This week's culture section includes a profile on two of mixed martial arts' up-and-coming female athletes who live and train here in the Lilac City — Elizabeth Phillips and Julianna Pena.
Both women are quickly rising in this male-dominated sport, having signed contracts within the past year to fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, the biggest organizer of MMA events and employer of professional fighters. Both train at Sik-Jitsu in northeast Spokane, a mixed martial arts gym whose owner and sole coach, Rick Little, also trains local UFC fighters Mike Chiesa and Sam Sicilia.
In the wee hours of tomorrow morning, Sat, Aug. 23, while most of us are still sound asleep, Phillips will step into the octagon for her second UFC matchup during UFC Fight Night 48 in Macao, China. The pay-per-view event is live-streaming online, so local fans can wake up around 3:30 am to watch Phillips battle it out with her opponent, Russian fighter Milana Dudieva. According to pre-fight odds, Dudieva is favored to win. For fans who feel that's too early to see a brutal fight, the event can also be streamed later via ufc.tv.
Meanwhile, tonight at 7 pm, at the Tulalip Resort & Casino north of Seattle, several of Sik-Jitsu's other fighters are heading into the cage. With Phillips and Little in China, they're being supported and coached by teammates Pena, Chiesa and Sicilia. Tonight's event is organized by Excite Fight, an MMA promotion venture owned by Little.
Chiesa and Sicilia are also in preparations for upcoming UFC fights on Sept. 5, and Sept. 20, respectively.
The city of Coeur d’Alene is still devastated and angry about the shooting of Arfee, a 2-year-old black Labrador. We caught up with Craig Jones, Arfee’s grieving owner, in this week’s issue.
But Coeur d’Alene is hardly alone. The same tale has played out in city after city.
"You're kicking down doors, barging in with guns, and when animals do what animals do, they become collateral damage,” former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper told libertarian writer Radley Balko in a 2009 Daily Beast article on dog shootings. “Too many officers have gotten rather callous about it, I'm afraid."
Arfee's death isn't even the first cop-shoots-black-Lab outrage in Idaho this year. In February, in Filer, Idaho, dashboard cam footage shows an officer kicking a barking black Lab named “Hooch,” raising his gun, and then shooting it. In the footage, the dog can be heard, yelping and whimpering, wounded. To make the story somehow even worse, the owner has Parkinson’s disease, is confined to a wheelchair and was holding a birthday party for his 9-year-old son when Hooch was shot.
That incident made national news and catalyzed Boise County resident Edith Williams to create the Idahoans for Non-Lethal Canine Encounter Training group on Facebook. She's pushing for all law-enforcement officers in the state to receive instruction on humane ways to handle aggressive dogs.
Coeur d’Alene has already taken one step in that direction: About a week and a half after the Arfee shooting, Interim Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Ron Clark estimates, he sent out a link to his entire department, mandating they watch five training videos about how to handle dog shootings non-lethally. The videos cover how to read canine body language, how to distract dogs with food or air horns, and how to use common items, like umbrellas or clipboards, to deflect bite attempts.
Williams has seen the video series.
“They are good,” she says. “But it’s watching TV. In general, it would be better to have the officers, along with the presentation, have hands-on interaction with the trainer, with the dog and with fellow officers. ”
She's thinking of the sort of live training that was recently given to the Filer officers by canine aggression expert Jim Osorio. Of course, even in hindsight, it’s not clear whether additional training could have saved the lives of Arfee or Hooch.
“I don’t think the Arfee shooting would have been prevented with dog training,” Williams says. “I think it was an inexperienced officer who didn’t know what he shot at before he hit it.”
View the videos, at about 10 minutes a piece, and decide for yourself.
1) An Overview: Assessing the situation.
