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Spin Control

Posts tagged: 2011 elections

Has Condon closed the gap?

It was clear on the evening of Aug. 16 that the race for mayor was Mary Verner's to lose.

But a lot has happened since then, including the conviction of Officer Karl Thompson.  

So will she hold on?

As far as we at Spin Control know, there has been no scientific polling of the race, at least not the kind of unbiased polling newspapers like to have for campaign 'horse race' stories.

Last month, the Condon campaign wrote to potential donors that polling showed him within 3 points of Verner. Condon, however, has declined to release details of the poll. His campaign expense reports indicate that his campaign paid Pollis Political Service, which is a political strategy consultant firm, not a scientific polling company, for the poll.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the poll isn't relevant. Spin Control heard from someone who received the phone poll and it went something like this (this is extremely paraphrased):

1. Do you support Verner or Condon?

2. If you knew Mary Verner increased water rates would you be you more or less likely to vote for her?

3. If you knew Mary Verner messed up the handling of the Otto Zehm cases would you be more or less likely to vote for her?

4. If you knew Mary Verner eliminated the city's property crime detective division would you be more or less likely to vote for her?

5. Now who do you support for mayor, Verner or Condon?

One of 10 city candidates signs pledge not to approve Guild contract without stronger oversight

Only one of the 10 candidates on the ballot next week for Spokane city office agreed to sign a pledge promising to oppose any Spokane Police Guild contract unless the union agrees to stronger police oversight, the Center for Justice reported this week.

A coalition of groups including the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane asked the candidates as well as four City Council members not running in elections this fall if they would sign a pledge promising not to vote for a guild contract unless the union agrees to the provisions of the ombudsman ordinance that recently was repealed.

The city's 2010 police ombudsman law was thrown out by the City Council last month after an arbitrator ruled that the rules needed to be agreed to by the guild.

Only Donna McKereghan, who is running for the City Council seat in Northeast Spokane signed the pledge. Another candidate, Joy Jones, said she would not vote for a contract without stronger oversight but declined to sign the pledge. Jones is running for Spokane City Council in the Northwest district.

The center created a scoring system based on each candidate's response to its request. To see the rankings, continue reading the post.


Documents:

The politics of ‘It totally sucks’

Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe declined to comment this week about her “totally sucks” comment becoming a major highlight of the David Condon campaign for mayor.

DeRuwe made the comment last month soon after sending a news release announcing that the department eliminated its property crime detective division earlier this year.

Mayor Mary Verner has argued that the change was about reallocating existing resources and that property crimes still will be investigated by detectives who now also will investigate other crimes. Chief Anne Kirkpatrick says fewer property crimes are being investigated but that the department still works many cases.

The statement from DeRuwe is pretty powerful and was quite a gift to the Condon campaign. My only question as someone who grew up with a mom who detested the word “sucks” is: How will posting it on televisions over the dinner hour play with the 'Wheel of Fortune' crowd?

State GOP pours cash into Condon campaign

Spokane mayoral candidate David Condon advertises himself as “nonpartisan” on his signs, but that didn't stop the former aide to Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from getting a $25,000 contribution from the state Republican Party.

The contribution, the largest so far in a Spokane city race this year, was received by Condon's campaign on Thursday, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Condon already had a big lead in fundraising over Mayor Mary Verner. As of Friday, Condon was reporting about $245,000 raised compared to Verner's $121,000.

Verner, who has been endorsed by the Spokane County Democratic Party, got only $800 from the state Democratic Central Committee.

Coalition calls on candidates to take ombudsman pledge

A coalition of organizations including the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane is asking Spokane mayoral and City Council candidates to pledge not to vote for a Spokane Police Guild contract unless it includes stronger oversight.

The guild's contract expires at the end of the year and is under negotiation currently.

Earlier this month, the City Council repealed its 2010 police oversight law at the demand of an arbitrator, who ruled that it violated the guild's contract. The law gave Ombudsman Tim Burns the right to investigate allegations of police misconduct separately from the police department's internal affairs division.

The city is now operating under its 2008 police ombudsman rules.

Those who voted to repeal the law said the best way to obtain the provisions in the 2010 law are win guild approval of them through negotiations. Some council member said they would be unlikely to vote for guild contract unless the extra oversight is included in it.

League Director Liz Moore said pledge supporters will give candidates until the end of the week to decide if they will sign the pledge. Results will be publicized early next week.


Documents:

Verner, Condon debate handling of Zehm case

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Here's the latest of election video.

