Monday, August 21, 2017

The moon upstages the sun, 10 sailors missing after U.S. Navy ship hits tanker, and morning headlines

Posted By on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 9:12 AM


A totally predictable, totally cool thing will happen in in the eastern skies this morning.
  • A totally predictable, totally cool thing will happen in in the eastern skies this morning.

NEWS/CULTURE: Maybe you've been out in the woods without reception these past few weeks, so in case you haven't heard, the moon will prance right in front of the sun this morning, and you don't have to drive all the way to Oregon to see most of the show, which starts in Spokane about a quarter past 9. Just don't stare straight at it without some serious eye protection, OK?

NEWS: The Spokesman-Review will see 10 news staffers leave in coming months (some have already had their last day, including well-known columnist Doug Clark) after a round of voluntary buyouts this month.

WHAT'S UP? Searching for things to do this week? How about movies with marmots, a downtown powwow, and a giant bounce house?


10 sailors missing after U.S. Navy warship hits oil tanker
The New York Times reports that 10 Navy sailors are missing after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain ran into a tanker transporting oil and chemicals off the coast of Singapore, the second accident of its kind involving a Navy ship in as many months.

Let's just hope things don't leak
Washington state got a less-than-tourist-friendly mention on Last Week Tonight yesterday, when host John Oliver took an in-depth look at America's need to figure out what to do with nuclear waste. Hanford has been called the most polluted site in the Western Hemisphere.

Oliver quotes from an old news report that likens our lack of planning while constructing nuclear facilities to building a house, but not installing toilets.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Doug Clark and Rich Landers among 10 newsroom staffers leaving Spokesman-Review in latest staff reduction

Posted By on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 9:52 AM

The paper informed the newsroom of a "voluntary reduction in force" earlier this month.
  • The paper informed the newsroom of a "voluntary reduction in force" earlier this month.

Starting this week, journalists with hundreds of years of combined experience will walk out of the Spokesman-Review for the last time, as part of the latest reduction in staff at the Cowles' family-owned paper.

Call it buyouts, call it earlier-than-planned retirement or call it an excuse to get out of the business, but at the end of the process, the newsroom will lose 10 staffers — most of them higher-paid, seasoned veterans. At the beginning of the month, management had asked for a "voluntary reduction in force."

Undoubtedly, the most well-known personality leaving is Doug Clark. The longtime columnist announced Thursday that he’s “reluctantly accepted an offer” he can’t refuse and will leave after writing more than 4,500 columns for the paper during his time there since 1985. From Clark's announcement:

"While leaving now is the right economic choice for a guy of my, um, vintage, I hate leaving the job that I poured my heart and my soul into.

Practically from the moment I got into journalism (way back in 1974), my dream was to one day become a columnist for my hometown paper."

Last week, D.F. (Dave) Oliveria, a columnist primarily for the North Idaho-focused Huckleberries's blog, announced he had accepted a buyout, having worked at the Spokesman since 1984.

“I wasn't ready to retire when the SR made its generous buyout offer. But close. But I wasn't planning to completely retire," Oliveria explained to readers. (He declined to comment further for this article.)

A letter to staff from publisher Stacey Cowles, dated Aug. 2, explains why the paper is looking to cut staff, despite having some of “the best circulation numbers we’ve seen in years.” (To pad its circulation figures, the paper has offered some readers year-long Sunday subscriptions for the princely sum of one penny.)

“There is a renewed interest in The Spokesman-Review — even excitement — throughout our community. However, even with all of the strong support we are seeing from both local advertisers and subscribers, our advertising numbers are mirroring the significant losses being seen at other newspapers throughout the nation.

Though the structure of our company allows us to weather some of these changes differently than other regional news companies might, the drop in revenue is substantial enough that we have to make changes to ensure we have a sustainable budget for not only 2017, but for upcoming years. Unlike other media companies, the changes we need to make now are not about short-term profits, but about long-term sustainability.”

