Monday, November 6, 2017

UPDATED: Center for Justice's Rick Eichstaedt will vote for Proposition 2

Though he still has doubts about the legality of anti-oil and -coal train ballot initiative

Posted By on Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 4:36 PM

Former Spokane Riverkeeper Rick Eichstaedt, now executive director of the Center for Justice, has decided to vote for the "Safer Spokane" ballot initiative Proposition 2 targeting oil and coal trains, though he's not sure it's legal.
  • Former Spokane Riverkeeper Rick Eichstaedt, now executive director of the Center for Justice, has decided to vote for the "Safer Spokane" ballot initiative Proposition 2 targeting oil and coal trains, though he's not sure it's legal.


UPDATED: In a Facebook post on Saturday, Nov. 4, the Center for Justice's Rick Eichstaedt wrote that he's decided to vote for the ballot measure anyway, even though he's not sure if it's legal:

So I've been quoted as critical of Proposition [2.] I do have my doubts as to its legality, but I am voting for it. We need to do something to address the danger of oil trains through our community — even if Proposition 1 is struck down by the Courts, it sends a strong message that the voters of Spokane care about the issue and want action. So vote "yes" for Proposition 2!

In particular, Eichstaedt argues that the notion that the city will have to pay to defend the legality of the initiative if it passes is false. He cites a case where the city of Sequim not only refused to defend an initiative that passed in 1998, it sued the person who brought the initiative forward.


The Center for Justice has often been front and center when it comes to fighting to protect the environment. Not only has the organization's Spokane Riverkeeper frequently advocated for the health of the river, but the center was part of the coalition that brought a lawsuit against BNSF Railway for violating the Clean Water Act by failing to prevent coal chunks from spilling from uncovered coal trains into Washington state rivers.

So you might expect that the center would be championing the "Safer Spokane" November ballot initiative that aims to
prevent oil-train catastrophe by fining owners of certain oil and coal train cars that pass through Spokane.

But it isn't.

"We’re not taking a position," Center for Justice Executive Director Rick Eichstaedt says. "We actively support efforts [to solve] problems with coal and oil trains. [But] our position would be we don’t know, at the end of the day, if this is going to be the right solution."

Ultimately, Eichstaedt, the former Spokane Riverkeeper, isn't convinced that there's a clear path forward that would allow the initiative to survive an inevitable court challenge.

Federal law, through the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 and the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, reserves nearly all the authority of regulating train traffic for the federal government. Courts have repeatedly held that ICCTA overrides all "state laws that may reasonably be said to have the effect of managing or governing rail transportation, while permitting the continued application of laws having a more remote or incidental effect on rail transportation."

With a few very narrow exceptions, that federal authority overrides any attempt to establish local rules.

"What I can say, is that the doctrine of preemption of local regulation is very exhaustive," Eichstaedt says. "They’ve got a tough road ahead to make this law stick. Things like speed limits have been struck down. Limits on idling trains to avoid air quality impacts have been struck down."

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Resilience in the face of disaster, the new diet lowdown, and outdoor Spokane Symphony concerts

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 4:22 PM

How would you react to the kind of natural disaster that these Houston residents are facing this week? It's important to develop coping skills to contend not just with hurricanes and floods, but all the difficult situiations life throws at us. - THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • The New York Times
  • How would you react to the kind of natural disaster that these Houston residents are facing this week? It's important to develop coping skills to contend not just with hurricanes and floods, but all the difficult situiations life throws at us.

Being resilient
Ever wondered how you’d fare in a disaster situation like the scene that’s unfolding in East Texas? There are lots of reasons (think Windstorm 2016) to have emergency preparedness kits on hand and a plan in place in case disaster strikes. But it is also important to develop coping skills to contend not just with natural disasters, but also the difficult things that life throws at us, individually and collectively. Here are some tips on practicing resilience.


The new lowdown on diet
In the latest “definitive” research on what your diet should look like, there may be some good news for those who haven’t followed the previous “definitive” research on what your diet should look like.

Two new studies — big ones, using data collected from 135,335 people from 18 countries, aged 35 to 70, over the course of more than seven years — have produced some surprising results.

More fat may be better: The first study considered the effect of fat in the diet. Diets that included a moderate amount of fat (about 35 percent of total calories) and a relatively low amount of carbohydrates were linked with a reduced risk of mortality as compared to lower fat diets. And in contrast, diets high in carbohydrates were associated with a higher risk of mortality.

More cooked peas and broccoli may not be better: The second study looked at fruit and vegetable consumption. Researchers found three to four servings of fruits and vegetables a day were optimal, with additional servings offering minimal benefits. Fruits and raw vegetables were especially beneficial as compared to cooked vegetables. Note that juices, potatoes and legumes weren’t considered as servings in the study.

