Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CPA David Green explains why he filed recall charges against Mayor David Condon

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 5:29 PM

Certified Public Accountant David Green filed recall charges against Mayor David Condon
  • Certified Public Accountant David Green filed recall charges against Mayor David Condon

In Spokane, you can't just file a recall against a mayor because you don't like him or he's unpopular or you think he's done a bad job.

You have to convince a Superior Court judge that the charges against the mayor rise to the level of "misfeasance, malfeasance," or a violation of his oath office. You have to get someone to submit recall charges with the Spokane County Auditor.

"Unfortunately, that turned out to be me," says David Green, a local certified public accountant who formerly served on the boards of the Spokane Symphony and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. 

This afternoon, Green filed recall charges against the mayor with the county auditor. That will be turned over to the Spokane County prosecutor to develop ballot language and then go to a Superior Court judge to determine if his charges rise to the level of recallable offenses.

Green is the chair of the Third Legislative District Democrats, who's donated to politicians like City Council President Ben Stuckart, former County Commissioner Todd Mielke and former state Rep. Kevin Parker.

But Green says his recall charges were not motivated by any "political animus." He talks in a clipped, precise sentences, choosing his words carefully. 

"I’m not taking any pleasure in doing this. It’s sad that we have gotten to that point. I thought Mayor Condon was doing a good job [for the first three years]," Green says. "I do not understand what has happened in the last year and a half." 

Last month, a controversial report by independent investigator Kris Cappel concluded that members of Condon's administration had intentionally withheld key information about the circumstances surrounding former police Chief Frank Straub's forced resignation; the report lit a fire under a largely dormant recall effort that had cropped up at the end of last year.  

Green says he spoke with the members of the #RECALLCONDON Facebook page.

"My perception after a brief discussion was that they were more emotionally involved than taking a disinterested view," Green says. "I don’t blame them." 

But he says he's trying to stick to factual observations.  

Green makes four accusations against Condon: 

1. Green accuses Condon of withholding key documents until after the election, citing the Cappel report for his evidence. 

However, in the final version of her report, Cappel changed her conclusion, removing references accusing Condon and city spokesman Brian Coddington. After reconsidering the evidence, she determined that the question of whether Condon and Coddington had willfully withheld documents was inconclusive. However, she concluded that other members of his administration had purposefully delayed the release of records.

But Green still believes there's enough evidence in the report to suggest that Condon was indeed guilty of withholding records. Condon and his administration have emphatically denied that.

2. Green accuses the mayor of dishonesty for saying "no" when asked by an Inlander reporter if there had been "any sexual harassment complaints lodged against Frank [Straub]." He notes that the mayor later told Cappel that he did consider the sexual harassment allegations leveled by former police spokeswoman Monique Cotton against Straub to be a complaint. 

This exchange is currently being litigated in the ethics commission, where Condon's attorney has argued that the mayor was only referring to official complaints in his denial. 

3. Green accuses the mayor of violating his oath of office by failing to submit recently appointed police Chief Craig Meidl to the city council for confirmation.

Condon now says that the delay was only temporary and that he would eventually submit Meidl for confirmation. So far, he has not laid out a timeline for doing that, arguing that he's delaying the process "out of an abundance of caution and concern for him and his career." The council has decided to hold hearings anyway and plan to consider confirming him on Monday. 

4. Green accuses the mayor of failing to follow the city's human resources policies, including in how it handled the sexual harassment allegations leveled against Straub by Cotton. 


The Cappel report is highly critical of the city's human resources department and ambiguous policies. However, it also concludes that the city and police department's sexual harassment policies — for all their faults — were largely followed in the case of Cotton: 
"Ultimately, the City resolved the complaint informally to the satisfaction of both Ms. Cotton and Chief Straub, and the resolution was effective... that was consistent with City and SPD policies both of which advocate informal resolution at the lowest level.

...

"Although limited in scope, the investigation complied with City policies to the extent that mere notification triggers a requirement to conduct an investigation. Not all of the procedural steps referred to in the policy were followed such as documenting the complaint, forwarding it to HR, or providing written findings to the complainant, but it appears that those steps are routinely overlooked by the City. 
Asked about this, however, Green says that a judge will be the one to decide whether his complaint was valid. 

"The judge is supposed to make the independent determination," Green says. "I don’t think it’s for you or I to parse the words."

Green has already formed a Recall Condon committee, and filed it with the public disclosure commission. But if the Superior Court judge determines that his recall petition can proceed, Green isn't sure if he'll be the one to lead the recall effort.

