Thursday, July 28, 2016

Straub report cites at least 25 times that city officials were alerted to the chief's concerning behavior

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 6:35 PM

Time after time, Cappel's report reveals, police department employees raised concerns about former Spokane police Chief Frank Straub.
  • Time after time, Cappel's report reveals, police department employees raised concerns about former Spokane police Chief Frank Straub.

The Condon administration can't say it wasn't told. 

Since at least the fall of 2013, questions have loomed around City Hall about police Chief Frank Straub. 

Was Straub a loose cannon who got results? The sort of leader who generated complaints, self-demotions and frustration purely because of his willingness to take, in his words, "decisive leadership and definitive action in a ‘hostile environment'" in order to "break the ‘strangle hold’ these officers had on the department?"

Or was he a destructive boss who, as a newly released investigative report indicates, was abrasive, unprofessional, and verbally abusive, volatile, threatening, demeaning, profane, vulgar? Was he the guy who, as the report concludes, "managed by fear and intimidation," "created a hostile work environment in violation of the City’s general harassment policies" and wielded personnel moves as a weapon to punish employees who crossed him? 

Before his forced resignation, the report by investigator Kris Cappel reveals, the city never conducted a full-scale investigation into that issue. Yet, the Cappel report outlines time and time again when police department employees alerted Condon administration officials — including city attorneys and the Human Resources director — to red flags about Straub's behavior. City Councilman Ben Stuckart said three different employees brought concerns to him. By April of 2015, the mayor, the city administrator, and the chief financial officer had also been told directly about serious concerns about Straub.

Here's Cappel: 
As early as the fall of 2013, the Administration and members of the City Attorney’s office were generally aware that Chief Straub had an explosive temper, that he sometimes mistreated his staff, and that he had an unprofessional management style.

It does not appear, however, that the Condon Administration or the lawyers knew about or fully appreciated the depth and breadth of the SPD’s concerns about Chief Straub’s leadership until the meetings with the Association and the executive team in September 2015. 
Many of these concerns the police department raised echoed complaints that had been made in his previous job in Indianapolis, which he left facing a vote of no confidence. Yet, even as Straub created chaos within the department, sparking self-demotions and transfers, the Cappel report portrays the Condon administration as incurious about why. 

When Assistant Chief Craig Meidl took a three-step demotion in February 2014, "no one from the Condon Administration asked him why he was stepping down" Cappel writes. 

And after Brad Arleth was demoted, Cappel says, the city put out a press release saying it was "mutually agreed-upon under the department’s reorganization." Arleth told Cappel that was false — it was forced. He sent an email to city spokesman Brian Coddington explaining it was false, Arleth told Cappel, but never got a reply back. (In a bit of symmetry, Condon later also referred to Straub's resignation — signed under threat of termination — as a mutual decision.)

The closest the city got to a broad formal investigation into Straub was limited to one incident — a profanity-laced blowup on March 31, 2015. That one was conducted by city attorneys, not human resources. No notes were taken, a major witness was not interviewed, and the inquiry was limited to just that incident — not Straub's overall behavior. 

Contrast that with the extensive whistleblower investigation conducted, around the same time period, into the actions of the volunteers on the ombudsman commission

In a short interview in September, Straub dismissed the criticism against him as the natural byproduct of change.

"I was told to change things and change them quickly, and sometime that's a very difficult and unsettling process," Straub says. "I can't help that people find that difficult."

After all, during his tenure, violent crime and use-of-force incidents decreased. And he embraced a lot of the reforms being recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Use of Force Commission. But the Use of Force Commission handed the choice of whether to conduct a cultural audit of the police department to the very man an audit of the department's culture might have exposed. 

"We take Chief Straub at his word on this and defer to his judgment," the Commission stated. The audit, unsurprisingly, didn't happen

Here, we've attempted to tally the incidents Cappel has identified where city officials outside of the police department were alerted to concerns about Straub's actions. Often, they were told the city was aware of the issue, but did not witness any apparent actions taken. 

