Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why Sen. Andy Billig voted against freezing the $2 billion class-size initiative

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 6:19 PM

Today, Gov. Jay Inslee signed what looked like a balanced budget, but left with a $2 billion question mark. 

Blame the class-size initiative, narrowly passed by voters last year. Initiative 1351, which did not specify any source of funding, was basically ignored in the budget-writing process by the Senate, the House and the governor. 

Sen. Andy Billig
  • Sen. Andy Billig
Instead, the Legislature set out to delay the implementation of the initiative by four years. The liberal House, controlled by Democrats, easily gathered the 2/3rds votes necessary to delay the law. When I spoke with Sen. Michael Baumgartner yesterday, he expected the Senate, controlled by Republicans, to easily follow suit. But Rich Wood, spokesman for Washington Education Association, cautioned leaping to such conclusions. He knew what he was talking about. 

Come this morning, the celebration about the initial budget had turned to anger. On Twitter, state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who had been celebrating the victory for students in the operating budget, was calling Sen. Andy Billig and several other Democrats liars. Billig had refused to vote for the bill to be delayed. 

"Reckless, irresponsible Senate Ds break budget deal, decide to play [Russian roulette] with poor to try to again force tax increase," Baumgartner wrote on Twitter.  "Budget now $2B out of balance and illegal. Chaos." 

He told KIRO radio the same thing.
"Half the Senate Democrats kept their word, the other half decided to play politics," Baumgartner said. "There was a huge fight among the Senate Democrats on the floor...and the whole thing broke up."

In the late afternoon, I caught up with Billig to ask him what happened. Did he have an agreement, then go back on his word?

"Absolutely not. Absolutely not," Billig says. "That’s a complete fabrication." If there were agreements of any kind, Billig says he wasn't told about them. 

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WW: Legal weed law tweaks good for pretty much all parties

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 2:59 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]

Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the weed lobby group Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), has been wrangling hard all legislative session for a solution to many of the I-502 kinks — crazy taxes, fewer retailers than anticipated, grey market medical marijuana dispensaries — that have threatened the future of the nascent marijuana industry. “If House Bill 2136 doesn’t pass, the industry is not sustainable,” marijuana producer Cip Paulsen told the Inlander last week. The industry got its solution yesterday when Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB 2136 into law, modifying several aspects of I-502 and eliciting a collective sigh of relief from stakeholders across the board.

"As of today there is 37 percent point-of-sale tax on all product," wrote Christophersen in an email message sent to WACA members this morning. "This is likely to be a little clunky as the transition occurs."

The most important bits of HB 2136:

No more double-tax scenario: A 37 percent tax will be tacked on at point-of-sale. "Tax used to be counted towards income," says Liquor Control Board Communications Director Brian Smith. "It's really going to help the bottom line for producers, processors and retailers." 

Cities are winners, too: The state will start sharing revenue with local jurisdictions; this should lift moratoriums and bring shops to markets where they've been frozen out.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Where’d you go Tyler, the Creator?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 12:58 PM

At Tuesday night's Tyler, the Creator show, the MC skipped out on an encore. - LAURA JOHNSON
  • Laura Johnson
  • At Tuesday night's Tyler, the Creator show, the MC skipped out on an encore.

It could have been a combination of things: the heat, tiredness, perhaps he was hangry. Whatever the reasoning, Tyler, the Creator didn’t come out for an encore at last night’s Knitting Factory show to the disappointment of his fans.

No artist is required to do anything, and coming back out to do just one more song isn’t necessary. Maybe we shouldn’t expect it. But seriously? Besides festival shows where there isn’t the time, I can’t even think of the last time I didn’t see an encore for a big show. The rapper was only out on stage for a little over an hour, and last night he left his audience wanting more.

The neon-clothed kids (and these really were kids — there was a row of waiting parents in cars after the show let out) had already lined up outside well before 5 pm for a show that wouldn’t start until about 8:30 pm. Once inside, they packed in, excitedly waiting for a guy many parents would freak out over if they ever read his lyrics.

Taco — not to be confused with this Taco — warmed up the stage for his man Tyler, spinning a bunch of Jay-Z, Lil’ Wayne, Kanye and more. Then out of nowhere, the artist burst onto the stage as if blasted out of a canon  going straight into the song “Bitch Suck Dick.” Ah, yes. Joined by Jasper Dolphin, a fellow Odd Future cohort, he glided quickly around the stage. Sometimes there was gangsta swagger, other times he looked like an adult man throwing a tantrum.

