Friday, April 14, 2017

Shoddy police investigation leading to wrongful convictions will cost the state more than $750,000

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 10:26 AM

FROM LEFT: Robert Larson, Paul Statler and Tyler Gassman. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • FROM LEFT: Robert Larson, Paul Statler and Tyler Gassman.

Reckless police work and careless prosecution cost three men years of their lives when they were wrongly convicted in 2009 of a drug-rip robbery. The three men were released from prison, and their convictions were overturned in 2012 when a judge ruled the men were "legally" innocent, meaning the evidence against them was insufficient.

But earlier this week, another Spokane judge ruled that the men are "actually" innocent. That means law enforcement's mistake is going to cost the state at least $751,465.75, attorneys say, under the state's wrongly convicted persons law.

According to the law, people wrongly convicted of felonies are entitled to compensation from the state only if there is "clear and convincing" evidence that they did not commit the crime. A conviction overturned due to a procedural error or deficient evidence doesn't count.

"[The police] were locked in on these guys and doing everything they could to get them convicted," says Toby Marshall, a Seattle attorney who worked on the civil compensation case. "They weren't searching for the truth."

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A rogue bulldozer, a big bomb, exploding rocket fuel and other morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 9:49 AM

The ospreys are back at Kendall Yards, and their talons are sharper than ever! - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • The ospreys are back at Kendall Yards, and their talons are sharper than ever!


Brothers, can you spare some dimes?

Catholic Charities asks Spokane Valley and Spokane County for, well, charity to help fund their 24/7 shelters.

The yeast of these
How yeast can give vegans protein and make vegan food taste less bland.


The Spokesman Boys and the Mystery of the Runaway Bulldozer
Who approved the illegal road on the South Hill bluff? The contractor who bulldozed it is playing coy. (Spokesman-Review)

Public records for thee, but not for me
Unlike Idaho, Washington legislators exempt themselves from the public records act, because the business of the public is — Shhhhh!a secret. (Spokesman-Review)

The walls in the way of the wall

Does the city's Bosch Lot plan for a new climbing gym violate the city's charter? (Spokesman-Review)

Okay, actually it is rocket science
A rocket club experiment goes bad and injures four University of Idaho students — one critically.

Bomb away!
Trump drops the "Mother of All Bombs" on Afghanistan. (New Yorker)
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

As House of Charity plans to cut hours, a call for Valley and county to step up with funding

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 5:30 PM

People who are chronically homeless, and often most visible when they have nowhere to go during the day, could soon be back in downtown and other common areas, as House of Charity will have to shut down its daytime hours and extra sleeping space as of May 1.

Almost as soon as Spokane's pilot 24/7 shelter system 
Rob McCann speaks during a press conference at House of Charity on Thursday. - SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL PHOTO
  • Samantha Wohlfeil photo
  • Rob McCann speaks during a press conference at House of Charity on Thursday.
was completely up and  running, with places for single people, families and children to go during the day, it became clear that the funding would quickly run out, says Rob McCann, president and CEO of Catholic Charities.

At least, that's the case for the House of Charity's expanded evening sleeping space that allowed an extra 200 people to sleep on the lower floor of the shelter since last November, and its daytime hours that started in January.

Before the lower floor was opened so more people could stay, House of Charity accepted only about 100 men per night to sleep upstairs. With the expanded space, women were allowed to stay for the first time, and HOC allowed people with pets as well. Significantly, the space was open every night all winter, where normally it was only open when the weather dipped into cold enough temperatures.

Since January, the shelter has been open during the day, so anyone can stay inside as they need.

But by February, it was clear that a boost of money from the city that allowed for those extra hours wouldn't be enough to keep things going after May, McCann said during a press conference Thursday morning.

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Testing future doctors, running risks and getting a boost from meatless protein

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 10:47 AM

Future doctors tested at WSU med school

As WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine prepares to greet 60 first-year medical students this fall, they’ve added a perk to the program. The future doctors will be able to enroll in a “Scientific Wellness” program offered by Seattle biotechnology company Arivale, featuring assessment of their DNA, blood and even saliva — all aimed at discovering potential areas of health vulnerability. Arivale dietitians and nurses will then follow up with monthly coaching based on “actionable” information the tests uncover.

“We are going to be the first medical school in the country to offer a scientific wellness program (to our students) so that they can learn firsthand what it means to be involved in precision or personalized medicine,” says the medical school’s founding dean, John Tomkowiak. The goal is to produce physicians who are not only proficient in the use of cutting-edge technology to optimize wellness, but also empathetic to the struggles of making lifestyle changes based on the findings. The Arivale program is also available to the public; the first year costs $3,500.