Both studies were published this week in the British medical journal The Lancet.


Symphony outdoors
Here’s the deal: Music is good for you. Getting outdoors is good for you. Mingling with your neighbors is good for you. Combine them all for a smashingly excellent ending to the summer with the Spokane Symphony’s annual Labor Day concerts.

Sat, Sept. 2 at 6 pm at Pavillion Park, Liberty Lake • Mon, Sept. 4 at 6 pm at Comstock Park, Spokane • Free • spokanesymphony.org • 624-1200 • Free
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Why did it take Lisa Brown so long to announce she was running for Cathy McMorris Rodgers' seat?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 1:31 PM

It's official: Former Washington state Sen. Majority Leader Lisa Brown is running for Congress.
  • It's official: Former Washington state Sen. Majority Leader Lisa Brown is running for Congress.

At long last, Lisa Brown, former Washington state Senate Majority Leader and chancellor of WSU Spokane, has entered the 5th Congressional District race against seven-term Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. At least, she's now entered the race officially. For nine months, local political observers have been assuming that Brown would run.

When four candidates looked poised to compete for McMorris Rodgers' seat last December, when it looked like McMorris Rodgers might be then-President-elect Trump's choice to head the U.S. Department of the Interior, Brown's name was often floated as a fifth possibility.

City Council President Ben Stuckart says he spoke with Brown about her intention back in December, as he had thrown his name into the hat to compete for McMorris Rodgers' seat eagerly and immediately.

"I talked to her about it," Stuckart says. "She was seriously considering it."

But Brown didn't announce then. She was similarly circumspect in May, when she suddenly announced she was stepping down as WSU Spokane chancellor.

“I would say that running for Congress is a possibility, but that’s a decision I’m going to make after I complete my service at WSU,” Brown told the Inlander in May, when asked if she would pursue the seat.

When Stuckart dropped out of the race against McMorris Rodgers in June due to family health issues, he says he met with Brown and talked about whether she was going to run.

"Certainly, people reached out to me during that period of time," Brown says.

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Trump's military equipment policy reversal will have little impact on Spokane, say local police

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 12:24 PM


President Donald Trump has reopened the flow of surplus military equipment to local and state police agencies, undoing restrictions put in place by President Obama.

In 2015, Obama issued an order that barred police departments from obtaining grenade launchers, bayonets, weaponized vehicles and aircrafts and large-caliber firearms and ammunition. Leading up to Obama's order were images from Ferguson, Missouri, of police wearing camouflage, sitting atop armored vehicles and holding rifles and grenade launchers.

During a speech to the Fraternal Order of Police earlier this week in Nashville, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asserted that Obama's restrictions went too far, positing that Trump's new policy would "send a strong message that we will not allow criminal activity, violence and lawlessness to become the new normal."

"We will not put superficial concerns above public safety," Sessions said, referring to Obama's 2015 concerns that prominent use of military equipment presented local police as an occupying force, rather than protectors of the community. The Inlander wrote an in-depth piece on the subject of increasing police militarization two years ago.

Police in Spokane have benefited from the federal programs that allow them to reuse old military gear, though they say that Trump's new policy will likely have little significance for Spokane.

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Today's your last chance to skate Roller Valley

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 11:42 AM

It's open today from 1 to 3 pm, and tonight from 8 to 10 pm.
  • It's open today from 1 to 3 pm, and tonight from 8 to 10 pm.

They took our pogo sticks, and we did nothing. They came for those hoops you rolled with a stick, and we stayed silent. Then our drive-in theaters started to disappear.

And now this:

Roller Valley, in operation for the past 42 years, is closing up shop today, following the death of its owner, Colleen Bernstein. Today from 1 to 3 pm, and tonight from 8 to 10 pm, is the public's last chance to lace up skates and hit the rink.
An Inlander photographer wandered into Roller Valley in 2011 and found Morgan, a skating enthusiast and mother of one. Morgan told the photographer that "treadmills suck," and that she made a point to get to the rink at least once a week to exercise. - AMY HUNTER
  • Amy Hunter
  • An Inlander photographer wandered into Roller Valley in 2011 and found Morgan, a skating enthusiast and mother of one. Morgan told the photographer that "treadmills suck," and that she made a point to get to the rink at least once a week to exercise.

"Thank you to everyone in the Spokane community all so much for the support over the years," Roller Valley said in a Facebook announcement.

Incredibly, roller skating dates back to the 18th century, when a guy named John Merlin was the first person known to have invented a roller skate, in the 1760s in London, according to the National Museum of Roller Skating. Skating gained traction in the early part of the 20th century: Charlie Chaplin starred in the film The Rink in 1916, and the pastime took off during the Roaring Twenties, before the Great Depression ground everything to a halt.

