Monday, September 26, 2016

Spokane's property crime rate officially plummeted more than 12 percent last year — but it's still pretty bad

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 4:00 PM

Property crime rates per 100,000. The apparent plunge in property crimes in Spokane in 2005 is a bit deceptive — the county eliminated the Crime Check phone number that same year, making it harder to report property crimes. In 2008, Crime Check was established, and it rose back to its baseline level - DANIEL WALTERS GRAPH
  • Daniel Walters graph
  • Property crime rates per 100,000. The apparent plunge in property crimes in Spokane in 2005 is a bit deceptive — the county eliminated the Crime Check phone number that same year, making it harder to report property crimes. In 2008, Crime Check was established, and it rose back to its baseline level

Looking at Spokane's internal CompStat reports, it appeared that the property-crime rate had fallen significantly from 2014 to 2015. But CompStat can be messy, plagued with redundancies and holes. For example, it doesn't include attempted property crimes in its total calculations, where the data released by the FBI does. 

So for months we've been waiting, twiddling our thumbs, for the official data to come in. 

Finally, the FBI released the national data last week, confirming about a 12 percent decrease in the Spokane property crime rate. Violent crime also slightly decreased by about 4.7 percent. 

That's good news.

City Council President Ben Stuckart points to the more decentralized precinct model, increased funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (C.O.P.S.) program, and the decision to hire more police officers as possible reasons for the improvement. 

However, Spokane's property-crime rate still remains more than two times higher than the Washington state average and more than four times higher than the Idaho state average. Property crime still has not fallen below 2011 levels, before Mayor David Condon came into office. As we reported earlier this year, crime spiked up for several years after an announcement that the department was eliminating its property crimes unit.  

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Not funny: Steve Martin and Martin Short cancel Spokane show

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Martin Short (left) and Steve Martin will not be getting wild and crazy in Spokane after all.
  • Martin Short (left) and Steve Martin will not be getting wild and crazy in Spokane after all.

Ah, what might have been. 

The musical-comedy combo promised by the tour featuring a couple of legends — Steve Martin and Martin Short — looked like it was going to be one of the cultural highlights of fall in the Inland Northwest. Instead, it's one of the biggest disappointments after word came Monday that the show is cancelled. 

You'll get an automatic refund if you bought them with a credit card. If you bought tix at a TicketsWest outlet or the INB Performing Arts Center box office, you can take them back to the Spokane Arena box office for a full refund, or mail them to: Spokane Arena, Attn: Ticket Refunds, 720 W. Mallon Ave., Spokane WA 99201. 

The announcement stated the show will be "canceled due to scheduling conflicts," which typically means the potential audience members "scheduled" themselves to do something else that night rather than buy tickets for this particular show. For this gig, the cheapest seats were set at $85, with a top price of $350. 

It's still a bummer, though, because the combo of Martin and Short promised a night of top-notch entertainment, abetted by bluegrass band the Steep Canyon Rangers, regular collaborators on Martin's music albums and tours. 

On the bright side of life: the show featuring Monty Python veterans John Cleese and Eric Idle slated for Oct. 28 is still on. 
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WA Supreme Court overrules judge's order for homeless woman to pay $15 monthly fines

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 3:07 PM

court-fees.gif

Briana Wakefield came from an abusive family. Both of her parents were addicts, and by 14 she began winding her way through the foster system. Plagued by bipolar disorder, ADHD and PTSD, by age 18 Wakefield was unable to work due to her disabilities and lived off Social Security benefits. She got $170 a month in food stamps, as well, according to court documents. 

Wakefield has four kids, all of whom are in foster care. She is trying to get her kids back — attending mental health counseling once every other week, drug counseling once a week, Narcotics Anonymous meetings two or three times a week, parenting classes and visiting her kids for hours at a time, court documents say. Wakefield, 27, is also homeless, but she's trying to find housing.

In the midst of her hardships, Wakefield was also dealing with low-level misdemeanor convictions: theft in 2009, disorderly conduct in 2010 and harassment in 2012, according to court records. The latter two charges landed her with legal financial obligations (LFOs) imposed at the discretion of a Benton County District Court judge in a case that landed in the State Supreme Court.

Last year, the Inlander wrote about a local woman's struggle to get out from under decades-old court fines. You can read that story here.

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Monday Morning Place Kicker: Seahawks cruise, Eags are legit and an arrest-free WSU week!

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 10:15 AM


The Seahawks win, but the victory might cost them. Suddenly, Eastern Washington looks like the team to beat in the Big Sky. The Idaho Vandals won (!) a road game (!) in their last pre-conference showdown, and Washington State University went a week without any more player arrests (at least that we know about). 

Here's everything you need to know about talking sports around your work watercooler today. 
Russell Wilson was a little gimpy after injuring his knee Sunday. - SEAHAWKS.COM
  • Seahawks.com
  • Russell Wilson was a little gimpy after injuring his knee Sunday.

