Time is Money
A month before it's expected to vote, once more, on changes to the city's Office of Police Ombudsman, the Spokane City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to expand a contract with a Seattle-based law firm advising the city on its contract negotiations with the Spokane Police Guild. As part of its Jan. 6 consent agenda — usually routine spending and contract items, approved all at once — the council will vote to expand the maximum amount the city will pay Otto Klein and Summit Law Group from $40,000 to $100,000. (Actual payments are based on the amount of work done.) While the city's legal team negotiates directly with the guild, the outside group gives the city advice about labor law and will remain in that role as the issue remains unsolved, says City Spokesman Brian Coddington.
While the city reached a tentative contract agreement with the guild in October, it's been the subject of public and council frustration because it does not include the authority for the ombudsman to open his or her own separate investigations outside the police department's internal affairs process. The council unanimously rejected the agreement in November, but the mayor returned it to the council alongside a new ordinance he hoped would satisfy them. Still unsure, the council postponed a vote on the agreement, and some council members say they want the mayor to return to negotiations with the guild and alter the agreement before they'll approve it.
While negotiations are now technically open because of the council's rejection of the agreement, Coddington says the parties have "nothing new to discuss" until the council's next vote.
— HEIDI GROOVER
Wolves Dodge Bullet
After a brief legal battle in federal court last week, Idaho hunters failed to kill any wolves during a controversial two-day hunting derby this past weekend in which organizers offered $2,000 in prizes for the largest wolf and most coyotes killed. Organizers reported at least 21 coyotes were taken during the derby.
Sportsman group Idaho for Wildlife recently organized the derby near Salmon, Idaho, with a $1,000 prize for the largest wolf and another $1,000 for the most coyotes killed by each two-person team. The group advocates the hunting of wolves to alleviate their impact on local big game populations.
Environmental groups, led by WildEarth Guardians, filed in U.S. District Court to block the derby, arguing the U.S. Forest Service had not enforced its own rules regarding special use permits for organized events on public lands. They also feared the competitive nature of the derby could lead to more crowded and aggressive hunting in public recreational areas.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale declined to issue a restraining order against the derby Friday, finding no evidence of potentially illegal activity or irreparable harm. Declaring victory, derby organizers reported as many as 236 hunters participated in the event, but reported Monday that no wolves were killed.
— JACOB JONES