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Spin Control

Archive for August 2014

Sunday Spin: Call Mad Men. We’ve got rules for pot ads

Every time I forget how far Washington’s venture into the world of legalized recreational marijuana is taking us from the days when pot was illegal and thus the stuff of counterculture song and legend, the state does something to remind me.

It happened again last week when the state Liquor Control Board released a set of Frequently Asked Questions about advertising marijuana.

Think about that for a minute. Less than two years ago, having a place with pounds of marijuana that you would sell in small batches to anyone who happened in could put you in prison for a long time. Now the state has guidelines for Mad Men to follow as you try to outsell your competitors.

Cue Tommy Chong singing “No stems no seeds that you don’t need, Acapulco Gold is … badass weed.”

Which apparently would be OK under certain circumstances, according to the FAQs. . . 

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

Inslee to Yakima: Don’t appeal Voting Rights ruling

OLYMPIA — The city of Yakima should not appeal a federal judge's order that invalidates the way city officials are elected because is unfair to Latinos , Gov. Jay Inslee said today.

In a letter to the Yakima City Council, Inslee said it should”show leadership” and focus on a plan that will improve its system. 

U.S. District Thomas Rice recently found Yakima in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and invalidated the way city council members are elected. Under the current system, four council members run in districts for the primary but citywide in the general; three others are elected citywide. That system “routinely suffocates the voting preferences of the Latino minority,” Rice said and set an Oct. 3 hearing for redistricting plans.

Many jurisdictions in the state suffer from a lack of diversity in political leadership and representation, Inslee wrote in a letter to the council. “This is an opportunity for a show of civic leadership that I believe would be admired throughout Washington,” he wrote.

Today’s fun video: GOP has ‘mountain to climb’

 

Washington state Republican prospects for capturing the governor's mansion apparently are so bleak that state Chairwoman Sheryl Hutchison has taken to YouTube and likened it to climbing a mountain.

The analogy is somewhat strained, particularly where Hutchison talks about how both mountain climbers and political activists need tools, and for activists it's apparently a smart phone. Later on, there's sort of an uncomfortable moment when Hutchison says “I want to be roped up with you.”

But there hasn't been a Republican in the governor's mansion since January 1985, so maybe they need something like this to get the juices flowing.

Today’s fun video: How not to do the ALS ice bucket challenge

 

The ALS ice bucket challenge has, somewhat inexplicably, become a hot item for a wide variety of people, including politicians and — in some cases — newspaper columnists.

It's a pretty simple concept. You dump ice water over your head. But with its popularity, it was inevitable that someone would find a way to mess it up.

What are the odds that person would be an American flag vest and desert camo-wearing, Confederate flag-waving, hip-flask swilling yahoo? Come to think of it, probably pretty good.

Warning: Some of the language in here would be considered not safe for work or appropriate for children.

Court asked not to sanction Lege over school funding

OLYMPIA – The Supreme Court should not go down a “slippery slope” and punish the Legislature because it didn’t come up with a complete plan earlier this year to improve public schools, the state attorney general’s office said.

Although the public education is the state’s “paramount” duty, it is not the only duty, and the Legislature still has to pay for programs for public health, safety and welfare, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a group of senior assistants said this week in their last written argument before all sides in the case appear before the state’s highest court next Wednesday. . .

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

Legal pot sales surge in August

Recreational marijuana sales have soared in August, thanks in part to a big Friday that came in the midst of several large-scale marijuana events in Western Washington.

According to sales figures tracked by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, more than $5.1 million worth of legal pot has been sold in the state since Aug. 1. About a sixth of that total was sold Friday, Aug. 15, during the “Canna Con” exposition in Tacoma and the annual Hempfest celebration in Seattle. The state reported sales of about $860,000 worth of product on that day, doubling the closest competitor for busiest sales day nationwide.

Marijuana sales statewide reported by Liquor Control Board, 7/6 to 8/25
The Liquor Control Board says more than $8.3 million worth of marijuana has been sold legally since July 8, with excise taxes reaching more than $2 million.

That $5.1 million figure is almost $2 million more than the amount of legal weed sold in July, over roughly the same number of days.

While the expo is likely one of the causes of the big sales day earlier this month, Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith said many factors are contributing to a growth in sales.

“As of last week, we'd licensed 46 retailers, with something in the upper 30s reporting sales,” Smith said. “More and more product is coming into the market.”