Marathon risks aren't just for runners
Runners in marathon races face fatigue, blisters and dehydration, but for people in the vicinity of the race, the risk of death from a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest is increased simply because of the crowds. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that ambulance times were increased by four minutes on average in neighborhoods near a marathon, and the rate of death within a month was 28 percent, versus 25 percent for other days. The study examined marathons in 11 cities, including Seattle: “Any event that draws a crowd and causes traffic detours — parades, ballgames, concerts, fairs — may cause similar problems, researchers warn.”

Delicious recipes feature nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast offers 3 to 6 grams of complete protein per tablespoon and as a bonus, it is a “great flavor booster,” says Alison Collins of Spokane’s Boots Bakery. Find recipes for Boots Bakery’s Power Salad Dressing and Versatile Vegan Cheesy Sauce in the newest issue of InHealth.
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Spokane County Dems in disarray, a piece of Riverfront Park to be sold and morning headlines

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 10:05 AM


NEWS: How the Spokane County Democrats came crashing down.

MUSIC: Supervillain, the local rock trio, not comic-book characters, are celebrating the release of their new album. It's probably not what you were expecting.

PICKUP ARTIST: I followed a local pickup artist on a recent date.


Down by the river
The city of Spokane considers selling off a piece of Riverfront Park in order to build a rock-climbing gym along the shore of the Spokane River. (Spokesman-Review)

"Imperial Wizard"
A "celebrity" Klansman from Mississippi showed up at a Donald Trump rally in Portland last month. (Willamette Week)

United we fall
The man who was yanked from his seat aboard a United flight and dragged down the aisle has a concussion, a broken nose and is missing teeth, his lawyers say. (Associated Press) ICYMI, watch the video here.

New York judge found dead
Police pulled the body of Sheila Abdus-Salaam from the Hudson River on Wednesday. Abdus-Salaam, a judge on the state's highest court, was the first African American woman to serve on that bench. (New York Times)
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Help people find Gonzaga and Spokane with this T-shirt

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 1:51 PM


Perhaps you're like me and it's taken a week or so for it to really sink in that the little Jesuit school in little ol' (but still not desolate and crumbling) Spokane, Washington, played in the NCAA championship game. Further putting the school and city on the map — and hopefully to rest how to pronounce either name — Gonzaga achieved something monumental in being one of the final two of 68 out of 351.

In recognition of this historical moment, online T-shirt design company Breaking T is selling two Gonzaga-oriented shirts: one literally putting the city and school on a map, and the other reclassifying the Zags' label from "Mid-Major" to "Major." Breaking T is producing these shirts along with SB Nation's Gonzaga-focused blog The Slipper Still Fits as a fun way to cap off a historic season.

The shirts retail for $24 each, and are offered in unisex size "vintage heather" navy-blue tees.
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The Fox announces summer concerts from big names: Lightfoot, Lovett, Alpert, Etheridge

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Melissa Etheridge will perform at the Fox Theater on Aug. 4.
  • Melissa Etheridge will perform at the Fox Theater on Aug. 4.

And the summer concert announcements keep rolling in. The Fox Theater has just announced four big shows in June, July and August, all featuring artists who have played the Inland Northwest before.

Unless otherwise noted, tickets for these events go on sale at midnight through TicketsWest.

June 11, Gordon Lightfoot: The Canadian singer-songwriter was a staple of '70s soft rock radio, racking up Top 10 hits with easygoing tunes like "Sundown," "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" and "If You Could Read My Mind." Lightfoot last performed in Spokane in 2013 (he was also a performer at Expo '74), and he returns following the debut of a new single titled "Plans of My Own," his first original release since 2004. Tickets run from $36 to $101, and they go on sale at 10 am on Fri, April 13.

July 14, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band: The last time Lovett was in town, he was performing with just an acoustic guitar and fellow Texan Robert Earl Keen. This time, he'll have his so-called Large Band in tow, which should make for a rollicking, high-energy evening of old-school country, swing and Americana songs. Tickets range from $40 to $85.

July 27, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall: One of the most famous and bestselling trumpeters in history, Alpert is perhaps best known for founding the Tijuana Brass, whose 1965 album Whipped Cream and Other Delights is a landmark of instrumental jazz. Alpert frequently performs with his wife Lani Hall, a renowned vocalist and an original member of Sérgio Mendes' bossa nova group Brasil '66, and the set list for their upcoming Spokane concert will feature classics from both of their esteemed careers. Tickets are $38 and $48.

