Thursday, October 1, 2015

Police ombudsman commission opts to offer Florida candidate interim position, do more thorough background check

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 9:58 AM

Candidate Robert Breeden speaks during a public interview with the OPO Commission - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak Photo
  • Candidate Robert Breeden speaks during a public interview with the OPO Commission

The Office of Police Ombudsman commissioners are frustrated.

Last night, the five-member volunteer group opted to offer Robert Breeden the police ombudsman position on an interim basis. In the meantime, they plan to ask City Council for funds to send an investigator to Florida to dig deeper into the allegations of his abusive and domineering management style and the whistleblower lawsuit he filed against his former boss. (You can see the lawsuit and the 100-plus-page investigation into his management style at the bottom of this post). 

If Breeden were to accept the offer, he would be hired for four months with the option of renewing the contract as the permanent ombudsman, a three-year-term. The Commission has not ruled out candidate Raheel Humayun and plans to send an investigator to Victoria, British Columbia if given the funds. All five commissioners agree the third candidate, Allen Huggins, is not a viable option. 

Commissioners pointed out two problems with this decision during their discussion last night: 1. there is no guarantee Breeden will accept the offer. He lives in Florida, and as Commission chair Deb Conklin pointed out, "it would be asking a lot of him." 2. the Commission has no budget to hire an investigator, and will be reliant on City Council for the funds to do so. 

Community members in the audience were satisfied with the decision, considering the fact that the Commission discussed scrapping all three candidates and asking the selection committee to start over. 

"I think it's about time," Phillip Tyler, a member of the NAACP and former lieutenant in charge of operations at the Spokane County Jail, said after the decision. "I'm happy that they made a decision, temporary as it may be, to move forward."

"They're in a real tender spot," Tim Connor, a former Center for Justice spokesman and law enforcement watchdog, said of the Commission. "I was concerned they weren't going to do anything and instead sent it back to the selection committee, which isn't going to work." 

Throughout the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, commissioners voiced their frustrations. 

Conklin blamed the selection committee for not properly vetting each of the candidates. When Tim Burns was hired, the city sent investigators to his home in California before offering him the job. Mayor David Condon also flew to Indianapolis before hiring now-former Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub. 

Nancy Isserlis, the city attorney and chair of the ombudsman selection committee, did not return several phone calls asking for comment on the selection process. But city spokesman Brian Coddington told the Inlander earlier this month "the expectation was that the ombudsman commission would do its own due diligence." 

Conklin is also frustrated with the fact that the selection committee met in secret. 

Commissioner Scott Richter asked if the commission has been forced to choose Breeden given the circumstances of the other two candidates. Huggins' criticisms of the Black Lives Matter movement lost him credibility within the community, and it could be months before Humayun is allowed to work in the United States. 

Commissioner A.J. VanderPol expressed his frustration with the backlog of complaints since Burns' departure, which is why he was in favor of hiring Breeden for the permanent position. 

Jenny Rose, the newest member of the Commission, said she wouldn't have felt comfortable voting in favor of a permanent hire, if that's what the Commission had decided to do. She was appointed after the three candidates' public interviews, and hasn't met any of them, she said. 

"I would have rather seen them hire permanently," Tyler said. "But the fact that they opted to put someone in place at least bodes well for the citizens of Spokane. Otherwise, it would just be a nauseating experience — the definition of insanity."   

Read Breeden's whistleblower lawsuit and the investigation into his management style below: 

BREEDEN Lawsuit Complaint

BREEDEN Investigation

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CONCERT REVIEW: Def Leppard can still deliver, bringing Spokane Arena a full bag of tricks and hits

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 9:50 AM

Def Leppard knocks out "Love Bites" at Spokane Arena Wednesday. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Def Leppard knocks out "Love Bites" at Spokane Arena Wednesday.

Anyone who wants to chalk up Def Leppard's ongoing success simply to nostalgia for the band's '80s and early '90s commercial heyday should probably ask themselves why most of the band's peers from that era aren't also consistently selling out arenas and amphitheaters in 2015. 

