Monday, July 31, 2017

Spokane houses more than 100 youths in challenge to address homelessness

Posted By on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 5:08 PM

Spokane Mayor David Condon, right, congratulates city staff, outside agencies, and businesses that worked to house more than 100 youth in 100 days.
  • Spokane Mayor David Condon, right, congratulates city staff, outside agencies, and businesses that worked to house more than 100 youth in 100 days.

After they were no longer welcome to live with family, Brandi Murphy and Antoine Thomas headed east from Seattle because life is cheaper here.

The two lived out of a 2001 Toyota Solara for about four months this spring, parking mostly in the lots of big-box stores like Kmart and Walmart, where people were less likely to bother them.
Brandi Murphy, 20, and Antoine Thomas, 19, were among youths who found housing during the challenge.
  • Brandi Murphy, 20, and Antoine Thomas, 19, were among youths who found housing during the challenge.

"If you try to park at parks, people would say they have our license plate and they're calling the cops or whatever," Murphy says. They always moved along rather than wait to hear from law enforcement.

Living in the car was terrible, Thomas says, and scary, Murphy adds.

"You feel judged," she says, "'cause people think, like, just because you're homeless you're not a normal human being."

But about a month ago, the young couple found out they'd be able to sign a lease for a house, after getting help from the city, SNAP (Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners) and other agencies working together to house at least 100 homeless youths in 100 days.

"It was a big relief," Murphy says.

It's not perfect, but it's a huge step in the right direction — while the couple has assistance paying for rent and utilities until they can find jobs (Thomas has already found one), they still have to navigate the transition into life on their own, including paying bills and maintaining the house.

"The everyday responsibilities of having a home, like cleaning, the bills you need to catch up on, they all settle in and kind of amplify and make you freak out a little bit," Murphy says.

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The city's newest addition to Kendall Yards' Centennial Trail: 18 anti-homeless-camping signs

Posted By on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 11:44 AM

At the Spokane Police Department's request, these signs have been added to the Centennial Trail near Kendall Yards. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • At the Spokane Police Department's request, these signs have been added to the Centennial Trail near Kendall Yards.

Few sights in Spokane are as gorgeous as the views from the Centennial Trail in Kendall Yards. It serves as a living billboard advertising some of the city's greatest assets: Its proximity to the river gorge and access to nature.

Lately, however, those views also carry an additional message: Transient campers will be prosecuted.

Eighteen signs have been installed on the stretch of the Centennial Trail between the Monroe Street Bridge and the end of Bridge Avenue, all saying: "NO CAMPING Violators Subject to Arrest: Transient Shelter Ordinance (SMC 10.08B.060)." Several signs appear to be less than 100 meters apart, and one sign was even nailed to an osprey nest pole.

The Transient Shelter Ordinance has been around a while. The first version was passed back in 2004 on a narrow 4-3 vote, over then-future-Mayor Mary Verner's opposition. Back then, a homeless encampment had sprung up on the grassy median on Riverside Avenue, near the Masonic Temple. The ordinance was last updated a decade ago.

But these particular signs were added after KHQ's controversial report — criticized by the Inlander — two weeks ago on a homeless encampment below Kendall Yards. The encampment was busted and the transient campers evicted shortly after the KHQ reporter filed a complaint about the camp with city code enforcement.

According to the Spokesman-Review, KHQ was the only entity to submit a formal complaint about the camp.

Jonathan Mallahan, director of the city's neighborhood and business services department, says the signs were put up at the request of the Spokane Police Department.

Dan Torok, Spokane Police North Precinct captain, says that SPD Sgt. Vic Carroll brought to his attention the fact that the no-camping warning in the vicinity of the homeless camp was out of the way and easy to miss.

"He made the suggestion that we more clearly mark the 'no-camping' [area,]" Torok says.

Generally, if people are camping on property that doesn't belong to the city — for example, on railroad property or a place that belongs to a private owner — the city may notify that owner and tell them it is their responsibility to move people and remove any litter left behind.

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Chief of Staff shakeup at White House, Spokane could get tougher on Uber/Lyft, and morning headlines

Posted By on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 9:36 AM


ON INLANDER.COM


NEWS: When is it OK for the government to seize your car and money when you get pulled over? Typically, when they can show it's linked to the sale or manufacture of drugs. The
Washington State Supreme Court ruled that in the case of one man stopped in Sunnyside, Washington, the city was wrong to seize his car and thousands in cash due to the presence of a "user amount" of cocaine.

