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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Mike Fagan

14 Spokane City Council votes that would have been different under new majority

So the Spokane City Council will soon have a new, more liberal majority. And while some big issues haven't been decided along easily identified party lines, there likely will be a noticeable change.

To get a sense of the kind of policies that could be affected, here's a review of many of the 4-3 tallies cast since the council shifted to a more conservative bent after the 2011 election. The following votes ended with Republican-leaning Mike Allen, Mike Fagan, Nancy McLaughlin and Steve Salvatori beating out Democratic-leaning Jon Snyder, Ben Stuckart and Amber Waldref.

May 2013

  • Supporting the filing of lawsuits to stop two citizen initiatives from appearing on the ballot, including Envision Spokane’s proposed Community Bill of Rights.

April 2013

  • Rejection of proposal to pull money from reserves to hire 10 police officers.
  • Creation of 13 new public safety departments to allow Mayor David Condon to hire and fire more managers without using civil service rules.

Eyman, Fagans try new route to 2/3 tax votes

 

Mike Fagan, Tim Eyman and Jack Fagan, left to right,  to file an electronic copy of their new initiative at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday. After several attempts, they wound up submitting a paper copy and paying the $5 filing fee.

OLYMPIA – Unable to ask voters again to approve an initiative requiring supermajority approval of tax increases, a trio of self-described tax fighters will try to prod the Legislature into putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Perennial initiative sponsors Tim Eyman of Mukilteo and Mike Fagan and Jack Fagan of Spokane filed an initiative Wednesday that would require a public vote on any tax increase, a one-year limit on any new tax, and an advisory vote on whether voters should get to vote on a constitutional amendment that requires the Legislature pass any tax increase with a two-thirds majority.

The initiative comes with an “escape clause” which says if the Legislature puts that constitutional amendment up to a public vote, other provisions go away. . . 

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

Did the City Council violate City Charter?

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.

Ethics Committee: Fagan has right to call Inslee “lying whore”

Councilman Mike Fagan was within his rights to call Gov. Jay Inslee “a lying whore,” the Spokane Ethics Committee ruled on Wednesday.

The committee voted unanimously that the slur, which was part of a letter signed by Fagan and two others, didn’t violate city ethics rules because of the inability to establish that it harmed the city. They also said that Fagan’s free speech rights likely trump the ethics code.

“We can’t really tell a public official what they can and cannot say,” said Committee member Monica Holland. “Political speech is one of the most protected types of speech that we have in this country. So while the conduct may be perceived to be unprofessional and unbecoming to a publicly elected official and perhaps reflect badly on our city, I don’t know that we can really enforce anything, because it’s free speech at the end of the day.”

How far is too far?

Mike Fagan’s response to criticism of the language in that e-mail is that he was not expressing himself as a city councilman; rather, he was expressing himself as a tax-fighting activist.

That raises a question: Is a councilman, or any elected official, ever NOT in his official capacity? There may have been a time when a bright line separated the official with the personal, and even a president’s personal foibles weren’t subject to public scrutiny. But that time predates the Hula-Hoop.

But a council position is supposedly a part-time job, and Fagan was a political activist before he was an elected official. So giving him the benefit of the argument, the issue may boil down to this: Is there a time when it’s OK for a political activist to call a governor – any governor – “a lying whore”?

Feel free to enter an opinion by clicking on the comment link.

Susan Fagan not the one slamming Inslee

OLYMPIA — Rep. Susan Fagan and Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan don't share any constituents, but both do have voters in the Spokane area.

And the Pullman legislator wants them to know that she is not the Fagan who called Gov. Jay Inslee a “lying whore” in a recent fund-raising letter.

Councilman Mike Fagan, who signed onto an appeal with initiative partners Tim Eyman and his father Jack Fagan, is coming under criticism from his council colleagues for the use of that language. (See posts below.) The governor, who is in Washington, D.C., and has a few other things to worry about like additional tanks leaking at Hanford, has declined comment.

