Archive for December 2013
JibJab, the makers of personalized music videos take a look at the year that's almost over.
Richard Rush is returning to Spokane City Hall.
After being tossed from office two years ago by Mike Allen, who won by just 88 votes, Rush has been hired by new Councilwoman Candace Mumm to serve as her full-time staff aide.
Mumm called Rush, 62, a logical choice for the job.
“He's very qualified for the position,” she said Monday night following her swearing-in ceremony in council chambers. “We'll be able to get to work immediately.”
Rush served on many of the same city committees Mumm expects to serve on, and has a strong background with Spokane's various neighborhood councils.
Each city council member gets a staff assistant. Next month, the aides will become full-time city employees under the budget deal approved in November, and will be paid $34,181 a year, which is slightly more than council members receive. Currently, the aides are paid $25,635 as part-time employees.
Rush was a sometimes-divisive council member who wasn't afraid to float controversial ideas or buck the administration despite his overall support for Mayor Mary Verner, who was beat by David Condon in the same election that Rush lost to Allen.
Rush once suggested, for example, that the city should get rid of its utility tax — one of the highest in the state — and replace it with a local income tax, which would be impossible without a change in the state constitution. He also complained during the Otto Zehm fiasco that it appeared the council was being given only “filtered” information from the city attorney's office about the case.
~~It’s time once again for Spin Control’s 12 Trivias of Christmas, our annual quiz that keeps politics from intruding on the holiday season
In the spirit of peace on Earth to men and women of good will, Spin Control avoids political commentary so close to Christmas. Our holiday wish is that if lions can lie down with the lambs and the Senate Democratic Budget chairwoman can negotiate a deal with the House Republican Budget chairman, the rest of us can avoid fights over Obamacare and share a bit of holiday fun.
And besides, there’s hardly ever any local or state political news worth writing about this time of year. So here we go with the quiz, and if you peek at the answers, well, you probably have been peeking under the wrappings of your presents, too. Shame.
1. Which of these movies does not have a Christmas-themed scene in it?
A. Die Hard
B. Meet Me in St. Louis
C. The Family Man
D. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
2. In “It’s a Wonderful Life”, in what branch of the service did Harry Bailey serve?
C. Air Force
3. Who among the following is not named in the Biblical accounts of the Nativity?
A. The innkeeper
B. The angel who announces the birth to the shepherds
C. The Magi
D. None of them are named
4. What newspaper first published the editorial “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”?
A. New York Sun
B. New York Times
C. New York Post
D. New York Herald Tribune
5. What day did that editorial appear?
A. Sept. 21
B. Nov. 25
C. Dec. 1
D. Dec. 24
6. What is the last reindeer named in “Twas the Night Before Christmas”?
7. What do the Parkers eat for Christmas dinner in “A Christmas Story”?
D. Roast Beef
8. Who plays the man threatening to commit suicide on Christmas Eve in “Meet John Doe”?
A. Gary Cooper
B. James Stewart
C. Randolph Scott
D. Bing Crosby
9. In “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, Hermie the Elf wants to be a
C. Guitar player
10. When Joseph and Mary left Bethlehem with the Baby Jesus – essentially becoming illegal immigrants – to what country did they flee?
11. When King Wenceslaus looked out on the Feast of Stephen, what day was that?
A. Dec. 24
B. Dec. 26
C. Dec. 30
D. Jan. 1
12. How many ghosts visit Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”?
Not the best Obama spoof in the world. But it's got a good beat, and he can dance to it.
Washington should severely cut the amount of marijuana that medical patients can possess, require them to register with the state, have annual medical checkups, and pay most of the same taxes as recreational users, a state agency recommended today.
In a move sure to draw fire from the medical marijuana community, the state Liquor Control Board released recommendations it will send to next year's Legislature as the state tries to blend two sets of laws on the drug.
The board is authorized by Initiative 502 to regulate recreational marijuana use, and is currently accepting applications for businesses that want to grow, process or sell the drug to adults for private use. The board has no authority over medical marijuana, which was approved by voters in 1998, and is largely unregulated.
As part of the 2013-15 general operating budget earlier this year, the Legislature directed the board to work with the state departments of Health and Revenue to study the two systems and come up with recommendations to integrate them. Legislators will still have to draft bills that would include some or all of the recommendations, and get them through the two chambers and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
For more information on the board's recommendations, or to comment, continue inside the blog.
Gov. Jay Inslee proposed what he called a “hold stead budget in a get ready year.”
It has some mandatory increases in spending for mental health services for children, higher rates for family home child care providers and covering the costs of last season's wildfires. It also would spend more on teacher mentoring, dropout prevention, training for aerospace workers and classes in science, technology, engineering and math.
