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3rd District gathering Monday

The Third Legislative District's delegation will hold a gathering something between a town hall and a coffee klatch Monday afternoon.

Dubbed a “mobile office” meeting, Sen. Andy Billig and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli will be at Indaba Coffee, 1425 W. Broadway to give constituents a chance to comment or ask questions about legislation that affects the region. The three Democrats will be there from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Legislative town halls at the MAC today

The Museum of Arts and Culture will be a busy place this weekend for Spokane residents who want to ask their legislators what’s happening in Olympia.

As the 2014 session nears the two-thirds mark, legislators from the 3rd and 6th Districts have town hall meetings Saturday at the MAC, 2316 W. First Ave.

Democratic Sen. Andy Billig and Rep. Marcus Riccelli will have a meeting there from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Their district includes downtown, Browne’s Addition, the lower South Hill and neighborhoods as far north as Hillyard.

Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner, Reps. Kevin Parker and Jeff Holy will be in the same location from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Their district includes parts of northwest and south Spokane, the West Plains, Cheney and Airway Heights

Local legislators reaching out by phone

OLYMPIA — While Spokane-area legislators are spending most of their time for the next two months in Olympia,some are  are trying to keep in touch with constituents by shifting the standard “town hall meeting” from a place to a phone number.

Republican Reps. Kevin Parker and Jeff Holy from Spokane's 6th Legislative District, which has parts of south and northwest Spokane city and much of the West Plains, are having a one-hour conference at 6:30 p.m. tonight. conference. Constituents can call 1-800-759-5308 to listen and press the star key to ask a question.

The 7th Legislative District delegation, Sen. Brian Dansel and Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short, will have a joint teleconference on Feb. 3. Constituents can call 1-877-229-8493 and enter  112381 when prompted.

Prospects poor for highway package, GSI group told

OLYMPIA – Don't get your hopes up for new money to finish the North-South Freeway, a group of business, civic and political leaders from Spokane was told Wednesday.

The chances the Legislature will pass a package of big road projects paid by a gasoline tax are almost non-existent.

Some legislators blamed politics or the lack of support among Republican legislators from the Spokane area. Others blamed problems at the state Transportation Department. Some said a package can't make it out of the Legislature during the current abbreviated session. Others said any package that did would surely wind up on the ballot, where voters would reject it.

Together, they painted a bleak outlook for one of the top items – and by far the most expensive – on the Greater Spokane Inc. 2014 agenda as more than 80 local leaders arrived in Olympia for their annual three-day lobbying session. .  .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog. 

I’ll accept your challenge, Riccelli

PHOTO CAPTION: Marcus Riccelli, then a staffer for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, runs the 2009 Bloomsday with Cantwell. Picture provided by Riccelli.

I got an unusual news release yesterday from state Rep. Marcus Riccelli.

Riccelli, D-Spokane, announced that his New Year’s resolution is to run Bloomsday. He challenged me to do the same.

“Today, the first day of the new year, I am committing to running Bloomsday in 2014 and am challenging Spokesman-Review reporter Jonathan Brunt to do the same,” Riccelli said in a new release before mocking the eating and exercise habits of politicians and journalists. “I think that both of us can set a good example for our colleagues and the public by participating in Bloomsday.”

I was too busy watching my alma mater win the Rose Bowl to respond immediately.

Legislators at NE Community Center Wednesday

Legislators from Spokane's 3rd District will hold a “mobile office” session Wednesday afternoon at the Northeast Community Center.

Sen. Andy Billig, along with Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli, will be at the center, 4001 N. Cook St., from 3:30 to 5 p.m. to talk to constituents about concerns as the 2014 session approaches.

Just a guess, but some things about the special session that ended last week might come  up, too.

Budget impasse keeps Inslee out of Hoopfest

Inslee goes up for a rebound last January in pickup game at governor's mansion.

OLYMPIA — The Legislature has until Sunday night to pass a budget that would stave off a partial state government shutdown, but the impasse will keep Gov. Jay Inslee out of Hoopfest this weekend.

 An avid basketball player who arranged a pick-up game on Inauguration Day between his swearing in and the ball, Inslee put together a team last year when he was on the campaign trail. He had promised a contingent from the Spokane-area chambers of commerce that he'd bring a team to Hoopfest this year and vowed to double the wins from 2012… to two.

