Friday, May 18, 2018

Spokane domestic violence town hall focuses on how to improve criminal justice system, survivor experiences

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 2:07 PM

  • The YWCA, Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition, Spokane Regional Health District, and Eastern Washington University hosted an "End the Silence Town Hall" Thursday night, May 17

Today marks exactly one year since Nichole Archer's abuser was first put behind bars.

After she ran terrified out of their home, neighbors who heard her screaming as he beat her called the police. The abuse had gone on for 16 years, she says, but until that day, it had all been behind closed doors.

He was bailed out a week later, and though she had a protection order, on June 14, 2017, he hid with a club in hand behind the garage at their apartment complex and then ambushed her, beating her within inches of her life.

Neighbors who heard the attack rushed to save her, but her arm had already been broken, her skull fractured, and she lay bleeding out on the ground. They stopped the attack and then beat her abuser, who started crying for his own life, Archer says, and police finally arrived and took him away.

"I'm here today because you need to say something," Archer tells attendees at Thursday night's Domestic Violence End the Silence Town Hall, on the Eastern Washington University Riverpoint campus. "I'm here and have my life because of everyone else. Please say something, stand up and stop the silence."

For years Archer says she didn't feel she could do or say anything to stop the violence in her relationship because her abuser isolated her and their sons from everyone else, including family. His threats of what he would do to them if she left were not empty, she says, as the June attack shows.

Archer and several others sat on a panel organized by the YWCA Thursday night, May 17, to confront myths about violent relationships and speak to the realities for domestic violence survivors both in and out of the legal system.

  • Fact sheet compiled by the Spokane Regional Health District

Domestic violence affects more than 3,900 victims in Spokane County each year, according to the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD), and the actual number of impacted people is likely vastly higher.

"Domestic violence (DV) is a silent epidemic — most cases are invisible to society," an SRHD factsheet handed out at Thursday's meeting states. "There are approximately 3,900 confirmed victims each year, although there are about 13,500 potential victims associated with all DV-related calls to law enforcement."

On the panel, Judge Patti Walker, City Prosecutor Lynden Smithson, Spokane County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Detective Mike Ricketts and Spokane Police Sgt. Jordan Ferguson spoke to the limitations of the legal system and improvements that have happened over the years for domestic violence cases. Darby Stewart, a community victim liaison in the state Department of Corrections, Morgan Colburn, a victim advocate at the YWCA, and Courtney Pettitt, a victim advocate and pre-trial services officer with Spokane County, joined them to speak to common concerns and talk about how current systems could be improved.

  • Fact sheet compiled by the Spokane Regional Health District

Some improvements have been made, such as training law enforcement in trauma-informed interviewing techniques, teaching kids at a young age about healthy relationships, improving reporting and making sure agencies are working together. But issues remain, panelists said.

Among a list of many potential changes the panel discussed that could help reduce domestic violence or improve enforcement, the panelists suggested:
  • Consolidating cases and resources within one court and building, creating a domestic violence court that would handle all levels of DV cases.
  • Improving communication between agencies. For example, ensuring that the courts or law enforcement agencies can check Department of Licensing files to see if someone has a concealed weapons permit or if they've been ordered to turn over any guns.
  • Increasing resources for prosecutors, who Smithson says are even more overwhelmed than public defenders as far as case loads go; and for police agencies, who don't often have enough detectives to dedicate the time needed to fully investigate cases or confiscate weapons, Ricketts says.
  • Breaking down the silos between child protective services, advocates and the criminal justice system to offer a family justice model, Stewart says.
  • Reducing the time it takes to go from arrest to sentencing to strengthen the connection offenders make between the crime and the time they get, Ricketts says.
If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, the YWCA has a 24-hour domestic violence helpline: 509-326-CALL (2255).

The YWCA also offers customized safety planning, legal advocacy, counseling and other services to those trying to get out of domestic violence.

  • Fact sheet by the YWCA
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Riverfront Park's Berry-Go-Round Ride has been resurrected on the Skate Ribbon

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 12:34 PM

  • Daniel Walters photo
We have some "berry" good news for fans of either amusement park rides or fruit-related wordplay: The classic Riverfront Park "Berry-Go-Round" ride is returning.

It's sitting in the middle of what, in the winter months, is the pond for the Ice Ribbon. While the Riverfront Park will continue to use the rest of the ribbon for roller skating, the parks department is exploring other ways the ribbon can be used in the summer months.

"We’re trying to find multiple uses for the space," Spokane parks department spokeswoman Fianna Dickson says. 

