In an historic bipartisan 68-32 vote, last June the US Senate passed an immigration reform bill that included a path to citizenship for eleven million illegal immigrants, an innovative temporary worker program, and increased visa numbers for skilled foreign workers, as well as a nationwide employment eligibility verification system and stricter border control. This was a result of bipartisan cooperation among lawmakers, business groups, labor unions, agricultural interests, and immigration advocates. Although many predict that the bill would pass in the US House, the majority Republican leadership there refuses to bring it up.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects the bill would reduce federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the next decade. Furthermore, it is supported by such pro-business and pro-agriculture groups as the US Chamber of Commerce and the local Washington Growers League, an influential Eastern Washington agribusiness association working on immigration in an unusual alliance with the Washington Federation of State Employees. Interestingly, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration has also expressed support.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers needs to represent her constituents, many in business and agriculture, by standing up to US House leadership so as to pass this bill.
While employees have been working for a good part a year without a contract, the upper management at Spokane Valley Hospital and Spokane Deaconess Hospital have agreed to a bargaining date. This Friday, March 21, Nurses, cleaning staff, and other medical workers represented by SEIU local will be negotiating with Tennessee-based Community Health Systems that manages the Hospitals. One of the most important issues is what staffing levels are needed to insure patients at Valley and Deaconess Hospitals are adequately protected from falls, infections, and other problems that prevent speedy recoveries and long-term health. The Labor Union is insisting that higher staffing levels are needed to protect patient health.
Nurses and other medical workers await a bargaining date for long-awaited contracts with the Deaconess Hospital, Spokane, Wa. and Valley Hospital, Spokane Valley, Wa. Their key demand for more staffing to improve patient health and safety goes unanswered by the hospitals’ for-profit owner Community Health Systems Inc.
Different Drummers is a brisk paced family drama that is powered by the bond of friendship between two ten-year old boys who support each other no matter what. Just like Steven King’s “Stand by Me”, Different Drummers reminds you of what it was like to be ten years old and hanging out with your best friend – the best time in the world; the kind of laughs, adventures, mishaps, and “big” trouble that you just can’t match at any other time of your life. Co-writers and co-directors Don Caron and Lyle Hatcher capture that so in this story about the younger Lyle Hatchers childhood friendship.
It is also one of the best films that the Pacific Northwest has recently produced. If you doubt that Spokane writers, directors, and actors could do that, look at the seven awards they have already racked up. Different Drummers premiers this Friday at the AMC theaters in Spokane, WA. Drummers can also be found on Facebook. Read the rest of this entry
(By Greg Gower) Well it’s been another hot summer, here in Spokane, and once again our neighborhoods are being invaded by hordes of half-naked, sweaty, lawn care specialists and pool boys. Every year this happens and every year I’m shocked at their brazen display of flesh! Right out in the open, and in front of our children no less! It’s a good thing Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan is on guard.
“Anal Cleft,” says Mike Fagan
The glistening torso of a bronzed young man is tantalizing disgusting enough, but, in the past few years, these youths have been wearing their shorts lower and lower, resulting in the exposure of anal cleft. I didn’t know the technical term before, but now we can thank Fagan, for naming anal cleft as the problem it really is. Mike Fagan is a dedicated, conservative leader, who knows this is one of those rare occasions when government should step in and regulate our lives. Read the rest of this entry
(By guest contributor Tim Connor) It has now been almost five months since voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1 in Spokane, the city charter amendment that requires the City to have an independent police ombudsman. And, yet, we still don’t. Ombudsman Tim Burns’s continues to be shackled by the terms of a 2008 “interim” agreement negotiated behind closed doors between former Mayor Mary Verner and the Spokane Police Guild. He cannot conduct the independent investigations that are now required by the city charter, nor can he issue the independent reports that Proposition 1 requires.
Republican Pastor Mark Hamilton, who was essentially called a liar by one of his church members, was thrown off the ballot and found ineligible to run for Spokane City Council in 2013. Why? Because Carol McGirk and Cathy Gunderson filed a complaint with Superior Court that Hamilton was not eligible to run for office. Read the rest of this entry
KYRS-Thin Air Community Radio is a non-profit, non-commercial community station on 88.1 & 92.3 FM & streaming at kyrs.org. Since 2003, Thin Air Radio has served the Spokane area with diverse arts, culture, news and music, filling needs that other media do not, providing programming to diverse communities and un-served or underserved groups. Our signal reaches more than 300,000 people, in parts of five counties and nearly to the Canadian border. We have 60 locally produced programs, all hosted by volunteers, including the only locally produced youth and environmental programs, an Arts program, Native American, Spanish language, African-American, Asian, Russian language, Iranian-American, open poetry, a senior’s program, LGBT, women’s issues and much more. Our music programs span the genres and highlight local and independent artists. KYRS was twice voted #2 Best Radio Station in the region by readers of the Inlander weekly. Read the rest of this entry
Mt. Spokane, one of our community’s most valuable natural areas has been under constant pressure by development and logging. Today, the mountain won a reprieve. The Spokane County Department of Building and Planning decided to withdraw its permit that authorized logging on the western part of Mount Spokane State Park. This decision will help prevent the further fragmentation of the remaining old-growth forest on Mt. Spokane . It will also preserve important Biodiversity Areas and Corridors, Riparian zones, and Moose, Elk, and other wildlife habitats. Below is the press release issued today by The Lands Council and here is a link to their website.