2013

1. Sometime in 2013: Police Officer Sean Nemec complains to HR about how Straub was conducting his lieutenant promotions. He told Cappel he believed he was retaliated against as a result. 
The day after Nemec went to HR, he was called into Straub’s office. Mr. Nemec reported that Chief Straub “laid into” him. He was “red hot” and gave Nemec a “butt chewing.” Mr. Nemec said that the Chief went on and on about making a complaint about the promotions, crying to people, and making a fool out of himself. Straub told Mr. Nemec he was a “despicable excuse for a sergeant.” Straub also said if he ever caught Mr. Nemec opening his mouth about the promotion again, he would have “his ass.”

Straub immediately transferred Mr. Nemec from his burglary assignment to swing shift patrol. Nemec said he was the third most senior sergeant at the time, and he felt the move was retaliatory. 

2. Spring of 2013: Lt. Dave McCabe, president of the Lieutenants & Captains Association, brings up his concerns about Straub with City Council President Ben Stuckart. 

 “We wanted to make sure that people in the upper levels of City Hall knew what they had gotten with Chief Straub,” McCabe said.  

"He didn't go into 'hostile work environment,'" Stuckart says today. "He just said there were numerous demotions. We brought it up in a Public Safety [Committee meeting.]" 

Stuckart says Straub was defensive, and pushed back, arguing the backlash was a natural consequence of change. Stuckart told Cappel that Lt. Joe Walker and Analyst Ben Krauss also approached him to share concerns about favoritism and the toxic impact of the department's restructuring. 

Stuckart says former city councilman Mike Allen passed along some of these concerns with city administrator Theresa Sanders. 

3. Fall of 2013: 
Assistant City Attorney Mary Muramatsu witnesses Straub ream Capt. Keith Cummings about his Compstat presentation.  

After that CompStat meeting, Cappel writes "Ms. Muramatsu came to Cummings and said, 'I think what happened to you was absolutely ridiculous,'” and she indicated that she was going to talk to somebody about it.

4. November: Muramatsu, according to former Director of Business Services Carly Cortright, indicated she was alarmed at how Straub was treating female employees in the department. 

2014

5. Sometime in 2014: Capt. Dan Torok brings up his concerns with Straub's behavior with City Attorney Nancy Isserlis. He says he might have mentioned to Isserlis that he saw Cotton wearing the chief’s police jacket during the 2013 or 2014 Bloomsday Race, which he thought was pretty weird. 

"I think I referred to that when I'm talking to Nancy," Torok told Cappel. "It looks like [Cotton's] wearing his letterman's coat, you know what I mean?"

6. Sometime in 2014: 
At informal, after-hours dinners, Cortright tells HR Director Heather Lowe and Assistant City Attorney Erin Jacobson about Straub's abusive management style. 

"Heather was aware of some of the treatment," she told Cappel. "The belittling. The … getting upset with me about when I would tell him 'No.'"

Lowe confirmed to Cappel that she knew about this. 

"She was aware from several sources, including her husband, that many people tried to keep their heads down to stay off of Chief Straub’s radar, and intentionally tried to work in locations away from Chief Straub, saying there is a 'feeling of protection to know we’re arm’s length away,'" Cappel wrote. "Ms. Lowe had no recollection of ever having referred any issues to other City staff regarding Chief Straub."

7. Jan. 9: 
Lt. Joe Walker tells Assistant City Attorney Erin Jacobson about a meeting where Straub abusively reamed Walker in front of his peers, after Walker announced his self-demotion.

According to Cappel, Straub made the following statements during that meeting.
• Walker was a quitter and the Mayor and Ms. Sanders had no respect for him. 
• Walker had “shit himself” by self-demoting.
• The Mayor did not have any balls to be a leader.
• The Mayor expects his cabinet to be “balls to the walls.”
• The Mayor didn’t give two shits about families and divorces.
• Theresa Sanders didn’t need her job because she is a Microsoft millionaire.
• Straub wanted to “choke” that “f—-ing fat as*,” referring to Capt. Cummings.
8. Jan. 15: In a meeting that included Capt. Brad Torok, then-Capt. Rick Dobrow and Jacobson, Walker describes Straub's abusive behavior to HR Director Heather Lowe. Walker says he never received any followup from the meeting. Lowe says she had to talk Straub out of taking disciplinary action without cause against Walker. 