The British rockers were a cut above from the very beginning of their career, crafting anthems full of killer hooks and impressive harmonies that stayed a part of their songwriting as they shifted from being an up-and-coming part of the so-called "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" to a pop-rock machine embraced by the mainstream with chart-topping albums like 1983's Pyromania, 1997's Hysteria and 1992's Adrenalize

Yes, the band's concerts still lean heavily on those golden years of monster hit singles, but the songs for the most part sound timeless and alive, rather than simply aural museum pieces hearkening the good old days. At the Spokane Arena Wednesday night, the guys in the band might have looked a little older, but the rocking songs still hit hard, the ballads still soared, and the crowd filling the place to the rafters sang along nonstop as they were treated to a great night out. It's hard to imagine anyone went home complaining. 

The current lineup of the band has been together since 1992, when Vivian Campbell replaced long-time guitarist Steve Clark after his death, and the other four members have been together since the early '80s. That kind of consistency in the ranks makes this version of Def Leppard incredibly tight on stage, where each of them has ample opportunities to shine over the course of their shows.

Wednesday, 57-year-old guitarist Phil Collen scampered around shirtless, sporting a six-pack just as he did as a 25-year-old and ripping out solos on nearly every tune. Campbell, a veteran of Dio and Whitesnake before joining the Def Leppard ranks, played well alongside Collen, melding gjuitar lines here and there, and taking on solos of his own and those penned by his predecessor Clark as well. And the three longest-standing members of the band all shined, too. Bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen locked in early and kept the bottom end booming behind the band's guitars all night, and lead singer Joe Elliott showed he has little problem hitting the notes of the band's deep catalog of songs. 

Def Leppard hit the stage with purpose, cranking through "Rock Rock (Till You Drop)," "Animal" "Let It Go" and "Foolin'" before anyone in the crowd could even take a breath — four huge songs in the band's career, all delivered with nary a word beyond the lyrics. 
A catwalk jutting into the crowd on the arena floor got the band closer to its fans. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • A catwalk jutting into the crowd on the arena floor got the band closer to its fans.

Three screens showing the action on stage so the folks in the back of the arena could see were among the few production bells and whistles; for the most part, the show was just the band on a sparsely decorated stage, kicking out classic songs, with perhaps a few lasers flashing in the background. Not many hard-rock bands feature four guys harmonizing together, but Def Leppard's vocal abilities help them stand out, and make already-huge-sounding songs come through all the more massive. 

"Paper Sun" from the band's 1999 album Euphoria was a bit unexpected early in the set, but served as a reminder that the band has continued making albums semi-consistently since radio trends moved away from their style of hard rock; they have a new one coming this fall, although that wasn't represented during the set Wednesday. Instead, after "Paper Sun," it was pretty much non-stop massive hits that had the crowd on its feet throughout, screaming along with the band: "Love Bites," "Armageddon It," "Rock On," a solo Joe Elliott acoustic take on "Two Steps Behind," performed on a catwalk jutting toward the middle of the arena floor. 

All told, the band delivered about 90 minutes of ear candy, all of it a vivid reminder of why these guys went head to head with Michael Jackson's Thriller at the top of the Billboard charts when they first broke through in America, and eventually sold more than 100 million albums worldwide — an absurd number back in the '80s, and an impossible one in the current music scene. They ran through "Rocket," "Bringing on the Heartbreak," "Hysteria," "Pour Some Sugar On Me," "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph" before it was all over and the crowd departed to the chilled night air outside the arena. 

Def Leppard was clearly and deservedly the headliner, but both openers certainly had fans thrilled to find them in Spokane. Styx was sort of the oddball of the bill, given their more poppy and prog-rock inclinations than the other two bands, but they got a lot of love from the audience as they ran through songs like "The Grand Illusion," "Too Much Time On My Hands," "Lady" and "Come Sail Away" during their hour on stage. 

Kicking things off a few minutes before the announced 7 pm start time was Tesla, and the Sacramento crew remains a gem, albeit an under-appreciated one. They were unfairly lumped in to the "hair-metal" scene back in the '80s, but their songs like "Hang Tough" and "Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)" have a complexity not many of the hair bands on the Sunset Strip could match. Wednesday night, both those songs sounded great, as did "Love Song," "Little Suzi" and the band's acoustic-driven hit cover of "Signs." 

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Need to know morning news

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 8:43 AM

You can now legally purchase pot in Oregon.
  • You can now legally purchase pot in Oregon.

A temporary Spokane police ombudsman has been named.