Conservative candidate Mark Hamilton is finding out that there is more to winning and loosing elections that just the vote count on election day. Often times it comes down the details of the law. In fact, Hamilton could lose his race for the Spokane City Council against sitting Councilwomen Amber Waldref months before the first ballots are mailed. It looks like Mark Hamilton is not a legal resident of the City Ward in which he is running to represent.
The picture to the right is the house in which Mark Hamilton is presently residing. The problem for him is that he has only been there for a few months . . . not long enough to meet the eligibility requirements to run for office. (The story is also being covered at EWPolitics on this page). Read the rest of this entry
Washington State Rep. Marcus Riccelli just sent out his first email newsletter to his constituents on February 7. He comments on one of the bills he introduced this session and the growing healthcare sector in Spokane. Read the rest of this entry
Washington State Representative Matt Shea (R) of Spokane Valley wants to change how the State divides up its electoral college delegates for the U.S. President. Currently, the majority winner of Washington States’ popular vote gets all the delegates. May Shea wants to divide the electoral college delegates between Eastern and Western Washington. Shea’s idea would likely benefit Republican candidates since Democratic candidates for President usually win the majority of popular votes in the State of Washington and Republicans usually win the majority of votes in Eastern Washington. Read the rest of this entry
There was a memorial potluck honoring Craig Salins this last Saturday January 19, in the Community Building downtown Spokane. Craig Salins was the Director of Washington Public Campaigns and passed away unexpectedly last fall. He was a passionate leader and advocate for campaign finance reform and government by the people, as free as possible from meddling of corporations and special interests. Craig will be missed as a friend and leader.
The evening included the dedication of a beautiful teak bench honoring Craig – to become a sturdy presence in the lobby for activists to rest – or to stand and deliver – to say what they need to say! Regardless, it abutted the 3rd anniversary of the Citizen’s United decision. Also, there was presented a DVD tribute to Craig, prepared by friends Lolly Bates and Mark Early from Seattle, and special guest Ken Dammand, Washington Public Campaigns board member and WAMEND attended.
(Editorial) Police are allowed to investigate themselves. Really, that is the current ludicrous situation. That is now what happens when a citizen files a complaint about the Spokane Police Department. There are no checks and balances. No real oversight. No Transparency. Prop 1 on the Spokane Ballot for the February 12 election would change that.
Prop 1 in Spokane mandates independent investigations of complaints of police misconduct. It also gives average citizens a voice by creating a citizen oversight committee. We need this to prevent another citizen like Otto Zehm from being killed. Here is a video and transcript of Spokane City Councilwomen Amber Waldref asking us to vote “yes” for Prop 1 to support our Spokane Office of Police Ombudsman and giving him or her the authority to independently conduct real investigations. According to Spokane City Councilwomen Amber Waldref, Read the rest of this entry
(Editorial) There will be a proposition on your February 12 ballot to hamstring our Spokane City Council and make it harder for them to do their jobs. Prop 2 is a confusing idea what would allow a small minority (2 out of 7) sitting council member to stop some of it the most important work. It is undemocratic and unnecessary.
Here is a video of Ben Stuckart, President of the Spokane City Council asking for you to vote “No” on Prop. 2 in Spokane and against minority rule.
I am asking you to vote “No” on proposition 2. On February 12 we have an election, and Proposition 2 is a charter change to require a 5/7 majority or over 70% of the people elected to the Spokane City Council to change any existing taxes or any new taxes.
(Editorial) Spokane Public Libraries play a vital role in our communities to provide grade school children with a safe, educational environment outside of school and in the summer. This is particularly true in low-income neighborhoods where educational materials are often not available at home. To the right is a video of Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart asking you to vote “yes” on Prop 3, and below is a transcript of the video.
