Saturday, November 1, 2014

Everything you need to know for Election Day!

Posted By on Sat, Nov 1, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Go mail your ballot already.
  • Go mail your ballot already.

We're not doing endorsements anymore and that means we're not going to tell you how to fill out that ballot that's still sitting on your kitchen counter. BUT! We have covered all the important issues you'll be asked to decide on, so you've got plenty to study to make your own decisions.

To register: If you live in Washington and you're not yet registered to vote, sorry. It's too late. (Also, seriously? It takes, like, a minute. Get on it for next time here.) If you're in Idaho, you can register at the polls on Election Day. You'll need to bring a photo ID or sign an affidavit promising you are who you say you are.

To vote: If you want to return your ballot in Washington, make sure it's either postmarked for the last mail pickup on Election Day or safe in a ballot dropbox by 8 pm on Election Day. Find your nearest dropbox location here. Check whether it's been received here. In Idaho, find your polling place here.

Here are sample ballots for Kootenai County and Spokane County, and here's our coverage of the big races and issues:

Statewide initiatives: Dueling gun measures I-594 and I-591; I-1351, reducing K-12 class sizes

City of Spokane: Streets levy and park bond; more about the park bond

Spokane County Commission: Al French vs. Mary Lou Johnson; way more about Al French in our profile of him here

Spokane County Sheriff: Ozzie Knezovich vs. Doug Orr

Spokane County Prosecutor: Breean Beggs vs. Larry Haskell

Spokane County Treasurer: Rob Chase vs. Amy Biviano

State senator, District 6: Michael Baumgartner vs. Rich Cowan

State representative, District 4: Matt Shea vs. Josh Arritola

Other Washington state House races: District 3 position 1 and position 2; District 4, position 1; District 6, position 1; District 6, position 2

U.S. representative, District 5: Cathy McMorris Rodgers vs. Joe Pakootas; more on McMorris Rodgers' voting record here

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction: Sherri Ybarra vs. Jana Jones

More on Idaho's races for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives here.

Yay, democracy!


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Friday, October 31, 2014

If kids could vote, Cathy McMorris Rodgers would win and universal background checks would pass

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Kids these days like smaller class sizes and gun control. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Kids these days like smaller class sizes and gun control.
More than 18,000 kids in K-12 schools cast their votes in Washington's "Mock Election" this week. They narrowly passed Initiative 1351 to reduce class sizes (51 percent to 49 percent), overwhelming supported I-594 for universal background checks (69 percent to 31 percent), and soundly rejected anti-gun control measure I-591 (55 percent to 45 percent). 

Student-voter turnout, according to a proud press release from the Secretary of State's office, was the second-highest in Mock Election history. (Hey grown-ups, think we can do better?)

Kids in Spokane schools voted to send Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers back to Congress, 57 percent to 43 percent. They also would create a headache for the state Supreme Court by passing both of Washington's dueling gun initiatives: 56 percent supported I-591 while 68 percent approved I-594. You can click here to see the full breakdown of results by county, city and school.

For the voting adults out there, check out all of our election coverage here

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CAT FRIDAY: Results of the 2014 Halloween Cats Photo Contest

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 1:15 PM

It's here! Happy Meow-loween, everyone!

This year's Cat Friday Halloween Cats Photo contest received many amazingly adorable entries. As with last year, we're sharing all the submissions in today's post. But to reward our participants for their efforts — getting a cat to wear a costume and politely pose for a photo isn't easy — we're giving away a $20 gift card to one winner. Since we're a Spokane-based paper, we thought it appropriate to choose a gift card to a locally owned business catering to pets, and to a resident in our readership area. We intentionally left the rules pretty fuzzy at the beginning of the contest this year, because as with last year — who knew how many submissions we'd actually get? Surprisingly, the contest again received many entries from way outside of the Inland Northwest, which is pretty awesome.

This isn't to say we didn't appreciate all the out-of-town submissions. Considering the success of this contest for two years in a row, we're already planning to up the ante next year and get some better prizes lined up. It seems dressing up pets for Halloween has become just as big of a deal as dressing your kids or yourself. The proof is in the results of this little contest, and others hosted by major cat culture sites like Catster

And now, the costumed kitties!

