Monday, January 29, 2018

One West Central resident's lament for her rooster, banned by Spokane's urban farming rules

Posted By on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 4:24 PM

Mr. Roo, back when he was still allowed to roam free within the confines of West Central - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • Mr. Roo, back when he was still allowed to roam free within the confines of West Central

Alas, Sir Rhubarb. She knew him well.

Sir Rhubarb, previously "Mr. Roo," was among the chickens in the urban garden of Bea Lackaff. She lives on Bridge Avenue, the dividing line between swanky Kendall Yards and the low-income West Central.

You see, Lackaff used to have a problem with her chickens being massacred.

"Skunks or raccoons or neighbors dogs would get in," Lackaff says.

So for the past 20 years, she had the occasional rooster, partly as first-line of defense against an attack. Roosters are more aggressive, more willing to put up a fight to protect the hens against an invading army of chicken-killers.

"It’s the natural order of the flock to have a rooster," Lackaf says. "There’s a social balance there. They’re a good defense — even if they’re not strong enough to fend off a predator, they will sound an alarm."

But back in 2014, the city passed new urban farming rules.

"We increased the number of chickens but got rid of roosters," City Council President Ben Stuckart says. "Because they’re loud."

And yes, dogs can be loud, too. But not all dogs bark loudly. Roosters are predictably loud.

Citizens told the council they didn't want roosters waking them up every morning. Not only that, but other cities banned roosters from urban farming.  Existing roosters would be grandfathered in.

Lackaff doesn't remember whether she had Sir Rhubarb back in 2014. But she hoped that, because the Banty roosters were a bit quieter, nobody would complain.

"I didn’t think many of my neighbors minded," Lackaff says. But at the beginning of January, while she was on a trip to Portland, her house-sitter called to let her know that she'd have to get rid of Sir Rhubarb — someone had complained to code enforcement.

"I’m a little bit dismayed that whoever it was wouldn’t tell me," Lackaff says.

It took her a while to find a couple willing to take him — the code enforcement officer was stern, but patient — but finally she found a couple in western Spokane County who was willing to take her rooster.

She says she understands the necessity of her sacrifice.

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Sen. Mike Padden's bill on pee tests is unconstitutional, Spokane attorney says

Posted By on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 12:57 PM


If you're arrested for drunk driving in Washington state, a judge can order you to stop drinking and doing drugs until the charge is resolved. But the way in which a judge can monitor that restriction is up for debate.

In a 5-4 decision last year, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that random urinalysis tests for people accused, but not yet convicted, of DUIs are unconstitutional. Pee tests are too invasive, the majority ruled.

Secondly, the court pointed out that state law only allows for that level of pretrial testing for felony charges or those people with prior DUI convictions.

In response to the Supreme Court's decision, Spokane Valley Sen. Mike Padden has introduced Senate Bill No. 5987, which would allow judges to order random pee tests for those accused of drunk driving.

"Based purely on a technicality, the state Supreme Court held that a judge can't require a person arrested for a DUI to abstain from, and randomly test for, alcohol," Padden says through a spokesman via email. "Our bill is a common sense solution focused on putting public safety first."

Not everyone agrees with Padden's rationale.

The Spokane attorney who argued the case before the state Supreme Court says Padden's bill is an attempt to sidestep the court's ruling, and therefore is unconstitutional. The legislature cannot enact a law that would overrule a Supreme Court decision, Spokane County public defender Michael Vander Giessen says.

"It's such a fundamental concept of constitutional law, I'm surprised Sen. Padden would go to this point," Vander Giessen says. "He knows better. It strikes me as disrespect for the judiciary and its role."

Jaime Hawk, a legal strategy director for the ACLU of Washington, shares Vander Giessen's concern.

"Violating our state constitution is not a technicality," Hawk writes via email. "The Supreme Court of Washington established court rules regarding when those who are presumed innocent should be released before their day in court. The proposed bill exceeds the scope of our court rule and seeks to expand the basis in which a court can detain someone or limit their freedom pretrial."

Padden, who used to serve as a Spokane County District Court judge, notes that prosecutors and judges have testified in support of his bill. Part of their argument is that judges might feel more confident releasing people from jail before trial, if they can be assured the defendant will follow the court's restrictions.

"While ultimately the courts will have to decide matters of constitutionality, legal experts with whom I have discussed the matter are confident that the bill is indeed constitutional," Padden says through a spokesman.

There is some question, Vander Giessen adds, over how broadly the Supreme Court's ruling will apply. Specifically, the high court considered three DUI cases in Spokane. Two of the three defendants had no prior DUI convictions, and the third had been accused of a marijuana-related DUI.

In each case, Spokane Judge Greg Tripp, who is now retired, imposed random monthly urinalysis testing. Defense attorneys took issue with those conditions because there was no evidence, in at least two of the cases, that the defendants would not comply with the court's orders to abstain from alcohol.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that state law did not allow Judge Tripp to impose the random tests, while also declaring urinalysis tests overly intrusive for defendants.

One potential alternative, Vander Giessen says, is a transdermal bracelet — a device that can detect whether a person consumes alcohol.

"I think those would qualify as constitutional," Vander Giessen says. "It might be good public policy to use something like that. The hardcore alcoholics who cannot stop drinking may really benefit."

