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WATCH: Fagan on “illegal aliens,” Allen and Stuckart push back

In today's paper, we reported on the Spokane City Council's recent decision to add some wage protections for low-earning workers.

As the article said, Councilman Mike Fagan was not a fan of the new law, and was not shy about telling everyone. His issue with the proposed ordinance was that he saw it as adding protections for undocumented immigrant workers, who he suggested would unlawfully benefit from the ordinance.

“We’re actually extending protections to illegal aliens once again,” Fagan said. “Those people are not supposed to be here to begin with. Those employers should not be employing those people, so why are we even discussing that?”

Council President Ben Stuckart and Councilman Mike Allen both pushed back against Fagan's claims, which you can watch below. 

In the end, Fagan was the only council member to vote against the ordinance. It passed 6-1.

Mike Fagan will run for second term

Mike Fagan

For months, Councilman Mike Fagan has left political observers to speculate if he would run for a second term.

Tonight, Fagan sent a news release ending that speculation. He will run for a second term.

 “When elected by the citizens in the City of Spokane’s 1st District, I promised to represent the neighborhoods in my district, and serve the community as a whole. I kept that promise. With every decision I make and every vote I take in regards to the city, I keep all the citizens as my top priority. Their agenda is my agenda,”  Fagan said in his news release.

Fagan probably is the Spokane City Council's most controversial figure, but he also has strong ties to the Hillyard community he represents.

Fagan also is undoubtedly the council's most conservative member. His release, however, said he was urged to run by "democrats, republicans and independents." That might seem over-the-top, but he does share at least a few positions with liberals.

Filing week is next week, but we know of only one other candidate who plans to file for Fagan's seat: Randy Ramos, who works at the Spokane Tribal College.

Women on Spokane City Council want to “close the gap” on gender inequity in pay at city hall

A woman makes $11,614 less than a man, on average, at Spokane City Hall. Females represent nearly half the city’s population, but they hold just a quarter of positions in city government. About 90 percent of clerical and secreterial positions at the city are held by women.

These imbalances have drawn the latest promise for change from the Spokane City Council.

Councilwomen Karen Stratton, Candace Mumm and Amber Waldref – the only women on the council – announced Wednesday that they would lead an effort to “close the gap” at City Hall. A news conference was accompanied by a bake sale where cookies were sold to men for $1 and women for 77 cents, representing the difference in pay between equally qualified men and women in Washington. 

“Do you think this is fair?” said Stratton. “This can’t be okay.”




A mass transit, double-decker bus in Spokane?

At last week’s Planning, Community and Economic Development committee meeting, Spokane city planning director Scott Chesney was discussing the Larry H. Miller empire and its request to temporarily shut down some streets while the car dealer did some re-arrangement.

Not exciting stuff.

Then, off-handedly, Chesney told committee members that it was important to keep the Jefferson Street viaduct open during this work because it was the only railroad bridge tall enough to accommodate the double-decker bus that the Spokane Transit Authority was thinking about bringing into its fleet.

Wait. What?

With visions of those huge, red buses that ply the streets of London dancing through our heads, we called up STA.

“They were looking at it for the EWU route because ridership has skyrocketed,” said Molly Myers, STA’s spokeswoman. “It was just an idea to be able to double capacity. That is a suggestion that came up during our planning process during brainstorming. It never got to that level of specificity.”

So we let it lie. Until Monday, when we saw this.

City offers business amnesty for unlicensed business owners

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Maybe a business "amnesty" program is a great thing to celebrate.

Spokane City officials, as part of “Spokane: Open for Business” month, have designated the week of May 21 as amnesty week.
It means that any unlicensed business owner can apply for a license without interest or penalty.  To be eligible for the interest and penalty waiver, previously unlicensed businesses must pay for all licenses due during the amnesty period and must not have been previously contacted by the city over unpaid business license requirements. 
Specifically, the amnesty in this offer applies to fees a business owner may have incurred from being referred to collection, including any penalties or interest charged.
Owners or representatives should go to the Taxes and Licenses Department on the first floor of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., to take advantage of the amnesty week.
For other questions about business assistance, call Spokane's Business & Development Services Department at 625-6983. Or visit www.developingspokane.org.

