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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Mary Verner

Candidates prepare for results

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

Condon gets second big contribution from state GOP

Mayoral candidate David Condon over the weekend got another big lift from the state Republican Party.

The GOP contributed $38,000 to Condon’s campaign on Saturday, according to reports filed to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Late last month, the party gave his campaign $25,000.

Condon, the former district director of Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is challenging incumbent Mayor Mary Verner in Tuesday's election. Last week, the executive director of the party said the GOP opted to contribute to Condon to help “take out” Verner to prevent her from challenging McMorris Rodgers in the future.

The late contribution takes Condon’s total tally to $288,000. Verner has raised about $125,000. Independent groups have spent about $26,000 on her behalf.

Most contributors are limited to $800 per candidate per election. But rules enable political parties to give much more. The state Republican Party received several significant contributions from Condon supporters in August, September and October. A Verner supporter filed a complaint with the PDC last week arguing that the party donations violate contribution limits. The state party says it complied fully with the law.

Family not offended by Condon’s critique of city’s handling of Zehm cases

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When David Condon began to publicly criticize Mary Verner's handling of the Otto Zehm case, Verner said Condon's critique was further victimizing the Zehm family “by attempting to elevate himself.”

The Inland Northwest Leadership Political Action Committee, which has spent about $25,000 on the mayoral race in support of Verner, has made similar allegations.

“Unfortunately, David Condon is now desperately trying to exploit this tragedy for political gain,” says an article on the group's website.

But last week, Breean Beggs, who represents the Zehm family and has contributed money to the Verner campaign, said Zehm family members do not feel exploited or victimized by Condon or other city candidates who have discussed the case. Beggs said that's because they feel that police oversight, training, procedures and other issues surrounding the case are legitimate issues that should be considered by those seeking city office.

 

These were the official statements released by Verner and Condon last week after the verdict:

Verner:

“The jury in the trial was in the best position to render a verdict in this case.  And, we accept their decision. This verdict is only one step toward closure and healing for our community.  I remain committed to completing a thorough internal and external review of all aspects of the case.   Our citizens rightfully require their elected officials to acknowledge mistakes and problems and make changes to avoid them in the future.  That’s what we’re going to do.”

“I appreciate your ongoing support of our community, and I am pleased to serve you.”

Condon:

“This is a sad day for our city, a slow-motion train wreck … first the indictment, now the trial and verdict, and next the civil lawsuit which may cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It is an indictment of the mayor and her legal team and of the police department, as well as of an individual officer.  My heart goes out again to the family of Otto Zehm with the hope that this sad spectacle can soon be brought to a final conclusion.”


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?

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?

2011 elections: Who’s spending what

OLYMPIA – Led by a multi-million dollar battle for who controls liquor sales in Washington, initiatives and candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot have spent more than $18 million on trying to sway voters in the last three weeks.

This may come as no surprise to state residents who can’t turn on the television without seeing firefighters argue whether voters’ lives will be better or worse if state-run liquor stores go the way of the Model T. Other state initiative campaigns have their own TV messages, and campaigns big and small are filling mail boxes with slick mailers.

Campaigns were required this week to report all spending through Tuesday to the State Public Disclosure Commission. While more money will be spent by some campaigns that remain flush with cash, that won’t be reported until Dec. 12, when most bills are paid and many campaigns tally their final account.

Tuesday’s deadline covers some of the most intense spending of any campaign season…

Click to go inside to read the rest of this item.

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.

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.”

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:

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.

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.

Billboard sponsor on water rates remains unknown

The person who has paid for five billboards criticizing the Spokane City Council and Spokane Mayor Mary Verner for their decisions related to water rates plans to remain anonymous.

Five billboards about the water rates were erected about a week ago and will stay up for the month of October, said Tom Townsend, general manager of Emerald Outdoor Advertising.

Townsend said the ads were not sponsored by Emerald, which had a widely publicized fight with the mayor in 2009 when she planned to end bus bench advertising.

“We're just the messenger,” Townsend said.

He also said the man who bought the ads is not related to the campaign of David Condon, who is challenging Verner in the November election, or anyone else running for office.

“It's not against anybody,” Townsend said. “It's just somebody giving his opinion on a matter.”

City Councilman Richard Rush, however, questioned how the billboard could be unrelated to the election since it specifically calls out “The Mayor and City Council” the month before an election.

Rush laughed when told that the purchaser did not plan to reveal himself.

“There's some courage for you,” Rush said.

Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the state Public Disclosure Commission, said as long as the ads are not sponsored by a campaign, they would not have to be reported to the commission unless the total cost was at least $5,000 for each politician mentioned. Because it mentioned the mayor and City Council, the total cost of the campaign would have to reach $40,000.

Townsend said the total cost of the campaign was less than $5,000.

Longtime Dem backs Condon, blasts Verner over Zehm

Former Democratic County Chairman and one-time congressional candidate Tom Keefe said today he is reaching outside his normal partisan boundaries to endorse David Condon in the mayor's race.