Hawk, with the ACLU, notes that Spokane has become a pilot project of sorts for pretrial and bail reform efforts statewide. Efforts to expand Spokane's Office of Pretrial Services, and develop and implement an algorithm to assess defendants' risk to reoffend, are a couple examples (though Hawk says she has some concerns about the assessment tool).

A statewide task force to study and address potential issues with Washington's pretrial practices launched last summer.

"From a policy perspective, it's a challenging area," Hawk says. "There are some real separation of powers issues here. Our position is that this is an area that the courts typically have control over. The legislature has some role in pretrial release, but it needs to comport with the court rules."

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Size matters: Zags big men vital as 3-shooting success remains elusive

Posted By on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 12:20 PM

Killian Tillie and his fellow "bigs" are vital to the Zags success this season. - LIBBY KAMROWSKI
  • Libby Kamrowski
  • Killian Tillie and his fellow "bigs" are vital to the Zags success this season.

It used to be that Gonzaga was known as the school of guards: Stockton, Hall, Santangelo, Dickau, Stepp, Raivio, Pargo, Pangos and Bell.

But it appears the front court is where the Zags' bread gets buttered as of late. And that narrative stayed true in the last week's matchups versus the Portland Pilots and San Francisco Dons. One night a barn burner and the other a nail biter, but ultimately both decided by the advantages Gonzaga had in the paint.

Sophomore Killian Tillie had a helluva week, dominating the glass with 43 points and 15 rebounds over the two games. The Frenchman showcased the aerial and ambidextrous skills that has put him on scouts' radars.

It's tough sometimes for players to assert themselves and find a groove in an offense and rotation as diverse and packed as Gonzaga's. How do you hunt your play when you're weaving through minutes and possessions with up to 5 other guys? Perhaps the emergence of Rui Hachimura could be part of Tillie's quiet nights offensively, but credit to the big for consistently racking up rebounds and effort plays.

And the nightly carousel of success is due to Coach Mark Few and the players finding the best way to attack opponents' mismatches when they're presented. The Pilots didn't have an answer for Tillie, just like the Dons couldn't figure out a way to stop the bleeding against Tillie, Hachimura and Johnathan Williams.

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CONCERT ANNOUNCEMENT: Chris Stapleton books Spokane Arena show for July 19

Posted By on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 11:11 AM

Chris Stapleton plays Spokane July 19
  • Chris Stapleton plays Spokane July 19

Chris Stapleton, one of the leading lights in traditional country's recent re-emergence to commercial success, is heading to Spokane to headline the arena on July 19 as part of his "All-American Road Show" tour.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of Stapleton's Grammy takeover Sunday night, as he took home trophies for Best Country Album (for his From A Room: Vol 1), Best Country Song ("Broken Halos") and Best Country Solo Performance ("Either Way"). Stapleton was also the featured act on this weekend's Saturday Night Live, bringing rabblerouser Sturgill Simpson along for the ride:

Stapleton will be joined by country legend Marty Stuart and rising star Brent Cobb for his Spokane show. Tickets go on sale Friday, Feb. 9, at 10 am. As of now, prices have not been released; we'll update this post when prices come our way.
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Spokane County Commissioners OK with state's Hirst fix, plan to repeal restrictions

Posted By on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 9:10 AM

All in all, Kerns and French feel fine with the Hirst bill - WILSON CRISCIONE
  • Wilson Criscione
  • All in all, Kerns and French feel fine with the Hirst bill

In response to the Washington state legislature's so-called "Hirst fix" passed last week, Spokane County will likely repeal an ordinance that laid out restrictions for issuing building permits based on domestic wells in rural counties.

The 2016 Hirst decision put cities and counties, instead of the Department of Ecology, in charge of managing water availability. In Spokane County, the requirement that water be "legally available" before issuing a permit essentially halted development in an area in north Spokane. The bill passed last week, however, reversed many of those impacts.

"It doesn't get us back to where we were, pre-Hirst, but it gets us to a better position," says Spokane County Commissioner Al French.

On Tuesday, the county commissioners will consider a repeal of the county's temporary zoning ordinance put in place to follow the Hirst decision.

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Russia now accuses US of meddling, deadly helicopter crash, morning headlines

Posted By on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 9:03 AM


To the max

The city will start tearing down the IMAX theater in Riverfront Park today, ahead of schedule.

How many how much
It takes almost a week of outreach to figure out where people experiencing homelessness slept for one night in Spokane last week. Early this week, crews will continue finding people who slept in shelters, cars, and on couches last Thursday, as they try to get as accurate a picture as they can for the city's annual point-in-time count, which helps influence where resources are directed.


They know we know they know
As the U.S. is looking into whether Russia meddled with the 2016 presidential election, Russia is now accusing the U.S. of attempting to meddle in the upcoming presidential there, set for March. (BBC)

Fitbit data reveals sensitive military locations worldwide
In "a major security oversight," heat maps of running activity tracked by fitness devices has revealed activity of U.S. soldiers at bases around the world that are well known and others that aren't meant to be, the Washington Post repots.

He'll be fine... probably
After a New York Times report revealed that President Trump wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into possible Russian election meddling, Democrats in Congress are calling for a bill to protect Mueller, but Republicans don't seem to be worried.

Helicopter crash in Garfield County kills one
A man died and two others were injured when a helicopter being used for animal tracking crashed Saturday in Garfield County, the Lewiston Tribune reports.
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