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14 Spokane City Council votes that would have been different under new majority

So the Spokane City Council will soon have a new, more liberal majority. And while some big issues haven't been decided along easily identified party lines, there likely will be a noticeable change.

To get a sense of the kind of policies that could be affected, here's a review of many of the 4-3 tallies cast since the council shifted to a more conservative bent after the 2011 election. The following votes ended with Republican-leaning Mike Allen, Mike Fagan, Nancy McLaughlin and Steve Salvatori beating out Democratic-leaning Jon Snyder, Ben Stuckart and Amber Waldref.

May 2013

  • Supporting the filing of lawsuits to stop two citizen initiatives from appearing on the ballot, including Envision Spokane’s proposed Community Bill of Rights.

April 2013

  • Rejection of proposal to pull money from reserves to hire 10 police officers.
  • Creation of 13 new public safety departments to allow Mayor David Condon to hire and fire more managers without using civil service rules.

McLaughlin considering move to Spokane Valley

Spokane’s most senior elected official is considering a move to the east.

City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said last week that she may move into Spokane Valley’s 4th Legislative District to run for the House seat held by state Rep. Larry Crouse – if he decides to retire.

McLaughlin, a Republican, can’t run for a third term on the City Council because of term limits.

Crouse, 68, said he likely will decide if he’ll run again early next year. He said he’s had a rough legislative session this year because of his health, but that he doesn’t suffer from any life-threatening illness. Crouse had surgery early this year because of a blocked artery in his leg and later suffered from food poisoning. But he said he’s getting back to normal.

“It has a lot to do with my health,” Crouse said. “If I feel good and feel capable of doing a good job, it’s a possibility that I will run again.”

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

Stuckart, Waldref apologize for violations

Two Spokane City Council members have apologized for using their city email accounts to send campaign messages.

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and Amber Waldref sent electronic newsletters to supporters recently that included their opinions on the three proposed measures that will be decided by voters in the city’s Feb. 12 special election.

The messages were sent via their city email accounts.

Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the state Public Disclosure Commission, said government officials should not use government email accounts to promote or oppose items on a ballot.

Mapping the Vote: Billig leads McLaughlin

State Rep. Andy Billig leads Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLauglin in most precincts in the race to fill the 3rd Legislative District Senate seat left open by Sen. Lisa Brown's retirement.

For a more detailed version of the map, check out the PDF Document below.


Documents:

Notes from a Democratic rally

About 150 gathered for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s campaign rally this evening in Spokane at the Lincoln Center.

There wasn’t much we haven’t heard on the trail before, so here are a few miscellaneous thoughts:

— The Democrats appear enthused about the race for Congress. Sure, it’s still somewhat of long-shot for them and Democrat Rich Cowan did not come near to raising the $1 million he said was his goal when he began his campaign for the seat in Washington’s 5th Congressional District.

But he’s not Daryl Romeyn, who was the party’s nominee two years ago and who was not embraced by the party. Cowan has raised enough to advertise on TV and he even got a mention recently in the Capital Hill newspaper, Roll Call.

Complaint filed against flyers targetting McLaughlin

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Dozens if not hundreds of fliers left on cars and doorsteps against Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin’s campaign for state Senate could violate state disclosure law.

The black-and-white fliers that appear to be printed with a copy machine or computer printer criticize McLaughlin, a Republican, for her vote in support of revoking the alcohol impact area in the West Central neighborhood. One version of the flier said, “Nancy McLaughlin voted for fortified malt liquor sales over safe neighborhoods. We don’t need that kind of representation in Olympia.”

Ethics Commission quickly dismisses complaint against McLaughlin

The Spokane Ethics Commission ruled quickly on Wednesday against a complaint filed against Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin.

 

Rev. James CastroLang, who leads the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Colville, filed a complaint alleging that McLaughlin violated city ethics rules when her campaign took an image from the city’s Webpage or Facebook page and used it in a campaign mailer.

