Wednesday, August 19, 2015

WW: Milepost 420 is removed in Idaho, Tacoma closes its medical pot shops

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 9:54 AM

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]

In Idaho, milepost 420 has been removed from highways in the state. The milepost has been changed to 419.9. to stoners kept stealing it.

Tacoma will see most of its 60 medical marijuana dispensaries close in response to a state overhaul of pot laws.

An initaitive to legalize pot in Ohio has qualified for the ballot.

The vast majority of federal money spent on researching pot has been on its potential for abuse. Just a sliver has gone to study its medicinal effects.

The Oregonian, which is a drug-free workplace, is looking for a pot critic.

Randy Simmons, a bureaucrat who helped implement Washington’s pot law, is leaving his post. But not before getting in a few pot shots.
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MB: Ex-Subway spokesman & child porn; first female libido pill; local air quality suffers

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 8:50 AM


The Houston Fire near Airway Heights, which began Tuesday afternoon, evacuated 50 homes and has now reached 60 acres. (KREM)

With so many fires roaring around the Inland Northwest, air quality is reaching unhealthy levels. (KXLY)

Nope! Spokane City Council is not planning a $15 minimum wage ordinance. (Inlander)


Jared Fogle, of all those Subway commercials, is to plead guilty today to child porn and sex with minors. (Indy Star)

The FDA has approved a libido pill for females. (New York Times) It was a long time coming.

The bomb attack that killed 20 people in Bangkok Monday was carried out by a "network", Thailand's chief of police has said. There are currently two suspects. (BBC)

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

UPDATED: Downtown Spokane River access point opens Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 4:16 PM


Fans of the Spokane River can plan on enjoying it even more with new, unprecedented access when the downtown Spokane River access point has its grand opening Wednesday.  

The new access point is located just east of the Convention Center, right underneath the Division Street bridge. The grand opening will start at noon and last about 30 minutes, include a few words from Mayor David Condon as well as representatives from other community stakeholders, and feature children from the Northeast Youth Center paddle-boarding with Outdoor Recreation Supervisors. 

Anyone with non-motorized boats (like kayaks, canoes and paddle boards) is invited to try out the new access point directly after the ceremony. Here’s information on parking and make sure to visit the Spokane River website for a map of access points on the water trail.

City of Spokane Parks & Recreation Marketing and Communication Director Monique Cotton says this new access point shows how city organizations are focused on bringing people to the river.

“This river access point symbolizes our commitment – as a city and as a community – to invest in our greatest natural resource, which is our river,” she says.

Cotton references the Riverfront Park Master Plan as another example of city commitments; the master plan says one of its core principles is “bringing people to the center,” that is, drawing people to the Spokane Falls and the park surrounding it.

“There are very few cities that have a large river running directly through them, and even fewer that have direct access to that river directly in the downtown core,” she says. “It’s a very unique opportunity that we want to celebrate to reconnect with the river.”

The project is the result of collaboration between City of Spokane Parks & Recreation, Spokane Public Facilites, Avista Utilities and the Spokane River forum. It was first visualized in the 2011 Spokane Convention Center Completion Study.

Parks and Recreation and Spokane Public Facilities passed an agreement in Fall 2013 that funded the development of this river access point; the access point then had to clear permitting falling under Spokane Municipal Code (Section 10.19.010, Ordinance C-C-34982 Section 1) which allows permits to be given to access to the south channel between Havermale Island and the South bank known as the forebay. The permitting process officially began in Spring 2014.

Those who want expert guidance on what to do and where to go from the trail can sign up for a $15 guided tour on Saturday, September 5 – all proceeds will go back to the Recreation Fund. More information will be available in the next few weeks at and 

UPDATED, Aug. 24, 2015: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the City Council allowed non-motorized boating west of the Division Street Bridge. That is inaccurate. Spokane Municipal Code allows permits to be granted by the Chief of Police to allow entry in the forebay (which is the south channel between Havermale Island and the South bank). The area allowed to be accessed from the new access point is clearly marked; it is unsafe and illegal to leave this marked area. The post has been corrected to reflect this information. 
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Spokane is Reading's 2015 book and author

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 2:31 PM


There's still plenty of time to kick back and lose yourself in this year's selection for Spokane is Reading, the 14th annual community reading program.

