Archive for December 2009
Washington state will loan the Spokane Housing Authority more than $2.5 million to help turn the old Hillyard High School into apartments for homeless and low-income residents.
The loan is among some $22.5 million in loans and grants from the state Commerce Department’s Housing Trust Fund announced Wednesday by Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office.
“We’re very happy about that,” Steve Cervantes, executive director of the Spokane Housing Authority, said. “We have all the elements to make this work.”
The project will restore much needed housing and the construction will provide economic stimulus in the community, he said.
As the national media craft year-end rememberances of those who passed in 2009, it’s worth mentioning three who transformed Spokane.
The three men who served in the top spot at Spokane City Hall stretching from 1963 until 1991 died in just the last five months.
Two of the three former city managers, F. Sylvin Fulwiler and Glen Yake, were heavily involved in the creation of Riverfront Park for Expo ‘74. Transforming the property into a park generated a few controversies, such as decision to tear down the Great Northern depot. But many still consider the project one of the city’s biggest success stories.
The other, Terry Novak, pictured above, played a large role in the creation of the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena and what is now the University District.
The U.S. Supreme Court will take a peek at whether those names on the Referendum 71 petitions are public records or private info.
The Washington Secretary of State’s office, which says they are public records, announced today the Supremes have put the Ref. 71 issue on a list of cases they’ll review on Jan. 15. This could be the next step toward a full-blown appeal of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that they’re subject to release, or the end of the line for the fight.
The high court would be expected to announce that day or soon after whether they will take up the case, Brian Zylstra, deputy communications director, said.
If Santa didn’t make it to your house this year, here’s why:
Everybody’s going to be asking the Legislature for something in the coming months. TVW takes a look at what the Legislative Youth Action Council will be seeking in this recent video.
OK, at 38 minutes, it’s longer than it needs to be. But it shows young people are active, interested and involved, and one can never have too much of that.
Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered state flags lowered to half staff today in honor of Pierce County Deputy Sheriff Kent Mundell, who died yesterday of wounds suffered in answering a domestic violence call. They’ll stay lowered for a week, through close of business on Jan. 5.
Western Washington was still reeling from the Thanksgiving weekend shooting of four officers in Lakewood when Mundell and Sgt. Nick Hausner were wounded in a shootout with David Crable three days before Christmas.
He’s the sixth police officer in the Puget Sound area to die in the line of duty in two months. On Halloween night, Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton was shot to death while sitting in his patrol car.
The folks at JibJab have a new Web video out, taking a look at 2009.
Monday’s City Council meeting was the last with Al French as a member. French is finished with his second term representing northeast Spokane. Term limits prevented him from running again, but he has announced his candidacy for the Spokane County Commission.
Monday’s City Council meeting was the last with Al French as a member.
French is finished with his second term representing northeast Spokane. Term limits prevented him from running again, but he has announced his candidacy for the Spokane County Commission.
In honor of the holidays, Spin Control lays off politics to brighten our readers’ spirits with the annual Christmas Quiz.
It’s a tradition that dates back at least to the last time Christmas was on a Sunday and there were no good topics for a political column. It’s also a chance to mix a bit of cheer with political trivia. For those who think Christmas and politics don’t mix, they obviously aren’t getting all the e-mails I’m getting from elected officials. They all wish you the very best these holidays, by the way.
And why not? Next year’s an election year. But enough of such cynicism, here are this year’s 12 trivias of Christmas:
1. In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” what public service job did George Bailey have during World War II?
A. Draft board member.
B . Air raid warden.
C. Police auxiliary
D. War bond salesman
2. When Walt Kelley rewrote “Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly,” for Pogo to “Deck Us All with Boston Charley,” what Washington city did he include?
