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Spin Control

Gun initiatives: Where the money comes from

The vast majority of money supporting the initiative to expand background checks on guns comes from just 10 ZIP codes in the Seattle area, much of it from people with ties to the state's tech industry.

An analysis of contributions reported to the state Public Disclosure Commission shows more than $2.8 million in contributions for Initiative 594 – or about 84 cents of every dollar contributed – comes from downtown Seattle, areas around Lake Washington and Shoreline. So far the ballot measure to extend background checks from licensed dealers to most private sales has raised about $3.2 million, about three times more than the the campaign for a counter proposal.

Protect Our Gun Rights’ big donors are a trio of groups opposed to further gun control measures. I-591 would only allow changes to Washington’s gun control laws unless a uniform national standard is adopted. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.


Documents:

Q&A with council finalist Karen Stratton

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

Here are the answers from Karen Stratton, who works in the City Clerk's office and is the former executive assistant to former Mayor Mary Verner:

1. What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve your top priority?

I want to ensure that the residential character of Northwest Spokane is preserved and properly balanced with business development.  I have lived in the Audubon Park neighborhood for over 20 years. Our home is close to the downtown core; Riverside State Park and Downriver Golf Course. Audubon Park and the Dwight Merkel Complex are within walking distance from my house. Small businesses have established themselves along Northwest Boulevard and the neighborhood has become a place where one can enjoy a long walk in the park, a bike ride along the river or a cup of coffee or lunch at the neighborhood café. However, as development continues on the Five Mile Prairie and to the west toward Suncrest, there has been a corresponding increase in traffic on the arterials within District 3 which threatens the pedestrian and bicycle-friendly activity in the area. I hope to preserve the residential character with careful attention to traffic planning and support for traffic calming endeavors.

Read on to find out her positions on police reform, taxes, parking meters and more.

Q&A with council finalist Kitty Klitzke

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

Here are the answers from Kitty Klitzke, the Eastern Washington program director for Futurewise:

1. What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve your top priority?

Lift people out of poverty and into self sufficiency.

A look at the demographics of Spokane and the demographics of my district makes this question easy to answer. Spokane has a high rate of poverty, especially in my current neighborhood and the area of Spokane I grew up in. This holds our whole city back. With everything I work on I will look for opportunities that lift Spokane’s people who are poor out of poverty.  Economic development and growing our
local higher education programs is important. We need more jobs, better jobs and access to quality skills training. But the working poor also need affordable housing, transportation, and childcare if they are to have any hope of accessing jobs.

Poverty is a complex issue. I have been involved in Priority Spokane and its Community Indicators Project from the beginning and recently the group identified mental illness as one root cause of poverty and homelessness in Spokane and chose it as the top issue to address. I look forward to working with Priority Spokane and local experts and stakeholders as a council member as they gather and track available data, find solutions and create new community indicators to measure progress. I will do everything I can to support the effort. Helping people whose mental illnesses keep them in poverty to gain access to treatment, safe housing and services that help them get back on their feet must be a goal in a city with our demographics and where loitering and panhandling gets so much attention.

Read on to find out her positions on police reform, taxes, parking meters and more.

Q&A with council finalist E.J. Iannelli

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

E.J. Iannelli, a freelance writer and chair of the Emerson Garfield Neighborhood, declined our request to participate in this Q&A.

Instead, he provided the following statement:

“Out of respect for the City Council’s application process, I am declining to answer your questions at this point in time. While my answers might provide voters with additional campaign information between a primary and general election, in this appointment process the value to decision makers is unclear. Had councilmembers deemed these topics decisive, they would have broached them during the public interview session. Many of your questions will be answered in due course should the City Council appoint me to the District 3 vacancy.”

Q&A with council finalist Julie Griffith

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

Here are the answers from Julie Griffith, a personal finance educator with Money Management International:

1. What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve your top priority?

My top priority will be to understand the progress and needs of the commissions, neighborhood associations and to address the most urgent and long-term needs of the city.  For any new council member there will be some time devoted to absorb as much information as possible from all sectors, most importantly the people you serve.  I have already started the process by meeting with department staff, small business owners, commercial real-estate developers, and my neighbors in District 3.

Read on to find out her positions on police reform, taxes, parking meters and more.
  