Normally, you have to take years of figure skating training and practice to pull off an effortless camel spin and flying-sit spin on ice skates. But now, all we have to do is wait until summer, pay the $2 ticket fee, sit down in a giant strawberry and let it do the spinning for you. 

The Berry-Go-Round will open on Memorial Day. Depending on how popular the ride is, it could last through the entire summer.

The fate of the Berry-Go-Round, and of other rides, has been up for debate though.

For a long time, the Spokane Park Board had considered simply demolishing the older amusement park rides. At a presentation before the Park Board a year ago, current Riverfront Park Director Jon Moog summarized the challenge for many of the rides.

“They are essentially like having a 1980s car in your front yard. It maybe doesn’t run, but you put a lot of effort into it,” Moog says. “We want to make sure that '80s clunker doesn’t stay around. It doesn’t provide a lot of confidence in its safety. It may be fun still to drive, but it takes a lot of effort to maintain them.”

But some advocates, including former Riverfront Park Director Hal McGlathery, argued passionately for at least keeping some of them.

"A lot of people think the rides are tacky, they're 'carnival' — that they're not classy enough for the park or for the Pavilion," McGlathery told the Inlander in 2016. But he argued that, properly maintained, they could make money. He urged moving the rides to the North Bank instead of trashing them.

Ultimately, Dickson says, the Park Board was persuaded to try to keep some additional low-cost options for families.

"The Park Board felt that the rides were an important piece to offer," Dickson says. "We know they’re not going to be a major revenue source for the park, but it’s important to offer affordable family entertainment."

Ultimately, the Park Board voted to keep up to three rides. Two made the cut: the Berry-Go-Round and the Spider, one of those octopus-like rides with the big arms on the end. (The city doesn't have a set plans for how to use the spider yet.)

Most of the other rides were sold off.

As for the Spokane's beloved "rusted" Ferris wheel (star of that Guardian article on Spokane)? It was in terrible condition — missing paint, lights and hydraulic rams. It was a lost cause. To deconstruct the Ferris wheel to sell it would require special equipment.  The time and rental costs of that equipment would have been more expensive than the resale value of the wheel. So it was demolished.

Goodnight, sweet prince, and may flights of hand-holding junior high kids sing thee to thy rest.

  • Daniel Walters photo
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Bee tummies, suspicious newspapers, the Mikes' bromance and other morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 9:25 AM

WSU assistant professor Jeni Walke inspects a honeybee hive on the WSU campus. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • WSU assistant professor Jeni Walke inspects a honeybee hive on the WSU campus.


Councilwoman Kate Burke wants to add more public bathrooms for the homeless.

NATURE | Can studying the stomachs of bees hold the secret to saving them?

| There's been another school shooting. Earlier this year, we assessed 47 ideas to reduce gun violence.


Garbage fee

At one time, the Waste-to-Energy plant won awards for safety. But after a terrible accident two years ago, regulators found 10 safety violations, and are charging Spokane $36,300. (Spokesman-Review)

Like a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby road trip movie, but with Mike Leach and Michael Baumgartner
Even though he's left the Senate, Michael Baumgartner is going to great lengths to hold one of Washington state's highest paid public officials accountable by going on a trip to Thailand with WSU football coach Mike Leach. (Spokesman-Review)

The Bonner County Daily Bee IS a real newspaper, though, I'm sure of that.
Columbia Journalism Review digs into the Idahoan, the strange pseudo-newspaper put out by conservatives in advance of the Republican primary. (CJR)

The latest on the latest school shooting
So far, eight are dead in Texas. (New York Times)

Nobody likes a tattletale

Was there an FBI source on the Trump campaign? (Washington Post)
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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Framed for murder, no place to pump breastmilk, Trump says deportees are 'animals' and morning headlines

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2018 at 9:52 AM

President Donald Trump. - TOM BRENNER/THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • Tom Brenner/The New York Times
  • President Donald Trump.


A place to pump
A mother is suing a Spokane judge for failing to provide adequate space to pump breastmilk.

Everybody poops
Advocates say there aren't enough public restrooms in the city, and that presents a problem for homeless people.

Portland to Liverpool to Granada and back
Portland singer-songwriter Moorea Masa will play the Bartlett this weekend. Music writer Howard Hardee talked to her about her journey to becoming a hit R&B singer.


Framed and awaiting a death sentence
A black man awaits execution in a California prison. He was convicted of the brutal 1983 murder of a white family living in an affluent neighborhood east of Los Angeles.

But witnesses say the attack was carried out by three white men, and brown or blond hairs were found clasped in the victims' hands. Police also apparently ignored other evidence pointing to a convicted murderer released from prison shortly before the attack.

