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Spokane

Council to take up public-private deals

Mon., March 9, 2009, midnight

An ordinance designed to prevent officials from entering into deals similar to the one that partnered the city with River Park Square in the late 1990s will be considered tonight by the Spokane City Council.

The rules were proposed last year by Mayor Mary Verner.

The city participated in the expansion of the mall, but the controversial deal soon soured and numerous lawsuits followed. The mall is owned by the Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

The proposal would create stipulations to be followed for any future public-private partnerships, including that a developer would have to provide an irrevocable letter of credit so taxpayers wouldn’t be left to cover shortfalls.

The council meets at 6 p.m. at Spokane City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

SEATTLE

Alaska Air, pilots near agreement

After more than two years of contract negotiations, Alaska Airlines says it has reached “an agreement in concept” on a four-year agreement with the members of its pilots’ labor union.

The Seattle-based airline says in a news release that negotiators from the company and the Air Line Pilots Association will meet starting next week to finalize the agreement language. Terms are being withheld pending final language.

The tentative agreement then will be presented to ALPA members for review and a ratification vote. Alaska has about 1,500 pilots.

Talks between Alaska and the union began in January 2007.

FLORENCE, Ore.

Whale washes up on Oregon beach

Marine mammal experts plan to examine a 40-foot whale that washed up on an Oregon beach near Heceta Head on Sunday.

Jim Rice, who coordinates a volunteer network that responds to stranded marine mammals, told the Oregonian newspaper that the group wants to learn why the whale became stranded – such as an injury or an illness.

The whale washed up near Florence earlier in the weekend, but waves refloated it Saturday night.

The state Department of Parks and Recreation says it appears to be a fin whale.

Its presence led the department to close Heceta Head State Scenic Viewpoint and the Devil’s Elbow beach.

TWIN FALLS, Idaho

EPA seeks changes to feedlot rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is withdrawing from two agreements with Idaho concerning the regulating of animal feedlots.

Ed Kowalski, head of EPA’s regional enforcement group, said confined-animal feeding operations have become a national priority with the agency and it plans to play a more direct role in inspection and enforcement.

The agreements concerning the state’s dairy and beef-cattle operations regulate such things as discharges of animal waste into state waters.

In a March 3 letter obtained by the Times-News newspaper, attorneys for the EPA say the agreements with the Idaho Department of Agriculture and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality limit the federal agency’s powers to monitor the industry.

The dairy agreement, a version of which was first signed in 1995, is scheduled to expire at the end of April. Kowalski said the beef-cattle agreement, which began in 2001, required a notice of 60 days, and it will end about the same time as the first agreement.

From staff and wire reports


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