Friday, March 16, 2018

Former SFCC president Darren Pitcher exposed his genitalia and coerced sex from subordinates, attorney says

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 3:10 PM

Darren Pitcher, former SFCC acting president - COURTESY OF SFCC
  • Courtesy of SFCC
  • Darren Pitcher, former SFCC acting president

Before Darren Pitcher resigned last month as Spokane Falls Community College acting president, he was under investigation for allegations that include exposing his penis to a colleague and coercing sexual intercourse from subordinates, according to court records filed by an attorney for the alleged victims.

The description of the allegations come from an injunction request filed today in Spokane County Superior Court by attorney Nicholas Kovarik, who wants to prevent the names of the victims from being disclosed in public-records requests. It names the Inlander, Spokesman-Review and KXLY, all of which filed requests for the college's investigative records regarding the allegations against Pitcher.

Community Colleges of Spokane has not completed those requests. But according to the lawsuit filed today, the investigation into Pitcher's workplace behavior was initiated after a woman filed a complaint of sexual harassment and retaliation/discrimination on Jan. 16, 2018. The court records say she was "subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and retaliation" by Pitcher. It says she accused Pitcher of "exposing his penis" to her, "grooming her for a quid pro quo sexual encounter," and having "inappropriate sexual intercourse" with her.

"Her complaint relayed that she had sex with [Pitcher] two times and it was consensual, but she felt coerced and she felt like her job was at stake," Kovarik tells the Inlander.

Carolyn Casey, the college district spokeswoman, says the college has reviewed the court filing and can confirm that it accurately represents the allegations against Pitcher.

"This legal document is an accurate representation of either the original complaint or of other information that came to light during our investigation," Casey says. 

As part of the college's investigation, at least eight other people were interviewed about Pitcher's behavior. One woman said she was sent "instant messenger messages of a sexual nature" from Pitcher, according to court documents. The records say Pitcher displayed "numerous" sexually predatory behaviors and had multiple sexual relationships with subordinates. Those employees were often either promoted, fired or demoted depending on their response to his sexual advances, the documents say.

Pitcher resigned in the middle of the investigation into his behavior last month, before the college made any findings on the allegations. The college did not release any information about the nature of the sexual harassment allegations at the time.

In his resignation letter submitted Feb. 26, which has been obtained by the Inlander via a public-records request, Pitcher says, "I have not taken care of myself and have not invested enough of myself towards my family life. For the sake of my own well being I must submit my resignation effective immediately." He did not mention the investigation into his behavior.

Nancy Fair-Szofran, formerly Community Colleges of Spokane provost and chief learning officer, has served as president since his resignation. The college is continuing a nationwide search for a new leader.

Before the injunction request filed today, Kovarik contacted the media outlets who requested investigation documents this week concerned that the disclosure of his clients' names would expose them to retaliation from other employees. The Inlander generally does not name victims of alleged sexual assault or harassment without their permission, but Kovarik's injunction against the three media outlets and Community Colleges of Spokane aims to block victim names from being included in the records entirely.

He says disclosing the names in public records would prevent employees speaking out against harassment in the future.

"These individuals would not have given information or would have agreed to be interviewed had they known their names would be made public," the attorney's complaint says.

The injunction request adds that the witnesses interviewed remain concerned about retaliation from Pitcher.

"My clients are embarrassed and fearful of [Pitcher], even if he's resigned," Kovarik says. 

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SPD tried to punish Sgt. Gately for tipping off an officer being investigated for rape. Then the Police Guild got involved

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 2:54 PM

Sgt. John Gately, who tipped off an officer being investigated of rape, at the 2017 Spokane Women's March. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • Sgt. John Gately, who tipped off an officer being investigated of rape, at the 2017 Spokane Women's March.

Sgt. John Gately was president of the Spokane Police Guild when he tipped off a cop who was accused of raping a fellow Spokane Police officer.

But Gately wasn't fired. Not only that, but when the Police Guild stepped up to his defense, they succeeded in getting what punishment he did receive reduced.

It highlights both the power that the Police Guild has and the challenges that a chief faces in disciplining an officer. Even when their actions clearly violate the department's standards, all that can be overturned by an independent arbitrator.

Gately had informed Gordon Ennis that the police were coming to his home after Ennis allegedly raped a female officer while she was asleep. (When Ennis asked why, Gately testified that he said, "Probably for your DNA.")

