The “Progressive” Spokane City Council did the right thing in overriding Mayor Condon’s veto, but the question is will they stick to their guns and battle it out with the “Conservative”Spokane County Commissioners French and Kuney, big backers of the guy who is controlling the background on the issue Ozzie Knezovich or will our tax dollars continue to go down yet another rabbit hole?
“In a letter accompanying his veto, he acknowledged that the new center has not yet released financial information, but said he anticipates integrating emergency communications with the county would save money, improve call capacity and the data gathered through Crime Check.”
Actually, during the meeting Council President Stuckart stated that Condon’s letter contained lies and he backed that up with questions to other CC members, but perhaps Stuckart has forgotten that the City Ethics Commission has ruled that it is okay for the Mayor to lie to the City Council and the Public. Unless statements by the Mayor, or for that matter the CC, are under oath they can lie all they want without having to worry about any repercussions…so not a big deal!
“He called the lack of public financial information and data“perplexing” and asked the mayor to slow down the integration process to make sure it makes sense.”
“perplexing”… I’m not sure that is the right term! For well over 3 years I’ve been trying to get financial information on where our tax dollars have been going with no luck, even the Spokane County Treasure tried to get financial information from this group but was never provided with it. The important thing to remember is that the 911 tax is a tax on the sale of goods unlike the E911 tax from 2003, so it affects everyone including struggling low-income folks. The taxpayers voted in favor of the 911 tax in 2008 and voted to renew it in April of 2017, so it has been 10 years Spokane County has been collecting the tax with ZERO financial accountability.
If the CC is smart, I know that is a big IF, they will require a State Audit of SPOCOM/SRECS before they move any further. I for one would like to know among other things if 911 tax money was spent to re-roof the Spokane County Jail instead of what it was supposed to be used for. For folks that aren’t aware this group’s plan along with the County Commissioners is to create yet another local government entity known as “SPOKANE INTEGRATED COMMUNICATIONS CENTER PUBLIC AUTHORITY” with seven of the ten-member voting Board made up of County not City folks.
You might notice that the plan linked above has the Spokane County Treasurer administering a special fund designated ”Operating fund of SPOCOM” and the treasurer shall be responsible for handling SPOCOM’s accounts and finances. But new Spokane County Treasure Michael Baumgartner doesn’t have to worry because the new government entity will indemnify him from any mistakes he might make by filing a fidelity bond in an amount determined, which brings to mind just exactly how much is the insurance going to cost for this big move surely the “SPOKANE INTEGRATED COMMUNICATIONS CENTER PUBLIC AUTHORITY” will have to have a big insurance policy to go along with all the other insurance policies we pay for with all the various entities involved in this mess.
“Commissioners Al French and Mary Kuney voted last year to transfer $4.5 million which could have been used for road construction to the county’s general fund to cover operating expenses. Commissioner Josh Kerns opposed the decision. He said there was room for cuts in other areas.”
It looks like Commissioner Kerns is actually the only “Conservative”
on the BoCC who has a concern for slowing the money grab?
So, what do many Cops and Firefighters think about all this?
Many look at this as an end run to establish the Condon Metro Police/Fire Concept he hired Frank Straub to work on… but that didn’t work out did it? Please… Mr. Mayor if your plan works…NOT your friend Jim McDevitt again…please!!!
“Many within the Spokane Police Department long suspected that Straub would be Condon’s choice. Condon called Straub earlier this year to ask him to apply for the police position as he explored that city’s metro policing model as a potential option for Spokane.”
“Mayor Condon said Tuesday he stood by his position the selection of Straub as chief was not pre-determined, and that with an”unacceptable” crime rate the police department needed to change and do things differently than they used to, which required a leader that had a solid understanding of metro policing models and experience in implementing cutting-edge policing techniques and approaches.”
“Frank Straub was recruited by Mayor Condon for his experience with metro policing, but Straub also conceded that sometimes mistakes are made in fast-paced police work and that sometimes departments have to offer apologies.”
Aside from the concern expressed to me by First Responders,people other than First Responders who have followed the Condon plan should also be concerned, especially with all the upcoming political opportunities,including a spot on the BoCC, that are available to Mayor Condon when his term ends.