Some businesses are reporting their sales at the end of the week, leading to a normal bump on Fridays and Saturdays, Smith said. Another encouraging sign is the rate at which the department is receiving owed taxes, he said. The Liquor Control Board said 97-percent of the taxes owed had been paid to the state, a rate Smith called impressive.

In addition, about 75 percent of taxes were paid with a check rather than cash, indicating retailers were using banks to deposit their money, Smith said. He did not say whether those checks were issued in the name of a business or an individual.

City Hall Scoop: Lilac Queen as Councilwoman

Steve Salvatori was a fiscal conservative from California. Karen Stratton is a political unknown and lifelong Spokanite. Together, they will complete one term on the Spokane City Council.

Stranger things have happened in Spokane. Like when Stratton was named Lilac Queen in 1977 and posed with Grizzly Adams. Or when Jimmy Marks put a curse on the entire city. Or when Mark Hamilton, who was kicked off the ballot last year in a bid for City Council, compared the politicized nature of Spokane politics to apartheid (which also happened last night).

Regardless, as we detailed in today's Spokesman, the City Council appointed Stratton to the seat left vacant by the resignation of Salvatori, who left the council earlier this year for work in Texas. She will fulfill the final 15 months of his term and run for re-election in 2015.

Keep reading after the jump.

Spokane’s new councilwoman: Lilac Queen, at Grizzly Adams’ side

Last night, Karen Stratton was appointed to the Spokane City Council. We have a story in today's paper all about her, but here's a photo we ran 37 years ago, when she was the Lilac Festival Queen. 

Kreidler sets new signup period because of health exchange problems

OLYMPIAWashington residents struggling with the insurance plans purchased through the state's exchange will be able to sign up for new plans through November because problems have been so hard to correct, the top insurance official said Monday.

A special enrollment period will last from Wednesday through Nov. 14, allowing customers with unresolved problems to sign up for different plans or with different companies. There’s a catch: They could lose their subsidies or any deductible credits or out-of-pocket expenses they've built up with their current plans. But for people unable to straighten out problems with payments, claims or billings for their current plan, re-enrollment in a different plan would give them coverage, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said.

“It's not a perfect solution,” Kreidler said. “But it’s an option.”

Health exchange officials argued it wasn't a good option for most people…

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

 

Sunday spin: Reaching a deal on crucial meal policies

OLYMPIA – A special panel made a great leap forward last week, coming to an agreement on defining one of the thorniest issues in legislative policy.

Not tax policy or basic education policy or health care policy. Meal policy.

As in how many meals can a lobbyist buy before a legislator runs afoul of the state law that requires him or her to accept only “infrequent” meals from a lobbyist? And just what, exactly, is a meal?

The Legislative Ethics Board settled on 12 meals a year as being infrequent, although a legislator could take them all in a 60-day legislative session, or presumably in a single week of a session, because there’s no rule limiting them to one per month. This was a compromise, seemingly worthy of Henry Clay, because some board members wanted to go as low as three and others were pushing for 24 or points north.

Those who were looking for a higher number had concerns such as whether it would count against the allotted dozen if friends who just happen to be lobbyists come to town and offer to buy you lunch (it would). Or whether it would count if said friend invites you to his backyard barbecue (it would). Or whether it would count if a lobbyist bought you a donut (it wouldn’t, unless the donut came with coffee and you sat down and had a chat about legislative business, in which case it might.)

There was some expected harrumphing from members of the board who argued they couldn’t be swayed by a beer and burrito, or presumably filet mignon and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. One member, Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge, thought 12 was too many because that broke down to one per month and, as he related in a moment of possibly unnecessary marital candor, “I don’t go out for dinner with my wife once a month.”

Hansen and others pushing a lower number had an easy work-around. Go to as many meals with lobbyists as you want, if they are your good buds and you enjoy their company. Just pay for your own meal. Legislators are getting their per diems bumped to $120 so “they can certainly pay for their own $7 burrito,” Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle said.

As for the definition of a meal, it comes down to any breakfast, lunch or dinner that a lobbyist or a lobbyist’s employer buys, it counts against your 12.

Perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky that legislators are not like hobbits, who had seven meals a day: Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. The ethics board might never reach a compromise.

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. 

City Hall Scoop: Plazas and Trolleys

The Spokane Transit Authority is its own government entity, but it got a good going over at last night's Spokane City Council meeting.

Two items passed by the council dealt with public conveyance: a resolution supporting the $5.8 million renovation of the STA Plaza, the downtown hub for public transportation; and a resolution supporting a trolley-like electric bus connecting Browne's Addition to Spokane Community College.