But that was in January, when it seemed like the Legislature had plenty of time in its 105-day regular session to agree on the 2013-15 operating budget. One regular session and 1.5 special sessions later, that budget deal remains elusive. If that deal is reached, both chambers will have to pass it and Inslee sign it before midnight Sunday to give the state the authority to spend money on certain programs and pay wages and benefits for many state workers.

“He is not going to be leaving town this weekend,” spokeswoman Jaime Smith said.

Team Inslee would have been down two players. State Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, was on the roster and he, too, is stuck in Olympia. They didn't sign up for the tournament, Smith said.

Spec Sess Day 29: Get ready for double overtime

OLYMPIA — The Legislature slid toward a second special session today with all sides agreeing they couldn't finish negotiating and adopting a two-year operating budget before time runs out in the first special session Tuesday at midnight.

Both chambers have passed an operating budget, but the two plans are so different that they would be difficult to reconcile even if there was general willingness to compromise and ongoing negotiations.

There isn't, and there aren't.

At the end of the regular session six weeks ago, Gov. Jay Inslee described the House and Senate as “light years apart.” Today House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said the gap has closed, but not nearlyl enough.

“We're still somewhere out in space,” Sullivan said of the differences.

Looking beyond Tuesday's special session deadline to another date on the calendar, the start of the state's fiscal year on July 1, the House passed a “bare bones” measure to continue work on existing capital construction projects. Without it, Capital Budget Chairman Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said, those projects would run out of  money on July 1 and work would stop. 

There were charges of Washington, D.C., style politics — about the worst insult one legislator can hurl at another in Olympia — as the two chambers dug in for an unknown number of days beyond Tuesday. It wasn't strictly partisan; some criticism involved members of one chamber dissing the other.

“The other chamber wants to take us right off a cliff,” Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, said during debate on the capital budget stop gap measure.

“There is no tolerance for shutting down the government. Let's don't play politics,” Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton said before voting for the same bill. Smith was forced to cut her speech short when Speaker Pro Tem Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, ruled her comments about playing politics went too far for the debate rules of the House.

In the afternoon, the Senate Ways and Means Committee held hearings on eight bills, including several tax proposals that would be necessary to pay for a wide range of education and social programs in the coming two-year fiscal period. Normal rules of the Legislature wouldn't allow those bills to move through both chambers in the day remaining in the current special session, so they offer discussion points for the next special session.

After hearing public testimony on the eight bills, the committee recessed until Tuesday morning to decide whether to pass them to the Senate floor, but not before Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, wondered aloud what Republicans who make up most of the Majority Coalition Caucus had in mind.

“It would be fairly helpful to know what the plan is,” Nelson said.

Inslee has said he will call a second special session to start Wednesday if legislators didn't pass an operating budget, a plan to improve the state's transportation system and toughen drunk driving laws in the first special session. None of those three has passed.

Spec Sess Day 16: Beyond halfway mark

OLYMPIA — The Legislature starts the second half of the special session with the pace it maintained through most of the first half… if standing still can be said to be a pace.

While much of the rest of the state returns from its three-day weekend, legislators have at least a four day weekend. There is nothing on their schedules in or around the Capitol. The Senate has a pro forma session — where a couple of members are on the floor for a brief run-through of routine business — at noon Wednesday. The House may have a session on Thursday.

It's likely there will be more politicians in Spokane today than in Olympia.

Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell each have public events — Murray's is on early childhood education and Cantwell's is on an item of the farm bill that helps farmers and school nutrition programs — and state Rep. Marcus Riccelli and state Sen. Andy Billig are joining a group at the Health District Building to talk about the recent ricin investigation.

House passes $8.4 billion Transportation Budget

OLYMPIA — House Democrats passed a two-year spending plan for the state's transportation system today, overcoming Republican objections about a controversial bridge over the Columbia River and the way tolls are set on roads and bridges.

Included in the bill is some $79 million for projects in Spokane County, including about $68 million for the North Spokane Corridor. In an amendment sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, before the final vote, any money saved in the next two years on that project will be held and spend on future portions of the longtime Spokane road project.