"My expertise is not in running campaigns," Green says

Green has a big task ahead of him. The first attempt to recall Spokane Mayor Jim West a decade ago was initially rejected. And the second went all the way to the Washington State Supreme Court before signature-gathering petitions could be circulated

A call to city spokesman Brian Coddington Tuesday afternoon was not immediately returned. 

*The RECALL CONDON group that once counted* controversial former Daiquiri Factory owner Jamie Pendleton among their members. While Pendleton was initially associated with the group, and still often posts on sites using the #RecallCondon hashtag, #RECALLCONDON group administrator Mara Spitzer says Pendleton has since been blocked from the page. The post has been updated to reflect this.

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Spokane's "Iron Nun" Sister Madonna Buder featured in new Nike commercial

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 4:25 PM


Spokane's Sister Madonna Buder could outlast most of us when it comes to running. In swimming, and biking, too. The 86-year-old Catholic nun has competed in 45 Ironman Triathlons, breaking the world record for the oldest person ever to finish the grueling race, which she obtained four years ago at age 82. 

Now, Buder is the subject of a feel-good commercial by Nike called "Unlimited Youth," which debuted recently during coverage of the Rio Olympics. Check it out below.

The video's narrator (actor Oscar Isaac, recent star of The Force Awakens and Ex Machina) introduces Sister Buder and her athletic endeavors with admiration — though his entire narration is rather awkwardly presented in a tongue-in-cheek tone — as clips of the outstanding triathlete play across screen.

Cutting to a scene of Buder in an Ironman swim cap and wet suit, Isaac says, "Wait, what — Ironman? Oh no, no, no, no, no sister, this is a bad idea, sister. A real bad idea — somebody stop her!"

"Relax, she's the Iron Nun!" a guy in the crowd of racers says.

"But she won't make it, this is an Ironman!" Isaac's voiceover proclaims.

"The first 45 didn't kill me," Buder yells over her shoulder to anyone else ignorant enough to doubt her.

"You've done 45 of these? Okay. Do your think sister, do you your thing."


She's pretty amazing, right? 

Sister Buder is a member of the non-canonical Sisters for Christian Community. She last competed in an Ironman race back in 2015 (though she didn't finish), and continues to stay active with her intense exercise routine.

Nike also produced a behind-the-scenes video that gives more insight into what keeps this amazing woman and athlete going strong, defying expectations for her age demographic.

"The only failure is not to try. Your effort in itself is a success," she says.

Also, don't forget that this weekend, on Aug. 21, Coeur d'Alene is hosting its Ironman race, kicking off early Sunday morning. While Buder isn't participating this year, there are plenty of amazing endurance athletes who could use the support as they push themselves to complete the 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run.


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It's Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure outdoors with beer and prizes!

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 1:11 PM


Have you ever wondered what film — in all of movie history — provides us with the most accurate depiction of time travel? The answer, dear reader, is Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. We'll share more about that with you on Thursday night at our outdoor edition of Suds and Cinema.

Orlison Brewing will be providing beer and One Tree Cider is also pouring so you can enjoy a cold one while basking in the warm summer evening air in Kendall Yards' Olmstead Park (it's at the far end of the neighborhood, FYI.)

We'll have ice cream from Brain Freeze creamery and food from the 3 Ninjas truck. And sponsor Horizon Credit Union will have some giveaways to help you enjoy that food. 

Speaking of giveaways, you could walk away from this truly excellent event the owner of a new virtual reality setup courtesy of Sprint. Yeah, they're giving away this decidedly futuristic technology — so make sure you enter to win at their booth before the movie starts.

Here are all the important details:
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Love the 90s? Spokane Arena has a show for you

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 10:30 AM


Here's hoping that when the "I Love the 90s Tour" stops by Spokane Arena this fall, people celebrate the occasion appropriately via their attire.

Bike shorts, Zubaz, Guess jeans, some flattop haircuts — how great would it be to see an entire audience dressed like they just stepped off a Saved By The Bell set?

One of several package tours bringing a slew of artists to towns across the country for a night of nostalgia, the "I Love the 90s Tour" stops in Spokane on Oct. 2. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 am at the arena and all TicketsWest outlets for the show at the Star Theater inside Spokane Arena, and will run you $47.50, $67.50 or $87.50. 

That isn't cheap, but you do get a whole lotta artists for your money. The acts listed for the Spokane stop of the tour include Vanilla Ice, Salt-n-Pepa with DJ Spinderella, Color Me Badd, Coolio, Tone Loc and Young MC. Combine all the hits from those acts and you have the makings of a serious time warp to dance to "Let's Talk About Sex," "I Wanna Sex You Up," "Fantastic Voyage," "Wild Thing," "Bust A Move" and, yes, "Ice, Ice Baby." 