Gwen the Ewok, from Olympia, Wash. Submitted by Anna E.
  • Gwen the Ewok, from Olympia, Wash. Submitted by Anna E.

Tom, aka the "Burger King," from Georgetown, Delaware. Submitted by Ai K.
  • Tom, aka the "Burger King," from Georgetown, Delaware. Submitted by Ai K.

Morris dressed as a dapper Scottishman. He's from Orlando, Florida, and his photo was submitted by Clare D.
  • Morris dressed as a dapper Scottishman. He's from Orlando, Florida, and his photo was submitted by Clare D.

Teddy the elf, from Lake Elsinore, California. Submitted by Jennifer S.
  • Teddy the elf, from Lake Elsinore, California. Submitted by Jennifer S.

Bubbles the fairy, from Henrico, Virginia. Submitted by Beth W.
  • Bubbles the fairy, from Henrico, Virginia. Submitted by Beth W.

Sylvie the elf (with a slice of pie), from Olympia, Wash. Submitted by Stephanie S.
  • Sylvie the elf (with a slice of pie), from Olympia, Wash. Submitted by Stephanie S.

Maddie, the 1,000-year-old sorceress cat, from Spokane, Wash. Submitted by Will H.
  • Maddie, the 1,000-year-old sorceress cat, from Spokane, Wash. Submitted by Will H.

Poseidon, from Walled Lake, Michigan, dressed up as a Hawaiian hula cat. Submitted by Michelle B.
  • Poseidon, from Walled Lake, Michigan, dressed up as a Hawaiian hula cat. Submitted by Michelle B.

Leaper, from Columbia, Pennsylvania (who also entered last year!) dressed up in his dinner tux this year. Submitted by PJ L.
  • Leaper, from Columbia, Pennsylvania (who also entered last year!) dressed up in his dinner tux this year. Submitted by PJ L.

Ash, of Spokane, didn't dress up, but is still very festive as he "contemplates mortality and the absurdity of existence." Submitted by Jennifer L.
  • Ash, of Spokane, didn't dress up, but is still very festive as he "contemplates mortality and the absurdity of existence." Submitted by Jennifer L.

Timmy, of Spokane, dressed up as Danny Zuko from Grease. Submitted by Jessica L.
  • Timmy, of Spokane, dressed up as Danny Zuko from Grease. Submitted by Jessica L.

Blinky, from New York City, is a flying monkey from the Wizard of Oz. Submitted by Isis K.
  • Blinky, from New York City, is a flying monkey from the Wizard of Oz. Submitted by Isis K.

Thunder, of Spokane, channeled Yoda this year. Submitted by Raevyn W., an Inlander staffer.
  • Thunder, of Spokane, channeled Yoda this year. Submitted by Raevyn W., an Inlander staffer.

Abby the giraffe, from Spokane. Submitted by Bruce D., an Inlander staffer.
  • Abby the giraffe, from Spokane. Submitted by Bruce D., an Inlander staffer.

Samwise as Yoda ("Kill you for this, I will."), from Spokane. Submitted by Ali B., also an Inlander staffer.
  • Samwise as Yoda ("Kill you for this, I will."), from Spokane. Submitted by Ali B., also an Inlander staffer.

And now, announcing the winner of this year's Cat Friday Halloween Cats photo contest, Oliver the Cat-osaurus Rex, from Spokane! Congratulations to Oliver and his owner, Chelsey. Please email me (cheys@inlander.com) with your top three favorite Inland Northwest pet supply stores, and we'll do our best to get you a $20 gift card to one of them.

Oliver, of Spokane, is a cat-osaurus rex. Submitted by Chelsey J.
  • Oliver, of Spokane, is a cat-osaurus rex. Submitted by Chelsey J.

Thank you to ALL cats who entered this year. We hope readers enjoy this year's line-up of fabulously costumed kitties. As a disclosure, Inlander staffers who entered did not qualify for the prize. For ethical reasons, we also did not include submissions by those who personally know this writer in the final contestant pool.