After that first song he moved into the part of the show where he spoke to the audience. He called out one dude for using a selfie stick, he pointed out one woman's outfit whose hair looked like big Minnie Mouse ears.

“Have I been to Spokane before?” he asks a cheering crowd. “I guess it 
  • Laura Johnson
must have been a long time ago. What do you do around here? It looks like nothing.”

And with all of these sweet things to say, the MC moved into more crowd-pleasing songs like the slow “IFHY” (perhaps his answer to Eminem’s “Stan”), the money-motivated “Smuckers” and the pedophilia-vibing song “F—-ing Young / Perfect.” For everything he did, the audience fist-pumped and jumped and cursed him and sang along with nearly every word.

Right around 10 pm, he stripped off his white T-shirt, thanked the crowd and peaced out … never to return.

But even if Tyler wasn’t interested in being in Spokane any longer than he needed to, let it be known he worked his ass off with the songs he did do. There were breaks between tunes that lasted almost a minute just so he could catch his breath and towel off the gallons of sweat pouring out of him. He was scary, he was raw, he made all the faces. He was even kind enough not to incite a riot. 

People had a lot of fun Tuesday night, and even with Tyler leaving straight to his hotel right after, that feeling of abandon while his catchy music was pumpin’ is what everyone will remember. And that’s what they should remember.
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MB: Fireworks danger, required vaccines and doctors leaving Greece

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 9:25 AM


The Spokane Tribe has partnered with the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and hopes to open a branded casino in Airway Heights. They're still waiting on a signature from Gov. Jay Inslee to determine if they can build a resort casino at all. If Inslee does green-light the development, the Spokane Tribe says it will create 5,000 new jobs. (KREM)

Spokane County settled a lawsuit brought by the father of a mentally ill man who was denied medication while in custody at the Spokane County jail. The suit hinged on a public records law violation and was settled for $27,000. (KXLY)

Fireworks are super-dangerous this year. Everything in the state is dry and hot and ready to catch on fire; we've had 300 brush fires so far this year. Plus, fireworks aren't even legal most places in Spokane County. Choose people and houses over fleeting entertainment. (Spokesman-Review)


Californians can't decline vaccines based on 'personal beliefs' anymore thanks to a new law. Kids whose parents choose not to have them vaccinated — assuming there's no bona fide medical reason — will not be allowed to attend public school. (VICE)

Jeb Bush has made a lot of money since leaving the Florida governor's office, as evidenced by his newly released 33-year archive of tax returns. He's earned about $29 million since 2007 through speaking engagements, consulting and investments. He's also paid 36 percent of the last three decades income in taxes, setting him apart from past presdiential hopefuls like Mitt Romney who managed to keep far more of their income than the average American. (NPR)

Following in the footsteps of other highly educated professionals, doctors are leaving Greece en masse. "The country is hemorrhaging talent, as professionals in medicine, engineering and academics flee for a better economic climate and more stable employment," reports the New York Times. Since 2010 Greece has lost 3 percent of its population — about 300,000 people in total — as many as 5,000 of them doctors. Yikes. (New York Times)
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich vs. ISIS, white supremacists and the ACLU

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 4:49 PM

The air-conditioned auditorium at Central Valley High School filled with badge-wearing Republicans eager to hear Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich's take on domestic and international threats and the war against police. Also, the "myth" of police militarization.

Knezovich's presentation of the "True Threats" facing our community, in brief:

Sovereign citizens: You know, those people who live in the United States but refuse to acknowledge the authority of the state. They carry documents declaring all this and are increasingly likely to resort to violence, Knezovich says.

The myth of police militarization: Knezovich scoffed at the "myth of police militarization." Which isn't to say that his department hasn't received helicopters, an MRAP and 57 M16s from the Department of Defense’s 1033 surplus-war-gear program. But his office needs those things, he said. They have long been up against a dizzying array of foes.

Just ask the U.S. Attorney: "The U.S. Attorney is in the audience, folks," said Knezovich, nodding towards Michael Ormsby, who was seated stage-side. "And he will tell you that the FBI is probably the most tight-lipped organization in the world, and they will talk about nothing. You have no idea what those men and women that serve you on a daily basis have prevented in this county. You have no concept. And I’m going to get into some case studies that happened in Spokane. We didn’t know about it — nope. Why not? The FBI doesn’t talk about cases. Right?" 