Transportation budgets are often bipartisan bills in the Legislature, but this proposal had several elements that caused some Republicans to balk. One is some $450 million for the Columbia River Crossing, a controversial bridge connecting Vancouver with Portland that critics say is poorly designed and too expensive, in part because of the inclusion of light rail capacity. Light rail exists on the Oregon side of the river, but not the Washington side.

The other is the delegation of the authority to set fees on bridges and toll roads to the Washington Transportation Commission, rather than requiring the Legislature to set them.

'It's a solid budget. It doens't have a lot of frills,” Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said.

Riccelli said it was a good budget for Eastern Washington, with money for transportation projects that help farmers and local businesses plus the “Safe Routes to Schools” program as well as the North Spokane Corridor.

But Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said some of the priorities were misplaced, by spending money for the State Patrol to set up traffic cameras to control speeders in some areas rather than hiring more troopers and only supplying partial money for the North Spokane Corridor rather than the whole project. “Clearly this budget needs a lot more work,” Shea said.

It will get more work. After passing on a 68-28 vote, the bill now moves to the Senate which has some different plans on how to spend the state's transportation money

Legislative town hall meetings in Spokane

Spokane-area residents will have chances to ask their legislators what’s going on in Olympia this weekend at several town hall meetings scheduled for Saturday.

Sen. Andy Billig, Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli, all Democrats from central Spokane’s 3rd District, have a 10 a.m. meeting at Shadle Park High School Auditorium, 4327 N. Ash, and a 2 p.m. meeting at Emmanuel Family Life Center, 631 S. Richard Allen Ct.

Sen. Mike Baumgartner, Reps. Kevin Parker and Jeff Holy, Republicans from northwest and south Spokane’s 6th District, have a 10 a.m. meeting at Lincoln Heights Elementary School, 3322 E. 22nd Ave.  

Not sure what legislative district you're in? For a detailed map of Spokane-area legislative districts, click here.

House passes election changes

OLYMPIA – Some would-be voters would have more time to register online, and younger ones could “pre-register” as early as age 16 under election law changes approved Thursday by the House.

Often by large margins, the House passed and sent to the Senate a handful of bills that supporters said will increase participation in elections. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here go inside the blog.

Some gas tax money for N. Spokane Corridor

OLYMPIA – A proposal to raise the state’s gasoline tax by 2 cents per year for five years and impose or hike other taxes would provide some $420 million for further work on the North Spokane Corridor.

The long-running road construction project – sometimes called the North-South Freeway – is one of five designated statewide “impact” projects in the Connecting Washington package proposed Wednesday by House Democrats, and the only one in the Spokane area. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.

Today’s fun video: Brown, Cantwell try comedy

 

Washington Democrats got together recently to give out awards, and the prize for “Rising Star” went to former legislative and congressional aide Marcus Riccelli, a current candidate for the state House of Representatives.

One might think that Democrats might want to hold off on proclaiming stardom until Riccelli actually beat Republican Tim Benn for that seat — imagine something akin to the political equivalent of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx — but apparently they believe the 3rd Legislative District is blue enough that winning the primary makes him a sure bet in November.

To mark the occasion, two of his former bosses, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and state Sen. Lisa Brown, performed a Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update” style tribute to Riccelli. While it has a few good lines and cute bits — notice the big map behind them is a state map — it makes clear that Cantwell and Brown should not quit their day jobs.

But wait a minute. Brown actually did quit her day job as Senate Majority leader, and the dominoes that fell, with Rep. Andy Billig running for her seat created the opening that Riccelli is trying to fill. So cancel that. Let's just say that when Brown figures out her next career, it probably won't be in standup comedy.

Benn secures spot on November ballot; Snyder endorses Riccelli

Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder ended his campaign for state House on Thursday and endorsed Marcus Riccelli in the November election.

Snyder conceded after the third day of counting in Tuesday's primary showed that Republican Tim Benn's hold on second place getting more secure.

Riccelli, a Democrat, was the top-vote getter in the race for an open House seat in Spokane's 3rd Legislative District. The top two candidates face each other in the general election.

The Spokane County Elections Office counted about 500 ballots in the race today. Out of the more than 24,000 ballots cast in the 3rd Legislative District, only about 1,500 are left to count.

