February 11, 2012 in City

Public safety tops mayor’s list

Condon identifies 21 items for immediate attention
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Spokane Mayor David Condon thanks the audience after it sang “Happy Birthday” before he delivered his 100-Day Action Plan address Friday at the Red Lion Inn at the Park. Condon’s 38th birthday was on Thursday.
(Full-size photo)

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Spokane Mayor David Condon unveiled his 100-day action plan on Friday with only 58 days left to complete it.

He began his list with public safety and returning confidence in the Police Department, which he said remains his priority.

“We aren’t going to wait around for the Department of Justice or others,” he said, referring to a city request for a federal review of the police department’s policies and practices. “I really think this community wanted us to start taking action immediately.”

Condon unveiled a list of 21 action items in a nearly 45-minute “inaugural address” at the Red Lion at the Park sponsored by Greater Spokane Incorporated, the area’s Chamber of Commerce.

Some of the ideas have been publicly known for weeks, including the creation of the Use of Force Commission to examine how officers use force. An officer was convicted in November of using excessive force against a man who died in police custody.

One new idea announced in Condon’s speech Friday is that police and firefighters will complete special training to deal with “vulnerable” populations, but Condon offered few details of the training. City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said the city’s police and fire chiefs currently are reviewing training options.

Other promises included:

• Forming a committee to advise the mayor on small-business issues, a promise he also made in his campaign last fall.

• Working with Spokane County officials to create a committee to analyze possible government consolidation opportunities.

• Assigning police officers to attend neighborhood council meetings.

• Creating a “one-stop customer service center” on the first floor of City Hall.

• Shortening the system for getting commercial permits.

Some of the initiatives are carry-overs from Mayor Mary Verner’s administration, such as shortening the permitting system. Some ideas have been around for decades, like government consolidation. Some are new, such as the small-business group.

The mayor has embraced proposed changes to the city’s permitting system that were proposed late in Verner’s administration. City Engineer Mike Taylor said it currently takes an average of 52 days from the time a customer submits an application for a commercial building permit until approval. The goal is to reduce the average time to 30 days.

That won’t be completed within the first 100 days of Condon’s administration, but the mayor promised two parts of the plan will be implemented. Each application will be assigned to one city staff member so there’s a consistent contact person, and each application will receive an initial review within 48 hours.

Taylor said a quick review at the start of the process can save a lot of time to spot obvious problems before much work is complete.

Condon said the city will analyze the city’s 1,600 pieces of real estate and consider selling some of it.

“I would rather have them on the tax rolls,” he said.

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