But headlines tend to stick with last names, which is causing Rep. Susan Fagan some heartburn. She's a Republican legislator from the Palouse who is likely to disagree with Inslee on any number of issues over the course of the session, and agree with Eyman and Co., on some.

But that kind of language “would never cross her lips,” an aide said.

Condon weighs in on Fagan letter

Spokane Mayor David Condon has issued statement criticizing a letter signed by City Councilman Mike Fagan that calls Gov. Jay Inslee “a lying whore.”

“Words like this have no place in public discourse,” Condon said in a prepared statement released this afternoon by the city. “This language doesn’t represent the community we all live in.”

When asked about the letter on Thursday, Condon said he wanted to talk to Fagan about it beforre making a comment.

Five Spokane City Council members, Mike Allen, Steve Salvatori, Jon Snyder, Ben Stuckart and Amber Waldref, also have condemned the letter. City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin is on vacation and attempts to reach her have been unsuccessful.

Allen, Salvatori call on Fagan to apologize

A majority of the Spokane City Council is calling on Councilman Mike Fagan to apologize for the letter he signed calling Gov. Jay Inslee “a lying whore.”

The council's three Democratic-leaning members issued a statement condemning Fagan's letter this morning.

Now two of the council's Republican-leaning members, Steve Salvatori and Mike Allen also say he should apologize.

“I know Mike believes in the intent of his message, but his choice of words were inappropriate and unprofessional, and in my opinion, he should issue an apology,” Allen said.

City Council debates right to debate gun laws

To take a stand or not to take a stand.

That was the question hotly debated by the Spokane City Council Monday night on two nonbinding resolutions related to gun laws and gun rights.

The results were a curious lesson in the unpredictability of a sharply divided council.

Council adopts Condon’s budget in predictable split

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.

Council will consider repeal of beer restrictions

The West Central Neighborhood Council wanted restrictions on the sale of high-octane beer and now it doesn’t.

But while council members used the council’s support as a reason to create a voluntary Alcohol Impact Area in West Central, the neighborhood’s change of heart won’t make an open-and-shut case when the Spokane City Council considers a repeal next month.

Stuckart will wait to propose new gay marriage resolution

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.


Documents:

Fagan once filed initiatives using process he wants to ban

Councilman Mike Fagan, who is co-sponsoring legislation amending the city's initiative process, has proposed initiatives using the direct filing method he now proposes to ban. In May 2010 he submitted two initiatives to the City Clerk's office using the direct petition model. They would have banned the city's participation in groups like the United Nations and restricted portions of the Sustainability Plan, which was developed to decrease the city's impact on global warming. 

Fagan said Friday he didn't remember filing initiatives using the direct-petition option. In April 2010 he filed initiatives on the same topics using the assistance of the city attorney's office, which drafted two ballot questions. He later withdrew the proposals and refiled slightly different ones using the direct option. Fagan never made a serious effort to collect signatures on the initiatives.

Fagan, a co-director along with Tim Eyman of Voters Want More Choices, which puts a citizens' initiative on the state ballot almost annually, has taken heat for his sponsorship of the initiative changes, given that he makes his living by campaigning for initiatives.

The Inlander even quoted Eyman criticizing Fagan and Councilman Steve Salvatori's plan in last week's edition.

“You have to continually remind yourself: It’s called the citizen’s initiative process,” Eyman said, according to the Inlander. “I really, really hope that City Council will not do this.”

Condon undecided on gay marriage resolution

Spokane Mayor David Condon said Monday that he still is considering what his position will be on the two hottest topics for next week's City Council meeting.

Those issues are Councilman Jon Snyder's resolution in support of the state's gay marriage law and Councilman Mike Fagan's proposal to change the city's initiative process.

Two Republican-leaning council members, Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori, have said they likely will support Snyder's resolution.

The state approved same-sex marriage this year, but opponents are expected to collect enough signatures to force the issue on the November ballot.

Although supportive of the law, Salvatori has questioned the purpose of the council weighing in on gay marriage since it's not an issue that will be decided at the city level. He doubts the City Council will change anyone's mind on such a passionate topic.

“If I wanted to be in state Legislature, I would have run for the state Legislature,” Salvatori said.