I thought because of the huge amount of taxpayer dollars involved in our 9-1-1 and Computer Aided Dispatch/Records Management System it would be important to present some facts regarding exactly what is going on. As is often the case when something strange or rotten goes on in Spokane County I’m contacted by folks, including first responders from outside of the local Spokane expressing just how nuts we are here in Spokane. Such was the case in late July of 2018 when I was informed the BoCC were going to hire Steve Reinke as Executive Director of the Spokane Regional Emergency Communications System, basically,the substance of the contacts was “Watch out!”
Needless to say, it is pretty easy for some to do some vetting on new hires especially when we are paying them the big bucks. What you sometimes find is a history involving a lack of success elsewhere, which often isn’t mentioned in MSM reports concerning any hiring and in many cases follow the same problems associated with local projects.
Long prior to the hiring of Reinke some taxpayers asked me to look into the expenditures associated with all the money we originally voted against, but better sales jobs later helped to get the taxpayers on board.
For those interested, including MSM reporters you can get a lot of information at the link below, but no real accounting data. You might also notice the folks on the Emergency Services Communications Policy Board never have an pre-meeting agenda for some reason.
I tried to get some type accounting for all the expenditures but was unable to locate any audits of where the taxpayers money was going and if you review all of the Minutes of SPOCOM/SREC,the money sure as hell is going somewhere…but determining where is impossible,as is where all the previous Crime Check money went and whether or not some of it was spent to re-roof the County Jail.
I even tried to get my hands on the“whitepaper” Sheriff Knezovich requested for former treasure Rob Chase, with no luck and I don’t know if the “white paper” even exists.
Council President Stuckart’s veto-override vote will likely boil down to whether or not Council Members Beggs and Kinnear both of whom are on the Public Safety Committee, vote to override. With both facing elections soon and wanting the union votes their votes could be interesting. As far as Council Member Kinnear is concerned IMO anyone can sell anything to her, so we will see how the sales job went.
“City Council President Ben Stuckart said he already asked the clerk’s office to place the ordinance on Monday’s schedule for a potential veto-override vote and believes the ordinance, which specified who 911 dispatchers could work with and training requirements, is a legislative issue.”
The perfect out for all the City Council is to point out that in fact despite Mayor Condon’s assertions otherwise there is absolutely no accounting of where the taxpayers money has been spent and until such time as an independent audit is done they are going to stick to their guns.
Mayor Condon of course, as is usually the case says he will do whatever the hell he wants as a lame duck Mayor.
“Condon said even if the council overrides his veto, he intends to go forward with integrating county and city 911 dispatchers.”
Some folks are wondering if our lame duck Mayor might be considering a run for a County Commissioners job when they go to five, who knows, but if CMR stays where she is and doesn’t get a job in the Trump Administration which would open the door for Condon, sure as heck a County Commissioners job especially with control over all the 911 money probably wouldn’t be too bad.
When one reads Mayor Condon’s letter to the City Council regarding his Veto it sure doesn’t sound very positive when you look at the language he chose to use.
As the seemingly never-ending battle between Sheriff Ozzie
Knezovich, Detention Director John McGrath, and the Board of County
Commissioners over control of the Spokane County Jail continues even more allegations
continue to fly. From the information and documents, I currently have It
appears Ozzie wants the Jail back, and among other things has enlisted the aid
of Lt. Mike Sparber the County Criminal Justice Liaison for the Spokane
County Sheriff Office who has made complaints against Detention Director John
As is usually the case to supplement what I already have it
becomes necessary to do one of those feared Public Records Requests in order to
get the complete story as well as how much all this mess is costing the
There are many questions that need answered in this mess and
hopefully the Public Records Request will help to answer some, although as
folks know getting a prompt and timely PRR from Spokane County is like pulling
teeth, so we shall see.
Some of obvious questions aside from Ozzie wanting the Jail
Will the BoCC fire or demote McGrath?
If McGrath is demoted or fired will McGrath via
his lawyer Mary Schultz sue the County and Ozzie for big time money?
Does Mike Sparber want McGrath’s job if McGrath
is demoted or fired?
What role if any does the original Fossum
investigation involving Phil Tyler have to do with the current complaints?
Did Sheriff Knezovich arrange some secret
meetings with private citizens adverse to McGrath and Commissioner Al French?
The first indicator that any legitimate and independent oversight of the Spokane Police Department for the Citizens of the City of Spokane should have been when they overwhelming voted for a change to the City Charter which requires independent oversight yet was completely ignored by the Mayor and City Council who refused to battle the Police Unions in Court for legitimate and independent Police Oversight.