Ormsby nodded.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Gregg Allman brought his Southern-fried rock to The Fox

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 11:39 AM

  • Dan Nailen

Some music just begs to be heard in a hot, muggy roadhouse, where the sweat drips off the beer bottles and the dancing fans alike. Gregg Allman's sound is a perfect example, whether leading his own band or playing with the Allman Brothers Band, as he mixes gritty Southern blues, rootsy rock 'n' roll and more than a dash of funk and soul. 

Allman's show at the pristine Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox was pretty much the polar opposite of a dank, smoky club, but Allman and his eight-piece backing band did their best to evoke the down-home vibe that propelled him to stardom back in the '60s and early '70s alongside his brother Duane, and eventually landed him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pulling songs from throughout his career, Allman created 90 minutes of music that took the audience on a trip that was both adventurous and nostalgic. 

Allman took the stage with a slow ramble to the front shortly after opener Matt Andersen delivered his own blues-heavy set — one that proved popular judging by the line of people buying his CDs between acts. Allman entered waving at the crowd and looking a bit gaunt before he plopped down behind his Hammond B-3 organ and led his charges through an instrumental intro that opened up into "It's Not My Cross to Bear," a tune from the Allman Brothers Band's self-titled 1969 debut. The slow blues was a bold way to kick off a show where no doubt many expected a raucous dance party, and it was an ideal way to showcase Allman's voice — a strong, gruff instrument that belies the 67-year-old's slight stature. 

Like many songs to come, the "Cross" also featured a searing guitar solo from Scott Sharrad, who Allman would later introduce as the musical director of the group that also included two percussionists and three horn players, as well as the remarkable piano man Peter Levin. Considering Sharrad was tasked with ripping out some of the most classic of classic-rock riffs, guitar parts created by Duane Allman and Dickey Betts that have stood the test of the time, the man proved up to the task, easily incorporating their urgent rhythms and wicked slide parts throughout the show. 

Allman followed up "It's Not My Cross to Bear" with "I'm No Angel," a song from his 1986 album of the same name that I recall being a overly produced, way-too-slick addition to his catalog. Seeing that song on MTV as a kid kept me from getting into the Allman Brothers Band for years. I'm happy to report the song has aged better than I'd ever expect thanks to the straightforward approach taken by his band, and the addition of an excellent horn section. Of course, I'll never be able to separate the song from one of Amy Poehler's greatest Saturday Night Live moments in my mind. 

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MB: NAACP moving on, bees all over I-90 and lawmakers figured out the budget

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 9:18 AM


The Spokane NAACP is moving on following the whole Rachel Dolezal debacle, president Naima Quarles-Burnley told those in attendance at the group's Monday meeting. The NAACP has a 95-year legacy in Spokane. (Spokesman-Review)

Four million bees spilled along I-90 near Coeur d'Alene when the tractor trailer carrying them tipped over. It is unlikely there will be any survivors; casualties will be removed by dumptruck. (KHQ)

There will be no government shutdown in Washington. Legislators came through in the clutch and approved a $38.2 billion two-year state budget. Also, Gov. Jay Inslee is happy and released a statement indicating his intent to sign off on the budget this afternoon. (King 5)


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been throwing its weight around on behalf of big tobacco. Officials have been sending letters to governments around the world in an effort to dissuade them from enacting anti-smoking laws. (New York Times)

The FBI and the ATF are taking over the investigation into the recent string of suspicious fires at black churches in the South. (VICE)

Even though Bahrain is really awful on human rights, the State Department announced we're going start selling them guns again. The State Department issued a statement indicating that Bahrain is an important ally in the "counter-ISIL campaign". (The Intercept)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced his decision to pursue the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. (CNN)
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Monday, June 29, 2015

VIDEO: Hoopfest 2015 — Images from an Inlander intern, and player

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 2:35 PM

When I looked up the weather and saw that the temperatures for both Saturday and Sunday of Hoopfest were going to be in the 100s, I immediately thought about forfeiting my games and spending the weekend at a lake instead of in downtown Spokane. Sadly, this couldn't be the case because my teammates didn't like the idea of wasting the entry fee money.

