Posts tagged: Spokane City Council
Good morning, Netizens…
Oh my God! Without so much as a flicker of anticipation, last night the Spokane City Council stood up and made a statement regarding Sgt. Brad Thoma and the potential for a lawsuit over his firing that may have surprised some and perhaps infuriated others. Regardless of how one views this event, it can easily be said that the new-and-improved Spokane City Council and Mayor David Condon seem to have a difference of opinion regarding the controversial firing of Sgt. Thoma and all the other legal baggage this may ultimately involve.
The plan was to rehire the fired police sergeant and give him $275,000 in back pay but it was rejected by an outraged Spokane City Council on Monday.
“I not only say, ‘No,’ but I say, ‘Hell no,’ ” Councilman Mike Fagan declared, drawing applause from some in the council audience, an act that would have rendered former Council President Joe Shogun warped by his gavel, irate and speechless, but only aroused a mild-mannered rebuff from current Council President Ben Stuckart.
Make no mistake about what is at stake here. Despite what Bob Dunn, Thoma's legal body armor may assert in his public statements, Sgt. Thoma was driving drunk as a skunk, was involved in an auto accident while intoxicated and then compounded matters by leaving the scene of the accident. If you or I were caught thus, we could easily still be serving time in the clink, not collecting $375,000 dollars in back pay plus legal fees. All of the rest of this soap opera is pretty much legal hijinks by Sgt. Thoma's legal council and the brand-new set of gonads recently acquired by members of our City Council.
A newer wrinkle that has been suggested by his legal council is that Sgt. Thoma is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act since he is an alcoholic. I thought the only people who qualified for that protection were members of our fine city's Prosecuting Attorney's staff. Oh wait a moment. That has perhaps changed since The Globe is closed and no longer is holding legal council meetings during the lunch-and-martini hour.
My, isn't this a wonderful turn of events! Of course, your opinions may differ.
Good evening, Netizens…
If we, as adults, could only imagine having such things as adult fairy tales, perhaps this evening's cartoon by David Horsey might be even more of an entertainment event than the cartoon itself.
What if, for example, we suddenly endured a category 3 hurricane here in Spokane, an event that by itself is a bit preposterous. Mind you, I didn't suggest it was impossible, just slightly ridiculous. If one can imagine having a tropical storm suddenly make its appearance on our ill-fated version of the evening weather forecasts, all kinds of hell would break loose as meteorologists attempted to explain just how that happened.
But in keeping with David Horsey's cartoon, what would happen if, our imaginary hurricane were to suddenly clean our benighted local government out while it wended its way back toward the ocean? Neat as a pin it might pick up the Mayor, the nefarious Council President, the majority of the City Council and the City Attorney's office up and sweep them all out to sea, neatly rearranging our upcoming election for the voters without so much as a by thee well.
Now what would the news media call THAT?
They more than likely would sputter a bit before calling it an unprecedented disaster or some other suitably solemn-sounding description complete with four-inch headlines. However, being a somewhat unwashed member of the Fourth Estate, I would most likely pause for reflection and then term it divine intervention, and let the Divine take the blame for the aftermath that would most certainly follow.
Yes, it is a fairy tale. No, no hurricanes are coming to clean out the Stygian mess we have in local government. The only solution which seems to have a chance of cleaning up the mess for either David Horsey's fanciful cartoon or my interpretation thereof is the voters taking action.
Of course, your fairy tales may differ, and from them, your results may differ as well.
Good morning, Netizens…
Well, bless my heart! The City Council voted unanimously in favor of giving the Tim Burns, Police Ombudsman, additional autonomous powers last night.
Until last night, the Police Ombudsman only had the authority to observe and report on police reports and sitting in on detective interviews. If he believed that a police review was unfair or incomplete, he could file a complaint with the Mayor or Chief of Police. Now he can conduct his own review of cases, sitting in on internal investigations.