C. Walla Walla
3. Where did Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer first appear?
A. In a children’s book
B. In a song written for Gene Autry.
C. In an article in the Saturday Evening Post magazine
D. In an animated television special
4. The Jewish festival of Hannakuh stems from a war between the Israelites and whom?
5. Christmas was once against the law in an area that is now which U.S. state?
A . New York
B. North Carolina
C. Rhode Island
6. What general was made commander of the Allied invasion forces on Christmas Eve, 1943?
A. George Patton
B. Douglas McArthur
C. George Marshall
D. Dwight Eisenhower
7. What First Lady wrote a Christmas story that features a girl named Marta?
A. Elinor Roosevelt
B. Jackie Kennedy
C. Barbara Bush
D. Laura Bush
8. If one follows the Bible religiously, what figures should not be in a Nativity Scene?
C. Wise Men
9. What elective office did Scrooge facetiously suggest his nephew seek?
A. Mayor of London
B. Member of parliament
C. Prime Minister
D. Chancellor of the exchequer
10. What kind of music does John Candy’s band play in “Home Alone”?
A. Heavy metal rock
D. Country swing
11. When and where did the first celebration of Chrismas Day on Dec. 25 occur?
A. 2 A.D in Nazareth
B. 363 A.D in Rome
C. 1066 A.D., in England
D. 1703 A.D. in Paris
12. In 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts read from which book of the Bible in a Christmas Eve telecast from space?
With most of government taking at least a three-day weekend, there’s no Spin Control on Sunday. Merry Christmas to all.
For answers, go inside the blog.
A bit of Christmas cheer to go with the quizzes.
From December 2007
Merry Christmas, political junkies.
With the War on Christmas held down to a few skirmishes this year, such as the assault of a firefighter Santa in Spokane, it’s likely that only the truly politically obsessed would be reading this column near or on Christmas. For the rest of us, the eggnog beckons and presents need to be wrapped or unwrapped.
The bad news is there isn’t much politics that happens outside of Iowa and New Hampshire during Christmas week. The good news is Spin Control routinely accounts for this with its annual 12 Trivias of Christmas Quiz, a mixture of yule-themed government and political factoids that you might be ashamed of yourself for knowing.
1. The Gospel of Luke says Joseph and Mary were going to Bethlehem for a census, but what was the cause of the census?
2. The Magi, who weren’t really kings regardless of what the song says, did meet with a real king before they found Jesus. Who was it?
3. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus might have been classified as an illegal immigrant for the first few years of his life. To what country did Joseph and Mary take him after he was born?
4. Who was crowned king of England on Christmas Day?
5. What war involving American troops technically ended with a treaty on Christmas Eve?
6. What government leader was deposed on Christmas Day?
7. When good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen, what country was he in?
8. What government employee is mentioned in the song Frosty the Snowman?
9. The song “Silver Bells” was inspired by what yuletide tradition?
10. What civil servant helps prove Santa’s existence to a judge in “Miracle on 34th Street”?
11. With whom did Ma Bailey have Christmas Eve lunch in “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
12. What did Gen. Waverly use to buy the Columbia Inn in “White Christmas”?
Need answers? Go inside the blog.
Happy Holidays from Olympia, where a 75 foot noble fir graces the Capitol rotunda, a menorrha and a message of general goodwill from atheists is on the lawn by the fountain outside, and if the lions aren’t lying down with the kids, the Democrats and Republicans who are around are making nice this week.
Unless news breaks out, Spin Control is on vacation this week. Look for the annual Christmas Trivia Quiz at the end of the week. If you want to warm up for this year’s edition, here’s a quiz from Christmas past.
From December 2006
The worst thing about a political column on Christmas Eve is that most people are filled with the spirit of the season and will not sit still for smacking someone upside the head, even if that person is a politician whom they would say on the other 364 days of the year much deserves it.
Last year, in that spirit – which allows lions to lie down with the lambs and Democrats to drink mulled wine with Republicans – Spin Control offered Christmas trivia from its store of yuletide lore. It proved so popular that some suggested forgetting real politics year-round.
That’s not going to happen. But we did come up with a new version of the 12 Trivia of Christmas…
1. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Bible says Augustus was emperor of Rome and Herod was King of Judea. Who does it say was governor of Syria?