Q&A with council finalist Adrian Dominguez

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

Here are the answers from Adrian Dominguez, an epidemiologist with Spokane Regional Health District:

1. What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve your top priority?

My ultimate goal is to increase the health and well-being of all residents in the City of Spokane and to view all policy as health policy, regardless if a policy has a direct or indirect effect on health. We should be evaluating policy in terms of its impact on health, specifically concentrating on economic development, social opportunities, income, education, resources, and the physical environment. We should make it a priority that all residents in Spokane have a chance for success and increase their standard of living. This can only be achieved by engaging all community members and partners, which include residents, community centers, businesses, legislators, faith based-organizations, schools and universities, non-profit organizations, hospitals, and public health. We need to strengthen the individuals and communities role and voice in collaborative efforts that will lead to healthier communities. Much of my work as a researcher has involved organizing various groups to address complex and diverse issues. I have sought public input, worked closely with relevant city staff, consulted a broad variety of interest groups, and collaborated with other council members, the mayor’s office and other relevant officials in order to achieve community sourced solutions.

Read on to find out his positions on police reform, taxes, parking meters and more.

Murray steers clear of med school controversy

SEATTLE – As she pushed for more graduate-level physician training in the region, Sen. Patty Murray did her best Wednesday to steer clear of the controversy over who should operate the fledgling medical school in Spokane.

Murray, who has introduced legislation to extend federal money for primary care residency programs, toured a south Seattle clinic that benefits from such a program. Specialists outnumber primary care and family doctors in America about 2-to-1, she was told, in part because specialists make more and have an easier time paying off the $250,000 in debts the average medical student has when finishing all training.

Washington could be short as many as 1,700 doctors by 2030, she said. The need for primary care physicians is already acute in poor urban neighborhoods like South Park, where she was visiting the Sea Mar Community Health Center, and rural areas.

Would that shortage be helped better by a second medical school in the state operated by Washington State University, or by having the Spokane-based school continue to be part of the control of the University of Washington's program, she was asked. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

Recorded man pleads guilty to drug charges

The man captured on camera at a downtown skate park handing out what later tested as methamphetamine has pleaded guilty to charges and given credit for time served in jail.

Tyas Kelly, 21, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance last week, according to court records. He received a 14-day jail sentence with credit for time served.

Police watched Kelly hand out the drugs at the Under the Freeway Skate Park late last month using a camera installed by the city. Officials said the camera is not monitored by a uniformed officer, but feeds into a room where police take their breaks and fill out reports. The camera is also not covered by a recent surveillance ordinance passed by City Council that requires Spokane police to report any new cameras or other equipment to the city because it is installed on Parks Department property.

Today’s fun video: Aging of a president

 

Being president ages a person. Or so this video of Barack Obama shows.

Two-thirds of voters skipped primary

Less than one in three.

That's the final statewide turnout of voters for the Aug. 5 primary, which stands at a smidgen over 31 percent.

Spokane County did marginally better, at 35.3 percent with the final count certified this afternoon. At least it moved up over one in three.

Perhaps a more important percentage from the primary is 1 percent, the votes needed for a write-in candidate to advance to the general election when running against someone who appeared on the ballot unopposed. Spokane County has two such winners. Mary Wissink got enough votes to go up against Timothy Fitzgerald in the fall for Spokane County clerk. Ziggy Siegfried picked up enough to challenge incumbent Jeff Holy for a 6th District state House seat.

Another look at some statements from McMorris Rodgers’ town hall

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers offered remarks Monday night at an annual town hall covering topics ranging from federal spending to climate policy. Here's a closer look at some of those statements, and the information that supports or rebuts them:

Statement: “Last January I had the honor of giving the Republican address after the president’s State of the Union … If you listened, I didn’t mention President Obama once. The reason was because I think, for so many  me included week after week hearing the division between Republicans and Democrats just attacking each other isn’t getting us where we want to be, and it creates a lot of frustration.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers did not mention Barack Obama by name in her 10-minute long rebuttal his State of the Union address in January. However, she did mention the office nine times, though whether many of those could be counted as attacks on his policies is debatable. A sampling of her mentions:

“Tonight the President made more promises that sound good, but won’t solve the problems actually facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. The President wants that too.”

“The President talks a lot about income inequality. But the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality… And with this Administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide. We see this gap growing every single day.”

“Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the President’s policies are making people’s lives harder.”

Watch the entirety of her address below (video provided by The New York Times):

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

City Hall Scoop: Hoofing It

The gavel pounded not even 30 minutes into last night's Spokane City Council meeting, and Council President Ben Stuckart erupted at attendees for cheering and applauding. He called for a five-minute recess and warned the crowd that another “outburst” would send the rest of the meeting behind closed doors where no one would be allowed to testify.

The issue at hand: someone testifying in favor of repealing the controversial city ordinance passed last year that made it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks.

When he returned and the council was back in session, Stuckart said “the minute” the sit-lie law was passed, problems ceased downtown. Stuckart's right. Those problems, which reached a fever pitch last summer, have largely subsided, but activists find fault with law as a constitutional affront, not a safety measure.

Hafner: “only resolution to it will be to move the plaza”

Some of Spokane's political insiders are abuzz with an Inlander blog item reporting that former STA Chairman Chuck Hafner is refuting The Spokesman-Review's characterization of his comments regarding the future of the downtown transit plaza in Sunday's paper.

But here's a portion of the briefing last week that Hafner gave to the Spokane Valley City Council in which he expresses frustration over the inability to satisfy the complaints of downtown business interests and predicts that they will succeed in getting it moved, saying: “Mark my words … the only resolution to it will be to move the plaza.”

The full briefing can be found on the city of Spokane Valley's website.

Hafner, in an interview with the SR last week following the council briefing, said he hopes his prediction is wrong and explained that the STA board has spent years trying to appease downtown businesses — unsuccessfully — but that it's never good enough.

McMorris Rodgers challenges Pakootas to 3 debates

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers challenged Democratic opponent Joe Pakootas today to three debates this fall, including two in Spokane. Pakootas said he planned to counter with a proposal to do at least two more in other areas around the large congressional district. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

McMorris Rodgers mailer used photo without permission, friend says

A week after Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers sent a taxpayer-funded mailer with the wrong date for a public town hall meeting, residents in Liberty Lake are crying foul over another postcard they say used a woman's picture without her family's permission.

Tom Brattebo sent the following letter to the editor to the newspaper this weekend:

I'll add another view to the numerous letters regarding Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' recently sent (at taxpayer expense) “Senior Update.” The older woman in the picture was a friend of mine for over 35 years. She passed away in January of 2013. The picture was taken a few months prior. The lady was a retired school teacher and principal. She never wanted for medical care through her state retirement and Medicare programs. She did much to assist the less fortunate.

Permission was not solicited by the congresswoman's office for use of this photo. They had no knowledge that she had died.

And, I am married to a “Bette from Spokane.”

Brattebo said the woman, pictured below with the congresswoman, is 91-year-old Maxine Davidson. Brattebo and his wife, Bette (not that Bette), befriended Davidson, a longtime teacher and principal for Spokane Public Schools. A memorial scholarship bears her name at Eastern Washington University, according to an obituary published in the Spokesman-Review.

Maxine Davidson shakes Cathy McMorris Rodgers' hand in a picture on a mailer sent out this month.
Photo courtesy of Tom Brattebo.

Brattebo's wife retained power of attorney for the retired school teacher, he said. She died in January 2013, a few weeks after the photo was taken with the congresswoman used in the mailer. The couple was not contacted by McMorris Rodgers' office before the mailer was sent. They found out about its use when it arrived in their mailbox last week, Tom Brattebo said.

“It was upsetting,” Brattebo said. “She's been gone for a year and a half.”

Davidson enjoyed the photo and kept a print of it in her room at the nursing facility where she lived, Brattebo said. But based on his perception of Davidson's politics, it's unlikely the Brattebos would have OK'd the picture's use in the material sent by the GOP congresswoman, Tom Brattebo said. 

The Brattebos contacted McMorris Rodgers' office, who apologized for the image's use. In a statement, a spokeswoman said the photo was published due to a breakdown in office policy.

There was a breakdown in our standard approval process at the staff level for use of this particular photo. Going forward the office will work to make certain the approval process is enforced which means in order to use a photo appropriate permissions of those featured will be obtained.

