What the Council Wants
After months of tension between the Spokane City Council and the administration over local police oversight, Council President Ben Stuckart gave the mayor an indication last week of what the council wants.
In a letter to Mayor David Condon, Stuckart wrote that for a majority of councilmembers to support a contract agreement between the city and the police guild — which the mayor negotiates but the council must approve — the agreement must grant the Office of Police Ombudsman the authority to open its own nondisciplinary investigations.
Today, the ombudsman participates in Spokane Police Department Internal Affairs investigations, but cannot open his own separate investigations. The tentative contract agreement reached by the mayor and guild in the fall maintained that system and added a citizen commission to oversee the ombudsman. The council rejected that agreement in November, but the mayor returned it to them in December with an accompanying ordinance he hoped would fill in the gaps. Now, Stuckart says a majority of the council believes increased authority for the ombudsman should be in a contract agreement, not an ordinance, which could be subject to a lawsuit from the guild. When asked Monday, Condon wouldn't say whether his legal team will attempt to bargain a new agreement with the guild before the council is scheduled to vote, once again, on the earlier version Feb. 3. — HEIDI GROOVER
Local Marine Killed
Marine Sgt. Jacob M. Hess, a 2009 North Central graduate and standout soccer player, died on New Year's Day in Afghanistan. Military officials have not released details of the cause or circumstances surrounding his death.
Hess, 22, was assigned to an aviation logistics squadron with the North Carolina-based 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, according to the Department of Defense. He died while serving in support of combat operations in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province.
Hess' mother, Keirsten Lyons, serves as the regional director of the Services to Armed Forces program for the American Red Cross, working in recent years to expand local support services for veterans and military families. Last year, Lyons was awarded a Peirone Prize from the Inlander for her work. His father, Michael Hess, is a retired Naval officer. — JACOB JONES
777X Has Landed
Washington business leaders, manufacturers and politicians can breathe a sigh of relief. Thanks to a tight 51 percent vote, the Boeing machinists' union accepted an eight-year contract, guaranteeing that Boeing's next-generation plane, the 777X, will be built in Washington.
Boeing had sweetened the initial offer the union had previously rejected, offering an additional $5,000 in 2020 to the immediate $10,000 signing bonus, improving dental benefits, and eliminating controversial changes to the pay scale.
The result: Washington remains in one of the best positions in the country to take advantage of the coming aerospace boom. That includes the Spokane region, which has seen significant growth in the aerospace industry in the past few years.
"Anything that keeps the manufacturing in the state of Washington, the more opportunity there is for our manufacturers to be a part of that process," says Spokane County Commissioner Al French.
To Bryan Corliss, a communications representative for the Machinists Union District Lodge 751, there never was any need for the union to blink: Washington was always the clear choice to build the 777X.
"I don't think any of our members are happy with the outcome, whichever way they voted," Corliss says.
While local Boeing union leaders opposed the terms of the contract, the national leadership at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers overrode them. That saga isn't quite over yet. Corliss says some 8,000 union members weren't able to vote because of the short notice and holiday timing of the vote.
"Four of our members have filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board over the timing of the election." — DANIEL WALTERS