SEAHAWKS CRUSH NINERS, NINERS ATTEMPT TO CRUSH WILSON'S LEG

This is more like it. The Seahawks destroyed the 49ers in Seattle Sunday 38-17 and the score was closer than the game actually was. A couple receivers had 100-yard days, as did running back Christine Michael, and the defense manhandled a weak San Francisco squad. 

The big story: It's one Seahawks fans hope turns out to be nothing — a horsecollar tackle of quarterback Russell Wilson that looked seriously bad when it happened. Check it out: 

Wilson sat out most of the game after that, and will likely be able to play Sunday against the Jets. He'll probably be drinking a lot of that "miracle water" between now and then. 

Your go-to line when talking to Seahawks fans today: "The offense sure looked good! Hope Russell is good to go!"

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Inlander debate party tonight, Spokane police chief named today and more headlines

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 9:42 AM

Things may be bad now, but at least there's no JibJab cartoon. - DERRICK KING ILLUSTRATION
  • Derrick King illustration
  • Things may be bad now, but at least there's no JibJab cartoon.

ON INLANDER.COM

I'm pitching a gritty modern reboot called "Vape Signals"
This Friday, Sherman Alexie will joined the cast members of the movie he penned, Smoke Signals.
 
Every time the future of the Republic looks doomed, take a drink 
Tonight, starting at 5 pm, join Inlander reporters and the hoi polloi of Spokane at nYne to watch Hillary Clinton fight for the presidency up against... wait a minute... this can't be right... Donald J. Trump?! 

When Ginger closes a door she opens a Window Dressing
Letting artsy-fartsy businesses have vacant properties until they're ready to rent? Why, that's a great idea.  

Parton: The Interruption
Our award-winning music critic Laura Johnson reviews the Dolly Parton show.

AP for you, AP for me

To what extent has the influence of cultural policy, academic innovations and expanded access contributed to the rise of diversity of those who take Advanced Placement tests at Spokane Public Schools? Show your work, and feel free to use charts and diagrams. 

HERE

This is what it sounds like when govs lie

Are you ready for the big debate tonight? I speak, of course, of Jay "Dr. J" Inslee vs. Bill "Bry-Bry" Bryant. It's about to get downright gubernatorial up in here. (Spokesman-Review)

Let's deja vu like we used to
Another Monday, another police chief announcement from David Condon. Is it going to be the same guy he picked a few weeks ago? (KXLY)

Another Washington State mass shooting
Five people were shot dead in a mall north of Seattle this weekend. Here's how Spokane law enforcement is preparing for such an event. (Spokesman-Review)

THERE

Don't want to alarm you, but the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy  cover now clearly reads "Panic!"
If you're anti-Trump, right about now is the time to be really, really worried. (NY Mag)

Artful Dodgers
You've got questions, they've got answers that in no way attempts to answer the question. Take this quiz to see if you can guess how Trump and Clinton prefer to dodge questions
(New York Times)

Beck's Call  
Glenn Beck realizes that maybe this Ted Cruz guy isn't making decisions entirely based on his own unwavering moral principles
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

THIS WEEK: The Joy Formidable, Smoke Signals reunion, debate party and more

Posted By on Sun, Sep 25, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Welsh power-trio The Joy Formidable play Tuesday at the Knitting Factory.
  • Welsh power-trio The Joy Formidable play Tuesday at the Knitting Factory.

Ladies and gents, are you ready to shut down September? Do it in style, out on the town, and you can find opportunities to do just that throughout our event listings and Staff Picks. 

Here are some highlights of the week ahead: 

Monday, Sept. 26

COMMUNITY | It's time to get serious about the presidential campaign. But not TOO serious. The Inlander is hosting a Debate Party at nYne where you can watch the Clinton/Trump fireworks with fellow Inland Northwesterners, have some drinks and mull the future of democracy a bit, too. 

Tuesday, Sept. 27

LIVE BANDS | The Joy Formidable are, quite simply, an excellent rock trio that brings some beautiful guitar-based noise every time they hit the stage. I've seen 'em a few times, and the Welsh trio has been great at both clubs and on massive festival stages. They open the show at Knitting Factory which Kongos is headlining. Here's a little live Joy Formidable: 

MUSIC EVENTS | It's time once again for the Spokane Symphony Chamber Soiree, and the Autumn edition hits the Marie Antoinette Ballroom at the historic Davenport Hotel to perform baroque, classical and contemporary chamber music while you sip some wine and have some tasty appetizers. It also happens Wednesday. 

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Prost! Oktoberfest at the River returns for another run this weekend

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 2:47 PM

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY VISION MARKETING
  • Photos provided by Vision Marketing
Prost! Oktoberfest is here!