9. Feb. 28: Lt. Joe Walker shares his concerns about a possible inappropriate relationship between Cotton and Straub with Civil Services Commission Chief Examiner Gita-George Hatcher. He also expressed concerns about retaliation for making a complaint about Cotton, and his frustrations with Straub. 

10. March 17: HR Director Heather Lowe meets with Lt. Joe Walker over coffee. Walker says he shared his concerns about retaliation and tells Lowe about Straub's "I love you" text message to Cotton. Lowe told him she'd look into it. 

Lowe says she had no recollection of meeting Walker for coffee — despite an email proving the meeting happened —and does not remember him mentioning the "I love you" text.

"It does not appear that anyone in the Mayor’s Administration undertook any effort to
address the persistent rumors of a romantic relationship between Chief Straub and
Ms. Cotton or to investigate the facts and circumstances of the [I love you] texts until after
Ms. Cotton asserted her sexual harassment allegations in April 2015," Cappel writes. 

11. April 28: Walker tells Erin Jacobson about Straub's “bullying and harassment,” and says Jacobson assured him City Hall was aware of the issues. 

12. May 15: At a labor management meeting McCabe brings up concerns that Straub was retaliating against the association because of a complaint the association leveled against Cotton.

13. July: 
Walker tells Muramatsu about his concerns about Straub's intention in creating the Civil Enforcement Unit and using seizure funds. She assures him that she's keeping City Attorney Nancy Isserlis up to date. 

14. Summer or Fall:
 McCabe participates in a meeting with Walker and Jacobson where they discuss their concerns about Straub. 

"We made sure Erin knew all the goofy stuff that was going around the department, all the several personnel changes, the chief’s behavior, and the way that he spoke to people," McCabe says. 

15. November: Walker files a whistleblower complaint about the use of the civil forfeiture funds. He tells Erin Jacobson about the "I love you" text. Jacobson, according to Walker, told him that her higher-ups knew about the concerns about Straub. 

2015

16. March 31: 
Capt. Olsen calls Jacobson to let her know about Straub's massive, profane blowup in a meeting discussing the use of overtime. 

17. Sometime soon after March 31: 
Director of Strategic Initiatives Tim Schwering tells Mary Muramatsu about Straub's blow up and suggests that it could rise to an Equal Employment Opportunity issue. 

18. Sometime soon after March 31: Schwering meets with Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley and informs him about the Straub blowup.

"I think Gavin probably put it the best," he told Cappel. "'Frank’s an asshole but he’s our asshole.' ... I don’t think they quite realized it was at that level that it was."

20. Sometime after March 31: Deputy Director of Strategic Initiatives Sarah Lynds meets with Theresa Sanders and Schwering, and they describe Straub's "bullying" and "retaliation."

Sanders told Cappel she first learned of the March 31 incident from Schwering. Before that, she says, she hadn't heard of anything similar. 

"Frank’s a difficult personality, and he’s a demanding person," she told Cappel. "So I had never prior to that incident heard of him just unleashing on staff like that."

21. April 3 (or possibly April 10)Cotton shares her sexual harassment complaint with Condon in a closed-door meeting in her attorney's office. She asks him not to investigate the sexual harassment.

Condon knew Straub had a temper, but this was the first time he'd heard of informal bullying or harassment claims, he told Cappel. 

"Mayor Condon said he was not aware that any City employee had ever raised claims of
harassment, retaliation, or bullying against Chief Straub, formally or informally, before
he met with Ms. Cotton," Cappel wrote. 

22. April 13: 
Cotton elaborates on her sexual harassment claims on a phone call with Sanders, but Sanders does not ask for any details. 

From April 14-16 the city attorney's office conducts a short investigation into the March 31 incident. They do not take notes, nor ask for copies of notes for their records. They do not interview Monique Cotton, despite her willingness to discuss the issue in this context. Straub, according to Condon, is asked in general terms about the sexual harassment incident. But otherwise, the investigation is confined strictly to the March 31 meeting, to Cotton's surprise. 