A. Lysanaias; B. Tiberius; C. Quirinius; D. Zechariah.
2. What American president signed the law making Christmas a federal holiday?
A. Abraham Lincoln; B. Ulysses S. Grant; C. Theodore Roosevelt; D. Woodrow Wilson.
3. Who is the leader of the Island of Misfit Toys in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?”
A. King Moonracer; B. Queen Glenda; C. Princess Rainbow-Brite; D. Prince Jolly-Times.
4. Soldiers in what war stopped fighting each other on one Christmas Day?
A. The American Revolution; B. The Civil War; C. World War I; D. World War II.
5. What American general took advantage of Christmas revelry by the enemy to mount a successful attack?
A. George Washington; B. Andrew Jackson; C. William Sherman; D. Dwight Eisenhower.
6. What government leader is mentioned in Dickens “A Christmas Carol?”
A. Mayor of London; B. Queen of England; C. Archbishop of Canterbury; D. Prime Minister of Parliament.
7. Who was the first president to mail out official Holiday Greetings from the White House?
A. Abraham Lincoln, who sent cards by Pony Express to California;
B. Woodrow Wilson, who wanted to cheer up the country during World War I;
C. Calvin Coolidge, who didn’t want to make a Christmas speech so he mailed out a message;
D. Herbert Hoover, who was trying to blunt criticism after the stock market crash.
8. What state government official plays a pivotal role in the Frank Capra Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
A. The governor, who owed Mr. Potter a favor because of all those campaign contributions;
B. The land use commissioner, who had zoning questions about homes built in Bailey Park;
C. The bank examiner, who wanted to look at the Building and Loan’s books;
D. The attorney general, who was indicting George Bailey for embezzlement.
9. Which White House family had a pet that was originally given as a Christmas gift?
A. The Lincolns, whose pet turkey named Jack was spared from being Christmas dinner;
B. The Roosevelts, whose dog Fala was a gift from Eleanor to FDR;
C. The Nixons, whose dog Checkers was a Christmas gift from a supporter in Texas;
D. The Clintons, whose cat Socks was a present from Hillary to Chelsea.
10. Which of the following did Bill Clinton NOT give Monica Lewinsky as a Christmas present?
A. A copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”;
B. A Rockettes blanket;
C. A marble bear’s head;
D. A pillow from Air Force One with the presidential seal.
11. Who was the first president to have a Christmas tree in the White House?
A. Thomas Jefferson, in the first year the White House was occupied;
B. Andrew Jackson, who was known for large, often boisterous, celebrations;
C. Franklin Pierce, who had a tree sent from his native New Hampshire;
D. Millard Fillmore, who did little else memorable in his term.
12. What president banned Christmas trees from the White House?
A. Ulysses S. Grant, because they reminded him of the terrain outside Vicksburg;
B. Teddy Roosevelt, who thought cutting trees was bad for the environment;
C. FDR, who didn’t want to seem to be wasting money during the Depression;
D. Ronald Reagan, who believed trees were responsible for most pollution.
Go inside the blog for the answers…
For many years, the last leg of my commute to work included a walk across the Monroe Street Bridge into downtown, reminding me of some things I like best about Spokane.
The river below, which rushes so fast in spring the mist rises above the bridge, and the banks below that are green in the summer and golden in the fall. Riverfront Park is on the left, and Peaceful Valley the right. The downtown in front has interesting buildings like an art deco City Hall, and a few strange ones, including the one where I work which is topped by a witch’s hat strung with Christmas lights.
I started making that walk more than 28 years ago as a beginning reporter saving money for a baby on the way, because one can park on Ide Street for free. I kept making it, not just because I’m thrifty (or cheap, as my two kids might say) but because it could jump-start a day covering government and politics around Spokane.
The people along that route –
.Spokane County is looking for a new operator of its racetrack who will have to have something the last operator did not – experience running a track.
A request for qualifications to bid on the contract for the Spokane County Raceway Park was released Wednesday and the lease could be awarded by mid February, County Parks Director Doug Chase said. Any bidder must provide significantly more information on finances than the county requested last year, and expect increased oversight of track operations by the county.
“I think it’s safe to say” the county learned from problems it had with Bucky Austin, who received the operator’s lease for the track early this year, Chase said.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said today she’s checked out some energy-efficient cars while at the climate sumitt in Denmark, talked up Washington state with “green” manufacurers, had meetings with other governors and provincial premiers and spent time assuring delegates from around the world that things are happening in the United States to address climate change.
She got a chance to watch reports of the maiden flight of the Boeing 787 on Danish television, and while she didn’t understand what the newscaster was saying, the video looked good.
But she hasn’t seen any of the protests, which is part of the coverage many Americans are getting seeing from the UN Climate Summit in Copenagen.
“It’s sad that’s the representations we’re left with. I have not seen any of the disruptions,” Gregoire said in a telephone press conference.
Although she’s been told Danish security is respectful of free speech rights, she described their reaction to protests as anything but: They’ll round up 700 protesters, let 699 go the next day and just cite one.
“Nothing gets started. They take immediate action,” she said.
Most of the time, when a plane takes off and lands, that’s not news. It’s only when it fails to take off or land that we get news.
Today’s an exception, however, because Boeing’s newest plane design, the 787 Dreamliner, took off and landed for the first time. Sure, it was two years late, but at least they didn’t lose anyone’s luggage.
