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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Spokane City Council

Spokane backs WSU medical school plan over UW proposal

Spokane City Hall is backing crimson over purple.

The city announced this week it will help Washington State University lobby the Legislature for money to begin establishing its own medical school on Spokane’s Riverpoint campus. The WSU request for $2.5 million in startup funding over the next two years is among the city’s top three legislative priorities for the upcoming 2015 session.

Although the city also is supporting the University of Washington’s pledge to expand its medical education program in Spokane, it’s not among the top priorities.

The state’s two leading universities, after partnering for years on a shared medical education program with a branch in Spokane, are parting ways and will battle it out in the Legislature next year for money to pursue their own vision of how best to train doctors.

WSU wants its own Spokane-based medical school that relies on forging community partnerships with hospitals around the state to train physicians who’d be encouraged to practice in under-served regions of the state. The UW, which has one of the best medical schools in the country for primary care training, proposes aggressively expanding its Spokane satellite branch, which currently operates in facilities that WSU wants to use for its medical school.

Spokane has long sought expanded medical education opportunities at the Riverpoint campus as part of an overall push to strengthen the local economy and help ease physician shortages in rural communities.

But until now, city and other community leaders had largely avoided taking sides.

Sewage researcher discusses potential Spokane THC test

University of Puget Sound professor Dan Burgard says the academic response to his study of drugs in waste water has been a mix of curiosity and bewilderment.

“Everybody thinks, 'Wow, you can do that?'” Burgard said in an interview Wednesday. “Then they say, 'Wait, what else can you find?'”

Burgard's research on the presence of amphetamines and other drugs in the sewage at college campuses prompted American Civil Liberties Union attorney Alison Holcomb to suggest Spokane look at his process for testing marijuana use trends Tuesday. Burgard said he's intrigued by the idea, but there would be many logistical hurdles to scale for his direct involvement and the numbers would not be as illuminating as if sewage prior to retail shops opening could be tested.

“You can still watch trends over the next couple of years,” Burgard said. “As more stores open, do we see more (THC), or do we see the same old, same old?”

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

City Hall Scoop: Domestic Violence and a New Councilwoman

Another Monday, another Spokane City Council meeting at which Councilman Mike Fagan speaks eloquently on the injustice of domestic violence.

Okay, so not every council meeting has Fagan on the dais, detailing the horrors of “Spokane's ugly, dirty little secret,” telling attendees and viewers that domestic violence is not simply violent, but also “a crime of control, of coercion.” He doesn't always read a list of crimes associated with domestic violence, or educate people that it can happen between more than man and wife, but between lovers, or friends, or inflicted by a parent or grandparent.

But it happened last night, as council members discussed amending city law as proposed by Council President Ben Stuckart and Councilwoman Amber Waldref to protect victims of domestic violence against discrimination, while also creating a fund to help prevent such violence and prosecute offenders. We covered the issue when it first arose.

True to his word, Fagan was “more than happy to vote in the affirm” and the ordinances passed 7-0, despite conservative gadabout George McGrath admonishing the council for letting government overreach to continue. McGrath did agree that domestic violence should be “contained (and) curtailed” but warned against overreaction, such as when a man flicks a toothpick at his wife. Councilman Mike Allen seemed to have had enough at that remark, tearing off his reading glasses and shooting an exasperated look to the council. Regardless, McGrath's three minutes soon were spent, he returned to his seat and the council carried on, as usual.

Continue reading, and see Fagan talk about domestic violence, after the jump.

 

 

City Hall Scoop: Lilac Queen as Councilwoman

Steve Salvatori was a fiscal conservative from California. Karen Stratton is a political unknown and lifelong Spokanite. Together, they will complete one term on the Spokane City Council.

Stranger things have happened in Spokane. Like when Stratton was named Lilac Queen in 1977 and posed with Grizzly Adams. Or when Jimmy Marks put a curse on the entire city. Or when Mark Hamilton, who was kicked off the ballot last year in a bid for City Council, compared the politicized nature of Spokane politics to apartheid (which also happened last night).

Regardless, as we detailed in today's Spokesman, the City Council appointed Stratton to the seat left vacant by the resignation of Salvatori, who left the council earlier this year for work in Texas. She will fulfill the final 15 months of his term and run for re-election in 2015.

