Thursday, June 30, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 4:52 PM

A court case that could have had a devastating effect on public sector unions in Washington and nationally is dead — for now. 

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rehear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The case centered on Rebecca Friedrichs, a California teacher who objected to a state law requiring her to pay union fees for representation against her will.

Washington has a similar law compelling public sector employees to pay into a union for representation. Organized labor has anxiously watched the case, which had the potential to diminish the financial viability and political power of public sector unions.

The Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank, has used a more limited court ruling, Harris v. Quinn, to chip away at SEIU affiliates in Washington.

“At this point, it looks like the Friedrichs case is finished,” writes Maxford Nelsen, director of labor policy for the Freedom Foundation. “With that said, the issue of forcing public employees to fund labor unions against their will is still very much alive both at the state policy level and in court.”

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court tied 4-4 on Friedrichs, allowing a lower court’s ruling in favor of the union to stand. In February, Justice Antonin Scalia suddenly died and there’s been a vacancy on the court since.

Nelson notes that similar cases have been filed around the country and the issue will likely come up again.

“It is quite likely more such cases will continue to be filed until a ninth justice is confirmed and the constitutionality of compulsory agency fees for public employees can be settled more definitively,” he writes. “It will just take longer than expected to come to a resolution.”

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Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 4:04 PM

The Grand Coulee Dam is leaking oil into the Columbia River in violation of federal law, according to a lawsuit filed by an environmental group.

Columbia Riverkeeper is suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, alleging that the agency has allowed the oils, grease and lubricants used on its gates and turbines in the dam to pollute the Columbia River, in violation of the U.S. Clean Water Act.

“Toxic pollution threatens the health of people that eat local fish and jeopardizes the public’s right to eat fish caught locally,” reads the complaint, filed in federal court on Wednesday. “Rising water temperatures also threaten the health of salmon and other aquatic life that rely on cool water for survival.”

The lawsuit cites government studies that found that pollutants in the river are being ingested by fish and making their way up the food chain to humans.

According to a news release from Columbia Riverkeeper, if the suit is successful, it’ll require the bureau to reduce pollution, disclose discharges and switch to more environmentally friendly lubricants used to operate the dam, one of the largest in the country. The news release also states that Columbia Riverkeeper has successfully used a similar strategy on eight dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Michael Williamson, spokesman for the bureau, said he was unable to comment on pending litigation.

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Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 12:06 PM

I knew going into last night's Built to Spill show at the Knitting Factory that it would be a different version of the band. The indie gods, led by Doug Martsch, are currently touring as a three-piece, which meant only Martsch's guitar would be on display. I realized on the walk through a scorching evening in downtown Spokane that I'd never seen BTS with fewer than three guitars on stage, allowing them to weave soaring and sometimes infinitely spacey soundscapes that veer into jammy territory.

And before the first chord, the show indeed felt very, very different. There was no backdrop to the stage decorated only by the drum kit, amps and Martsch's impressive collection of pedals, switches and other gadgets that made his place on the stage look like something out of an old NASA control room. There was no fanfare when the band took the stage because they'd already been out there setting up their own gear the entire time. It felt a bit like we'd stumbled upon one of the band's practice sessions.

Martsch then charged through a set that sounded anything but thin and showcased him as the guitar hero he should be more widely recognized as. With all the knob turning he was doing with his technical apparatus, there were times I had to ask my buddy if he thought Martsch was looping in some extra guitar parts, but it seemed he was playing it all live. No, he was not, was the consensus, and the crowd, which was a bit thinner than expected but surprisingly young for a band that is unfortunately labeled as "dad rock" by the more smug music writers out there, lapped it up.

High points were "I Would Hurt a Fly" from 1997's Perfect from Now On, as well as several cuts from the last year's Untethered Moon. Martsch's guitar solos were grand throughout, but his work on "Carry the Zero" took the tune near the 10-minute mark without letting it get boring. They even worked a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Effigy" into the encore.

I went in expecting something like Built to Spill Light, but that was hardly the case. It was, indeed, different than the five-piece shows I'd previously seen, but this incarnation of the band — which is a return to its roots in a way — is more than worthwhile. And for people who want to get a better taste of one of rock's great guitarists, it might even be a more satisfying product.

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Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 9:24 AM


Scotty Moore, the guitarist in Elvis Presley's original band, died Tuesday. Moore played on hits such as "Mystery Train," "That's All Right" and "Good Rockin' Tonight."

Chickens, cats, rabbits and goats started having seizures. Some died. Residents in a remote part of Stevens County are getting sick, but no one can say why.

Check out the Outdoors Guide in this week's issue. Then go outside and do stuff. 


• Just in time for Fourth of July weekend, Idahoans can carry guns without permits starting Friday. Take cover.

• The city ethics commission delayed a decision on the complaint against Spokane Mayor David Condon. The commission is considering whether to meet in super secret executive session, so you and I can't know what they talk about. (Spokesman-Review)

• Is the Grand Coulee Dam leaking toxic oil into the Columbia River? The Riverkeeper thinks so

• A grizzly bear killed a mountain biker near Glacier National Park. The man, Brad Treat, 38, was an officer for the U.S. Forest Service. 