2) Communication With Dogs
3) Tactical Considerations
4) Use of Force Considerations
5) Legal Considerations: Liability, Reporting and Documentation
I sometimes wonder if the people in charge of and concerned about downtown Spokane live in the same downtown Spokane that I do. If you based your knowledge of Spokane on the comment threads of local news outlets, letters to the editor and the loudest opinions within business leadership, you’d probably believe that our core is positively overrun with hoodlum youth, aggressive and dangerous panhandlers, and all-purpose chaos. On the contrary, while I do get asked for money during maybe 15 percent of my outings downtown, I don’t witness any of this behavior at a noticeable level. I notice that there are people around, on a good day, who are up to all types of things. There are business men walking five abreast on the sidewalk with coffees, people on cell phones, shoppers laden with bags, young people cradling either guitars or puppies, skaters, people in electric wheelchairs dodging through the sidewalk traffic.
In short, there are a wide variety of humans co-mingled in one space. They don’t all look the same, they don’t all share the same values, and the day-to-day of their lives vary wildly. This is as true next to River Park Square and in Riverfront Park as it is at the STA Plaza. However, the characterization of the Plaza’s inhabitants and users casts bus riders as dangerous, poor (which is bad and probably also their fault, right?), and a nuisance to polite society. I have a hunch that the critics of the Plaza are comprised of the group least qualified to have an opinion on the matter: people with cars who almost never ride the bus. I tend to agree with what Bruce Nourish pointed out in his Seattle Transit Blog post about the Plaza feud: “What really ails Spokane’s retail plutocrats is not the people of the Plaza, but their own ignorance."
Part of my ongoing frustration as a decades-long STA patron is people’s attitude toward bus ridership. Their complaints about slow service, or a lack of service in their area, or lack of connections make up a self fulfilling prophecy. Without the patronage of more people in Spokane, equalling more money for STA’s operation, the services cannot improve. More people ride the bus than ever before in Spokane now and it’s due to many factors. And they are all kinds of people representing a cross section of the bottom 80 percent of income earners in the area. Here are some photos and short interviews that I conducted on Wednesday, Aug. 20 around 3 pm on the south side of the Plaza. I hope that for those who are ignorant about bus ridership in Spokane or in general, these examples can show you that there really isn’t anything to be afraid of. After all, can you read while driving or have an undistracted conversation with your kids or friends?
Jarrod commutes to Cheney for both work and school. He said that, “The only bummer [about taking the bus] is that it takes longer... but that’s what books and smartphones are for.” Overall he describes STA as a good transit system. “They stop frequently. You don’t have to walk too far to find a spot.” As for the Plaza’s downtown location, he wouldn’t change it. “It is literally in the middle of everything.”
On Wednesday, Scott was heading out the the VA. He said that he takes the bus at least six times a week, mostly to appointments. His favorite aspect of riding the bus? “It’s really convenient, pretty close to where I want to go.” He, too, had a book with him for company on the ride. Other than putting up with the occasional crying baby, he doesn’t mind taking the bus. He was familiar with the concerns about the Plaza. “A lot of kids and homeless come here, but they will be around no matter what, no matter where it is."
Khaled takes the bus to and from work every day. “I have a good time and the people are fun," he said. “This is a good place, because you can learn how to go anywhere from downtown."
When I told Traci I was taking pictures to show that bus riders are just normal people, she laughed and agreed. “It’s just a big pot of everyone here,” she said. On Wednesday, Traci was on her way to the Maple CHAS clinic, but she takes the bus anywhere she needs to go for the most part. I asked her to describe the Plaza in three words. “Not that bad!”
Steven was on the way home from taking the placement exams at SFCC when I talked to him on Wednesday. He doesn’t take the bus often, but said that the downtown location “seems to be working.” His only complaint was that the bus takes a while, but that he’s glad it’s “fairly cheap to ride."
Mohammed takes the bus anywhere he needs to go in town. On Wednesday, he was even getting ready to move from an old apartment to a new one using the bus. He didn’t seem discouraged by this task and said, “It is a great bus! I love to be able to use it every day.”
With Mohammed was Mahadi, who didn’t want his photo taken. He was on his way to his school, just across from the Riverside entrance of the Plaza, the Spokane College of English Language. He doesn’t have a car, like many other bus riders and me. He said, “It is a great thing that this city has the bus because all the people depend on it."