"We were unable to determine with any certainty whose decision it was to limit the inquiry to the March 31st incident," Cappel writes. 

23. April 21: 
In a meeting with Condon and Sanders, Straub admits to having previously had a flirtatious relationship with Cotton. 

"He indicated that he had a mutual flirtation with Monique that had ended quite a long time ago," Sanders told Cappel. He denied a sexual relationship. He also admits his March 31 blowup was extremely inappropriate. He offers to write an apology, but Sanders tells him that she doesn't believe in forced apologies.

Sanders told Cappel that she didn't consider the meeting to be disciplinary and there was no thought to terminating him.

24. Sept 8: 
The Lieutenants & Captains Association share their concerns about Straub with Sanders and the mayor. 

"One thing that the membership all agreed on was that Chief Straub was perceived to be an abusive leader who had lost the trust and respect of his senior command staff," Cappel writes. 

They agreed the relationship was not salvageable. 

25. Sept. 10: The police department's executive team meets with the mayor, and shares many of the same complaints about Straub. 

26. Sept. 18
: Tim Schwering hand-delivers two letters, from the Lieutenants & Captains Association and Straub's executive team. These letters sparked Condon's decision to ask for Straub's resignation. 
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Spokane chef advances to final round of vegan cooking competition

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Atania Gilmore, owner of Allie's Vegan Pizzeria, poses with one of her restaurant's signature pies. - MEGHAN KIRK
  • Meghan Kirk
  • Atania Gilmore, owner of Allie's Vegan Pizzeria, poses with one of her restaurant's signature pies.

Chef Pavel Nosov, the head chef at locally owned, much-lauded Allie's Vegan Pizzeria & Cafe, recently emerged as a finalist in Round 1 of Vegan FoodService's Vegan Chef Competition. 

Vegan FoodService is a California-based organization that works to connect vegan restaurants with sources for ingredients. In hosting this competition, the organization hopes to "provide innovative chefs a platform to shine with a personal twist on health and taste," as per its website. 

In the first round, participating chefs had to prepare a 
Head Chef Nosov will compete in Round 2 of the competition early this month.
  • Head Chef Nosov will compete in Round 2 of the competition early this month.
dish with ingredients requested from Vegan FoodService. Their resulting recipes were sent into the organization for judging in a variety of categories by a panel of three professional chefs.

Nosov advanced to the second and final round of the competition, along with four other vegan-food chefs, who were chosen from an entrant pool of 100. Three of the first-round victors hail from California, and one from Oregon. Nosov is the only Washington-based chef to advance to Round 2. 

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How to make sure you're not missing Facebook page's posts, including the Inlander's

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 3:30 PM

screen_shot_2016-07-28_at_2.51.20_pm.png

So Facebook went and changed its News Feed algorithm again, and depending on how you use the social media giant to augment your daily interactions, this is either a good thing, or a bad thing.

For media outlets like us, it's a bad thing. The recent round of News Feed changes were implemented about a month ago to prioritize posts by your network of family and friends over the posts of non-human entities you follow, namely pages of businesses and other organizations that also have a Facebook presence. According to Facebook, this change is one that's long been asked for by a large percentage of its more than 1.6 billion users.

However, let's not forget that these days, the majority of U.S. adults — 62 percent — are getting their daily stream of news through social media, with 44 percent of them accessing that news via Facebook. So yeah, news outlets like the Inlander rely a lot on the social media behemoth to disseminate our content. It's the main place where users go to not only connect with friends and family, but to see what's going on in their world, locally or elsewhere. And of all the major social media outlets out there, Facebook is far and away the biggest driver to Inlander content, too. 

Without turning this post in a woeful lament of what an unfortunate change this is when it comes to getting you, dear readers, to actually click and read the stories our staff so diligently toil to produce, let's focus on how you can make sure you're not missing the Facebook page content you really want to be seeing in your feed. (To be clear, we have already seen a noticeable decrease in how many followers are seeing our posts, stories from the print edition and new web content which we share on Facebook each day.)