• The F.D.A. just gave us the worst news in the last half century — stop eating raw cookie dough.


• Tonight, check out Duke Evers at John's Alley in Moscow.

• Tomorrow night, how about some Blitzen Trapper at The Hive in Sandpoint?

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 4:05 PM

click to enlarge Scotty Moore, left, was the man on guitar for Elvis Presley's earliest recordings.
Scotty Moore, left, was the man on guitar for Elvis Presley's earliest recordings.

One of the pillars of what we now know as rock 'n' roll died Tuesday in Nashville. 

Scotty Moore was the guitarist in Elvis Presley's original band, and is the guy behind some of the King's most memorable tunes thanks to his playing on songs like "That's All Right," "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "Mystery Train." If you listen to rock, folk, country, blues or jazz, you've likely listened to someone influenced by Scotty Moore. 

Keith Richards credits Moore's sound with convincing him to switch from acoustic to electric guitar, and everyone from Jack White to Jimmy Page has sung the praises of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. 

I got the chance to interview Moore back in 2004 for a story I was writing about what many considered the beginning of rock music, when Elvis and his buddies turned up at Sun Records in Memphis and crafted a sound that would start a teenage revolution (all due respect to Chuck Berry and myriad other black artists Elvis stole from). 

Moore described first meeting Presley for the session — it was July 5, 1954 — along with bassist Bill Black for a session recorded by Sun Records boss Sam Phillips

"We'd run through a whole bunch of songs, for about an hour or an hour and a half, I guess, and we took a little break," Moore told me for the story that ran in The Salt Lake Tribune. "Elvis started just goofing around and started singing 'That's All Right.' Bill and I, neither of us had ever heard it before, so we just started playing along. Sam stuck his head out [of the recording booth] and asked what we were doing, then told us to do it again. We ran through it about four or five times while Sam recorded.

"It was just a demo. There was only one mic on him and his guitar, but he played so loud, you didn't need to mic his guitar! And we'd kind of step in and step out away from the one microphone."

That cover of a so-called "race record" by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup marked the point when Phillips and Moore realized that Presley kid was going to be huge. And Moore's guitar is about as important as Elvis's voice. 

You can hear that original recording with Moore's guitar work right here: 

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Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 12:50 PM

Good survey, bad medicine?
Do doctors feel pressured to prescribe opioids to get better patient ratings? This spring, the CDC put out new guidelines for prescribing opioids in response to 2014 data showing 2 million Americans were abusing prescription painkillers. But since 2010, federal laws have linked hospital payments to patient satisfaction surveys on things ranging from nighttime noise levels to how effectively patient’s felt their pain was managed. Poor pain management may translate to poor satisfaction, leaving doctors in a bind. “Almost half believed that pressure to obtain better scores promoted inappropriate care, including unnecessary antibiotic and opioid prescriptions, tests, procedures, and hospital admissions,” say the authors of study of more than 150 physicians on how the surveys affected their job performance and satisfaction. Learn more here

Hard work versus good genes
Remember how 10,000 hours of practice was what it took to make you great at something? A new study looking at data on practice and sport performance showed what many observant parents have known for quite some time: some kids are better than others at sports, no matter how much they practice or how early they start. Eighty-two percent of sports prowess appears to be due to what researchers term “other factors.” Namely, your genetics, and interestingly, mental and psychological factors such as performance anxiety and working memory.

Herbal App
The amazingly comprehensive and free “About Herbs” app developed by Memorial Sloan Kettering helps both consumers and professionals decipher the benefits and risks of thousands of “botanicals, supplements, complementary therapies and more.” Search a substance or a symptom—it’s hard to find something they haven’t included. Or check out the featured topics. Advice for consumers is relatively easy-to-understand, and includes potential benefits, as well as interactions and caveats, but unfortunately, not much about dosing. Switch to the “professionals” mode for a more extensive scientific report.

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Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Consider it a salon with a soundtrack. A mix of passionate conversation about music and listening party, in which you can be some combination of DJ, lecturer and fan. 

The Bartlett is hosting its first Wax Club Wednesday night, in which anyone and everyone is invited to bring some vinyl to the bar to play it for fellow guests and talk about what makes it so great. 

Kent Ueland is the organizer of the thing; you might know him better as The Holy Broke. He says the inspiration came about "having a few too many drinks at The Observatory" and talking to bartender Anthony Burgess about how to make a vinyl night like the one that used to happen at Jones Radiator more personal and appealing than simply "bring a vinyl, get in line, it might get played." 

For the Wax Club, there are a few "regulations" — mostly that you bring an album and have a couple of reasons you love it that you're willing to share, as well as two "fun facts." 

Ueland says his inaugural contribution will be Silver Tongued Devil by Kris Kristofferson, "because I believe it's one of the strongest songwriting debuts ever." He's prepared to regale attendees with stories of Kristofferson landing a helicopter on Johnny Cash's lawn, and leaving a Rhodes Scholarship behind to pursue his musical dreams. 

