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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Steve Salvatori

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.

Salvatori replacement will be able to hire a full-time assistant

Although soon-to-be former Spokane City Councilman Steve Salvatori famously gave up a full-time council assistant and made arrangements to send the $50,000 allocated for the position to worthwhile community causes instead, his replacement would still be able to hire one.

Turns out that $20,000 of the allocation earmarked for the University District Development Association has yet to be distributed, and now is being held back.

Council President Ben Stuckart said he and Salvatori already have discussed the need to suspend the distribution in case his replacement chooses to hire an assistant. Salvatori's last council meeting will be July 8 and the council is hoping to have a replacement selected by the end of August, which means it should be enough to cover the salary and benefits of an assistant for the remainder of the year.

Salvatori was a vocal critic of what he called “mission creep,” and pointed to growth in how much the council was spending on itself. The move to provide a full-time assistant for each council member beginning this year was one of his prime examples, and he noted that just six years ago the seven-member council all shared one assistant, then provided part-timers for each council member, adding healthcare benefits shortly after that, and expanding them to full-time this year.

He arranged with Stuckart to have the money allocated for his assistant be spent on homeless and youth services and economic development efforts. It landed both in front of the city's Ethics Committee earlier this month on allegations they failed to properly disclose Salvatori's connections to one of the groups. The ethics panel split 3-3 and dumped the complaints.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Stuckart, Waldref apologize for violations

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.

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.

Council adopts easier-to-enforce noise law

Testimony at Monday’s Spokane City Council meeting included the sounds of William Cruz on guitar and trumpet as some downtown buskers argued against proposed noise restrictions.

But Spokane City Council members said the new rules, which they approved 6-1, protect free speech while making the law easier to enforce when buskers or other sound makers infringe on other peoples’ rights.

The ordinance will replace a law that was approved in 2010 that required an officer to take a decibel reading of the noise in order to issue a violation. It bases most noise limits on how far away the sound can be heard, a standard that many other Washington cities use.

Performers or anyone else making sound on public rights-of-way such as sidewalks will be barred from making noise that is “plainly audible” 100 feet away if other factors are at play, such as if the noise is rattling windows or includes “heavy bass frequencies.” If a performer were playing between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. they also can't make noise that is “plainly audible” on adjacent private property. The distance limit for noise from private property was set at 50 feet or the property line, which ever is shorter.

Spokane City Councilman Steve Salvatori, who co-sponsored the ordinance with Councilman Mike Allen, said the 100-feet distance may the longest distance that any city in Washington allows for noise. He also stressed that the new law, unlike the old one, requires police officers to give offenders a chance to stop making the noise before issuing a citation.

“This is a kinder, gentler ordinance,” Salvatori said.

After his brief, amplified performance Cruz called the 100-foot limit “a joke.”

He and others argued that the standard is less subjective than using decibel readings and could open the city to lawsuits for infringing on people’s free speech rights.

Gonzaga law professor George Critchlow likened the ability of police to issue noise violations without a decibel reading to issuing speeding tickets without using a radar gun.

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.

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.

Council may ask WSU to save historic warehouse

A historic building slated for the wrecking ball could get a friend in the Spokane City Council.

Late last year, Washington State University-Spokane announced it would sell a 102-year-old warehouse called the Jensen-Byrd building so a development company could tear down the brick building and erect student housing.

Last month, the city-county Historic Landmarks Commission determined the building is eligible to be placed on historic registries. That will create procedural hurdles for tearing it down, but doesn’t prohibit demolition as long as a new building takes its place.

On Monday, the Spokane City Council will consider a non-binding resolution requesting that WSU reconsider the decision.

Councilman Steve Salvatori, co-sponsor of the resolution, said the structure is sound. 

“It could be an iconic, signature part of the campus,” Salvatori said. “It could be the most iconic, signature landmark on that campus.”

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

Kearney withdraws from Spokane City Council race, endorses Jones

The race for a City Council seat representing Northwest Spokane already is down to two.

Karen Kearney, chairwoman of the Balboa South Indian Trail Neighborhood Council, late last week withdrew her candidacy for the seat currently held by Councilman Steve Corker, who is running for City Council president.

The remaining candidates are Steve Salvatori, owner of the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center; and Joy Jones, program manager of Mentoring Children of Promise, a youth program run by Goodwill Industries.

Kearney said she decided to withdraw because of “family health issues.”

“Due to increases in demands upon my time outside of the electoral process, I cannot devote the time required for a successful campaign,” she said.

Two more file for Spokane City Council

Two candidates who previously said they would run for Spokane City Council formally took the plunge on Thursday morning.

Donna McKereghan, former chairwoman of the Logan Neighborhood Council, and Steve Salvatori, owner of the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center, filed paperwork to officially become candidates.

McKereghan joins a crowded field for the chance to take the seat representing Northeast Spokane. The position currently is held by Councilman Bob Apple.

Salvatori is running for the seat being vacated by Councilman Steve Corker, who has chosen to run for City Council president. Only one other candidate has filed to run for the position, which represents Northwest Spokane.

For the full list of candidates so far who have filed for Spokane city office, keep reading this entry.

Salvatori will run for city council, not mayor

Downtown businessman Steve Salvatori filed paperwork this month to launch a bid for Spokane City Council.

Salvatori, a Republican who run unsuccessfully for the Spokane County Commission last year, hopes to win the seat representing Northwest Spokane that will be vacated by Councilman Steve Corker. Corker announced late last year that he will run for City Council president.