Keep reading after the jump.

Q&A with council finalist Karen Stratton

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

Here are the answers from Karen Stratton, who works in the City Clerk's office and is the former executive assistant to former Mayor Mary Verner:

1. What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve your top priority?

I want to ensure that the residential character of Northwest Spokane is preserved and properly balanced with business development.  I have lived in the Audubon Park neighborhood for over 20 years. Our home is close to the downtown core; Riverside State Park and Downriver Golf Course. Audubon Park and the Dwight Merkel Complex are within walking distance from my house. Small businesses have established themselves along Northwest Boulevard and the neighborhood has become a place where one can enjoy a long walk in the park, a bike ride along the river or a cup of coffee or lunch at the neighborhood café. However, as development continues on the Five Mile Prairie and to the west toward Suncrest, there has been a corresponding increase in traffic on the arterials within District 3 which threatens the pedestrian and bicycle-friendly activity in the area. I hope to preserve the residential character with careful attention to traffic planning and support for traffic calming endeavors.

Read on to find out her positions on police reform, taxes, parking meters and more.

Q&A with council finalist Kitty Klitzke

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

Here are the answers from Kitty Klitzke, the Eastern Washington program director for Futurewise:

1. What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve your top priority?

Lift people out of poverty and into self sufficiency.

A look at the demographics of Spokane and the demographics of my district makes this question easy to answer. Spokane has a high rate of poverty, especially in my current neighborhood and the area of Spokane I grew up in. This holds our whole city back. With everything I work on I will look for opportunities that lift Spokane’s people who are poor out of poverty.  Economic development and growing our
local higher education programs is important. We need more jobs, better jobs and access to quality skills training. But the working poor also need affordable housing, transportation, and childcare if they are to have any hope of accessing jobs.

Poverty is a complex issue. I have been involved in Priority Spokane and its Community Indicators Project from the beginning and recently the group identified mental illness as one root cause of poverty and homelessness in Spokane and chose it as the top issue to address. I look forward to working with Priority Spokane and local experts and stakeholders as a council member as they gather and track available data, find solutions and create new community indicators to measure progress. I will do everything I can to support the effort. Helping people whose mental illnesses keep them in poverty to gain access to treatment, safe housing and services that help them get back on their feet must be a goal in a city with our demographics and where loitering and panhandling gets so much attention.

Read on to find out her positions on police reform, taxes, parking meters and more.

Q&A with council finalist E.J. Iannelli

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

E.J. Iannelli, a freelance writer and chair of the Emerson Garfield Neighborhood, declined our request to participate in this Q&A.

Instead, he provided the following statement:

“Out of respect for the City Council’s application process, I am declining to answer your questions at this point in time. While my answers might provide voters with additional campaign information between a primary and general election, in this appointment process the value to decision makers is unclear. Had councilmembers deemed these topics decisive, they would have broached them during the public interview session. Many of your questions will be answered in due course should the City Council appoint me to the District 3 vacancy.”

Q&A with council finalist Julie Griffith

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

Here are the answers from Julie Griffith, a personal finance educator with Money Management International:

1. What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve your top priority?

My top priority will be to understand the progress and needs of the commissions, neighborhood associations and to address the most urgent and long-term needs of the city.  For any new council member there will be some time devoted to absorb as much information as possible from all sectors, most importantly the people you serve.  I have already started the process by meeting with department staff, small business owners, commercial real-estate developers, and my neighbors in District 3.

Read on to find out her positions on police reform, taxes, parking meters and more.
  

Q&A with council finalist Adrian Dominguez

Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.

Here are the answers from Adrian Dominguez, an epidemiologist with Spokane Regional Health District:

1. What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve your top priority?

My ultimate goal is to increase the health and well-being of all residents in the City of Spokane and to view all policy as health policy, regardless if a policy has a direct or indirect effect on health. We should be evaluating policy in terms of its impact on health, specifically concentrating on economic development, social opportunities, income, education, resources, and the physical environment. We should make it a priority that all residents in Spokane have a chance for success and increase their standard of living. This can only be achieved by engaging all community members and partners, which include residents, community centers, businesses, legislators, faith based-organizations, schools and universities, non-profit organizations, hospitals, and public health. We need to strengthen the individuals and communities role and voice in collaborative efforts that will lead to healthier communities. Much of my work as a researcher has involved organizing various groups to address complex and diverse issues. I have sought public input, worked closely with relevant city staff, consulted a broad variety of interest groups, and collaborated with other council members, the mayor’s office and other relevant officials in order to achieve community sourced solutions.

