Monday, March 13, 2017

CONCERT ANNOUNCEMENT: Paul Simon is playing Spokane Arena in June

Posted By on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 10:12 AM


Here's a big name to cross off your Spokane concert bucket list: Legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon is set to perform at the Spokane Arena on June 23.

Since scoring his first hits with Art Garfunkel in the mid-’60s, Simon has written and produced dozens of classic songs as a solo artist, including the Top 10 singles "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," "Kodachrome" and "Mother and Child Reunion." He's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he's won a slew of Grammys, including two lifetime achievement awards.

Simon's most recent album, 2016's Stranger to Stranger, earned the artist some of the best reviews of his long solo career; in a four-star review, Rolling Stone wrote that the record "draws together nearly all of the man's accrued vernacular with seeming effortlessness."

Tickets for Simon's Spokane show start at $65, and they go on sale through TicketsWest at 10 am on Fri, March 17.
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Almost nobody uses Spokane Public Schools safety tip line, so district is "rebranding" it

Posted By on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 9:40 AM

If you're a student in Spokane Public Schools, there's a good chance you had no idea that the district had a safety tip line you could call to report crimes or bullying anonymously.

That should change soon, says Mark Sterk, Spokane Public Schools director of safety, risk management and transportation.

"It's not new, but what I've found is that it's not being used," Sterk says. "I think the reason is that we haven't kept it out in front of the kids and the staff."

In fact, Sterk says no students called and used the tip line this school year at all. The only calls have been from police officers who use the safety tip line to report when they responded to a call, like a domestic violence incident at a home that may have left a kid traumatized. That information can then be shared with counselors and campus resource officers.

Sterk says the district is "rebranding" and "restarting" the help line (509-354-5934). It used to be checked only from 8 am to 5 pm, but now campus safety staff monitor the line 24/7. It was originally designed so students could leave anonymous tips, if someone felt they were being bullied, or if someone was going to be hurt.

Sterk says part of his goal is for more people to use the help line so campus safety staff can be more aware of such incidents.

"It's an avenue to get that information more quickly," Sterk says.

He says the district is going to create artwork, posters and brochures to make students more aware of the help line. Eventually,  Sterk says he would like to allow students to text the number, and he wants to set up an email system so they can anonymously report incidents.
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Shattering stereotypes; GOP health plan's big test; and morning headlines

Posted By on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 9:08 AM


click image Artist Cori Dantini has raised over $5,000 for Planned Parenthood and over $1,000 for the American Civil Liberties Union through the sale of T-shirts with her design, above. - CORI DANTINI
  • Artist Cori Dantini has raised over $5,000 for Planned Parenthood and over $1,000 for the American Civil Liberties Union through the sale of T-shirts with her design, above.

WHAT'S UP: Whether you're a big fan o' Irish culture, a music lover, or a math nerd/pie enthusiast, this is a week to celebrate: Local Pavlov and Dry and Dusty are dropping albums, check out an array of pie- and Pi-themed (3.14) activities on Tuesday (3/14), don't miss a St. Paddy's Day Pub Crawl after a Gaelic-themed show on Friday, and more!

FOR FUN!: You may see "pussy hat" beanies less often as the weather finally warms up, but a Pullman artist's "cat power" T-shirt design is gaining ground and raising thousands for national and local nonprofits.

LAST WORD: "Girls can't do math," "girls aren't engineers..." — No, says Grace Kim, a Spokane Valley high school student who wants to shatter gender stereotypes on her journey to space.


Dismiss and displace
Republicans are going to great pains to downplay the Congressional Budget Office's upcoming analysis that will likely conclude that many more Americans will be uninsured under the proposed "repeal and replace" health care plan than under Obamacare.

Read more about what exactly is in the proposed bill, and the five numbers to look for in the CBO's analysis this week. (New York Times, CNN)

That'll be all, thanks 
click image Preet Bharara was asked to step down along with 45 other United States attorneys, and said he was fired on Saturday after refusing to do so. - BRYAN R. SMITH/NEW YORK TIMES
  • Preet Bharara was asked to step down along with 45 other United States attorneys, and said he was fired on Saturday after refusing to do so.

The Trump administration ordered 46 Obama-era prosecutors to resign on Friday in a surprise sweep
. While it's not unusual to clean house like this, the New York Times reports that the decision seemed to follow a Fox News segment in which Sean Hannity said Trump needed to "purge" these potential info leakers and "saboteurs" from the "deep state." (New York Times)

Beyond "bad hombres"
One Pasco couple built a strong business and a close family despite their immigration status; now, they worry about what's next. (Spokesman-Review)

All together now
Maryland will join several states in the Washington state lawsuit targeting Trump's travel ban (both the old and new version) on people from several predominantly Muslim countries, contending that it's unconstitutional. (Spokesman-Review)

Have a great week!
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Sunday, March 12, 2017

THIS WEEK: Local album releases, Pi Day, St. Paddy's for real and more

Posted By on Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Locals Dry and Dusty host an album-release show on Wednesday.
  • Locals Dry and Dusty host an album-release show on Wednesday.