Last night, the Spokane police ombudsman commission unanimously offered a four-month temporary police ombudsman position to former Florida Department of Law Enforcement supervisor Robert Breeden, despite concerns of his background. Breeden has not yet accepted or declined the appointment. (Spokesman-Review/Inlander)

Oregonians can now purchase pot legally in their state.
Folks 21 and over can buy up to a quarter-ounce of dried flowers from more than 200 medical marijuana dispensaries statewide, and people are celebrating. (The Oregonian)

Bernie Sanders raised nearly as much money as Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Sanders' growing campaign, which packed out arenas this summer, raised $26 million in the third quarter, his team reported, while Clinton’s raised $28 million.

Hurricane Joaquin batters the Bahamas, could hit the East Coast this weekend.
Already East Coasters are feeling the effects of Hurricane Joaquin with rain, and this weekend the National Hurricane Center says weather could worsen. Meanwhile, heavy rain and 100-mile-per-hour high winds pounded the Bahamas today. Hurricane Joaquin is currently a Category 3 storm. 

Yelp for people?
You can already rate your experience doing pretty much everything online; why not rate an interaction with a friend, enemy or lover? An app called Peeple, set to launch in November, would allow users to rate others with a one- to five-star rating. And you can’t opp out.

Tonight's Death Cab For Cutie show at the INB Performing Arts Center was postponed to December, but here's a little something to hold you over in the meantime. 

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Police Ombudsman Commission to make a decision tonight

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 3:24 PM

The Office of Police Ombudsman Commission meets tonight at 7 pm in City Council chambers to discuss whether or not to hire one of the three final candidates. 

The Commission has a few options: 

1. Pick one of the three candidates. To read more about each candidate, click here. We took a more in-depth look at one of the candidates, Allen Huggins. To read that report, click here. The Spokesman-Review did the same thing for candidate Robert Breeden. To read that report, click here

The third candidate's resume is available here.

2. Decide that they need more information on each candidate. Commission chair Deb Conklin says that might mean sending someone to one of or each of the respective cities to do a more thorough background investigation. We wrote about what Conklin says are the inadequacies of the selection process earlier this month. 

3. Tell the search committee to start over, send three more names. 

Stay tuned, we'll update this post after the meeting. 
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We've almost arrived at Back to the Future II day

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 2:20 PM


Anyone worth their weight in celluloid knows that October 21, 2015, was the date that Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future II to help his future son stay out of trouble. And of course he effed things up royally by trying to buy a sports almanac and take it back to pre-Draft Kings 1985 to rake in some sweet cash for Jeeps and amplifiers and stuff. But I digress.

In honor of our Official Arrival into the Future, we would like to invite you to the next installment of our Suds and Cinema Series on, of course, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, when we'll be showing, of course, Back to the Future II at the Bing Crosby Theater. The doors open at 6 pm, at which point we'll be pouring beers from No-Li Brewhouse, the event's chosen local brewery, and at 7:30 we'll get the flick rolling.

I'll just cut to the chase that we will not have any hoverboards on hand, mostly because science has failed us, leaving  the only existing hoverboards in the hands of rappers.

But to make up for that shortcoming we will, however, have a DeLorean on hand! You can take your picture with it, too!

Sadly, this DeLorean is not of the flying variety that Back to the Future II promised us because, again, science has failed to catch up with the imagination of the late 1980s.

Come dressed as your favorite BTTF character (from any film in the trilogy) and you'll have the chance to win a flux capacitor for your car.

We'll see you on the 21st. Here's the official Facebook invite with even more details.
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Meet your barista: Matthias Wilson, Rockwood Bakery

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 1:20 PM

Matthias Wilson's walk in the park led to a job at Rockwood Bakery. - KAILEE HAONG
  • Kailee Haong
  • Matthias Wilson's walk in the park led to a job at Rockwood Bakery.

Rockwood Bakery
, across the street from Manito Park, is located in a row of houses on the South Hill. If it weren’t for the cars lining the streets surrounding the bakery, you might drive past it without even knowing. The bakery and coffee shop has been around for some time now, and is a perfect place to stop on the way to or from the park. 

Though 21-year-old barista Matthias Wilson has only been working at Rockwood for eight months, he’s been in the coffee business for nearly three years. When he’s not studying exercise science at Eastern Washington University, you might find him at Rockwood Bakery.

INLANDER: How did you end up at Rockwood Bakery?
WILSON: It stood out to me one day because I was going on a walk around Manito. A lot of our customers, they’ll get coffee and go to Manito, and so I did that. I went to the garden first and then came here afterwards. I saw a bakery sign on the street right here and I thought I’d check it out, and I stayed for a bit, and I kept coming back. I knew somebody who worked here and she ended up giving me the job.

