Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Eugster questions proposed Spokane City Charter changes on August ballot

The proposed City Charter changes that will appear on the August ballot were supposed to be noncontroversial. But they already have high-profile opposition.

The Spokane Park Board publicly opposed the plan to strip its power to condemn property for park acquisition when the items were placed on the ballot last month.

Now the man who led the effort to create Spokane's current system of government — the strong mayor system — says he doesn't like many of the ideas either.

Former City Councilman Steve Eugster said the proposal on the Park Board endangers the park system's independence.

“The independent park board is a bright, historical phenomenon,” Eugster said. “How are you going to have an independent park board if it can't acquire land?”

Among other proposals on the ballot that  Eugster said he likely will vote against is the plan to change the recall process. Currently, City Council members are elected by district, but if a member is recalled, the recall vote would be held city-wide. Voters in August will be given a chance to restrict the recall process to the districts.

High Court considers challenge to Appeals Court elections

OLYMPIA –Washington state needs a new way of electing appeals court judges to comply with the constitutional doctrine of one-person, one-vote, Spokane attorney Steve Eugster told the state Supreme Court Tuesday.

But an attorney for the state countered that’s really a doctrine for picking legislators, not judges, and the way appeals court judges are elected and assigned cases is correct. That phrase isn’t even found in the state constitution, which instead calls for elections to be “free and equal,” Deputy Solicitor General Anne Egeler said.

“There is no right to be heard by the judge you personally elected to the bench,” Egeler said.


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

Eugster says he won’t run for council president

Former City Councilman Steve Eugster said Wednesday that he no longer plans to run next year for Spokane City Council president.

Earlier this week City Councilman Steve Corker announced that he will run for the seat.

Eugster filed to run for council president last year after he lost a bid for city council.

“I want to spend the last years of my life engaged in intellectual legal efforts, as opposed to political legal efforts,” Eugster said in an interview.

In a case that ended in the state Supreme Court, Eugster was suspended from practicing law for 18 months. That suspension ends on Dec. 13.

Eugster could be back at the state's top court next year, arguing a case challenging how state appeals court judges are elected.

Eugster: A friend of the Cowles Co.?

My guess is that of all the labels that might stick on Steve Eugster, “Cowles sycophant” is not one of them, despite the accusation from David Elton mentioned in the previous post.

Still, I think it’s worth mentioning this nugget from an interview I had with Eugster last month. After talking for more than an hour on numerous issues, I asked him if he wanted to say anything about River Park Square. His response: “Oh, (deep belly laugh here) no, no. I thought that was done with when I went on the council. That’s history, Jon. Let’s forget about River Park Square.”

But anyone who thinks Eugster, who was elected to one term on the council in 1999, is a “Cowles sycophant” should be reminded: He was the first to suggest that an investigation into possible manslaughter charges should be opened into the 2006 death of a woman whose car fell from the River Park Square parking garage and tried unsuccessfully to get portions of the garage closed. When County Prosecutor Steve Tucker declined earlier this year to file any charges related to the case, Eugster’s opinion about possible charges hadn’t changed.

The Cowles Co. owns River Park Square and The Spokesman-Review.

Elton vs. Eugster

Last night’s City Council debate sponsored by the Campaign for Liberty, went free of personal attacks until David Elton landed one on Steve Eugster.

Elton, who is competing against Eugster and four other candidates for the right to represent south Spokane, complained about a blog post on Eugster’s Spokane Record that questioned if Elton has an Oedipus Complex.

“That’s not the way a distinguished former councilman should behave,” Elton said in his closing statement. ”Maybe that’s why he’s no longer allowed to practice law.”

Elton was referring to Eugster’s 18-month suspension from praciticing law handed down by the state Supreme Court in June.

Eugster’s closing statement was before Elton’s, so Euster didn’t get a chance to mention Elton’s legal problems: Felony harassment charges that prevent Elton from attending City Council meetings.