The trial of Gately on charges of obstructing a police officer resulted in a hung jury, and so far he hasn't been retried. In this week's print edition of the Inlander, we explained how Gately kept his job.

After an internal investigation into Gately, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl issued a punishment in February of last year: Gately would be removed from the Peer Assistance Team — a group that supports other fellow officers — and he'd be placed on four weeks of unpaid leave. Only his long career and the culpability shared by the SPD administration stopped Meidl from firing Gately. 

Yet even the punishment that Gately did receive was too much for the guild.

"It is the guild's position that the city violated Article 24 of the parties collective bargaining agreement when it disciplined Sgt. Gately without just cause,"  John Griffin, the new Spokane Police Guild president, wrote in a letter a few weeks later. Griffin asked that the punishment be overturned and that Gately be "made whole for the losses sustained."

Griffin did not return phone calls from the Inlander last week.

Police Chief Craig Meidl, in his response, cited Gately's own words, noting that even Gately's attorney had admitted what Gately had done was inappropriate.

"Based on Sgt. Gately's own testimony and [internal affairs] interview, and the corresponding records and statement by Gately's own attorney, the discipline is justified and meets the just cause principles," Meidl says.

But Meidl's word wasn't final. Gately appealed the decision, and it got sent to arbitration. An arbitrator, tasked with interpreting labor laws, has considerable power to overturn or modify a punishment.

The arbitrator reduced Gately's unpaid leave from four weeks to just one.

Among other factors, the arbitrator wasn't convinced that Gately had intentionally been trying to impede the investigation, according to a source with knowledge of the decision.

It meant, according to public safety spokeswoman Michele Anderson, that the department had to actually pay Gately for three weeks of originally unpaid leave. That's on top of any money the city may have had to pay Gately back after his initial trial.

According to Spokane Human Resources Director Chris Cavanaugh, Gately has already received a partial payout, but the exact amount he is owed is still under dispute over questions like whether he gets paid for missed overtime.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who served as a union president with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office before becoming sheriff, says that police unions often feel a need to represent employees in their grievances — lest they be sued for failure to represent.

But they still have a choice over which grievances they bring forward, he says.

"Having been a union president, it’s probably not one I would have fought for," Knezovich says.

The guild, after all, was also supposed to be representing Ennis's alleged victim.

Continue reading »

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St. Patrick's Day 2018 Events in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene: Parades, parties and more!

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 1:52 PM

The Spokane County Firefighters Pipe and Drums perform in 2015. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • The Spokane County Firefighters Pipe and Drums perform in 2015.

Check out what's happening March 17, 2018:

Spokane St. Patrick's Day Parade
When: Noon
Where: Downtown Spokane
Hosted annually by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. Proceeds from the parade are donated to several area nonprofit organizations to support the community. Free.

Coeur d'Alene St. Patrick's Day Parade
When: 4 pm
Where: Downtown Coeur d'Alene
Where: Parade starts at 4 pm at Eighth and Sherman in downtown Coeur d'Alene and will end at First Street. This family-friendly event is open to the public. Free.

Garland District St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawl
When: 6 pm
Price: $7
Don your best kelly green attire and hit the streets of North Spokane to celebrate America’s favorite Irish holiday, in 2018 conveniently occuring on a Saturday. This year also marks the second annual Garland District St. Paddy’s Pub Crawl, with stops at some of the many bars and restaurants along the quaint neighborhood’s streets. Join other revelers at the crawl’s six locations: Beerocracy, Bon Bon, Garland Drinkery, Revolver North, Garland Pub and The Brown Derby. Get a wristband when you start and make sure to check in at each bar to be entered into a drawing after you depart the final stop of the night. In addition to the many eateries of Garland, two local food trucks, Crate and Skewers, will be serving up tasty eats to hungry bar hoppers.

St. Paddy's at nYne
When: Doors open at 7 am
Where: nYne, 232 W. Sprague
Music and fun gets started early. The line-up: 9 am, DJ Breece; 1 pm, The Shea Tea Folkin' Irish Band; 4 pm, DJ MC Squared; 8 pm, Angus Scott Pipe Band; 8:15 pm, DJ C-Mad.

Whistle Punk St. Paddy's Day Celebration
When: 10 am-11 pm
Where: Whistle Punk Brewing, 122 S. Monroe
Featuring the release of three Irish inspired beers including a dry stout served on nitro!

