Friday, October 20, 2017

New County Commissioner Mary Kuney narrows focus on solving budget issues

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 12:31 PM

Mary Kuney was sworn in as a Spokane County Commissioner on Friday, Sept. 29. - COURTESY OF SPOKANE COUNTY
  • Courtesy of Spokane County
  • Mary Kuney was sworn in as a Spokane County Commissioner on Friday, Sept. 29.

The details of a county budget may not excite the average citizen. But for a former accountant and state auditor like Mary Kuney, there may be nothing more enticing than the challenge of balancing a budget that has a shortage of revenue.

That's the situation that Kuney has been thrust into since being appointed to the Spokane County Board of Commissioners weeks ago. And it's a challenge she relishes. After all, it was her experience as a Certified Public Accountant and a state auditor for 10 years that inspired her to run for office in the first place.

"When you're doing that, you see a lot of really good elected officials, and you see some bad elected officials," Kuney tells the Inlander. "The good ones definitely inspire you, and you see the ability to have an impact on the community and the future of the community."

Kuney hopes, by focusing on the details, she can be one of the good ones.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee chose Kuney as the next county commissioner after a contentious selection process following Commissioner Shelly O'Quinn's departure in June. The Spokane County Republican Party gave commissioners Al French and Josh Kerns three choices to fill the vacant seat. Kuney, then the county's chief deputy auditor, was the second choice of the party. County treasurer Rob Chase was the first, and marketing consultant John Guarsico was third.

It wasn't the first time Kuney faced off against Rob Chase. Kuney lost to Chase in the election for county treasurer in 2014. This time, with Inslee choosing, she got the nod.

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Follow the money on Prop 2: big bucks roll in on one side of coal & oil train initiative

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 10:52 AM


As ballots arrive in mailboxes this week, the Inlander is covering the decisions local voters will be asked to make.
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Among the issues Spokane voters will see on their ballot is Proposition 2, which asks whether the city should make it a civil infraction for anyone to bring uncovered coal train cars or rail cars of untreated crude oil through the city, subject to a $261 fine per rail car.

Proponents say the measure is necessary to increase safety as an oil train derailment with explosion could devastate downtown. Opponents say the measure is illegal and unenforceable, and would not only be costly but could eliminate local railroad jobs.

Both sides got to expand on their positions in our story this week, which you can find here.

What didn't make the cut was a look at who has been funding the pro and con campaigns:

SAFER SPOKANE
Until last week, Safer Spokane’s committee had been wrongly registered with the Public Disclosure Commission as “Proposition 2” instead of “Safer Spokane,” says Safer Spokane chairman Jim Lee. That has since been updated.

As of today, Safer Spokane reported collecting a total of $6,269.68. The largest single donations are $1,000 each from retirees Michael Bell (who donated a total of $2,150 to the campaign over several months) and Candace Schmidt (who donated a total of $1,300).

Other smaller donations came from the United Unitarian Church and other people who mostly listed their occupations as “retired.”

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Violent white supremacists, Hanford, weed & opioid death rates, morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 9:46 AM


ON INLANDER.COM

Give a crap; go vote!
But first, read this year's Election Issue, starting with this story on the City Council race in District 1 between Tim Benn and Kate Burke.

Feds: We lacked authority over Kettle Falls Five
Federal prosecutors acknowledged they didn't have the authority to pursue criminal charges in a case against the Kettle Falls Five, Eastern Washington medical marijuana growers who were complying with state law.

Too deep
Tyler Berens is trying to escape addiction's grasp, yet something holds him back.

Third option
A nonbinary gender option will soon be available on California's birth certificates without a physician's signature. (via New York Times)

A total of 31 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation's Plutonium Finishing Plant inhaled very small amounts of radioactive material in June, following a take-cover order for a contamination spread.
  • A total of 31 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation's Plutonium Finishing Plant inhaled very small amounts of radioactive material in June, following a take-cover order for a contamination spread.

