Monday, February 29, 2016

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 5:16 PM

click to enlarge Soon, Spokanites can challenge each other in super-sized games of Connect 4. - SPOKANE SIDEWALK GAMES
Spokane Sidewalk Games
Soon, Spokanites can challenge each other in super-sized games of Connect 4.

A few weekends ago while in Seattle for business, Ryan Oelrich spent the afternoon playing giant board games downtown with complete strangers. Now, that inspiring experience has become the spark of a community project already well on its way to becoming a reality: Spokane Sidewalk Games

“It was a very inspiring moment for me," Oelrich says. "I watched business professionals sit down with the homeless and smile, talk and enjoy each other’s company. I’m frequently complaining to my friends that people don’t talk to one another and connect as much as we should.”

So far, in about a week's time (he first saw the games on Feb. 20) Oelrich has secured sponsors (Global Credit Union) and ordered Spokane some of its own super-sized games — chess and Connect Four, so far. He hopes to purchase giant-sized versions of checkers, Chutes and Ladders and Tic-Tac-Toe.

Oelrich's large network of local connections has helped the project quickly move from a moment of inspiration to something he hopes to publicly debut by May. He currently serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit arts venture Terrain, and is the executive director of Priority Spokane, which supports local students who are homeless. 

Because of those connections, local artists have offered to put their artwork onto game pieces. Oelrich has also found a way for the project to offer employment opportunities for local homeless youth. Teens supported by the Volunteers of America's Crosswalk Youth Shelter downtown will staff the games during weekends and other major events to encourage the public to come participate, and also to help prevent any random acts of vandalism to the game pieces (a concern that's been frequently mentioned to him). Several groups have already reached out with interest in hosting the games, including local farmers markets. The plan is to set up the games at big annual events — Bloomsday, Hoopfest, Pig Out in the Park and others — and during arts events like Terrain's October arts showcase and the Bazaar arts market in June.

"It's been such a fun project to watch come together so quickly," Oelrich says. "I love that this ties into my work of putting Crosswalk youth to work, and since I'm on the Terrain board, this brings my whole world together."

Those interested in donating to the project can contact Oelrich directly at Several sponsorships, which includes funds to pay youth employees, are still available.

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Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 3:57 PM

You might have noticed a larger than normal crowd at your favorite restaurant this weekend. Inlander Restaurant Week kicked off on Friday, and judging by the social media buzz, there are a LOT of people out there enjoying the festivities. 

If you've been out of town or living under a rock or something, you can find all manner of stories and information about this year's Inlander Restaurant Week on our regular Inlander website. And you can find all the menus for the restaurants right here so you can plan your own excursion before the last day on Sunday, March 6. 

If you're the type to post pictures of your food — and let's face it, many of us are — be sure to drop a #InlanderRW hashtag so we can see your photography, and add a #IRWRaveReviews tag on your Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to generate a donation for Second Harvest every time you do so. 

Here are a few Instagram photos from the first few days of Inlander Restaurant Week:

The Boiler Room by Instagram user @misstifftigress
The Boiler Room by Instagram user @misstifftigress

Dessert at Browne's Tavern by Instagram user f_b_madrid
Dessert at Browne's Tavern by Instagram user f_b_madrid

Gilded Unicorn by Instagram user @thetolczyk
Gilded Unicorn by Instagram user @thetolczyk

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Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 11:34 AM

click to enlarge Kyle Wiltjer will try to lead the Zags to the NCAA tournament when the WCC conference tournament kicks off this weekend.
Kyle Wiltjer will try to lead the Zags to the NCAA tournament when the WCC conference tournament kicks off this weekend.

If Gonzaga's two road wins to close down its WCC season helped the team earn a tie for the conference championship (which it did, technically speaking), that's all well and good. But those wins against San Diego and BYU could have much greater significance in a little less than two weeks. 

That's when Selection Sunday for the NCAA tourney goes down, and Gonzaga could obviously get the WCC automatic bid if the team goes to Las Vegas this weekend and wins the conference tournament. But even if they, say, lose in the WCC final, they could sneak into March Madness thanks particularly to Saturday night's tough win at BYU's giant, 20,000-capacity arena. 

The beatdown of San Diego on Thursday was expected; that team lost to BYU by nearly 60 points a week previous. But BYU came into Spokane and beat the Bulldogs earlier this season, and were in the midst of a serious hot streak, scoring more than 90 points several times while putting together a five-game win streak. 