-Statement from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' office

McMorris Rodgers is scheduled to appear at an hour-long town hall meeting tonight at the Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St. The event is scheduled to run from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. She faces challenger Joe Pakootas, a Democrat, in the November general election for the 5th Congressional District seat in the U.S. Congress.

GOP control of Senate likely in 2015 unless. . .

Mapping the vote: Here's how the votes in the 6th District Senate Primary shape up. For a bigger view of those results, or to compare them with a hypothetical matchup from 2012 *, click on the documents below.

OLYMPIA – Republicans are in the driver’s seat to control the Washington Senate in 2015 unless Democrats can improve their showing in a handful of races like Spokane’s 6th District contest between incumbent Sen. Mike Baumgartner and challenger Rich Cowan.

Primary results from the Baumgartner-Cowan race aren’t as close as some other contests, but with relatively few competitive districts left after the 2011 redrawing of district boundaries it’s likely to get the most attention of any Senate election in Eastern Washington. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

*Baumgartner and Cowan didn't run against each other in 2012, but they were both on the ballot, running for federal office, against incumbent opponents and both lost in the 6th Legislative District. Just for the heck of it, we compared their vote totals from the Senate and House races with the primary vote totals. They are remarkably similar.


Documents:

Conservative Spokane councilman cited in liberal magazine

The recent conduct of police in Ferguson, Mo., has made many call into question the militarization of police departments, notably today by Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a potential presidential candidate come 2016. 

But more surprisingly, Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, easily the most conservative member of the council, questions the trend in the pages of that liberal stalwart, Mother Jones:

“While the pace of police militarization has quickened, there has at least been some pushback from current and former police officials who see the trend for what it is: the destruction of community policing. In Spokane, Washington, Councilman Mike Fagan, a former police detective, is pushing back against police officers wearing BDUs, calling the get-up “intimidating” to citizens.”

So there you go. Mike “Mother Jones” Fagan strikes again.

Today’s fun video: Fallon sendup of House of Cards

 

Fans of “House of Cards” will probably love “House of Cue Cards.” People who haven't seen the former might not get some of the jokes, but Jimmy Fallon makes a surprisingly good Kevin Spacey.

Town hall date misprinted on McMorris Rodgers mailer

Staff for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said they realized too late their error in the published date for an upcoming Spokane town hall event on a mailer that hit the district last week.

A Cathy McMorris Rodgers mailer lists the wrong date for a town hall meeting

The glossy mailer lists the date of the event as Thursday, Aug. 18, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Lincoln Center in north Spokane. But the 18th is a Monday, not a Thursday.

A spokeswoman confirmed the event will take place Monday, Aug. 18. The error was discovered after the mailers had been sent to the printer, the spokeswoman said, and a newsletter with the correct date was sent out electronically to digital subscribers of the congresswoman's emails.

McMorris Rodgers is expected to speak for an hour at the event Monday, which follows a strong showing in the four-person primary for the seat she's held since 2005. She last visited Spokane for a town hall a year ago, where many attendees wore their hearts on their sleeves.

Grain loading deal reached

Dock workers and a major grain company in Vancouver have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, clearing the way for smooth shipments of grain as the wheat harvest gets underway and removing a bone of contention between some legislative Republicans and Gov. Jay Inslee.

The AP report on the agreement can be found inside the blog. A bit of back story: In the midst of the labor dispute, United Grain imposed a lockout in February 2013 after saying a union worker had sabotaged company equipment. The longshoremen set up picket lines. Federal and state grain inspectors, who must check the wheat before it was shipped, were hesitant to cross the line. 

Last October, the Washington State Patrol began escorting inspectors into the facility, saying he hoped this would lead to a settlement. Last month Inslee said he was cancelling the escorts because no progress had been made, and he hoped the change would bring both sides back to the bargaining table and lead to an agreement.

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, filed an ethics complaint in last July against Inslee with the Executive Ethics Board, contending the governor was failing to protect public employees and “using his office to unfairly benefit his political allies.” The board dropped the complaint last week, saying the governor's actions didn't appear to violate the state Ethics in Public Service Act and the board didn't have jurisdiction over the matter.

Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, welcomed the agreement, saying in a prepared statement he was “glad cooler heads prevailed and these two parties were able to reach an agreement.”

Inslee released a statement calling the agreement “outstanding news” and notified United Grain Company that state grain inspectors will resume inspections immediately. 

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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