IN OTHER NEWS

Nuclear contamination
Thirty-one Hanford nuclear reservation employees tested positive for small amounts of radioactive material after a contamination spread in June. (Tri-City Herald)

White supremacist violence
Why is the brazen violence from white supremacists drawing so little attention from law enforcement? (ProPublica)

Can weed help the opioid death epidemic?
A peer-reviewed study suggests legalizing marijuana could drive down opioid-related deaths. Although the authors claim no cause and effect between the two, data from before and after Colorado legalized weed for recreational purposes suggests that nearly one fewer person per month died of an opioid overdose. But Colorado officials are skeptical. (Denver Post)
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

ENTRÉE: A roundup of new local places to eat and drink, or coming very soon

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 4:49 PM

A rendering of the forthcoming Maryhill Winery tasting room, opening in Kendall Yards later this year. - MARYHILL WINERY
  • Maryhill Winery
  • A rendering of the forthcoming Maryhill Winery tasting room, opening in Kendall Yards later this year.

It may seem like there’s always a lot going on in the regional food and drink scene — that’s because there is! We’re always on the lookout for the newest local places opening and offering tasty bites to sate all appetites, as well as other interesting developments and news in the culinary community. So, since it’s been a while, let’s round up what to keep an eye on, and what to check out now:

Work to spruce up a former Shari’s restaurant location on the corner of Monroe Street and Northwest Boulevard finally culminated with the opening of the MONROE STREET GRILL last week. The locally owned spot specializes in hand-pressed burgers, seafood and other classic American fare: soups, salads, sandwiches and more. Stay tuned for more on the new spot in the Inlander in the coming weeks.

We’re also aware of a few noteworthy, forthcoming openings on the horizon, including a new sushi spot in Coeur d’Alene, to be located in the former home of Bonsai Bistro on East Sherman Avenue, near the resort. MOMO - SUSHI . WOK . GRILL is set to open sometime later this year, and its owners — recent transplants to the Inland Northwest — plan to serve sushi and other pan-Asian fare.

Fans of the cheesy, buttery goodness of local food truck Mac Daddy’s Gourmet Grub can start the countdown for a permanent stand-alone location heading to Spokane’s North Side. MAC DADDY’S GOURMET PUB & GRILL is moving into a space at the Fairwood Shopping Center near Mead High School; follow the location’s Facebook page (previous link) for the latest updates.

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Better vaccinations for babies, artificial intelligence, kids' smartphone use

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 1:53 PM

What if all of a baby's vaccinations could be combined into one single shot? MIT researchers say they've done just that.
  • What if all of a baby's vaccinations could be combined into one single shot? MIT researchers say they've done just that.

One-shot wonder
Anyone who’s watched a baby receive a series of vaccinations at multiple doctor visits over the first year of their life knows it’s no fun for the little ones. What if all those vaccinations, over the course of a year or two, could be combined into a single shot? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe they’ve found a way to do just that. Here’s how: Tiny bubbles called microparticles — created from an FDA-approved polymer — can be filled with the various vaccines, sealed tight and injected. The particles then dissolve at specific times, resulting in “short bursts of medication or vaccine delivered at particular intervals, mimicking the timing of a vaccine series.”

In the developed world, that could mean fewer doctor visits, and reduce the number of kids failing to complete a multi-injection regimen. And in developing countries, it could help solve the complicated logistics of providing vaccines.


Leap forward?
Go is an abstract strategy game, invented in China more than 2,500 years ago. Last spring, researchers announced that a computer program based on data derived from 100,000 human-played Go games was able to defeat the human Go champion. That's cool, but no big deal, right?

This week, Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence researchers announced that they've created a new program, one that is able to learn, and master, the Go game — all by itself. “We’ve removed the constraints of human knowledge, and it is able to create knowledge itself,” says the project’s lead researcher. Researchers watched as the program, based on human neural networks and given only Go's rules, at first eerily mimicked human learning. “You see it rediscovering the thousands of years of human knowledge,” says one programmer. But 40 days in, it was finding plays previously unknown to humans, and easily defeating previous programs. The developers promise to use this powerful knowledge for good: “One promising area … is understanding how proteins fold, an essential tool for drug discovery.”