Unlike previous years, the state isn't projecting major gaps between the spending on the books and the revenue expected to come in. But Inslee said it will need between $1 billion and $2 billion extra in 2015, for the next biennium to expand public education under the mandate from the state Supreme Court. He'll propose closing some business tax preferences in 2015 to cover some of that amount, but he hasn't developed the package.
Inslee also said legislative leaders continue to negotiate a package of major transportation projects, maintenance, reforms and taxes but have not reached an agreement. If they do, he could call a special one-day session for the week before the regular session starts on Jan. 13. If not, debate over a transportation package will be part of 2014's 60-day short session.
The Spokane City Council voted late Monday to delay a police ombudsman ordinance and a labor contract with the Police Guild in a pair of voice votes.
The city clerk this morning confirmed that the vote to defer the ombudsman ordinance passed 5-2 with council members Nancy McLaughlin and Jon Snyder voting no. The vote to defer the contract passed 4-3 with McLaughlin, Snyder and Councilman Mike Fagan voting no.
Both issues were deferred until Feb. 3 to give more time for parties to reach an agreement that meets language of a voter-approved city charter amendment calling for independent ombudsman investigations of police wrongdoing.
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee will introduce his proposal for changes in the 2013-15 biennial budget this morning at 11 a.m.
Inslee doesn't have much to work with. Forecasts for the remainder of the biennium project only slight changes in revenue, with continued slow economic growth. The level of uncertainty is rated as “extremely high” where “downside risks outweigh upside risks.”
The supplemental budget is the prelude to the 2014 legislative session, which starts Jan. 13.
President Obama provided plenty of grist for Saturday Night Live's mill last weekend, particularly for their open.
Boundary County, Idaho, is cutting the number of hours people can drop off garbage for the county landfill because of health care reform, the county said in a news release today.
Here's how the news release put it:
“Due to increased expenses of the Federally Mandated Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care, Boundary County is forced to reduce the hours of operation at our monitored solid waste disposal/collection sites.”
The new hours will be 9-5 seven days a week, versus the current hours of 8-6.
The release doesn't explain the connection between the Affordable Care Act and dump hours, and workers in the solid waste and planning and zoning departments for the rural Idaho county couldn't elaborate either.
We're waiting to hear from the public information officer who issued the release.
Michael Meier, the county's public information officer, just called to say that the county is cutting hours for full-time workers so they no longer are eligible for the county's health care plan. Fewer worker hours mean fewer hours the dump collection sites can be open.
A recount that couldn’t change the winner also didn’t change the vote totals.
Last week, Spokane City Council candidate John Ahern paid to have a partial recount in his race against incumbent Jon Snyder.
Ahern, a former state representative, lost the race by 5,669 votes in a margin that was nearly 2-to-1 in favor of Snyder.
The recount was completed today. Officials said the four precincts that he requested to be recounted by hand, which included about 1,600 ballots, were counted accurately the first time by machine.
If the machine count had been wrong, Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said last week that changes could not have changed the winner because Ahern had not request enough votes to be recounted to make up the difference.
As of Friday, same-sex marriage has been legal in Washington for a year. So the obvious question is: How much worse off is your marriage now that men can marry men and women can marry women?
Couples who tied the knot in the last 365 days can take a pass on this, considering you’re technically still on your honeymoon – unless you’re like a Kardashian, in which case you’re already dividing up community property. For the rest of you, though, how has your marriage survived after the institution itself was rocked to its very core?
My guess is. . .
OLYMPIA – The tab for last month’s three-day special session to approve tax breaks for Boeing stands at $28,626 and counting, the most recent reports filed by legislators show.
Requests for the $90 per diem that legislators can claim have been processed, with some filling only for a day or two and some not requesting any. Some expense vouchers for travel to and from Olympia by senators might not come in until February
Because legislators can be reimbursed for driving expenses at 56.5 cents a mile, the biggest payments went to Eastern Washington representatives and senators who travel the farthest. . .
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.
There's still time to try to win something through That's News to You, the newspaper's weekly news quiz. As a discerning reader of Spin Control, you might do pretty well. And even better if you know a few of the “tricks of the trade.”
A newspaper version of the quiz appeared in Sunday morning's paper. It had five questions, the online version has 10. The top entries in the online version — which almost every week are the ones that go 10 for 10 because the questions aren't that hard — go into a weekly drawing for a $50 gift card at the Davenport Hotel. All of the entries, even the ones that go 0 for 10, go into a separate drawing for the week's other giveaway, which this week is free movie tickets.
