UPDATE: So, it turns out there was no sixth and final raid this morning at MHP. The owners there saw a gathering of patrol cars down the street and got, yes, paranoid.
Still, five dispensaries were raided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency yesterday, and the governor is still pondering a veto.
We just got a call at Inlander HQ telling us the sixth and final medical marijuana dispensary left operating in Spokane is being raided and shut down.
MHP, located at 306 N Freya, was the last dispensary to keep its doors open, after weeks of what appears to be a methodical federal effort to quash all dispensaries in Spokane.
First came the letter to the dispensaries' landlords from Eastern Washington's U.S. attorney, Michael Ormsby, telling them to evict their tenants. Many complied. Then warnings went to the operators themselves, which led to more closures.
And now, the raids, the final step.
In related news, the Washington Federation of State Employees hand-delivered a letter to the governor yesterday, asking to her fully veto the bill that would legalize dispensaries, something she's already suggested she would do.
Medical marijuana dispensaries raided — The DEA raided several shops in Spokane yesterday just as their owners were meeting on raid preparedness at the downtown library. (Bloglander) Gov. Christine Gregoire says she will rule on a medical marijuana bill from the Legislature today. (KXLY)
Legionella bacteria found in water at Sacred Heart — Bottled water is being shipped in, as patients aren't allowed to drink or shower in the hospital's water, which is infected with a bacteria that can be harmful. (KREM)
Community gathers for Marek memorial service — More than 500 people in Kellogg, Idaho, attended the service last night for Larry Marek, the miner who died in a cave-in earlier this month. (CdA Press)
The royal couple gets hitched (see: every media outlet anywhere)
Medical marijuana dispensaries were raided this afternoon just as dispensary owners were being prepped on what to do in event of a raid.
THC Pharmacy, on South Perry, and another dispensary in Mead are the only two shops reportedly raided.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is conducting the operation, but the Spokane DEA office referred calls to the U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby's office.
"We're confirming that there is a federal law enforcement operation going on as we speak. That's all I'll say," says First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice. "It's an ongoing investigation. ... The operation is occurring as we speak at the THC Pharmacy."
The raids began just as dispensary owners gathered at the downtown Spokane Public Library for raid-preparedness training. It also comes as Gov. Chris Gregoire is deciding whether to veto a bill that would fully legalize dispensaries.
Activists have set up a meeting tonight, 8 pm, at 1408 W Broadway.
Updates on the raids can be followed on Twitter.
While there are oodles to explore in the city, I had the pleasure of wandering into the Teen Challenge store on Ash this week. Following the bright orange flags from Maple and Knox, I discovered a second-hand shopping experience that, in fact, is saving lives.
There will always be lots of causes to support, and during these times of economic uncertainty when grants dollars and charitable contributions are waning, it's exciting to see organizations like Teen Challenge funding their efforts in creative ways. Social entreprenuership is defined as the process of using entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change. Spokane's Teen Challenge Center is doing it well.
Well-organized and sorted, the store shelves only about 50% of what they actually receive in donations. Much has to be discarded because it's no longer usable or in sellable condition. Inventory turns frequently. Generally, every three-weeks.
Teen Challenge distributes flyers soliciting donations from local churches, but still struggles, given budget contraints, to brand themselves effectively in Spokane's competitive thrift store market.
Dan Davenport, the Store Manager and only paid employee, says "you'd be surprised what people throw away". The store focuses on creative merchandising and top-notch customer service to help move product -- especially the items that, without a little effort, might be overlooked and not immediately sell.
The Teen Challenge building on Ash was in bad disrepair when the store first opened 8 years ago. Since then, staff and students have been working creatively to clean up the space and make it more interesting and inviting.
Mark Syzemore, 46, explains how he tried to enter Teen Challenge five years ago, but at the time, health issues and his attitude, were getting in the way. He's a husband, father and grandfather who, on the 26th of this month, celebrated a successful one year anniversary with the program. He looks forward to reuniting full-time with his family soon.
A local watchmaker supports Teen Challenge by fixing old watches he receives, then donating them for sale in working order.
Jeffrey Morris was a concert producer accustomed to the fast, high-life until he awoke one morning and realized that something really critical was missing. Due to graduate from the Teen Challenge program this summer, he says he enrolled "to give God another chance at saving [his] life".
With faith and service as their guide, the store works with a considerable number of low-income familes in the community and continues to look for ways to grow and improve.
ABOUT WANDERLUST: The photo series is a 60-day visual story-telling project that explores the seemingly ordinary places, people and things we experience everyday. It's about being curious and asking questions. It's about wanting to know more about the world around you and seeing it from fresh perspectives. If you have ideas on where I should wander, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I thought that was stupid, and was pleased that we, as a society, had moved past such immaturity.
