“US” of course meaning government agencies including the City of Spokane. This story is about one of the most recent examples of the City of Spokane and the Woodward Administration not wanting the Public to know secret stuff, and part of my job is to let the real story be told.
When an Investigative Reporter receives information from very credible sources that the hire of new Assistant Fire Chief for the Spokane Fire Department was one of those “Good ole boy/girl” things to do someone a favor, and that the hired person won’t last long it is something which should be looked into and the Public made aware of, especially when you consider that sources also tell you that not hiring another Battalion Chief has resulted in ridiculous payments in overtime for a select few.
So, I made an effort to look into some recent hires including the somewhat under-reported hire of Julie O’Berg as the SFD Deputy Chief of Operations using one of the options available which is one of those dreaded Public Records Requests knowing full well the Woodward Administration would continue the same lack of transparency her predecessor David Condon was noted for. The Spokesman Review story linked below, and the images will provide some background.
It would be hard to dispute the fact that Brian Schaeffer has a strong connection to the Kansas City area and might even be a Kansas City Royals fan like Rob Curley and Kip Hill from the Spokesman Review.
Speaking of Kip Hill some might remember that Condon’s hire of Brian Schaeffer was controversial much like his hiring of Craig Meidl. If you read his story you will find an email from none other, then Meghann Steinolfson pumping Schaeffer’s tires who always plays a prominent role in Public Records Requests when it comes to the Fire Department and the Police Department, as she does in the Public Records I received looking into this matter at hand. Mayor Woodward is aware of the “romantic relationship” between Steinolfson and Schaeffer’s Deputy Fire Chief of Support Services Jay Atwood which is documented in Public Records I have requested and have been waiting for a long time to receive from the City of Spokane. I must assume despite the fact that Steinolfson is heavily involved in union negotiations with the Fire Department and Police Unions Woodward doesn’t believe that the “romantic relationship” is a conflict.
When I do PRRs it never fails that an issue other than what I’m investigating comes to light, as it did in this case. The issue I’ve identified is should the Public know the extent of involvement of private law firms which the taxpayers pay for in the in the City of Spokane’s day to day business. The Public Records clearly identify that the Summit Law Firm and Lawyer Elizabeth (Beth) Kennar is deeply involved and her name just keeps coming up. I wonder why our highly paid and benefited City Attorney’s Office can’t handle the light work. As the images below demonstrate the Summit Law Firm via Beth Kennar even help out department heads write widely disseminated “Chief’s Messages”, something one would think they could do for themselves.
It becomes quite obvious that Mayor Woodward and the City of Spokane really don’t want the Public to know the truth, but that is just SOP.