How can we make next year's contest even better? Please send us your suggestions or leave them in the comments. Also, remember to keep your cats indoors and safe tonight as festivities take place around your neighborhood!


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WSU's former med school consultant group: UW's med school plan is better

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Paul Umbach, CEO of the Tripp Umbach consulting firm
  • Paul Umbach, CEO of the Tripp Umbach consulting firm

Mention the phrase “Tripp Umbach” to any business, political or medical leader in Spokane, and they should have at least some sort of reaction. Back in 2010, the Tripp Umbach consulting group, hired for $45,000 by Washington State University and Greater Spokane Inc., announced a massive economic impact if only Spokane could create a four-year medical school and use that to bring in research dollars and spin-off biomedical companies.

The University of Washington did not help fund that study. But as the debate raged over UW’s plan to expand its medical school program in Spokane and WSU’s desire to create an entirely new medical school, UW and their supporters have used Tripp Umbach as a major piece of their rhetorical argument. Stay the course, UW and GSI’s current leadership says, and reap the rewards that Tripp Umbach has promised.

But WSU’s supporters have countered that the Tripp Umbach promise hinged on a big influx of research dollars, that UW has failed to provide. UW promises to shift course and truly invest in Spokane have been met with skepticism by some big players in the community.

“Where WSU has been our partner from day one, UW was always who we had to pull along. We had to go to them to convince them,” says Rich Hadley, former president of Greater Spokane Inc. when it funded the Tripp Umbach study. “We had to raise the money to do the feasibility study, we’ve had to raise the money to build the [new health sciences] building, we had to raise the money for the second year [of medical school.]”

But now, there’s a new Tripp Umbach study. And it’s been paid for by the University of Washington.

As part of an agreement, both schools have agreed not to officially oppose the others’ proposal. But that has hardly stopped the intense campaigning. And this study was commissioned this spring, long before WSU's study was released and long before the agreement was reached. 

This new Tripp Umbach study specifically compares the two options, and finds UW the superior choice.

“Tripp Umbach believes that the UW School of Medicine in Spokane at a cost of approximately $70,000 per student provides the most cost-effective option for the State of Washington” the report says. “Tripp Umbach believes that developing a new independent medical school is currently the most expensive option to grow the state’s physician workforce.” It praises UW’s success in keeping students in the state and doesn’t see the five-state region only having one medical school as a problem.

Continue reading »

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City attorney says Stuckart violated ethics rules

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart

Spokane City Attorney Nancy Isserlis has recommended that the city's Ethics Committee look into a possible ethics violation by City Council President Ben Stuckart. In a letter to the chair of the committee, Isserlis says Stuckart "received a highly confidential email regarding a pending matter in litigation, clearly marked 'attorney client privileged' and forwarded the email to the opposing party at his personal email address."

Specifically, she says Stuckart and other councilmembers received an email from Assistant City Attorney Erin Jacobson about the course of legal action the city would take after losing a court case in which the local fire union challenged the city's reorganization of the fire department and expansion of positions exempt from civil service, and then Stuckart forwarded that email to Don Waller, president of the union, Local 29.

"Within twenty minutes of receipt of Ms. Jacobson's email, Council President Stuckart forwarded the email, in its entirety, to Mr. Waller at his personal email address," Isserlis writes. "I believe Mr. Stuckart was aware he was forwarding confidential information to the party opposing the City in pending litigation."

Isserlis cites the city's ethics code, which prohibits disclosure of "any confidential, privileged or proprietary information," and state law saying "No municipal officer may disclose confidential information." And, she says, disclosing such confidential information violates attorney-client privilege between city legal and the council, which can't be done without a full council vote.

The email is included in Isserlis' referral, but the entirety of the message is redacted, so its unclear what exactly it included, but Stuckart tells the Inlander it was nothing that wasn't already "common knowledge in the press or wasn’t already argued in the court case." Isserlis said she found the email "inadvertently" while she was investigating a complaint from Waller about a budget transfer that was used to pay for a new position in the fire department.

In a statement sent to media this morning, Stuckart says he "did forward that email, and I should not have done that. For this I apologize."

But he adds that he doesn't believe the action was a violation of the city's ethics code because the content of the email didn't harm the city.