WHAT'S UP? This week is jam-packed with ear-tickles, with the Festival at Sandpoint kicking off with Pink Martini, then the B-52s, a Grateful Dead movie meetup, new music from Wounded Giant and Mini Murders, and a whole lot more, including the Spokane Brewers Festival. Check out some of what's up this week.

Former Republican National Committee chair Reince Preibus, left, resigned as White House Chief of Staff; retired Marine Corps four-star  Gen. John Kelly, until Friday the Secretary of Homeland Security, is his replacement.
  • Former Republican National Committee chair Reince Preibus, left, resigned as White House Chief of Staff; retired Marine Corps four-star Gen. John Kelly, until Friday the Secretary of Homeland Security, is his replacement.

IN OTHER NEWS


Priebus out, Kelly in, Scaramucci out
Friday afternoon, President Trump announced his Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, would be replaced by John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security, continuing a shakeup that started with his hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director and essentially immediate resignation of spokesman Sean Spicer. (New York Times)

In the latest twist, the New York Times reports this morning that Scaramucci is out as White House communications director; Scaramucci, whose tenure lasted all of 10 days, had boasted about reporting directly to Trump, not his Chief of Staff.

Uber unfair?
Spokane could get tougher on ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft, which aren't held to the same standards as taxi drivers, the Spokesman-Review reports.

The decline of Western spermatozoa
The sperm counts of men in industrialized nations has dropped by more than half over four decades, NPR reports, but without more study to verify the findings or find the cause, some experts say it's not time for alarm.
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Sunday, July 30, 2017

THIS WEEK: B-52s, Spokane Brewers Festival, Melissa Etheridge and more

Posted By on Sun, Jul 30, 2017 at 1:02 PM

The B-52s headline Friday at the Festival at Sandpoint.
  • The B-52s headline Friday at the Festival at Sandpoint.

Heading toward the dog days of summer, be sure to take advantage of every entertainment opportunity you can by perusing our event listings and Staff Picks. Here are some highlights of the week ahead:

Monday, July 31

FOOD & DRINK | The Gilded Unicorn is hosting a special six-course Firestone Walker Beer Dinner, which sounds like a lovely way to start a week.

Tuesday, Aug. 1

FILM | If you dug the epic Grateful Dead documentary currently streaming on Amazon, or you just like the band, head to a Regal Cinemas nearby for the Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies 2017 for a screening of a 1989 show to celebrate what would have been Jerry Garcia's 75th birthday.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

The contradictory and confusing process that is civil asset forfeiture in Sunnyside, Washington

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 4:21 PM

This case was about more than just money — in this case, $6,000 in cash seized four years ago by police in Sunnyside, Washington. The cops also seized Andres Gonzalez's silver 2001 BMW — illegally, as it turned out.
  • This case was about more than just money — in this case, $6,000 in cash seized four years ago by police in Sunnyside, Washington. The cops also seized Andres Gonzalez's silver 2001 BMW — illegally, as it turned out.

For the past four years, the government has dangled a silver 2001 BMW in front of Andres Gonzalez's face through the controversial law enforcement practice known as civil forfeiture. The case will end up costing the city more money than it would have gained had the court upheld the forfeiture decision, Gonzalez's attorneys say.

First, the city of Sunnyside, Washington, took the car and almost $6,000 in cash after deciding it was somehow connected to illegal drug sales or manufacturing.

Gonzalez appealed that decision to Yakima County Superior Court, where the judge concluded, "I don't think that a reasonable person could find that the money and the vehicle were involved somehow in narcotic trafficking, based upon the record we have."

The city then appealed that decision to the Washington state Court of Appeals, which upheld the city's original decision, based on a procedural technicality.

"Appellate courts — including superior courts sitting in an appellate capacity — do not reweigh evidence," the Court of Appeals concluded. Therefore "the Superior Court erred when it reweighed the evidence."

With the final word last month, the Washington state Supreme Court has given his car and his cash back to Gonzalez, along with awarding him attorneys' fees. Justice Mary Yu also had a few words to stay regarding the controversial practice that allows governments to take people's possessions — in some cases, without a single charge filed.

In 2013, Gonzalez was pulled over for speeding. His license was suspended, and Sgt. Scott Bailey placed him under arrest. A second officer showed up "to assist with impounding the car," according to court documents, and a drug-sniffing dog came with him.

The dog found a "user amount" of cocaine as well as the cash.

The city of Sunnyside seized the cash and car, and in 2014, a municipal court judge determined that the city could keep it all, based on the facts that Gonzalez had two cellphones, the "user amount" of cocaine, the large amount of cash, and the car was not registered to him when he was pulled over.

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Dare to be bare at the 33rd annual Bare Buns Fun Run

Posted on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 2:47 PM


The human body is a beautiful thing, and that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, all shades and ages and genders.