Then came waitresses on wheels in the '50s and '60s, serving up burgers and fries at drive-ins. Even the Amish loved skating, the New York Times reported. ''It's faster than a horse, and it's fun," Andrew Herschberger told the Times in 1996.

Finally, roller skating peaked in the days of disco — captured in the 1979 film Roller Boogie — before beginning its slow, eventual decline.


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One Tree to open cider house on Sept. 8

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 10:10 AM

One Tree Hard Cider's Neal Hennessy - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • One Tree Hard Cider's Neal Hennessy

Mark your calendars: One Tree Hard Cider just announced the grand opening of its downtown Spokane cider house next Friday, Sept. 8, at 2 pm.

One Tree has spent the better part of the summer rehabbing its new location at 111 S. Madison St. The rapidly growing cidery — with distribution across Washington, Idaho and Montana — had renovated its Spokane Valley tasting room last year, only to close this summer to make more room for its production needs.

The new downtown location — which will feature some 20 taps of ciders from around the country — puts One Tree in the heart of what's quickly becoming Spokane's brewery (and now cidery) district. Earlier this month, for our Drink Local issue, we mapped out the west end of downtown, showing six brewery destinations within three-quarters of a mile. We've updated that map here:

one-tree-map.jpg

1. River City Brewing

2. Iron Goat Brewing

3. The Steel Barrel Taproom (technically home to three separate breweries: Little Spokane, Young Buck and, most recently, TT's Old Iron Brewery)

4. Orlison Brewing Taproom

5. Whistle Punk Brewing

6. Steam Plant Brewing (Temporarily closed for renovations; expected to reopen later this fall)

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly called the new location a tasting room, rather than a full cider house offering other cider and beer products.
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Lisa Brown will challenge McMorris Rodgers, chemical-plant blasts near flooded Houston, morning headlines

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 9:59 AM


ON INLANDER.COM

NEWS: A new billboard in Spokane, paid for by a Massachusetts nonprofit, says Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers wants a slower and censored internet. She says that's not the case.

NEWS: Even the Center for Justice's Rick Eichstaedt doubts that the oil train initiative on November's ballot would survive a court challenge.

FESTIVAL: As the summer beer fests wind down, No-Li is already planning its winter FrostFest. This year the event runs from 2 to 6 pm on Dec. 9. Proceeds from the dozen one-off beer sales will go toward maintenance of the Fallen Heroes memorial sculpture. Tickets are now on sale for $30 through TicketsWest outlets.


IN OTHER NEWS
 
A jury in Ada County, Idaho, has found that Idaho State Police retaliated against one of their own detectives.
  • A jury in Ada County, Idaho, has found that Idaho State Police retaliated against one of their own detectives.


Brown is running for Congress
Former Democratic state legislator and WSU Spokane chancellor Lisa Brown is running for the 5th Congressional District seat that has been held by Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers since 2005. The election is in 2018; Brown plans a formal announcement today. (Spokesman-Review)

Doctors' bill

The Spokane husband-and-wife doctors who filed a $191 million personal bankruptcy in January might be able to settle the claims by paying as little as $130,000, to be split among more than 8,000 creditors. (Spokesman-Review)

Chemical-plant blasts caused by Texas flooding
A chemical plant near Houston caught fire after chemical-reaction blasts that sent clouds of black smoke into the air. Authorities expect more explosions, which were a result of severe flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. (Houston Chronicle, Washington Post)  

Idaho State Police retaliated against their own detective
An Idaho State Police detective claimed that ISP retaliated against him and others in the agency who believed a Payette County deputy was the cause of a 2011 car accident that killed a civilian. An Ada County jury agreed. (Idaho Statesman)

Texas 'sanctuary city' ban blocked
A federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked a state law that would prevent Texas cities from enforcing policies that could qualify them as so-called "sanctuary cities." (New York Times)
Here's our explanation of the complicated definition of "sanctuary city."
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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Billboard targets McMorris Rodgers for her stance on net neutrality regulations

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 4:57 PM

A Boston-based nonprofit that pushes for internet freedom paid to put up this billboard at Monroe and Mallon. - FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE
  • Fight for the Future
  • A Boston-based nonprofit that pushes for internet freedom paid to put up this billboard at Monroe and Mallon.

"Rep. McMorris Rodgers wants a slower, censored, and more expensive internet."

At least, that's what a billboard at the corner of Monroe Street and Mallon Avenue would have you believe.

But Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican who represents the 5th Congressional District, says that's not the case — she says she's all for an open, fast internet, but believes that current regulations have slowed broadband development in rural areas like Eastern Washington.

The roughly $3,500 sign, funded by donations given to internet freedom advocacy group Fight for the Future, went up Monday night, and will stay there through Sept. 24.