Various Washington politicos marked the event with official statements of best wishes, which can be found inside the blog. One thing you might notice is the emphasis on Washington workers doing a great job in building the plane…as opposed to say, South Carolina workers which Boeing is going to be using for its second assembly line.
But hey, after Washington workers figure out how to get it flying, South Carolina workers can just follow their instructions, right?
Comments from notables inside:
Six Spokane area contractors are suing Spokane County over unpaid bills from the county’s West Plains racetrack.
In the latest move in the ongoing dispute over the track’s management by Austin Motorsports, the six contractors say they are owed a total of $1.13 million for worked performed earlier this year. Austin lost his contract to manage the track earlier this year because of the unpaid bills, and for failing to follow certain rules of the agreement, which required him to get a performance bond for the work being done there.
He didn’t obtain a bond, and last summer blamed one of the prime contractors, who he claimed was responsible for such details as the project manager.
The lawsuit asks for the court to order the county to pay the bills and attorneys fees. It notes that when the county bought the racetrack in 2008 at a foreclosure auction, two of the commissioners touted its economic potential.
Commissioner Todd Mielke said the purchase gave the county a chance to consider other recreatonal possibilities, the suit notes, while Commissioner Mark Richard said the track “would be a positive venture ‘come heck or high water.’”
Could someone check the water levels on the West Plains?
OLYMPIA – A former Newport, Wash., man should not be pardoned for helping slay his former son-in-law, a state board has recommended.
The Clemency and Pardons Board recommended unanimously last week that Gov. Chris Gregoire not grant a pardon and early release to Morris “Mel” Goldberg, who is serving almost 27 years for his part in the 1991 slaying of Peter Zeihen. The final decision, which may take months a spokeswoman said, is up to Gregoire.
“The governor has never, to this date, approved a petition for clemency against the recommendation of the board,” Melynda Campbell, of the governor’s office, said.
Goldberg, 78, was convicted in 2000 of driving the getaway car that fled the scene after his ex-wife Joann Peterson killed Zeihen with a shotgun blast to the head. Zeihen was in his car in the Spokane Valley home’s driveway.
Customers of the nation’s largest satellite television service are being lured into long contracts they don’t understand with fees they don’t know they must pay, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna contends.
A spokesman for DirecTV said the company is “disappointed” the suit was filed but predicted it won’t stand up in court.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in King County Superior Court, McKenna accused DirecTV of violating the state’s Consumer Protection law by hiding details of their “one-sided” subscription contracts in the small print of advertising, misusing the term free when describing some services and improperly keeping money from deposits required of some customers.
The Air Force’s top aerial act, the Thunderbirds, will perform at Fairchild Air Force Base next July.
Fairchild announced today the Thunderbirds put the Skyfest 2010 event on their schedule, which was released yesterday at a convention in Las Vegas.
Maj. Angela Oconnell, a base spokeswoman, said this may be the earliest an announcement of an upcoming Skyfest has ever been made.
“We found out and we thought we’d put it on everybody’s calendar,” Oconnell said late this morning. Skyfest will be July 24 and 25.
Alex Wood said he will retire from the Legislature at the end of next year, creating a possible free-for-all among Democrats in central Spokane’s 3rd District.
Wood told the Warren G. Magnuson Democratic Club at lunch today that the upcoming session (sessions, perhaps if they can’t figure out the budget dilemma) will be his last. He’s been in the House of Representatives since January 1997, after more than 20 years as a radio broadcaster.
He never faced a serious Republican challenge in his succeeding elections, but then, it’s one of the state’s most reliably Democratic districts. Open seats in the 3rd can set off a stampede in the primary.
Wood’s announcement made final what he’s been hinting at since the 2008 election. Already in the race is Andy Billig, president and part-owner of the Spokane Indians baseball club.
Later this week, Spokane County commissioners will take a $10.5 million whack out of the county’s general fund budget.
They’d need $146.8 million to keep everything the county did and offered at the end of next year as they were at the beginning of this year, they can only count on about $136.3 million. Law says they can’t budget bet on an improving economy and budget in the red.
For months, the commissioners and the department heads who report to them, as well as the folks who are elected separately to handle other county functions have wrestled over what and where to cut. When they settle on the final numbers – possibly Tuesday – some people will be sad, some mad, and some really mad. Nobody’s gonna be smiling.