Both items had supporters, and both items found an enemy in George McGrath, who speaks at almost every council meeting during almost every public testimony. 

Read more after the jump.

DNR: No burning, period, on state lands

OLYMPIA — The Department of Natural Resources has banned outdoor burning on all of the agency's lands, no exceptions, it said this morning.

The ban comes after a weekend which saw new wildfires in Ferry and Kittitas counties and the total amount of land with active fires go to more than 313,000 acres. The Carlton Complex is listed as more than 90 percent contained, but none of the state's six other active fires are more than 40 percent contained.

The ban includes campfires on DNR campgrounds, fireworks, sky lanterns, tracer ammunition. It's also advising that logging operations, land clearing, road and utility right-of-way maintenance by drastically curtailed because of the high fire danger.

Sunday Spin: A class in primary math

The weekend after the primary seems like a good time for a lesson in primary numbers, which is offered by the Poli Sci Department, not the Math Department.

Election Math 101 teaches us that the most important number is who has the most votes. But other numbers matter, particularly in a Washington state primary, which is brought to you by the number 2 – as in the top two vote-getters go to the general election, no matter what. . . 

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

McMorris Rodgers schedules Spokane town hall

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will hold a town hall meeting on Aug. 18 at Spokane's Lincoln Center.

Her congressional office said today the session is set for 5 to 6 p.m. at the center, 1316 N. Lincoln St.., and will provide an opportulinty for her to talk about work she's doing in Washington, D.C., and listen to constituents to “bring your thoughts and ideas to Congress.”

McMorris Rodgers also has scheduled a series of community meetings this month in other cities in Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District which she calls “conversations with Cathy.”  A list of dates and places for those meetings is inside the blog.

Today’s video: 40 years ago, Nixon called it quits

 

This may not be a date that ranks with Dec. 7, 1941 or Sept. 11, 2001, but some people might remember where they were when President Nixon announced he was resigning.

Bonus: Here's how The Spokesman-Review reported it the next morning. Note that the only “non-Nixon” feature on the front page is the “Expo Today” lineup.

Mapping the vote: County Commish race

As colleague Mike Prager reports in today's paper, Spokane County Commissioner Al French thinks he'll improve his vote totals in the fall as the election moves from his District 3 to the entire county.

French has a point that District 3 trends more Democratic than the other two counties based on the 2012 presidential election. But comparing the map of presidential vote to his run against two opponents — one Democrat and another an independent who was formerly a Democrat — and it would seem he had more than just a partisan headwind in the general.

The map above is available in more detail in the PDF file below. The other PDF file is the 2012 presidential results. Political geeks might enjoy comparing and opining whether they think French is right.

The 2012 map was made for that election. The primary map was made yesterday for the story analysis, but there wasn't room for it in the paper (It doesn't work as well small.) But there's always plenty of room on the Internet.


Documents:

New police precinct building raised questions of conflict when purchased

Yesterday, at a press conference to release his 2015 budget proposal, Spokane Mayor David Condon stood in front of a Hillyard warehouse that will soon be home to the city's second police precinct.

The idea is, by decentralizing the police force into a precinct model, police work will become more community-oriented and responsive to neighborhood concerns.

In our report in today's paper, we mentioned that the building was purchased in 2005 for $410,000 using seizure funds. We didn't mention that the sale almost a decade ago raised some eyebrows, which came to light this morning thanks to some additional sleuthing.

According to a story that ran on the front page of the March 16, 2005 edition of the Spokesman-Review, the police department bought the building from a retired Spokane police captain and the deal was brokered by a retired Spokane police chief.

The property was owned by Chuck Crabtree, who retired in 1981 as captain in charge of the department’s uniformed division. Former Assistant Police Chief John Sullivan was one of two real estate listing agents, and was reported to earn a share of the $24,600 commission on the sale.

Read the original story below.

WA Elex Congress: McMorris Rodger v. Pakootas; Didier v. Newhouse

Congress may be unpopular, but in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District, five-term incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was not with voters casting ballots in Tuesday’s primary.

McMorris Rodgers, a member of the GOP leadership in the House, finished the evening with more than half the votes cast in the 10-county district. She’ll face Democrat Joe Pakootas, the chief executive officer of the Colville Tribe’s business operations, in the general election and said she was encouraged by the strong showing in the four-way primary.

“To me, it indicates the trust and confidence people have in my representation,” she said. “I’m someone a lot of people can relate to.”

