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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Region in brief: Spokane approves wage contract after talks with police union

From Staff Reports

Police in Spokane will get an extra week of vacation next year instead of a raise under a two-year contract approved Monday by the Spokane City Council.

“It’s a very bitter pill to swallow,” said Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, who disapproved of the extra vacation but voted in favor of the contract with the Spokane Police Department’s labor union.

The contract, which freezes pay for 2010 but gives each member an extra 52 hours of vacation, also includes a 4 percent raise in 2011. The agreement will allow the city to hire 10 officers next year to fill the department’s 20 vacancies.

McLaughlin said it was “too bad” the police union couldn’t take the concession without getting the extra vacation.

Council President Joe Shogan commended the police union for negotiating.

“You don’t get something unless you give something,” Shogan said.

Workshops set to offer help with Medicare drug plans

Seniors can get help finding the right Medicare prescription drug plan for them at free workshops today and the next two Tuesdays.

Representatives from Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisers will be available to discuss Medicare Part D plans from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington, 1222 N. Post St.

The workshop will repeat at the same time Dec. 22 and Dec. 29. For information, call (509) 458-2509.

Medicare recipients have until the end of the year to switch drug plans. For more details, see the story on Page C1 of the Today section.

Missing man has dementia, last seen at Sacred Heart

Police said Monday night a 78-year-old man with dementia had been missing all day.

Elliott C. Spreen was last seen about 10 a.m. at the Doctors Building of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Spreen has dementia and didn’t have an appointment that day, so staffers called his sister, who lives with Spreen in the area of 3700 E. Bridgeport Ave.

Spreen was to take a bus home but never arrived, his sister told police. Police scoured the area and notified bus drivers but found no sign of Spreen, said Sgt. Tracie Meidl. Elliot is 6-foot-5 and 170 pounds.

He was last seen wearing a blue coat with yellow sleeves, black shoes and Velcro and possibly a blue crocheted hat, police said.

“He is very unsteady on his feet and is on medication for tremors,” according to a news release.

Anyone with information about Elliott’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Council says pot measure not ready for presentation

Marijuana advocates won’t have a chance of seeing relaxed enforcement of pot laws anytime soon.

A proposed ballot initiative seeking to make marijuana offenses the “lowest law enforcement priority” in Spokane has too many technical problems that need fixing before being presented to City Council members, according to the city attorney’s office. Backers said they plan to review the initiative.

The council voted unanimously Monday to postpone a hearing on the initiative indefinitely. Proposed initiatives are reviewed by the city attorney’s office, which assists in developing the language of the ballot title and summary, and offers a legal opinion to the council.

The council is then asked to either put it on the ballot or have the petition supporters gather signatures from the public.

The marijuana initiative was filed with the Spokane city clerk Nov. 4.

Wrongful termination case moves to federal court

BOISE – Fired Idaho Transportation Director Pam Lowe’s wrongful-termination lawsuit was moved to federal court Monday, after the state of Idaho asked to shift it from state court in Boise.

The state had the option of defending the case in 4th District Court or removing it to federal court. Special Deputy Attorney General B. Newal Squyres, of the Boise law firm Holland & Hart, called his move “standard practice” in a case that includes issues of federal law.

Lowe, the state’s first female transportation director, charges in the suit that her firing violated her rights under both the state and federal constitutions. She alleges sex discrimination, political pressure and cronyism and says she was fired without cause, despite positive performance reviews, for resisting pressure to favor a politically well-connected contractor.

Remodel closes lobby of Forest Service, BLM

The front lobby of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests Supervisor’s Office and the Bureau of Land Management’s Coeur d’Alene office at 3815 Schreiber Way will be closed Friday for minor remodeling and repairs.

During the closure, Christmas tree permits may be purchased at the Fernan Ranger Station, 2502 E. Sherman Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The phone number at the Fernan Ranger District is (208) 664-2318.

Forest Service and BLM employees will be working during the lobby remodel. They can be reached on their direct lines or through the main switchboard. For the Forest Service, dial (208) 765-7223. For the BLM, dial (208) 769-5000.

The front lobby of the office will reopen at 7:45 a.m. Dec. 21.

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