Category Archives: Journalism

The Mayor’s Ruthless Ruse

David Condon strangled police oversight in Spokane. Now he wants to blame it on state law.  

David Condon came to office in Spokane because of how badly his predecessor botched the issue of police accountability. After sailing through the 2011 primary election, former Mayor Mary Verner energized Condon’s campaign by turning remarkably tone deaf  to rising public anger about police conduct in the Otto Zehm tragedy.

Although Condon was something of a political blank page when he took office, it would have been hard to imagine that he could do any worse than Verner on what, then, was the central issue in city politics.

But he has. Continue reading The Mayor’s Ruthless Ruse

Black and Blue

A new dispute over Use of Force investigations highlights a growing rift between Spokane police and Ombudsman Tim Burns.

By Tim Connor

Attached to Spokane Police Ombudsman Tim Burns’s report for the month of June is a rather astounding artifact.

It’s a July 14th letter to Burns from Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub about a central issue in the now six-and-a-half year effort to reform the Spokane Police Department.

It has to do with this question: How committed and capable is the SPD in investigating Use of Force complaints against its police officers?

Continue reading Black and Blue

Fukushima and the Long Reach of Fear

Adjusting the terror quotient on Japan’s nuclear nightmare.

By Tim Connor

When the tsunamis arrived on the northeast cost of Honshu it was mid-afternoon, March 11th in Japan. Here, on the other side of the Pacific, it was approaching midnight and those of us still awake could watch the surreal, live video from Japan of an ocean bulldozing its way inland, lifting cars and boats, and even piles of flaming debris.

Of the nearly 20,000 people killed in the 2011 disaster, nearly all perished as a result of the surging ocean. Yet, what soon eclipsed the news coverage of the natural devastation, is what we now refer to, simply, as Fukushima.

At the six unit Fukushima Daichi power station, 150 miles northeast of Tokyo, an avalanche of sea water disabled the power supply for the plants’ cooling systems, causing fuel melting in the cores of three, large boiling water nuclear reactors. Hydrogen explosions blew the roofs off reactor buildings. A pool filled with irradiated nuclear fuel at a fourth reactor (unit #4) captured at least as much attention as any of the reactors out of fear that it had boiled dry and was releasing vast amounts of radioactive materials to the atmosphere.

These were all harrowing developments, and most especially so for the people of northern Japan who were reeling from a natural disaster and an emerging nuclear catastrophe. Emissions from Fukushima caused dangerous radiation exposures to site workers and the public, and hundreds of square miles remain badly contaminated.

But what of the consequences beyond Japan? Is Fukushima a threat to the planet itself? Does it threaten the Pacific Ocean? Is it, or was it ever, a threat to people on the Pacific coast of the U.S.?
Continue reading Fukushima and the Long Reach of Fear