Now, Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to allow advanced DNA testing that could show once and for all if Cooper is guilty or innocent. After reviewing the evidence and trial transcripts, experts say Cooper was framed by crooked cops. (New York Times)

'I'm calling ICE'
Hot shot Manhattan attorney Aaron Schlossberg lost his mind when he heard two restaurant employees speaking Spanish. His law firm has since been flooded with one-star Yelp reviews. (USA Today)

Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
  • How the U.S. immigration system is putting LGBT asylum seekers in danger. (Daily Beast)
  • Pakistan passed a transgender rights law. (Al Jazeera)
  • Idaho's Constitution still defines marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, despite what the U.S. Supreme Court has said. (Seattle Times)

Bould Ban
Boulder, Colorado's city council voted unanimously to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines within city limits. A radio and TV personality, along with the Boulder Rifle Club, have already sued the city. (Daily Camera)

No surprise here
During a roundtable discussion with California sheriff's, President Donald Trump referred to people being deported from the U.S. as "animals."

"We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in, and we're stopping a lot of them, but we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals," the president said. (The Hill)

Brown v Board and the judicial nominee who won't endorse it
Today is the 64th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision to desegregate public education in the U.S. Today is also when the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to confirm or reject Wendy Vitter, Trump's nominee for Louisiana district court judge.

In response to a direct question last month, Vitter refused to say whether she agreed with the court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. (Medium via Vanita Gupta)
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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Idaho GOP primary victor Russ Fulcher thinks Trump is a jerk, but says he can speak his language

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 5:26 PM

  • Daniel Walters photo
UPDATE: Steve Ackerman, Russ Fulcher's policy director, calls to clarify that Russ doesn’t, in any way, think the President a bad person.

“Driven personalities can come across as abrupt, but they’re actually people who want to get things done,” Steve Ackerman, policy director.

Basically, Ackerman says, Fulcher is saying, “I know how these people think.”

Last night, former Idaho Senate Majority Caucus Leader Russ Fulcher trounced his opponents, including former Lt. Gov. Dave Leroy and Coeur d'Alene-based state Rep. Luke Malek. Despite facing six other candidates, Fulcher won over 43 percent of primary voters.

That gives us an excuse to draw out an interesting exchange from a recent interview we conducted with Fulcher in Post Falls, where he explains how he thinks he understands Trump — and how he can use that to the district's advantage. 

When considering Trump, Fulcher draws upon his experience working with other business leaders as a former executive in the Boise-based semiconductor device manufacturer in Idaho. He names one leader in particular: a guy named "Steve Jobs," from a startup called "Apple Computers."

"At least, from our standpoint, he was really a jerk," Fulcher says. "His staff, anyone around him — it was fire him next, fire him next — if they didn't agree with him or really see the vision, it was just, next, next... very unpleasant to be around."

Commodore founder Jack Tramiel was the same way, Fulcher says.

"There is a certain type of person who is very, very driven, very, very smart, very, very vision oriented — they don't look at the world like you and I do," Fulcher says. "They see everything as a 'cost center' or a 'profit center.'

"In most cases, they have a personal life [that] is in tumult all the time. In most cases, they are not pleasant to be around. They don't have buddies, they don't have friends, per se.

"My perception is that that's Donald Trump," Fulcher says. "I think maybe, just maybe, I can speak his a language a bit."

That doesn't mean Fulcher is going to be Trump's buddy.

"He is never going to be my friend," Fulcher says. "He is never going to be anybody's friend."

Yes, he acknowledges, that's kind of sad.

"Steve was kind of sad," Fulcher says "His life was a mess."

But with guys like Jobs, he says, you couldn't argue with their effectiveness and their vision.

"[Trump] can't help himself in a lot of ways, because he sees stuff and he's got a skillset and growth for making things profitable," Fulcher says. "But the cost, personally, that comes with it is very, very high."

Sure, Fulcher knows he'd only be one out of 435 congressional delegates. He's not naive. But he thinks he knows how to talk to guys like Trump. It's all about the success of the corporation.

As an example, he role plays about how he would convince Trump to open up federal lands in Idaho to more state management, including recreation and judicious logging.

"Mr. President, there's a massive cost center in Idaho, that has the potential to be a state and federal profit center that is off the charts. Today, your expenditures and the contribution to the debt due to mismanagement or lack of management for resources is contributing X amount to a $21 trillion debt... I can take that red and turn it green in X amount of time."

That, Fulcher says, is how to speak "Trump."