So, on Saturday morning I loaded up a cooler full of water and Gatorade and made my way to the patch of smoldering asphalt known as my court — as did all of the other people attending Hoopfest.

Despite the heat, Hoopfest ended up having a great turnout. Even ESPN got in on the action and broadcasted live right from downtown. I couldn't let ESPN or our local TV stations do all of the video reporting that weekend, so I grabbed my portable camera and in between games took shots of what was going on around me. If you missed Hoopfest or want to relive the memories, watch this quick video and see glimpses of the action that happened at this year's 3-on-3 tournament.

(And in case you were wondering, my team was not able to go home with a "Champion" t-shirt. Or any t-shirt besides the one you earn for participating.) 

Take a look: 

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THIS WEEK: ABBA, Besties vs. Testes, Poetry Picnic and cosplay on the cheap

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 11:50 AM

Author Sharma Shields emcees the Poetry Picnic at the Moran Public Library on Thursday.
  • Author Sharma Shields emcees the Poetry Picnic at the Moran Public Library on Thursday.

Each week we scan through the Inlander event listings and carefully culled Staff Picks to let you know about some of the best entertainment and activism options of the coming days. Obviously we have a holiday weekend straight ahead, but that's no reason to put off having some fun. Take a look: 

Monday, June 29

COMEDY | The weekly debate-style comedy shows at Underground 15 take on some sexual politics this week when it's teams of women comics taking on teams of men in Besties vs. Testes, going down at 8 pm. And it's free!

COMEDY | Looking for a different kind of summer camp for the kids? The Blue Door Theatre has you covered. A Summer of Improv is a Monday-night class for kids 11-18 that runs through August, and starts tonight. 

Tuesday, June 30

THEATER/LIVE BANDS | The Bing plays host to another in a long line of Australian tribute acts on Tuesday. You've watching the pig fly with Australian Pink Floyd, now get your 70s disco on with The ABBA Show

COMEDY | The Ditch Kids are a local improv group who construct whole scenes from audience suggestions. Read our feature about the group, then check out the show at Jones Radiator. 

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THIS WEEK IN MUSIC: Gregg Allman, Tyler, the Creator, Blitzen Trapper and more

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 10:40 AM

Dude! This week is laced with good music every single day. What a wonderful way to stay cool (in more ways than one).


Tonight, you’ll need to check out Gregg Allman at the beautiful downtown Martin Woldson at the Fox Theater. The legendary rocker is still doing things his own way, choosing to continue performing at the tender age of 67, even after the Allman Brothers Band has called it quits on the touring circut. It’s great to finally have him in town after his Spokane show was postponed last summer. The show begins at 8 pm, features Matt Andersen and starts at $35.
Check out our interview with him here and be sure to read our concert review tomorrow.

Even in hip-hop terms Tyler, the Creator is pretty crazy. He’s told a fan to eat vomit, he’s incited a riot, he’s every parent’s worst nightmare. And Tuesday, he hits up the Knitting Factory to bring a little chaos to the downtown scene. The show starts at 8 pm, is all-ages and features Taco.
Check out our recent story on the rapper here and also read our concert review on his show come Wednesday.

Over at the Bartlett, the show contending for your heart is Portland indie-rockers Blitzen Trapper. While the band was here about a year ago, they’re back with some spankin’ new songs (ones you won’t have heard anywhere else) Tuesday night. Also expect a couple Neil Young covers thrown in as well — the band's most recent release was an exclusive Record Store Day LP covering Young's seminal Harvest. The all-ages event costs $17 and starts at 8 pm.

The Big Dipper is bringing it Wednesday night with so much rock ‘n’ roll, including the Bay Area-based Stone Foxes and local favorites Hey! is For Horses, Flannel Math Animal and Buffalo Jones. The Stone Foxes have opened for the likes of the Black Keys, Cage the Elephant and ZZ Top, and soon enough, if we have anything to say about it, young bands will proudly brag about sharing a stage with these instrument-swapping roots-rockers. The all-ages show starts at 7:30 pm and is $12 at the door.

Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas swing back through the Bartlett Thursday. If you’re interested in voices that thrill your soul as well as your ear drums you need to hear the Detroit-based Hernandez belt out her retro-influenced rock tunes. The all-ages show starts at 8 pm and is $12 at the door.

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