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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Police officers feared Scott Stephens’ intent

When fellow police officers heard Assistant Chief Scott Stephens say he wanted to “go home and get a rifle” after hearing of his impending demotion last December, they feared it might be more than an idle threat. After all, they knew Stephens had recently purchased a used submachine gun from the department’s armory and that he felt embarrassed, betrayed and cast aside by a City Hall administration that once praised his leadership abilities. Within hours, new Chief Frank Straub discussed the possibility of sending officers to Stephens’ home to confiscate his firearms collection, but decided against it in part because of concern it could trigger a violent backlash.

City settles with Stephens

Spokane taxpayers would pay Assistant Police Chief Scott Stephens $190,000 under a settlement announced Friday in which he would leave the department after he was singled out for demotion and then investigated for an alleged threat. Stephens, a former interim chief and 27-year veteran of the force, was placed on paid leave Dec. 20, the day after being advised that he would be demoted as part of a departmental reorganization. On Dec. 19 he allegedly told a friend in the department that “he did not think anyone would blame him if he took action” in response, according to a two-page investigative report about the incident prepared by a retired U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan, of Oregon.

Vestal: Stephens’ demotion puts police at crossroads again

Will the Scott Stephens debacle take us to a new ring of hell with regard to the city and the cops? Will it carry us from the age of the unfirable cop into the age of the undemotable assistant police chief? Or might it, instead, be a necessary speed bump on the road to a better police department?

Independent investigator hired in Stephens inquiry

Ten weeks after placing assistant Spokane police Chief Scott Stephens on paid leave, city leaders say they will start an investigation into the “circumstances” that led to his removal from duty. Chief Frank Straub placed Stephens, a 27-year veteran of the force and former interim chief, on leave on Dec. 20. Officials have never publicly explained why.

Council to weigh payout to fired, rehired detective

The Spokane City Council on Monday will consider paying a fired and rehired police detective $350,000. Former police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired Detective Jeff Harvey in July 2011, citing what city leaders said was a “troubled work history.”

Downtown business group fires president

The leader of downtown Spokane’s main business organization was fired Tuesday, less than a year after starting the job. The Downtown Spokane Partnership Board voted Tuesday evening to terminate its president, Mike Tedesco, in a 15-0 vote with two abstentions, board Vice President Todd Woodard said.

Downtown group may fire leader

Less than a year on the job, the leader of a downtown organization that collects about $1 million each year from downtown property owners and tenants is in danger of losing his job. Mike Tedesco, who started his job as the president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership in October, said he was asked on Sept. 7 by three members of the group’s board to resign or face a vote to be terminated. The organization uses city-approved fees on downtown business owners and tenants to pay for security, cleaning crews, downtown marketing and other improvements.

MAC wants Rodgers to return

Three months after firing its director, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture board wants him back. The MAC board voted 11-3 Wednesday to ask Forrest B. Rodgers to return to the helm of the financially struggling museum. The vote followed months of outcry from museum members, volunteers and donors who argued that Rodgers was making positive changes when he was booted without warning in April.

MAC board meets over Rodgers lawsuit

The embattled board of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture got an earful Tuesday from museum supporters as the board president vowed to resolve a lawsuit filed last week in response to the controversial firing of director Forrest Rodgers. After an open meeting, the board met behind closed doors to privately discuss the lawsuit filed by Rodgers, who alleges the executive board of the MAC “egregiously orchestrated and implemented the unlawful April 24 termination” of Rodgers while violating both state termination and open records laws. But the board came out of the session without voting on any action.

New members could change MAC board’s stance on dispute

Four new members of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture board could shift how the museum resolves its dispute with its terminated leader. The new president of the board, Bruce Howard, this week appointed four new members who were on the museum’s separate foundation board when that group voted unanimously to criticize the April firing of Forrest Rodgers.

Rodgers rejects MAC offer of two months pay

The terminated director of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture has declined an offer to go away quietly. Last week, an attorney representing the MAC board offered the museum’s former director, Forrest Rodgers, two months of pay and a letter of recommendation if he didn’t sue and signed a “non-disparagement” agreement. The board also for the first time outlined reasons he was fired, including “poor performance.”

Troopers in Chism case not punished

The two Washington State Patrol troopers whose botched child pornography investigation cost taxpayers $2.4 million have been transferred off a sex crimes unit but have not faced any discipline for providing false information to a judge. WSP Sgt. John Sager and Trooper Rachel Gardner are back on patrol and will not be placed on what’s known as a “Brady” list for officers known to have lied on the job, WSP spokesman Bob Calkins said.

Chism settles suit against WSP for $2.4 million

A botched search for child pornography at the home of a Spokane firefighter will cost Washington taxpayers $2.4 million. The Washington State Patrol and the attorney for Spokane Fire Department Lt. Todd Chism have settled a lawsuit stemming from the January 2008 search of Chism’s home that found nothing.

Condon fires city attorney

In the biggest shakeup of his administration yet, Spokane Mayor David Condon on Thursday fired City Attorney Howard Delaney following worsening criticism of the legal office’s handling of a series of high-profile cases. Condon informed Delaney Thursday morning, said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist, who also announced the appointment of new City Attorney Nancy Isserlis, a former chairwoman of the city’s Ethics Commission.

Thoma sues city over dismissal

The fired police sergeant who was caught driving drunk and leaving the scene of a collision filed a lawsuit against the city on Tuesday for wrongfully firing him. Bob Dunn, the attorney representing fired Spokane police Sgt. Brad Thoma, said the suit is a response to the Spokane City Council’s unanimous vote on Monday rejecting a negotiated settlement.