I am asking you to support Proposition 3 on the February ballot. The election is February 12th. Prop 3 is the Library Levy. The Library Levy will keep branches open, because next year we are facing a five hundred thousand dollar deficit in the library system and we will have to close branches unless something is done.
If the coal industry has their way, coal trains will be traveling through Spokane, Wa, 12 hours a day on their way to Bellingham, Wa.. An export facility is being planned in Bellingham to load the coal from the trains onto ships that would head to China. Local residents are concerned about the effects on traffic, quality of life, and the health of Spokane residents from the impact of coal dust. Members of Occupy Spokane took to the streets last Friday night cardboard depictions of coal trains in protest to these plans.
(Letter to the Editor) It seems the Spokane City Council has moved a large leap forward in affording the citizens adequate police oversight. The Office of Police Ombudsman has never had the authority to effect adequate independent review of excessive use of force complaints. To be effective and respected that must be part of the job description of the Ombudsman.
Serious, deadly serious at times, excessive use of force is still rampant in our Nation. The Council has placed on an early February ballot (Ballots to be mailed beginning January 25th) a measure to change the Charter of the City of Spokane to include effective independent review of complaints by our Office of Police Ombudsman for the City of Spokane. I would urge you to consider casting your vote in favor of this long needed independent review. (Links and video added by editor.)
Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder has been busy. It is nice to see an elected official who knows the difference between running for office and governing. Voters hate political bickering. The want elected officials who work for them, and not just work to get re-elected. Thanks Jon Snyder! The below is from his January 2, 2012, Newsletter. Read the rest of this entry
A few years ago, Tim Eyman and Mike Fagan started a successful initiative effort to require a two-thirds majority in the Washington State Legislature for the passage of new revenue proposals. Every two years Eyman has relaunched similar initiatives in response to the Washington State Legislature threatening to undo his initiatives. Now the two-thirds majority movement has gone local.
Last week the Spokane City Council voted in favor of placing a similar two-thirds rule on the local February ballot. This measure was supported by Mike Fagan, a City Councilman and frequent co-sponsor of Eyman initiatives to reduce state revenue needed for parks, education, environmental protection, and other services from the State of Washington, according to the Spokesman Review.Read the rest of this entry
According to the YouTube video and its corresponding website, Spokane County Commissioner, Todd Mielke, has used his position to pass unlawful land use amendments to the county code. He has helped buy property for Spokane County to the lucrative benefit of his friends that own the land and at the cost of tax payers in Spokane County.
(Editorial) When she came to Pullman for the Lentil Festival to talk about the Washington State Voters’ Guide a few months ago, I was impressed with Kathleen Drew. She has got experience in enough different parts of government to do a good job as the Washington State Secretary of State. She was personable. She had a good clear grasp of the issues affecting the Office of the Secretary of State, including the need to better fund the Washington State Voters’ Guide, which some call the Washington Sate Voter’s pamphlet if you will.
State Rep. Matt Shea Pulled Gun on Spokane Motorist
It is a sad day when someone has to be afraid for their life because of a threat of violence. It makes it even worse when the threat of violence comes from an elected official who (is supposed to) hold the public trust. This is what happened in November, 2011. It was Republican State Representative Matt Shea, Spokane Valley, 4th Legislative District, who pulled a loaded handgun on Leroy Norris of Spokane County. Here is a YouTube video that we produced about the incident involving Matt Shea. Spokane is safer without him. Read the rest of this entry
The Spokane County Commissioners voted to accept a settlement with a developer that now appears to be fraudulent. When Commissioner Todd Mielke was asked by Lancze Douglass to look into the matter, Republican Todd Mielke turned around and asked the guy for a campaign contribution.
I don’t know about you, but to me that smells like a request for a bribe.
Republican Matt Shea of Spokane Valley has a talent for doing the offensive. His behaviors range from making his ex-wife walk down the sidewalk in a submissive position to him to pulling an illegal handgun on a motorist during a road rage incident of his. Matt Shea has violated restraining orders from his ex-wife and traveled to his opponent’s house to intimidate her.
Few disagree that Washington State Representative Matt Shea is a real piece of work. Even Republican Party Leaders have turned their back on him including Sherriff Ozzie Knezovich, while his opponent Amy Biviano is racking up Republican endorsements. All this is detailed on the new site TheSheaReport.com with detailed citations from the Spokesman and other sources. Read the rest of this entry
Spokane is the major city in Eastern Washington. For a century, it has been a cultural, economic, and political hub of the Inland Northwest. It was once a railroad town. However, the trains are now few. Our economy has become more centered on light industry and the information economy.
We held the World's Fair in the 70s, and we still host Hoopfest, Pigout in the Park, and the Lilac Festival. If you like small town's that feel big. You will like Spokane.