Aug. 4, Melissa Etheridge: Dabbling in blues-rock, folk and country sounds, Etheridge, with her commanding voice and virtuosic guitar skills, was one of the defining voices of the mid-'90s singer-songwriter boom. She'll hit the Fox in August — she last played here in 2015 on a co-headlining tour with Joan Jett and Blondie — bringing along hits like "I'm the Only One," "Come to My Window" and "Like the Way I Do." Tickets will run you $48 to $85.
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Months after winning re-election, Shelly O'Quinn says she's leaving the Spokane County Board of Commissioners

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 12:53 PM

Shelly O'Quinn is taking a job as CEO of the Inland Northwest Community Foundation. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Shelly O'Quinn is taking a job as CEO of the Inland Northwest Community Foundation.

Not long ago, Shelly O'Quinn was running for a second term on the Spokane County Board of Commissioners. She said she was excited for the opportunity to serve another four years, and saw an opportunity to continue changing the culture of county government, save taxpayers money and push for criminal justice reform.

But now, five months after she soundly defeated challenger Andrew Biviano to keep her seat, O'Quinn has announced she is leaving the board. She has accepted a job as Chief Executive Officer of the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, effective in June.

"I will tell you, the hardest part of leaving the county is leaving the work that I'm working on," O'Quinn tells the Inlander. "It was a difficult decision, from the perspective that I absolutely love my job with the county."

She says she would not have left for any organization other than the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, a nonprofit corporation where she previously worked in 2007-08 as a senior program officer. She says she fundamentally believes in the work the foundation does, including its support for local projects like Priority Spokane, which works to stabilize lives of homeless or at-risk children.

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Is this the homeless shelter of the future?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 11:14 AM

Washington State University students pose with part of a prototype homeless shelter they're making for a design competition put on by the Spokane chapter of the American Institute of Architects. - COURTESY WSU SCHOOL OF DESIGN + CONSTRUCTION
  • Courtesy WSU School of Design + Construction
  • Washington State University students pose with part of a prototype homeless shelter they're making for a design competition put on by the Spokane chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Could a bendable, foldable shelter that can transform to meet different needs throughout the day help people who are homeless in Spokane?

Students from Washington State University's school of design and construction hope so.

More than a dozen students in their third-year architecture studio have spent months designing and making models of shelters that are meant to be functional as well as easy on the eyes as part of the Spokane chapter of the American Institute of Architects' Homeless Shelter Design Competition.

The basic guidelines: design a safe, secure, portable shelter that could be built for under $1,000; is easy to mass-produce; and can protect someone from all the types of extreme weather Spokane gets. It can have a maximum footprint of 25 square feet, and should be no more than 6 feet tall. 
  • Courtesy WSU School of Design + Construction

The students will find out whose design the judges like most between 5:30 and 7:30 pm on April 27, at the third annual Student Design Awards at the Montvale Event Center.

Then their designs, including one full-sized prototype the class has been working on together, will be displayed from April 29 through May 13 at River Park Square.

"The goal is for this to be used by citizens, by homeless people in Spokane, and for it to be accepted by the citizens, because if it's not accepted by citizens in Spokane, we're not doing our job," says Abigail Shane, a third-year architecture student at WSU.

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Idaho grocery tax will stay, 24/7 shelter in Spokane might not, and morning headlines

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 9:40 AM


NEWS: Just as fast as it was here, a key part of the 24/7 shelter system in Spokane could have to close, leaving hundreds of people with nowhere to go, because the system doesn't have enough money to keep operating. 
  • House of Charity

NEWS: Do you think you know a better way to plow snow? Spokane wants to hear from you. Really.


No sanctuary — or shutdown
President Donald Trump's main budget official, Mick Mulvaney, is pushing to include language that would restrict federal funding for sanctuary cities — those cities that have said they won't enforce federal immigration law — in a budget bill that would avoid a government shutdown, Politico reports. (Politico)

Idaho grocery tax will stay
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter vetoed a repeal of the state's grocery tax, again, but let a road repair package stand, the Idaho Statesman reports. (Statesman)

Important investigations
On Monday, the 2017 Pulitzer Prizes were announced, and among the winners were investigations into opioid abuse and overdose deaths, evictions of poor minorities, sexual assault on a university campus, and a government-led killing campaign against drug dealers and users. See the full list and read some of last year's best reporting here.

Putin on the delay
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had to wait most of the day to see if he'd get to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who did eventually sit down with him Wednesday to talk about Syrian-government-led chemical attacks that may have been launched from a base where Russian troops are, the New York Times reports. Putin reportedly denied that charge and said it was made up to create conflict. (NYT)

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