Here's something many online-only readers don't know: Some of the newspaper questions are repeated in the online version of the quiz. So if you take the newspaper quiz first (which you are scoring yourself, so no one else knows how well or poorly you did) you have a leg up on the online readers who didn't.
Spin Control knows these tricks for That's News to You because most weeks, we put the quiz together. It would be cheating to just give you the answers, but we don't mind giving you a few tips on how to play the game.
Washington has received 230 license applications for recreational marijuana stores.
As the map shows, many are concentrated between Everett and Tacoma — no surprise because that's where the state's population is concentrated. But the proposals for stores are also starting to dot the rest of the state, and Spokane County has nine, half of the allotment the Liquor Control Board has set aside.
Businesses have until Dec. 19 to apply for a license to grow, process or sell recreational marijuana under Initiative 502.
For an enlargeable map that has names and addresses of would-be marijuana stores, click here
Map courtesy of Gina Boysun, Spokesman.com Online Director.
The demand for licenses to grow legal marijuana in Washington is growing — if you'll forgive the expression — like a weed.
In the first two weeks that it has been accepting license applications for marijuana businesses, the state has received 634 requests. There are three different “tiers” for growers, depending on how much area they plan to plant. But if all of the licenses were granted and planted to the maximum allowed, it would amount to almost 9.4 million square feet of land planted to marijuana.
This is a bit of a problem because the state is only planning to license 2 million square feet. The state Liquor Control Board will announce plans for meeting its limits for the licenses that are granted early next year.
In the map above, the red pins represent Tier 1 applications, which are 2,000 square feet or less, the yellow pins represent Tier 2 applications for 2,000 to 10,000 square feet, and the green pins represent Tier 3 applications for 10,000 to 30,000 square feet.
To view this map in a larger window, click here.
The official lighting of the Capitol Christmas trees, starring a spruce from Eastern Washington, took place last night with House Speaker John Boehner almost getting upstaged by the cute kid chosen to help flip the switch.
He should remember W.C. Fields dictum: Never work with kids or dogs.
Video from AFP.
The second week of applications for marijuana business licenses are in, and Eastern Washington has its share of would be pot entrepreneurs.
This map shows the addresses on applications for retail stores,represented by the red push pins, small and medium size growing operations of 10,000 square feet or less, represented by the green stars and large growing operations of 10,000 to 30,000 square feet, represented by the green squares.
For a better view, click on the “full screen” feature in the upper right corner of the map box, and enlarge or pan to a location nearest you.
Applications can be filed through Dec. 19, and the Washington State Liquor Control Board expects to award licenses to successful applicants by March.
Former state Rep. John Ahern, who lost his race against incumbent Councilman Jon Snyder by a nearly 2-to-1 margin is questioning how he could have performed so poorly.
Ahern is requesting a partial recount in the race just to “double-check” the accuracy of the ballot counting.
“I doorbelled a little over 10,000 homes,” Ahern said. “I got a very good reception from just about everybody.”
A Spokane City Council candidate who lost big in his attempt to unseat incumbent Councilman Jon Snyder is demanding a recount.
John Ahern, a former state representative, sent a letter to the Spokane County Auditor’s Office on Monday requesting that four precincts be recounted. A check for $429.50 was attached. That’s a quarter for each of 1,718 ballots that he wants recounted.
County Auditor Vicky Dalton says candidates have the right to pay for a recount even if a race isn’t close. Ahern probably will end up paying closer to $1,500 because state law says that he has to pay the full cost of a recount.
Greater Spokane Inc. will hold its annual legislative forum and reception Wednesday afternoon at the Davenport Hotel, where a quartet of legislators is expected to talk about two sessions: the upcoming 2014 regular session and a possible special session for transportation that may or may not happen sometime before the year's end.
The two-hour forum starts at 3 p.m. and features Sens. Mark Schoesler and Andy Billig, and Reps. Larry Srpinger and Dan Kristiansen.
The reception follows at 5:15 p.m.. Cost is $50 form GSI members and $80 for non-members. For more information about registering, click here.
Spokane County Republican precinct officers in the 4th Legislative District have to pick a replacement for Rep. Larry Crouse, who is retiring this month with a year left on his term. There are five would-be legislators eager for the job, but only three can be on the list that will be sent to county commissioners for the final selection.
The county party, along with several local GOP groups such as the Republican Liberty Caucus and Northwest Grassroots, is sponsoring a forum with all five at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Spokane Events and Catering, 10514 E. Sprague in Spokane Valley. KXLY’s Rick Rydell has agreed to referee, er, moderate.
Organizer John Christina said the forum is open to the public, not just precinct officers, which is a good idea considering the ones that don’t get the appointment are likely to run next fall when the seat is up for election.