The job ratings for Congress overall have been low for months, but people often have a better opinion of their own representative. But earlier Tuesday, a Washington Post-ABC News poll said Americans are more dissatisfied with their member of Congress than ever. The survey said 51 percent reported they either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapprove of the way their representative is  handling his or her job.

McMorris Rodgers had about 51.7 percent of the votes after county elections offices shut down for the night. Most will count more ballots on Wednesday, and results will be official on Aug. 19.

Pakootas, who finished the night with about 29 percent of the vote, acknowledged he has a tough challenge ahead but declared himself excited and energized by surviving the primary.

“I think it will be easier to run head-to-head” where voters can compare their records on job creation and economic views, he said.

One challenge, he added, will be to get more Democrats to the polls. Outside of Spokane, many county and legislative offices are held by Republicans who have no or only token Democratic opposition.

Two other challengers were eliminated. Independent Dave Wilson, who built and then sold a computer training school, tried to appeal to the disaffected voters unhappy with both parties in general and Congress in particular. Republican Tom Horne, a volunteer firefighter and retired engineer, ran to the right of McMorris Rodgers, criticizing Republican leadership in the House and calling for more challenges to President Obama.

In Central Washington’s wild primary for an open seat, a pair of Republicans will compete in the state’s first all-GOP congressional general election race. Eltopia farmer and former NFL player Clint Didier, a Tea Party favorite, has a commanding lead in the 12-person field with about 30 percent of the vote. He was almost 3,000 votes ahead of former state Ag Director Dan Newhouse, of Yakima, a mainstream Republican. With all counties reporting election night tallies, Newhouse has twice the votes of the Estakio Beltran, a Democrat in third place who was slightly ahead of Janea Holmquist, a Moses Lake legislator who gave up her Senate seat to run for Congress.

The race drew an even dozen candidates – eight Republicans, two Democrats and two independents. The Republicans all ran as conservatives who believe in smaller government, lower taxes and gun rights. In resumes and approaches to government, they represented a wide spectrum from mainstream to Tea Party.

Under the state’s top two primary system, the candidates with the most and second-most votes advance to the general election regardless of party.

WA elex: Riccelli v. Benn in 3rd Lege Dist House race

To win a second term in the state House of Representatives, Democrat Marcus Riccelli will have to go another round with the person he beat two years ago, Republican Tim Benn.

Riccelli finished first, with about 58 percent of the vote, and Benn was comfortably in second with about 34 percent. Randy McGlenn II, a Libertarian candidate, was eliminated in the top two primary. 

 

WA elex: French, Johnson nearly tied in Spo Co commish primary

Democrat Mary Lou Johnson has a 62-vote lead over incumbent Republican Commissioner Al French in tonight's 3rd Commissioner District primary.

But the two of them are significantly ahead of Bonnie Mager, a former commissioner running as an independent. 

Johnson and French each have about 36 percent of the vote, while Mager trails with 27 percent. She'll need a huge pickup in the late count to displace one of them in the top two primary.

 

WA elex: Wilhite, McCaslin likely in 4th Lege general

Bob McCaslin and Diana Wilhite may have ended the legislative career of Leonard Christian tonight.

In a three-way Republican race, McCaslin, a teacher, and Wilhite, the former Spokane Valley mayor, were running comfortably ahead of Christian, who was appointed by Spokane County commissioners to fill the seat of Rep. Larry Crouse, who retired this year for health reasons.

Christian served in the 2014 session, but probably had the least name recognition of the three. McCaslin is the son of longtime state Sen. Bob McCaslin, and Wilhite has been active in local and party politics for many years.

In tonight's returns, McCaslin has 44 percent of the vote and Wilhite 31 percent. Christian trails with 24 percent, some 1,500 votes behind Wilhite.

Under the state's top two primary system, the candidate with the most and second most votes advance to the general election regardless of party. No Democrats filed for the office.

WA elex: McMorris Rodgers will face Pakootas in general

Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers will face Democrat Joe Pakootas in the general election as she tries to win her sixth term in Congress.

In early returns, McMorris Rodgers has about half the votes currently being tallied, while Pakootas has slightly less than a third, but more than the other two challengers, Independent Dave Wilson and Republican Tom Horne, combined.

 

WA Elex: Didier way ahead in 4th Cong Dist

Eltopia farmer and former NFL player Clint Didier takes a commanding lead in the 12-way primary in Central Washington's 4th Congressional District. 