Condon: “To find out that the city started to know some of the facts in 2009 and here we are nearly two years later not dealing with those facts, that's what was troubling me.”

Verner: “We can not critique every aspect of this matter while the litigation is ongoing. I feel we would interfere with the execution of justice to do so and that is my heartfelt belief.”

Council stance unchanged on Community Bill of Rights

The Spokane City Council took another chance on Monday to critique Proposition 1, the Community Bill of Rights.

Council members voted 6-1 to formally oppose the initiative, which appears on the November ballot.

The rejection is no surprise. All the members of City Council already were on record in opposition to the proposition, which would require developers of some kinds of projects to collect voter signatures, make it easier to pursue lawsuits against governments or businesses that pollute the Spokane River or aquifer, challenge corporate rights and extend constitutional rights into the workplace.

Only Councilman Jon Snyder voted against the recommendation.

Snyder said he personally opposes Proposition 1 but that he didn’t think the council should take a formal position on a local citizen’s initiative. He later, however, sponsored a resolution that took a stance against state Initiative 1125, which focuses on road tolling. Snyder’s resolution recommending opposition to I-1125 was approved on a 5-2 vote. Council members Bob Apple and Nancy McLaughlin dissented.

Democratic chairman says Verner took ‘high road,’ as former Dem chairman takes to airwaves for Condon

 

Not surprisingly, the campaign of David Condon is taking full advantage of the endorsement he got from former Spokane County Democratic Chairman Tom Keefe. Keefe is featured in the Condon TV ad above and is the first endorsement listed on a Condon mailer that arrived at homes this week.

Condon, the former district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has been working to distance himself from the Republican label, though McMorris Rodgers recently headlined a fundraiser for his campaign.

Meanwhile, Verner's campaign has a released a statement from the current chairman of the Spokane County Democratic Party, David Smith. He addresses the Otto Zehm matter, which is the issue that Keefe said pursuaded him to back Condon.

“Mary Verner was not mayor when Otto Zehm died. She was sworn into office a full eighteen months after his death. She could have chosen to augment her political capital by joining in the public condemnation of Officer Thompson,” Smith said. ” Instead, despite her professed grief for the family of Otto Zehm, she chose to accept the political risk inherent in standing up for Officer Thompson’s right to a fair trial. Doing so took courage.  Standing up for the constitution always does.”

Here is Smith's full statement responding to Keefe's endorsement:

Big bucks for booze: Costco donation breaks record

OLYMPIA – In an effort to get voters to end the state's liquor monopoly, Costco this week made the largest contribution in history – nearly $9 million – to a state ballot campaign.

The discount retail giant based in Issaquah, Wash., nearly doubled down on its contributions this year to the Yes on Initiative 1183 campaign, on which it had already spent more than $12 million through cash contributions and in-kind services such as employee time for gathering signatures in less than a month to get the proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot…

To read the rest of this post, click here to go inside the blog.
  

McMorris Rodgers isn’t naming GOP favorite — yet

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers smiled, hesitated and then dodged a question that could have earned her plenty of press – and grief: She declined an invitation to endorse a Republican presidential candidate today.


Eastern Washington’s representative and member of the U.S. House’s Republican leadership team was wrapping up her appearance at the Spokane City Forum when an anonymous questioner quizzed McMorris-Rodgers’ preferences.


She didn’t take the bait.

We’ll have to wait, perhaps after a clear front-runner emerges next year. No surprises there.


McMorris Rodgers revisited her standard talking points, including cutting federal regulations, slashing federal spending, repealing federal health care reform, and passing a balanced-budget amendment.


These City Forums are a worthwhile $10 affair. The speakers are important, local and relevant. Check it out at www.spokanecityforum.org
  

No lie: They’re in the mail

General election ballots for Spokane County began hitting the post office today.

County elections is mailing a total of 265,768 ballots to registered voters. They started today and will finish on Thursday. That means if you don't get a ballot by next Friday, Oct. 28, something might be amiss and you want to call the county elections office, at 477-2320, to find out what's going on while there's still time to get a replacement in the mail.

It is still possible to register to vote for the Nov. 8 general election, although you'll have to go to your county elections office to sign up in person.

After they are marked, sealed and signed, ballots can be returned by mail as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 8, or deposited in a drop box at locations set up in each county.

The locations of Spokane drop boxes can be found inside the blog.

Allen, Rush support more street funding, but differ on specifics

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Here is what likely will be the last of the videos featuring the City Council race between Richard Rush and Mike Allen. They debate if the city should go for a new 10-year street bond and if the city should consider creating fees for streets on utility bills.