After the debate, Eugster said he didn’t have anything to add, except to say that he pulled the Oedipus Complex reference from his site after learning that Elton was offended. Today, however, Eugster has reposted the original entry along with e-mails Elton sent that warned him that “Now…the gloves come off” and questioning if Eugster is a “Cowles sycophant.”

Here is Eugster’s original post:

One of the candidates for Spokane City Council Position 2, District 2 uses his candidacy to lambast Betsy Cowles and the Spokesman Review, wants to go after the police department because there have been “seven killings” and because a man was killed by a police officer because he had a bottle of pop in his hand (I think that’s what I heard him say), wants to tear down a short commercial building to make a 0.8 acre “open space, and wants to see a new skyscraper built downtown, (or was it Browne’s Addition?). He would use the power of government to denigrate a women, bring powerful police officers to justice, knock down an old not very tall building and build a new tall building.
What is all of this about? Is it possible the candidate has an Oedipus Complex? I suspect some hidden truth is unconsciously at work in the candidacy of David Elton.  Or said another way, there is meaning here someplace.

Eugster v. Shogan on the charter change

Get Adobe Flash player
Eugster v. Shogan, take 1
Get Adobe Flash player
Eugster v. Shogan, take 2

Monday night’s Spokane City Council meeting had plenty of discussion about Envision Spokane’s proposed “Spokane Bill of Rights.”

Colleague Jonathan Brunt captured these two exchanges between former Councilman and current candidate Steve Eugster and Council President Joe Shogan. in the first, Eugster is saying he’s going on for just a bit longer…he actually went about 8 more minutes, but who’s counting?…and the second occurs right before the council takes a break in the action.

One thing about this ballot measure, it does get people excited. And it isn’t even definitely on the ballot, yet.

More on Eugster ruling from high court…

My story in the print paper this a.m. had more details about the suspension of Spokane attorney (and former Spokane city councilman, and current candidate for same) Steve Eugster:

OLYMPIA _ After a long-running battle over his handling of an elderly widow’s case, Spokane attorney Steve Eugster has narrowly avoided disbarment.

The state Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday that Eugster should instead be suspended from practicing law for 18 months. He will also have to pay $13,500 to the now-deceased woman’s estate.

“Eugster breached his duty to maintain his client’s confidences, used confidences to take action directly contrary to his client’s interests, and created a nightmare for his client who had to spend $13,500 defending a petition to declare her incompetent,” Justice Tom Chambers wrote for the majority. “However, Eugster’s misconduct was the first in a long career.”

The four-justice minority called for a harsher penalty.

“The only conclusion that can be drawn … is that Eugster should be disbarred,” Justice Mary Fairhurst wrote.

Shawn Newman, an Olympia attorney representing Eugster, characterized the ruling as a win. “Once the bar unanimously recommends disbarment, it is almost unprecedented to get that turned around,” he said.

Eugster declined comment on the ruling. But the former Spokane city councilman, who’s running again for a seat on the council, said he has no intention of dropping out of the race. “Why would I?” he said.

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.

Eugster, Allen running in South Spokane

The City Council race in South Spokane went from nothing to the potential for “really something” Friday morning as former Councilman Steve Eugster announced he’d run and incumbent Mike Allen said he’d seek the seat to which he was appointed

That sets up a competition between two candidates with “street cred” for the voters but with very different styles.

Eugster, a local attorney and government watchdog, served from 2000-2004, during one of the most contentious periods in city government as it shifted from a city manager form of government to a strong mayor and councilmembers elected by district. There was also that minor controversy known as River Park Square….

He acknowledged there may still be some people with negative opinions about him from that earlier stint on the council, but believes there are far more with positive opinions. And the public may prefer the fireworks of that previous council to the current sessions.

“The ‘Era of Good Feelings’ is putting us all to sleep,’” Eugster said.

Allen, an EWU executive, has served during a much more tranquil time politically, but challenging economically. He wants to win a four-year term to work on a comprehensive plan for city services, revenues and expenses, and a comprehensive strategy for economic development.

Allen, appointed to the seat vacated when Mary Verner became mayor, said he has served notice this week that he was resigning from his job because he plans to run. He’ll make a formal announcement in early May