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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

City Hall Scoop: Domestic Violence and a New Councilwoman

Another Monday, another Spokane City Council meeting at which Councilman Mike Fagan speaks eloquently on the injustice of domestic violence.

Okay, so not every council meeting has Fagan on the dais, detailing the horrors of "Spokane's ugly, dirty little secret," telling attendees and viewers that domestic violence is not simply violent, but also "a crime of control, of coercion." He doesn't always read a list of crimes associated with domestic violence, or educate people that it can happen between more than man and wife, but between lovers, or friends, or inflicted by a parent or grandparent.

But it happened last night, as council members discussed amending city law as proposed by Council President Ben Stuckart and Councilwoman Amber Waldref to protect victims of domestic violence against discrimination, while also creating a fund to help prevent such violence and prosecute offenders. We covered the issue when it first arose.

True to his word, Fagan was "more than happy to vote in the affirm" and the ordinances passed 7-0, despite conservative gadabout George McGrath admonishing the council for letting government overreach to continue. McGrath did agree that domestic violence should be "contained (and) curtailed" but warned against overreaction, such as when a man flicks a toothpick at his wife. Councilman Mike Allen seemed to have had enough at that remark, tearing off his reading glasses and shooting an exasperated look to the council. Regardless, McGrath's three minutes soon were spent, he returned to his seat and the council carried on, as usual.

Continue reading, and see Fagan talk about domestic violence, after the jump.



In other news, and as you might have noticed, there were seven people voting from the dais last night. A couple of months after Steve Salvatori took his vote to Texas, which is likely a country song, the council has all its seats filled thanks to the appointment of Karen Stratton, who attended her first meeting last night. She didn't say much, but she voted as the green light on this reader board testified.

Stratton, like everyone else, voted for a slate of new rules put forth by Waldref to encourage the rehabilitation of old buildings downtown and neighborhoods designated as centers and corridors in Spokane. Ultimately, Waldref said, the rules would bring some old buildings up to code and get more people living in them, especially downtown. Or as Councilman Jon Snyder put it on his blog, "The fund will be seeded with $250,000 to help developers mitigate costs associated with utility upgrades in city of right of way, and will specifically target projects that are for historic preservation, infill mix of housing, affordable housing and mixed use." Well said.

Allen said more than 1,200 apartments are unused downtown. He asked us to imagine what it would be like if that many more people lived downtown. All the walking, shopping, talking, eating, drinking, dancing, good times... oh my!

The council also approved new parking time limits, which most importantly would allow people living near downtown in un-metered zones to park in front of their house for more than 12 hours. To which residents of Browne's Addition breathed a sigh of relief, at least until the snow plows come and they have to move their cars all the time.

Next week: Lyft, Uber and gambling.

See Fagan talk about domestic violence below:


Nicholas Deshais
Joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He is the urban issues reporter, covering transportation, housing, development and other issues affecting the city. He also writes the Getting There transportation column and The Dirt, a roundup of construction projects, new businesses and expansions. He previously covered Spokane City Hall.

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