In today's count, Benn's lead for second place over Democrat Snyder grew slightly to 426. His lead over former Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple, also a Democrat, increased to 565.

After the first day of counting, Benn, Snyder and Apple were within 100 votes.

The election's office won't resume counting until Monday.

2,000 votes left to count in tight Spokane House race

With only around 2,000 votes left count in Spokane's 3rd Legislative District, Republican Tim Benn nearly has a lock on a second-place finish to compete for a state House seat in the November election.

Democrat Marcus Riccelli easily topped the four other candidates running for the seat, but Benn and Democrats Bob Apple and Jon Snyder were within 100 votes of each other for the right to move on with Riccelli iin the general election after the first round of counting on Tuesday.

In Wednesday's count, Benn surged and now has a lead of more than 400 over Snyder and more than 500 over Apple. The third round of counting will be completed later today.

Mapping the vote: 3rd District House race

Marcus Riccelli is comfortably in first place in the 3rd District House race, but three candidates are bunched up in the race for second place and a spot on the general election ballot.

As this map shows, Riccelli owes his first place standing to doing well in the western and southern precincts of the district.  Bob Apple ran strong in the northeast portions of the district, which correspond closely to his old council district. Tim Benn won a few of his precincts big, and Jon Snyder was strongest in the precincts in or near his south Spokane Council District.

For a closer look at the map, check out the PDF file.


Documents:

Intriguing possibilities for Spokane House race

After an intense three-month campaign, the race for a state House seat representing central Spokane only revealed the first- and last-place finishers.

The three candidates in between will have to wait at least through the end of the week  – and perhaps through a round of recounting – to determine who will face top vote-getter Democrat Marcus Riccelli in November.

Two of the three possible challengers to Riccelli also are Democrats and offer intriguing general election matchups.

Former Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple, a Democrat and former Republican, appeals to some Republicans and even won the endorsement of the Spokane Home Builders Association during the primary. With a solid base of support in northeast Spokane, he could offer a formidable challenge to Riccelli – though he would have to massively step up his efforts to match Riccelli’s financial support and professional organization.

Current Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder holds nearly identical views on the issues as Riccelli and is popular with the Democratic Party, but faltered as the party’s establishment fell in line behind Riccelli, who was Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s choice. Republicans would struggle to choose between the two, and Snyder would have to successfully woo them to win.

Day care center co-owner Tim Benn, as a Republican and first-time candidate likely would have significant difficulty in a race against Riccelli, as shown in two-person races between Democrats and Republicans in the district, including Tuesday’s primary for state Senate between Democrat Andy Billig and Republican Nancy McLaughlin. Billig has a nearly 20 percentage point lead over McLaughlin, who has won big in her nonpartisan races for Spokane City Council.

Still trying to decide among Apple, Benn, Oyler, Riccelli and Snyder?

Tuesday is the last chance to mail your Washington primary ballot. If you live in central Spokane and are having a hard time deciding who to choose among the five candidates for the position 1 House seat in the 3rd Legislative District, try studying their stances on 15 issues in the following links:

Bob Apple

Tim Benn

Morgan Oyler

Marcus Riccelli

Jon Snyder

And here are their responses to one of the questions The Spokesman-Review questionnaire:

8. Do you support the legalization of marijuana for adults, including for recreational purposes? If not, do you support the legalization of marijuana for medical use? How would you address the conflict that currently exists between state law allowing marijuana for medical use and federal law banning it?

Governor’s race comes down to Hoopfest vs. Bloomsday

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee will be on the court Saturday at Hoopfest in a team that also includes Democratic state House candidate Marcus Riccelli.

Their team, the Evergreen Dream Team, will play its first game at 8 a.m. Saturday on Washington Street between Main and Riverside, according to a news release.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna already participated in a popular Spokane sporting event this year. He ran Bloomsday.

Waite drops out, endorses Snyder

Downtown Spokane businessman John Waite said Friday that he has decided not to run for the state House afterall.

Waite said earlier this month that he would run as a Democrat for the seat held by state Rep. Andy Billig, who is giving up his seat to run for state Senate.

