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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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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.”

Spokane Fire manager Mike Lopez once led local AMR

Spokane’s new integrated medical services manager was in charge of the local American Medical Response operation during at least some of the years that the ambulance company systematically overbilled city residents, documents show. But city officials say the problems began after billing duties were moved out of the Spokane office to AMR’s regional headquarters in Seattle between late 2002 and early 2003 as part of a corporate restructuring. The company agreed to a nearly $1 million settlement in 2010 over years of lucrative billing flaws involving Spokane residents.

Hire for Spokane Fire Department faces challenge

Spokane Mayor David Condon is putting a new political appointee on the fire department’s payroll despite last month’s legal ruling that limited his ability to bypass the city’s traditional civil service rules. Mike Lopez, a widely recognized emergency medical expert who has held key roles in developing statewide EMS policies, is scheduled to start Monday as the fire department’s new assistant director of integrated medical services. The mayor’s office contends it should be considered a “grandfathered” appointment since the offer was finalized four days before the April 25 Spokane County Superior Court ruling that partially scrapped Condon’s reorganization.

Book Notes: Hunt kicks off Auntie’s events

Now that the holiday lull is behind us, things are picking up on the book event front. Auntie’s Bookstore in downtown has an interesting lineup of out-of-town and local talent booked for readings and signings.