"That's sort of what I hope for out of this whole thing — people bring records they are truly passionate about, and are happy to argue with any naysayers that may pipe up (nicely of course)," Ueland says.

There aren't any limitations, he says, other than the Golden rule of "don't be a dick," as in don't make 30 people listen to one song that lasts a whole side of an album. "The beauty of vinyl is that there are hard limitations to how long they can be, so that helps," he says. "Be cool and let's talk tunes. That's all."

Down the line, the Wax Club might incorporate some themes, like "bring the record you think has the strongest last song" or "bring your favorite classic crooner," Ueland says. But for the time being, he just wants to let folks know that Wax Club is "open to all people, vinyl lovers or not. Just come hang and listen if that's your style. Learn something — I know I will!"

Wax Club is Wednesday, June 29, from 7-11pm. It's open to all ages, and participants get 20 percent off their bar tab. And it's free. 

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Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 9:33 AM

If Ben Stuckart becomes mayor, that means we'll be able to keep using this Irritated Ben Stuckart picture well into 2023!
If Ben Stuckart becomes mayor, that means we'll be able to keep using this Irritated Ben Stuckart picture well into 2023!


SPOILER WARNING for those who haven't read the books
And by books, I mean the PDC filings. City Council President Ben Stuckart is running for mayor three years from now. And by three years, I mean he's essentially starting now

And the Number One Reason of The Top 10 Reasons To Think The Police Chief's Job Is Danger:

You wrote a draft of the press release announcing his resignation the day before. So why did City Spokesman Brian Coddington, according to the Spokesman-Review last year, tell the newspaper that he "hadn't heard" the chief was in danger of losing his job?

You Want Me On That Wall! You Need Me On That Wall!
The Spokane Wall digs deep into the Geocities inside its heart to put out a website announcing cool upcoming events

Who watches the watchmen the other watchmen bring in to watch the watchmen?
The police ombudsman oversees conduct from the Spokane Police Department. But in the case of the Ryan Holyk accident, the police were overseeing the actions of a Spokane County Sheriff's deputy. So can the police ombudsman look into how well the police investigated the Sheriff's office?

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 4:16 PM

There’s a new way to find out about what’s going on in the local music and arts scene.

No, it’s not the most state-of-the-art website, but certainly, it’s to the point. The Spokane Wall tells you about some of the coolest musicians and comedians and artists putting on shows in the area, by posting event posters on a fake brick wall. Scroll right to see more. Click on the poster and be transported to the event’s Facebook page or website. That’s it. Simple.

The Spokane Wall, was created by local musician (the Poids)/artist/poet Chris Dreyer (who has freelanced for the Inlander in the past) as a way to promote local concerts and events in a curated way that wasn’t just on Facebook.

“Primarily, promotion from people who are putting on shows set up a FB event pretty much eight times out of 10,” Dreyer says. “That works, but you are only able to reach your friends with that.”

Multiple local media, venue and city websites offer event calendars, including the Inlander’s, to keep people up to date, but the Spokane Wall offers an exclusively visual way of taking in the happenings around town.

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Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 4:13 PM

click to enlarge City Spokesman Brian Coddington at an ethics commission hearing in November - KXLY SCREENCAP
KXLY screencap
City Spokesman Brian Coddington at an ethics commission hearing in November

The day a Spokesman-Review reporter called city spokesman Brian Coddington, pressing him on what was happening with then-police Chief Frank Straub, Coddington knew very well that the chief's job was in danger — though he denied knowing anything to the S-R. The day before, he'd in fact written a draft of the press release announcing the police's resignation. 

But back then, Coddington was, to say the least, not forthcoming with what he knew. 

Records, obtained by the Inlander this month from an April 19 record request lay it out: 
On Sept. 21 Coddington sent a series of emails between 2 pm and 3 pm, corresponding with then-Assistant City Attorney Erin Jacobson under the subject "For Review."

It contained a document titled "2015-9-23 - DRAFT - SPD changes.docx." Coddington confirms it was an early draft of the press release announcing Straub's resignation.

He continues to maintain, however, that under his interpretations of the questions, he was honest with the newspaper.

Most of the correspondence between Jacobson — who handled legal issues concerning labor 
— and Coddington are blacked out, due to attorney-client privilege. Neither the Inlander, nor the independent investigator hired to investigate the city's handling of the Straub situation, will be able to see precisely what Jacobson and Coddington discussed.

These old emails are still relevant for two reasons. First, Coddington's statements to the reporter became the central focus of an ethics complaint filed last year by Mayor David Condon's election opponent, Shar Lichty. 

Back then, without knowing how involved Coddington had been in Straub's pending resignation, the ethics commission dismissed Lichty's claims as groundless. Second, tomorrow the ethics commission will assess complaints against the mayor for statements he made on the same day. Once again, the fine-grain details of how much a city official knew, and the precise wording of the reporter's questions, has become crucial pieces for the ethics commission. 

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American Inheritance: Unpacking World War II @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through May 23
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