McDonald's in the Middle

Washington's Senate Majority Leader plans to retire; plus, prosecutors find police were justified in shooting

Development On Hold

After weeks of controversy over a new drive-through-only McDonald's taking shape in the Logan neighborhood, the Spokane City Council voted Monday to impose a "pause" on similar projects in the area for the next six months.

The temporary moratorium will prevent the city from issuing permits to any drive-through facilities or buildings that do not extend all the way to the edge of the street along Hamilton Street from Trent Avenue/Spokane Falls Boulevard to North Foothills Drive. Introduced by Councilwoman Amber Waldref, the move was a response to neighborhood outcry that the new vehicle-focused McDonald's runs counter to the dense development and pedestrian emphasis neighborhood leaders have advocated and planned for.

While the action doesn't affect the already underway McDonald's project and Waldref says there are currently no projects "in the pipeline," it's meant to prevent similar developments while the city finalizes new zoning rules for that area. The neighborhood and city planning department have been working on "form-based zoning" codes, which will outline specific requirements for new projects in that area — things like building height, architecture and on-street parking, meant to make the neighborhood feel more urban and pedestrian-focused. Because it was a "special consideration," there was no public notice that the council would be voting on the ban Monday, which prompted concern from Councilman Steve Salvatori, who cast the lone "no" vote. The city is required to hold a public hearing on the moratorium within 60 days.


Calling It Quits

After more than a decade in Olympia, Washington Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom announced Monday that he will not seek re-election in the fall.

The Democrat from Medina, who cited personal and his family-health reasons for his retirement, was a controversial leader of the legislature's upper chamber. Before the 2013 legislative session, Tom, who began his political career as a Republican before switching parties for his 2006 senate bid, joined forces with the Republican caucus, allowing them to take control of the floor.

Tom said his 85-year-old father was hit by a car in a grocery store parking lot last week and will require his help in addition to several months of physical therapy.

"I have always said that health and family are the most important values — and beyond campaign slogans — I really do try to live by those values," Tom says in a statement. "It has been an incredible honor to serve in the legislature and to serve the people of the 48th district over the past 12 years. Working with the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) and serving as the Majority Leader, has been historic for Washington and an opportunity of a lifetime for me personally."


Shootings Justified

Nearly 11 months after the first shooting took place, the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office announced last week it had found two fatal 2013 officer-involved shootings by Spokane Police Department officers "justified" after reviewing the investigation records. The Spokane City Council also recently drafted a letter requesting speedier reviews of such high-profile cases, which often take several months to complete.

Chief criminal deputy prosecutor Jack Driscoll cleared seven SPD officers of criminal charges in both the shooting of 21-year-old Justin Cairns on May 16 in Nine Miles Falls and the shooting of 40-year-old Danny Jones on Aug. 22 outside the Salvation Army.

Driscoll determined Cairns, who police say had just killed a man in a separate dispute, presented a threat when he reached for a cellphone in his waistband. Jones posed a "threat of serious physical harm" when he used his truck to ram patrol vehicles. The most recent officer-involved shooting found unjustified was an off-duty shooting by SPD Officer James Olsen in 2006.

City council members plan to vote next week on the letter to the Prosecutor's Office calling for more timely review of such cases. In the letter, officials ask Prosecutor Steven Tucker to dedicate more personnel or resources to future reviews.


Nancy Drew Virtual Escape Room

Wed., April 21, 7-8 p.m. and Sat., April 24, 1-2 & 3-4 p.m.
  • or

About The Authors

Heidi Groover

Heidi Groover is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers city government and drug policy. On the job, she's spent time with prostitutes, "street kids," marriage equality advocates and the family of a 16-year-old organ donor...

Jacob Jones

Staff writer Jacob Jones covers criminal justice, natural resources, military issues and organized labor for the Inlander.

Deanna Pan

Deanna Pan is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers social justice, state politics and health care. In her cover stories, she's written about mass shooting survivors, NGRI patients and honey bees...