Read on to find out his positions on police reform, taxes, parking meters and more.

City Hall Scoop: Hoofing It

The gavel pounded not even 30 minutes into last night's Spokane City Council meeting, and Council President Ben Stuckart erupted at attendees for cheering and applauding. He called for a five-minute recess and warned the crowd that another “outburst” would send the rest of the meeting behind closed doors where no one would be allowed to testify.

The issue at hand: someone testifying in favor of repealing the controversial city ordinance passed last year that made it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks.

When he returned and the council was back in session, Stuckart said “the minute” the sit-lie law was passed, problems ceased downtown. Stuckart's right. Those problems, which reached a fever pitch last summer, have largely subsided, but activists find fault with law as a constitutional affront, not a safety measure.

City Hall Scoop: Plazas and Trolleys

The Spokane Transit Authority is its own government entity, but it got a good going over at last night's Spokane City Council meeting.

Two items passed by the council dealt with public conveyance: a resolution supporting the $5.8 million renovation of the STA Plaza, the downtown hub for public transportation; and a resolution supporting a trolley-like electric bus connecting Browne's Addition to Spokane Community College.

Both items had supporters, and both items found an enemy in George McGrath, who speaks at almost every council meeting during almost every public testimony. 

Read more after the jump.

PCB-conscious Spokane ends use of yellow agenda paper

Changes already are being made under Spokane City Hall's new focus on going PCB free.

Copies of the weekly advance City Council agenda, which traditionally have been printed on yellow sheets of paper to differentiate them from the current week's agenda, now are being printed on basic white paper. Council agendas for the current week are still being printed on blue sheets of paper.

The switch came after June 2 testimony about studies showing that yellow paints and dyes still contain trace PCBs, a cancer-causing compound that was banned by the United States in 1979. It still is found as a manufacturing byproduct, however, particularly in certain types of products and at higher allowable levels than what environmental regulators are mandating be cleaned out of the Spokane River.

Industrial and municipal waste accounts for only about 43 percent of the PCBs in the river. One of the potential sources of the other 57 percent of the toxic compound is from residual PCBs in everyday products that can get washed into river during rain storms and with melting snow.

Has the Dream of the ‘90s found its way to Spokane?

Spokane's latest push to expand urban farming opportunities had at least one councilman wondering if TV sketch comedians Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein might be lurking nearby.

“Sometimes when I'm reading this ordinance I feel like I've landed in an episode of “Portlandia,'” Councilman Mike Allen said during this week's debate over allowing small livestock such as goats, sheep and pigs to be raised in residential neighborhoods. “People are trying to create something that may or may not be good for an area.”

The urban farming plan was approved Monday night by the City Council and was described by supporters as a way of helping Spokane residents to embrace more sustainable lifestyles.

Allen, who raises chickens, supported plans to ease restrictions on growing and selling fruits, vegetables and produce in residential areas but opposed plans to allow backyard livestock, though he was out-voted.

Whether that means “The Dream of '90s” is now alive in Spokane remains to be seen.

 

Condon asks Police Guild for contract changes

Spokane Mayor David Condon is heeding the advice of Spokane City Council members who have pushed him to reopen contract negotiations with the Spokane Police Guild.

The mayor and guild agreed to a tentative four-year labor contract last fall, but that deal was rejected by the City Council in November. It was nearly rejected a second time in December before the council opted to delay a vote until Feb. 3.

City officials confirmed this week that administrators have sent proposed changes to the proposed contract to the mediator working with the city and guild. Condon met in a private session with the City Council on Monday to talk about negotiations with the guild. City spokesman Brian Coddington said he could not provide details on the city’s most recent proposal.

Early this year, City Council President Ben Stuckart sent a letter to Condon urging him to reopen negotiations to spare the council from rejecting the deal again.

New Spokane City Council casts first 4-3 votes

The new majority of the Spokane City Council flexed its muscles twice on Monday in the first 4-3 votes of the year.