The second annual Oktoberfest at the River runs today through Sunday at the Spokane Convention Center, and it's expected to be bigger and better than last year's inaugural edition.  

This year, Oktoberfest has doubled the amount of games from the previous year, says Tom Stebbins, co-owner of Vision Marketing, the company that heads up the event. Stebbins says they've also added Silver Spurs to their entertainment, a local dance group that performs to traditional German music. The last Oktoberfest was attended by 7,948 people and this year it's expected to attract even more, Stebbins says.

"I watch people come in and it's just a happy place," Stebbins says.

The event is $10 per day with no reentry, $15 for the weekend with in and out privileges and $5 on Sunday. Admission is free for children 12 and under.

The event is family-friendly, with activities like a "Rootbier" Garden, Bocce ball and cornhole for the kids, but after 8 p.m. the event becomes 21 and over.

Friday and Saturday, there are activities from noon to midnight, and on Sunday the events go from 11 am to 5 pm.

For more information visit the Oktoberfest website.
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Spokane Public Schools recognized for improving equality in AP courses

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 2:23 PM

Steven Gering, Spokane Public Schools chief academic officer - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Steven Gering, Spokane Public Schools chief academic officer

For years, minority groups have been underrepresented in Advanced Placement classrooms across the country. Even though black and Latino students make up 37 percent of students in high schools in the U.S., only 27 percent enrolled in AP courses that offer college-level curricula, and only 18 percent passed an AP exam, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Over the last five to six years, Spokane Public Schools has made an effort to get more students to take more rigorous coursework. In the process, says Chief Academic Officer Steven Gering, the district has discovered that sometimes the reason students don't take higher-level coursework is simple: they don't think they can. Or they don't know what they'd be getting into. 

"Some of it was kids saying, 'If somebody encouraged me, I would do it,'" Gering says. 

So Spokane Public Schools has made an effort to do just that, and they're seeing it make a difference. The U.S. Department of Education recognized Spokane Public Schools this week as one of the first districts in the nation to commit to including students of all backgrounds in AP courses, which many colleges see as evidence that applicants can challenge themselves academically. That puts them on a list of 117 districts who are now part of the Lead Higher Initiative through Equal Opportunity Schools, an effort to identify 100,000 "low-income students and students of color" ready for AP courses by fall 2017.

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Window Dressing's new Creative Enterprise program welcomes 14 local startups

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 1:30 PM

The first local entrepreneurs to participate in Window Dressing's Creative Enterprise program. - WINDOW DRESSING
  • Window Dressing
  • The first local entrepreneurs to participate in Window Dressing's Creative Enterprise program.

After putting out the call earlier this summer for local, creatively-minded entrepreneurs who have a great idea but aren't quite ready (or able) to test out their venture in a storefront space, the Spokane nonprofit Window Dressing recently introduced the inaugural class of its new Creative Enterprise program.

After brightening dozens of otherwise rundown, unused downtown storefronts with local art installations over the past few years, the creative vitality-focused nonprofit is reaching further with its next venture — placing emerging local businesses in un-leased, empty storefronts, allowing them to test their business models before making a big investment in a permanent location.

"It gives creative entrepreneurs an opportunity to test their idea with little risk, and that aspect really appealed to us because it builds infrastructure for young and creative people within the city to succeed," Window Dressing co-founder Ginger Ewing told the Inlander back in July.

It's a win-win for both parties, including the downtown property owners agreeing to let program participants use their spaces at little to no cost, for at least six months, or until a permanent paying tenant signs a new lease.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Dolly Parton gets quite goofy, tacky, conversational and amazing

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 12:01 PM

Dolly Parton took to the Northern Quest stage last night for a sold out show. She told the audience they aren't real — her nails that is. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Dolly Parton took to the Northern Quest stage last night for a sold out show. She told the audience they aren't real — her nails that is.

She got into "Jolene" rather quickly last night. That's right, THE Dolly Parton walked out onto the outdoor Northern Quest Resort and Casino stage and treated fans to one of her best written works (possibly one of the best of all time) only a few songs into her sold-out show. It was a bit more sing/talky than her original recording, but that got us ready for the rest of the evening full of ... talking. Lots of it. 

But that's part of what made the 70-year-old's show so incredible. She talked our ears off, and it was funny and moving. It was like she invited us all over to sit in her parlor one Thursday evening to tell us her life story. The not-so-natural blonde spoke of her poor family upbringing and her faith and her prior and upcoming film/TV projects (apparently Burt Reynolds is a good kisser, for the record).

When she stood up from a bench she was singing on for part of the show, she worried her "box office" may be showing. She told us she was fine being tacky, and proceeded to explain about the town trollop she resembled her "look" after. "I'm not a natural beauty," she said. Her minister grandpa worried about her looks too, she told us, and he would ask her if she wanted to go to hell and she'd reply: "No, but do I have to look like hell when I go there?"

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