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Feb. 29, 2012, midnight
Controversy over a proposed deal to rehire a Spokane police sergeant after he was fired for an off-duty drunken driving collision has focused attention on an often-misunderstood state agency involved in the settlement negotiations – the Washington Human Rights Commission. The deal called for the city of Spokane to rehire fired Sgt. Brad Thoma and purported to be mediated by the Human Rights Commission, based on a claim that the city failed to accommodate the officer’s disability of alcoholism. However, Sharon Ortiz, the commission’s executive director, said she had not signed off on the deal that had been brokered by an investigator in the commission’s Spokane office and that it would need further review.
Jan. 25, 2012, midnight
Two female inmates escaped from the Geiger Corrections Center on Tuesday night, but were captured within an hour by law enforcement officers from several area agencies. Kathleen Stockton, 49, and Rachel A. Banks, 25, escaped the corrections center at about 7:20 p.m. by scaling a security fence, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Dec. 27, 2011, midnight
Stevens County activists dressed in prison stripes recently were tossed out of Gonzaga University’s Cataldo Hall where Rick Steves, the travel writer and TV show host, was delivering a speech. Members of the November Coalition, a foundation dedicated to ending the drug war, had no gripe with Steves’ hotel recommendations, but rather with his public support for an initiative to reform Washington’s marijuana laws that the protesters say falls short of decriminalization.
Dec. 16, 2011, midnight
Since 1985, the Union Gospel Mission has helped improve the vision of thousands of poor and uninsured people by dispensing donated eyeglasses at its weekly free vision clinic founded by the late optometrist and humanitarian Walt Michaelis. Every Thursday the clinic sees eight to 10 people “who could not get glasses any other way,” said Linda Bates, a volunteer at the Mission.