"There was no harm to the City, and any potential harm was de minimis and inconsequential in nature," Stuckart wrote, continuing later, "The City of Spokane lost the firefighters appeal not because I forwarded an email, but because of the clear erosion of our civil service caused by the creation of a fire division with multiple departments. I stated that this was an illegal action in my public testimony in 2013 and the courts agreed with me."

Stuckart has hired a private attorney and tells the Inlander he's reached out to the chair of the Ethics Committee to ask what his next step should be since he believes Isserlis' referral is not the same as a formal complaint. When formal complaints are filed, the person involved is asked to file a response with the committee.

He also brings up an old issue: The city's negotiations last year with the police guild over its latest contract and how much civilian oversight that would include. Back then, we reported that Councilman Steve Salvatori (who has since resigned and moved to Texas for work reasons) sent portions of a tentative agreement with the guild to the nonprofit Center for Justice. Stuckart says he wonders why no ethics concerns were brought against Salvatori then, though he won't speculate why. Isserlis could not immediately be reached for comment on that. Through City Spokesman Brian Coddington, Isserlis declined to comment further on the referral or on Salvatori’s actions.

"I'm not going to draw any conclusions, but in the time I've been in office, a situation very similar to this happened and nothing was done then," Stuckart says. "What’s different now?"

Read Isserlis' full referral here and Stuckart's response here.


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The Inlander's first-ever political TV ad awards!

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:52 AM

In less than a week now, your airwaves will be clear of the onslaught of political advertisements about this candidate or that candidate or that initiative that's going to either make the state the best damn plot of land in the country or transform Washington into one giant, freedom-hating turd farm.

But before election season blows away in the fall wind on Tuesday night (that's when you need to have your ballot in, patriots) we'd like to recognize the creative genius of the political season with our first-ever Best Political Ads of the Inland Northwest. We need a better name than that, so feel free to suggest something.

OK, let's hand out some prizes!

The MOST DEPRESSING USE OF STOCK PHOTOS award goes to Cathy McMorris Rodgers (or McMoRodge as her fans call her) for this spot. While listing off all the things she's against, the Republican says she tried to stop Obamacare, and accompanies that message with a stock image of the saddest grandpa you've ever seen, abandoned in a hallway. It's at the 20-second mark. If that's your grandpa, shame on you.



If you head over to Idaho, where there's a real live Democrat being taken seriously for the first time in, like, forever, we have the FRIDAY THE 13th AWARD for A.J. Balukoff's donning of a hockey mask. After some killer saves, Balukoff whips off his mask to reveal that the dude knocking the puck aside is actually — wait for it — the guy running for governor! The puck represents, um, problems or something. Questions remain, though: can this gubernatorial candidate really do those sort of splits? Inquiring minds want to know!



In the race for the 6th Legislative District's seat in the Washington state Senate, we've seen plenty of ads. And since Democratic challenger Rich Cowan owns a television and film production company, it makes sense that he would take home the BEST SCI-FI SPECIAL EFFECTS award for this ad in which his opponent, current Sen. Michael Baumgartner is turned into a ghost. Why the guy who helped bring a successful zombie show to Spokane didn't turn his opponent into a zombie is beyond us.



Baumgartner isn't actually a ghost, because ghosts don't win the BACHMANN TURNER OVERDRIVE, TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS WITH THIS HARD HAT AWARD. Just check out the incumbent state senator gettin' shit done all over the place in his spot. Talkin' with his hands, pounding the pavement with his people and, most importantly, just carryin' around a hard hat in case he needs to get to work on some heavy equipment.



In the race for Spokane County Commissioner, Mary Lou Johnson won the coveted BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCE award for her smooth, relaxing, comforting way of talking. Not since Bill Clinton (the 1992 version) has a candidate's voice been so inviting. I would listen to Johnson read the phone book for an hour. Not even joking.



Back in Idaho, you have to hand it to Butch Otter's campaign for their late-in-the-game TV spot that brought home the ROSS PEROT "WHERE ARE THEY NOW?" PRIZE thanks to an appearance by Mitt freakin' Romney! And he's standing in a Five Guys burger joint with Gov. Otter because, um... Idaho loves potatoes and Five Guys has French fries? But it was great to see career presidential candidate Mitt Romney back on TV, warming up for his third ill-fated run at the top office in the land.