As far as the City Charter is concerned those of us that
were born, raised, and worked in Spokane inside and outside the political structure
know full well that despite what the City Charter might say politics and
cronyism will always trump (no pun intended) the City Charter no matter who is
Beyond the City Charter issue, it is obvious we Citizens
spent a lot of money on experts and wasted the time and energy of many a volunteer
to make recommendations which have never been followed nor is it likely they
ever will be. Two such recommendations are easily found in reports of the Use
of Force Commission, and the COPS/DOJ Review of SPD, both of which were and are
highly touted by Mayor Condon and the City Council.
As many of my readers know I keep pretty close track of law
enforcement and criminal justice issues here in Spokane County and along with
all of the information and documents I receive from sources part of that
tracking is watching the OPOC Meetings to get a good feel for what is going on
as well as to provide source corroboration. The November 13, 2018 meeting of
the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission in my view is a perfect example of exactly
what a waste all of the previous efforts and recommendations have been in
establishing legitimate and independent oversight of SPD.
There were two big FIRSTS which came out of the meeting. One
was the decision by the OPOC to demand that SPD IA actually investigate a
Citizen Complaint they had refused to investigate, this is the first time that
has ever happened and hopefully isn’t the last. Another FIRST was the OPOC
decision to make a formal complaint against the Chief of Police. What
interested me regarding the formal complaint was that OPOC lawyer and former
Mayor Dennis Hession rightfully pointed out that Mayor Condon was responsible
for the complaint based upon his response to a letter written to him by lawyer
It will be interesting to see whether or not Mayor Condon actually follows the City Ordinance he cited in his letter and sends the complaint to his gal Christine Cavanaugh the Director of Human Resources, or just lets his right-hand gal Teresa Sanders investigate the complaint on her own like he did in the past when a complaint was made against his other choice for Chief of Police Frank Straub. Either way I think we all know how the “investigation”of the complaint will end up.
Here is a copy of the first ever formal complaint against a Chief of Police made by the OPOC.
Speaking of City Human Resources and Christine Cavanaugh,most of the public isn’t aware of all the turmoil going on with that City Department, which is a story for another day.
To be perfectly honest since I have a pretty darn good idea
where the complaint against Chief Meidl is headed I’m more interested in the HR
complaint Detective Lonnie Tofsrud made against his Brass, especially since it
deals with Brady Cop issues, but it will be a while before I can get my hands
on that case because the underpaid, understaffed City Clerk’s Office are having
problems; “Due to other work obligations and position vacancies in the City
Clerk’s Office, together with a medical absence starting this week and another
in early December, I anticipate requiring an additional 35 days, or until
In watching the OPOC meeting I thought the Commissioners
asked some pretty good questions, and I also though it was cool when after
Assistant Chief Justin Lundgren went into his long dissertation trying to
justify Chief Meidl’s position OPOC Chair Ladd Smith pointed out that despite
the millions of contacts SPD makes every year without complaints, that wasn’t
the issue before the OPOC. Needless to say, I would have had many more
questions of both Lundgren and Lt. Barton Stevens. I sure as heck would have
followed up with some questions of Stevens when he responded to questions
regarding whether or not it was necessary for Officer Hice because he was on a
plain clothes “Dignitary Protection Detail” to identify himself as a Police
Officer, and Stevens responded; “I’m not aware of a policy that says he has to
identify himself as an Officer in that particular conversation.”, Lundgren
tried to jump in and help him out of that one, but obviously it didn’t work.
When it comes to dancing it appears to me that Officer Hice is a far better
dancer than Lundgren or Stevens
Maybe since SPD IA is now required to investigate the case
they can resolve the issue of whether or not Officer Hice should have
identified himself as a law enforcement officer prior to threatening to arrest
the complainant if in fact that is what happened. As for me having been through
that issue including on the witness stand, I don’t know how many times, I don’t
think there is any question that you must clearly establish your authority to
make an arrest even if you are just threatening to make one.
Perhaps it is just an issue of Lt. Stevens never having
worked in Washington DC where you can’t tell the private security firms that do
Dignitary Protection and have no arrest powers from the Secret Service and DC
Cops who actually do have arrest powers, those private firms all dress like the
Secret Service drive the same type of black SUVs and have those dumb looking communication
ear pieces sticking out of their ears, so some people just can’t tell the difference
and that is the whole point of the copycat style.
I still have that question for OPOC Commissioner Elizabeth
Kelley that hasn’t been answered; “Madam Commissioner, did you ever have ice
cream at the old Mona Lisa’s in Monrovia?” 😊