A range of those bodies — not just from the Inland Northwest, but all over the world — will be front and center at Kaniksu Ranch, 40 miles north of Spokane, for the original, 33rd annual Bare Buns Fun Run (and the ranch's 78th anniversary).
On Sunday morning, take it all off at the Kaniksu Ranch in Loon Lake.
  • On Sunday morning, take it all off at the Kaniksu Ranch in Loon Lake.

A 5K, clothing-optional run/walk always held on the final Sunday of July, the BBFR features 14 competitive age groups, ranging from 5 and under to 70-plus, with medals awarded to the top three overall male and female finishers, and the top three male and female finishers in each age group after the overall top three.

The ranch, a hilly, forested 260-acre nudist resort northwest of Deer Lake, was founded in 1939 and prides itself as a family-friendly environment, with members and visitors ranging from babies to great-grandparents.

Visitors are welcome on race day, but must leave their cameras — as well as their cellphones — in their vehicles.

The specifics:

Bare Buns Fun Run
Sun, July 30 at 9:30 am $30 individual registration  Kaniksu Ranch Family Nudist Resort, 4295 N. Deer Lake Rd., Loon Lake, Wash. kaniksuranch.com • 327-6833


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More help, not more stuff; Medicaid director's husband doesn't accept it; aiding local women and children in crisis

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 12:17 PM

Dr. Seema Verna, right, the top U.S. official overseeing Medicaid, doesn't have to look for to find a doctor who won't accept Medicaid payments — her husband, Dr. Sanjay Mishra, left, a child psychiatrist in Indiana.
  • Dr. Seema Verna, right, the top U.S. official overseeing Medicaid, doesn't have to look for to find a doctor who won't accept Medicaid payments — her husband, Dr. Sanjay Mishra, left, a child psychiatrist in Indiana.

Help wanted

More stuff doesn’t seem to make people happier. But buying time just might. A Harvard study found that “paying to delegate household chores like cleaning and cooking is linked to greater life satisfaction.”

Read more about local families embracing the concept of fewer material possessions, and finding greater life satisfaction in the process.


Kids struggling
The current director of Medicaid, Seema Verma, has up-close knowledge of health care since her husband is a doctor. A child psychiatrist in Carmel, Indiana, Dr. Sanjay Mishra’s practice treats plenty of patients, just not any who are receiving Medicaid. Some kids in his hometown in need of help have had to travel long distances to find a provider willing to accept Medicaid payment.

Nationwide, there’s a shortage of mental health care providers, particularly for children, and a substantial percentage of them turn down Medicaid patients, saying reimbursement is too low, leading to long wait times and lengthy travel for children who are already suffering, according to Kaiser Health News.

“It would be better if Seema Verma’s husband were to accept Medicaid, not just for the appearance of supporting the program his wife oversees, but to increase access by one more provider,” said Paul Gionfriddo, CEO of Mental Health America, an advocacy group.

Read more about the shortage of mental health providers for children in the Inland Northwest in InHealth.


Win-win!

Drop off some much-appreciated toiletries and hygiene items at the Helping Hands Fundraiser at North Church Spokane, 8303 N. Division, on Saturday from 8:30 am to 4 pm. The items are destined for the Union Gospel Mission Women’s and Children’s Crisis Shelter. Bonus! There’s a yard sale, raffle, and more than 40 vendor booths for some fun shopping while you’re there.
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McCain saves Obamacare, Mooch unleashed — and uncensored, victory over 'vindictive' feds, and morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 9:21 AM

Remember me?
  • Remember me?

ON INLANDER.COM


It's kind of a big deal
Anchorman and Step Brothers are going to be a Suds and Cinema double feature in August.

Everybody Reads is back in black

Black River is the new Everybody Reads book.

Arresting developments
Kids are being arrested less often in Spokane Public Schools, but there significant racial disparities still exist.

The line between prosecution and persecution
Two accused in a marijuana grow case escape a maximum sentence as the U.S. attorneys prosecuting them are accused of "vindictive prosecution."


IN OTHER NEWS

Let's talk about sex-ed, baby
After news came out that Spokane Public Schools may be using a sex-ed curriculum partly developed by Planned Parenthood, droves of angry emails and emphatic petitions flooded in. (Spokesman-Review)

The Maverick flies again
For a moment, reflect on how insane this is: John McCain, who Barack Obama defeated to win the presidency in 2008, returns from the hospital — facing the prospect of near-certain death in the next few years — to cast the deciding vote to cement Obama's legacy.