The Police Guild will probably challenge the City Ordinance in court, because such ordinances would have to be approved by the Guild, and based upon my limited experience, they do not want the public knowing what are in those reports and investigations.
Hitch up your tighty-whiteys if you have them and watch closely. If Tim Burns does his job, and I believe he is committed to it, perhaps we may see an end to the travesties on the part of the Police Department, cases such as Otto Zehm, where Police clearly exceeded their authority. That isn’t to say they won’t exceed the law, but at least under the new system the Police Ombudsman will have the power to bring justice for ordinary people to the equation, something that has been missing for far too damned long, in my opinion.
Now I will sit down and stop rocking the boat. I will wait to see how the Police Guild will react. As the New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra once stated, “It ain’t over until it’s over”.
Good afternoon, Netizens…
Tonight’s City Council Meeting promises to be interesting, and that is putting it mildly. City Councilman Bob Apple has brought forth a proposal to change the terms under which the current Spokane Police Ombudsman operates, giving him new powers and the authority to perform his own investigations when circumstances dictate. Unfortunately I will be unable to attend this important meeting due to certain family events which will keep me working late into the evening.
Before I truly get this apple cart rolling (pun intended), my vision of the Spokane Police Department’s Guild is perhaps a bit naive as I am inexperienced in how they operate, but I have a great deal of angst about the incredible power they possess. I believe it is time for change. I believe that the Guild should be accountable to the people, and yet I see no way for this to happen without creating anxiety on everyone’s part. In the current configuration, if the Guild opposes an investigation into the actions of a police officer, it is my experience that true justice can fall by the wayside. One case in point that comes readily to mind is the investigation into the shooting of Shonto Pete. If there ever was a silent scream for justice in this town, I don’t know how else to express it.
No one, not even the Spokane Police Department Guild, should ever be allowed to operate outside the law, and they should be accountable to the voters.
Now while I am opening up a few of what might be termed my crackerjack ideas, I perceive that one of the failures of the Ombudsman’s Office is that he, also, should be accountable to the voters. That, of course, opens up yet another can of worms which not only would create administrative nightmares, but perhaps violate the law.
Giving the Ombudsman the authority to investigate police cases and citizen’s complaints on his own is a good first step toward restoring public trust in our police. The Police Guild may not like it. I’m not certain whether Police Chief Kirkpatrick would support the changes to the Ombudsman’s powers.
More than anything else, it will be interesting to see who speaks out against Bob Apple’s proposal. Mark your ballots for the next election appropriately.
Good morning, Netizens…
[Picture Courtesy of George Sands]
What is it about Spokane politics where election campaigns more-closely resemble half-hearted brawls at the neighborhood taverns than election campaigns? Although I must admit we have never seen a truly knock-down-drag-out fistfight between contentious candidates, I also wonder would such an event show the voters some of the character of the candidates? Would we pick the guy who pulled several sucker punches and won because of it, or would we pick the guy who fought a clean fight, no dirty tricks, and won?
Then we enter the arena where the candidates for City Council gather together in front of the public, which was also broadcast on Cable Channel 5. For a link go to http://www.spokanecity.org/services/citycable5/streamingmedia/ and follow the links to the City Council Candidates Forum.
The real battle of the titans, however, took place during the debate between candidates wishing to represent the South Hill, when David Elton and Steve Eugster got their light sabers crossed somewhat. What a pair these two make! Eugster recently had his license to practice law suspended and David Elton is facing felony harassment charges which prevents him from attending City Council meetings, not to mention he has probably been taken off Council President Joe Shogan’s Christmas Card list for the foreseeable future.
Now we have the battle moving into the war of the websites, as Eugster has posted several of Elton’s e-mailed comments on his website, http://www.spokanerecord.com asking if Elton has an Oedipus complex, then posting a series of e-mail comments between he and Elton.
What is even more interesting is that the Spokesman-Review has endorsed Steve Eugster and Mike Allen for City Council for District 2, Position 2.