The other five Allen-Rush videos include an intro and their thoughts about:

Water rates.

Red light cameras.

Budget cuts.

Moving Jefferson Elementary School.

During KSPS debate, Rush questions Allen’s work ethic

NOTE: This post has been corrected from an earlier version to accurately reflect the number of times Allen was recorded absent during Spokane Employees' Retirement System board meeting. An earlier version was incorrect because of a reporter error.

Before tonight's KSPS candidates debate was filmed last week, Councilman Richard Rush handed out the minutes for each meeting in 2009 of the Spokane Employees' Retirement System board to each debate panelist.

The records didn't come up in the debate. When asked about the minutes afterward, Rush pointed to the attendence listings that show Allen was absent for seven of the 10 meetings when Allen served as the City Council representative on the board. Rush said if Allen is so concerned about financial accountability, Allen should have been present.

Allen, who served two years on the City Council, is challenging Rush's bid for re-election.

Allen said this week that the pension meetings conflicted with his job at the time as an administrator at Eastern Washington University. He said he did attend, though often late, at least half of the meetings and is unsure why he was listed as absent, he said. Allen said missing meetings won’t be a problem now that he owns his own business.

“I control my own schedule now,” he said.

Verner’s message on water rates sounding more like Condon’s

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The second video on the mayoral race features one of the hottest topics: water rates.

Since this was filmed, Verner announced that she would float a new water rate proposal to City Council before the end of the year.

City Council President Joe Shogan already has started debate by introducing legislation to go back to rates based on the old water rate structure that was in place until last year. The result would be that rates would increase on those who use less and fall for those who use more.

Shogan said at a meeting Monday that he expects to hold a hearing on the topic sometime next month. Shogan, like Verner, supported the structure change last year, but now believes it should be changed.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Verner will introduce her water rate proposal in time to be considered by the council during debate on Shogan's plan. It will be developed in consultation with HDR Engineering, which advised her and the council when setting rates last year.

Shogan said he introduced his rate proposal to spark debate and is open to Verner's idea or others that may emerge.

Rush and Allen differ on decision to move Jefferson

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The Spokane City Council didn't make the decision to move Jefferson Elementary School, but it's one of the more divisive issues specific to the south district. Here's what the two candidates for the south district, Richard Rush and Mike Allen say about the School Board's vote.

Rush, Allen debate eliminating city departments

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Here's part three of our election video series.

Rush, Allen debate water rates

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Here's part two of our video series on race between Richard Rush and Mike Allen.

Condon questions decision to send city utility drivers to ‘green driver’ training

David Condon, who is challenging Spokane Mayor Mary Verner in her bid for reelection, criticized Verner's speech to City Council on Monday for not mentioning new water rates or the “tragic loss of confidence in our police and legal authorities.”

“Overall, the Mayor told a nice bedtime fairy tale, with green elves and happy worker,” Condon said in a news release. “But it's time to wake up and see the real challenges facing our city government.”

Condon's response criticized the decision to send city utility drivers to “green driver” training.

A part of Verner's speech mentioned steps the city has taken to reduce energy consumption. She noted that the city spend about $8 million a year on its power bill.

“Taking these steps to reduce energy expenses are a sustainable and responsible approach to cost management,” Verner said in her speech, according to prepared remarks.

Asked about his criticism of “green driver” training, Condon said such training might reduce expenses a bit, but it's a sign that the mayor is focusing on small programs that won't solve the on-going, annual multi-million dollar deficits.

“We need to make some long-term policy changes,'” he said.

Allen and Rush critique Rush and Allen

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Today, we release the first of several election videos. We'll start with one of the races that didn't have a primary, the Spokane City Council seat representing the South Hill.

Condon revises water rate ad

Mayoral candidate David Condon has released a new version of a campaign ad attacking Mayor Mary Verner for water rates.

Condon said in an email that changes were made based on a truth-test article about the ad that ran in Saturday's Spokesman-Review.

A quick review indicates that his changes are probably enough to remove “false” labels that the article placed on some portions on the ad, though some would still would be in the “kinda true” range.

For instance, in attempt to better explain that “Water Departments workers are getting 10 percent pay hikes,” text goes on the screen to explain that “city worker salaries” will increase by 5 percent this year and an additional 5 percent next year. That's a good clarification from the first version, though it could create the impression that all city workers are getting that raise, when really that raise affects members of Local 270 who have at least four years of experience. That's a good portion of the city work force (largely in the street, sewer, water and trash departments), but doesn't affect, firefighters, police officers, administrators, library workers and others.

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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.

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