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Spokane County will continue to fight a tax break for military veterans and low-income retirees it says the city of Spokane illegally promised. The state has joined the county, saying the appeal is necessary to keep cities from stepping on their taxing authority. Now Washington appellate judges will decide.
A state law seeking to crack down on abusers of disabled parking privileges will require eligible Spokane drivers to visit a doctor before visiting the licensing office. Those seeking a renewal of disabled parking placards, tabs and license plates are now required to submit a signed doctor’s prescription or a doctor’s note on official letterhead. That changes a system dating to the late 1990s where drivers needed only to submit a doctor’s name, medical license number and signature in order to receive their parking notices, then just a signature in the mail to renew their privileges every few years.
Spokane County voters will likely decide whether to make the biggest representative change in local government since Washington became a state. Following brief public testimony Tuesday, county Commissioners Shelly O’Quinn and Todd Mielke said they support placing on the ballot the question of whether to increase their ranks by two. Even without fellow Commissioner Al French’s vote, their support would be enough to let the public decide in November.
Spokane County is closer than it’s been in years to expanding its governing body. The public will have a chance Tuesday to tell the three sitting commissioners why voters should be allowed to consider increasing their ranks by two, following a public shift from Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn earlier this year calling for more representation. She had previously said she wanted to see the petition signatures necessary to put the issue on the ballot before weighing in.
Garbage that should be delivered to the transfer stations owned by Spokane County is instead going to a privately owned facility in Spokane Valley, resulting in a loss of expected revenue and potential rate hikes, county and city officials say. But Sunshine Disposal President Marc Torre said his company is honoring local agreements, and that the county laws are designed to pinch his business, which has operated unencumbered for more than three decades.
The failure to disclose a one-page memo governing how outside medicine may be received at Spokane County Jail has put taxpayers on the hook for nearly $28,000 in penalties. Bigger questions about inmates’ rights to medical care have been posed in a federal lawsuit set for trial in Spokane later this year.
A squabble between city and county officials regarding property tax exemptions continued Tuesday with Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase hitting back at the allegation that his office is engaged in “a fantasy.” That statement was made by Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder late last month.
Spokane County has been ordered to issue refunds to about 5,000 Spokane residents who paid higher taxes because of a street levy approved by city voters last fall. County Assessor Vicki Horton and Treasurer Rob Chase said they’re deciding whether to issue the refunds or appeal the ruling. Meanwhile, city officials accuse the county of creating the problem.
Spokane County commissioners lost another round in the ongoing dispute over how and where the county’s population will grow. Three appellate judges ruled last week commissioners didn’t provide enough public notice before revising urban growth boundaries in July 2013. The decision leaves in place a mediation process between Spokane County officials and members of neighborhood groups around the county, as well as the Washington departments of Commerce and Transportation, over where denser, urban development will be allowed.
Shelly O'Quinn said Tuesday she was frustrated by statements made by fellow Commissioner Al French following his decision not to support the CEO candidacy of Al French.
Spokane County Commissioner Al French scuttled colleague Todd Mielke’s plans to seize the job of county chief executive and said the hiring process needed a reboot. French said voting Mielke into the position as the last standing candidate for the job was “unfair.” Richard L. Davis, who was also interviewed last month by French and Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn, withdrew his name a few days later after taking another job in Baytown, Texas.
Todd Mielke said Monday he will not renew his efforts to be named the county's chief executive officer after colleague Al French refused to support his candidacy. French said he would like to see the county hire a headhunter to attract more qualified candidates for the position.
Spokane County Commissioners Al French and Shelly O’Quinn say they’ve buried the hatchet that arose during a contentious ballot measure targeting taxes to expand public transportation. “That was then, this is now. We’re fine,” French said Monday night, with O’Quinn nodding in agreement.
It may have been a hot and dry weekend in Spokane County, but inside, its historic courthouse offices were flooding. A poor pipe fitting dripped unchecked all weekend, said Spokane County Facilities Director Ron Oscarson. The offices of commissioners Shelly O’Quinn and Al French received water damage to the carpets and ceiling, but the setback shouldn’t affect plans for the family courtrooms’ move to the second floor later this month.
Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell is standing by statements made by one of his deputies suggesting law enforcement in Central Washington leaked information to a murder suspect. Meanwhile, Richard Aguirre’s attorney is asking a judge to throw out the $500,000 bond on a voyeurism charge imposed after the claims were made in court.
The Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council is looking for two community members interested in aiding efforts to reform the county’s criminal justice system. The group, responsible for evaluating and suggesting changes to the criminal justice system at all levels, is accepting applications through July 10. Applicants should have experience with the system in Spokane County, whether that be in the jails, the courts or with law enforcement, must have no pending criminal cases against them and must be a county resident. Those selected will work alongside county commissioners, judges, attorneys and law enforcement.
Have Seattle home values finally breached the Cascades and lifted Spokane real estate? No. That sticker shock from the Spokane County Assessor’s Office that arrived in the mail this week is in error.
Bonnie Mager, a former Spokane County Commissioner who lodged a complaint about the CEO hiring process now in the hands of the state attorney general, has launched a petition asking commissioners to start over.
A property owner will try again to establish a controversial basalt mining operation on his 78 acres in western Spokane County. But Don Howell, a retired real estate agent who’s helping Ron Calhoon navigate the bureaucratic process, said the project is very different from the pit mining operations that have sparked controversy in Spokane Valley and does not broach the population density concerns that have seen several housing developments stall in the same procedure.
This morning's story detailing Spokane County's receipt of a $150,000 grant to combat overcrowding at the jail was written before the MacArthur Foundation released all of the finalists. Go inside the blog to see them.