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Counteracting desk time, new energy drinks and farming at home

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 12:44 PM

standing-desks-are-better-for-your-life-than-sitting-desks.jpg

Win-Win
It’s no secret that sitting around staring at a screen is not what your body is all about. Still, you have to make a living. And that often means long hours at a desk, or in a car. A new study offers hope: just an hour of physical activity a day eliminated the risks from sitting around for 8 hours. Don’t have time for a trip to the gym to while away an hour on the treadmill? Consider burning calories doing household chores instead! It’s a win-win. In just an hour your abode is spotless, your workout complete, your life prolonged. 

Drink up
You won’t need a powerful drink developed by the Army if your workout consists of mowing the lawn. But for long-distance athletes, and soldiers deployed in battle, a new ketone-based concoction seems to hold surprising benefits. The beverage circumvents the body’s normal glycogen-burning/lactate build up process by substituting ketones for fuel. High-level athletes who drank it not only had less lactate build-up (which causes muscle soreness), but also went an average of 400 meters farther in a 30-minute bicycling test than test subjects consuming other sports drinks. Researchers say the drink “challenges our fundamental understanding of human physiology.” It’s expected to be on the market within the year. 

Become an urban farmer
Ever wish you could transform a useless patch of lawn into a brimming cornucopia of summer produce? Or maybe you’d like to gather fresh eggs for breakfast right from your own backyard? Help is at hand. The Spokane Conservation District has received a $47,000 grant aimed at encouraging local farming and conservation efforts, particularly in areas of the city with poor access to fresh foods. Look forward to a tour in September to view urban market gardens and composting, as well as urban livestock and forest management. There will also be workshops and technical assistance available for those who want to give urban farming a try. For more information contact Pat Munts the Small Farms Coordinator at the Spokane Conservation District, 509-535-7274 ext. 231.
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Spokane Valley City Council is finally whole again

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 11:50 AM

spokane-valley-logo-graphic_1_.png

It's been three months since all the seats on Spokane Valley City Council were occupied. 

First, Dean Grafos resigned. He had deep frustrations with the four-person council majority, who he called "so driven by their ideology that it's like talking to a brick wall." Shortly after, Chuck Hafner resigned, citing similar frustration. Then, Bill Bates resigned due to health issues, and Bill Gothmann's time filling in for him expired. 

But after choosing two replacements weeks ago, Spokane Valley finally has a full council again after appointing Michael Munch to fill the seat on Tuesday.

Munch is the president of Able Construction. He was treasurer of Stevens County Republican Party from 2012 until 2014. He says he's from the area, but has only been a resident of the Valley for a year and a half.

He threw his name in the hat for the City Council position because he feels its "part of our duty" as citizens to serve for local government "when and if we're able to." For Munch, that time is now, when he'll soon no longer have to work out of town as much. 

As for his goals while serving on council, he says he wants to "continue to make government more friendly towards businesses and the citizens." He says funding needed road maintenance without raising taxes will be one of the first challenges the council will face. 

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WA attorney general fires back at states challenging federal transgender guidelines

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 10:30 AM

transbathroom.jpg


Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is messing with Texas (and Idaho and some other states).


On Wednesday, Ferguson filed a brief on behalf of Washington, in addition to 11 other states and the District of Columbia, that supports a federal guideline intended to ensure the civil rights of transgender students. The brief also takes aim at states challenging the protections in federal court.


“While Plaintiffs’ claimed harms are hypothetical, the discrimination suffered by transgender individuals is all too real,” reads the brief. “Such discrimination harms transgender individuals at work, at school, and in public, causing tangible economic, emotional, and health consequences.”


The sweeping set of guidelines, introduced last spring, directs schools to treat transgender students in a way that’s consistent with their gender identity. The guidelines cover everything from using a student’s preferred pronoun to addressing harassment. They also cover more contentious areas, calling on schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. Districts that didn’t comply risked losing federal funds.