Sam was about to catch the bus into Browne’s Addition to go to Rosauers, one of the only grocery stores near downtown, when I asked her about STA. She takes the bus almost every day and described it as loud. “It can be kind of sad sometimes. But it also opens people up for conversations. Like, do you want to talk for 20 minutes? And I guess that can be a good thing."
Bret has been riding the bus for 10 years. On Wednesday, he had just finished up working downtown. He was very familiar with the ongoing disapproval of the Plaza from certain business interests in the city center. He said, “Moving it isn’t a solution. It’s just an easy target. [The critics] have to blame their poor business acumen on something and right now it’s the homeless and the street kids. But where else do they have to hang out?” He pointed out that as a business person, he likes having the Plaza right in the middle of things because it brings people, many of whom are customers, to the businesses who rely on them for success.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love Spokane," he said. “But in some ways, Spokane is still really in an early 20th century mindset. The 1950’s aren’t coming back."
It’s maddening that, with an American city ablaze with protests and police brutality, our national leaders think it’s OK to just take a vacation.
I’m speaking, of course, of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who took these past two weeks off when America has needed their outrage and comedy the most.
And so our nation turns its lonely eyes to you, John Oliver. Thankfully, on Sunday, Oliver delivered:
Oliver only has a handful of episodes of his new HBO show, Last Week Tonight, under his belt. But in at least one way – the 15-or-so minute rant – the former Daily Show correspondent has bested his former boss.
Nearly every Monday, HBO releases Oliver’s 15-minute exploration of an outrage on YouTube. And nearly every Monday, it’s dutifully shared and hyperbolically celebrated by numerous news outlets.
Here’s why Oliver’s rants work so well:
During HBO shows, there are no commercials. But few HBO shows (In Treatment comes to mind) regularly take advantage of the freedom that provides. Oliver does.
He has eight extra minutes to work with, isn’t saddled with the need to bring on a celebrity to talk about her latest movie and doesn’t have to stop every 10 minutes to let the network sell blenders or promote Tosh.0
In practice, the Daily Show and Colbert Report work more like daily papers: Shorter stories and more of them. But Last Week Tonight looks more like an alt-weekly — finding big stories few people are talking about and really exploring their ramifications. The deep dives are made possible, not just by the additional screen time, but by the fact that Oliver only has to do one show a week.
While his Ferguson comments have been widely praised, I believe Oliver's even better when he tackles more underreported subjects – like the scumminess of the soccer organization FIFA, the impact of Net Neutrality legislation, the collapse of the wall between news and advertising, the shady ethics of Doctor Oz, and the predatory tactics of payday loan organizations.
The Daily Show has its moments of unpacking undercovered and complex topics, exposing financial scandals or huge problems with the veteran’s administration bureaucracy. But because of the sheer quantity of material the Daily Show has to produce, they fall too easily back on montages of Fox News idiocy or political hypocrisy.
Obviously, Colbert, Stewart and Oliver focus on similar themes. But it’s Oliver’s tone that makes the difference. He’s not spittle-flecked furious like occasional Daily Show contributor Lewis Black and he’s not screw-it-all cynical like Stewart, and not satirically self-confident like Colbert.
Instead, his rants seem almost happy. And, that, oddly enough, makes them more effective. He’s pointing and says, “Check this out! This is so absolutely, mind-blowingly horrible, you’ve just got to let out a little chuckle. Ha ha! Everything’s terrible!”
Maybe his best moment is this one, where to soaring music, he summons the legion of the internet’s worst denizens, the sort who unleash vile rants without any of the irony or sophistication of Oliver’s rants, to flood the FCC with their complaints about net neutrality.
For once in your life, we need you channel that anger, that badly spelled bile, that you normally reserve for unforgivable attacks on actresses you disagree with, or politicians you disagree with, or photos of your ex-girlfriend getting on with her life, or non-white actors being cast as fictional characters. And I’m talking to you, RonPaulFan2016. And you OneDirection4Ever, and I’m talking to you, OneDirectionSuxBalls. We need you get out there, and once in your life, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction, seize your moment my lovely trolls! Turn on caps lock and fly my pretties! Fly!”