 

McLaughlin, a Republican, is running against state Rep. Andy Billig, a Democrat, for the state Senate seat now held by retiring state Sen. Lisa Brown. CastroLang, a Spokane resident who supports Billig’s campaign, said he acted independently of the Billig campaign. He argued in his complaint that McLaughlin used city resources for her personal gain.

S-R Video: Billig, McLaughlin consider the electric bus

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And the North Spokane freeway.

Watch Billig, McLaughlin make their pitch

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Today, we launch a series of videos on local election, giving candidates a chance to explain their platform and positions on several issues. We'll start with the race for state Senate in central Spokane between state Rep. Andy Billig and Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin.

Watch for videos later this week in which McLaughlin and Billig answer questions on energy, transportation and education funding.

GOP comes to McLaughlin’s aid after campaign misstep

Nancy McLaughlin's campaign for state Senate greatly exaggerated her opponent's stance on income taxes.

So much so, that she apologized to Democrat Andy Billig for the falsehoods her campaign used in literature during the primary after a complaint was filed with the state's Public Disclosure Commission.

Even so, Republicans apparently aren't taking the issue off the table for the general election.

Earlier this month, the county Republican Party issued a press release attacking Billig for declining to rule out income taxes as part of some kind of tax reform.

It's not surprising that the issue has been raised again. After apologizing for the inaccuracies, McLaughlin expressed frustration because she said her campaign didn't need to use incorrect information for the income tax issue to attract voters. What is somewhat surprising is that it was the county party that highlighted the the issue, not McLaughlin's campaign.

Here are Billig's and McLaughlin's positions on income taxes as stated in their responses to a question in the Spokesman-Review's legislative candidate questionnaire:

McLaughlin to Billig: I’m sorry

Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin publicly apologized this week to her opponent in her race for state Senate for using false information on a campaign mailer she sent before last month’s primary.

Her apology was made as the state Public Disclosure Commission began inquiring about the mailer in response to a formal complaint.

McLaughlin, a Republican, now acknowledges that state Rep. Andy Billig, McLaughlin’s Democratic opponent for the seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, never sponsored bills for an income tax that didn’t also include repeal of business and occupation taxes or reductions in sales taxes, as she claimed on her flier.

Stuckart: I support Billig

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said Thursday that he didn't give City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin permission to use a picture of him on a campaign mailer for state Senate.

McLaughlin, a Repbulican, is running for state Senate seat that represents central Spokane against Democratic state Rep. Andy Billig.

The mailer, which began arriving in mailboxes this week, includes a picture of McLaughlin with Stuckart, Mayor David Condon and council members Mike Allen, Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori.

Stuckart said in an interview that the picture was taken at a bill signing earlier this year.

“I endorsed Andy Billig the day he declared for the state Senate,” Stuckart said in a written statement. “For Nancy's campaign to use my photo implies endorsement of her candidacy. I denounce this action. It is misleading and inappropriate for her to use a photo of me in a campaign mailer.”

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.

McLaughlin ad pulled off TV

The campaign to extend two taxes to pay for the expansion of the Spokane Convention Center and Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena has pulled a TV ad featuring Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin.

Citizens for Jobs Now has developed a series of commercials each featuring two people who often represent competing interests, including messages with a Democrat and Republican and another with a union member and a business owner. In each ad each spokesperson says that despite their usual differences they support Measure 1, the Spokane Public Facilities District tax plan that pays for the Convention Center and arena expansions.

McLaughlin will challenge Brown

Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin confirmed this evening that she will run against state Senate Democratic Majority Leader Lisa Brown.

She plans to make her official announcement at a press conference on Tuesday.

McLaughlin has been on the record as considering a run against Brown for months.

“I just had to make sure that I felt like there was enough suport becasue we know it's not going to be an easy run,” McLaughlin said during a break at tonight's City Council meeting at the East Central Community Center.