Gonzaga wasn't looking great leading up to Saturday night. Yes, the team was undefeated against the  WCC also-rans, but they were 0-3 combined against BYU and conference co-champ St. Mary's, including home losses to both. Add in losses to UCLA, Arizona and SMU over the course of the season, and Gonzaga just didn't seem capable of winning a big game. 

That makes Saturday night's 71-68 win all the more significant. For the first time in recent memory, the team put together the kind of complete game they'll need to beat good teams in March Madness. 

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Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 9:15 AM


NEWS: The current assistant police chief wrote an email (recently dug up by the Inlander) to other officers shortly after Officer Karl Thompson was indicted on charges related to the beating death of Otto Zehm. 

THINGS TO DO: This week is full of bands and movies to see and other events. 

• First-of-its-kind carbon tax before Washington lawmakers

A group calling itself Carbon Washington has collected more than 350,000 signatures for a ballot initiative that would place a tax on carbon emissions. The legislature has until March 10 to enact it into law, modify or automatically pass it along to voters in the November election.

• Rumblings over revamp of Riverfront Park 
Voters overwhelmingly approved a $64.3 million renovation of Riverfront Park, but a former parks board president says the project is already starting to "fracture." 

• Idaho lawmakers consider bill to allow Bible in schools 
An Idaho legislative panel considered a measure that would codify when the Bible can be referenced in public schools. The bill's sponsor says the text has nonreligious uses. Opponents worry it opens to door to creationism being taught in schools. Others say the bill isn't needed.

• Suicide bombing kills 27 in Iraq
A suicide bomber detonated his vest at a funeral for a Shi'ite militia commander. 

• Trump tweets fascist dictator 
GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was tricked into tweeting a quote from Benito Mussolini, a fascist dictator of Italy. Trump says it's an interesting quote despite its origins. 
• Trump and Clinton have commanding leads day before super Tuesday primaries
A CNN/ORC poll has found that Trump has 49 percent of Republican support. Hillary Clinton leads her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders 55 percent to 38 percent. 

• Hollywood's biggest night was last night
The Oscars were last night. Here are the results. The event was hosted by comedian Chris Rock, who wasted no time in addressing the elephant in the room.

This post has been updated to more accurately reflect criticisms of how the Riverfront Park project is playing out. 

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Posted By on Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 1:00 PM

click to enlarge Sam Outlaw headlines Wednesday at The Bartlett.
Sam Outlaw headlines Wednesday at The Bartlett.

Bam, just like that, we're hitting March this week. Spring is just a few weeks away, so let's finish of winter with some good times, as found in our event listings and Staff Picks

Here are some great options in the week ahead: 

Monday, Feb. 29

MUSIC EVENTS | The Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra takes over the Fox Theater for a night featuring guest artist Natasha Peremski. 

LIVE BANDS | Often, there’s no style of music more joyful than bluegrass. Whether you’re talking traditional, Bill Monroe-style picking or “newgrass” experimentation, get certain musicians together with fiddles, banjos and mandolins and you have the makings of a sweaty night of smiles and stomping. San Francisco’s Brothers Comatose, led by brothers Ben and Alex Morrison, have been creating joyful noise and memorable nights for years, as opener for like-minded acts Devil Makes Three and Yonder Mountain String Band, and as headliners in their own right. Monday, they're joined by The Easy Leaves for a show at The Bartlett. Here's a little sample of their sound: 

Tuesday, March 1

FILM | The  Spark Center hosts a Filmmaking Workshop, where you'll learn from local experts for just $5. 

Wednesday, March 2

WORDS | The University of Idaho kicks off its annual Hemingway Festival, this year focusing on Papa's love of Cuba. Timely! Events run through Saturday. 

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 1:03 PM

click to enlarge The Cherry Poppin' Daddies canceled a show in Spokane last summer, but they perform at the University of Idaho Saturday as part of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.
The Cherry Poppin' Daddies canceled a show in Spokane last summer, but they perform at the University of Idaho Saturday as part of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

While you're checking Inlander Restaurant Week this weekend, you may as well hit up some live music before or after your meal. Make a full night out of it. Here are some of the shows that stick out to us. 

Alternative country is seemingly gaining popularity in Spokane; this last week saw the kickoff of Northwest of Nashville at the Bartlett. Tonight, the Big Dipper carries on the trend with a Nashville Style Writer’s Round, featuring artists from all over the region including original tunes from Levi Daniel, Kinsley, Country Biggs, Erika Anderson, Robbie Walden and Christy Lee. The show is $7 at the door and starts at 8 pm.