A world of opportunities are out there awaiting your entertainment dollar, and you can find them in our event listings and staff picks. Here are some highlights of the week ahead:

Monday, March 13

FOOD & DRINK | Step up your brunch game in time for spring and Easter, Mother's Day and graduation season with the March Baking Class: Best Brunch at Batch Bakeshop.

Tuesday, March 14

LIVE MUSIC | Local Pavlov hosts a release party for their new cassette at The Observatory, where they'll play along with Toner and Smiley. Stay tuned for word on the 8-track release.

COMMUNITY | It's Pi Day (3/14, get it?) and among the many celebrations around town, Spark Central seems to have the widest array of activities for you 3.14 freaks.

Wednesday, March 15

BENEFIT | Ferris High's annual fundraiser Ham on Regal comedy show starts its push through the weekend tonight with a lot of laughs revolving around the theme "When Pigs Fly."

LIVE BANDS | Dry and Dusty are hosting an album release show at The Observatory, delivering some rootsy tunes along with Jenny Anne Mannan and Ripe Mangoes.

Continue reading »

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pullman artist's "cat power" design raises thousands for national, local nonprofits

Posted By on Sat, Mar 11, 2017 at 5:46 PM

After separate campaigns featuring this design to support Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, artist Cori Dantini is raising money for a local group. - CORI DANTINI
  • Cori Dantini
  • After separate campaigns featuring this design to support Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, artist Cori Dantini is raising money for a local group.

As the weather gets warmer with the arrival (finally!) of spring, opportunities to comfortably wear those pink, cat-ear beanies are going to become fewer for supporters of the Trump-era women's movement.

But thanks to a project by local artist Cori Dantini, feminists of all stripes can spread their message of support in the form of a tasteful T-shirt design by the Pullman artist, who's selling them via the online fundraiser platform Booster to raise money for national and local social-service nonprofits.

Dantini's T-shirt design came from this art she made for a Women's March sign.
  • Dantini's T-shirt design came from this art she made for a Women's March sign.
Dantini launched her first "cat POWER" campaign in late January, selling T-shirts with an original design she first doodled on a sign she carried in that month's Women's March. People loved her stylized drawing of a striped cat wearing a pink "pussy hat" pulled down over its eyes like a ski-mask, and with the word "power" emblazoned across its furry chest.

"People said they would wear it on a T-shirt, and I was like 'OK, I'm going to see what I can sort out,'" Dantini says.

Booster made the process easy for the busy artist, handling the product procurement, printing, shipping and payout to her chosen benefactor,  Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Supporters were able to choose from a variety of shirt colors and styles for men and women. By the campaign's end, more than 360 shirts sold, raising a total of $5,640.

Continue reading »

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Party in Sandpoint on Saturday to raise money for oil valve turners' legal defense

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 3:29 PM

North Idaho activists will be raising money for the legal defense of five "valve turners," who last October closed emergency shut-off valves at five major pipelines that transport Canadian crude oil to the U.S.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide will host a party at noon Saturday, March 11, in the upstairs room at Eichardt's Pub, 212 Cedar Street, in Sandpoint. All ages are welcome to the free event, with a suggested donation of $10.

They hope to help raise $50,000 to help pay for legal costs for the five activists who shut off pipelines carrying tar sands oil from Canada to Washington, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.

The people who turned the valves, as well as people who were there to document what they did, face felony and misdemeanor charges, and could face years or decades in prison.

Ken Ward, the activist who turned the shutoff on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline near Burlington, Washington, already went to trial, but a hung jury didn't reach a verdict, so he will have a retrial, expected to start in May. He's facing charges of felony burglary and criminal sabotage, as well as another felony for possession of a controlled substance, the Skagit Valley Herald reports.

Continue reading »

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New skywalks, lots of SWAT and more morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 9:45 AM

Spokane County prosecutor Larry Haskell's strict rules for prosecutors can sometimes backfire - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • Spokane County prosecutor Larry Haskell's strict rules for prosecutors can sometimes backfire


How Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell's sentencing standard intended to be tough-on-crime resulted in an accused car thief going free

The downside is it requires exercise.
High-intensity interval exercise might (might!) be able to slow down aging.

Scaling down the cliff
The Levy Cliff, intended to decrease the amount of levy capacity once the legislature fully funded schools, has been put on hold.


The sultans of SWAT
Even though violent crime remains low, the Spokane Police Department is using SWAT a lot more often.  (Spokesman-Review)

You can skytalk the skytalk, but can you skywalk the skywalk?
The city approves a new skywalk for Macy's. (Spokesman-Review)

Great Again
The new jobs report is out, and it's grrrrreeeat! (Though it's not really fair to credit Trump this early.) (New York Times)

Park Shut Down

South Korea's president Park Geun-hye has been impeached. (Washington Post)
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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bill to delay school budget shortfall — or 'levy cliff' — heads to Gov. Inslee's desk

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 4:54 PM


The "levy cliff" that threatened to slash school district budgets across Washington state will be delayed with Gov. Jay Inslee's signature, after the state House and Senate pushed a bill through that prevented an automatic drop in property tax levies.

