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.
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
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.
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!
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 (email@example.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.
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!
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.
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?"
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.