It’s been a very busy, beautiful October — too many things to digest and not enough time to report. I look forward to sending out a e-newsletter next week with an overview of everything I’ve been working on — from changes to state foreclosure laws to housing policy to ensuring the best alignment and design of the North/South Corridor project through my District.
Here is an overview of actions at the October 10th Council Meeting:
Our first item was considering whether to confirm Craig Meidl as Police Chief. As you know, the selection of a new chief has been a long process that started back in Jan/February of this calendar year. A national search was conducted and community members and stakeholders were allowed to weigh in a various points with finalists chosen by a selection committee that had community members and Councilmembers participating. The Mayor surprised us all in August when he named Craig Meidl as chief even though he had not applied for the job and had not been vetted by the community. Council and community called for the process to be opened back up again. Mr. Meidl applied and was subsequently interviewed and compared against some of the same and other candidates with community input. I spent over six hours back in August and six hours in Sept. interviewing candidates with a group of other community leaders. The vast majority of the community leaders on all panels recommended Mr. Meidl above other candidates.
This has been a difficult process for me and for many in the community. I had constituents asking me to confirm Mr. Meidl and others asking me not to. Mr. Meidl has been a member of SPD for many year. He said and did some inappropriate things after the death of Otto Zehm and conviction of Karl Thompson. He has apologized to the Zehm family and me and the community. I can forgive him, but there are many citizens who cannot.
After a lot of consideration, I did vote to confirm Mr. Meidl for several reasons. First, he performed well in the interviews and has an excellent knowledge of how we need to continue our SPD moving toward 21st Century model policing. Second, the other candidates were not strong. There seems to be a lack of candidates nationwide for police chief positions (or at least those willing to come serve in Spokane). I am still very concerned about Mr. Meidl’s ability to implement internal cultural changes as someone who has been “inside” the agency for many years. I will be watching this process and ensuring the culture audit findings lead to change. Also, CM Beggs has suggested and is moving forward with a “truth and reconciliation” process that Mr. Meidl has agreed to participate in with the community to rebuild trust. Council voted 5-1-1 (Stratton no, Beggs abstaining) to confirm Meidl’s appointment.
Council expressed support for State Initiative 1464, regarding campaign contributions and having public funding of campaigns (6-1, Fagan no). Council also expressed support for State Initiative 735, which would express Washington State’s support for Constitutional Amendment regarding freedom of speech for people and that corporations are not people. This is regarding the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling several years ago (6-1, Fagan no).
Council supported a resolution in favor of Spokane Transit Authority Prop 1, which would increase transit by 25% over the next 11 years (6-1, Fagan no). For more info, please visit www.stamovingforward.com
Council’s October 17th Legislative agenda was very light. The highlight was approving the issuance of sale of bonds that were approved by voters for improving Spokane Parks and Pools in 2008. The Council approved on a 6-0 vote (CM Kinnear absent) refinancing these bonds at a lower interest rate, which will cost property owners less over the life of the bonds. A great deal for taxpayers!