The other staffers said to be leaving in the coming months include Rich Landers, who has covered the outdoors extensively for the paper for more than 40 years; Mike Prager, who's been a Spokane newspaper figure since 1982 and covers transportation, weather, and general news; John Webster, who joined the Spokesman in 1973 and currently writes special projects and helps with IT; Nina Culver, who has been with the paper since 1995, and currently covers crime and public safety; Greg Lee, who covered prep sports; and Pia Hallenberg, who covered Spokane Valley.

Over the last two weeks, the Inlander reached out to each of the writers who might be leaving to see if they would like to comment. Most did not reply, and those who did opted not to comment further on their time at the paper.

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Mitt calls for Trump to apologize, Charlottesville victim's mom doesn't want one, other morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 9:32 AM


Rental plan
Vacancies are incredibly low in Spokane, and rent is skyrocketing. How can the region fix that?

Punks support Salish kids

Local punk rockers are throwing a festival tonight at Mootsy's to help raise money for the vandalized Salish School of Spokane.

Spokesman cutting staff
Doug Clark and Rich Landers are among 10 newsroom staffers leaving the Spokesman-Review in the newspaper's latest staff reduction.

Settling up
A settlement was reached in the lawsuit against two Spokane psychologists who helped devise the CIA’s brutal interrogation program. (via New York Times)


Urban un-decay
The city wants to rehab abandoned commercial properties. Here's how.

Not the right time for this particular speaker
Charles Murray: The Bell Curve author is not welcome to speak at Boise's Red Lion.
  • Charles Murray: The Bell Curve author is not welcome to speak at Boise's Red Lion.

Charles Murray, an author infamous for writing The Bell Curve, which explores the idea that inherent racial differences could be driving IQ disparity, was invited to speak by the Idaho Freedom Foundation at the Red Lion in Boise. But the Red Lion, fearing "protests and riots," refused to host Murray. Crying foul, the Idaho Freedom Foundation has moved the event to the Chateau des Fleurs in Eagle, Idaho. (Spokesman-Review)

No Apologies author: Say you're sorry
Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, giving us a glimpse into the alternate universe where he's president, called on President Trump to apologize for his response to last Saturday's violence in Charlottesville. (Washington Post)

He wouldn't attack a grieving mother... would he?

The mom of Heather Heyer, the woman killed in the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, says she doesn't want an apology from Trump and doesn't want to meet with the president after watching his most recent press conference. (CNN)

Blood-soaked untruths

Distracting from the wave of accusations accusing him of being racist against blacks, Trump handed his critics ammo — dipped in pig's blood — allowing his critics to accuse him of being racist against Muslims. In a tweet, he repeated his claim that a U.S. general during the Spanish-American war dipped bullets in pig's blood before executing Muslim insurgents, and attacks stopped. Historians say that claim is false: The general didn't commit those war crimes, and the attacks didn't stop. (New York Times)

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

No property tax for Spokane County, CdA's Malek bids for Congress and morning headlines

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 9:56 AM


 Reversing their position of less than a month ago, Spokane County commissioners won't ask voters to raise property taxes, despite a $10 million budget shortfall.

COMEDY: Michael Ian Black is at the Spokane Comedy Club tonight ($15/$22) and will read from his children's book Chicken Cheeks at Auntie's this weekend.

COHOUSING: Meet the Spokanites rethinking how we live together: A group of young and old, working and retired, yogis and teachers and trombone players and an architect are aiming to build a first-of-its-kind cohousing community in Eastern Washington.


Last train to Clarksville
Love him or hate him, longtime Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark has written his final piece for the daily paper. Clark has amassed something like 4,500 (by his court) columns since 1985. Good on ya, Doug. (Spokesman-Review)

Malek-ous intent
Malek: Running for Labrador's seat in Idaho.
  • Malek: Running for Labrador's seat in Idaho.
Coeur d'Alene Rep. Luke Malek is throwing his name into the hat to replace 1st District Congressman Raúl Labrador, who's running for governor of Idaho. (Idaho Statesman)

'He's a good man — not a racist'
That's how President Trump described his chief strategist Steve Bannon, whose future in the Trump administration has become unclear of late. Now, Bannon has unloaded on his colleagues in the administration to a liberal journalist writing for The American Prospect. Bannon also contradicted Trump's "fire and fury" comments regarding North Korea and explained his own "efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury."
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Spokane County won't ask voters for permission to raise property taxes after all

County, city of Spokane announce new partnership intended to create budgetary relief

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 3:16 PM

Al French speaking during a press conference yesterday outside the Spokane County Courthouse. - WILSON CRISCIONE PHOTO
  • Wilson Criscione photo
  • Al French speaking during a press conference yesterday outside the Spokane County Courthouse.