With a different tone, one less gleeful, you could see the comedy falling flat. Instead, it comes off as nearly inspirational. And it worked: Those trolls broke the FCC’s website. Jon Oliver, clearly, has just as much power as Colbert or Stewart to inspire the masses to do his bidding.
More big news to break in this week's installment of Food Blotter. Earlier this week we confirmed the owners of the South Hill beer hotspot Manito Tap House have signed a lease for the first floor of the historic Broadview Dairy building, at 905 N. Washington, with plans to open a higher-end gastropub called The Blackbird.
Owner Patrick McPherson tells us he'd been looking into a recently vacated retail building in North Spokane's Audubon Park neighborhood, but passed on the space because of the cost to renovate it.
The concept for the new restaurant is more upscale fare than the Manito Tap House, and with fewer handles, but as many as 150-200 bottled beers available. Currently he says the goal for opening is the beginning of 2015.
Love @ First Bite Desserts reopened in its new Spokane Valley location, at 14401 E. Sprague, last Wednesday.
Locally-owned bakery White Box Pies is rebranding as White Box Cafe & Bakery, and plans to expand its menu and dining areas.
The downtown space at Lincoln and Riverside that most recently was home to Sergio's reopened last Friday as 24 Taps Sports Bar, a reincarnation of the old Heroes & Legends sports bar.
Three Inland Northwest Bars — Bon Bon, the Baby Bar and Rico's Public House in Pullman — made it onto a list of the best Washington's 10 Bars Outside of Seattle, by Thrillist.
Speaking of bars and beer, the date, film and brewery for the next installment of Suds and Cinema screening is...DIE HARD! It's showing Wed, Sept. 10 with beer from Twelve String Brewing Co.
Whisk, a tiny new bar (pictured above) at 17 W. Main Ave. by the owners of Pacific Avenue Pizza in Browne's Addition, opened last week.
Don't miss the last two kickoff events for the newly-expanded Inland Northwest Ale Trail — now up to 27 regional breweries. Pint's Alehouse is hosting a tasting event tonight, from 5-10 pm, and Capone's Pub in Coeur d'Alene hosts one next Thursday, Aug. 28, from 6-9 pm.
Because of a newly-introduced policy by City Councilmember Amber Waldref, the owners of the yet-to-open Tamarack Public House (expected to open in October) are hoping to benefit from a new utilities fund that would pay to upgrade an aging city water line to the building. That upgrade is needed in order to service the building's modern fire sprinkler system.
In case you missed it, last week's issue included a story on The Scoop's new liquid-nitrogen ice cream-making process, and subsequent new house-made flavors.
A new Grocery Outlet store in Spokane Valley, at 12115 E. Sprague, is set to open a month from today.
Lake's Cakes, a new bakery specializing in cakes served in mason jars, opened at the beginning of the month in the Gonzaga area.
A former A&W fast food restaurant on North Division that closed more than a year ago is set to reopen as a Bruchi's CheeseSteaks & Subs, a locally-owned franchise.
Pullman is celebrating the Northwest's favorite legume this weekend, Aug. 22-23, during the 26th Annual National Lentil Festival.
As of this writing,
there are still tickets ($20 in advance) available [UPDATE: The event is now sold out] for Saturday's No-Li 12: Small Batch Beer Fest, the brewery's second limited-release beer tasting event.
Up in Sandpoint, Laughing Dog Brewery is turning nine, and hosting a party to celebrate, this Saturday, Aug. 23.
Peaches are ripe for the pickin' up at Green Bluff, which celebrates the tasty stone fruit harvest through Labor Day next weekend.
Welcome to OUTLANDER, which will serve as a weekly (at least) round up of Inland Northwest outdoor recreation and natural resources news. This feature will highlight a wide variety of issues and events, ranging from camping stories to national environmental disputes. We’ll also try to include some scenic photos. Feel free to pass along suggestions or curiosities. The Inlander looks forward to sharing and celebrating the Great Outdoors.
