What's in a Name?
It's less than two weeks until the city and Avista unveil the newly beautified Huntington Park and plaza just north of City Hall. The stone engraved with the plaza's name has already been ordered: Glover Plaza, after Spokane founding father James Glover.
But city councilmembers say they've been flooded with emails objecting to the name.
"I found out things about James Glover I'm not comfortable with," Council President Ben Stuckart told a council committee meeting Monday. "He divorced his wife; she's buried out at Eastern State Hospital in an unmarked grave. This guy had some sketchy stuff going on in his past. ... Is that somebody we want to honor?"
Stuckart says he also received suggestions to name it something recognizing local tribes like "Children of the Sun Plaza."
The city has been renovating the area with help from Avista, which is footing most of the bill. While Peaceful Valley's Glover Field is already named after James Glover, the city is in talks with the Spokane Tribe to rename that to something "much more tribal," says Jan Quintrall, the city's director of business and development services. So, anticipating that, they've been planning to name the plaza after him for the last year.
Now, the name has been removed from the stone, Quintrall says, and the area will be introduced as "City Plaza" at the May 2 dedication. The naming discussion will then go before the City Plan Commission and the administration is considering a city-wide contest to solicit new suggestions. "We'll let the citizens weigh in on it," Quintrall says. "We think it will be a fun thing."
— HEIDI GROOVER
Second Fatality Fined
Workplace safety inspectors with the Department of Labor & Industries have issued a $5,500 fine against the Department of Natural Resources over the death of Daniel J. Hall, a 47-year-old inmate firefighter killed while working a wildfire in Stevens County last October.
An experienced DNR work crew member, Hall died while digging a fire line on Oct. 17. He was working with a small crew of other inmate firefighters when a 94-foot fir tree crashed down on him. L&I cited the DNR with a "serious" safety violation for failing to clear the dangerous snag from the area.
"The employer did not provide a workplace free from recognized hazards," the citation states, "that are causing, or likely to cause, serious injury or death."
DNR officials have until the end of April to appeal the citation. Loren Torgerson, the northeast regional manager, said last fall he believed DNR employees had "followed the protocols for managing the trees in the area." He couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.
— JACOB JONES
WHAT'S FOR DINNER?
"How much fish does the average Washingtonian eat?" has been a surprisingly crucial question in Washington state the last few years, and for good reason. The "fish consumption rate" affects how much local fish should be considered safe to eat, which impacts what powerful industries are allowed to discharge into the river. Currently, Washington's fish consumption rate is 6.5 ounces per day. That rate, tribal members and environmental activists complain, is drastically inaccurate and obsolete.
But the effort to officially change those rates have been slow, with powerful businesses like Boeing pushing back against adopting a high rate like Oregon's.
Last week, Investigate West reported that Gov. Jay Inslee has been privately floating a different solution: Raise the fish consumption rate, but also raise the acceptable cancer risk for eating fish from the river by a factor of 10.
That possibility hasn't made environmental groups happy. Rick Eichstaedt, director of the Center for Justice, argues it would impact vulnerable groups like Indian tribes and the homeless. (The Center for Justice is party to a lawsuit suing the EPA over the rates.)
Another option the governor is said to be considering is raising the fish consumption rate, but giving polluters significant time and allowances to comply.
"The governor has been firm that he wants to protect high-consuming populations," says Robert Duff, senior policy advisor for Inslee. "[But] you can't take an approach that's unrealistic."
The Department of Ecology plans to have the final rules solidified by December.
— DANIEL WALTERS