No concession from Verner. That’s beneath royalty

Good afternoon, Netizens…


Current Mayor, Queen Mary Verner, did not have the guts to appear in public, much less make a formal concession speech. It seems royalty has a problem admitting defeat, even in a mayoral election. Instead, she wrote this pithy explanation on her Facebook Page:


“To the citizens of Spokane, I am deeply grateful to have had the privilege of serving as your Mayor. It has been a great honor and a time of deep and abiding growth. It is gratifying to reflect on many important community accomplishments I initiated, led, and completed during my term. But nothing I accomplished was done alone. I’ve been supported by an impressive workforce of professional public servants at all levels of City government, and my countless partners in business, academia, and community organizations. These have been very tough years for our city, state, and nation. I’ve had to play the cards as they were dealt by circumstances. But I’ve also had the opportunity to achieve a great deal of my agenda for our citizens’ priorities. Like all others in leadership roles, I’ve been saddled with undeserved blame, but I’ve also received unearned praise. And throughout the range of highs and lows, my love for Spokane has grown deeper. I believe Spokane is a great city. It is a city of refuge, where people can start over and do better. It is a city of promise, where dreams are fostered and brought to fruition. It is a city of innovation and entrepreneurship, where the American dream can be realized. It is a city of heritage and culture, where all people are respected and we don’t forget the past while we push toward a better future. In the end, serving Spokane each day with a focus on the best interests of the community has made me a better person. Time will tell what’s real and what’s illusion. As I move forward with my career and life goals, I will always be grateful for my time serving Spokane as a City Council Member and Mayor. It has been a very full and rewarding 7.75 years. Thank you, Spokane!”


Queen Mary Verner was inaugurated and crowned as Spokane's first-ever queen about the time we had a blizzard hit Spokane and nearly the entire town shut down while Queen Mary hid out from the gaze of the news media. It was not the first nor would it be the last time Queen Mary hid her true motives and designs from her constituents, much less the news media. She only recently has urged the feds to perform a full investigation of the Spokane Police Department, something she should have done a long time ago. Too little, too late, Queen Mary. Don't let the door hit you in the buttocks on your way out, platitudes notwithstanding.


Now we have a chance to start with a clean slate with Mayor-Elect David Condon. Will someone loan him a giant bottle of air freshener so he can hose down City Hall?



New transit system? Why not?

Good morning, Netizens…


The Spokane Transient Board, a hitherto thinly-disguised subset of our fine local government, has announced they are hot after building a new transient conveyance which ostensibly will cost approximately 36 million to build, subject to voter dissension, and will initially run from Browns Addition to Gonzaga with various stops in between. Although several different versions of the proposed public transit system have already been discussed by those-in-the-know, but not really brought before the voters, there is some question whether this will fly. However, an alternative proposed version of this system has come to light which I feel may merit some extra consideration by the voters.


Eschewing any other sources of power, such as diesel, LPG or even electrical buses, the new system which I propose will include horse-powered carriages quite similar to ones deployed at the turn of the century, with pairs of fine gray dobbins docilely traveling over the city streets.


Yes, indeed, the proposed new system will not only add new jobs to our deplorably lackluster local economy, but by carefully planting the hundreds of acres of vacant land owned by the city in timothy hay, the cost of feeding the teams of horses will be marginalized; they will eat hay locally-grown and locally-owned on 100's of acres of vacant city land that otherwise grows weeds and presently serve as contemptuous eyesores to the general public. Finally, we find a use for all that vacant city land!


Further cost savings will be achieved by putting city hall bureaucrats to work feeding and tending the horses which will become city employees, but with a novel twist: unlike present staff members, the horses will draw no income. I hereby nominate Joe Shogun to be in charge of mucking out the horse stalls since, with the next election, he will be looking for work.


The only pollution generated by this system would be the excretions of the horses, themselves. Of course, given the horse manure that comes out of City Hall these days, including the proposed new transient system, hardly anyone will notice a little horse manure on the city streets.