It's the latest effort in a nationwide campaign by Fight for the Future to encourage people to speak to their elected representatives about protecting a fair internet.

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed rolling back net neutrality protections put in place in 2015 under former President Barack Obama's administration. The regulations classified internet service providers as public utilities, in part to ensure that companies couldn't charge some sites more money to make sure they load fast enough for their customers.

"We currently have billboards targeting nine members of Congress running across the country," says Fight for the Future campaigner Josh Tabish by email. "These lawmakers have all publicly supported FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to repeal net neutrality, which protects Internet users and businesses against website blocking, traffic throttling, and new 'prioritization' fees from Internet providers."

McMorris Rodgers is among those who have questioned whether the 2015 regulations are an effective way to ensure "a free and open internet" that benefits everyone.

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No-Li's second FrostFest is Dec. 9; tickets on sale now

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 4:08 PM


Hey, beer dorks!

Yes, that means you. And me. And most of the Inland Northwest, from what I can surmise. While the summer brew festivals are soon to be in the past, there's no reason you can't look ahead to the fall, when you can spend some time at the ol' ballpark for the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival in September. And No-Li Brewhouse just announced its second No-Li FrostFest on Saturday, Dec. 9.

noli.jpg
This year's FrostFest moves to the Spokane Veterans Arena, which makes sense, given that all proceeds from the event go toward the upkeep of the Fallen Heroes memorial sculpture. The event runs from 2 to 6 pm and features a dozen one-off beers crafted by the No-Li crew. They announced the first two beers this week: a 'Tis The Saison and Tritamorphasis Barley Wine, coming in at 12 percent ABV. Pace yourselves, people!

Tickets for FrostFest are $30 through TicketsWest outlets and include a T-shirt, tasting glass and five 4-ounce pours. There will be tunes, food and a costume contest that could land you a free membership in No-Li's mug club. And you can add a ticket to the evening's Spokane Chiefs game for just $10 if you want to hang around (and haven't had too many of those barley wines). Another bonus: If you buy your tickets before Friday, you'll get a bonus Born & Raised T-shirt at the pub, too.
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Arrest in WSU bomb threats, Spokane cabbie slain in North Idaho, and morning headlines

Posted on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 9:25 AM


ON INLANDER.COM

NEWS: The Spokane Fire Department has launched its new drone program.

SPORTS: Jud Heathcote, who played basketball at Washington State College (that's right; it wasn't yet a university) and coached at West Valley High School, WSU and Montana before winning the 1979 NCAA title with a Michigan State team featuring Earvin "Magic" Johnson, died Monday at 90 in Spokane. Here's a Heathcote profile the Inlander wrote in 2009.  

President Trump was very impressed — by the size of the crowds he drew in his visit to flood-ravaged East Texas. - THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • The New York Times
  • President Trump was very impressed — by the size of the crowds he drew in his visit to flood-ravaged East Texas.

IN OTHER NEWS


Arrest made in WSU bomb threats

Washington State University police have arrested and charged an 18-year-old WSU sophomore with making a series of three bomb threats; turns out it was the same student who "discovered" the threats and reported them to authorities. (Spokesman-Review)

Spokane cab driver slain in North Idaho
A 19-year-old from Puyallup in Pierce County was arrested in Bonner County, Idaho, in the stabbing death of Spokane cab driver Gagandeep Singh, 22, late Monday night in Kootenai. (Spokesman-Review)

Fire consumes historic North Idaho hotel
A fast-moving fire destroyed the historic McConnell Hotel in downtown Kellogg, Idaho, on Tuesday afternoon, and burned other downtown buildings as well. (Idaho Statesman)

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey roundup
Moving east: With the massive storm's death toll rising to a confirmed 30, now-Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall for a second time early this morning in southwest Louisiana. (New York Times)
Cajun Navy: Volunteers from Louisiana, and their ragtag armada, have emerged as among the heroes of Harvey. (Washington Post)
21 trillion gallons: All the water that's fallen on Houston, in one massive raindrop. (Vox)
President Trump is impressed: With the size of the crowd he drew Tuesday in his visit to flood-ravaged East Texas, that is. Will White House Chief of Staff John Kelly break it to the president that it wasn't a campaign rally? (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
Best Buy: The retailer said it is "deeply sorry" following accusations of price-gouging: It charged more than $42 for a case of water at a Houston-area store. (CBS News)
Joel Osteen: The multimillionaire "prosperity gospel" televangelist was shamed on social media into finally opening his 16,000-seat megachurch in downtown Houston to victims of the massive floods. (Houston Chronicle)
Ann Coulter: On Twitter, the right-wing media pundit posited a novel theory: That Houston having elected a lesbian mayor in 2009 is a more credible explanation for Hurricane Harvey than the forces of climate change. (Patheos)
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