Officially, municipal races in Spokane are non-partisan. But sometimes the county organization or prominent party members endorse candidates who are politically well aligned. When that happens, it's sometimes considered news, but rarely is it NEWS.

But this is not one of those cases. Instead, it's an instance of a longtime Democrat endorsing a known Republican. Keefe is a former congressional aide whose service goes all the way back to Warren G. Magnuson; he ran for Congress against Republican Rep. George Nethercutt in 2000.

Condon is the former district manager to Nethercutt's successor, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and a GOP campaigner before becoming a candidate.

The reason for the cross-party endorsement? The Otto Zehm case…

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.

Verner doesn’t blame Hession

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said last week that a campaign statement on the Otto Zehm matter wasn't meant to pin blame on others.

Responding to a news release criticizing her response to the Otto Zehm cases from her election opponent, David Condon, Verner released her own statement on Sept. 6. Part of it appeared to assign blame to her predecessor, Dennis Hession: “I believe the voters will see through his (Condon's) attempt to blame me for actions of a former city administration, the county prosecutor, and other attorneys working on this case in Federal Court. As I have said all along, I respect the judicial process and the facts that will come forth,” Verner said in the Sept. 6 news release.

Verner said the statement was rushed and probably was poorly worded in the rush to respond to Condon.
“If you read my statment verbatim, I don't say Dennis Hession should be blamed for anything,” she said. “I don't blame Dennis Hession and I don't believe Dennis Hession blames me.”

Verner, Condon clash in Rotary debate over style

One of the first mayoral debates between Mayor Mary Verner and her November election opponent David Condon was at its core a focus on style.

Condon promised to take charge of the bureaucracy.

“It’s a question of leadership,” he said. “The mayor has to be in charge and not let the departments have their own way and set their own agenda.”

Verner argued that her inclusive decision-making process has led to better outcomes.

“City government under my leadership is a much more efficient and responsive public service organization, and I want to complete the reforms that I have started,” she said. “I begin by listening – listening to our businesses, listening to our citizens, and then I determine exactly what the problem is. And then I go about fixing it for lasting reforms within the city.” 

Spokane debate season in bloom; Verner, Condon will debate twice on Thursday

Spokane candidates will give their pitch for city office at two debates on Thursday.

The League of Women Voters will hold candidate debates for mayor, City Council president and for each of the three City Council seats on the November ballot. The group also will have a debate for the open Spokane School Board seat and forums focused on the Spokane County animal control proposal, the Community Bill of Rights initiative as well as three state initiatives.

The event starts at 5 p.m. at Spokane City Hall and is open to the public. It will be taped and will air eight times on CityCable 5, starting at 9 p.m. Saturday, according to a city news release.

Mayor candidate Mayor Verner and David Condon also will debate at noon at the weekly downtown Rotary Club meeting at the Spokane Athletic Club.

Read on to find out about two other debates next month that were recently announced.

Verner’s choice for planning director disclosed receipt controversy

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said Monday that the man she picked to be the city's new planning director was candid about problems that contributed to his resignation from a planning position in Arizona.

Spokane officials announced in a news release last week that Verner chose Scott Chesney, the former director of planning and development for El Mirage, Ariz., to be the next planning director. He was the top choice of an advisory committee helping to pick the new planning director, the news release said. He previously served as the planning and community development director in Surprise, Ariz.

While there, Chesney admitted violating city policy by using city credit cards to buy alcohol for himself and staff, and failed to provide itemized receipts for reimbursement, the Arizona Republic reported after Chesney resigned in November 2007. He reimbursed the city for the improper purchases, the newspaper reported.

“He was the first to disclose it,” Verner said when asked if Spokane officials were aware of the controversy.

She said her staff made extra efforts to make sure members of the selection committee and City Council were aware of the issue.

Verner's nomination will be forwarded to the City Council for confirmation. If approved, his starting yearly salary will be $98,554.

  

City budget picture offers good and bad news

The bleak economic picture in the state likely will make the Spokane City Council’s job balancing the 2012 harder by about a $1 million, the city’s budget director told the council on Thursday.

But not all the news at a council budget briefing on was bad. Budget Director Tim Dunivant said better-than-expected sales tax revenues will help carry the city through 2011 without the need for additional cuts. Through August, the city collected $13.6 million in sales taxes, about a $1 million more than expected.

That increase will help offset unexpected declines of more than $100,000 each in water, sewer and telephone utility taxes and gambling taxes as well as $93,000 less than expected in parking tickets. Dunivant said the decline in tickets is related to an opening for a parking enforcement officer that has since been filled. (He said about 400 people applied for the job). The sales tax cushion also should protect the city from an expected decline in liquor sales revenue from the state, he said.

White House nominates Verner for board post

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner will be nominated by President Obama to serve on the board of a Washington-based nonprofit group dedicated to helping make the nation's buildings safer and more efficient.

Verner, who would serve on the National Institute of Building Sciences Board of Directors, was among 27 intended appointments announced Thursday by the White House. The appointment requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

The institute seeks to improve building sciences and technologies by bringing together public- and private-sector representatives to discuss problems and advances. Six of the board's 21 members are White House appointees.

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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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