Of Politics and Patrols

A new challenge to John Roskelley’s run for county commission; plus, efforts to keep tabs on the Border Patrol.

Home is Where...

Suddenly, a driveway without a home became the most important part of the county commissioner race. John Roskelley, Democratic candidate for Todd Mielke’s Spokane County commissioner seat, needs to have “residency” in the district he’s running in. But considering that his property in the district doesn’t yet have a house connected to it, and Roskelley is currently living with his son outside of the district, Spokane County Republicans think they have an opening.

They’ve filed a challenge against Roskelley’s candidacy, asking County Auditor Vicky Dalton and the Spokane County Superior Court to make separate determinations to his residency. If he’s not a resident, the GOP claims, he can’t run for the commissioner seat, according to the Washington State Constitution.

“It’s more than a technicality,” says Matthew Pederson, chair of the Spokane County Republican Party. “What would prevent individuals from Seattle saying, ‘I’m going to run for Spokane City Council, because I intend to someday to live in Spokane’”?

Roskelley, who served nine years as a Spokane County commissioner after being elected in 1995, dismissed the accusations as pure politics, noting that he’s long had plans to build on the property. His only statement alluding to the issue on his campaign site read: “Even before the ink was dry on candidate filing week, the Republican ‘meme’ machine was up to its old shenanigans — diverting the public’s attention from the real issues to political fluff.”

Dalton says that, traditionally, “residency” has been defined loosely by the courts. The County GOP has the burden of proving Roskelley can’t be considered a resident and, looking at precedent, that’s not an easy task. (Daniel Walters)

Cat and Mouse

Like the U.S. Border Patrol tracking undocumented aliens, the City of Spokane is trying to figure out how to track — yep, you guessed it — the Border Patrol. Spokane Police Ombudsman Tim Burns is calling for the city to draft a formal operations agreement between the police department and the Border Patrol. He’s also advocating that the department track when the federal agents stop for local police calls.

City Council President Ben Stuckart says the local Border Patrol office has tentatively agreed to an operating agreement that “defines the relationship” between the federal agents and the police department.

The measures come after revelations that the Border Patrol has shown up, sometimes unsolicited, to 911 calls in Spokane..

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project earlier this month filed a complaint with both the Justice Department and Homeland Security regarding Border Patrol stops, including that of a Spokane resident. And the American Civil Liberties Union in late April filed lawsuits against Border Patrol agents in Western Washington. (Joe O'Sullivan)

Crisis Averted

Barnes Road LLC was seeking to overturn a hearing examiner’s ruling that would have required the company to apply for a new permit to build a development in north Spokane. The company claimed a permit it had received in 2006 was still valid.

Last month, the city agreed to pay the developer $50,000 to settle its claim.

“Ultimately, I think it was a business decision on the side of the city and Barnes Road, and that’s where we ended up,” the developer’s attorney, Stacy Bjordahl, says.

Before they settled, Bjordahl had filed a motion to have the North Indian Trail Neighborhood Council kicked off the case. The council had joined in the suit on the city’s side.

The council’s attorney, Rick Eichstaedt, worried that if the judge ruled that the council couldn’t be a plaintiff, it could lead to citywide erosion of neighborhood councils’ ability to sue.

“Because they settled, they didn’t get to that issue,” Eichstaedt says. (Chris Stein)

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