Drier sunny weather is returning to the Inland Northwest for the weekend, but enjoy the return to summer weather because a new cold front is expected to arrive Monday. Until then, look for mostly clear skies and highs in the mid 80s through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, with lows in the 50s.
The field of applicants wanting to be Spokane’s next police ombudsman has been narrowed to three finalists and includes a retired law enforcement whistleblower from Florida, a former Southern California police officer now working as a North Idaho private eye and a Canadian police misconduct investigator. But with the city’s police oversight panel gutted by forced resignations and the removal of former NAACP President Rachel Dolezal, further progress will have to wait as Spokane City Council members and Mayor David Condon evaluate potential replacements.
The days of skyrocketing tuition at Washington’s public universities appear to be over. Unprecedented tuition cuts contained in the new state budget will lower the cost of attending the state’s colleges and universities by up to 20 percent over the next two years, and any future increases will be capped at the average annual rate of statewide wage growth.
Embattled civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal lost another local leadership role Thursday. Spokane City Council members removed her from the fledgling Police Ombudsman Commission following an internal investigation into misconduct that targeted three commissioners. One of the other volunteer commissioners investigated, Kevin Berkompas, submitted his resignation, while the third, Adrian Dominguez, will be given a chance to respond to the investigative findings next week before the council decides whether to remove him.
Spokane’s independent police oversight panel is in turmoil. Three of its five members, including former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal, likely will be removed by the City Council if they don’t immediately resign following an investigation that found multiple instances of misconduct including records tampering, disclosure of sensitive information, demeaning treatment of city employees and attempted overstepping of their authority.
The actions of former NAACP chairman Rachel Dolezal and two other members of the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission threatened that group's impartiality and effectiveness, a city investigation has found.
In response Spokane Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart have called on all three members to resign.
In a news conference today, Condon and Stuckart said the three leaked sensitive information about police misconduct investigations.
Rachel Dolezal’s misrepresentations may extend beyond her racial and ethnic background. The civil rights advocate portrayed herself as the daughter of a black Oakland police officer when seeking appointment to Spokane’s police oversight commission last year. That blend of life experiences impressed at least two of those involved in the selection process.
Today marks the end of an era at Eastern Washington University. The Class of 2015 will be the last to receive its diplomas at Roos Field, where June temperatures can turn the football stadium into a sweltering hot plate of pomp and circumstance. And then there are the periodic cloudbursts, like the one last June that drenched the Class of 2014 along with the thousands of friends and family members who had filled the stands to help celebrate.
Controversy is swirling around one of the Inland Northwest’s most prominent civil rights activists, with family members of Rachel Dolezal saying the local leader of the NAACP has been falsely portraying herself as black for years. Dolezal, 37, avoided answering questions directly about her race and ethnicity Thursday, saying, “I feel like I owe my executive committee a conversation” before engaging in a broader discussion with the community about what she described as a “multilayered” issue.
Washington State University President Elson Floyd is taking a leave of absence to battle colon cancer. The request was approved Friday by the university’s board of regents, which was meeting in the Tri-Cities for its annual retreat.
Chelsea Gilbert couldn’t have picked a better season to try her hand at morel mushroom hunting. She and her husband have been scooping up the prized delicacies by the bucket across North Idaho this spring.
A protest group’s plan to toss volleyballs in front of police cars to draw attention to what it considers a law enforcement cover-up in the death of a Spokane Valley teen has drawn a strong warning from Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. “I am very concerned about this,” Knezovich said Wednesday, disputing the cover-up assertions and questioning the motives of the group’s leadership. “This is very serious to us and an extreme danger to the public.”
A protest group’s plans to toss volleyballs in front of police cars to draw attention to what it considers a law enforcement coverup in the death of a Spokane Valley teen has drawn a strong warning from Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
After barely recovering from an in-flight emergency just after takeoff from Felts Field, pilot Richard Runyon somehow managed to get the single-engine plane stabilized over Newman Lake and had nearly made it back to the airport when the craft again banked sharply to the right and crashed into the Spokane River, a preliminary federal investigation shows. Runyon, who died in the May 7 crash along with his friend and fellow pilot Lyndon Amestoy, advised the Felts Field tower that he was having difficulty controlling the Piper Malibu, indicating it was having aileron problems, according to the National Transportation Safety Board report. An aileron is the hinged portion of an airplane wing that controls the craft’s lateral balance.
The pilot of a plane that crashed into the Spokane River earlier this month had already recovered from one in-flight emergency and was on final approach to Felts Field when it rolled out of control to the right just as it reached the runway, a preliminary investigation shows.
A former police informant’s murder conviction has been reversed on a technicality but he’ll continue to be held while Spokane authorities decide whether to seek a new trial. Ben Alan Burkey, convicted of murder and several other offenses in connection with the 2005 abduction and beating death of 52-year-old Rick L. Tiwater, was denied his right to a public trial when some of the potential jurors were questioned privately, the state appeals court ruled Thursday. The appellate judges made clear it was a procedural issue rather than evidentiary flaws.
The University of Washington is confident it can have an expanded Spokane branch of its medical school operating in conjunction with Gonzaga University by 2016, depending on state allocations. Gonzaga, however, says that while discussions with UW are ongoing, it’s too early to discuss details.
Success on the gridiron and hardwood appears to be giving Eastern Washington University a boost. In a statewide survey of EWU’s reputation, athletics was what most came to mind when respondents were asked about the regional university. The quality and value of its educational opportunities were mentioned by some Spokane County respondents, but statewide most who were surveyed indicated they didn’t know enough about the university to form an overall opinion.
Spokane Community College has a new president in waiting. Ryan Carstens, vice president for academic affairs at New Mexico State University’s Alamogordo campus, was selected following a nationwide search to replace SCC President Scott Morgan, who is retiring this fall. Carstens, 56, is scheduled to start July 1.
Lyndon Amestoy flew out of Felts Field so often he had a reserved seat at the Skyway Cafe. It’s next to a plaque commemorating pilots with the dubious honor of running over one of the blue lights separating the runway from the tarmac. Amestoy’s name isn’t on that plaque. But Terry Maxfield, a waitress and former owner of the restaurant, said his regular spot may become a memorial honoring pilots who lost their lives too soon. He routinely stopped at the cafe with his son and grandsons.
A gunbattle that left two sheriff’s deputies dead in southern Idaho back in 2001 became the legislative catalyst for improving the state’s support for families of fallen officers. “That was the incident that caused us to start thinking about survivor benefits,” said former Ada County Sheriff Vaughn Killeen, who now serves as executive director of the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association and helped spearhead the push for greater state support in 2002. “The shooting was fresh in everyone’s mind. We had no problem whatsoever … getting the bill through the Legislature on the first try.”
Washington State University is pushing ahead with plans to establish its own Spokane-based medical school and expects to have its inaugural class of students enrolled for the fall semester in 2017. Acknowledging that it’s an ambitious timeline, WSU President Elson Floyd said Monday a national search for the medical school’s founding dean already is underway. It will be directed by a panel of academic, medical and other community leaders, mostly from Eastern Washington.