Posts tagged: Spokane City Council
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.
In the KSPS debate that aired earlier this month on KSPS City Council candidate John Ahern spoke in confusing terms about the area served by the city's Fire Station No. 9 on the South Hill. So confusing, apparently, that Spokane County Fire District No. 9 has issued a clarification:
Here's a portion of the district's press release sent today from Fire Chief Jack Cates:
In his rebuttal, John Ahern stated that “another area I think we really need to shore up is Fire District 9.” Furthermore he felt that that area was only half-staffed at this time and indicated he had been knocking on doors talking to taxpayers in that area. The context of Mr. Ahern’s rebuttal appears to indicate that he was actually referring to the area around the old Fire Station 9 on the south hill area in the City of Spokane. He even referred to the Eagle Ridge neighborhood near Highway 195.
There were enough members for a quorum, but the dais was a bit spare at Monday's regularly scheduled Spokane City Council meeting.
Councilman Jon Snyder, acting as council president pro tem in Ben Stuckart's stead, politely led the charge through the hour-long meeting. Councilman Mike Allen was also absent.
Members voted on an emergency spending request put forth by Snyder to shift $350,000 out of general fund reserves to pay for comprehensive inspections on 11 bridges, mainly in Riverfront Park. Our previous story here said nine bridges would be checked, but two bridges on the Fish Lake trail were added.
On his blog, Snyder said the bridges are “vital bike riding and walking links for our City, a City that has precious few places for those using non-motorized to cross our river.”
Kelly Cruz, who failed to get past this month's primary in the race to replace the term-limited Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, spoke against spending so much money on inspections when he said some of them were thoroughly inspected four years ago by CH2M Hill.
“I just want to make sure we're not spending money on something we've already covered,” he said.
George McGrath, a vocal fixture at the council meetings, spoke against the plan.
It passed 5-0. Usually members light up a screen showing their yea's or nay's, but with Stuckart gone and city Attorney Mike Piccolo befuddled by his first time use of the electronics, Snyder called for a voice vote.
The council also approved a low impact development ordinance, which encourages developers to utilize innovated approaches dealing with stormwater.
As Councilwoman Amber Waldref said on her blog, “developers will be able to manage stormwater onsite either through traditional methods like swales OR choose rooftop gardens, rainwater collection or rain gardens on their properties. These will be optional, but it is a start for Spokane.”
Bart Mihailovich, with the Spokane Riverkeeper, said the LID ordinance was an example of the city working across departments to solve problems.
As for dealing with stormwater on site, Mihailovich said, “This is certainly the trend.”
It also passed 5-0.
Another resolution before the council regarding the appointment of committees to “prepare statements advocating voters' approval or rejection” of this year's ballot propositions was delayed for two weeks.
Finally, next week's meeting has been canceled in lieu of Labor Day.
The Spokane City Council won't vote on proposed changes to the city's park department tonight.
Park Director Leroy Eadie pulled the proposal at the last minute after discussions with City Council President Ben Stuckart, who is opposed to the changes.
Under Eadie's proposal, more senior department employees would be placed outside of Civil Service protections, and therefore be appointed by a mayor. Currently, just Eadie falls under such rules since he runs the department without an assistant.
Stuckart approached Eadie about delaying the vote after learning that Eadie wanted to come back with a similar proposal to further change the department. Now Eadie says he nwill wrap all his changes in a later ordinance.
Read our Sunday story on the proposed changes here.
South Spokane voters will pick between two familiar candidates for the Second District council seat this fall.
Incumbent Jon Snyder will face former State Rep. John Ahern in the general election.
Snyder finished Tuesday night's count with nearly 56 percent of the votes; Ahern had just over 24 percent. Political newcomer LaVerne Biel finished third with about 19 percent.
Candace Mumm will face Michael Cannon this fall in the race for the open council seat in Northwest Spokane's 3rd District.
In Tuesday night's count, Mumm was easily in first place with 56 percent of the vote. Cannon was solidly in second, with 27 percent of the vote. Curt Fackler had 10 percent and Kelly Cruz 6 percent.
Up in the Yukon, the Whitehorse City Council knows how to draw folks into the live broadcasts of its meetings. Maybe the Spokane City Council could get more viewers to its sessions if it had a commercial like this.
Of course, a snappy commercial is only good to get a person to tune in once. After that, the council would have to hold viewers based on the actual content of its meetings.
City Council candidate Mark Hamilton says he hasn't lived at his address in the city of Spokane since November and barely lived in the home since September as a result of construction in the home.
But Hamilton, a real estate agent and the pastor of 1Body Ministries, also said that from the time he acquired the dilapidated home at 217 E. Pacific in May 2012 until September he usually spent about four nights a week there. Utility records show the home had no water or electricity the first month he lived there. He claims to have slept on a cot at his newly-purchased home rather than at his other home outside city limits.
