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Audience comments during the Spokane City Council’s debate over adding gender identity to local civil rights protections were at times so graphically vile that Councilman Jon Snyder suggested it was evidence of why the ordinance is necessary.
Former state Rep. John Ahern, for example, warned of increased rapes and other violent crimes that he believes would escalate if men dressed as women were allowed to use public restrooms. Another audience member described cases of sexual torture that included setting victims on fire. A woman who drew a mustache on her face and dressed as a man (pictured) took to the podium to declare that America is becoming “a country run by idiots.”
The proposal was approved Monday night on a 5-2 vote, with several councilmen calling the tenor of the testimony “offensive.” Among them was Councilman Mike Allen, who opposed the measure on technical grounds but joined others in expressing disappointment over some of the more vicious comments made by audience members.
Allen said he’s worried that by adding local protections, which already are provided under state law, it would open the city to litigation if lawsuits ever arose over something like equal access to school locker rooms. He said he’d prefer to let the state pick up the tab for that kind of legal fight.
The proposal also added local prohibitions against discriminating based on military status and disabilities. It was proposed by the city's Human Rights Commission. A video of Monday night's meeting can be seen here. The gender identity issue is toward the end.
A recount that couldn’t change the winner also didn’t change the vote totals.
Last week, Spokane City Council candidate John Ahern paid to have a partial recount in his race against incumbent Jon Snyder.
Ahern, a former state representative, lost the race by 5,669 votes in a margin that was nearly 2-to-1 in favor of Snyder.
The recount was completed today. Officials said the four precincts that he requested to be recounted by hand, which included about 1,600 ballots, were counted accurately the first time by machine.
If the machine count had been wrong, Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said last week that changes could not have changed the winner because Ahern had not request enough votes to be recounted to make up the difference.
Former state Rep. John Ahern, who lost his race against incumbent Councilman Jon Snyder by a nearly 2-to-1 margin is questioning how he could have performed so poorly.
Ahern is requesting a partial recount in the race just to “double-check” the accuracy of the ballot counting.
“I doorbelled a little over 10,000 homes,” Ahern said. “I got a very good reception from just about everybody.”
A Spokane City Council candidate who lost big in his attempt to unseat incumbent Councilman Jon Snyder is demanding a recount.
John Ahern, a former state representative, sent a letter to the Spokane County Auditor’s Office on Monday requesting that four precincts be recounted. A check for $429.50 was attached. That’s a quarter for each of 1,718 ballots that he wants recounted.
County Auditor Vicky Dalton says candidates have the right to pay for a recount even if a race isn’t close. Ahern probably will end up paying closer to $1,500 because state law says that he has to pay the full cost of a recount.
The flood of money into Spokane City Council races is accompanied by campaign accusations flowing to the state agency that oversees election spending.
In the last week at least four complaints have been filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission about Spokane races.
In the aftermath, a political action committee has acknowledged that it did not file proper campaign reports.
The Spokane Republican Party this week accused Citizens for Honest Government, a political action committee that supports the campaigns of Jon Snyder and Candace Mumm, of not properly reporting its spending.
Snyder, an incumbent, is running against former Republican state Rep. John Ahern for a seat representing south Spokane. Mumm is running against Michael Cannon for a seat representing northwest Spokane.
Melissa Carpenter, Citizens for Honest Government’s treasurer, said Thursday that the PAC did not intend to hide any expenditures and that it would “take steps to rectify the situation immediately.” She also noted that the PAC reported the expenditures on other reports to the PDC.
Rules require that PACs to report much of their spending on behalf of candidates within 24 hours. But Citizens for Honest Government didn’t report how it spend nearly $50,000 until it filed a required summary report earlier this week.
In the KSPS debate that aired earlier this month on KSPS City Council candidate John Ahern spoke in confusing terms about the area served by the city's Fire Station No. 9 on the South Hill. So confusing, apparently, that Spokane County Fire District No. 9 has issued a clarification:
Here's a portion of the district's press release sent today from Fire Chief Jack Cates:
In his rebuttal, John Ahern stated that “another area I think we really need to shore up is Fire District 9.” Furthermore he felt that that area was only half-staffed at this time and indicated he had been knocking on doors talking to taxpayers in that area. The context of Mr. Ahern’s rebuttal appears to indicate that he was actually referring to the area around the old Fire Station 9 on the south hill area in the City of Spokane. He even referred to the Eagle Ridge neighborhood near Highway 195.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that Candace Mumm topped all the candidates for Spokane’s Northwest City Council seat. Her two main opponents lean Republican and were bound to split the vote.