This year's selection is Station Eleven, a post-apocalyptic best-seller by Emily St. John Mandel. The highly acclaimed, award-winning book is Mandel's fourth, and was nominated for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award; it also won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award. Station Eleven was named one of the 10 best books of 2014 by the Huffington Post and the Washington Post, and a screen adaptation is reportedly in the works.

Station Eleven is a dystopian tale set in the near future, after a pandemic flu kills off most of the world's population. It follows a traveling band of Shakespearian actors and examines the types of relationships that sustain us and the nature of fame. Here's more on the book (which we've just placed an order for) from its jacket:

“An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, from the author of three highly-acclaimed previous novels.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.”

Mandel is set to give two presentations in Spokane is Reading's tradition of bringing the authors it features to Spokane — one at CenterPlace Event Center in Spokane Valley at 1 pm, and a later presentation at the Bing Crosby Theater, at 7 pm, both on Thursday, October 29. Both events are free. Auntie's Bookstore will be on hand selling copies of the novel, and the author will meet fans and sign copies of her work following each talk. 

A joint effort by the Spokane County Library District, Spokane Public Library and Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane is Reading began back in 2001 as a community-wide effort to encourage local adults to read and make connections through literature. Last year's book selection was Karen Russell's fantastical Swamplandia! and 2013's event highlighted Seattle author Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette.

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Local minister acquitted of hate crime; state pays for legal bills, wages lost

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 12:55 PM

A minister of a local African American church was recently acquitted of two counts of malicious harassment, also known in Washington state as hate crimes. 

Derrick Moore, 51, argued he was acting in self defense when he threw his son, Antonio Moore, and his son's former boyfriend out of his home after he caught them having sex in his shower at 2:30 am. 

Now the state will be responsible for paying the minister's legal bills and wages lost from the days of work he missed according to a law that allows defendants to get paid if a jury finds the they acted in self-defense. 

The incident in question occurred February 6 after Antonio Moore and his boyfriend went out for a night of drinking. When the two men snuck into Derrick Moore's house, he was sleeping, but his wife was awake. She was helping youths from the congregation prepare for a community event the following day. 

Antonio Moore, 21, has a history of drug addiction and other crimes and was banned from the home before February 6 when his 11-year-old brother found a bag of his syringes, his father says. Antonio Moore was allowed to stay there, his father told him, as long as "what he did on the street didn't come into the house." The syringes were the last straw. 

Continue reading »

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Nope! Spokane City Council not planning a $15 minimum wage ordinance

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 11:12 AM

John Ahern, a former Republican state representative, said that Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart has stated that he intends to implement a $15-an-hour minimum wage on the city, not unlike the one being implemented in Seattle.

“Spokane already has an unfriendly business environment and is losing business growth,” said Ahern, who is challenging Stuckart for reelection.

So does Stuckart, or anyone else on the council, have plans in the works for a $15 minimum wage?

“No one is working on it,” says Stuckart. “And I don’t think the $15 minimum wage is appropriate. I believe honestly that $15 is too high for Spokane.”

Last week, Adam McDaniel, Stuckart’s assistant, sent out an email to the six other members of the council and its policy advisor inquiring if they were working on a $15 minimum wage ordinance. He forwarded the Inlander his responses.

“I think Karen’s head would explode if someone’s working on it,” replied Skyler Oberst, legislative assistant to Councilwoman Karen Stratton. “We’ve been fielding calls about this a lot :/”

“To date, no council member or legislative assistant of any council member has asked me to research or draft any kind of minimum wage proposal,” replied Brian McClatchey, the council’s policy advisor.

“Haven’t even looked into it at this point,” wrote Blaine Stum, legislative assistant to Councilman Jon Snyder.

“Ah, no,” replied Councilman Mike Allen.

Legislative assistants for Councilwomen Candace Mumm and Amber Waldref also denied working on it.