“I actually slept on the premises beginning on May 15, 2012, on a camp cot in the upstairs bedroom. There were no utilities at the time, but I was concerned about the homeless and transient persons in the area and lack of security,” Hamilton said in a court declaration. He said he bathed at a friend's home or at his other home outside city limits.
Last month two residents who live in Hamilton's council district filed a lawsuit arguing that Hamilton wasn't qualified to appear on the ballot. He is challenging Councilwoman Amber Waldref in her bid for reelection.
In February, responding to questions about whether he met residency requirements to run for Spokane City Council, Hamilton said he had spent the majority of his nights since May at the home on Pacific.
When Hamilton voted in November, he was registered to vote an address outside city limits. That's one of many factors noted in the lawsuit as reasons Hamilton doesn't meet residency requirements.
The Spokane City Charter says “a person must be a qualified voter of the City of Spokane and have been a resident of the City, and of the appropriate council district, for the one year immediately preceding the time of filing as a candidate for, or the time of appointment to, the office of mayor, council president, or council member.”
Hamilton's attorney, Dustin Deissner, argues that the line in the charter does not require a candidate to be a qualified voter “for the one year immediately preceding the time of filing” (last month). That time requirement, he said, only applies to being a resident. He said it was an oversight that Hamilton was registered to vote at an address outside city limits.
The lawsuit and Hamilton's response is attached to this post.
Hamilton has said he will no longer respond to requests for comment from The Spokesman-Review and in a Facebook post last month called on pastors to rise up against the newspaper. He also called S-R reporters “demonic soothsayers.” To see his full post, written soon after this column appeared in the newspaper, keep reading this post.
The progression of thought for some politicians about the wisdom of the voters can be as predictable as it is ironic.
At the end of the first campaign, most winners are honored – and sometimes pleasantly surprised – at being chosen by voters. It is the rare first victory speech that doesn’t include the phrase “humbled by the trust the people have placed in me”, or words to that effect.
Over time and subsequent victories, that evolves for many into the certitude that the voters are making the wise decision. Later, some decide that voters smart enough to elect them aren’t smart enough to make other decisions that might be laid before them.
The journey goes from “Let the Voters Decide!” to “What do they know?”
City Council members seem dangerously down this road. . .
The city may have grounds to challenge two proposed charter amendments and seek court orders to keep them off the ballot, lawyers have told the Spokane City Council.
Groups supporting the initiatives say that would be “a direct subversion of the democratic process” but the
To read the rest of this item or to comment, continue inside the blog.
Signatures on petitions in support of two proposed citizens’ initiatives in Spokane will be counted and verified. But council members hinted Monday that they may block the proposals from the ballot even if activists collected enough support.
The Spokane City Council voted 6-0 on Monday to ask the Spokane County Auditor’s Office to verify the signatures collected for Envision Spokane’s Community Bill of Rights and Spokane Moves to Amend the Constitution’s initiative that would, in part, outlaw people representing corporations from discussing legislation with elected leaders in private settings.
Both groups have collected significantly more signatures than necessary to place the initiatives on the November ballot, but some City Council members said they believe the proposals are unconstitutional.
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.
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.”
The most contested race in this year’s three races for Spokane City Council seats is almost certain to be in the Northwest council district.
One seat in each of the three districts will be on the ballot this year, but the position in the Northwest district already is attracting the most candidates.
That’s largely because incumbent City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin is term limited, leaving the seat open. The other two seats on the ballot are represented by council members Jon Snyder and Amber Waldref, who are running for reelection.
As of Thursday, two candidates had announced candidacies with the state Public Disclosure Commission for the seat representing South Spokane (District 2), three candidates had filed for the seat representing Northeast Spokane (District 1) and four had filed for the seat representing Northwest Spokane (District 3).
The fight for McLaughlin’s seat should be all the more contentious because of the close split on the current City Council between members with backing from the Republican and Democratic parties. There have been several high-profile 4-3 votes in the past year that favor the Republican-leaning members.
Read on for info on the four candidates who have announced their intentions to run for the seat.
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.
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.
Following the lead of state voters, the Spokane City Council on Monday legalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by anyone 21 and up.
Councilman Jon Snyder, who has led the effort on the City Council to consider the impacts to the city from marijuana legalization, said that Monday’s unanimous vote was a routine matter to keep city law consistent with state law. But bigger decisions are ahead as officials consider if they should regulate pot more strictly than what was approved in Initiative 502, the law that legalized marijuana, he said.
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.
The Spokane City Council on Monday selected attorney Brian T. McGinn as the city’s new hearing examiner.
He will replace Greg Smith who is retiring and has worked for the city since 1977. He has been the hearing examiner for more than 20 years, said City Council President Ben Stuckart.
McGinn, 44, is a Spokane native who graduated from Gonzaga Prep and has a law degree from Gonzaga University. Since 1994 he has worked at the Winston and Cashatt law firm, the same firm where City Attorney Nancy Isserlis practiced before she went to work for the city. He specializes in real estate and land-use law.