With five candidates who have filed for the seat, Waite said he decided this afternoon that it already was too crowded and that the entry of former City Councilman Bob Apple would make the race more difficult because he was hoping for strong support in Apple's former council district in Northeast Spokane. Waite ran for Apple's seat last year.

Waite said he will support City Councilman Jon Snyder in the race because of Snyder's experience in small business and his work promoting sustainability.

“He fits my agenda as well as anybody,” he said.

Filing week is nearly here. Candidates take note

Everyone thinking about running for political office this year, take note: You have less than a week to make up your mind. Everyone talking about running and acting like they’re already a full-fledged candidate, take note: It’s not official until you file your paperwork and pay your fee.

Candidate filing week starts Monday morning, and ends when the office where that paperwork and fee must be deposited closes on Friday. Here’s a tricky part – because of budget cutbacks, some county elections offices close as early as noon on Fridays, others at 4 p.m., and some stay open until 5 p.m. Anyone planning to wait until the very last minute to build suspense would be wise to make a phone call to the appropriate office and check when that last minute is.

For some positions that’s the county elections office in the county seat; for others, it’s the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia. How do you know what goes where?

Go inside the blog to read more, or to comment.

Apple joins crowded field for Spokane House seat

The field to replace state Rep. Andy Billig is getting larger.

Former City Councilman Bob Apple today became the fifth person to say he will run for the Third Legislative District House seat that Billig is leaving to run for state Senate.

Apple, 56, joins Democratic candidates City Councilman Jon Snyder; downtown businessman John Waite; and Marcus Riccell, senior policy analyst to state Sen. Lisa Brown; and Republican candidate Tim Benn, a child day care center owner.

Apple left the City Council at the end of last year after finishing his second term. He was term limited from running again. He ran for the same House position in 2010 and finished third among four candidates in the primary.

A former roofer, Apple said he currently isn't employed and will be able to campaign full-time.

Apple is more conservative than many in the party. He opposed former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner's sustainability plan, for instance. He said he likely will vote against same-sex marriage in November, though he'll accept whatever the voters decide on that issue.

Waite questions labor’s backing of Riccelli

Candidates haven’t even officially signed up to run for office, but the contest for a state House seat representing central Spokane is heating up.

The race for the seat held by state Rep. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, already has attracted four candidates, in large part because Billig decided last week that he wouldn’t run for reelection as planned so that he could run for the state Senate seat held by Lisa Brown, who announced last week that she would not run for a new term.

The AFL-CIO’s Washington State Labor Council endorsed on Saturday Democrat Marcus Riccelli, Brown’s senior policy analyst, for Billig’s 3rd Legislative District seat without seeking the positions of other candidates.

Democratic candidate John Waite, who owns Merlyn’s Comics and Games, said the labor endorsement indicates that “elite, upper party leaders” are working to control the outcome.

“That’s absolutely, positively not my vision for how our democratic elections process should work,” Waite said.

The other two candidates who have announced their intentions to run are Republican Tim Benn and Democrat Jon Snyder, a Spokane City councilman.

Riccelli, who attended the labor council’s weekend convention where union leaders selected candidates they support in the August primary, said he’s “extremely proud” of the support he earned from the labor council.

Into endorsements

Washington candidates are scrambling to announce endorsements this week as filing week approaches.

The gubernatorial candidates are taking turns touting nods from “first responders.” Former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, the likely Democratic nominee, is in Spokane today to pick up the endorsement of Fire Fighters Local 29. They'll have a formal laying on of the hands at 2:15 p.m. at the union hall, 911 E. Baldwin.

Attorney General Rob McKenna, the all-but-certain Republican nominee, announced Monday that he'd been endorsed by the Washington State Troopers Association.

The State Labor Council weighed in over the weekend with its endorsements, which were, depending on one's point of view, strongly pro-Democrat or anti-Republican. The council is backing Rich Cowan against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the 5th Congressional District, and picked a D in eight of the other nine districts. For District 3 in Southwest Washington, they didn't have a good Democratic option, so they came out opposed to Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

In Spokane Legislative races, the labor council showed an ability to shift quickly to the winds of Sen. Lisa Brown's surprise retirement last week. endorsing Andy Billig for the now open Senate seat and Marcus Riccelli for Billig's former House seat. One problem with the quick turnaround: They misspelled Riccelli's name. Also on their list: Amy Biviano in the 4th District and Dennis Dellwo in the 6th.