Now start practicing your dance moves for when Color Me Badd is on stage: 

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Homicide suspect at large, Bill Bryant's Trump decision and morning headlines

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 9:19 AM


ON INLANDER.COM 


NEWS: No, Council President Ben Stuckart should not be deleting important voicemails about city business
NEWS: Spokane Police grant ombudsman office access to body camera footage

IN OTHER NEWS


Double murder
A boy dialed 911 to report his mom and uncle had been killed yesterday in Spokane Valley. Deputies discovered an adult brother and sister shot to death, and the suspect is at large. (KXLY)

No coal toll 
After reconsidering its legality, Spokane City Council voted to remove an ordinance that would have fined railroad operators for carrying coal through downtown. (Spokesman-Review)

Attorney begins rape trial
A Spokane attorney accused of kidnapping and raping a car crash victim in 2014 will begin his trial, believing he will be acquitted of the charges. (KXLY)

Bill Bryant: Not a Trump supporter
  • Bill Bryant: Not a Trump supporter
Bryant takes a stand
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant, who has been avoiding questions about whether he supports Donald Trump, finally said yesterday that he would not be voting for Trump or Hillary Clinton. (Seattle PI)

Trump's foreign policy speech
Donald Trump gave a speech on foreign policy yesterday in which he called for an ideological fight to defeat the Islamic State. The speech, as one former Bush administration official points out, represents similar strategies as the former president employed, except the official pointed out that in Trump's speech, "the good parts are not new — they are imported from the Bush approach — and the new parts are not good." 
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Spokane Police grant ombudsman office access to body camera footage

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 4:46 PM

A body camera - MITCH RYALS PHOTO
  • Mitch Ryals Photo
  • A body camera

Thanks to negotiations between interim ombudsman Bart Logue and the Spokane Police Guild, Logue's office will now have more access to the Spokane Police Department's body camera footage.

The agreement allows the ombudsman's assistant, Luvimae Omana, access to footage for cases reviewed by the ombudsman's office.

Logue asked the police department to give his office more access to assist in investigations. Given the backlog of cases, he says an extra set of eyes to review footage would help speed things up. 

Originally, the Guild balked at Logue's request, arguing that the city's code allowed only the ombudsman access to body camera footage, not the entire office. Logue disagrees.

"The Spokane Police Guild believes this agreement demonstrates our commitment to try to find solutions on issues through discussion and the process of collective bargaining," Guild President John Griffin writes in a letter to the OPO after the agreement was finalized. "I look forward to working with you in the future."

"I am pleased we were able to reach an amicable agreement with the Guild through a collaborative effort and we look forward to having our requested access granted," Logue writes in a letter to Chief Craig Meidl. "I would like to take the opportunity to reaffirm the OPO's commitment to utilizing Evidence.com solely for auditing and reporting purposes for OPO Involved Investigations..." 

For Logue, access to body camera footage is but one area in which the office needs clarity.

"As we transition to fully implement the charter for independent investigations, there are numerous aspects that will need to be defined," Logue writes in an email. "I need to figure out a way to formally inform SPD in a non-disciplinary manner of any concerns that may come from time to time while viewing body camera footage." 

This is an issue Logue brought up when we wrote about him back in May. 

He says he also just finished a working draft of OPO policies and procedures, which was a DOJ recommendation.

"Now I need to start thinking about the challenges of next week," he writes.
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No, Council President Stuckart should not be deleting important voicemails about city business

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 1:20 PM

What not to do with voicemail messages discussing city business - HOMESTARRUNNER.COM
  • Homestarrunner.com
  • What not to do with voicemail messages discussing city business

When City Council President Ben Stuckart told Attorney Laura McAloon he would not be willing to support her for city attorney this week, he cited two reasons: The first was her interactions with the independent investigator looking into the city's police chief scandal, which partly led to the investigator watering down key findings from her report. But the second was a "nasty" voicemail that McAloon sent to Stuckart's personal cellphone, where she allegedly called him a liar. 

In other words, a single voicemail had become a crucial part of the story.

On August 2, the Inlander made a records request intending to obtain that voicemail, and other recent voicemails from or to McAloon from city leaders during that period. We got several voicemails back between the mayor and McAloon.

For example, here's a message from Mayor David Condon apologizing to McAloon for the turmoil the drama around the investigation's release had caused her personally: 


But the voicemail from McAloon to Stuckart? Stuckart had already deleted it.

"I didn’t want to be playing it for people," Stuckart said. "It was rude. She called me a liar." 