But Elon Musk, the brains behind Tesla and SpaceX, isn’t so sure about artificial intelligence.


Real world
Technology can be thrilling — and enthralling — for kids. As any parent knows, a day without a smartphone can be a worst-case scenario for many tweens and teens. But when are kids too tuned-in to tech? Find out how to make the best of our kids’ screen-obsessed world in the current issue of InHealth.
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Feds acknowledge lack of authority in prosecuting Kettle Falls Five for medical marijuana grow

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 12:19 PM

marijuana.jpg

Federal prosecutors acknowledged this week that they did not have the authority to pursue criminal charges in a notorious case against five Eastern Washington medical marijuana growers, known as the Kettle Falls Five, who were complying with state law.

Three of the Kettle Falls Five were convicted in 2015 for growing marijuana. One defendant took a plea deal before trial. Another, Larry Harvey, was dismissed from the case after he was diagnosed with cancer. He died in 2015. The five originally faced distribution and firearms charges, of which they were acquitted.

The three appealed their convictions, and have been out of custody while case lingers in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a brief filed Monday in the Ninth Circuit (see below), U.S. attorneys acknowledge that "the United States was not authorized to spend money on the prosecution of the defendants after December 2014 because the defendants strictly complied with the Washington State medical marijuana laws."

"I'm shocked that the government is agreeing with us, especially in light of who is in charge right now," says Frank Cikutovich, the Spokane attorney representing defendant Jason Zucker. "I'm hopeful that as far as these defendants are concerned, they'll see they've wasted enough time and money and forget about them."

Zucker took a plea deal before trial, but the conviction appeal still applies to the charges against him.

Although the case is being touted as an "historic" victory for states' rights to legalize and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana, Cikutovich is reserving his celebration.

"It's hard to say what we should anticipate next," Cikutovich says. "But it's good to see their filing. My client, as well as the others, have been saying that the entire time."

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'Hot pizza' suit, climate lawbreaker, snowplow plan, morning headlines

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 9:40 AM


ON INLANDER.COM
oiltrain1.jpg


Snow's comin'
And city officials have approved a new plan to plow Spokane's streets. The problem is, that plan will eliminate half of the city's on-street parking all winter.

Climate criminal
A 77-year-old activist argued to a Spokane judge that he was left with no choice. He had to break the law to stop the volatile coal and oil trains passing through Spokane. The argument worked — for now.

Old soul
Spokane transplant, artist and writer Chelsea Martin's new collection of essays explores the last generation before every kid had a cellphone.


IN OTHER NEWS

'Hot Pizza' in hot water
The 67-year-old woman is suing the man who yelled "Hot pizza!" before barreling into her on the Centennial Trail last week. (Spokesman-Review)

He 'knew what he signed up for'
That's what President Trump allegedly said to the window of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed during an ambush in Niger earlier this month. Johnson's family was offended by what was supposed to be a condolence call. Trump fired back that his words were twisted, claiming that he "had a very nice conversation with the woman." (New York Times)

The other George Washington
Centralia, Washington, population 16,982, is remembering its African-American founder, George Washington — the son of a slave, whose reputation as a generous and selfless man lives on today. (Seattle Times)

Skip tracer
The "world's best bounty hunter" reveals her tricks in a two-part podcast. Listen to the first episode here. (Reply All)

Witness in custody
Prosecutors throughout the country — including Washington — are incarcerating innocent witnesses in order to compel testimony in court. (New Yorker)

Too little, too late?
A trio of U.S. senators will try to force Google, Facebook and other internet companies to reveal how they're purchasing political advertisements. (New York Times)
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New snowplow plan will eliminate half of Spokane's on-street parking all winter

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 4:27 PM

Whether it's snowing or not, cars in Spokane will only be able to park on the odd side of the street all winter. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • Whether it's snowing or not, cars in Spokane will only be able to park on the odd side of the street all winter.

The big headlines of the city's new snowplowing plan have been focused on the faster and more frequent plowing.