Topping 50 percent in a four-way race, however, is a win of sorts for her and clearly puts her as the front-runner for November.
On the other hand, Mumm was actively involved in this campaign:
So we assume Mumm knows that she can’t take Tuesday’s win for granted.
That's because for one, summer turnout is low and few are paying attention. For another, the votes for third-place finisher Curtis Fackler are likely to go to Mumm’s November opponent, Mike Cannon. Perhaps most importantly, the race is likely to have an unprecedented amount of attention for a single City Council election, making it hard to know where the race goes from here.
Virginia Graham watches as Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill extending the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases.
A bill that extends the statute of limitations on child sex crimes to allow charges to be filed until the victim turns 30 was signed into law Thursday afternoon. The
In one hand, Graham held a handkerchief that moved frequently to her face, dabbing tears as Inslee signed the bill and ceremonial pens were passed out. In the other, she clutched tight to a pair of purple and white rosaries that wound around her palm…
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A pair of Republicans will compete against a former Democratic legislator for a newly open seat in the state House in Spokane’s 6th Legislative District.
Larry Keller, the superintendent of the Cheney School District and Spokane attorney Jeff Holy will try to keep a seat Rep. John Ahern’s seat in Republican hands while Dennis Dellwo will try to return to the Legislature after a 16-year absence, and in a new district.
Ahern, who as recently as last Tuesday said he planned to run for re-election, announced over the weekend he will step down at the end of this term but may run for Spokane City Council next year.
Democrats will give voters a choice in at least one race in the 6th Legislative District.
Former state Democratic state Rep. Dennis Dellwo filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission last month announcing a bid to challenge Republican state Rep. John Ahern.
Democrats had success in the 6th District, which surrounds central Spokane on the south, west and north, in 2006 and 2008. But they lost all three seats in 2010 and redistricting may have shifted the district more toward the GOP camp.
Dellwo, 66, served 13 years in the Legislature serving the 3rd District. He was first elected in 1982. He left in 1996 to take a position on the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board. He said he moved into the 6th District a three years ago and lives near Polly Judd Park on the South Hill.
OLYMPIA – About half of the 15 members of the Spokane-area legislative delegation have volunteered for the same level of pay cuts the imposed on state workers. That’s a level slightly better than legislators statewide.
Many who have done it, like Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, say it’s a personal decision.
“As a businessman, the buck starts and stops with me,” said Parker, who owns a chain of coffee shops. “It’s the same with us as legislators.”
Parker’s seatmate in Spokane’s 6th District, Republican John Ahern, said he doesn’t plan to ask for a pay cut, but he is donating 3 percent or more to charities, ranging from his church and the Boy Scouts to organizations that oppose abortion like Teen-Aid.
“This way I know exactly where the money is going,” Ahern said. If he took a pay cut, the money would stay in the state’s general fund, and go to state programs or agencies he doesn’t support….
OLYMPIA — With the Legislature a full week in the books, the group WashingtonVotes, has released its annual statistics about the number of bills introduced and passed, the votes taken…and the votes missed.
Topping the list of missed House votes was Rep. Larry Crouse, R-Spokane Valley, which was a surprise initially because Crouse is usually far down in that tally. He missed 143 votes in the just-finished regular and special sessions, because of medical problems.
“In the past 16 years, I don't think I missed that many votes, total,” Crouse said Thursday.
He had back surgery last October, and his back started acting up again after the session started. “It was miserable,” he said. “It got so bad that I h ad to schedule surgery again. I didn't have a choice.”
He scheduled it for May, which would have been after the session, had the Legislature finished on time. Instead, the surgery fell in the middle of the special session. He made it in several days while recuperating, but otherwise stayed away.
“I was in contact, on the phone, with leadership. If they needed me there, I would be there,” he said. As it turned out, there weren't many 714 roll call votes in the House that were close.
No. 4 on the list of missed votes for House members was John Ahern, R-Spokane, with 66 missed votes. Ahern returned to the Legislature after a term off, and had better voting attendance in previous sessions.
“I had a couple of family emergencies, two hospitalizations,” he said Thursday. First his wife was ill, then his son was in a car accident, and he was back in Spokane for those votes. He said he enterred in the House record how he would have voted, had he been there.