Salvatori has been meeting with various city leaders in the last few months to explore bids for City Council, City Council president or mayor.

His paperwork announcing his run was filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission on Jan. 4.

Salvatori's campaign last year gained attention through numerous campaign signs with his picture that were pasted throughout downtown. Salvatori owns the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center and won signficant support from Spokane's business community in his run for county commission.

Salvatori concedes, says Holy could top French

In an e-mail to supporters on Friday, Spokane County commissioner candidate Steve Salvatori said a recount is likely in the primary battle for commissioner.

But he added that he doesn’t expect to be in the running.

“We made a valiant comeback effort on the Thursday ballot count, reducing our gap from 4 percent to 2 percent. But our hat is off to Jeff Holy, who did even better, and is now within 150 votes of Al French (we are 500 votes back). If the final ballots which will be counted Monday, hold true to their ratios from Thursday, Jeff will catch Al, and we will end up 300 – 400 votes behind. It looks like Jeff and Al may end up so close, that it may trigger a recount,” said Salvatori’s message to supporters.

The county election’s office will count almost all of the remaining estimated 10,000 ballots today. About 3,600 of those are in the county’s 3rd County Commissioner District where French, Holy and Salvatori were on the ballot along with Democratic incumbent Bonnie Mager, who easily won the primary and a spot on the November ballot.

French’s lead for second place over Holy fell from 434 to 158 from the first count on Tuesday to the most recent tally on Thursday.

To trigger a recount, French’s and Holy’s tallies must be within .5 percent of each other without considering the tallies of other candidates, said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton. As of Friday, 9,172 people had voted for either French of Holy. French had 4,665 of those votes, giving him 50.9 percent of the ballot that voted for him or Holy. Since Holy has only 49.1 percent of those votes, the gap currently is well above the .5 percent required for a recount.

If the gap falls below .25 percent, the ballots must be counted by hand.

Here’s a map showing the areas won by the GOP candidates in the primary.

To read Salvatori’s full message keep reading this entry.

GOP commissioner candidates split county

Second place in the Spokane County commissioner District 3 race seems up for grabs as the three main Republican candidates drew their strength from different parts of the district.

Incumbent Democrat Bonnie Mager won most  precincts, and Republican David Elton trailed the pack in most. After subtracting their votes out, we get a picture of an interesting split among Al French, Jeff Holy and Steve Salvatori.

Not surprisingly, French, a former Spokane city councilman from the Northeast Council District, ran strong in the City of Spokane’s northern precincts. Salvatori outpolled him in some of the heavier voting southern city precincts and Holy ran strongest in the southwest precincts of the county.

The general election is a new ballgame, however, because the entire county votes.

French ad on raceway sparks response from Salvatori

My in-laws were in town last week and asked, “Who is Al French?”

It was another indicator that French has been effective in getting his name out in the community.

With eight years on the Spokane City Council, French already had an advantage in name recognition — at least over his GOP rivals.

Now French has mailed a flyer that takes aim at his Republican competitors over the Spokane County Raceway. This morning, it sparked a response from Steve Salvatori, one of his Republican opponents who also hopes to represent the county’s 3rd Commissioner District. Salvatori accuses French of “deliberately” misstating his position.

The mailer shows two racecar drivers, one labeled Steve (for Salvatori) and one labeled Jeff (for Jeff Holy). The text says, “Steve says Zoom” and “Jeff says V-room.”

French’s ad says he’s the only GOP candidate that “says stop wasting tax dollars on a raceway.” In a Spokesman-Review questionnaire last month, French wrote that the county should “develop a strategy for getting the racetrack back into the hands of the private sector.”

The flyer is accurate if his point is that he’s the only Republican candidate currently advocating the sale of the track — at least based on the candidates’ responses to the newspaper survey. But the flier appears to exaggerate his opponents’ enthusiasm for the track. Here’s what Holy, the Spokane County Republican Party’s preferred candidate, told The Spokesman-Review about the raceway: ”I would not have purchased the racetrack when other essential services weren’t being adequately funded. It’s all about failing to make the priorities of government a priority. To protect county tax dollars, we now must avoid the mistake the city of Spokane made with the purchase and subsequent desperation sale of Playfair Race Course, where lack of adequate planning caused a multimillion-dollar loss.”

That’s a position that may be hard to equate to ”V-room.”

Here’s an excerpt from Salvatori’s news release: “The mailer implies that both Jeff Holy and I advocate spending tax payer dollars on the Spokane Raceway and that Al is the only republican candidate against it. I want to make clear that Mr. French is free to distribute as many mailers as he can afford, but he does not have the right to deliberately misstate the positions of his opponents.”

Salvatori says his position is to convert the track to “an enterprise fund. That would ensure it breaks even on an operating basis, and prevent any further outlay of taxpayer money.”

Republicans on the county commission bought the track in hopes of the raceway generating enough revenue to pay for its operations, but the track has thus far struggled to pay its own way.

To read all the candidates’ responses to The S-R’s questionnaire, click here.

(As a member of City Council, French supported the purchase of Playfair for sewage treatment and later fought the selling of the land, arguing that it should be used as a train-loading center to spark commerce. When that proposal didn’t gain support, French said he would support the sale of the land to a business.)

The race for county commissioner is one of the most competitive in Tuesday’s election. As the only Democrat, incumbent Bonnie Mager has the easiest path to the November election. If French’s campaign fliers are any sign, she also could benefit from her strong stance against the raceway. One of her recent mailers highlights her opposition to the track as well as her criticism of the cost of plans to replace Geiger Corrections Center.

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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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