Enlightening folks to jazz since the 1960s, the annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest at the University of Idaho continues tonight and Saturday with the big acts Tower of Power and then Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Check here for a full lineup of musicians and events.

Seattle’s Barcelona is no stranger to Spokane, and they’re back this weekend at the Bartlett to show off their piano-rock for what they’re dubbing a reunion tour. Playing their 2007 album Absolutes in its entirety, the show features the talents of current and old members of the band. The Young Wild and Lavoy open the show that starts at 8 pm and is sold out, so hopefully, you already got tickets.
Jones Radiator is at it again bringing in local acts worthy of your time and hearing. This weekend, there are two awesome lineups right in a row. Saturday, the whiskey bar gets super loud with metal and punk acts Dark White Light, Cold Blooded, Phlegm Fatale and Why did Johnny Kill. Sunday, the intimate space brings in Von the Baptist, the Hague, Flannel Math Animal and William Alan. That show is free and starts at 7 pm; it is on a school night, after all.

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Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 11:13 AM

Karl Thompson
Karl Thompson

"As an agency, the Spokane Police Division has continued to grow and develop with recommendations from the Department of Justice and the Use of Force Commission," Asst. Chief Meidl said via text. "All our officers are now CIT trained and procedural justice is a daily practice on the streets of Spokane. Just recently, Mayor Condon, Chief Dobrow and I met with the Zehm family. The conversation was a productive one; we talked of lessons learned, healing and the need to move forward. I intend to continue that forward momentum for our agency and our community." 

Our original story follows below

Karl Thompson, a Spokane police officer convicted of using excessive force in the death of Otto Zehm and lying to cover it up, was released from prison on Thursday.

A 2011 email recently obtained by the Inlander from Craig Meidl, who recently returned to his post of assistant police chief, provides a glimpse into the deep sympathies for Thompson. The email expresses strong support for Thompson and a sense of betrayal from the public as well as the prosecutors in the case. And now one of those prosecutors is Meidl’s new boss.

“Karl was the most professional officer on the department,” reads the email. “If it could happen to him, it could happen to me.”

The email further states that the “system failed” and that an “innocent man was found guilty.”

“Karl needs our support,” reads the email. “More than ever. His family needs our support. More than ever.”

“Feeling betrayed,” reads the email, sent to about 80 other officers. “Betrayed by the very public we’ve sworn to protect. Betrayed by Prosecutors who violated ethical principals [sic] in courtroom behavior. Threats to witnesses, raised voices, red faces.”

One of those prosecutors was James McDevitt, who indicted Thompson, and is now the police department’s interim director of law enforcement –– Meidl’s boss.

“These are not matters that we do with any sort of glee. We don’t enjoy these types of things. These are tough, these are contentious. These are not a lot of fun, quite frankly,” McDevitt said in 2009, before reading a grand jury indictment of Thompson. “But the federal civil rights statute prohibits any intentional acts by law enforcement officials who misuse their positions to unlawfully deprive individuals of constitutional rights, such as the right to be free from unwarranted assaults, illegal arrests and searches.”

Meidl returned to the position in December, after self-demoting under former Police Chief Frank Straub, who was criticized for what’s been described as an abrasive leadership style. Meidl wasn’t available for comment (we’ll update this post if we hear back from him). Shortly after his reappointment, the Inlander asked Meidl why he was one of the officers who saluted Thompson.

“It wasn't about Otto Zehm, and it was not meant to insult or cause further harm,” he told the Inlander in December of the salute. “The intent was to honor this person that we knew differently than how he'd been portrayed. But at the same time I acknowledge that things should and could have been done differently."

Here is the entirety of the letter:

Subject: Where do we go from here….?

Leave me alone. You wouldn’t understand.

I don’t want to talk about it. I need to talk about it!

Feeling betrayed. Betrayed by the very public we’ve sworn to protect. Betrayed by Prosecutors who violated ethical principals in courtroom behavior. Threats to witnesses, raised voices, red faces.

Numb. Shock. Anger. Unprotected. Fear. Karl was the most professional officer on the department. If it could happen to him, it could happen to me.

Sad. Alone. We will never be the same again. The system failed. Press releases, blogs, newscasts, and headlines; pouring salt on the wound.