Irish Dancers on St. Patrick's Day
When: 11 and 11:30 am
Where: Hotel RL by Red Lion at the Park, 303 W. North River Dr.
Join local Irish dancers at Hotel RL's Living Stage for two quick pre-parade performances at 11 and 11:30 am. Free.

St Patrick’s Day Bash feat. Dino/Soars
When:  6-10 pm
Where: Midtown Pub, 826 N. Fourth
Drink specials and Irish food. Free.

All Things Irish
When: 10 am-5 pm
Where: All Things Irish, 315 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene
Live Irish music with Deep Roots at 10 am and the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department Pipe Band at 3:30 pm. There will be a photo booth and face painting. Free

O’Doherty’s celebration
Where: O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Doors open at 9 am on Saturday. $5 cover all day. Live Irish music 10 am- 6pm. DJ Greg McGuire 7 pm-midnight. Live bag pipe shows throughout the day.

St Patrick's Day Parking Lot Party
When: Noon onward
Where: Capone’s Pub and Grill, 751 N. Fourth Ave., Coeur d’Alene
Music, with a DJ kicking things off in the parking lot at noon, Bones & Bones taking the stage at 4. There will be tents, heaters, beer and liquor bars, food and of course the bagpipers! Free.

St Patrick's Day at Bellweather
When: 1 pm- 10 pm on Saturday
Where: Bellwether Brewing Co., 2019 N Monroe
They've decided to release St Patrick's beers on his actual feast day, including two Irish style beers: a red and a stout. Irish dancers from 4-5pm by MSD Irish Dance Academy.

Coeur d'Irish, a St. Patty's Day Party!
When: 5:30 pm-midnight
Where: The Coeur d'Alene Resort, 115 S Second Ave.
The entire community is invited to attend Coeur d'Alene's largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Showcasing the energetic sounds of Irish musical performances and Irish delights of corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew and soda bread. There will be Irish bagpipes, Irish dancers, Irish food, Irish whiskey and of course green beer. Music will be provided by The Rub. Tickets are $40 per person. All funds raised will support the Coeur d’Alene Rotary Club’s community service grants and projects throughout Coeur d’Alene, along with the Club’s International service projects.

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CAT FRIDAY: Spokane's Keyboard Cat, Bento, has crossed the Rainbow Bridge

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 11:10 AM

Spokane artist Charlie Schmidt and the late Keyboard Cat, Bento. - KEYBOARD CAT
  • Keyboard Cat
  • Spokane artist Charlie Schmidt and the late Keyboard Cat, Bento.

We like to post about cute and otherwise happy cat-related things for Cat Friday, but this week, we're here to share the unfortunate news that one of the world's most famous celebri-cats, Bento the Keyboard Cat, has passed away.

We learned the news this morning after seeing this video posted on Keyboard Cat's Facebook page:

The laid-back orange tabby owned by Spokane artist Charlie Schmidt was the second cat to take on the official title of Keyboard Cat. The original viral video featuring Schmidt's orange feline, Fatso, was recorded on VHS back in 1984.

Bento was adopted from the local shelter SpokAnimal back in 2010 and was 9 years old when he passed away last week, on March 8.

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Jail controversy around Phil Tyler swirls, Spokane GOP mulls firearm auctions and other morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 9:29 AM

A crane rises up above the downtown Spokane library. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • A crane rises up above the downtown Spokane library.


The Ridpath, after all these years, is getting a new restaurant.


Stint in jail
Shawn Vestal takes a look at the jail complaint controversy surrounding Phil Tyler. (Spokesman-Review)

Worth a shot?
Should the Spokane County GOP continue to auction off firearms? (KREM)

State of mind
The family of the man shot by the Spokane Police Department pleas for more mental health support. (KXLY)

It's like some sort of reality-based televised competition!
Who will be fired next from the Trump administration? (New York Times)

What triggers a mass shooting?
The Washington Post looks into the motives of past mass shootings. (Washington Post)

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

ENTRÉE: Previewing some new restaurants + bars coming to Spokane in 2018

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 5:28 PM

Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be another new bar or restaurant (kidding, we’re all excited to be aboard the local food and dining hype train!) in the Spokane area to check out, here’s a list of some forthcoming food and drink projects set to debut later this year, some sooner than later.