Second is former state Ag Director and fellow Republican Dan Newhouse. If current trend holds, Democrats will be SOL in this district's general

WA Elex: McMorris Rodgers, Pakootas ahead in 5th Cong Dist primary

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is way ahead — more than 56 percent of the votes — in the early returns in the 5th Congressional District primary.

Democrat Joe Pakootas is comfortably in second with 24 percent. 

This in votes from Asotin, Pend Oreille, Ferry and Lincoln counties.

 

WAElex: Waiting for returns

Here at Spin Control we keep hitting refresh on the web pages that will give us election results and noticed a funny thing on the Secretary of State's page for congressional races.

It says it was last update and midnight on 1/1/1880, which is a really good trick considering the Internet must've been run by a steam locomotive back then. 

We're assuming that will change as soon as there's some results.

UPDATE: We've got the correct date on the sec-state site. No results yet, but at least the date is correct.

Spokane mayor releases budget proposal

A second police precinct, a steady stream of newly trained cops, and a race to the deadline for a cleaner Spokane River dominates Mayor David Condon’s 2015 budget proposal, which he released earlier today.

The $585 million budget plan is in many ways a continuation of this year’s budget, which saw a major investment to beef up the police force and the unveiling of the administration’s ambitious effort to integrate infrastructure projects, at once building new streets and diverting pollutants from entering the river. 

You can read more about it in tomorrow's paper, but for now check out a video of the mayor's press conference below. 

 
 

 

Clock ticking down to primary deadline

The deadline for getting a primary ballot in is 8 p.m. tonight. 

If your ballot is still sitting on your counter or coffee table, you might want to consider marking it, putting it in the envelope and taking it to a drop box, because it would have to be post-marked by tonight and that would be difficult at this point.

Where is a drop box? you ask. In Spokane County, they are at public libraries and a few other places. For a list of addresses, click here.

For information on other counties' locations, click here. 

Can't find your ballot? You can get a replacement at a Voter Service Center. For Spokane County, those centers are listed at the bottom of this page. For other counties, click here.

And if you need to check just one more thing about one of the candidates on that ballot, try the links on the post below.

We'll be blogging the election returns as they come in, shortly after 8 p.m.

Help for procrastinating voters

So you found that ballot on the counter and had one of those “Oops” moments.

As in “Oops, I meant to figure out who deserves my vote in that legislative/county/congressional race. But I forgot.”

Not too late. One of the advantages of all mail voting is you have time to do research on the elections before casting the ballot. Not much time, at this point, because ballots are due by tomorrow. (For information on deadlines click here or see below.)

But there are resources to help you make your decision.

For starters (Warning: shameless plug to follow) there's The Spokesman-Review's Primary Election Center.

There's also the state Voter Guide, which has information on congressional, legislative and local races. You can get a custom-tailored guide for races where you are registered by going to My Vote and entering your information. 

Some counties have their own version of the online Voter Guide. Here's a link to Spokane County's Voter Guide.

Still have a question about a candidate's stand on a particular issue or concern? You could call or e-mail them, although they may be out knocking on doors or waving a campaign sign on a street corner. Here's a list of the contact information they supplied when filing for office. 

Time running out on those ballots

If you still have your primary ballot somewhere around the house, well you're pretty much like most people in Washington.

Less than a fourth of all ballots in Spokane County had been returned as of Monday morning, and elections officials' optimistic scenario has a turnout of about 40 percent. 

But for procrastinating voters, there's still time to mark, seal and sign the return envelope with that ballot, then mail it in or deposit it at a drop box.

Mailing it in? Remember it has to be postmarked by Tuesday, so if you put it out in your mailbox for pickup tomorrow, it might not get marked in time. Better to take it to the post office.

Dropping it off? Each county sets up drop boxes at key locations. In Spokane County, those include the public libraries, and the addresses are inside the blog. For other counties, click here to get contact or drop off locations.

You say you were planning to vote but you lost your ballot, or the dog ate it or the kids spilled soda on it? You can get a replacement by calling the elections office, or going to a Voter Service Center between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., Tuesday. A list for Spokane's service centers are inside the blog. For other counties, contact your elections office

Sunday Spin: Enough already, DCCC, with the money grubbing

If some Congressional Republicans hadn’t come up with the twin ideas of impeaching and suing President Obama, Democrats might’ve have invented it as a way wring money out of suckers on their e-mail lists.

For more than a week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, whose acronym is usually spoken as the D-Triple-C, has pursued contributions to fight those two events with a zeal that makes Nigerian bank scammers seem as tame as ushers passing the plate at Sunday Mass. . .

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

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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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