McLaughlin has said for more than a year that she is interested in running for the Legislature. She is a Republican in Eastern Washington's only Democratic-leaning legislative district. But she won a second term on City Council in 2009 in a landslide, winning even her counicl district's most Democratic districts.

Brown running, McLaughlin may jump in Tuesday

OLYMPIA – Lisa Brown, the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate, will seek another four years in central Spokane’s 3rd District.

Brown, who was widely expected to seek re-election to another term, was first elected to the Legislature in 1992 and now serves as Senate Majority Leader. She said she wants to continue work on protecting education and expanding jobs and opportunity in Spokane.

“I’ve led legislative efforts to restore the Fox Theater, redevelop the YMCA/YWCA community centers and build our Riverpoint medical campus,” she said in the press release formally announcing the campaign.

The 55-year-old Brown is a single mother with a son in college who teaches economics at Gonzaga University when the Legislature is not in session.

While she has had relatively easy campaigns against novice candidates in recent years, 2012 could prove to be a tougher race. Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, a Republican, has talked about running against Brown and has press conference Tuesday morning for a campaign announcement.

Where Condon and GOP-leaning city leaders stand on race for president

With the race for the Republican nomination for president heating up and candidate Ron Paul headed to Spokane, Spokane Mayor David Condon said he doesn't plan to endorse a candidate.

“I'm not going to get involved in national politics,” he said.

Condon said he hasn't decided if he will participate in the March 3 Washington caucus.

Meanwhile, other Republican-leaning elected Spokane officials haven't solidified their presidential picks.

Council members Nancy McLaughlin and Mike Fagan said this week that they are trying to decide between Paul and Rick Santorum.

Councilman Mike Allen said he's leaning toward Mitt Romney, and Councilman Steve Salvatori said he's undecided.

McLaughlin considering bid against Brown

The proposed new boundaries for Spokane's 3rd Legislative District could be helpful for a potential bid by Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin.

The proposed district (map here) still would strongly favor Democrats, but it also would add some Republican-leaning precincts.

McLaughlin said last week that she will decide in the next few months if she will challenge Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown. She said that she and her husband have ruled out a run for state House because she would have to focus too much on reelection efforts with only two-year terms.

Republicans have looked to McLaughlin to run for Legislature at least since 2009, when she won reelection resoundingly over neighborhood leader Karen Kearney. She captured 67 percent of the vote, in a district that voted for Barack Obama a year earlier. She also has become extremely interested in Legislative politics with her involvement in the Washington Association of Cities. (She is president of the group this year.)

McLaughlin has proven that she can win big in a council district that leans slightly Democratic. But can she win in a Legislative district that's the most Democratic in Eastern Washington?

Today’s highlights

The statue, called Berry Picker, is an enlarged replica of a small bronze by the late artist Nancy McLaughlin. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley

The City of Spokane Valley has a new piece of art to boast about. Last week a crowd gathered for the unveiling of the Berry Picker, a larger-than-life bronze statue of a Native American woman. It is just behind CenterPlace and within shouting distance of another large bronze, this one of a mountain man, donated to the city a few years ago.

The Spokane Valley City Council spent a lot of time this week discussing a proposed ballot measure to convert Sprague and Appleway to two-way between University and Argonne. Some citizens testified that they thought the bond proposal was unnecessarily expensive and seemed to be designed to fail.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger talked to some longtime volunteers at West Valley SCOPE about their work, including hosting the annual West Valley Days event. The Spokane Valley Fire Department Commissioners voted this week on what wording to put on a plaque that will accompany a piece of steel beam from the World Trade Center towers when it is dedicated next month. They asked for suggestions from the community and selected their favorite.

Correspondent Val Putnam has a preview of Millwood Daze, which is set for Aug. 27. The list of things going on that day is long and includes breakfast, a fun run, live music, vendors, art festival and more. It sounds like it would be easy to spend the entire day in Millwood and still not be able to check it all out.