Fulcher can't rely on discussions of recreation opportunities, saving Elk herds or preventing carbon emissions when trying to convince Trump to let Idaho have a larger role in managing federal lands. That doesn't move the needle for Trump.

"It's What?! What?!" Fulcher says, doing an impression of Trump's reaction to those sorts of arguments. "Whaddyagot? ... He's looking at this like a bottom line up, like every CEO. I won't say he doesn't care but — he doesn't care." Unless, Fulcher says, it has to do with profits or losses.

However, Fulcher says he and Trump differ significantly on style.

"It's 'launch the bomb and ask questions later,'" Fulcher says about Trump's style.

And yes, he clarifies when asked, he means that metaphorically.

"That's his style and it seems to work for him. I use Korea, as an example," Fulcher says. "Basically he tells this guy over there, look, 'I'm gonna decimate your country,' or something like that. But then again, look at him. If I can believe the reports, they're having conversations, they wouldn't have ever had! Would I have done that? No."

He also says he disagrees with Trump's views on DACA, a program that has protected some unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the country as a child. Though, he notes that Trump hasn't always been consistent on this issue.

“If I understand correctly, he's had circumstances where basically the president says — it’s almost a pro-amnesty message,” Fulcher says. “I’ve also heard reports ... where Trump says, ‘No amnesty, I’m going to throw them all out!' So, I don’t know which is true. But in terms of policy, I don’t think either is the answer.”

In Idaho, however, Fulcher notes, there's something to keep in mind. Idaho loves Trump.

"He's well over a supermajority of favorability in Idaho," Fulcher says. "With the Republican Party, it's just not that high."
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Mother sues Spokane County judge over inadequate breastfeeding accommodations

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 4:06 PM

  • Catherine D'Ignazio photo

A mother is suing Spokane County District Court Judge Richard Leland nearly two years after quitting her job as an accounting technician. Holly Schmehl says in the lawsuit that Leland did not provide her breastfeeding accommodations she was legally entitled to.

"It was OK if people walked in on you. That was the standard," Schmehl says. "That doesn't mean people were OK with it, but they just didn't fight it. The room was never free from intrusion."

The lawsuit filed in Spokane County Superior Court accuses Leland and Spokane County of violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires certain employers to provide nursing mothers with breastfeeding accommodations that are shielded from view, free from intrusion and are not a bathroom.

The lawsuit says Leland, acting in his personal capacity and not a judge, "repeatedly and unreasonably" prevented Schmehl from having access to a private place to pump breastmilk and questioned her about "her intentions to remain in the county's employment."

Leland declined to comment, citing the active lawsuit. Keller Allen, the attorney representing the county, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

In a legal claim (a precursor to a lawsuit) filed in February of 2017, Schmehl lays out the difficulty she had in finding a private place to to express breastmilk, including multiple instances of people walking into the room (or trying to) during the middle of a session.

The intrusions, coupled with pushback from Leland, Schmehl says in a previous interview with the Inlander, caused her to skip pumping sessions. Eventually, the amount of milk she was able to express decreased by half.

A year after Schmehl filed her initial claim, in February of this year, Spokane County announced the opening of a designated nursing room in the basement of the Public Works Building.

"The room has recently been remodeled to include two comfortable chairs, [a] sink, easily accessible electric outlets and privacy curtains," according to a news release from the county.

Jared Webley, a spokesman for Spokane County, says "the county is committed to helping mothers who are trying to find that work-life balance." He adds that in addition to the nursing room, the county has purchased a Mamava Lactation Pod, which is a free-standing booth moms can use to nurse or pump, similar to those found in airports and shopping malls. It's currently set up in District Court, Webley says.
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Idaho primary results are in: Little, Jordan will compete for governor

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 2:55 PM

Last night, polls closed in Idaho's primary, leaving us with a clear picture of the candidates each party will put forward in November.


  • Paulette Jordan
  • Brad Little

The open governor's race saw heated advertising among three leading Republican candidates and gathered national attention due to a potentially historic candidacy on the Democratic side.

With results in, former Lt. Gov. Brad Little gets the Republican nomination and former state Rep. Paulette Jordan has the Democratic nod.

Little comes from a long-time Idaho ranching family in southern Idaho, and served in the Idaho Senate for about eight years before getting appointed lieutenant governor in 2009, where he's served alongside current Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

Jordan, who if elected would be Idaho's first female governor and the nation's first Native American governor, grew up in rural North Idaho and served on the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Council before serving as a representative for Idaho's District 5 House Seat A from 2014 until this spring, when she stepped down to focus on her campaign.