Celebration?! How could anyone celebrate if they knew what happened? An innocent man was found guilty. People happy over someone who risked his life every day to protect them. They turned on him. They turned on us. We have to look out for each other; no one else cares about what happens to us.

These are emotions we are all feeling right now. It’s as if the globe we live on has been tilted on its axis. These feelings are normal and expected.

But Karl is still alive! The last chapter has NOT been written yet. There will be appeals. It will take time.

How do we get through this? We get through this ONE DAY AT A TIMe. Not one Week, or a month. One Day. You were given enough grace for ONE DAY. Grace for tomorrow isn’t going to be deposited in your bank until tomorrow. You will get a fresh batch of grace and perseverance tomorrow. Not enough to get your through the week, but enough to get you through ONE DAY.

Be present….. today.

Karl needs our support. More than ever. His family needs our support. More than ever. Our friends and co-workers need our support. More than ever.

I’m available for small talk, deep talk or just a cup of coffee.

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Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 9:18 AM


NEWS: A Spokane County Sheriff's deputy is on paid leave pending an investigation into "inappropriate conduct."
NEWS: West Central residents are trying to preserve a block of historic homes by physically moving them.
NEWS: School districts are grappling with finding best practices for transgender students. 
ARTS: A young photographer pushes his creative limits by turning to antiquated photographic processes.
MUSIC: Bluegrass lifer Jenny Anne Mannan hosts a new Spokane acoustic showcase.
click to enlarge Former Mexico President Vicente Fox is not paying for Turmp's f***ing wall.
Former Mexico President Vicente Fox is not paying for Turmp's f***ing wall.

• Mexican presidents not paying for Trump's wall
Two former presidents of Mexico used sharp language to emphatically express their opposition to GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's suggestion that the country pay to build a wall to keep immigrants out of the U.S. 

• Apple says FBI is violating constitution
The tech giant's lawyers say that a court order requiring Apple to unlock an iPhone used by a terrorist would violate the company's First Amendment rights and would set a dangerous precedent. 

• Report on inmate early release issued
An official report blames "bureaucratic incompetence" and "inexplicable failure both on an institutional and individual level" for the early release of Washington inmates that resulted in two deaths and heavy political fallout. 

• Idaho lawmaker questions the likelihood of pregnancy from rape
As the Idaho legislature consider a measure that would provide women seeking abortions a list of places where they could obtain a free ultra-sound, one state representative said he didn't think rape and incest were likely to cause pregnancy.

• Misleading billboard taken down after Democrats threaten to sue
An "Idaho Votes" billboard advertising the March 8 presidential primary has been taken down after Democrats, who hold their primary March 22, complained that the advertisement was misleading and likely to cause confusion. 

• Guilty verdict reached in murder-for-hire trial
A jury has determined that James Henrikson is guilty of masterminding the murder of a South Hill businessman.

The Republicans had yet another debate in anticipation of the next wave of primaries on Tuesday. Here are the highlights: 

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 3:07 PM

An unnamed Spokane County Sheriff's deputy is on paid leave pending an investigation for "inappropriate conduct." 

The name of the deputy has not yet been released because the alleged victim has not been contacted, according to a news released from the sheriff's office. The allegation was reported yesterday to the Office of Professional Standards, and will be investigated by the Washington State Patrol. 

This story is developing, check back for details.

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Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 9:15 AM


Drag and Drop: West Central residents scramble to save historic homes from destruction by actually picking them up and moving them. 

• Centuries after Johann Sebastian Bach's death, we're still talking about him. Here's a list of modern musicians influenced by his music. 


• A homeless, drug-addicted, dumpster diver found computer hard drives and DVDs that shoved a child-rape case into a multi-state child porn investigation involving a former VA doc, Craig Morgenstern

Apple v. the Feds: Following a court order to help the F.B.I. unlock the iPhone used by a mass shooter, Apple engineers are working on adding more security to a locked phone. Apple C.E.O. Tim Cook argues that helping the government break into an iPhone would set a bad precedent for America and is prepared to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. 

Tiny salt shakers will appear next to menu items with more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium in some New York restaurants, according to a judge's first-of-its-kind ruling.

"For the sake of your health, order something else," Mayor Bill de Blasio said after the ruling. 

• Looking for a show this weekend? Old school soul/funk band Tower of Power is performing Friday night during the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest hosted by the University of Idaho.

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Reclaiming Culture: The Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska Repatriation @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 2
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