But for some residents, the new parking rules associated with the plow strategy may make it impossible to find a place to park on the street. From November 15 to March 15, in order to make room for regular residential snowplowing, the city's new rules require that residents only park on the odd side of the street — effectively eliminating half the city's on-street parking all winter.

In previous years, the snowplowing rules required residents to move their car to the even or odd side of the street only during a major snow event.

"We would call a snow event and ask them to run outside and move their car," says city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.

That was a source of frustration for a lot of residents. They'd be sleeping in the middle of the night when a snow event was called and wake up to find their car plowed in. Not only that, but on narrow streets, it only takes one car parked on the wrong side of the street to stop snowplows from getting through.

Last winter, plow drivers would text pictures of streets blocked by cars to City Hall.

So now, drivers will be required to park on the odd side of the street all winter, whether it's snowing or not.

Feist says that the new rule is an attempt to simplify things for residents.

"This is the simple request: Park on the odd side of the street," Feist says. "This is a collaboration. We’re asking the citizens to do this."

Yet for many neighborhoods, like West Central and Browne's Addition, access to driveways or parking garages are limited.

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Get an early jump on enjoying March Madness in Spokane in 2018

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 4:07 PM

If the ball bounces the right way, the Gonzaga women could find themselves playing at the Spokane Arena in March.
  • If the ball bounces the right way, the Gonzaga women could find themselves playing at the Spokane Arena in March.

A couple of years ago, the Gonzaga women's basketball team went on a spirited run in the NCAA Tournament, taking two games on the road against Top 20 teams (George Washington and Oregon State) to earn a spot in the 2015 Spokane Regional. They battled powerhouse Tennessee into overtime before succumbing to the Vols 73-69.

With any luck, the Gonzaga women will find their way back to March Madness this upcoming season, because the NCAA Tournament is coming back to the Spokane Arena on March 24 and 26, 2018. The regional hosts three games over the two days, with the team making it out alive heading to the women's Final Four in Columbus, Ohio.

Whether or not Spokane's local squad represents, the regional guarantees excellent action from some of the best teams in the country, battling in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds. And you can get a jump on tickets right now with a special deal today through Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Tickets are just $50 for all three games for adults, and $35 for youth/senior tickets, available through this TicketsWest site or by calling 800-325-SEAT. You'll need to use the promotional code SPORTS to get access for the tickets.

As a bonus, everyone who buys tickets to the women's regional in 2018 will be placed on a priority waiting list to have the first crack at buying tickets in 2020 for the men's first- and second-round games coming to the Spokane Arena.
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FILM: What's hitting movie theaters on Friday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 3:23 PM

Harry Dean Stanton stars in Lucky, opening Friday at the Magic Lantern.
  • Harry Dean Stanton stars in Lucky, opening Friday at the Magic Lantern.

This week's film releases — there are a lot of 'em — feature a little bit of everything: tragedy, comedy, serial killers, bad drag. And that's just the new Tyler Perry movie.

Here's what you can look forward to seeing.

BREATHE
The directorial debut of actor Andy Serkis, a lush biopic about Robin Cavendish, a polio-afflicted Brit who helped design breakthrough medical devices in the mid-20th century. Rated PG-13.

GEOSTORM
The guy who wrote a bunch of those Roland Emmerich disaster films in the ’90s has a crack at his own. As is genre tradition, an international all-star cast runs from tsunamis, hurricanes and the like. Rated PG-13.

LUCKY (3½ stars)
Opening at the Magic Lantern, the final star vehicle for the late, great Harry Dean Stanton is a gentle, modest, subtly quirky study of the daily routine of a 90-something veteran facing his twilight years. Features one- or two-scene cameos from the likes of Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt and David Lynch as a fedora-sporting man with a beloved pet tortoise named President Roosevelt. Not rated.

MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE
Liam Neeson stars as modern history’s most famous whistleblower, best known as Deep Throat, who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring the Nixon administration to its knees. Rated PG-13.

ONLY THE BRAVE
This fact-based drama enmeshes us within the ranks of Arizona firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, specifically as they attempt to contain the deadly Yarnell Hill wildfire in 2013. Rated PG-13.

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