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Ozzie, Creach and Craigslist 

Sheriff Knezovich is frustrated by accounts of the Creach shooting; plus, the Y counts down to destruction.

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Sheriff Fires Back

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, during a radio interview on Tuesday, criticized the flow of information — as well as the accuracy — about the fatal Aug. 25 shooting of 74-year-old pastor and greenhouse owner Wayne Scott Creach by one of his deputies.

During an hour-long session with Rebecca Mack on her show Rumble Strip on KYRS 92.3 FM, the sheriff stressed that his agency’s employee, Deputy Brian Hirzel, is not being investigated by the Sheriff’s Office but by Spokane Police and Washington State Patrol.

Knezovich seemed frustrated that, two weeks later, only small amounts of information have been released and told Mack there is a difference in policy between agencies.

“I like to have information out as rapidly as we can get it out,” without compromising the investigation, he said. The sheriff has previously said he didn’t understand why a detail of the encounter leaked over the weekend — that Hirzel had hit Creach on the leg with his baton — was not previously released by Spokane Police.

Knezovich was also critical of the Spokesman-Review, telling Mack he met with a reporter and editor last week after reading that that he allowed Hirzel to go on vacation, “partly because the county would have been on the hook to pay for travel costs,” in a front page story on Sept. 2.

“Guess what? I didn’t say that. And the reporter, when I was down there with his editor and everybody else, said, ‘Yeah, the sheriff didn’t say that. I kind of embellished that statement.’”

“We did address that,” says S-R City Editor Addy Hatch. “[Sheriff’s spokesman] Dave Reagan said that and it should have been attributed to the sheriff’s office.”

A clarification ran the next day. (Kevin Taylor)

Tear Down This Y

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for: the actual destruction of the old YMCA building in Riverfront Park.

According to Leroy Eadie, director of Spokane Parks and Recreation, the interlocal agreement between the city and the county — which will secure the funds needed to buy the property — is close to complete. The agreement just came back from the county and the city is reviewing it.

By securing $4.4 million from the county’s Conservation Futures Fund, the city has agreed to pay $350,000 back into the fund over the course of about 17 years. All this to tear down the Y.

The agreement still has to be approved by city and county elected officials, as well as by representatives from the city’s Park Board.

After all that comes the demolition permit, which Eadie says is already being filled out.

“Demolition should start this fall, maybe early winter,” he says. (Nicholas Deshais)

Craiglist: “Censored”

Mouse down to the “adult services” section on the front of Spokane’s Craigslist site the last couple of days, and you’d have seen “censored” in white text against a black background, as if it were a government redaction.

Well, it sort of is. On Friday, the omnipresent online classifieds site shut down its adult services section — without a peep of explanation or publicity spin — after 17 state attorneys general (including Idaho AG Lawrence Wasden) sent the San Francisco-based company an open letter stating that prostitution was “rampant” on the site and that it should “take immediate action to end the misery for the women and children who may be exploited and victimized by these ads.”

The site has been the target of public ire in the last year, accused of facilitating crimes like the case of the so-called “Craigslist Killer” in Boston last April.

But while the AGs may be celebrating, critics say the legal pressure curtailed Craigslist’s freedom of speech, or worse — that shuttering the adult services section will send the ads to other harder-to-monitor parts of the site, or to other sites that don’t screen their content or cooperate with law enforcement.

CEO Jim Buckmaster blogged in May that when they upped their screening process the year before, adult advertisers “left in droves for the numerous venues which do not monitor ads.”

Chief among the AGs’ critics, perhaps, is Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd, who, in a Huffington Post article titled “How Censoring Craigslist Helps Pimps, Child Traffickers and Other Abusive Scumbags,” sees a political motive in the actions of Wasden and the other 16 attorneys.

“Taking something that is visible and making it invisible makes a politician look good,” she writes, “even if it does absolutely nothing to help the victims who are harmed.” (Joel Smith)

Back To School Success

With this the first full week of school for kids in Spokane Public Schools, expect community-wide discussion over the district’s dropout and graduation rates to begin anew.

Some of the statistics — an on-time graduation rate of only 60.3 percent — are a bit deceptive, granted: Students who simply transfer out of the district are often lumped into dropout stats.

In the past two years, meanwhile, Havermale High School’s east and west campuses have gone from serving 400 students to serving 800. Typically, Havermale is an alternative high school for students who are struggling academically.

But the increase isn’t because there’s been a marked rise in students struggling academically.
For the most part, it’s because, two years ago, a new program called On Track Academy was added to Havermale’s roster of internal schools.

Last year, their graduation rate was about 90 percent. If not for On Track Academy, “they most all would have dropped out,” Havermale Principal Fred Schrumpf says.

On Track Academy targets junior and senior students who have already passed the reading and writing portions of the High School Proficiency Exam (the WASL replacement) but, for whatever reason, are dramatically behind on the number of credits to graduate. These are often smart, hard-working kids.

“Once you get behind for a regular high school, it’s very hard to catch up,” Schrumpf says. Typically, the diploma is paid for in the currency of seat time: Show up to school, six periods a day, five days a week, 180 days a year.

But at On Track Academy, the paradigm is different. Seat time isn’t as much an issue. It’s about demonstrating competency and understanding of the curriculum.

This year, the school board has given the On Track Academy an additional $1 million to operate four new classes, Schrumpf says. (Daniel Walters)

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