Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said last week that a campaign statement on the Otto Zehm matter wasn't meant to pin blame on others.
Responding to a news release criticizing her response to the Otto Zehm cases from her election opponent, David Condon, Verner released her own statement on Sept. 6. Part of it appeared to assign blame to her predecessor, Dennis Hession: “I believe the voters will see through his (Condon's) attempt to blame me for actions of a former city administration, the county prosecutor, and other attorneys working on this case in Federal Court. As I have said all along, I respect the judicial process and the facts that will come forth,” Verner said in the Sept. 6 news release.
Verner said the statement was rushed and probably was poorly worded in the rush to respond to Condon.
“If you read my statment verbatim, I don't say Dennis Hession should be blamed for anything,” she said. “I don't blame Dennis Hession and I don't believe Dennis Hession blames me.”
Hession has defended his administration's record on the Zehm case. He points his selection of Anne Kirkpatrick as police chief and his decision to hire Mike Worley
, a police consultant, to examine the Zehm case and another police controversy. (The Zehm review has been on hold as the criminal case proceeds). The police department agreed to that Worley's recommendation and changed protocol so that the department whould no longer be the lead agency investigating the use of deadly force.
Hession also hired another police expert who made the recommendation to create a police ombudsman position. Hession advocated for the creation of a Boise-style ombudsman with independent investigative powers while he was still mayor.