Who knows? This idea might catch on.



Business owners can get construction-survival tips at Thursday workshop

Spokane city officials are hosting an "“Open For Business: Making the Best of Rough Road Construction” workshop on Thursday, giving small business owners a way to cope with major road disruptions due this summer.

The workshop, 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the City Council Chambers in City Hall, is a partnership between the City and the Greater Spokane Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).  PRSA members are volunteering to help interested businesses. 
The free workshop covers what to expect once construction begins, how to deal with customer communications during construction disruption, and how to use promotions to offset the impact.
The workshop will be recorded for later viewing on City Cable Channel 5.

e-mail to Chief Kirkpatrick blocked as SPAM…

Good morning, Netizens…

Let us take a brief aside from the business of the holiday season to examine something that Detective Ron Wright brought to my attention recently. Now I have to admit that Detective Wright can be, at times, problematic, as he has a stubborn and dedicated opinion set; but one of the more recent complaints he has lodged is that the Spokane Police Department routinely blocks his e-mail address. E-mail sent from Detective Wright to Chief Anne Kirkpatrick (and other members of City Hall) are routinely blocked by City Hall’s anti-SPAM filter which, to my way of seeing it, is highly-questionable if not illegal.

The rejection of Wright’s e-mail was confirmed by an e-mail sent to Wright by Cylas Engeland of the City’s MIS Department. It was also sent to Larry Shook whose e-mail was, for a time, blocked, as well.

Is this an open government issue? It does seem so, given that Wright was attempting to communicate with Chief Kirkpatrick regarding the Scott Creach shooting in the Spokane Valley. I was able to confirm that through Ernie Creach, Scott Creach’s son.

What is equally interesting is that nothing regarding this set of events has appeared in the Spokane news media.

I will revisit this as circumstances change.


Spokane City Council meeting during anthrax scare may have violated state law


The Spokane City Council on Monday likely violated state law by meeting during an anthrax scare which closed City Hall to the public.

Firefighters and police were called to City Hall just prior to the council meeting’s scheduled 3:30 p.m. start after an employee found white powder in a package of office supplies. City spokeswoman Marlene Feist sent a news release at 3:25 p.m. that said the session would go on even though the public was no longer allowed to enter City Hall.

The building reopened about an hour later, after firefighters determined the power to be corn starch. The council meeting ended about the same time.

State law stipulates that City Council meetings be open to the public.

Feist noted that there was no public testimony scheduled and that the meeting was carried live on the city’s cable station.

Greg Overstreet, former open government ombudsman in the state attorney general’s office, said state law allows members of the public to be barred from a council meeting only for an executive session or for unruly behavior. Monday’s meeting wasn’t an executive session, during which council members could meet privately to discuss certain matters like the purchase of real estate. Even if no votes are held, meetings must be open, he said.

“It would be a terrible precedent if local governments could lock the doors and tell people to just watch it on TV,” said Overstreet, a private attorney who focuses on public access issues.

High Noon: Earth Hour Sparks Hubbub

Global warming protesters generated a lot of heat Saturday night at the entrance to Spokane City Hall. It looked for a while like candle-carrying environmentalists might come to blows with those who contend global warming is a hoax perpetuated by the United Nations. But the situation cooled a bit when police showed up and stood in the background. “We are law-abiding citizens, trying to have a peaceful protest here,” said conservative activist Mike Fagan, who was frustrated as an environmental protester repeatedly interrupted the speech he was trying to deliver through a bullhorn. The opposing sides were drawn to City Hall in response to Earth Hour, an international effort to draw attention to environmental concerns and call for a binding pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions/Dan Hansen, Special to Spokesman-Review. More here. (APhoto/Thibault Camus: Candle lights are seen during the Earth Hour in Paris Saturday)

Question: Did you observe Earth Hour Saturday night? Or did you even know it’d come and gone?

Vote now: The top news at Spokane City Hall in 2009

Whatever you think of the outcomes, Spokane city leaders have tackled several issues that could shape the city for decades to come. What do you think was the most important news at City Hall in 2009?