The only person who didn’t respond is Councilman Mike Fagan, the council’s arch-conservative. Is he secretly working on a $15 minimum wage ordinance? Is he secretly forming an alliance with Kshama Sawant, Seattle's socialist member of that city's council, who championed the city's $15 minimum wage law? The Inlander decided to investigate after the council meeting wrapped up. 

“What the hell would I be doing with a $15 minimum wage?” scoffed Fagan when asked if he was working on the issue. 
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Who are Spokane's 10 thirstiest water users?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 10:12 AM


With Washington facing a historic drought, the city of Spokane is asking residents to cut back on their use of water. The city gets its water from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie aquifer, and during the heatwave in June it was pumped at record level. The Spokane River relies on water flowing from the aquifer. And because of low snow packs and all this pumping, it’s reached historic lows.

“We [water consumers] believe that it’s inexhaustible,” says John Osborn, a local conservationist who recently launched the H2KNOW campaign that’s also partnered with the city to encourage residents to be more thoughtful in their water use. “People beleive that there is no limit to the amount of water and we have a water rate structure that encourages waste, so is it any surprise that we continue to use more and more water?”

The typical Spokanite uses 20 cubic units of water annually, with every unit being the equivalent to 748 gallons of water, according to city spokesperson Marlene Feist, which pencils out to about 15,000 gallons of water. 

The Inlander decided to look into who are the heaviest residential and institutional users of water in Spokane. The names of residential users are shielded from disclosure under the state’s public records, but the top residential user guzzled 3,110 cubic units of water, or 2,326,280 gallons of water.

Institutions are even thirstier, needing water for lawns, landscaping, employees, patients, saunas and more.

“Each of these institutions needs to take action to review and reduce its water use, and recognize that they have a civic leadership duty in doing so,” says Osborn.

1. The City of Spokane
Water use from July 2014 through July 2015: 129,112,280 gallons

Spokane’s municipal government is asking residents to “Slow the Flow” by not watering lawns during heat of the day, not running the hose needlessly and even undergoing an irrigation audit. Spokane’s municipal government is also its own largest consumer of water. City Spokesperson Feist says the city has multiple water-use accounts. But the one that topped all others was for the city’s wastewater treatment plant, which treats and returns cleaned water to the Spokane River. Cleaning that water, says Feist, requires water.

“It’s just part of the process of managing the wastewater,” she says. “You have to thin it down.”

2. Gonzaga University
Water use from July 2014 through July 2015: 125,970,680 gallons

“We are like a small city,” says Mary Joan Hahn, spokesperson for the university, of the housing, dining and athletic facilities all contained within Spokane’s largest institution of higher education. “So there is just a lot of need for water.”

Hahn says that 2,800 students live on campus in nearly a million square feet of residential facilities. Gonzaga works hard to conserve water, she says, using low-flow sinks and toilets as well as a computer system to manage irrigation. “We’re working hard on decreasing our use of water,” she says. “But we have a big operation.”

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MB: Fire, fire; embattled Airway Heights mayor resigns; female Army Rangers

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 9:44 AM


A mother and daughter are dead after a RV fire in Chattaroy. (KHQ)

For weeks Airway Heights has been calling for its mayor Patrick Rushing to step aside and Monday morning, he did. (KXLY)

Former Shoshone County deputy and school resource officer Shawn Alan Clark was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexual battery that spanned 12 years. (CdA Press)

The Chelan fire has now surpassed 100,000 acres. (Spokesman-Review)


Army Ranger School graduates its first-ever female soldiers later this week. (Washington Post)

A South Snohomish Little League softball team is accused of throwing the World Series. (Seattle Times)

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Neil Young and the Promise of the Real hit the Arena Oct. 2

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 4:02 PM

Hopefully, Neil Young is happier than this to perform in  Spokane this fall.
  • Hopefully, Neil Young is happier than this to perform in Spokane this fall.

Canadian music legend Neil Young continues to rock in the free world, coming to Spokane Arena Oct. 2. Accompanying Young, as part of the Rebel Content Tour, is Lukas Nelson (son of Willie) and his band the Promise of the Real, who played last year’s Gleason Fest.

