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A vote from the people divided by the Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene school districts; plus, a proposal to alleviate crowding at the Spokane County Jail

click to enlarge The regional criminal justice council is considering ways to alleviate overcrowding in Spokane County Jail.
  • The regional criminal justice council is considering ways to alleviate overcrowding in Spokane County Jail.

Landings Zone

Depending on how voters vote in November, the boundaries of the Coeur d'Alene School District may grow and the boundaries of the Post Falls School District may shrink. But that's not because either of the two districts suggested the idea: Instead, it's on the ballot at the request of of a number of neighbors in a development in northwest Coeur d'Alene called THE LANDINGS.

Currently, the boundaries between the two districts split the development in two. That fact has flummoxed residents of the Landings like Jon Froderberg. His house is more than 6 miles away from the nearest elementary school in the Post Falls School District, but is only a little over a mile and a half away from the nearest elementary school in the Coeur d'Alene School District. Residents in similar situations have had to get special permissions to allow their children to attend Coeur d'Alene schools.

As a result, he and other residents gathered signatures to propose moving the boundary west and put the entire subdivision within Coeur d'Alene School District boundaries. When Froderberg brought the idea up to the Coeur d'Alene school board, the trustees were very supportive. That was not the case with the Post Falls District. He says the superintendent was clearly opposed to the change.

"It affects their tax base," Froderberg says. "All of the homes in the west half of The Landings will shift from providing revenues from the Post Falls School District to the Coeur d'Alene School District."

That means taxes for residents in the Post Falls School District will increase slightly, while taxes in the Coeur d'Alene School District will decrease slightly. But on election day, most Post Falls or Coeur d'Alene residents won't get a chance to weigh in. Only the Landings residents who would change districts will have a chance to vote on it. (DANIEL WALTERS)

PUBLIC ENEMIES

Two Spokane City Council candidates are criticizing their opponents for not being more vocal in their opposition to a CONTROVERSIAL BALLOT INITIATIVE.

Candidates Evan Verduin and LaVerne Biel, small business owners with the backing of Mayor David Condon, are faulting their respective opponents Lori Kinnear and Councilwoman Karen Stratton for not taking more public stances against the Worker Bill of Rights, a controversial ballot initiative that would give sweeping rights and protections to workers.

Specifically, Biel sent out a campaign mailer stating she "publically [sic] opposes all aspects of the initiative" while stating that Kinnear, a city council legislative aide, does not. Similarly, Verduin has taken to Facebook to criticize Stratton for not "publicly endorsing" the campaign against the initiative.

"I'm not actively campaigning against it, because I have enough to do with my campaign," says Stratton, who calls the initiative a "legal nightmare" that would be "very hard on businesses."

Kinnear says that the claim that she hasn't publicly opposed the entirety of the initiative is "blatantly false," citing television appearances and candidate forums where she has stated her position. (JAKE THOMAS)

JAILHOUSE JURISPRUDENCE

The regional criminal justice council is considering two ways to ALLEVIATE JAIL OVERCROWDING and streamline the first court appearances of inmates.

The proposal by Detention Lt. Michael Sparber, County Clerk Timothy Fitzgerald and City Prosecutor Justin Bingham includes construction of a courtroom inside the Spokane County Jail and a "portability judge" who could hear cases from all three jurisdictions.

The proposed courtroom, estimated to cost nearly $380,000, would replace a recreation area and would reduce the number of times jail transport officers escort defendants from the jail to the Public Safety Building next door for first appearance hearings.

According to the proposal, the courtroom would allow judges to make release or bail decisions after-hours and on weekends, a process that's been used in other cities to alleviate jail population build-up on weekends. As of now people arrested on Friday or over the weekend don't have a court hearing until Monday, which can push the jail into critical or emergency status. However, judges do conduct weekend reviews of all those arrested over the weekend on new charges along with probable cause decisions and release determinations.

Tom Krzyminski, director of the Spokane County Public Defenders Office, says it's a good idea in theory, but one that would require buy-in from all parties.

"Anything would be an improvement over what we have now," he says. "But let's make sure it's as functional as a normal courtroom should be." (MITCH RYALS)


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