Posts tagged: Ben Stuckart
Spokane County’s loss of more than $1 million in a land deal with the Spokane International Airport was completed Monday by the Spokane City Council.
In 2008, the county paid $3.2 million for nearly 400 acres between the airport and Fairchild Air Force Base to relocate a rail line that crossed the base and protect the base from encroaching development. County commissioners agreed to sell the land to the airport late last month for $1.75 million.
The Spokane City Council, which along with the Spokane County Commission must approve major airport financial decisions, unanimously approved the deal on Monday. The airport’s ownership is shared by the city and county.
Last night’s City Council meeting boiled down a debate on the definition of shall.
The Spokane City Council’s creation of 13 new public safety departments appears to violate the City Charter. But city attorneys insisted that “shall” does not always mean shall, at least not in the way the three City Council members on the losing side of the issue or perhaps a standard dictionary would define it.
Section 25 of the Spokane City Charter, at least on its face, appears to say that the City Council can’t create a new department except when it approves the annual budget – usually in December.
Here’s the exact language: “Administrative departments shall be created or discontinued by the city council at the time of the adoption of the annual budget, as the public business may demand. The rights, powers, and duties of the departments shall be prescribed, distributed, assigned, established, or discontinued by ordinance.”
Council President Ben Stuckart asked the council to defer the vote. He argued that shall means, well, shall.
The woman who led the city’s arts department for 15 years before it was dismantled last year won’t be the permanent leader of the new agency promoting the arts in Spokane.
Karen Mobley said Thursday that she decided to step down as the interim director of the Spokane Arts Fund on March 31. The fund was revamped last year after Mayor David Condon followed through on former Mayor Mary Verner’s proposal to remove the arts department from city government.
Until late last year, the Spokane Arts Fund was the small nonprofit arm of the city’s Arts Commission. The fund now performs the functions of the city’s former department and has a $160,000 budget provided by the city and several agencies and businesses. The fund’s headquarters are located within the offices of Visit Spokane, the organization formerly known the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
The Spokane Ethics Commission on Wednesday dismissed complaints against two City Council members who were accused of improperly using city resources to promote their positions on propositions on the ballot in last month’s special election.
Council President Ben Stuckart and Councilwoman Amber Waldref acknowledged that they sent an email newsletter advocating their positions on election issues that appeared to have been sent from their city email accounts. But both said that their newsletters were actually sent from a different address through an online newsletter service.
Two Spokane City Council members have apologized for using their city email accounts to send campaign messages.
Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and Amber Waldref sent electronic newsletters to supporters recently that included their opinions on the three proposed measures that will be decided by voters in the city’s Feb. 12 special election.
The messages were sent via their city email accounts.
Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the state Public Disclosure Commission, said government officials should not use government email accounts to promote or oppose items on a ballot.
Spokane City Councilman Ben Stuckart used first-hand experience when arguing at Monday's council meeting that the city should hire more cops.
Two weeks ago, when he and his wife were in Seattle, someone knocked in the back door of their home. It was the second time within 15 months that their South Hill residence was burglarized.
In an interview after the meeting, Stuckart said the burglar or burglars took his wife's and grandmother's jewelry, cash and an electronic food scale (which he surmised won't be used to weigh food anymore).
Spokane’s city government is shedding 92 jobs.
The Spokane City Council on Monday voted 4-3 to freeze the city general fund budget, largely accepting the recommendations of Mayor David Condon.
Condon proposed a $161 million general fund, which pays for police, fire, parks, libraries and other services paid with taxes. The total budget, including utilities like trash and water, will be $615 million.
The mayor’s budget eliminates the arts, and weights and measures departments. It will fund the equivalent of 2,033 full time jobs. It removes 19 police officer positions that already were vacant. It shrinks the on-duty firefighting force from 61 to 58 and removes the first-response firefighting capabilities of Fire Station 9 on the South Hill.
The council split was predictable. Republican-leaning council members, Mike Allen, Mike Fagan, Nancy McLaughlin and Steve Salvatori, voted for the budget. Democratic-leaning members Jon Snyder, Ben Stuckart and Amber Waldref opposed it. The same 4-3 split rejected Stuckart’s plans to shift money to pay for public safety positions or items that the city’s Use of Force Commission is expected to recommend to improve police services. They also reject for the second time in less than a month a 1 percent increase in property taxes.
The Spokane City Council appears ready to challenge Mayor David Condon’s decision to release the city’s police ombudsman.
Condon has decided not to renew Ombudsman Tim Burns’ three-year contract. His last day is Oct. 31, though he’ll be using up vacation for the last month.
Council President Ben Stuckart said Friday that he is sponsoring a resolution requesting that Condon keep Burns on as ombudsman at least until a new police oversight system is in place. He hopes to win at least five votes for the proposal so a vote can take place on Monday.
Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said Thursday that he didn't give City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin permission to use a picture of him on a campaign mailer for state Senate.