Young has had a lot of fun this year. He duetted with Jimmy Fallon (who does a damn near perfect impression of him) and taught acting genius Meryl Streep how to play guitar for her role in Ricki and the Flash. But he’s still his old, hippie self. His current album, The Monsanto Years, made with Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real after meeting at a concert last year, is about exactly what you think it is — his lyrics are critical of American companies like Monsanto, Starbucks, Walmart and Chevron.

Fear not, the whole concert won’t be all new material. Young plans to dip into his decades-long catalogue for a show full of acoustic and hard rock tunes. Favorites like "Heart of Gold" and "Unknown Legend" are certain to be there. Tickets go on sale Aug. 21 and are $60 to $125. 

Young was last in Spokane in 2007, playing at the INB Performing Arts Center. His sometimes bandmate Graham Nash was just in town last month. 

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Police militarization critic counters Sheriff Ozzie’s “Myth of Police Militarization” arguments

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 4:00 PM

When you want to talk about police militarization, you talk to Radley Balko. Formerly with the libertarian magazine Reason and the Huffington Post, Balko now blogs about criminal justice at the Washington Post. Before Ferguson thrust police-militarization issues into the national spotlight, Balko published Rise of the Warrior Cop, a book detailing police history in the United States, revealing the use of heavy weaponry, riot gear, armored vehicles like the MRAP and SWAT raids.


Spokane County, like many sheriff’s departments, has obtained a number of military vehicles, weapons and equipment through its “1033” and “1122” programs: Three helicopters, 61 M-16s, two ATVs, 11 AR-15 reflex sights, 10 infrared laser illuminators, pilot helmets, bench seats, night-vision goggles, an FLIR infrared device, seven M-14s (being sent back), a Humvee, an MRAP and 2 APCs. The department has also separately purchased an armored “Bearcat” vehicle.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is a military veteran himself, having served in the United States Army for three years. He was a training officer for the SWAT team. And in a presentation back in June, he called police militarization a "myth" — a central part of this week’s cover story

Knezovich suggests that the region's history of homegrown-terror attacks justify such heavy-duty weapons and equipment.

Last Monday, before our cover story was out, I got a chance to interview Balko, and asked him to address a few of Knezovich’s arguments:

On whether the police have always been militarized

“If the standard for the militarization of police is the use of military weapons and equipment, how long has this so-called militarization been going on?” one slide in Knezovich’s presentation asks.

Knezovich goes on to cite the Winchester Repeating Rifle and the Colt Peacemaker. “I wonder how many people would be telling Wyatt Earp to send his Peacemaker back,” Knezovich says.

He also cites the Thompson Submachine Gun and the Browning Automatic Rifle, used in the 1920s. “Yeah, the Mafia used 'em too,” Knezovich says.

But the way that cops were armed was a bad thing during Prohibition, Balko argues. “That was a problem at the time, not something to recall fondly,” Balko says. (He sees a parallel between Prohibition in the 1920s and the drug war today. Both caused police to be more militarized)

As for the implication that little has changed, Balko’s book provides plenty of stats showing that, statistically, there’s been a dramatic rise in both SWAT raids and SWAT teams in small towns, despite the precipitous plunge in crime since 1995.

Percentage of towns between 25,000 and 50,000 people with a SWAT team in 1984: 25.6 percent . . . in 1990: 52.1 percent

…in 2005: 80 percent

Approximate number of SWAT raids in the United States in 1995: 30,000
. . . in 2001: 45,000
. . . in 2005: 50,000– 60,000

On SWAT raid failure rates

Many of the most horrifying stories from Balko’s book center on raids that go wrong. A SWAT team will come full force, knock down a door, throw in a flashbang, only to find that they’re at the wrong address. In one infamous case they killed the dog of the town’s mayor, after raiding his address incorrectly.

Balko's 2006 white paper at the CATO institute summarized it this way: 

“The use of hyper-militarized, heavily armed police units to carry out routine search warrants has become increasingly common since the 1980s. These raids leave a very small margin for error. A wrong address, bad timing, or bad information can—and frequently does— bring tragedy.”