Do you have any jobs aside from being a barista?

I have two other jobs. I work at the Blackbird, I’m a busboy there. I also work at World Relief. I’m the healthcare intern, and I did that all summer and I asked to stay on for the fall. With them, I do home visits with a ton of different cultures and I promote hygiene and make sure that they’re using the right soap for the right task and promote healthy habits. I also take people to their doctor’s appointments. Myself and my boss apply people for healthcare and we walk them through the medical screening in order for them to get their green card.

Continue reading »

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WW: First day of legal weed in Oregon, pot falls from the sky, marijuana resort in South Dakota

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 12:08 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

You know what tomorrow is? No, not Thursday. Well, it’s that, too. But it’s also the first day you can legally buy recreational marijuana in Oregon.

Although recreational marijuana has been legal in the state since July, there’s been no way to legally purchase it. But beginning Oct. 1, some medical marijuana dispensaries will begin selling it for recreational purposes. Prices for a gram will range between $12 and $20.

However, a map put together by The Oregonian shows there are no places to buy in Eastern Oregon.


Someone is arrested for marijuana possession every minute in the U.S., according to analysis of FBI data.

Don’t mail weed to your grandma’s house.

KHQ has a story about how it’s still illegal to drive stoned, a fact that some people are unaware of.

If marijuana falls from the sky into your family’s carport, is it an act of God or just drug smugglers?

A tribe in South Dakota plans on opening a marijuana resort on its reservation.
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Documents show that Cotton clashed with police union

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 10:42 AM

New documents reveal that Monique Cotton, a police spokeswoman who transferred out of the department under foggy circumstances, clashed with a police captain and lieutenant who complained that she didn’t report damage to her city-owned car quickly enough and doctored a document regarding media responsibilities.

In May, Cotton was suddenly transferred to the parks department to handle communication duties. The administration of Mayor David Condon has given shifting explanations for why Cotton was transferred. Originally, City Administrator Theresa Sanders told the Spokesman-Review that Cotton was given a near $10,000 raise to take a non-union job in parks.

“It’s mostly an enticement. I was bringing her into an uncertain environment,” Sanders told the paper, noting earlier that Cotton is not protected by a union.
Monique Cotton
  • Monique Cotton

Last week, Condon acknowledged to the Inlander that the raise wasn’t an enticement, but was part of a step increase and to compensate her for additional management and marketing duties. Sanders also told the Spokesman-Review that she was unaware of any issues between Cotton and police Chief Frank Straub, who abruptly resigned last week after the Lieutenants and Captains Association complained about his abrasive leadership style.

However, documents obtained by the Inlander through a public records request show that officers in the police force had raised issues concerning Cotton’s integrity, which were later deemed unfounded by the city’s Human Resources department.

“The complaints were fully investigated and determined to be baseless,” Cotton told the Inlander via text message. “They are unfortunate symptoms of the unhealthy work dynamic of select members of SPD’s senior leadership.”

In February of last year, Lt. Dave McCabe, president of the Lieutenants and Captains Association, brought a complaint to the city’s Human Resources department on behalf of Lt. Jose Walker and Capt. Dan Torok. The complaint alleged that Cotton has been “untruthful in official internal matters,” falsified work-related records and engaged in work-related dishonesty.

The allegations centered on whether Cotton reported “very minor damage” to the driver’s door of her city-owned car in a timely manner and falsified the precise date she reported the damage. Torok also alleged that Cotton had modified a document regarding the duties for officers assigned to media responsibilities. Specifically, Torok complained that Cotton modified when a public information officer or communications director would be expected to respond to a scene.

Both of the allegations were deemed unfounded by city HR. But the report notes that Torok brought up during the HR investigation that Cotton, or another public information officer, should have responded to a shooting incident in the Garland District that occurred in February of last year. The report states that Cotton had been in contact with a police captain and sent out media releases but had not been at the scene. Torok suggested, in the original complaint, that Cotton modified the media responsibilities document so that she wouldn't have to respond to incidents like the Garland District shooting.

“The investigator is concerned that this complaint of alleged policy violations concerning documentation was also used to express the opinion or disagreement of Capt. Torok that proper procedure was not followed during the [Garland District] incident,” reads the HR report, which goes on to state, “It is overwhelmingly evident from the complaint document and witness statements that there are underlying issues between Lt. Walker, Capt. Torok and Ms. Cotton.”