Council may add two more questions on ‘Community Bill of Rights’

Spokane voters could get a hint from the Spokane City Council when deciding the fate of a citizens’ initiative on the November ballot.

The Spokane City Council will consider on Monday the addition of two nonbinding questions for the November election. The two proposals would ask voters how the council should respond to Envision Spokane’s Community Bill of Rights if it’s approved: Raise taxes or slash services.

The questions are the same as ones posed to voters two years ago when Envision Spokane first placed a Community Bill of Rights before voters. Envision's list failed in a landslide.

Envision Spokane leaders, who attribute the big defeat in 2009 in large part to the advisory questions, say adding them to the ballot again is meant only to turn voters against their initiative.

“It just proves that the system needs to change because they can in a stroke of a few minutes influence what we did over months of a hard work,” said Brad Read, president of Envision’s board.

But City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said not putting the questions on the ballot may give voters the impression that there no longer is a cost associated.

“I believe that we need to stay consistent with the message that Prop 1 may potentially cost the taxpayers a great deal of money.” McLaughlin said.

Read said that changes made in the new proposal should eliminate fears that the city would have to shift tax money to cover rights listed in the Envision’s proposal.

Removed from the 2009 Community Bill of Rights are stipulations that would have required the city of Spokane to guarantee residents affordable preventive health care, affordable housing and affordable and renewable energy.

McLaughlin won’t run for mayor or council president

Spokane Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin's landslide reelection victory in 2009 has made her name pop up as a possible candidate for just about any local office.

Last year, she was courted by Republicans to run for state Legislature. She declined.

She had left open the possibility of running for mayor against Mayor Verner. But McLaughlin said this week that she has decided not to run for mayor or city council president.

Republicans see her as a candidate who appeals to the conservative and moderate wings of the party. Not only that, she's easily carried a Democratic-leaning council district that voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

“I believe I would make a very good mayor or council president but my passion is for Spokane and other cities to be financially sustainable,” McLaughlin wrote in an e-mail. “For this to happen there needs to be strong advocacy at the state level to help slow down/eliminate unfunded mandates and to continue work on cost containment strategies for our general fund.”

Translation: The city needs help from state government to keep its expenses down.

McLaughlin is active in the leadership of the Association of Washington Cities and is in line to become the group's next president. This year, helped lobby the legislature on behalf of the association and Spokane.

WA Lege Day 30: No time limit on child rape charges?

OLYMPIA – Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin was among victims of child sexual abuse urging the Legislature Wednesday to drop the statute of limitations that they say shields pedophiles from justice.
“It took me years to be able to call what happened to me between age 10 and 18 rape,” said McLaughlin, who told members of the House Public Safety Committee about years of sexual abuse by her father. “You shouldn’t lose the ability to bring about justice just because some years have elapsed.”
Michael Ross of Spokane, the founder of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said some victims of child sexual abuse don’t come to grips with what happened to them until they are in their 40s or 50s. Current law that requires a victim of a child rape to report before turning 29 protects pedophiles, said Ross who told the committee he was abused by a Catholic priest in his teens but repressed that memory until he was 47.
McLaughlin and Ross were among supporters of House Bill 1657, a proposal by Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, to lift the statute of limitations for any rape of a minor by an adult. In a sometimes emotional hearing, they and other victims recounted their histories of sexual abuse that they acknowledge the bill can’t help because the law can’t be made retroactive.
It would, however, tell pedophiles from that point on “they could never escape justice”, said Virginia Graham of Spokane, who said she was sexually abused starting at age 10 and her father threatened to kill her if she reported him.
But Lonnie Johns-Brown of the Washington Coalition on Sexual Assault said she was ambivalent about the proposal because it might not have much effect. Rape convictions are difficult even when cases are prosecuted quickly and have hard evidence, she said.
McLaughlin said after the hearing it was the first time she had talked about being sexually abused in such a public setting. She sometimes speaks at victim support groups or other small gatherings. She agreed to testify for the bill because “I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Her faith has allowed her to move on, she said, but the fact that her father was never held accountable still weighs heavily on her family.
  