But then along came Michael Scott (Steve Carell) boss on The Office. His “that’s what she said” catchphrase was intended to be ironic, we were supposed to be laughing at his immaturity instead of applauding his wit. But America somehow took up his catchphrase anyway, applying it in nearly every circumstance, and garnering hearty laughter when doing so. Such was the power of Michael Scott.
Tonight, in an extended episode Scott, and Carell for that matter, leaves the show.
His inspiration, David Brent, on the U.K. Office was mainly a boor. He was a nightmare boss, a wit who wasn’t witty, a comedian who wasn’t comedic. The series slightly explored Brent’s sadness, but mostly he was the catalyst of cringe comedy. He simply became shorthand for awful, annoying boss.
Scott started out that way. Literally, in the first episode, Brent’s dialogue was crammed into Scott’s mouth.
But that’s the great thing about American TV – Brent only had 14 episodes to evolve. Scott has had 147.
He’s not just someone who wants to make his coworkers laugh. He’s deeply loyal to his company – to the extent of not being deeply loyal to profitability. In one sense, he’s incredibly selfish and self-absorbed – but somehow that selfishness extends to caring about his staff members. He truly wants his employees to be happy, as long as their happiness never interrupted his.
He’s a brilliant salesman, promoted to incompetent manager. He’s a naive romantic who desperately wants to get married, have kids, and make friends. Really, deep down, he’s a little kid full of big dreams and desperate loneliness. Actor Steve Carell played that brilliantly, imbuing the role with a childlike humanity that made him somehow likeable amid his sensitivity.
The writing for Scott’s character was inconsistent, however – and not always in a way that gave him more depth. Some writers had a handle on Scott as an almost-real person, others made him into a cartoon. Incompetency over racial sensitivity is one thing, driving into a lake because his GPS told him too is another.
The writers had all sorts of ideas for how to get rid of Scott. He’s fired once and for all. He commits suicide. The way they chose – he ends up with the love of his life and, as a result, has to move away from Scranton – was predictable in a way. It was also a happy ending that, after six years of rooting for the character to not be such an idiot, viewers will be happy to see Scott receive.
That about sums up the great contrast between the British series and and the American series. Our Office is not about how the bleak, oppressive, idiotic nature of the workplace crushes spirits. It’s about how there’s joy and creativity and success — and happy endings — to be found in the bleak, oppressive, idiotic nature of the workplace.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said yesterday she was still deciding on whether to fully veto a medical marijuana dispensary bill passed by the Legislature, or simply veto sections of it.
"I'm looking at it only with what I can save," she said at a press conference yesterday. "Not whether I will sign it."
At issue is whether state employees could be held liable for trafficking drugs classified as illegal under federal law. Two weeks ago, Gregoire received a letter from the state's two U.S. attorneys saying state employees "would not be immune from liability" under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
"If I ask state employees to do it, I don't know that they'd volunteer. I wouldn't," she said at the conference. "So I don't expect any state employee to volunteer. Therefore I can't implement it."
She did say she supported a statewide patient registry "to prevent arrest of medical patients." But in the past, this was an aspect of the bill that riled activists because of privacy concerns.
Meanwhile, the Cannabis Defense Coalition is holding "raid preparedness training" in across the state. Spokane's training is today, from 1 to 4 pm, at the downtown library.
“The medical cannabis bill is a ghost of its former self, and could get dramatically worse if the governor exercises her sectional veto power,” says the CDC's Rachel Kurtz. “Our community would do well to prepare itself, to brace for impact.”
It took six years and $1 million to create. It became the law of the land in the Spokane Valley in October of 2009, and opposition to it got five city council members elected a month later.
But after Tuesday night's vote, the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan is now undeniably, sincerely, definitely dead.
“It’s gone,” says Dean Grafos, Spokane Valley City Councilman and longtime SARP opponent.
To review: The previous Spokane Valley City Council overlaid SARP, a 30-year zoning plan to spur development in the city, on top of the city’s comprehensive plan. It changed how certain areas along the Sprague and Appleway arterials were zoned, with the purpose of, for example, concentrating auto dealerships in one location, concentrating retailers towards intersections, and creating a city center near the University City shopping center.
Previous businesses were grandfathered in. The zoning would only apply to new businesses if one year passed between vacancy and new ownership.
But despite that, a number of businesses along the strip revolted. Suddenly, their businesses were being treated as “non-conforming." Vacancy rates had been climbing in Spokane Valley for years, but SARP critics believed SARP’s strict zoning only exacerbated the problem.
In 2009, five city council candidates, known as the “Positive Change” bloc, ran to eliminate SARP. Each of them was elected.
True to their word, they consistently and repeatedly voted against SARP.