Topping the Senate list was Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, who told the organization many of the 120 votes he missed were a result of being away for the unexpected death of his father. Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, was second with 79 votes. Some were a result of the “unforeseeable conflicts due to the nature of special sessions,” he said, while others occured during votes that weren't close and he chose to be off the floor “to meet with constituents who have come to see me.”
Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, missed 36 of the 648 Senate votes cast, and Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, missed 30. But that put them 10th and 13th from the top, respectively.
Some Spokane-area legislators had perfect scores. In the House, Republicans Joel Kretz of Wauconda, Joe Schmick of Colfax; Matt Shea of Spokane Valley, and Shelly Short of Addy, as well as Democrats Andy Billig and Timm Ormsby, made every roll call vote. So did Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville.
Having a perfect voting record in the Senate is a bit more difficult, because senators have to be present to vote by voice when the roll call is taken. The House votes by machine, in a very short allotted time, and it is possible for a representative who is off the floor to leave instructions with a seatmate which button to push.
But representatives do have to be in the chamber that day. They can't call in a vote from Spokane after watching the debate on TVW.
Other fast facts from Washingtonvotes.org: Legislators introduced 2,093 bills and passed 444.
There's a break in the legislative action this weekend, so several Spokane-area legislators will be back in their home districts to hold town hall meetings.
The break is a result of the Legislature passing a major deadline for voting bills out of one chamber, and not yet reaching a key point in crafting the next biennium's budget, the state economic forecast which comes out March 17. Because of that, neither house is in session this weekend, so it's a good time for legislators to head home for a few days, and Saturday seems like a good day for town hall meetings.
Here's a list of what's scheduled for Saturday.
6th Legislative District
Sen. Mike Baumgartner, Reps. Kevin Parker and John Ahern
10:30 a.m. Northwood Middle School gymnasium, 13120 N. Pittsburg St.
2 p.m., Education themed town hall at Northwood Middle School library, 13120 N. Pittsburg St.
5 p.m. town hall at the MAC, 2316 W. 1st Ave.
OLYMPIA — The House removed time limits on prosecuting pedophiles, allowing charges to be brought long after victims become adults.
With a unanimous vote, the House approved HB 1647, which eliminates the statute of limitations on the most serious child sex crimes, and extends it to 10 years for certain sexual assault cases involving adult victims. The bill's sponsor, Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, said the change will give closure to victims and act as a deterrent to child rapists.
Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said that may be true for some victims, but noted sex assault convictions can be difficult even when reported promptly: “We will create some hopes that will be dashed by a prosecutor or maybe a jury.”
The bill now moves to the Senate.
Tonight’s annual televised Chase Youth Commission debate will have a noticeably absent candidate: John Ahern.
While Ahern has appeared with his opponent, incumbent Democratic State Rep. John Driscoll, at several other forums, Ahern also missed last month’s debate sponsored by the League of Woman Voters of the Spokane Area. That event was the only other televised forum that would have featured the two side-by-side.
Click on the image to get to the PDC’s interactive map on legislative campaign spending.
A Spokane legislative district is tops in the state for money raised by candidates, and near the top for spending that money before the August primary.
The 6th Legislative District – which curves around central Spokane’s core from the Whitworth and 5 Mile arreas to the South Hill – is often a pricey political battleground. Its last three state Senate races have been the three most expensive Senate races in state history, with the 2008 contest between Democrat Chris Marr and Republican Sen. Brad Benson at the very top of the list with nearly $818,000 spent for a seat that pays just over $42,000 per year.
This year is likely to follow that trend …click to go inside the blog and read the rest of this story or leave a comment.
Former Republican state Rep. John Ahern said today that his former Republican opponent, Shelly O’Quinn, called him on Monday to congratulate him on his second-place finish.
Ahern said he’s grateful O’Quinn, who finished third, ran for the seat and that she made him a better candidate.
O’Quinn told Ahern that she will not be able to make a formal endorsement in the race for the November election because of her job with Greater Spokane Inc., the region’s Chamber of Commerce, Ahern said.
Ahern said he plans to take O’Quinn to lunch next week at the Chalet Restaurant, near 29th and Grand Boulevard.
“I’m going to encourage her to run for another office,” Ahern said.
Ahern faces the top finisher in last week’s primary, incumbent Democrat John Driscoll, in the general election race for state House representing the 6th Legislative District.