McLaughlin, a Repbulican, is running for state Senate seat that represents central Spokane against Democratic state Rep. Andy Billig.
The mailer, which began arriving in mailboxes this week, includes a picture of McLaughlin with Stuckart, Mayor David Condon and council members Mike Allen, Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori.
Stuckart said in an interview that the picture was taken at a bill signing earlier this year.
“I endorsed Andy Billig the day he declared for the state Senate,” Stuckart said in a written statement. “For Nancy's campaign to use my photo implies endorsement of her candidacy. I denounce this action. It is misleading and inappropriate for her to use a photo of me in a campaign mailer.”
The campaign for Initiative 502, which would legalize some marijuana use, announced three “name” supporters Tuesday.
State Sen. Lisa Brown. Spokane Council President Ben Stuckart. The Rev. Happy Watkins.
Brown and Stuckart aren't big surprises, considering they've supported medical marijuana measures in the past. I-502 is a step beyond that, to decriminalizing small amounts of mairjuana for personal use, but it's not a big step. Brown said the taxes from legalized marijuana would help health care and drug prevention programs, and Stuckart said the city's policing resources could be better spent on more serious problems.
Watkins, however, is the campaign's “get.” In the announcement, he said he was looking at it from a community perspective. “When young adults are arrested and charged for marijuana possession, they are shamed, turned into second-class citizens and face long-term economic hardship,” he said in the press release announcing the endorsement.
A spokeswoman for the campaign said I-502 is lining up support in what she called “the faith community”, particularly among African-American ministers because the minority community may feel a bigger impact of the war on drugs. They announced support from three Seattle-area ministers last month.
Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said Tuesday that he's unlikely to propose a new resolution in support of gay marriage until opponents earn enough signatures to force the issue on the ballot.
At Monday's council meeting, Stuckart warned that he might repeatedly bring a resolution forward until the council takes a stance on the resolution, but he moderated that position today.
Stuckart said that since the City Council has previously taken positions on state ballot items, there is precedent for reconsidering the resolution if repeal of gay marriage makes it to a public vote.
If forced to take a vote on the resolution, council members agree it would be approved in a 5-2 vote. But two supporters of gay marriage, Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori, say the council shouldn't vote on it. They argue that it's not a local issue.
When he requested to table the resolution, Councilman Mike Fagan pointed to a council rule that says, “The Council shall not consider or pass any ordinance or resolution the subject matter of which is not directly related to local affairs or municipal business.”
Stuckart said the overflow turnout at the meeting, which attracted about 300 people — 93 of whom testified — is proof that the issue is local and affects the citizenry.
“I can't see why that's outside the city's business,” he said.
The Spokane City Council on Monday will consider rushing its normal voting procedure to condemn the proposed Spokane Tribe of Indians casino on the West Plains.
Councilman Mike Fagan is sponsoring the resolution to put the city on record as opposing the casino and has asked that the council to suspend its rules so it can vote on the matter on Monday instead of giving the public more than a week’s notice before a vote.
“I feel that there’s a sense of urgency,” Fagan said.
The public usually gets well over a week’s notice about any issue on which the City Council conducts a vote. Notice for the resolution, however, wasn’t released until Thursday when Monday’s agenda was distributed.
Fagan said that the council’s schedule wouldn’t allow a vote on the matter until April 9 unless a vote is taken on Monday because the March 26 meeting is focused on neighborhoods and the April 2 meeting has been cancelled.
In order to suspend the rules, five of the seven council members would have to approve voting on the matter on Monday.
City Council President Ben Stuckart, who supports the tribe’s casino project, said there’s no reason to rush the resolution.
“If it’s an important enough issue, you should give the public time to know about it, be knowledgeable and prepare testimony,” he said.
Most Spokane City Council members said Monday that they don’t like the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision that prevents lawmakers from limiting some forms of political spending by corporations.
But there wasn’t a majority who supported asking lawmakers to do anything about it.
The council rejected a nonbinding resolution asking Congress and state legislatures to amend the Constitution to reverse the decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment barred Congress from creating spending limits on corporations in political campaigns, though the court left intact the ability to limit direct donations to candidates.
Councilwoman Amber Waldref, who sponsored the resolution, Councilman Jon Snyder and Council President Ben Stuckart supported the resolution. Council members Mike Allen, Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori rejected it. Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin was absent.
More than a dozen testified in support of the resolution. Only a couple of people, including a representative from Greater Spokane Inc., spoke against it.
The Spokane City Council will hit the road Thursday in a new monthly event meant to spark dialogue on city issues.
City Council President Ben Stuckart promised in his campaign for the office last year to hold regular forums outside Monday City Council meetings so council members could answer constituents’ questions more fully.
The forum, called “Talk About Town” will start at 7 p.m. at Browne Elementary School, 5102 N. Driscoll Blvd.