To start: State wildlife officials authorized the rare step of lethal force against a pack of wolves in southern Stevens County linked to 16 recent sheep kills. Officials will not actively hunt the Huckleberry pack, but have permission to shoot any wolves approaching the flock. (Inlander)
Wildfire season rages on, and yesterday we also wrote wrote about a new report from the U.S. Forest Service outlining how wildfire spending has undermined the department’s budget and pushed back trail repairs, research and other important programs. (Inlander)
As much as we might love Marmots in Spokane, one particularly nosey rodent has gone viral after hogging a Greenpeace promo video in Glacier National Park. (Greenpeace)
Climbing junkies and fans of glacier porn can check out “K2: Siren of the Himalayas,” which opens Friday at the Magic Lantern. (Inlander)
Under the category of crazy ideas that just might work: A Washington-based company has created a “fish vacuum,” similar to a bank’s suction tube, that sucks fish up and over dams. A prototype is being tested on the Yakima River. (Field & Stream)
Grizzly bears, the greatest fear of Stephen Colbert and many others, just got scarier, with Washington State University researchers exploring whether they can use tools. (WSU)
Mount Spokane State Park, the state’s largest park, continues to collect public input on a proposal to reclassify part of the mountain for additional ski chairlifts and trails. An Environmental Impact Statement breaks down the issue in great detail. Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park outlines its support for the project. Comment here by Sept. 15.
Spokane City Councilmember Amber Waldref is pushing two new policies she hopes will resurrect downtown's many empty buildings.
One ordinance would create a $250,000 "Urban Utility Installation Fund." If passed, developers looking to restore buildings downtown could apply for up to $40,000 in city assistance to pay for upgrades to city water or sewer infrastructure. In an example that actually happened with the Big Dipper concert venue this spring, businesses are often required to install fire sprinkler systems in order to bring old buildings up to modern code. To do that, developers have to pay not only for the sprinkler system, but they often also have to upgrade the water line that leads into the building, adding thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to the project's bottom line. In the Big Dipper's case, the city stepped in with a one-time commitment to fund that upgrade. If Waldref's proposal passes a council vote, projects in similar situations could apply for money from the new fund. The money to seed the fund would come from the reserves in the city's utilities department and would be refilled with any new utilities revenue that developers who received funding generate once their projects are operating as restaurants, housing or other businesses. Hopeful recipients would have to prove the viability of their project and the need for upgrades, but specific criteria won't be developed until the ordinance passes.
In her announcement of the policy today, Waldref stood in front of an empty courtyard and string of empty buildings on Sprague Avenue. Nearby, Teresa Gonder and her husband are renovating the 120-year-old brick building at 912 West Sprague to open Tamarack Public House. Gonder says the pair will spend $40,000-50,000 on a sprinkler system in the building and would need another $40,000 to upgrade the water line under the street out front.
"That would have shut the project down completely," she says.
Instead, she's expected to be among the first to benefit from the new utilities fund, with the city paying for the upgrade. "That's the only reason this could happen," Gonder says. She expects the pub to open in October.
Waldref's second proposal (originally pushed by former Councilman Steve Salvatori) would change the sewer rates charged to housing projects in renovated commercial buildings. Today, residential buildings are charged more than commercial locations, so renovating a formerly commercial building to turn it into a mixed use or apartment building means the developer faces a significant jump in utilities costs. Developer Ron Wells, who's renovated buildings across the city and is attempting to turn the dilapidated Ridpath hotel into apartments, says he faces a jump from $800 to $6,000 a month for water and sewer when that building becomes housing. At today's announcement, he called Waldref's proposal a "progressive solution to the inherent uphill battle every developer has" in renovating old buildings.
Both ordinances will get a full council vote Sept. 8.
Waldref is also working with Wells, Downtown Spokane Partnership President Mark Richard and others on a proposal that would plunge the city even further into the public-private-partnership realm. She is hoping to establish a "revolving loan fund" through which the city would lend money to developers like Wells who are attempting major projects and need, along with traditional bank loans, so-called "gap funding" to make their projects happen. Waldref says state law limits the city's ability to do this unless it's funded with federal dollars. She hopes to identify federal sources and create the fund by the end of the year. (Clarification: Unlike the HUD 108 loan the city has considered for the Ridpath hotel, the funds Waldref is eyeing for a new loan fund would not put community development block grant dollars at stake if the borrower defaults.)
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