Here’s more on attempts to unify the parties after last week’s primary.
Shelly O’Quinn’s legislative race, like nearly every political race worth a darn, may be leaving some supporters with hard feelings, nagging questions and what ifs.
Wednesday’s ballot count showed O’Quinn has no real hope of moving out of third place, which is no doubt vexing to supporters who believed she was a candidate with great potential to be a rising GOP star. While they try to figure out why she lost, some apparently have come up with a theory that it was Democratic perfidity that helped do her in.
The theory, recounted by one supporter, is that Democrats were afraid that freshman incumbent John Driscoll would have a much harder time in the general against O’Quinn than John Ahern. There’s some logic to that speculation:
Driscoll beat Ahern, a well-entrenched encumbent, two years ago, so history is on their side.
Ahern outpolled O’Quinn, but she outspent him.
The Gallatin Group, a regional public affairs organization that has people who follow politics the way others follow Gonzaga basketball, opined as such in an election eve epistle titled “Pondering Politics in the Inland Northwest”: Here’s our prediction. In an Ahern vs. Driscoll match-up, Driscoll wins. However, the Gallatin office is split in our prediction that if O’Quinn manages a win tomorrow the seat will return back to its Republican roots with an O’Quinn victory in November against Driscoll.
So wily Democrats could try to sway the outcome of the primary by voting for Ahern now, then switching to Driscoll in November. Or so the speculation goes.
Speculation is one thing. Facts are something else.
One, it assumes Democrats are organized enough to hatch the plan, and execute it by having willing Driscoll voters cast ballots for Ahern. Democrats have shown themselves to be anything but organized this year. Were they that organized, they’d have fielded candidates in the 4th, and recruited a congressional hopeful who could win at least one county in the 5th District.
B, it ignores the fact that Washington voters love to split tickets on their own.
Lastly, if there was some kind of plot that could overcome the ticket-splitting tendencies of the electorate, it would show up in the vote totals when comparing the votes for the House race with those in the 6th District Senate race. Democrat Sen. Chris Marr pulled down about 2,000 more votes than fellow Democrat Driscoll, while Ahern and Quinn combined for about 4,000 more votes than Republican Senate hopeful Mike Baumgartner. Considering that Marr and Driscoll have similar voting histories that would attract the same partisan support, if something fishy is going on, a pattern would likely emerge. Ahern would consistently do much better in precincts that Marr won handily as Democrats crossed over to vote for him to help Driscoll down the road; O’Quinn would consistenty run stronger in precincts where Baumgartner ran far ahead of Marr.
As the maps below show, that ain’t what happened. At least not consistently.
Setting aside the fact that there were much bigger swings in the Marr-Baumgartner race, which is common in a two-person contest, what happened was this: Ahern did very well in some of the precincts where Baumgartner did very well, but O’Quinn also ran strong in some strong Baumgartner precincts. And both had successes and failures in precincts that Marr won handily.
What the maps show more conclusively is that Ahern won because he won more of those same Republican-leaning precincts that Baumgartner won, and by bigger margins. It’s a pretty simple equation. Win more votes in more places, and you win the election.
After last night, it looks like it will be round two for John Driscoll and John Ahern as they appear likely to advance to the November election.
At the Democratic Party celebration last night, Driscoll said he would start today reaching out to supporters of the third place finisher, Republican Shelly O’Quinn. Driscoll took the seat from Ahern two years ago in a vote so close it had to be recounted.
Driscoll, who won 41 percent of the vote, told the crowd that he’ll need to gain 9 percentage points to win in November.
“We’ve got to take those from Shelly O’Quinn followers, and we’re going to start tomorrow,” Driscoll said as he addressed the crowd at the Democratic celebration at Hamilton Studios.
At an election party last night for O’Quinn and candidates for county office, Chris Bugbee and Steve Salvatori, O’Quinn wasn’t conceding.
“Obviously, I was disappointed. It still can go either way,” she said.
O’Quinn was reluctant to say who she will back for November if her third-place finish doesn’t change.
“I’m willing to support the candidate who will put Washington on the right track,” O’Quinn said.
Reporter Tom Clouse contributed to this report.
A fourth in a series of videos of Rep. John Driscoll and former Rep. John Ahern giving their thoughts on election issues is now available at spokesman.com.
The two are campaigning for a House seat in the highly competitive 6th Legislative District. Driscoll, a Democrat, won the seat against Ahern, a Republican, two years ago in a close battle.