Snyder booted from STA board

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Shogan and Snyder face off on budget

Even without newly elected officials on the Spokane City Council, power appears to be shifting in the New Year.

One year after the council removed Nancy McLaughlin from the board overseeing the Spokane Transit Authority, the Spokane City Council voted to reappoint McLaughlin — the council's only self-described conservative — to the seat. The move booted Councilman Jon Snyder from the position.

City Council President Shogan, who proposed the change, said reappointing McLaughlin to the seat is “strictly a matter of representation.”

The city has three seats on the STA board. Spokane's other two members are Amber Waldref, who represents Northeast Spokane and Richard Rush, who represents South Spokane. Snyder also serves South Spokane. Shogan said he supported the change because the city should have an STA representative from Northwest Spokane.

Waldref, who along with Rush and Snyder voted against McLaughlin's appointment, noted that having representatives from each council district is not a requirement and isn't routine for other boards on which council members sit.

Asked why he supported adding McLaughlin back to the transit board after he supported her removal from it last year, Shogan said that last year he “had a different concern.”

He declined to explain what that concern was.

Shogan and Snyder have had a few contentious debates in the last couple months. Shogan led the effort to create a tab tax - a proposal that failed later on Monday largely because Snyder voted against it. But the most public and ugly argument between the two was over the proposal to defund a vacant deptuy fire chief position (audio of that debate from Dec. 20 is above).

Listen to Shogan’s sharp words for his City Council colleagues

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Shogan defends tab tax

Council President Joe Shogan took the lead this year on the plan to create a vehicle tab tax while others on Spokane City Council examined other ideas — including a parking lot tax. Shogan’s plan is pretty much the only tax left that might be used to help balance the 2011 budget. But it’s facing growing opposition on the council.

Three council members were especially angered by the surprise vote to move $1.5 million of street money to the city’s rainy-day fund where it could be used to help fund the fire and police budgets. That proposal wasn’t publicly vetted until Monday, just before the money was shifted in a 4-3 vote. In the audio clip, Rush is explaining that that vote makes it highly unlikely that he would support a tab tax for the 2011 budget. That, along with arguments from Corker in favor of moving a tab tax vote to January, prompted Shogan’s harsh response.

Spokane takes step closer to vehicle tab tax

Spokane City Council members on Monday decided to give themselves new taxing authority.

The council voted 5-2 to create a “Transportation Benefit District.” The decision means the council will have the ability to enact a vehicle tab tax up to $20. Higher tab taxes would require public votes.

The decision did not enact any tax. Council members said they likely will hold a hearing on a proposed fee as early as November.

While the money raised would have to be spent on street and transportation projects, the law allows the city to divert other revenue currently spent on streets.

Council members Bob Apple and Nancy McLaughlin voted against the proposal. Council members said they likely will dissolve the district if the county forms a regional district at a later date. Apple said any fee should go on a ballot.

Verner’s sustainability plan ‘adopted’ and ‘accepted’

The Spokane City Council just after midnight adopted a plan aimed at cutting carbon emissions and reducing the city’s dependence on oil.

The 5-2 decision was the second time the council voted on a report finished last year by Mayor Mary Verner’s 13-member Sustainability Task Force. Council members Nancy McLaughlin and Bob Apple voted against the plan.

When the council took its first action on the plan, in May 2009, there were only enough votes on the council to “accept” the report. Since then, two City Council members have been replaced.

“I’m honored to have another opportunity to adopt” the report,” City Councilman Steve Corker late Monday night.

City officials say that new state rules require that the city have an “adopted” plan to reduce emissions to qualify for some state grants.