The new restaurant and bar inside the historic, former Ridpath Hotel from Spokane restaurateurs Jeremy and Kate Hansen is coming along, but is more likely to open in June or even later due to construction and other delays. Ridpath Brasserie will serve a French-inspired menu and its entire menu, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, is set to be available to order from anytime during its planned 20-hour operating schedule, from 7 am to 3 am.

In the meantime, chef Jeremy Hansen has also shifted focus to revamp the menu at his flagship downtown restaurant, Santé Restaurant & Charcuterie and the Butcher Bar located inside the restaurant.

Here’s a few other projects coming up that we’re working on learning more about:

Elliotts is a new restaurant moving into a space along the North Monroe corridor.
  • Elliotts is a new restaurant moving into a space along the North Monroe corridor.
Construction at a space along the North Monroe corridor, at 2209 N. Monroe (the former home of the vintage and antique store 1889 Salvage Co.), has been underway for several weeks now. Elliotts, an urban kitchen, is slated to open sometime later this spring, and hopefully won’t be too affected by the upcoming road construction project on Monroe starting in April. According to a recent thread on the restaurant’s Facebook page, Elliotts will serve contemporary American cuisine made from local, fresh and seasonal ingredients.

We know a little so far about this project in a multitenant downtown building at 122 S. Monroe. Owned by two locals, Gabe Wood and Alex King, with 20 years of combined restaurant industry experience, Heritage will pay homage to local places and flavors on its menu and in its decor. The restaurant will serve “pub food done right” and is taking over a space formerly occupied by Texas True Barbecue, which is next door to Whistle Punk Brewing. Stay updated on Heritage’s progress toward opening on Facebook. Owners say the restaurant is currently slated for a May debut.

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Co-pilot accuses pilot of rape, Walkout Wednesday, Russian sanctions and morning headlines

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 9:28 AM


Seventeen minutes
Hundreds of students throughout the region (and the country) yesterday walked out of schools for 17 minutes — one for every fatal victim in the Parkland High School shooting in Florida. The student activists in Spokane held signs calling for stricter gun control and safer schools: "#enough" and "Thoughts & Prayers Are Not Bulletproof!!!"

Meet the middle school students who worked to organize a walkout by clicking here.

"They say children are too young to understand," says 12-year-old Clara DePaolo. "But we're the ones who are being directly affected by this. We're the ones who could be conceivably killed in schools."

In Coeur d'Alene, armed gun-rights advocates stood alongside high schoolers to counter protest (via Spokesman-Review, see below)

Last September, a student walked into Spokane's Freeman High School with an AR-15-style rifle and a pistol. The rifle jammed, but the 15-year-old student killed sophomore Sam Strahan and injured three others.

Sam's mom, Ami Strahan, had this to say on Facebook yesterday:


What about Sgt. John Gately?
A former Spokane Police sergeant was recently convicted of rape. But what about the sergeant who was accused of tipping him off to the criminal investigation?

A round of Reubens
Just in time for St. Paddy's day (Saturday), we've compiled a list of some of the best Reuben sandwiches around.


Counter protest
Adults armed with semiautomatic weapons and signs ("End gun-free zones in schools") lined the street just west of Coeur d'Alene High School to counter protest students advocating for safer schools.

"I think most (participating in the student walkout) have good intentions," one of the armed adults said. "But I also think if there's an event at a high school, if kids have an excuse to get out of class, they're going to take it." (Spokesman-Review)

100% WHITE 100% PROUD
Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel posted a racist meme on his personal Facebook page (and has since removed it). Blasdel, who has in the past posted controversial content on social media, apologized. But some people are still super pissed.

The meme featured a black and white image of a white farmer with the words "When is white history month?" In the corner of the image is a symbol for white supremacists and the words "100% WHITE, 100% PROUD." (Tri-City Herald)

Co-pilot accuses fellow pilot of drugging and raping her
An Alaska Airlines co-pilot says she was drugged and raped by a pilot during a stop in Minneapolis. The woman, Betty Pina, is now suing the airline, claiming it is liable for the alleged crimes and its failure to hold the pilot, Paul Engelien, accountable when she reported the incident to airline officials. Despite Pina's account, a witness and security tape footage, Engelien is still employed with the airline. (Seattle Times)

Russian sanctions
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on five Russian organizations and 19 individuals for meddling in the 2016 presidential election and "malicious" cyberattacks. (New York Times)

Britain, Germany, France and the U.S. also admonished Russia for a nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter. (CNN

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Christian rockers, German hijackers and tomb raiders hit big screens this weekend

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 3:52 PM

Tomb Raider
  • Tomb Raider

The No. 1 box office slot is still Black Panther's to lose, but Lara Croft is back on the big screen to challenge its reign. Here's a full list of the week's other theatrical openings.