Still in Idaho, there's this ad from Sheri Ybarra, perhaps the most entertaining candidate of the season because she couldn't remember when she got married or what degree she was studying for or how she copied her opponent's website or if she's won an award. Everything this candidate for Idaho's school superintendent position touches turns to a big ol' mess of confused amazement, including this spot. For it, Ybarra wins the HERE ARE SOME NICE KIDS, DON'T ASK ANY MORE QUESTIONS award.



That just about wraps up the show, folks. But before we leave, there's one last award. It goes to Matt Shea, who produced this spot all by himself from the middle of the woods! Although it was tough to declare a winner from the many, many excellent entries, Shea eventually came out on top for the BOASTFUL SURVIVOR MAN AWARD for this web ad in which he brags about a bunch of seemingly underwhelming achievements while standing in front of a tree... which we can only assume he chopped down with his bare hands the moment the cameras stopped rolling.


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WHAT'S UP TODAY? Tricks, treats and tunes

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 10:15 AM


We trust the Halloween spirit has moved you to show up in costume for work or school today. Well done, party people! And you've probably already perused our batch of events and Staff Picks for this weekend's festivities. But if you haven't, we can help.

This is what caught my eye for Friday, Oct. 31: 

MUSIC | Music Editor Laura Johnson put together a groovy-goolie list of live music and club shows for Halloween in this week's issue. We're talking multiple opportunities to wear that costume you worked so hard on, so get out there and hit up some of those gigs!

WORDS | Local historian Chet Caskey and writer Kelly Milner Halls team up for Auntie's Horror Stories 2014, where they'll explore the haunted history of Spokane. It's a perfect way to kick off your Halloween evening, recommended anyone 13 or older. 

COMMUNITY | The Mobius Broomstick Bash offers a night of spooky games, crafts and a costume contest at the children's museum, followed by some trick-or-treating through River Park Square. 

THEATER | If you're looking for something outside the typical Halloween festivities, consider a bit of theater. Locally written play The Clink continues its run at the Stage Left Theater, part of its preparation for a move to the Bay Area next spring. You can read all about it in the new issue of the Inlander.

Anika Bryceson plays the lead character Fifi in the full production of the locally written and produced play, "The Clink." - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Anika Bryceson plays the lead character Fifi in the full production of the locally written and produced play, "The Clink."

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MORNING BRIEFING: Body cams, plaza names and a clown ban

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 9:58 AM

HERE

Spokane officers in body cam pilot program will now record all interactions to limit officer discretion over footage. (S-R)

VA doctor ordered held on child rape charges pending trial. (KXLY)

New escape from Geiger jail facility the fifth in eight years. (KHQ)

Commission offers three names for plaza near City Hall. (Inlander)

THERE

Washington Supreme Court shifts burden of proof in rape cases. (AP)

Close to 700 people turn out to oil train public hearing in Olympia. (Olympian)

Witnesses say gray wolf spotted in Arizona near Grand Canyon. (AP)

ELSEWHERE

A 48-day manhunt for man suspected of killing Pennsylvania state trooper ends peacefully. (WaPost)

French town bans clowns because they're creepy. Why doesn't everyone do that? (BBC)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN: Here's what's actually in your candy. (NYT)


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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let’s look at that anonymous website attacking Rep. Matt Shea opponent Josh Arritola

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 5:44 PM

The text, giddy about the last-minute launch of a website attacking Josh Arritola, came late Tuesday evening. It was from Josh Arritola.

“Matt’s team is preparing an attack on me but they uploaded it too soon and we are preparing to debunk it before they have a chance,” Arritola wrote. (It’s worth noting, however, that www.whoisjosharritola.com claims to be unaffiliated with any candidate or political group.)