School districts get money in state and federal funding, called their "levy base." Most school districts in Washington can collect up to 28 percent of their levy base through local property taxes, but that percentage was supposed to drop to 24 percent next year.

On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled state Senate voted 48-1 to pass a delay of the drop — known as a levy cliff — and today the House passed it with a vote of 87-10.  The bill now goes to Inslee, who is expected to sign it.

As the legislature tries to figure out how to meet it's court-mandated McCleary obligation to fund education, this gives schools some assurance that they will not see a dramatic dip in their budgets, estimated at $500 million for districts, the Seattle Times has reported.

Continue reading »

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Throwing away money, exercise to stop aging (really!) and sore-throat advice

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 4:29 PM

Hospitals throw away tons of perfectly good, expensive and unused supplies every year, a new study finds.
  • Hospitals throw away tons of perfectly good, expensive and unused supplies every year, a new study finds.

Why is U.S. health care so expensive?

Maybe it's partly because we waste so much. “In 2012 the National Academy of Medicine estimated the U.S. health care system squandered $765 billion a year, more than the entire budget of the Defense Department…The annual waste, the report estimated, could have paid for the insurance coverage of 150 million American workers — both the employer and employee contributions.”

That’s part of a new report by ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom, which has launched an investigative series into the ways resources are squandered in our health care system. First up, an examination of the way hospitals wantonly discard tons of perfectly good, unused, and often expensive, supplies.

ProPublica also wants your help. If you work in health care, have you observed ways the system wastes money? Here’s your chance to speak out.

Fountain of Youth?
Want to stay younger, longer? Then get moving. A small but interesting new study is the first to show that exercise directly affects the powerhouses of our cells, the mitochondria. With aging, mitochondria begin to slow down. But with high-intensity interval training, research subjects under 30 years of age were able to increase their mitochondrial capacity by 49 percent. The oldsters (60 and over) had even more dramatic results, increasing mitochondrial capacity by 69 percent, effectively reversing age-related decline. High intensity interval training produced greater changes than strength training alone, or a combination of interval and strength training. "There are substantial basic science data to support the idea that exercise is critically important to prevent or delay aging. There's no substitute for that,” says one of the researchers.

Sore Throat?
A side-effect of our never-ending winter is plethora of sore throats, runny noses and coughs. InHealth’s Dr. Matt Thompson tackles the issue of when, and why, to treat a sore throat.
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Backfired! How Spokane's get-tough policies let an accused thief off the hook

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 1:48 PM

Last year, when Quinton Goolsbey was arrested for sitting in a stolen car, he found himself the target of Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell's harsh 9+ policy.

Haskell touts his policy as a hard line against repeat or "chronic offenders" who continually victimize people in Spokane. Generally, the policy says that for people with nine or more felonies to their name, prosecutors cannot agree to plea deals except in cases where the state's evidence is weak. In turn, the accused are told to plead guilty, or take it to trial and let a jury decide. But in this case, it backfired.
Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell

"This case could have easily been negotiated, and would have resulted in a sentence that was appropriate, if prosecutors had any ability to negotiate their own cases," Goolsbey's public defender, Jocelyn Cook, says. "And they don't."

Haskell defends his policy in this case, saying it's up to a deputy prosecutor to weigh the evidence and decide if they have enough to prove a crime. The deputy prosecutor in Goolsbey's case felt he had enough to move forward, Haskell says: "You can't blame the policy for that."

The judge disagreed and dismissed the case halfway through the trial. Had prosecutors accepted a plea deal, Goolsbey might have ended up behind bars. Instead, in the prosecutor's zeal to pursue the longest sentence possible, the case was dismissed and Goolsbey was released.

Here's what happened:

Goolsbey was charged with possession of a stolen car and stolen property. For him to be found guilty of those crimes, prosecutors needed to prove that Goolsbey knew the car was stolen.

Before the case went to trial, Cook suggested an out-of-court deal: Goolsbey would plead guilty to a lesser felony offense, in effect giving him a lighter sentence. Pleading guilty to that lesser offense would have violated the terms of Goolsbey's court-ordered community custody and drug treatment stemming from a previous charge. He would have ended up serving prison time.

Instead, the prosecutor rejected the deal, despite problems with the state's evidence, Cook says. Namely, the stolen car allegedly in Goolsbey's possession no longer existed. The owner sent it to a salvage yard when he got it back. Additionally, Cook says, prosecutors did not present enough evidence to show Goolsbey knew the car was stolen.

It's cases like these that have defense attorneys wondering why so much time and resources are being dedicated to them based on an offender's felony score. Goolsbey, for example, is not necessarily a "chronic offender" in the traditional sense. The five felonies he's committed and the length of time he's been committing them pales in comparison to other offenders with 30, 40 or 50 felony convictions.

His history only dates back to 2015, and includes car theft crimes that add multiple points per charge. Stealing a car, for example, is worth three points toward an offender's score, not one.

In that way, looking at offenders strictly as numbers on a page, rather than the individual circumstances of each case, is misguided, defense attorneys say.

"We go to trial on [drug] cases for people who are homeless and have meth in their pockets," Cook says. "They're going away for years. The policy gets people convicted, but for what? The jail should be full of people who actually hurt people."
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