& & Is Sloane next? & & & &

SPOKANE -- The agenda for Monday's City Council meeting had quite a few controversial topics on it, one of which had resurfaced from this spring. In front of a packed City Council chamber, City Attorney Jim Sloane again faced a vote of no confidence sponsored by Councilman Steve Eugster. Though several Council members assured the audience that the motion was "nothing personal," the debate among the council concerning Sloane's future quickly turned that way anyhow.

"I've served the city for 22 years," Sloane told the council, "and my greatest responsibility as a city attorney has been to sometimes tell the policy makers what they do not want to hear. I have never shrunk away from that."

Then he spoke directly to Eugster: "You've made public statements about me that were both defamatory and false. You said I was a tool of the [River Park Square] developer. I resent that, and those statements are false." Eugster didn't respond.

Sloane has previously indicated he would resign once the new strong mayor takes office, allowing for the new mayor to appoint a city attorney of his choosing. On Monday, he said the council's vote won't force him out early. "I have no intention of resigning right now, because I'll take no action to give credence to those allegations that I believe are false."

Sloane continued to say that what happens to him really isn't that important, compared to what happens to the city.

"The city deserves a government that is bold and ready to make decisions. Not a government that's timid and in disarray. I'll leave now and let you continue your discussion."

After nearly two hours of debate, including testimonials for and against Sloane from citizens and council members, the usual council majority voted in favor of the no confidence resolution. Council members Roberta Greene, Phyllis Holmes and Rob Higgins opposed.

The final decision as to whether Sloane will be fired rests with City Manager Hank Miggins, who was hired after the council removed another high ranking city official, acting City Manager Pete Fortin.

& & Native campaign? & & & &

COLVILLE, Wash. -- The First American Education Project (FAEP) has launched a statewide public information campaign aiming to educate people about Native American issues before the upcoming election.

"Mainly, this is just an education process on Indian issues, such as sovereignty and treaty rights," says D.R. Michelle, a member of the Colville Tribal Business Council. "A lot of people know certain things about tribal issues, but this is more detailed and it goes into what's really going on with our government relationship as well."

The FAEP's board consists of tribal leaders from across the state, and Michelle says the Colville Tribe decided to support the FAEP in an effort to reach not only local residents, but also legislators and other elected officials before and during the fall election.

"For us, it goes back to the Republican amendment that was out to do away with tribal governments," says Michelle. "Here at the tribe, we were real upset that something like that could come out in this day and age. I know the Republicans have said it was a mistake and all that, but I really don't think they expected the public response they got, and that's why they pulled it back."

Though not the author of the amendment, Republican Sen. Slade Gorton is a prime target of the FAEP campaign, since he has often opposed tribal issues such as fishing and mining rights in the past, and is generally viewed as being negative toward tribal rights.

Besides tribal issues, other things that concern Native Americans are exactly the same that concern most other Americans, such as access to affordable health care, a clean environment and quality schools.

"Yes, FAEP is dealing with educating people about why our treaties are still valid and things like that," says Michelle. "But mainly, we just want to get all the issues out on the table."

& & Charter choice? & & & &

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- After a yearlong push to collect 306,361 signatures -- 179,248 valid ones were needed -- Initiative 729 has finally made it on the ballot, giving Washington state voters the last say about whether charter schools should be made legal.

Charter schools are already operating in Idaho and Oregon, as well as in 34 other states, including the District of Columbia. They have all been established since 1991. This type of school is essentially a nonsectarian public school of choice, which operates without some of the restrictions that usually apply to public schools.

The fundamental concept for charter schools is that they exercise increased autonomy over their curricular activity in return for increased accountability toward their sponsor. The sponsor can be the state or a local school board.

Charter schools typically choose to focus on certain curriculum activities, such as foreign language or advanced science requirements, that may not be covered as extensively in 'regular' public schools.

Charter schools cannot charge tuition, and in some states, like Idaho, receive less than 100 percent of the funding 'regular' public schools receive per student. In other states, like California, additional funds or loans are made available to them as well. Most charter schools rely on high support from parents, who both volunteer and donate services and money to help run the schools.

& & News briefs written by Pia K. Hansen & lt;/ & b

Music Finds a Way: The Spokane Symphony @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Jan. 10
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