Both votes rejected nonbinding efforts to back a state Senate bill designating energy produced at the city’s Waste-to-Energy Plant as renewable.

But council members who cast no votes say they generally support the legislation and were reacting to what they say was a rushed vote with no public notice.

The city has been pushing state officials for years to designate the energy produced at the incinerator as renewable. Energy labeled renewable can garner higher prices, and energy produced at the Waste-to-Energy Plant used to have the renewable classification. The proposal has been in the city’s official lobbying agenda the last few years, including the one that was unanimously approved by the council late last year.

The new 4-3 majority – council members Ben Stuckart, Candace Mumm, Jon Snyder and Amber Waldref – rejected a plea from Councilman Steve Salvatori to rush a vote on a nonbinding resolution supporting the Senate bill. The legislation, introduced by state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, will get a hearing in Olympia on Thursday.

Because the City Council nonbinding resolution wasn’t introduced until today, it didn’t appear on the council’s agenda and needed five votes to be considered.

Snyder on signature: I’m left-handed

Yesterday, I asked readers to guess which Spokane leader uses this signature.

It belongs to City Councilman Jon Snyder. The above example comes from this letter.

Snyder claims the signature is simply a big J.

Me: “Is it a backward J?”

Snyder: “I'm left-handed.”

He says the simplified signature is the result of laziness, not an attempt to make a statement. It's illegibility came in handy about 15 years ago, he said, when he was the target of identity thieves who forged his signature in a way that was legible.

Since it isn't likely to affixed to dollar bills any time soon, don't expect it to change.

Guess which elected official uses this signature

Hint: It belongs to a Spokane City Council member.

(The three dots that are at the bottom of this image are not part of this official's signature.)

Stuckart relents on supermajority rule

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart will soon be handing out duties to the city’s six other council members.

The Spokane City Council on Monday unanimously agreed to give Stuckart the power to chose which members serve on what boards.

But Stuckart abandoned his proposal to require a supermajority vote to make future changes in the rules for how the council governed.

Each January, council members are assigned to sit on a variety of boards, including those that govern the city park system, the Spokane Transit Authority and the Spokane International Airport.

The change returns the rules to how they worked until the council revoked that right from former council President Joe Shogan.

Even though Stuckart will select a slate of council members to fill positions, the council still must vote on his picks. He said the process won’t change much.

Richard Rush returning to Spokane City Hall

Richard Rush is returning to Spokane City Hall.

After being tossed from office two years ago by Mike Allen, who won by just 88 votes, Rush has been hired by new Councilwoman Candace Mumm to serve as her full-time staff aide.

Mumm called Rush, 62, a logical choice for the job.

“He's very qualified for the position,” she said Monday night following her swearing-in ceremony in council chambers. “We'll be able to get to work immediately.”

Rush served on many of the same city committees Mumm expects to serve on, and has a strong background with Spokane's various neighborhood councils.

Each city council member gets a staff assistant. Next month, the aides will become full-time city employees under the budget deal approved in November, and will be paid $34,181 a year, which is slightly more than council members receive. Currently, the aides are paid $25,635 as part-time employees.

Rush was a sometimes-divisive council member who wasn't afraid to float controversial ideas or buck the administration despite his overall support for Mayor Mary Verner, who was beat by David Condon in the same election that Rush lost to Allen.

Rush once suggested, for example, that the city should get rid of its utility tax — one of the highest in the state — and replace it with a local income tax, which would be impossible without a change in the state constitution. He also complained during the Otto Zehm fiasco that it appeared the council was being given only “filtered” information from the city attorney's office about the case.

Council delays police votes

The Spokane City Council voted late Monday to delay a police ombudsman ordinance and a labor contract with the Police Guild in a pair of voice votes.

The city clerk this morning confirmed that the vote to defer the ombudsman ordinance passed 5-2 with council members Nancy McLaughlin and Jon Snyder voting no. The vote to defer the contract passed 4-3 with McLaughlin, Snyder and Councilman Mike Fagan voting no.

Both issues were deferred until Feb. 3 to give more time for parties to reach an agreement that meets language of a voter-approved city charter amendment calling for independent ombudsman investigations of police wrongdoing.

 

 

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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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