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For the longest time, “Division Street exit” was code for “Spokane’s ugly front door.” Now it’s an example of what Spokane can do.
An exit interview with Jon Snyder
The plans for a sprawling, six-block downtown Spokane auto campus were scaled back this week, as the Spokane City Council rejected a request from the Larry H. Miller auto dealership to close a portion of South Madison Street.
Jan Quintrall, the embattled head of Spokane’s Business and Developer Services division, announced her resignation from the city Tuesday, saying she had “broken the public’s trust, and I can’t repair that.” In a letter to her employees, Quintrall said the city’s “ongoing progress is continually being sidelined by the negative attention on me, with the focus being directed away from all the good staff is doing here.”
The Spokane administrator who led Spokane’s engineering, streets, business and other departments, announced Tuesday that she was resigning her position.
So City Hall business czar Jan Quintrall dropped 400 smackers on lunch for a dozen city workers at the posh Spokane Club. And just days after poor planning director Scott Chesney got the boot for misusing city loot on hard-hats and, um, staff lunches.
Days after the dismissal of Spokane’s city planning director for what was described as a misuse of city funds, Jan Quintrall, head of the city’s Business and Developer Services Division, spent more than $400 at the Spokane Club on lunch for a dozen city employees using a city credit card. It was the third such known expenditure of the year for Quintrall, though the other two were less than half of what Quintrall spent for the “teambuilding” exercise in November.
The hiring of a temporary worker making $44.75 an hour to oversee unionized, full-time city employees is being investigated by the Spokane Civil Service Commission. Jan Quintrall, head of the city’s Business and Development Services Division, hired Jacqueline Luenow in November as the city’s systems and services manager. Previously, Luenow had worked at Bank of America as a vice president.
One of the first things that visitors to Spokane see when they exit Interstate 90 at Division Street is an empty lot behind temporary murals. A Lutheran church that stood at the site at the northwest corner of Third Avenue and Division for decades was demolished in 2008 to make room for a proposed new motel.
Spokane County’s building director won’t be helping Spokane City Hall. Randy Vissia told county commissioners Tuesday he was approached last month by officials at the city’s Business and Development Services Division to serve as a consultant on an “as-needed” basis over the next two years. The overture came after the contentious departure of city Planning Director Scott Chesney, whose ouster drew the ire of many of Spokane’s most prominent developers.
Spokane may never get the straight skinny behind last week’s forced resignation of city planning director Scott Chesney. Some mysteries (i.e. Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, KFC’s secret spices …) are probably better off unknown.
Scott Chesney, Spokane’s planning director who was abruptly ousted from his position last week, said Wednesday he was taking the “high road” and ending his role at the city. Chesney did not give details on why he was forced to resign, but his silence is in line with that of Mayor David Condon and Jan Quintrall, head of the city’s Business and Development Services and Chesney’s supervisor, who both said they could not comment on the matter because of personnel confidentiality.
Within a day of being ousted as Spokane’s planning director, Scott Chesney gained influential supporters both within and outside City Hall. Walt Worthy, developer of the Grand Hotel Spokane being built downtown, and Dave Black, who brought Target to the South Hill, said separately that Chesney’s dismissal was unneeded and called for his reinstatement. Their support comes on the heels of that from Jim Frank, president of Greenstone Corp., which is developing Kendall Yards, and Ron Wells, who is renovating the Ridpath Hotel.
Hours after the city planning director was forced out of his job on Wednesday, one of Spokane’s premier developers publicly called on the mayor to hire him back. Jim Frank, president of Greenstone Corp., which is developing Kendall Yards, sent an email to numerous city and business leaders Wednesday evening after hearing that Scott Chesney, Spokane’s planning director since 2011, abruptly left the city.
Hours after the city planning director was forced out of his job on Wednesday, one of Spokane’s premiere developers publicly called on the mayor to hire him back.
The number of city employees earning six figures has increased under Spokane Mayor David Condon, despite his critical stance against such high earners when he was campaigning for office and drastic cuts to the number of people on the city’s payroll under his watch. In Condon’s 2015 budget proposal, 164 positions at City Hall will earn more than $100,000, not counting overtime pay. Of the top 100 paid positions at City Hall, 64 are from the police or fire departments.
A project strengthening the Greene Street Bridge will cost more than three times as much as was originally estimated, forcing the city to divert $1.4 million that could have been used to fix other local streets. City officials are blaming the overruns on a consulting firm that advised the city on the design of the project, David Evans and Associates, of Portland. At a City Council meeting last week, Councilwoman Amber Waldref advised administrators to gather a paper trail to pursue a legal claim against the firm.
Bill Meeks has gotten a lot of jobs in his life. He’s supervised the construction of bridges, been a city engineer in Indiana, was responsible for traffic engineering, maintenance planning and permitting for the Indiana Department of Transportation, and supervised teams of up to 500 workers for Inland Steel before the company’s demise in 1998. He has a civil engineering degree from Purdue University, an MBA from the University of Chicago and is licensed as a professional engineer in four states.
Despite a nearly $500,000 estimating error on a bridge renovation project, Spokane City Hall is standing behind its decision to put a small-businessman with no engineering training in charge of its engineering division. Kyle Twohig, 32, took over the city’s engineering services department in June after City Engineer Mike Taylor was reassigned to focus on a major water project. Twohig, who is paid nearly $90,000 a year, owns a coffee stand in Spokane and previously sold custom snow skis. He also helped manage construction projects in the Seattle area before returning to Spokane in 2008.
Art inspires passion. And that’s not always good, especially if it involves scraping a 30-year-old photo from a basement wall in City Hall without following protocol.