A third candidate, Republican Shelly O’Quinn, declined to be filmed when she was interviewed by The Spokesman-Review.
It’s the case of the unknown videographer, and it highlights the tension between the campaigns of John Ahern and Shelly O’Quinn.
A low-tech video of O’Quinn speaking to the Friday Morning Republican Breakfast Club was posted on YouTube on May 4. O’Quinn said she was unaware she was being filmed.
O’Quinn and Ahern are competing against incumbent Democrat John Driscoll in next month’s primary for a state House seat representing the 6th Legislative District.
“It’s not the content that bothers me,” O’Quinn said in an interview earlier this month. “It’s the fact that it was taken under the table.”
The clip shows O’Quinn standing before the group and giving some of her opinions on the environment and abortion.
But when the video was first posted, it included a picture of O’Quinn’s campaign logo with a President Obama logo superimposed on it, O’Quinn said. She called Ahern and told him that the video violated election rules.
“The whole point of the video was to say I was not Republican enough,” she said. “I have chosen to run a positive campaign in spite of the way they chose to run their campaign.”
Ahern said the video was not from his campaign.
“She threatened me with (Public Disclosure Commission) violations,” Ahern said. “I don’t respond very well to threats.”
Ahern said he agreed, however, to make some inquiries and he asked some people he knew to take down the video if they were responsible. The video was taken off of YouTube soon after. But it soon was reposted without O’Quinn’s or Obama’s logos.
Ahern said he suspects he knows who posted it, but he declined to name him or her and said people have a free speech right to post candidate comments. He also questioned why O’Quinn remains concerned that the video remains on YouTube.
“She shouldn’t be concerned about it. It’s her own voice,” he said. “She could pick up some votes from that I would think. Then again, she could lose some, too.”
There have been no debates for one of the most contested primaries in Eastern Washington, the race for a state House seat representing the 6th District.
The one debate that was scheduled for incumbent Democrat John Driscoll and Republicans Shelly O’Quinn and John Ahern was cancelled after Driscoll and Ahern decided not to participate.
O’Quinn sent a news release criticizing both her opponents for not appearing at The League of Women Voters of the Spokane Area forum on July 13.
“While their reluctance is a testament to the momentum that this campaign has developed, it is unfortunate that the voters will not have the opportunity to see the candidates next to one another talking about the issues,” she said in her news release.
Ahern said he decided not to show up after he got word that Driscoll wasn’t going to be there. He said he questioned if O’Quinn would participate because O’Quinn earlier declined to participate in video interviews with The Spokesman-Review.
“She might just get scared and not even show up for the forum,” Ahern said. ”That definitely went through my head.”
He said he attended a campaign event in Spokane Valley instead.
“There was uncertainty whether she would show up or not,” Ahern said. ”I decided I got better things to do.”
John Ahern’s campaign released this form Wednesday after Bob Apple denied endorsing Ahern. Both Ahern and his campaign manager, Josh Kerns, said they witnessed Apple signing it last year at the county fair.
The top of the form is quite clear: “I endorse John Ahern for State Representative in the 6th District, position 2. By signing below, I give permission to Citizens for Ahern to use my name in campaign materials for the 2010 election. Your contact information will not be shared with anyone outside the campaign. Thank you for your support!”
The campaign blocked other names and Apple’s contact information before releasing the document.
So far, Apple’s opponents in the race are Spokane Indians Baseball Club President Andy Billig and social worker Louise Chadez.
In an interview this morning, Billig said Apple’s endorsement is “surprising,” but that he had no further comment about the issue.
We pause in the middle of this year’s election season to bring you a preview of next year’s.
There’s could be an interesting Republican primary in Spokane’s 6th Legislative District.
Former Rep. John Ahern has talked about wanting a rematch ever since he lost to Democratic challenger John Driscoll last November by 74 votes. He’s even raised a little money, despite the fact that the election is out beyond most people’s horizon, and picked up backing from some county GOP leaders.
But Wednesday, Shelly Maak O’Quinn, a fresh face in the Republican ranks, said she’d run for the seat also.
O’Quinn, who has worked for the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, Habitat for Humanity Spokane Neighborhood Action Plan and the World Affairs Council, can count on support from at least one GOP “name.” She’s the executive director for the Nethercutt Foundation, and has the support of her boss, former Rep. George Nethercutt.
This could get interesting.