban kratom. But the agency has decided to continue taking input from the public until Dec. 1, and will potentially make a decision after that.
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Why libertarian Tea Party Republican Ed Pace endorses a Democrat for county commission

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 10:45 AM

Spokane Valley Councilman Ed Pace
  • Spokane Valley Councilman Ed Pace

On most issues, Ed Pace and Andrew Biviano don't see eye-to-eye, to say the least.

Pace, a Spokane Valley City Councilman, is a self-proclaimed libertarian, constitutionalist, Tea Party Republican (who says he doesn't feel obligated to be loyal to any political party). Biviano, a former mental health case worker who is now a civil rights attorney, is a Democrat running for a seat on the Spokane County Board of Commissioners. 

But when Pace announced this summer who he endorsed for county commissioner, he didn't choose the Republican who currently occupies the seat, Shelly O'Quinn. Instead, he chose Biviano. 

"It's not because Biviano and I are on the same side of the political spectrum — in fact, we're on opposite ends of it," Pace says.

So why does Pace endorse Biviano? It's partly because he values his experience as an attorney and mental health case worker. He thinks Biviano's skills in those areas will be helpful to the county. Pace and Biviano also agree that Greater Spokane Incorporated should not be funded by the government. And because, in Pace's view, O'Quinn is a "true politician," meaning her stances are prone to change based on the "political winds."

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