With governments everywhere cutting budgets, the county’s $10.5 million problem may not seem like such a big deal. The state’s budget, after all, is projected to be about $2.6 billion out of whack for the final 18 months of the biennium. By comparison, $10.5 mill is a rounding error.
But there’s a basic fact about the county budget: About 80 percent of it goes to pay the people who do the county’s work. Things it’s required by law to do, like arrest, try, prosecute, defend and punish bad guys. Or figure out what a piece of property is worth, collect the taxes on it, put that money into safe investments and pay it out to different cities, towns and district who have some claim on it. Register vehicles and provide license plates or tabs, file documents that say who owns a piece of property, who is married and who is divorced. Some things the county does, like pave roads and operate the 911 system, have a special tax or fee that pays for all or most of it.
Reporters know that government budget stories generally cause eyes to glaze over. People who read them closely often insist they could do it better, given half a chance.
So we’re going to give you the chance to make cuts to the county’s payroll…
If you’re like most people, you’d list “O Holy Night” as one of your top three Christmas songs.
Or at least that’s what the pollsters at Zogby International say. (Campaign season is over, and pollsters have to ask about something.)
They asked 2,330 adults last month to pick their top three favorite holiday songs from a list of nine tunes, and O-H-N topped the voting, selected by 58 percent.
“White Christmas” which might’ve done better in Spokane, given our fondness for things Bing, was second with a mention on 41 percent of those selected, and “The Christmas Song” aka Chestnust Roasting on an Open Fire, was close behind at 38 percent.
Admittedly, these are stats of questionable application to the populace as a whole, because respondents were only asked to select from nine songs, out of what, a bazillion holiday offerings. Not on the list: Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and many that would quickly come to mind if one were to say “Quick, name nine holiday or Christmas songs.
A hand recount of the Airway Heights ballots confirmed that Councilman Patrick Rushing defeated Mayor Matthew Pederson by two votes for the city’s top elective spot.
Final tally was the same as the machine count: Rushing 281, Pederson 279. There were 33 ballots that didn’t have a mark for either candidate.
The mayor’s title is largely ceremonial in Airway Heights which has a city manager form of government. The main job is running the city council, and the job appeared on the ballot as Council Chair, Position 1.
Deputy Prosecutor Jim Emacio, the county’s chief civil attorney, said the county has provided money from that tax to the Fox or the Spokane Symphony off and on since 1985. The payments have ranged from $10,000 in the early years to a high of $22,000 in 1999.
Some members of the county’s Hotel-Motel Advisory Committee contended giving county money to the Fox was illegal during a meeting with County Board Chairman Todd Mielke on Monday. “This is not the case,” Emacio said in a memo to commissioners. The legality of the payments had been reviewed.
The comments from committee members came during a meeting to set
the 2010 budget for the county’s share of the hotel-motel tax. Commissioners
had planned to spend $20,625 from that tax fund to the Fox for four years, and
a similar amount from the Historic Preservation Fund. When committee members questioned
giving money from the county’s share of the fund to the Fox, which primarily
generates business for hotels and motels in the city of
That’s what the board did on Tuesday, but Emacio told commissioners it wouldn’t be illegal to do it the other way. Determination of what project or entity gets money often depends on who is on the advisory committee, he said. “For example, at one time we had a member of the Symphony on the committee,” he said in the memo.
A generation after serving in Vietnam, Rep. Walt Minnick sat in the auditorium at West Point Tuesday surrounded by men and women in cadet gray uniforms being told by a president their lives could be sacrificed in another Asian country.
“It was an honor to be here, a generation later,” said Minnick, an Army veteran who was one of seven members of Congress asked to attend President Barack Obama’s speech on raising troop levels in Afghanistan. “There was rapt attention in that room. Their futures are on the line.”
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is running for re-election next year, so it’s no surprise he was addressing a political group’s luncheon Monday afternoon.
Considering Knezovich is a Republican, some might be surprised the luncheon was sponsored by the Democrat Professional and Business Group.
Even more surprising is that several Democrats were questioning whether the sheriff’s office should even be a partisan job.
There’s no attempt that anyone knew of to make it a nonpartisan position, and with a budget fiasco in the offing, it’s unlikely the Legislature would even look at such a proposal if it were written. But the real impact of such a comment is much more significant for Knezovich.
It means the Democrats have no one credible to run for sheriff at this point. There are many races on next year’s ballots, and, as several said, they’ll have to prioritize their recruiting efforts. The sheriff’s job is likely to remain a very low priority, based on Knezovich’s answers to the group.