The council has taken up several non-binding resolutions this year, including ones focused on federal marijuana law, the proposed Spokane Tribe of Indian's casino on the West Plains and campaign finance.

City Council President Ben Stuckart said while some of the issues may not be considered City Council business, they are important topics that affect the citizenry. He added voting on a resolution provides a forum for local residents to debate high-profile issues.

“Being an elected official means you have a voice, and you should us that voice,” Stuckart said.

Council will wait a week to consider casino

The Spokane City Council will wait until next week to consider opposing a Spokane Tribe of Indians casino project proposed for the West Plains.

Councilman Mike Fagan is sponsoring a resolution opposing the casino. He requested last week that the council suspend normal public notice requirements to allow a vote on Monday instead of giving the public more than a week’s notice before a vote. He said at the meeting Monday, however, that he had changed his mind after hearing from constituents who opposed to moving forward without following the usual public notice procedure. Council President Ben Stuckart said the wasn’t enough support on the council to suspend the rules. At least five of seven members would have had to agree.

The council also opted not to vote on a $4.1 million contract to build a sewage overflow tank that city administrators had requested the council also suspend public notice requirements to approve on Monday.

Both issues will be considered at the council’s March 26 meeting, which will be held at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St.

Fagan said he has the support from three other council members and expects his resolution to be approved 4-3.

Council considers rushing votes

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.

Council rejects recommendation to limit corporate political spending

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.

Where Condon and GOP-leaning city leaders stand on race for president

With the race for the Republican nomination for president heating up and candidate Ron Paul headed to Spokane, Spokane Mayor David Condon said he doesn't plan to endorse a candidate.

“I'm not going to get involved in national politics,” he said.

Condon said he hasn't decided if he will participate in the March 3 Washington caucus.

Meanwhile, other Republican-leaning elected Spokane officials haven't solidified their presidential picks.

Council members Nancy McLaughlin and Mike Fagan said this week that they are trying to decide between Paul and Rick Santorum.

Councilman Mike Allen said he's leaning toward Mitt Romney, and Councilman Steve Salvatori said he's undecided.

Be careful where you point that snow blower

The next time it snows, think twice before tossing snow from a driveway into the street.

The Spokane City Council on Monday voted 5-1 to outlaw the dumping of snow into public streets or other public property with the exception of planting strips or snow berms created by city plows. Private plow companies caught breaking the law could face a $513 fine. Businesses could be fined $257 and homeowners $52.

Street officials say the law was needed because some plow companies have disregarded requests to stop moving snow into the street.

City Councilman Mike Fagan cast the lone vote against the law. He argued that it is hypocritical for the city to impose fines on people for moving snow into the street when city plows often push snow berms onto private property and sidewalks.

The council nixed a plan to lower the fine for not shoveling sidewalks from $103 to $53. City officials said the proposal to lower the fine was a mistake and requested to maintain the same penalty.

Councilman Mike Allen was absent at Monday's meeting.

County GOP endorses - scratch that - recommends Condon, Hession, Allen, Fagan and Salvatori

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The Spokane County Republican Party, which has previously declined to endorse candidates running as Republicans against Democrats when they declined to sign the county party's platform, has sent out recommendations for how to vote in Tuesday's nonparitsan city elections.

The picks include: David Condon for mayor, Mike Fagan, Steve Salvatori and Mike Allen for City Council and Dennis Hession for City Council president. The candidates apparently didn't have to sign any pledges to win the recommendations.

Condon, Fagan, Salvatori and Allen have clear ties to the party, though the party declined to back Allen in his 2009 bid for council. And while Hession has enjoyed some Republican support in past races, he also has been more aligned with the Democratic Party, at least on some environmental and social issues.

The party posted the following statement with its recommendations: “The Spokane County Republican Party acknowledges the non-partisan nature of local elections and makes no claim that recommended candidates are in any way affiliated with the Republican Party.  The following recommendations are not intended to serve as an endorsement of any issue or candidate.”

We're not sure what the difference is between recommending a candidate and endorsing one.

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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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