Spokane County Commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to take a proposition off the November ballot that could have raised property taxes for county residents. The move comes less than a month after they voted to put it on the ballot in the first place.

Commissioners Al French and Josh Kerns say the county will pursue other ways, including a partnership with the city of Spokane, to solve a $10 million budget shortfall facing the county in 2018. After seeing the state's budget, which will already raise property taxes for many Spokane County residents, French and Kerns decided against sending another potential tax increase to voters. They said that voters would not have the ability to make an "unbiased" decision this November.

"If you're looking at already having a several-hundred-dollar increase in your property taxes next year, are you going to be voting your wallet or are you going to be voting your desires?" French says. "If people end up saying, 'You know what, next year I'm already going to be taxed to death — I don't want to pay more taxes for any good reason,' I get that. But that's not an unbiased decision."

As part of the state legislature's efforts to satisfy the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision, which mandated fully funding basic education in K-12 schools, property taxes for local residents are expected to go up in Spokane, according to a county analysis. Property taxes will be raised by up to 90 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value in local school districts in 2018. The county's proposition on the November ballot could have added up to 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value if approved by voters.

French says he "fully expects" that next year, a proposition similar to the one on which commissioners just reversed course will be on the ballot. Property taxes resulting from the McCleary decision will dip in 2019 for Spokane County residents.

French and Kerns say that a variety of factors have contributed to the budget deficit, including "unfunded mandates" from the state, and a funding model that sees county expenses grow at a greater rate than counties are able to increase taxes. French says it's an issue that is affecting counties across the state, not just Spokane County.

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Trump defends C'ville protesters, Lincoln Memorial defaced, election results now official, morning headlines

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 9:13 AM

Gen. John Kelly, the new White House Chief of Staff, reacts to President Trump's remarks on the Saturday's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a press conference yesterday in the lobby of New York's Trump Tower.
  • Gen. John Kelly, the new White House Chief of Staff, reacts to President Trump's remarks on the Saturday's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a press conference yesterday in the lobby of New York's Trump Tower.


Yes, he really said that
President Trump reverted to his initial position during an combative, impromptu press conference that quickly went off the rails, angrily insisting that there were “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville, Virginia — where hundreds of well-armed neo-Nazis, members of the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists and members of the extremist "alt-right" fomented violence on the streets Saturday — and there was "blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it." On Saturday afternoon, a self-described neo-Nazi from Ohio named James Alex Fields rammed his car into unarmed counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. (via New York Times)

What's in a name?
Why East Wenatchee, of all places, has a "Robert E. Lee Elementary School." And why the school named after the Confederate general won't be changing its name.


Who defaced the Lincoln Memorial?
The 95-year-old Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was defaced early Tuesday morning when a vandal used red spray paint to write graffiti, including the words "f—- law"; Lincoln, America's 16th president, was assassinated by a Confederate sympathizer just five days after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered in April 1865, ending the Civil War. (WRC-TV, Washington)

• Last night, four more Confederate statues were taken down in Baltimore. (WRC)

Arrests have begun in Durham, North Carolina, after the toppling of a Confederate statue there on Monday. (The Atlantic)

The vote is in — all in
Just 67,284 ballots were cast out of 304,058 eligible voters in Spokane County (that's a mere 22.13 percent) in the Aug. 1 primary election, which was certified yesterday, setting up a trio of competitive, nonpartisan races for Spokane City Council in November:

District 1 (Northeast Spokane, including Hillyard)
Running to replace term-limited Councilwoman Amber Waldref:
Kate Burke 45.3% • Tim Benn 36.9% • Kathryn Alexander 17.2%