Not only that, but he says he's been deleting voicemails for at least the past four years, often weekly. His phone's storage fills up quickly, he says, particularly because one citizen leaves five or six messages a day. 

Depending on the content of those voicemails, however, those deletions could be a violation of state records retention rules. 

Yeah, all this can be tricky for local governments to figure out, says Russell Wood, state records manager for the Washington State Archives.

"We do quite a bit of training," Wood says. "We have a lot of people that give us the deer in the headlights look." 

Part of the complication has to do with the shifting legal landscape surrounding public records: In August of last year, the state Supreme Court making it clear that text messages sent to employees' personal cell phones are potentially subject to public record requests.

But this point is clear: The format of the record doesn't make a difference.

It's not the medium that matters. It's the message. That's true whether they're emails or text messages or voicemails or notes scribbled down taken on cocktail napkins. 

"If you’re transacting public business — then it’s public record," says Wood. 

Granted, emails, text messages or voicemail messages that are "transitory" can be deleted as soon as they're no longer relevant, Wood says.

Transitory messages could include messages like, "Hey, this is the mayor, call me back." Or, "there's cookies in the breakroom." Or "new phone who dis?"

A lot of voicemails — maybe even most — fall into this category.

"[But] if it says, 'go ahead, your project's approved, your leads are approved,' then you’re transacting business," Wood says.

The phrase the state uses is "business transaction." But that doesn't mean it needs to involve money. As soon as you go beyond, "call me back," he says, to actually discussing the issues concerning the city or public agency, then it needs to be saved for a certain period of time. 

So how about a voicemail where the mayor's city attorney selection calls the city council president and accuses him of being a liar for comments he made about her involvement in an investigation?

Wood says it's hard to know without knowing the full context. But if the voicemail discussed specifics of city business, then it shouldn't have been deleted. 

How about, say, citizens calling city council members to complain about their neighbor's chickens or about the awful merge onto the Maple Street Bridge?

Those definitely have to be saved. 

"Citizen complaints and requests need to be retained for three years after the matter has closed," Wood says. 

Arguably, the voicemail from McAloon could also be considered a complaint from a constituent. 

If these deletions were something that Stuckart had done intentionally in order to cover something up, instead of an honest mistake, the consequences could be massive, particularly as an elected official:

"Every officer who shall mutilate, destroy, conceal, erase, obliterate, or falsify any record or paper appertaining to the officer's office," the state law says, is guilty of a class B felony, punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and up to10 years in prison.

Stuckart says that he approached the city to ask if there was a policy in place to handle work-related voicemails. 

"If there were work-related voicemails, should I be downloading those somewhere?" Stuckart recalls asking. Currently, he says, no such policy exists, but he thinks the city should develop one. 

How city officials have handled public records has become a flashpoint over the past year. Last month, independent investigator Kris Cappel concluded that the city attorney's office had intentionally withheld key documents concerning former Police Chief Frank Straub until after the election, drawing fervent and outraged denials from the city attorney staff and the Condon administration. 

During the investigation, Condon attacked Stuckart of being politically motivated and suggested that Stuckart and former Councilmember Jon Snyder had attempted to "circumvent the public records process" by using their campaign emails, instead of their city email addresses in an exchange about the issue. Stuckart denied this was his intention, pointing out that he had included his legislative assistant's city email address to make sure it would be included in records requests. 

Cappel's investigation revealed the differing ways that employees had handled their records. 
Director of Strategic Initiatives Tim Schwering told Cappel that former police spokeswoman Monique Cotton's city-issued police department cell phone had been completely wiped before they could check it. City administrator Theresa Sanders told Cappel that she was a "text-deleter," but said that her texts were generally "transitory." Sanders correctly preserved several important texts from Cotton by printing them out and delivering to the city attorney's office.

Sanders and Condon now have cellphones specifically dedicated to city business, and the city's clerk office has been developing new guidelines surrounding public records. One of McAloon's first plans as city attorney had been to conduct a comprehensive review into how the city attorney's office handled public records.

But now that she's withdrawn — thanks in part to Stuckart's anger over her voicemail — it's unclear whether the review will take place, and who would do it.
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Bolt remains fastest man alive, Milwaukee protest arrests and news to start your week

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 8:58 AM


ON INLANDER.COM


THIS WEEK: Band of Horses, Bill & Ted, Unity in the Community and Lentil Fest
NEWS: Here are the 10 best questions community members asked new police Chief Craig Meidl at a forum
ARTS & CULTURE: Steve Martin and Martin Short will perform on the INB Performing Arts Center state on October 20
SPORTS: A farewell note from our sports writer, Howie Stalwick
MUSIC: Culture Club and friends delivered non-stop hits in Airway Heights over the weekend

IN OTHER NEWS

Crash kills Idaho man
A 25-year-old man in St. Maries Idaho died after crashing into a tree Sunday night. A girl in the truck at the time was transported to the hospital. (KHQ)

Lookout Mountain Fire

A fire west of Wandermere burned about 19 acres and two outbuildings yesterday. (KXLY)

Usain Bolt again claims title of fastest man alive
  • Usain Bolt again claims title of fastest man alive
Bolt wins again
Usain Bolt won his third straight 100m Olympic gold medal in the, beating USA's Justin Gatlin by 0.08 seconds. 