The guidelines swiftly triggered a lawsuit from 11 states, led by the attorney general of Texas that later drew support from Idaho, that argued the they would transform “workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”

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Straub investigator calls shenanigans on City Attorney's office, Obama goes Reagan, and other big headlines

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 9:21 AM

By speaking with the Straub investigator on Tuesday, Laura McAloon has imperiled her future as City Attorney. - COURTESY OF WORKLAND & WITHERSPOON
  • Courtesy of Workland & Witherspoon
  • By speaking with the Straub investigator on Tuesday, Laura McAloon has imperiled her future as City Attorney.

ON INLANDER.COM
 
Cut my life into pieces: This is the Straub report
Kris Cappel finally comes out with her long-anticipated report: And it's 126 pages, packed with huge revelations. In particular, about Theresa Sanders, Frank Straub, and the city attorney's office. It makes for some pretty Cappel-ing reading. 

Windoe pangs
Do you like music? Weird. We prefer podcasts about finance. But whatever floats your boat. Here are some songs from some of Spokane's hippest bands.

Coffee Run 
Check out these badass out-of-the-way coffee shops.  

HERE

Trust rebuilt, then shattered 

Three days ago, Ben Stuckart praised Laura McAloon in The Inlander, calling her a great attorney. Now, believing she inappropriately interfered with the Straub investigator's report, he's furious at her and says he won't vote for her for city attorney.  To the Inlander, McAloon denies she did anything of the sort. [Spokesman-Review]

The cops are coming!

The Sheriff's office and the Spokane Police Department have added much-needed cops. [Spokesman-Review]

Warded Away
 Jeff Ward and Lora Gervais, the two leaders of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, resign, because they can't stomach Trump.  [CDA Press]

THERE

But is America ready for a black president?
Barack Obama gives a Reagan-esque speech that tells Republicans, Dude, I know you. We don't always like each other, but Trump — he's not you. [New York Times]

The pen can certainly be a dangerous weapon, in the right hands
 
A Washington Post reporter is barred from a Mike Pence rally — and patted down. [Washington Post]

Maybe they need to symbolize some sort of 'reset' on their relationship?

Why Trump-loving Putin doesn't care for Clinton. Hint: It's not that they find her laugh grating. [Washington Post]
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fresh Spokane music from Windoe, Lavoy, Crystalline and many more just in time for summer

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 4:06 PM

Windoe, through a cloud of mist.
  • Windoe, through a cloud of mist.

If you're ready for a bunch of brand new tracks this summer, look no further than these local bands' new tunes. Below you'll find links to mostly singles and EPs — apparently full albums aren't as cool right now — and among the bunch you're bound to find something to make your spirits sing. 

WINDOE
"Seat At York Table"
Karli Ingersoll (of the Bartlett, Cathedral Pearls, Prairie War and Super Sparkle fame) is always working on something new, and with her solo project Windoe's newest single, released just last week, she taps into the the dreamiest guitar heaven to pull out an upbeat yet pretty sad song. You can hear Windoe perform Wednesday night in Kendall Yards at the Rock the Nest concert series.

FOLKINCEPTION
"Navigation Song"
The local folk-rock act hasn't released new music since 2014, but here with "Navigation Song" Folkinception shows they're on the way to more. The old-timey single was released last month as a demo and will only be available for a limited amount of time. Get your taste now. 

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Check out these Spokane-area coffee shops off the beaten track

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Tom Sawyer Country Coffee is tucked away, but well worth finding. - SARAH PHILP
  • Sarah Philp
  • Tom Sawyer Country Coffee is tucked away, but well worth finding.

The scent of fresh espresso permeates the air, and a charismatic barista mans the counter to take your order. Hip-looking college kids sit at some tables, basking in the soft glows of their laptop screens as they sip on their tasty beverages. The place is sleek and clean, dusted to perfection, but also decorated tastefully and distinctively.

The above imagery describes just about every good coffee shop in existence, and can likely be applied to your preferred espresso destination. When you're on the hunt for your morning (or afternoon, or evening) joe, sometimes your favorite cafe fits the bill. But other times, you want to venture somewhere new, somewhere besides the established local greats — the Rockwood Bakeries and Atticuses of the world. When that urge strikes, you don't want to be left helpless to frantically Google an appealing option, or resort to one of your safe bets. Instead, prepare for the situation beforehand by educating yourself on the below trio of great, lesser-known espresso joints in the Spokane area.