After the investigation concluded on March 6 of last year, McCabe sent a letter to HR expressing that the Spokane Police Lieutenants and Captains Association was “disappointed” with the investigation, noting a lack of witnesses interviewed and that no computer forensics had been utilized. McCabe also wrote that the department Internal Affairs Unit should have handled the investigation rather than HR.

The letter states that Walker explained to Heather Lowe, the city’s HR director, “that concerns from him and others about Ms. Cotton’s integrity had been brought to the Chief’s attention last year, but it appeared that nothing had been done about them.”

“Capt. Torok and Lt. Walker both expressed a concern to me that they may suffer retaliation as a result of making these complaints,” reads the letter, which also notes that a commissioned police employee recently resigned after an internal investigation.

“We believe that the manner in which this case was handled establishes a double standard for employees accused of untruthfulness in their official capacity,” reads the letter. “Commissioned and civilian employees in the past were investigated by Internal Affairs and disciplined for sustained allegations. Now, it appears that civilians or, at least civilian Directors, accused of the same allegations, will have their cases assigned to HR for investigation as a ‘personnel matter’ instead of being subject to SPD Policies and Procedures like the rest of the Department’s employees.”

Pick up a copy of this week's Inlander to read more about Chief Straub's forced resignation and what it means for Mayor David Condon.
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5 morning news stories to keep you in the know

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 9:34 AM

Most power has been restored following an outage affecting more than 30,000 in Spokane area.

When many people were still asleep in their beds this morning, a car hit a transmission pole around 4 am, causing a power outage to more than 30,000 people. Now, according to Avista Utilities, that number is down to mere hundreds. (Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Valley is going ahead with plans for a new City Hall.
The Spokane Valley City Council has unanimously decided on the conceptual design of a new City Hall building — a project costing $14.4 million. The three-story, energy-efficient structure will be built at Sprague and Dartmouth on the northwest corner of the former University City Shopping Mall. (KXLY)

Twitter is considering doing away with its 140-character limit.
Long-winded people rejoice! Twitter is apparently aflutter working out a format that would allow users to share content longer than 140 characters, according to technology news service Re/code. This would also change how the limit is measured. For example links would no longer be part of the word count.
Pope Francis met with Kim Davis last week.
  • Pope Francis met with Kim Davis last week.

Russia begins airstrikes on Syria.
After all of this United Nations chatter, Russian President Putin has decided to go after ISIS his own way. Washington, of course, criticized the airstrikes, warning it brings added risks to Syria.

Turns out Pope Francis met with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.
During his first visit to America last week, the pope met with the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk, who, after refusing to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses, was put behind bars for five days. Davis is reported as saying that Pope Francis thanked her for her courage and told her to stay strong.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Local artists' project features everyday people in an Apollo 11 space suit

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 12:31 PM

  • Don and Julia Derosier / Space Hero Mission

Who hasn't fantasized what it would be like to pop on a space suit and explore the farthest uncharted realms of the universe? Live out your childhood (or adult) dreams of boarding a space ship to Mars or the next undiscovered galaxy through a fun new arts project based in Spokane: Space Hero Mission

The brainchild of recent Inland Northwest transplants and professional photographers Don and Julia Derosier, the ongoing project is one of the many featured endeavors at this Friday's Terrain 8 (read more about this year's event in the new issue of the Inlander).

A few weeks ago the couple launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an upcoming Northwest tour of the replica Apollo 11 space suit and their artwork to let more people across the region have a chance to be photographed in it. The campaign closes early Saturday morning, with a final push for donations happening during Terrain.

The $3,000 campaign would fund travel expenses for the couple, who plan to wind throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Western Montana later this year, letting campaign backers who donate $100 or more pose for a session in the space suit. The Derosiers also plan to donate 10 percent of proceeds from the campaign to local refugee resettlement nonprofit, World Relief Spokane. 

"The biggest reason we're doing [the Kickstarter] is to spread awareness and exposure. Even if we don't make it, we're going to try and and connect with people who donated and see if we could work something out," Don Derosier explains.

So far, the space suit has traveled with the couple on trips to Australia, Fiji and Hawaii.

"On our down time we like to do personal projects and this was something new and awesome. We love being creative and we find this is a great way to push our limits and to think of something that no one else has really done before," Derosier says. "We really like this particular space suit — it's iconic for American culture. It's the one people remember and that's why we chose it."

  • Don and Julia Derosier / Space Hero Mission

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