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Ethics panel delays review of French

A review of city Councilman Al French’s work on bus bench advertising rules was delayed again Wednesday.

For the second meeting in a row, the Spokane Ethics Committee did not reach a quorum.

This week, two people filed complaints alleging that French’s successful effort to change city law to allow bus bench advertising was aimed at helping out a business client who is a part owner in an advertising company.

In August, French filed his own request to the Ethics Committee to review the issue. French has denied a conflict of interest, saying his goal was to continue to provide bus stop seating without a cost to taxpayers.

At the time of the bench debate earlier this year, French was performing architectural work for Thomas Hamilton, co-owner of Emerald Outdoor Advertising, on an apartment complex in Airway Heights. Creative Outdoor Advertising of Jupiter, Fla., won the new contract over Emerald, which previously provided bench ads in the city, and other firms that bid.

Two seats on the seven-member body are unfilled and only two of the Ethics Committee’s other members appeared at Wednesday’s meeting. Assistant City Attorney Mike Piccolo said anyone interested in joining can contact the mayor’s office at (509) 625-6250. The committee is next scheduled to meet Jan. 6.

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Freeman students march in unity to honor memory of slain classmate Sam Strahan

UPDATED: 9:38 p.m.

Drenched in sunshine and a sharp spring wind, more than 70 students marched Friday out of Freeman High School behind a “Freeman Strong” banner to the same football field where they sheltered in fear last September following the shooting that killed 15-year-old Sam Strahan and injured three girls.