This isn’t the first time the seat has spawned an attack website. Two years ago, the Inland NW Leadership PAC put out The Shea Report, a rundown of the many controversies that have dogged Shea for the past six years. (I tackled its problems here.) But this new attack page goes after Shea’s opponent, questioning his political associations, his business record, and the degree to which he was homeless. It makes the now-familiar accusation that Arritola was secretly recruited by establishment Republicans, but with a few new wrinkles.

Josh Arritola, right, with a cardboard cutout of opponent Matt Shea.
  • Josh Arritola, right, with a cardboard cutout of opponent Matt Shea.

Arritola has admitted to the Inlander that he made several factual mistakes during his debate with Shea: He was incorrect when he said that the city of Spokane Valley hired a lobbyist because Shea's representation had been so poor, and incorrect when he said that every donation to Shea but one came from outside the 4th District. But the site, so far, doesn't focus on those.

This post summarizes the claims made on the anti-Arritola site, gives some context and double-checks the facts, and gives Arritola a chance to respond. If you want a more general overview of the race check here, or a collection of Matt Shea quotes, check here.

“Political Leanings”

"Who Is Josh Arritola?" continues the liberal-by-association accusations that have defined the majority of Shea’s attacks on Arritola.

The site provides evidence that Arritola “liked” The Mainstream Republicans on Facebook, then quotes the Mainstream Republican website, “Many members of Mainstream are pro-choice and support Marriage Equality, though not all,” then uses that to say, “The 4th District by large does NOT support pro-choice and Marriage Equality. Do you want a representative that does?”

In the debate, however, Arritola said that not only is he against abortion, he’s against it in all circumstances, a position held by only 31 percent of Republicans nationwide.

Similarly, it links to the endorsement of Arritola in the Progressive Voters Guide, without mentioning how tepid the endorsement actually is: “The only candidates in this race are conservative Republicans who are out of step with mainstream values on many issues. Nevertheless, Josh Arritola is the better choice in this race… While we don't agree with his positions on women's health, the environment, and other important issues, he would bring a level of professionalism and reasonableness that Shea lacks.”

It also takes on Arritola’s endorsement by the Association of Washington Business. The site, helpfully, outlines the reasons why Shea voted against certain bills, preventing him from getting an automatic endorsement. (In 2013, partially because of his Boeing vote, Shea also had one of the lowest Republican records in the Legislature from the AWB.) It then argues:

“Additionally, Josh’s comment “Matt Shea is the ONLY incumbent Republican NOT endorsed” is not true as a number of the Freedom Agenda team did not get the automatic endorsements because they too were under the 80% requirement. So much for the AWB and for Arritola telling the TRUTH.”

In reality, the other members of the Freedom Agenda group were endorsed, though not automatically. Dave Taylor and Elizabeth Scott are listed under the AWB’s additional endorsements page, the same page that lists the endorsement of Arritola. Jason Overstreet, the final member of the main Freedom Agenda team, isn’t running for re-election – so he wasn’t up for an endorsement.


Continue reading »

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Spokane company Beardbrand is on ABC's Shark Tank tomorrow night

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 4:57 PM

The Spokane-based company sells beard oils, waxes and care products. - BEARDBRAND.COM
  • beardbrand.com
  • The Spokane-based company sells beard oils, waxes and care products.

With No-Shave-November starting in a few days, it's timely that Spokane-based startup Beardbrand, which sells products catering to the "urban beardsman," is competing on the Emmy-winning reality investment show Shark Tank. The episode airs tomorrow night, Oct. 31, at 9 pm, so those who choose to stay in and pass out candy should be able to catch its premiere on ABC. 

Beardbrand CEO Eric Bandholz, who has since moved to Austin, Texas, is appearing on the show to introduce the company's mission and products — high-quality beard oils, mustache waxes and beard grooming accessories — to Shark Tank's investors, aka "sharks," who then have the option to invest in a percentage of the company.

Beardbrand's online store was launched last year, after Bandholz and company co-founders Lindsey Reinders and Jeremy McGee worked together during Startup Weekend Spokane. The company currently carries more than 25 products and has reached $1.5 million in annual sales.

The details and results of Bandholz's pitch are being kept secret until after the episode's first airing. It will be available to watch for free online one week after it airs on TV, or soon after it airs for viewers who sign into ABC's site through their TV provider.


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