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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Growth vote unsupported by the math

Math is hard. Guessing is easy, and occasionally useful. It’s guessing – wild guessing – by the county’s chief planning official that has some people feeling that the public debate over whether to expand the county’s development borders was infected by a noxious spore of BS.

Clark: That’s one solution to bloated government

I couldn’t be more impressed by the $2.8 million upgrade being planned for Spokane Indians Stadium* by the county. (* I truly hate using that sterile, commercialized A-word when referring to the name of our beloved ball field.)

Officials consider coroner inquests

Spokane County officials, rebuffed by their own medical examiner for years, want to take another look at using coroner inquests to help restore public trust in the integrity of investigations into police-involved fatalities without violating privacy protections. Commissioner Todd Mielke said he supports providing more transparency to investigations that sometimes take months or even years for prosecutors to decide whether to pursue criminal charges. Prosecutor Steve Tucker, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and other local law enforcement officials have in the past voiced support for broader use of coroner inquests, but county Medical Examiner Dr. John Howard opposes them.

Commissioners ready to drop pact with Spokane Tribe over proposed casino

Spokane County commissioners today are likely to terminate a 2010 agreement that prevented them from taking a stance on a proposed second tribal casino in Airway Heights. The action follows a vote this week by Airway Heights officials to undo the agreement, which created a formula of payments to the city and the county instead of taxes if the Spokane Tribe is able to build a casino.

Martin Hall Juvenile Detention Facility may close

Spokane County commissioners are pulling their funding from Martin Hall Juvenile Detention Facility in Medical Lake, a move that threatens to close the lockup that has served nine counties in Eastern Washington. Spokane County would save $319,000 a year at a time when commissioners are facing an annual budget squeeze.

French, Mielke ask to reverse casino deal

Two Spokane County commissioners are asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs to overturn a 2010 contract that prevents the county from taking sides on the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino in Airway Heights. County Commissioners Al French and Todd Mielke voted on Oct. 24 to send the request to the BIA’s new top official, Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn.

County monitoring Harley Douglass fraud investigation

Spokane County Commissioner Al French said Friday that he and his fellow commissioners are keeping an eye on a criminal fraud investigation involving a settlement paid by the county to a local developer, but commissioners will not take action to recover the money unless a conviction is obtained. Court documents say developer Harley Douglass submitted false invoices to bolster a $685,000 settlement paid by the county after the county illegally blocked Douglass’ final plat for a subdivision in the Mead area in 2008.

County denied voice on casino

Airway Heights city officials have refused a request by Spokane County to unwind a 2010 agreement that prohibits county officials from taking sides on the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino. The unanimous vote came at a recent Airway Heights City Council meeting where County Commissioner Al French argued the 2010 agreement illegally keeps the current county commissioners from expressing an opinion on the proposed casino.

Closing Geiger: Wise or worrisome?

On its face, moving inmates from the Spokane County jail system to a jail in Kennewick solves big problems. In the short term, local governments would save hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time when they’re continuing to deal with difficult budget decisions.

Condon to keep salary at $100K for 2012

Spokane Mayor David Condon will hold his salary at $100,000 this year as promised, despite the recent controversy over his predecessor’s pay. But he said he will review his options and the city’s legal opinions and may take more next year.

County cuts preservation office funds

The Spokane historic preservation office will get only $5,000 from Spokane County in the $136.6 million 2012 budget county commissioners adopted Wednesday. The county has given $20,000 a year to the office since at least 2009, but will shift $15,000 to the Fox Theater next year. The money will reduce a multiyear county pledge to help restore the landmark theater as a regional performing arts venue.

Vote recount will test new machines

Spokane County election officials took advantage Thursday of an opportunity to test their vote-counting machines for free. The county Canvassing Board – Auditor Vicky Dalton, Commissioner Al French and County Attorney Jim Emacio – reversed course and decided to use the machines for a mandatory recount in a close Spokane City Council race.

Sewer rates should stand pat

A new report on Spokane County sewer charges may give ratepayers a sigh of relief. A consultant’s study shows no increase in adopted rates is necessary and small reductions are possible.

County passes helmet law

Spokane County commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday requiring helmets for bicycling and other wheel sports in unincorporated areas. The law applies to children 3 through 15 years old, and carries no penalty.