January 29, 1996 in Nation/World

Public Periscope

 
Tags:column

Figure this

If anyone has a handle on worker statistics for the city of Spokane, one would expect that to be Personnel Director Jim Smith. Not so, at least when it comes to some recently controversial figures for drug use among city workers … Earlier this month, Smith said - and this newspaper later reported based on his say-so - six city workers were fired in 1995 for failing random drug tests. Beep. Wrong answer … Turns out only three city employees were fired for failing their tests. Two others were fired for other drug-related offenses, and one was fired for actions that had nothing to do with drugs … Asked about the discrepancy last week when the city released the right numbers, Smith replied:”I don’t sit here with those numbers in front of me. I was not looking at the files” … Seems this problem with relaying accurate data is contagious. City Manager Roger Crum recently told the council that 10 to 15 employees were canned for drug and alcohol abuse last year. After the correct numbers were made public Thursday, Crum explained he misunderstood when Smith told him 10 to 15 people had failed tests. Turns out employees get a chance to redeem themselves after failing one test. Many never re-offend.

In case you’re wondering

Contrary to assertions of the community’s leading conspiracy fans, last Tuesday’s flip-flop of the two comic strips on the Letters page was not an attempt to trick conservatives into reading mind-destroying liberal propaganda. The typesetting gremlins just wanted to see “Mallard Fillmore” on the left for a change and “Doonesbury” on the right.

Levy leveling out

Property tax bills in Eastern Washington should

grow slower next year, in part because the state school levy won’t be climbing as rapidly. The levy, which pays for primary education around the state, has jumped 54 percent in Spokane County since 1991 … The rate of increase for the levy shows differences between property values on the east and west sides. In the 1980s, the Puget Sound rates jumped because real estate got much pricier over there. When values over here increased in the 1990s, we began paying a larger chunk of the bill - last year, alone, the state school levy increased 22.6 percent … The state will collect less from Spokane County for schools in 1996 and even though the levy rates aren’t set yet, the overall tax rate is expected to drop. The state has new limits on property taxes. Next year, local school districts also will have to collect less from property owners … This will probably be regarded as good news by homeowners, but school officials may be in for some serious belt tightening.

Something we never thought we’d see

We admit to doing a double take last week on a

press release from Rep. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho, saying she agreed with some animal rights types. OK, so they are Canadian activists, and they basically agree with her on the federal government’s wolf recovery. But still … Chenoweth and Friends of the Wolf both denounced the plan to relocate 30 British Columbian wolves to Idaho. Seems one wolf disliked the idea so much that it bit a captor, and was shot. Taking the side of the wolves, which had been chased, tranquilized, caged and placed in unfamiliar territory, Chenoweth suggested: “I would have bitten someone, too.”

Because you asked

E-mail from the Spokane Online Community is looking for someone in authority to answer three questions: Will it ever stop snowing? Will they ever plow my street? Will the city really try taxing the Internet? … Public Periscope makes no claim of authority but hazards the following responses: Yes, but not necessarily soon. Ditto. And quite possibly, so keep a close eye on council agendas in the coming weeks for a chance to be heard.

“Public Periscope,” published Mondays, is compiled by Jim Camden from staff reports.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: HOT TOPICS Thursday: Spokane County air pollution control board to discuss a law to phase out grass-field burning. 9 a.m., Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway. Friday & Saturday: Religious and community groups will discuss ways citizens can influence the legislative process as the federal government shifts social programs to the states. 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, St. John’s Cathedral, 127 E. 12th. Call 624-5156, mornings, for information.

This sidebar appeared with the story: HOT TOPICS Thursday: Spokane County air pollution control board to discuss a law to phase out grass-field burning. 9 a.m., Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway. Friday & Saturday: Religious and community groups will discuss ways citizens can influence the legislative process as the federal government shifts social programs to the states. 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, St. John’s Cathedral, 127 E. 12th. Call 624-5156, mornings, for information.

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