It’s the information from this paper that makes its way to Knezovich’s presentation.

“These are all botched SWAT raids,” Knezovich says, pulling up a slide of the CATO Institute’s map of botched raids, noting the information went all the way back to 1985. “It took 30 years to put all those dots on those map. I would challenge any business to have a failure rate as good as this, over 30 years.”

But Balko says Knezovich misunderstands the map. It was an attempt to show the breadth of botched raids, including this 2010 incident where the Washington State Patrol shot a pregnant woman during a drug raid in Spokane. But it was in no way an attempt to be comprehensive, or even to be an account of every recorded raid that went wrong. And many times, raids that go wrong aren’t reported. The victims of such raids can often be low-income people, already suspicious of law enforcement and media outlets.

“The vast, vast majority of the people these botched raids happen to don’t report it,” Balko says. “I don’t think we have any sort of grasp on how often that happens.”

On the use of armored vehicles

In his presentation, Knezovich details local 30 years of white supremacist groups using bombs and booby traps to justify the department's use of its MRAP.

While Balko agrees with Knezovich that there may be circumstances where the use of an armored vehicle would be warranted in a mid-to-large-sized city, he objects to how many of the military’s MRAPs have gone to small towns.

“We’re talking towns of 1,500 to 2,000 people,” Balko says. There are places like Post Falls (population 30,000.) The tiny Clearwater County, east of Moscow, Idaho, requested an MRAP “for “drug and marijuana eradication.”

The problem with such military equipment, he says, is that their presence and high maintenance costs creates a pressure to use them often. (Mother Jones outlines that some police forces have used their military-grade armored vehicles to police football games and to raid a no-kill animal shelter illegal raising a baby deer named Giggles.)

On whether true militarization happens if police don’t have or use the equipment they need

“You talk militarization, there it is. Baltimore,” Knezovich says, as he flicks through pictures of National Guard troops in Baltimore and Ferguson. “That’s militarization folks. Those are weaponized. That is a turret… ”

He blames the Baltimore National Guard presence, in part, for the Baltimore’s police officers not being allowed to wear their riot gear. Indeed, an after-action review confirms that the officers weren’t allowed to wear full-riot gear.

But there were many objections to the police response in Baltimore, including the gear the cops did use initially. This report also revealed that “officers were ordered to allow the protesters room to destroy and allow the destruction of property so that the rioters would appear to be the aggressors,” and that “the Baltimore Police Department would not respond until they [the protesters] burned, looted, and destroyed the city so that it would show that the rioters were forcing [its] hand.”

And in Ferguson, the riot gear and heavy equipment came long before any violence. In many cases, Balko says, militarized police equipment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“When police show up in the full riot gear, it tends to escalate tensions,” Balko says. “When you come expecting violence, you get violence."

In many cases, Balko argues that the police, especially those in small towns, don’t need some of the equipment they have. Non-military style equipment, like a bulletproof SUV, can function just as well as an MRAP in most situations, he suggests.

But more than the military style gear itself, Balko worries about the mindset it brings. Military-style weapons tend to foster a military style personality, he says. 

“I think the problem is the training is moving the exact opposite direction it needs to be moving,” Balko says. 

On blaming rhetoric for violence

But Knezovich’s central thesis, beyond simply a defense of police militarization, is to cast blame on some groups of anti-government critics, especially ones who lie or spread false conspiracy theories, for future incidents of violence. The critique is a familiar one: In the days after the Oklahoma City bombing, Bill Clinton cast blame on "the purveyors of hatred and division."

Balko condemns that genre of argument:

I think it’s ridiculous. I think criticizing the government is a pretty cherished and protected [freedom]. If somebody misinterpreted your criticism and it meant an unstable person does something violent, I don’t think the person making tepid non-violent criticism is responsible.

Environmentalists aren’t to blame for the Unabomber. Peaceful pro-life activists aren’t responsible for abortion clinic bombings. It’s a cheap way of shunting your critics to the fringes and lumping them in with violent people.

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