Speaking of that potentially crowded 3rd District House race, Democratic leaders seem eager to jump in line behind Riccelli. Brown endorsed her former aide this morning, as did former state Sen. Chris Marr, former Reps. Alex Wood, Jeff Gombosky, John Driscoll and Don Barlow, and most recent past county party chairpersons.

That's a pretty quick closing of the ranks, considering the seat became open less than a week ago, and at least two other candidates — Spokane businessman John Waite and Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder — have expressed interest in filing.

Filing week, by the way, begins Monday morning.

Roskelley edges McKenna among Bloomsday politicians

Among the elected leaders and politicians running for office, it should be no surprise that John Roskelley won the race.

Roskelley, a candidate for Spokane County Commission, had the best Bloomsday time among all elected Spokane and Spokane Valley city leaders; state House and state Senate candidates for districts within Spokane County; Spokane County commissioner candidates; and gubernatorial candidates.

Roskelley is, afterall, a world-renowned mountain climber.

Here is the list of local politicians (plus a governor hopeful) who completed Bloomsday:

  1. John Roskelley, D, candidate for Spokane County Commission, 0:59:00
  2. Rob McKenna, R, candidate for governor, 1:00:21
  3. Amber Waldref, Spokane city councilwoman, 1:07:52
  4. Marcus Riccelli, D, candidate for state House, 1:08:27
  5. Steve Salvatori, Spokane city councilman, 1:17:00
  6. Amy Biviano, D, candidate for state House, 1:17:16
  7. Dennis Dellwo, D, candidate for state House, 1:20:08
  8. Tom Towey, Spokane Valley mayor, 1:28:14
  9. Brenda Grassel, Spokane Valley city councilwoman, 2:13:47
  10. David Condon, Spokane mayor, 2:41:52
  11. Michael Baumgartner, R, state Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate, 2:47:31

Republican, Tim Benn, enters field for Billig’s seat

A Republican has entered the expanding field of candidates to replace state Rep. Andy Billig.

Tim Benn, who co-owns a child day care with his wife in North Spokane, filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission announcing his run earlier this week, even before Billig announced he wouldn’t run for reelection so he could run for state Senate.

Democrats who have announced that they will run include Marcus Riccelli, Jon Snyder and John Waite.

Benn, 34, has been active this year in lobbying against proposed day care regulations that he says will drive small day cares out of business.

“I decided to run because I believe in small business and I believe in the people of the 3rd Legislative District,” he said. “We’re regulating small businesses out of out of business.”

Benn’s day care is called Little Precious Ones.

Critic of two-party system, John Waite, will run as Democrat

John Waite, who has run several campaigns for state Legislature and City Council as an independent, announced Friday that he will run for the House seat that will be vacated by Andy Billig.

And this time, he'll run as a Democrat.

Waite, 47, is fiscally conservative but socially liberal. He has been a outspoken critic of the two-party system.

He said Friday he's just being realistic by picking a party. He found that when he campaigned as an independent, Republicans assumed he was a Democrat and Democrats assumed he was a Republican.

“We live in a broken, two-party world,” he said. “I still bring an apolitical view to this — real world solutions, not party bickering.”

Waite, who owns two downtown buildings and Merlyn's Comics and Games, said he identifies more with the Democratic Party, which he believes is more realistic about the problems faced by the community.

Snyder hints at possible run against Riccelli for state House

Late this afternoon Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder tweeted: 

“Dear friends: Tomorrow I will be making an announcement regarding Andy Billig's vacated 3rd District House seat. Stay tuned.”

He hasn't returned calls seeking comment, which means he's either running for Billig's seat, or playing a trick on folks like me and will announce that he's endorsing Marcus Riccelli, Lisa Brown's senior policy analyst who sent out a news release Thursday announcing that he is running for the seat.

In an political environment like the one created by Brown's surprise announcement this morning, there likely will be many rumors to chase down in the next couple weeks as folks scramble to put together support for a campaign before the May 18 filing deadline.