District 2 (South Hill, Browne's Addition, West Plains, most of downtown)
Beggs was appointed to City Council in February 2016:
Breean Beggs 55.6% • Andy Dunau 22.7% • Tony Kiepe 18.1% • Bruce Vonada 3.2%

District 3 (Northwest Spokane, from West Central to Indian Trail)
Mumm, the incumbent, was elected in 2013:
Candace Mumm 52.4% • Matthew Howes 29.9% • Brian Burrow 17.2%

More notable election results
Tony Hazel, appointed to replace the late Sam Cozza in May, received 51.6 percent of the vote in the race for Superior Court Position 6. In November, he'll take on Jocelyn Cook, who received 24.6 percent to J. Scott Miller's 23.3 percent.

• Incumbent Mike Wiser finished way out in front in the race for Spokane School Board Position 5, with 57.6 percent of the vote in a four-way contest. In November, he'll face Jennifer Thomas, who received 20.1 percent.

• Councilmember Rod Higgins — also the mayor — with 43 percent, takes on Chris Jackson (33.1 percent) in Position 1 and incumbent Pamela Haley (54.9 percent) faces Angie Beem (25.4 percent) in Position 5 in the two Spokane Valley City Council races.

• In the closest local race, incumbent Elizabeth Rosenbeck edged Monica Manza by just 8 votes, 209 to 201, and will face John Merrick for Medical Lake's City Council Position 2.

• Liberty Lake voters emphatically rejected a $9 million bond to build a new community center near Town Square Park; 61.6 percent voted "No."

• For the first time in 91 years, Seattle will elect a woman mayor in November: Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan faces urban planner Cary Moon in the race to succeed Ed Murray.

More CEOs ditch White House councils
Walmart's CEO sharply criticized President Trump as six other business leaders — including the CEOs of Intel, Under Armour, and Merck Pharmaceuticals — resigned from presidential advisory councils, widening a rift between the White House and the business community that has grown since Saturday's violence in Charlottesville. (New York Times, L.A.Times)

• Trump claimed on the campaign trail that he was going to save their manufacturing jobs, but these workers are quitting anyway. (Washington Post)

'It meant everything in the world'
A 93-year-old World War II veteran from Montana who had taken a flag from the body of a Japanese soldier on the island of Saipan 73 years ago returned it to the soldier's family in Japan. The flag was signed by 180 members of the soldier's hometown before he left for war. (Washington Post)
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Why East Wenatchee has a "Robert E. Lee Elementary School" — and why it won't be changing its name

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 4:51 PM

Wenatchee's Eastmont School District had the debate over changing the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School two years ago; it decided to keep the name as is. ""That’s part of our history," said Superintendent Garn Christensen. - ROBERT E. LEE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WEBSITE
  • Robert E. Lee Elementary School website
  • Wenatchee's Eastmont School District had the debate over changing the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School two years ago; it decided to keep the name as is. ""That’s part of our history," said Superintendent Garn Christensen.

In East Wenatchee, the Eastmont school district honors both sides. Like Spokane, it has an elementary school named after Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th president.

But to the north, ironically, it also has a Robert E. Lee Elementary school, named after the general who led the Confederate States of America's army against Ulysses S. Grant. As the debate over removing statues of prominent Confederate figures like Lee rages, especially in the wake of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the name of Lee Elementary has been thrust, once again into the controversy.

"Once again" because Eastmont just had this debate two years ago. In 2015, in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre by a Confederate-flag-loving white supremacist, media outlets pointed to the more than 200 public schools named after Confederate leaders across America.

The issue cropped up in East Wenatchee as well. And as the board wrestled with it and East Wenatchee citizens debated it on social media, the comments trended clearly in one direction, says Eastmont Superintendent Garn Christensen.

"Ninety percent of them wanted to continue it the way it has been," he says. Back then, the school board considered the comments and made a decision.

"They’ve had some conversations and have determined not to change the name," Christensen says. "That’s part of our history. They don’t have the desire to participate with what some describe as the 'whitewashing' of the history. "

The reputation of Lee seemed to be a factor as well.