Tom Sawyer Country Coffee
608 N. Maple | 818-3355
Nestled just west of the Kendall Yards commercial strip on a corner you might never find unless you're looking for it, Tom Sawyer qualifies as a true hidden gem. Its owner, 73-year-old Gary Tom Sawyer, has been roasting coffee for the better part of 55 years, but the doors to his Spokane shop just opened last October. A gaping garage door opens when the weather allows for it, while the company's large, red metal roasting equipment gives the inside an almost industrial feel. Old coffee cans, containers, and french presses adorn the shelves on the walls, contributing to a vintage vibe, and several glass-covered tables give the room a communal feel. It's usually quiet in the shop, but comfortably so, with customers sounding the door's chime as they enter and exit from time to time. The menu isn't overly ambitious, but the flavors are top-notch, and the baristas are willing to lend suggestions. It isn't uncommon to hear them asking their customers' names; the place seems intent on building the kinds of relationships that make for an enduring, beloved business. If you're in the mood for a refreshing treat, try an iced latte with Tom's signature toddy shots. You won't regret it.

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Condon administration hid damning records until after election — and other big revelations

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 12:59 PM

An independent investigator says Mayor Condon's administration purposefully withheld relevant records about ousted Chief Frank Straub until after his re-election.
  • An independent investigator says Mayor Condon's administration purposefully withheld relevant records about ousted Chief Frank Straub until after his re-election.

It took more than half a year to complete — with delays, internal battles and controversies hammering it right up to the very end. It's 126 pages. And that's the summary.

But now the findings of an independent investigation into how the city of Spokane handled allegations concerning former police Chief Frank Straub has been released. We're still combing through the documents, but we've already identified scores of revelations. 

And remember, this is without  the independent investigator, Kris Cappel, getting to see every document. 

1. The city administrators and city attorney intentionally withheld public records from the city clerk until after Mayor David Condon's re-election — and in doing so, potentially violated Washington state public records law. 

"Based on all of the evidence we considered, we conclude that [City Administrator] Theresa Sanders and [City Attorney Nancy] Isserlis intentionally withheld information from the City Clerk about the existence of the documents at issue with the intent and purpose of delaying the production of those records until after the Mayor’s election," Cappel wrote. 

And, considering Condon became the first Spokane mayor re-elected in over 40 years, it worked. 

City Council President Ben Stuckart says he and his attorney consider intentionally withholding responsive records to be a violation of the Washington state public records act.

Remember, Condon, Sanders and City Spokesman Brian Coddington have all lambasted their critics, charging that criticism against them on this issue was "politically motivated." In fact, Cappel charges, all three manipulated the public records process with the intent and purpose of politics.

In a statement, Sanders continued this tack, accusing Cappel of reaching a predetermined conclusion.

“I am angered and troubled by the reviewer’s statement that I intentionally withheld information," Sanders says. "She has reached a predetermined conclusion that is inconsistent with the statements and documentation utilized in preparing her report." 

She quoted the City Clerk Terri Pfister's statement denying that the mayor, Sanders or Coddington had asked her to withhold or delay the records. 

But that wasn't Cappel's argument. Her conclusion argues that Sanders knew key records existed, but didn't provide them to the city clerk. 
Ms. Sanders was aware that the November 24 records existed but never informed the City Clerk. She affirmatively represented that she had no responsive records or that her records were forwarded to legal in connection with potential litigation. Ms. Sanders did not describe the records she forwarded. Ms. Sanders also never requested her staff to search for the relevant correspondences, which were stored electronically and in hard copy in the Mayor’s office, and produced to this investigator by the Mayor’s staff within an hour of requesting the documents.

Condon and Coddington were also aware of the Sanders texts and notes, Cappel wrote, but there is no evidence they ever told the city clerk of their existence. 

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37th Annual Royal Fireworks Concert

37th Annual Royal Fireworks Concert @ Riverfront Park

Sun., July 31, 9 p.m.

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