Meanwhile, in the open race for the U.S. House seat Republican Rep. Raúl Labrador opted to leave to mount his gubernatorial campaign, former state Senate majority caucus leader Russ Fulcher was the resounding winner on the Republican side, and real estate agent Cristina McNeil overwhelmingly took the Democratic vote.

For other races, check out the New York Times' interactive report with graphics that show county by county breakdowns in the major races, and a graph of the winners in the state Senate and House races. 
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Little and Jordan to vie for Idaho governor, more women behind bars and other headlines

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 9:29 AM

NEWS: Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington’s secretary of state say that their offices will cover up to $1.2 million in pre-paid postage for mail-in ballots in the upcoming elections in August and November.

MUSIC: The lineup for Gleason Fest in Spokane has been announced. This year’s headliners are Blind Pilot and Joseph.

NEWS: The number of incarcerated women increased 700 percent between 1980 and 2016, and Idaho has the fourth highest number of women behind bars.

NATION: Facebook is attempting some transparency after increased pressure and frustration over fake accounts and post removals.

Paulette Jordan hopes to unite Idaho as governor, drawing on her rural background.
  • Paulette Jordan hopes to unite Idaho as governor, drawing on her rural background.


Silencing the critics
Gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan wins the nomination for Idaho’s Democratic Party. Now, she faces an even bigger challenge. (Vox)
Brad Little
  • Brad Little

A Little goes a long way
And in OTHER news, Idaho gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Brad Little wins the nomination for GOP. “In case you did not notice, this was a pretty hard-fought campaign,” Little said last night. (Idaho Statesman)

Of course...
North Korea is threatening to withdraw from a summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The White House isn’t worried though. (New York Times)

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Gleason Fest announces bands Blind Pilot, Joseph as this year's headliners

Posted By on Tue, May 15, 2018 at 4:12 PM

Folk-pop trio Joseph is set to perform at Gleason Fest on Aug. 11. - EBRU YILDIZ
  • Ebru Yildiz
  • Folk-pop trio Joseph is set to perform at Gleason Fest on Aug. 11.

Gleason Fest, the annual Spokane music festival and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease) research fundraiser, will be headlined this year by the bands Blind Pilot and Joseph. The rest of the day-long lineup, which will take over Riverfront Park's Lilac Bowl Amphitheater on Aug. 11, will be announced at a later date.

Both big-name acts hail from Portland and favor glossy folk-pop production and lush vocal harmonies. Joseph, in particular, has a strong Spokane following, having played several well-attended shows here in recent years. (The band's primary songwriter, Natalie Closner, also called the Inland Northwest home for a brief period of time.)

Gleason Fest is, of course, named for Spokane native Steve Gleason, a former NFL player who has been a dogged proponent of ALS research since being diagnosed in 2011. He was the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary in 2016. The festival began in 2012 and has attracted the likes of Portugal. The Man, Grouplove and Pickwick.

Tickets for the festival, which start at $27.50, will go on sale Friday, May 18, at 10 am through TicketsWest. You can also donate directly to Gleason Fest here.
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Governor and Secretary of State offer to pre-pay postage for Washington's primary and general election ballots

Posted By on Tue, May 15, 2018 at 3:56 PM


Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced Tuesday that their offices will cover roughly $1.2 million in pre-paid postage for ballots that will go out to voters this August and November for the primary and general elections.

The two followed the lead of the King County Council, which put up $381,000 to pre-pay for postage on ballots for King County voters, who make up about one-third of all voters in the state.

Wyman asked Inslee to help provide postage money for ballots for the rest of the state to make things equitable for voters in the other 38 counties and make sure that people weren't confused by media reports of the move that would've only impacted King County ballots.

Wyman and Inslee plan to ask the Legislature in 2019 to refund the one-time costs for postage that King County has already put up, according to a news release.

It's always been free to turn in Washington's mail-in ballots at drop box locations, typically located in libraries and convenient locations in each county, but for those who choose to mail it in, a stamp has been needed in the past, and sometimes counties have had to cover additional costs when ballots were too heavy for a single stamp to be enough.

"This is about leveling the playing field and making elections equal for all citizens of Washington state," Wyman says in the release. "I want to thank the governor for his collaboration, and I look forward to working with him to get a bill passed in 2019 to make Washington the first state in America with permanent universal postage-paid voting by mail."

Wyman was in favor of the King County measure and has supported statewide postage funding proposals before.

If and when the 38 other counties choose to provide pre-paid postage on their ballots, the Secretary of State's Office will administer the money as a grant. 
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