Stuckart said the new forums will allow for “two-way dialogue” that will be more conducive to topics that aren’t on the regular City Council agenda. For example, he noted that several childcare providers came to Monday’s meeting to discuss concern about state regulations, but council members didn’t have time to provide much feedback.
“We can have more of dialogue rather than just me giving a few statements after seven of them speak,” Stuckart said.
The forum will be held just before the start of the Northwest Neighborhood Council meeting.
Spokane Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart will appear on a live call-in show on KSPS on Wednesday.
KSPS is accepting questions for the duo at email@example.com. The show starts at 8 p.m.
I'll be on the panel for the show, Talk to City Hall, so feel free to post suggested topics here, as well.
New Spokane City Council President may have lost an automatic seat on the Spokane Airport Board on Monday, but he still has the power to create a seating chart.
And he exercised that right by shuffling the seats on the dais that already were reshuffled by term limits and by voters last year.
Stuckart's predecessor, Joe Shogan, sat in the middle seat. Stuckart has chosen to sit at the council seat farthest to left to viewers (farthest to his right) and will sit next to City Administrator Theresa Sanders during afternoon council briefings. He shifted Assistant City Attorney Mike Piccolo to the seat next to him for the evening meeting.
Stuckart said he chose to sit to the side so he could have “a clearer view” that doesn't require looking both ways.
“I can actually see everybody's facial features and non-verbals, as well,” he said.
Next to him is Amber Waldref. He said he placed her there because he wanted to be seated next to someone with experience and that he was consulted her frequently on council business.
Former Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan was well-known for his vigilance enforcing a ban on people wearing hats when testifying to City Council.
So any long-time observers of the City Council may have wondered if newly elected City Council President Ben Stuckart would be as strict, especially since Stuckart was extremely critical of Shogan's dealing with the public during his campaign.
The first test case was provided, not surprisingly, by Henry Valder, a frequent council attendee who often was ordered to remove a hat by Shogan. He approached the dias tonight with a hat on to speak about rules baring bottles and cans at Spokane Public Facilities District venues.
Stuckart didn't ask him to remove his hat.
But when Valder spoke a second time, on the council's appointment to the Spokane Airport Board, Stuckart ordered the hat removed.
After the meeting Stuckart said Assistant City Attorney Mike Piccolo leaned over and advised him to ask Valder to take off the hat.
He said he will clarify with Piccolo about the rules because it was not his intension to enforce a hat ban.
“I actually don’t have a problem with people wearing hats,” Stuckart said.
Mayor-elect David Condon will take the oath of office in front of the Riverfront Park clocktower at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 30, the city announced this morning in a news release.
A reception will follow in the Carrousel.
Council President-elect Ben Stuckart will take his oath on Dec. 28 at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, where he serves on the board.
Council members-elect Mike Allen, Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori will take their oaths at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 29 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
None of the new city officials will officially take office until midnight on Jan. 1, but under state law they must take the oath of office within 10 days prior to that time.
Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said she expects only one count of votes tonight.
Results should be released about 8:15 p.m. She said including today's mail, the county has received about 100,000 ballots. About 90,000 of those will be counted in the numbers released tonight.
Dalton said once all the ballots are returned, the county expects to receive between 130,000 and 140,000 ballots. What's not counted tonight will be counted later in the week.
Here's where some candidates will wait for results tonight:
Mary Verner: Taaj Indian restaurant, 128 W. Third Ave.
David Condon, Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori: Barrister Winery, 1213 W. Railroad Ave.
Ben Stuckart: Two Seven Public House, 2727 S. Mt. Vernon St.
Donna McKereghan: Geno's, 1414 N. Hamilton St.
Richard Rush and Joy Jones: Hamilton Studios, 1427 W. Dean
Mike Padden, campaign headquarters, 10807 E. Montgomery
Jeff Baxter, Luxury Box, 10512 E. Sprague
While most of the political news is swirling around City Hall this morning with the press conference over the Otto Zehm case (read about that here), there was a development in the Council President race.
Councilman Steve Corker, who finished third in the primary for the job last month, announced he was endorsing former opponent Ben Stuckart for the job: “Ben represents a bright, new voice for Spokane.”
Stuckart thanked Corker for the endorsement and “for his many years of service to the City of Spokane.”
Corker also pointed out the key element of the primary results as the city looks ahead to the Nov. 8 election. Unlike the mayor's race, in which incumbent Mary Verner essentially lapped the field, no one got a majority in the council president's race. Dennis Hession, the former council president and mayor, finished on top, with 37 percent, but Stuckart got 30 percent and Corker 27 percent.
One other interesting stat: 2,175 voters “skipped” that race. That is, they marked their ballots in other contests, but not for council president. Had they voted for Corker, he would've finished second; had they voted for Stuckart, he would've been almost tied with Hession; had they voted for Hession, the race would now be seen as pretty much over.