The report recommends several steps the city should take to cut its dependence on oil and reduce the city’s negative effect on climate change. Ideas include promoting energy-efficient construction and transportation. It also sets a goal for the city to acquire 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

A new year, a new Spokane City Council

The results of the November election were on display for the first time Monday in the Spokane City Council chambers.

The three council members who won seats in November, Nancy McLaughlin, Jon Snyder and Amber Waldref, were sworn in by City Clerk Terri Pfister. The brief ceremony was mostly for show because each had already been sworn in for their new terms.

Waldref said while the council members may disagree on certain topics, there’s full agreement on the top issue for 2010: preparing for the city’s forecasted $10 million deficit in 2011.

McLaughlin movin’ on up?

The showing of Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin — the City Council’s most conservative member — in a district that voted for President Obama has prompted speculation that she may run as a Republican for state Rep. Alex Wood’s seat next year in Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District. That’s eastern Washington’s most solidly Democratic district.

McLaughlin won all 43 precincts in her council district race in the August primary, a feat she repeated in Tuesday’s general election.

Speaking from her campaign party Tuesday night, McLaughlin said she will not rule out a run for the Legislature, but added: “At this point, I have no intention of running next year.”

She added that her husband isn’t sold on the idea of her running for an office that would require a campaign every two years.

Surprise endorsement?

Karen Kearney, who is one of five challengers to incumbent City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, has listed two new endorsements on her Web site.

One is from the Spokane Regional Labor Council. That’s no surprise. Kearney has garnered strong union support throughout her campaign.

The other, however, is from former City Councilman Dean Lynch, who was appointed to his seat and lost an extremely close battle to retain it in 2001 to Dennis Hession.

Lynch generally supports candidates aligned with the Democratic Party. He also was the first openly gay person to serve in an elected office in Spokane city government. Kearney, who has been active in the county GOP, opposes gay marriage and also opposes providing benefits to unmarried partners of employees.

Election time…let’s see who’s filed…

No, not Lisa Brown yet for governor.

Locally, however, there’s already some interest in city council seats. A quick run through Public Disclosure Commission files shows that:

Tom Towey is running for a Spokane Valley city council seat. Towey’s a Spokane Valley planning commission member, longtime Rosauer’s manager and former write-in candidate for council against councilman Steve Taylor.

Spokane Valley Mayor Richard Munson (who appointed Towey to the commission) is also running for re-election. Munson’s a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and retired stockbroker.

Brenda Grassel, impressively, already has a website up for her run for Spokane Valley City Council. She and her husband own a manufacturing company, Precision Cutting Technologies, and have rental properties.

Steve Eugster, a longtime Spokane attorney, would-be long-haul trucker and law school classmate of Justice Richard Sanders, is running for Spokane City Council against Councilman Michael Allen, a 2007 appointee and former Eastern Washington University official who’s running for re-election.

Eugster was on the council at a more contentious time, departing 6 years ago, and he has uttered what is so far the best quote of the 2009 campaigns, referring to the now-much-less-exciting council: “This `Era of Good Feelings’ is putting us all to sleep.” (Eugster’s political resurrection prompted actual rejoicing from S-R columnist Doug Clark.) Still, judging by Allen’s former job with EWU, his fundraising should be formidable. He was director of the school’s corporate and foundation relations.

Spokane Valley City Councilman Gary Schimmels is running for re-election. He’s a longtime construction company owner who two years ago sold his business, Affordable Lock Express since 1998.

Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin’s running for re-election. She’s a co-owner of a kitchen and bathroom remodeling company.

Challenging McLaughlin is Karen Kearney, a women- and children’s advocate and the former campaign chairwoman for Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Amber Waldref is running for Spokane City Council in District 1, for the seat currently held by Councilman Al French. She’s works for the Lands Council (a Spokane-based environmental non-profit group) is a Georgetown alumna, and counts among her Facebook friends state Sen. Chris Marr.