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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane firefighters union continues financial support of fined political action committee

Spokane Firefighters Local 29 made a $2,000 payment to the group Spokane for Honest Government in February, four months after pledging to no longer have any financial relationship with the committee responsible for dubious campaign mailers in last year’s City Council races. The money was used to pay a fine for a previous campaign violation tied to 2015 city elections.

Spokane Firefighters Union president steps down as chief search continues

John Goodman, president of the Spokane Firefighters Union, informed the union’s executive board this weekend of his intention to step down and cited “personal reasons” in an interview Tuesday. The union would have liked more input in Mayor David Condon’s recruitment of a new chief, the acting president said.

Spokane firefighters will continue to answer medical calls in SUVs

SUVs will continue to respond to some medical emergencies in Spokane, according to an agreement announced Monday between the city and the firefighters union. The agreement follows a vote by the City Council last month that required the Alternative Response Units to be staffed by two people instead of one. Before the vote and the program’s temporary suspension in May, the vehicles were staffed by just one person.

Spokane City Council requires two firefighters on calls for help

At least two firefighters must respond to a call for help, the Spokane City Council decided Monday in a surprise decision that not even the fire chief was briefed on until just prior to the vote. The requirement raises questions about the future of the city’s “Alternative Response Units,” which were formed in 2013 in response to long-standing concerns that the department was over-responding to minor medical emergencies with multiple firefighters in gas-guzzling firetrucks. Fire officials had long argued that they needed to be in firetrucks so they would be ready for any call. But they said that position shifted with the increasing load of medical calls and budget crunches.

Stuckart action referred to city’s ethics panel

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart is the subject of a possible ethics violation for leaking what city officials call a “highly confidential email regarding a pending matter of litigation.” The matter was referred to the city’s Ethics Committee Thursday by City Attorney Nancy Isserlis, and Stuckart already has retained an attorney to represent him.

Spokane mayor’s budget plan includes raises for himself, his cabinet

Spokane Mayor David Condon already makes more money than Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Next year, if his proposed pay raise gets approved by the City Council, he’ll make more than his former boss, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. The $7,000 raise will bring his annual pay to nearly $180,000, and the increase is part of the mayor’s proposed 2015 city budget released this week. He’s not the only one set to receive a bump in pay. The 14 people in Condon’s Cabinet, including the mayor, are getting on average a 2 percent increase in pay.

Shawn Vestal: Lopez-AMR contract kerfuffle raises questions

Before the courts slapped down the mayor’s attempt to expand political appointments in the city’s hiring, one handpicked hire snuck through the gate. That appointment – the hiring of Mike Lopez as head of EMS services – illustrates the problems built into the entire approach. Lopez was hired without a competitive process. He was hired before his position had even formally been created. His hiring was justified by a bureaucratic rigmarole – title-shuffling and department-creating – and placed in a Catch-22 type of category, which Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer described in an internal email as a “civilian EMS Chief that isn’t a chief.”

Mayor David Condon fights judge’s ruling on fire appointments

Spokane Mayor David Condon is fighting for the power to hire more political appointees in the Fire Department even though a judge has said he can’t and the City Council repealed his right to do so. Condon announced Friday that he is appealing a Spokane County Superior Court ruling that invalidated the city’s creation last year of seven departments within the Fire Department.

Davenport owner Walt Worthy pressed by firefighter union over ads

Davenport Hotel owner Walt Worthy said Tuesday that Spokane firefighters threatened to pull convention and meeting business from his hotel because of negative television ads in two Spokane City Council races this fall. Worthy and the Davenport Hotel were linked to the ads through political contributions.

Council will consider park department reorganization

The Spokane City Council will consider Monday wholesale changes to the makeup of the park department, widening the scope of the mayor’s appointing powers. The decision follows similar moves in the city police and fire departments, which prompted a lawsuit by unions representing fire department employees.

Task force calls for restoring fire service on South Hill

A mayoral task force says Spokane should return first-response firefighting capability to a South Hill fire station. But Mayor David Condon doesn’t appear ready to take that advice just yet. Condon’s proposed 2014 budget, unveiled Tuesday, includes no extra money for adding the four firefighting positions needed to make it happen.

Park Board seeks rule change

The push to strip civil service protections from managers is continuing at City Hall. Later this month, the Spokane City Council will consider a request from the Park Board to divide the Parks and Recreation Department into three departments.

Firefighter contract negotiations stall

Spokane city administrators and firefighters have reached an impasse in contract negotiations following the rejection of a proposed contract agreed to by former Mayor Mary Verner. The Spokane Firefighters Union requested that the contract be mediated by the state Public Employment Relations Commission, a move that was not challenged by the city, said Assistant City Attorney Erin Jacobson.