Unrest in Milwaukee
Protests in Milwaukee over the shooting of an armed black man have led to multiple arrests. 

Flooding in Louisiana
Three people have died in Louisiana from record levels of flooding. Thousands more have been rescued in what Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards called a "truly historic event" that won't be over anytime soon. 

Fox ignores Ailes allegations
Fox News has spent 11 minutes of airtime on the allegations of sexual harassment against co-founder and chairman Roger Ailes since he announced his resignation. That's less time than Bill O'Reilly spent criticizing Black Lives Matter over a couple days this month, according to the Washington Post.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

THIS WEEK: Band of Horses, Bill & Ted, Unity in the Community and Lentil Fest

Posted By on Sun, Aug 14, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Lentil or M&M? Head to the Palouse on Friday to find out.
  • Lentil or M&M? Head to the Palouse on Friday to find out.

As summer slowly slips away, I'd suggest you dive into our event listings and Staff Picks to make sure you take full advantage of what's left of August. 

Here are some highlights for the week ahead: 

Monday, Aug. 15

SPORTS | You know who's having a heck of a season? Your local Spokane Indians baseball club, that's who. They won the first half of the season, assuring themselves a spot in the playoffs, and they're doing some work in the second half, too. Catch them in a series against Eugene starting Monday. 

Tuesday, Aug. 16

LIVE MUSIC | Seattle's Band of Horses makes some magnificent, epic rock sounds on the reg, including on their new album Why Are You OK. Read our story about the band, and mull a show in the great-sounding Fox Theater Tuesday night. Here's a taste of one of the band's older tunes, one near and dear to this Utahn's heart: 

Wednesday, Aug. 17

OPEN MIC | The Viking hosts Burgers and Brews open mic night — sounds like a solid plan. 

LIVE BANDS | Michael Franti and Spearhead always through an uplifting show, where even the most cantankerous soul walks out ready to hug strangers. Don't believe me? Check out his gig at the Knitting Factory Wednesday and see what I mean. 

Continue reading »

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

CONCERT REVIEW: Culture Club and friends deliver non-stop hits in Airway Heights

Posted By on Sat, Aug 13, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Berlin at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Berlin at Northern Quest Resort & Casino.
Some concerts are memorable because they're full of transcendent moments and mind-blowing creativity on stage. Some are just as memorable for a much simpler reason: A non-stop cavalcade of hit songs that take fans back in time, at least in their mind. 

Friday night's Culture Club, English Beat and Berlin show at Northern Quest Resort & Casino falls firmly in that second category. While there were certainly excellent individual moments across all three bands' sets, the most impressive thing about the concert as a whole was just how many classic '80s-era songs those three bands are collectively responsible for. 

It starts with Culture Club. The headliner, on their longest-ever tour, racked up enough hit songs in its heyday to easily deliver nearly 20 songs that the crowd knew every word to, and could easily sing along. Include a couple of Boy George solo hits (a cover of Bread's "Everything I Own," and "The Crying Game") alongside the classics like "Time (Clock of the Heart)" and "Miss Me Blind," and a few new songs such as the funky "Like I Used To" and "A Different Man" and you have one worthy nostalgia-fueled 90-minute dance party. 

All eyes are naturally drawn to Boy George, the cheeky frontman known for his bold stylistic choices and soulful voice. Both are still in fine form, although he did want the media photographers at the show to stand a bit further back than the other bands required. Hence, this is the best photo I could get: 
Culture Club at Northern Quest Resort & Casino Friday. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Culture Club at Northern Quest Resort & Casino Friday.

Even so, it was easy to see his suit covered in X's and O's, and later costume change into a rainbow-themed hat and lapels, from pretty much anywhere in the venue. His voice has aged a bit, deepened, but that didn't detract from the songs, and it stayed strong throughout the show as George shimmied and swayed to the reggae-tinged tunes created by his bandmates Roy Hay, Mikey Craig and Jon Moss, joined by an array of horn players and backup singers. 

Continue reading »

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