In 1976, an Air France flight was hijacked by German reactionaries, with Israeli Defense Forces swooping in to intervene. It's an event that's been dramatized many times before; Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike play the hijackers here. Rated PG-13.

A faith-based drama about Bart Millard, the frontman of Christian rock group MercyMe, who escaped his abusive childhood through music. The title is lifted from the band's signature song. Rated PG.

Popular teenager Simon (Nick Robinson) begins anonymous email correspondence with another boy, only to discover they're the only gay kids in their school, and they're both in the closet. Our critic Eric D. Snider calls this a funny, sweet and uplifting coming-out and coming-of-age comedy. Rated PG-13.

Videogame heroine Lara Croft returns to the big screen, this time played by Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander, in an origin story detailing the famed treasure hunter's first adventure on a fabled Japanese island. Rated PG-13.

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Hundreds walk out of Lewis and Clark High School amid national student protest of gun violence

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 12:27 PM

Lewis and Clark High School students during a 17-minute walkout Wednesday. - WILSON CRISCIONE PHOTO
  • Wilson Criscione photo
  • Lewis and Clark High School students during a 17-minute walkout Wednesday.

As the time arrived for the walkout honoring the 17 people killed in the Parkland, Florida, shooting, only a handful of students came out of the front doors at Lewis and Clark High School.

And then they came by the dozens, holding signs saying "#enough" and "Thoughts & Prayers Are Not Bulletproof!!!"

And then hundreds spilled out, covering the stairs to the front entrance and spilling onto the street.

"This is a lot bigger than I expected it to be," says Fiona Whitver, the Lewis and Clark student who organized the walkout at the school.

They held their signs high. They chanted — "Peace Not Guns" and "We Want Change."

A person driving by yelled "You're all doing the right thing!"

Teachers and school administrators and parents stood by, supporting the students. Other adults held their own signs. The kids faced news cameras and the media, cheering loudly, the roar of hundreds of high school students all demanding change.

And after 17 minutes, one minute for each victim of the Parkland shooting, they walked back into school for class.

It was just one of many schools participating in the national walkout. Locally, several other schools participated, including Shadle, Mead, East Valley, Gonzaga Prep, even Sacajawea Middle School and Wilson Elementary School.

Lewis and Clark student Fiona Whitver organized her school's walkout. - WILSON CRISCIONE PHOTO
  • Wilson Criscione photo
  • Lewis and Clark student Fiona Whitver organized her school's walkout.

Whitver says she decided to get the word out about the walkout at LC when she learned a couple weeks ago about the national event. She used social media to let other students know about it, expecting maybe 50 students. There ended up being a couple hundred.

"I almost started crying when I saw everyone pouring out, you couldn't see the back of the line," she says.

She says some students questioned her about the walkout before it happened, thinking she wants to abolish the Second Amendment. But she says they just want harsher rules so that it's not so easy for people with mental health issues to buy a gun and walk into a school. 

"We want safer schools," she says.

"This is my first year of high school. I've already felt a lot of the stress that comes with being in high school and one of those stresses should not be, 'Am I going to get shot today?'" 15-year-old Larke Schaff says.

Mary Naber, a retired teacher, joined the students with a sign reading "Power to Our Youth."

"I'm hoping to support them taking action for their safety," Naber says.

School districts all over treated the walkout differently. In Spokane Public Schools, the district treated students who walked out as an absence. Shawn Jordan, the district's director of secondary programs, watched the walkout from the front steps.

"Our main interest here today was ensuring the safety of students," Jordan says.

Many of the students participating in the walkout weren't worried about a truancy on their record.

"I'm willing to get a truancy because a student across the country sacrificed their life," Schaff says, referring to the Parkland victims.

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Spokane Planning Director Lisa Key suddenly ousted after city reorganization, some council members object

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Lisa Key, the city's planning director, was suddenly laid off from the city last night, as part of a reorganization. - FACEBOOK PHOTO
  • Facebook photo
  • Lisa Key, the city's planning director, was suddenly laid off from the city last night, as part of a reorganization.