Most votes were 5-2, with council members Bill Gothmann and Rose Dempsey in the
At Tuesday's council meeting, SARP was “deleted” from the city’s subarea plan and the city zoning map was changed to reflect that. With a few specific exceptions, the city zoning in the area will return to what it was before Oct. 2009.
"Well, I do think the reasons that SARP came about still
exist. We have a
depressed Sprague area,” says Bill Gothmann, the one council member who
did not vote to eliminate it. "I’ve heard there’s a plan for Sprague. I
haven’t seen one."
This is only the final blow. On Oct. 26 of last year, the council voted
to pass an emergency comprehensive plan amendment to
eliminate SARP's restrictive city center zoning. The Pring Corporation
buy property from Jim Magnuson’s University City, and turn it into a car
lot — something that would be problematic under SARP’s Zoning. Despite
most of the planning commission, the ordinance went through.
In the past year, SARP opponents solidified their power on the council even further.
This February, Rose Dempsey resigned, feeling that she could no longer make a difference. She was replaced by Arne Woodard, one of only two planning commissioners who supported eliminating SARP. Gothmann does not plan to run for reelection.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Chuck Hafner, the Positive Change campaign’s
coordinator, made it to the top three among applicants the city council will interview
to determine who will replace the late Bob McCaslin. Hafner is a
former employee of Jack Pring, the owner of the corporation that catalyzed the
emergency elimination of the city center zoning.
Over the next year, Grafos says, there are several ways to determine if the council’s decision to eliminate SARP was worthwhile.
“You’ll have to see some economic activity,” Grafos says. “We’ll have to see where the city is at, as far as its tax revenues. We’ll have to see how we’re competing against other municipalities.”
Creach shooting found reasonable — Two separate reviews within the Spokane County Sheriff's Office have justified Deputy Brian Hirzel's shooting of Pastor Wayne Scott Creach last August. (SR)
Steele pooped himself when confronted by the FBI — Federal agents testified in Boise yesterday that Sandpoint-area lawyer Edgar Steele, who is charged with hiring a hitman to kill his wife and mother-in-law, had a physical reaction when they told him his wife had not died. (KREM)
Spokane class sizes to increase — The Spokane school board voted 4-1 to increase class sizes by up to three students per classroom as it faces budget problems. (KXLY)
Tornadoes ravage the South — At least 214 people are dead after dozens of tornadoes ripped across six states. It's the worst such incident in 40 years. (Seattle Times)
Lately, even among ideal conditions, it hasn’t been easy to pass a school bond — a property tax increase in order to fund capital improvements. Bonds at Central Valley and Mead school districts both failed last February. But those bonds didn’t have nearly as big of a hill to climb as East Valley. After all, a bond hasn't passed there since 1996. Four consecutive bonds have failed.
Make that five. Last night, over 60 percent of Valley residents voted “no” on a new bond, which would have renovated five elementary schools, added 40 new classrooms and four gymnasiums, and used the East Valley Middle School building for administration, maintenance and as an enrichment center.
In this case, however, there may be more at work than a depressed economy and anti-tax sentiment.
In East Valley, Superintendent John Glenewinkel wanted to eliminate middle school. And the board approved his plan to do it.
He pointed to research indicating that a kindergarten-through-8th-grade model showed a number of benefits, but several parents (afraid the rougher side of middle school would spread to the younger kids) began to vocally oppose it.
We covered it all here.
Back in January, Glenewinkel told us two things: 1) A bond passing would be one indication of community support for his plan, and 2) Even if the bond didn’t pass, the district would still eliminate middle school. It would be more difficult without the funds to rebuild the school, but it would still happen.
But a lot of parents didn’t believe that last point. Opponents printed hundreds of yard signs against the bond, saying things like “Public School Closing Ahead – Vote No” and “Stop Rent Increases, Vote No.”
Last night, Parent Stacy Montoya celebrated the bond’s failure on the Facebook page of EAST VALLEY – CITIZENS FOR ACCOUNTABLE EDUCATION, writing, “Rejected 61.35% voted against the bond -- 500 votes still out but it looks like a victory!”
Montoya says there’s been a breakdown of trust with the district.
“I’ve been told the school district has said they didn’t get the word out enough. I disagree,” Montoya says. “I think the people of Spokane have spoken. They don’t want it.”
“It,” in this case, refers to the transition to a K-8 model. Montoya voted against the bond to stop that transition. So did Darren Stutzke. Art Tupper, a former teacher who has been at the forefront of the opposition to Glenewinkel’s plan, says he hopes, after this vote, that the administration will sit down and try to find a better way.
We have a call in to Glenewinkel to ask him what’s next for his plan. We’ll update you when we hear back.