The proposal — a so-called "skinny repeal" — had been widely derided across the organizational spectrum. Conservatives hated it because it left most of Obamacare intact. Liberals hated it because it repealed the unpopular piece arguably holding the whole law together. Remove the individual mandate, and a lot of healthy people won't bother to buy health insurance, driving up prices for everybody else and destroying the individual market. That's what happened in Washington state back in 1995.

But in the end, "skinny repeal" was defeated, thanks to Republican Sens. McCain, Susan Collin, and Lisa Murkowski. Don't expect Republicans to stop trying to repeal Obamacare — even McCain thinks it deserves to go. But for now, the campaign promise of the president who said of the war-hero McCain, "I like people that weren't captured," has been defeated. (Washington Post)

Speak to me, Mooch
So Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, calls up Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker and launches into a profanity-peppered rant about staff leaks, Reince Priebus' scheming,  and Steve Bannon's flexibility.  Oh, and he's on the record the entire time. Later, he tried to argue that perhaps he didn't think he was on the record, and the reporter had betrayed him. Which, if true (it isn't: Lizza has the recordings) would make Scaramucci precisely the sort of leaker he's decrying. (New Yorker)
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Thursday, July 27, 2017

U.S. Attorneys accused of 'vindictive prosecution' in marijuana grow case; two accused men take plea deals

Posted By on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 3:43 PM

Jerad Kynaston (center) pleaded guilty to a drug charge to avoid a mandatory life sentence for growing weed. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Jerad Kynaston (center) pleaded guilty to a drug charge to avoid a mandatory life sentence for growing weed.

U.S. District Court Judge William Nielsen had enough of the kerfluffle unfolding in front of him Tuesday morning. As attorneys on both sides of a marijuana grow operation case traded blows, Nielsen directed them to meet out of court to resolve their issues. Then report back to the court, he told them.

Two of the five co-defendants — Jerad Kynaston and Samuel Doyle — pleaded guilty later that day to lesser charges. Doyle avoided a mandatory 60-year sentence. Kynaston avoided a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

But the agreements only came after a contentious hearing where defense attorneys described a timeline of "vindictive prosecution" in a case that's lingered in the system for five years.

"I'm just glad it got corrected, and the two guys with the most to lose are on the ground," says Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle-based attorney who represented Doyle. "At least they'll have a life when the government gets done with them. I feel sorry for anybody caught up in the federal system. There's no justice there."

Joseph Harrington, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, could not comment because the case is still pending.

Here's what happened:

The five co-defendants charged with running an illegal weed growing biz have been living under threat of federal indictment since 2012. In May, it looked as if the case would be over for some.

But about 48 hours before the three of the five men were ready to plead guilty, defense attorneys learned that federal prosecutors had failed to hand over a set of police reports from 2012. They accused the government of violating its obligation under the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, which says prosecutors must show defendants all evidence that could point to innocence — one of the most serious accusations against a prosecutor that one can make.

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Arrests in Spokane Public Schools are down, but racial disparities persist

Posted By on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 1:32 PM

Although just less than a third — 32 percent — of the Spokane Public Schools population are students of color, they accounted for slightly more than half of the total of 101 SPS students arrested during the 2016-17 school year.
  • Although just less than a third — 32 percent — of the Spokane Public Schools population are students of color, they accounted for slightly more than half of the total of 101 SPS students arrested during the 2016-17 school year.

Spokane Public Schools has reduced the number of student arrests by 85 percent, with 99 students arrested in the 2016-17 school year compared to 806 students the year before, according to district data.

But one thing hasn't changed: students of color are more likely to be arrested than white students.

Of the 99 students arrested this past school year, just under half, 47, were students of color. Yet in Spokane Public Schools, those students make up only 32 percent of the population.

"The arrests are not representative of Spokane Public Schools at all," says Nikki Lockwood of the Every Student Counts Alliance, a student advocacy group comprised of several organizations. "It is very concerning."

Mark Sterk, Spokane Public Schools director of safety, risk management and transportation, says he doesn't know why the disparity exists. The focus of the campus resource officers, he says, has been on fewer incarcerations.

"It doesn't matter what ethnicity kids are," he says. "We're just trying to reduce the number of arrests."

The district overall has embraced restorative practices aimed toward reducing out-of-school discipline. Since then, suspensions have dipped significantly. Suspensions districtwide for the 2016-17 school year dropped 25 percent compared to the year before. While racial disparities have improved when it comes to suspensions, nonwhite students, a third of the population, still make up 41 percent of suspensions, according to district data.

When it comes to arrests, the effort to reduce overall numbers — for all races — has been more successful, though, simultaneously, the racial disparities remain wider than the suspension rates.

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