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Where the Buck Stops 

New details about SPD's downtown precinct; plus, Randy Dorn considers a run for Washington governor

click to enlarge Randy Dorn is fed up with how schools are funded.
  • Randy Dorn is fed up with how schools are funded.

MUSICAL CHAIRS

The suspension of a Spokane police captain over a seemingly trifling issue — moving furniture he was told not to — has raised a very important question about HONESTY AND INTERNAL POLITICS in a department struggling with public perception: Can a commanding officer publically disagree with police department decisions?

Interviews for the internal investigation reveal Assistant Chief Craig Meidl and then-interim Chief Rick Dobrow's frustrations with Capt. Brad Arleth for publicly voicing his opinion regarding the new downtown precinct location. When asked in front of the Business Improvement District board if he agreed with then-Business and Developer Services Division Director Scott Simmons' positive assessment of the move, Arleth said he did not. Arleth, who has spent more than two decades policing downtown, said he saw the impact the old precinct near the STA Plaza had on crime, not to mention the benefits of the relationship with the Downtown Spokane Partnership, which was paying almost $90,000 for a downtown patrol officer.

Meidl told internal investigators that it's important to be honest with the public, but "on the other hand you also need to ... show support for the goals and objectives of the police department."

According to Arleth's interview, Dobrow told Arleth his comments were "not helpful," to which Arleth said he refused to be a "cheerleader for somebody's bullshit."

Arleth was suspended for a month with pay during the investigation. Meidl, who filed the complaint against Arleth, alleged that he was insubordinate when he moved furniture to the new downtown precinct, despite Meidl's instructions to the contrary. During his interview with the investigator, Arleth argued that Meidl's directions were not clear and that the other furniture moved into the Intermodal Center from storage was not adequate.

Arleth was issued a written reprimand, which he is appealing. (MITCH RYALS)

FUNDING SCHOOLS

Fully funding basic education for Washington schools has been a priority for state lawmakers and GOV. JAY INSLEE since the state Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary decision demanded that the state do so. That mandate has not yet been fulfilled, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn may take matters into his own hands.

Dorn said this week that he is weighing an independent campaign for governor this year. His campaign, he tells the Seattle Times, would at least prod Inslee and Republican challenger Bill Bryant to come up with a plan to fund education. Inslee's efforts so far, Dorn argues, have fallen short, and he doubts that Bryant will come up with a better plan.

Dorn, a former teacher and state legislator, announced earlier this year that he would not seek a third term as Superintendent of Public Instruction. He said he will make a decision on whether to run for governor after seeing how the Supreme Court responds to the Legislature's efforts to fund schools. (WILSON CRISCIONE)

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