Spokane Planning Director Lisa Key was hired because her predecessor, Scott Chesney, was ousted. But now, Key herself has been ousted in a sudden reorganization.

City council members were informed by Dawn Kinder, who replaced Jonathan Mallahan as the head of the Neighborhood and Business Services division after Mallahan took a job with Catholic Charities.

"In order to most effectively and efficiently complete the work of the Neighborhood and Business Services Division a difficult decision has been made to realign departments to better meet the goals for the city," Kinder wrote in an email to City Council members last night, arguing the changes would help make neighborhood services better aligned with planning and code enforcement and parking services.

Dawn Kinder, head of the Neighborhood and Business Services division - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • Dawn Kinder, head of the Neighborhood and Business Services division

But to do that, she wrote, would only require two department heads in neighborhood services instead of three. Heather Trautman, director of neighborhood services and code enforcement, would take on the department, while Kris Becker, director of development services, would head up parking and code enforcement.

"At this time the director of planning, Lisa Key, has been laid off from employment with the city," Kinder wrote. "This has been a difficult decision but one that will lead to a more effective and efficient use of city resources, expertise and capacity, which will lead to improved experiences for those doing business with, participating in public engagement and helping grow our city."

Kinder and Key were not immediately available for comment.

City Spokesman Brian Coddington says the decision was Kinder's.

"The mayor strongly believes that his cabinet members need the flexibility and autonomy to make the decisions to provide the structure that best delivers the best service to the citizens we all serve," Coddington says. "He’s given that dawn that latitude."

But two City Council members expressed major frustration around the choice to lay off Key.

"I completely disagree with this decision," Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart says. "The city municipal code says if you’re going to switch around the departments it should come around budget time."

Stuckart says he was told yesterday, after he came back from an hour and a half meeting with Key and the Spokane Home Builders Association.

"Lisa understood what council’s priorities are," Stuckart says. "I’m worried that everything is going to go south. And we’re not going to make any progress."

And Councilwoman Karen Stratton, who has often criticized the city staffing changes, was livid.

"I’m angry. These are people. These are human beings who take jobs with the city," Stratton says. "They just took a department and shook it up and took away the leader... It’s thoughtless and it’s embarrassing."

She suggested that the sudden change was a violation of the administration's commitment to work with the council on strategic planning.

"To me, in good faith, this should have been an issue that council and administration discussed with their big, fabulous strategic plan," Stratton says. "And it never happened."

Stratton praised Key's performance as both a manager and as someone proficient at working with outside groups.

"To be treated like this, to me, is despicable," Stratton says. "This is ridiculous. This really, really is."

She says she will not support Trautman as Key's replacement.

"Not only did we lose who I think is an excellent planning director, we have no say in the replacement," Stratton lamented. "It’s a done deal."

During its first term, the Condon administration had become known for its sometimes sweeping reorganizations, as even city councilmembers struggled to follow the swiftly changing organizational charts.

In particular, the ousting of Chesney in 2014 resulted in outrage from City Council members and developers. An Inlander investigation turned up records indicating that Chesney's supervisor, then-division director of business and development services Jan Quintrall, clashed with Chesney over everything from promises made to developers to his department's purchasing history.

The media scrutiny around Quintrall's decision ultimately resulted in her resignation.

Last year, it suddenly booted its longtime streets director, Mark Serbousek, without saying why. Records obtained by the Inlander indicated, that Public Works & Utilities Division Director Scott Simmons had expressed frustrations with the streets department that include obstructionism and the lack of "operational excellence" and "employee engagement."

There can be downsides to major changes, even well-intentioned ones, as Becker — new head of Parking and Code Enforcement — has seen first hand.

In response to a 2016 independent investigation, obtained by the Inlander, Becker elaborated on the dangers of sudden reorganizations.

"Our department has undergone a major transformation in the last four years and this has included significant changes in leadership. Mallahan is my fourth supervisor in two years," Becker wrote, arguing the changes had created an environment that was "fearful of yet another major change being thrust upon staff."

Becker had been a huge fan of Quintrall, but also saw how staff reacted negatively to the changes she made.

"She was new to our division and was making significant changes," Becker wrote. "People made assumptions about her which caused a very fearful and toxic environment."

Today, Stuckart argues, is a particularly bad time to be making big changes.

"Reorganizations, you don’t need one in the last year and half of an administration," Stuckart says. "We’re making progress. Everybody’s happy. We have a collaborative approach. Why are we ruining that?"

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