"My recollection is that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Eastmont school board member Chris Gibbs, who had attended Lee Elementary as a kid, told the Wenatchee World in 2015. “The Civil War was a defining part of our history. I think if you cover up all of what we were that takes away from what we’ve become. I don’t want our country to forget who we were.”

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Trump says 'racism is evil,' WSU College Republican president resigns, and morning headlines

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 9:30 AM


NEWS: Two days after attending the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Washington State University College Republicans' president James Allsup has resigned. A video has since surfaced, reportedly taken by Allsup himself, of him marching with white nationalists as some yell the N-word while carrying Confederate flags or Nazi flags.

(WARNING: This video may offend some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised)

Trump calls racism 'evil'
After criticism to his response to the white supremacists in Charlottesville, President Trump finally bowed to pressure yesterday and said "racism is evil," while specifically calling out the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, though not the "alt-right." (New York Times)

A coal train derailed in Montana, spilling coal along the banks of the Clark Fork River. Nobody was hurt.

NEWS: A man shot by police in Spokane Valley was threatening to harm himself. The victim was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

CONCERT REVIEW: Trombone Shorty's high-energy appeal was on full display at the Fox on Sunday.


Anti anti-transgender
You probably read John Reuter's response on Bloglander to the Spokesman-Review's anti-transgender column over the weekend. Now, the Spokesman's Shawn Vestal offers his takedown of Steve Massey's controversial column: "It's as wrong as the day is long, and the idea that it's Massey's place to make this declaration, on behalf of God, to those of us who don't attend his church, is wronger still," Vestal writes.

Bannon on the outs?
Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon is reportedly in some kind of "internal exile" in the White House, and the president is considering ousting him. (New York Times)
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Man shot by police in Spokane Valley was threatening to harm himself

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 8:54 AM

The Spokane Valley Police Department is operated by the county Sheriff's Office. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • The Spokane Valley Police Department is operated by the county Sheriff's Office.

A Spokane Valley Sheriff's deputy shot a man who had been making threats to harm himself yesterday. The man ignored multiple commands from police to drop the gun that he was holding, according to a news release.

The man, identified by the Spokesman-Review as Justin Klauba, was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The deputy who shot the man has not been identified.

Around 2 am Monday, deputies were sent to the Spokane Valley home to check on Klauba, who was threatening to harm himself via text message, according to a Spokane Police Department news release.

Klauba's father-in-law, Larry Everett, tells the Spokesman-Review that Klauba was shot in the hand in the incident, and is undergoing surgery at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Spokane Police Department detectives will investigate the shooting as a part of the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team.

This is at least the fifth officer-involved shooting involving Spokane law enforcement in 2017. Two of the incidents were fatal. And in March, Sheriff's Office Sgt. Harold Whapeles was shot by Dean Bellamy, after officers responded to a domestic violence call. Whapeles survived. Bellamy did not, though it's unclear whether he was shot by police or committed suicide.
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Two days after attending white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, WSU College Republicans' president resigns

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 5:44 PM

James Allsup, the Washington State University College Republicans' president who attended the white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, has resigned from his position.

Allsup was shown on social media marching among a crowd of men carrying tiki torches during the rally. The event — held to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — attracted white supremacists, some of whom held Nazi flags. The planned rally was shut down amid clashes between white nationalists, neo-Nazis and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. A 32-year-old woman died and 19 people were injured when a man affiliated with the white nationalists rammed his car into a group protesting the event.

Allsup's presence at the rally sparked backlash among the WSU community, and among national College Republicans. Earlier today, the College Republican National Committee chairman released a statement condemning the terrorism and white supremacy shown in Charlottesville. The statement called on "leaders in our organization who may support or condone these events to resign immediately."

Shortly after, Allsup tweeted that he would "expedite the pres. transition process," which he said was already in the works.

"This has been planned since before the #UniteTheRight but the club's VP has effectively assumed the presidency," he wrote.

Allsup has not responded to the Inlander's attempts to reach him for comment on Monday. KREM reports that WSU College Republicans Vice President Amir Rezamand has taken over duties as president.

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