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An exit interview with Jon Snyder
Out going Spokane city councilman Mike Allen said in today's paper, "Republicans are cats. They’re independent. Leave us alone. Let us do our stuff. Dogs are always there, wanting attention and needing something."
Mike Allen left City Hall this month the same way he came in: unexpectedly, in the political middle and focusing on fiscal responsibility. Of all current members, Allen joined City Council the earliest, in December 2007 to the seat left vacant by Mary Verner, who had been elected mayor.
Spokane Mayor David Condon’s choice to investigate the handling of personnel matters at City Hall has been pushed aside because of growing concerns from city council members about the investigation’s independence.
Cordial negotiations resolve dispute over neighborhood cell tower.
New rules governing the location of cell towers were praised and unanimously passed by the Spokane City Council on Monday. It was a long way from six months ago, when Allen had predicted a lawsuit as all but certain after the council unanimously approved a moratorium on cell tower construction in the city.
Plans to build an Olympics-level indoor sports facility on the north bank of the Spokane River got a little closer to reality this week, as a report showed that the facility would generate four dollars in economic impact for every dollar spent to build and operate the complex during its first five years. The 185,000-square foot “sportsplex” is planned to sit on five acres of land just east of the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, and would house a 200-meter hydraulic banked indoor track, the same type used in the Olympics. The track would be just one of 10 in the country.
Quick growth in Spokane’s collection of investments, and a predilection by city leaders to dip into the investment pool to fund one-time projects, has led at least one Spokane City Council member to suggest that practice runs afoul of the city charter. For the 20th time, the city of Spokane is planning to borrow money from itself, as the council considers on Monday whether to support the city administration’s plan to borrow $5 million from the Spokane Investment Pool. The latest loan would help pay for the recently completed, $17 million Central Service Center in east Spokane.
The legacy of Playfair Race Course is on display at the commercial park that took its place, as blue steel silhouettes of horse and jockey appear to race across the park’s entryway. Another legacy of the racetrack remains at Spokane City Hall, this one in red ink.
As Spokane’s aging firefighters head toward retirement, and the amount of overtime pay the department consumes rattles the Spokane City Council, Chief Bobby Williams and Mayor David Condon this week unveiled a “hire ahead” program to train cadets ahead of outgoing officers. The program, first proposed by Councilman Mike Allen in 2009, will have an initial cost of $195,000, which must be approved by the City Council. Savings from vacant positions in the department and from the city’s workers’ compensation insurance will also be used to initially fund the program.
“Oh, well that explains everything, sir,” said Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan. “You know, we are not Seattle. We are Spokane.”
Low-wage workers got a break Monday night, and maybe some overdue overtime pay, when the Spokane City Council stiffened penalties for businesses that violate wage laws. Council members backed the proposal on a 6-1 vote, with only Councilman Mike Fagan dissenting. The new law will make it a misdemeanor for employers to violate wage laws and allow the city to deny or revoke business licenses from workplaces violating minimum wage, overtime and other compensation rules.
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.
Enough signatures have been collected in Spokane to put a proposed Workers Bill of Rights charter amendment on this November’s ballot. If passed, the newest measure put forth by Envision Spokane would amend the city charter to require large employers to pay workers a “family wage,” ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race, and make it more difficult to terminate workers. The measure would make the rights of a corporation secondary to people’s rights.
Candidates for Spokane City Council on the city’s south side are no strangers to City Hall. Two of the candidates have mounted unsuccessful campaigns for City Council in recent years. The third has worked as an aide to council members for the past six years.
Since bikes were invented, bikes have been stolen. Returning bicycles to their rightful owners may get a bit easier in Spokane, thanks to a new online tool the city unveiled this week in conjunction with Bike to Work Week, called SpokaneBikeID.org.
Keith and Kendra Kelly describe their short-term rental listed on Airbnb as an “urban oasis.” Indeed it is. Their Spanish mission-style home at Indiana Avenue and Walnut Street often is booked by Internet bargain-seekers looking for something other than another standard hotel.
The decision came during the weekly open forum portion of Monday's council meeting after civic gadfly George McGrath used the term -- again -- to describe the planned pedestrian bridge spanning a wide rail corridor to link the north and south ends of the growing University District. The southern side of the district includes a stretch of East Sprag
Requiring employers in Spokane to provide workers paid sick leave took another step forward this week. The Spokane City Council on Monday approved the formation of a committee comprising health, labor and business representatives to help craft a paid-leave law.
When state auditors and city officials found that Gary Lindeblad, the golf pro at Indian Canyon Golf Course since the mid-1980s, owed the city nearly $90,000 because of poor bookkeeping, he didn’t balk. Instead, Lindeblad delivered three handwritten pages to the city arguing he was owed more than $190,000 because “severe maintenance issues” at the 80-year-old golf course had cut into his revenue over the years, a line of reasoning that met little resistance at City Hall.