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Moving Forward With a New Police Contract in Spokane
by Dom Felix
One year after voters passed amended the City Charter to mandate independent investigation authority by the Office of Police Ombudsman (OPO), City Council approved a contract between the city of Spokane and the Police Guild, along with an accompanying ordinance, that severely limits when or even if the Ombudsman will have that power. Read more »
Tell Mayor Condon: independent investigations & nothing less!
Carl Maxey, attorney and civil rights worker, said in 1975:
“There must be a viable method for getting a full and complete investigation when a death is caused by a policeman.” And 38 years later, our community’s long struggle for real oversight of police is at a pivotal moment–and YOUR voice is needed!
We won a 70% Yes vote for Police Accountability in February this year. Our votes mean our city charter now mandates independent investigations of police misconduct. And we’ll settle for nothing less!
But now, Mayor Condon has not only failed to negotiate for independent investigations in his new “tentative agreement” with the police union. He has also now produced a new ordinance that muddles the Ombudsman’s involvement in Internal Affairs-run investigations even further and clearly violates Prop 1–ALL with NO written assurances that the Police Guild won’t file a challenge against the ordinance. Police accountability advocates are calling this combination “the worst of all possible worlds.”
The 3 Most Important Things You Can Do:
1. NOW: email Councilmembers–vote NO on the contract AGAIN and NO on the ordinance. We won’t accept anything less than what our votes mandated in our city charter! (See below for sample message you can edit, and post your letter in the comments below!)
2. TOMORROW: come to the Mayor’s public forum Thursday Dec 12, 6pm to 8pm, at West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt.
3. MONDAY: come to City Council Monday Dec 16, starting 6pm to show your support for the will of the voters or to testify. Read more »
Police Accountability: Council rejects TA
By Dom Felix, Intern
The struggle for independent oversight of police continues. After 21 months of negotiations between the Mayor and the Police Guild, the voters are not any closer to it than they were after passing Proposition 1 way back in February 2013.
On November 1st, City Legal and The Police Guild released a Tentative Agreement (TA) that they and Mayor Condon claimed fulfilled Proposition 1. Read more »
Your Snowflakes created a Blizzard for Accountability
Our snowflakes created a facebook blizzard that could not be ignored! Thank you to the more than 40 individuals who helped spread the message: Mayor Condon failed the voters; Council: Reject the new police contract; Police Accountability for Spokane NOW! Click here for the collage all the “snowflakes”!
We helped to call out Mayor Condon on his complete failure to listen to the voters who overwhelmingly passed Prop. 1 and put pressure on the Council to unanimously reject the police contract.
There is still a lot of work ahead for us to achieve independent oversight for the Office of Police Ombudsman but for now let us bask in our victory!
Welcome new intern Dom Felix!
Dom Felix joined PJALS this year as part of an internship through Eastern Washington University’s Social Work program. Dom has been a long-time resident of the Spokane area who recently chose to pursue higher education in hopes of becoming a chemical dependency counselor. Now as a senior in the program, Dom has come to the decision that working on systemic social change would be a more constructive use of his social work career. This realization lead to Dom choosing PJALS as an internship placement when he became aware of the organization during a lobby day trip to Olympia last year. Read more »
Bobby Kirl joins our team in January!
Bobby Kirl is a Master’s level social work student at Eastern Washington University and has chosen to spend his practicum hours with us. Bobby was first introduced to the work of PJALS during a university course on human rights and was later able to become involved when his affiliation with the local Vets for Peace chapter led to an opportunity to play music at our PJALS membership meeting. Read more »
Police Oversight: Out of Excuses
Police Oversight: Out of Excuses
People like you–making your voices heard–have made the difference at every step as we’ve worked with great determination to win real, meaningful independent oversight of police for Spokane.
As we know, change worth working for doesn’t come quick or easy!
It’s time now for us to mobilize again–can we count on you? Read more »
The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. … If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, … want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. …. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.
Council resolution sets accountability standards for next Police Guild contract
On Monday May 20th the Spokane City Council unanimously passed a resolution that lays out their expectations for Mayor Condon’s negotiations with the Spokane Police Guild. This resolution is an important step forward to guide the future implementation of Proposition 1, which passed in February 2013 with a 70% yes vote. Read more »
Our Community of Action Going Forward Together
by Liz Moore, PJALS Director
What I love most about PJALS is being part of a community of people who take action together based on the connections between human rights, economic justice, & peace.
Our Steering Committee asked you, PJALS members, to guide strategic planning for 2013-2014. We learned that you overwhelmingly support organizing to raise revenue & reject cuts as well as to counter the costs of militarism and to demand money for people, not for war. You’re also passionate about alternatives to incarceration & police accountability. You value that we create community together through our events & campaigns. You strongly support our Young Activist Leaders Program & our interns. You love our Action Conference. You want PJALS to continue to strengthen our connections with communities of color & with rural people.
Why prioritize those areas? Read more »
We did it! Yes on Prop 1!
By Michelle Little
After many years and a tremendous amount of effort by groups such as the Spokane Police Accountability and Reform Coalition, along with overwhelming support by local citizens of Spokane, we have taken a huge step in the right direction. By a landslide 70% vote Proposition 1, which mandates independent investigative authority and public reporting by the Spokane Police Ombudsman and creates a citizen oversight commission, has passed. Read more »
Progress NOT Roadblocks: PJALS Special Election Voter Guide
For the 2/12/13 City of Spokane special election – Please urge your friends to VOTE! Ballots will be mailed to registered voters on January 24 & must be returned by Tuesday February 12.
- Yes on Prop 1: Prop 1 will create permanent power for the Office of Police Ombudsman to independently investigate complaints against Spokane police officers and report findings to the public. It also gives the people of Spokane a voice by creating a citizen board to oversee the Ombudsman. Vote Yes to ensure that everyone in our community is treated fairly by law enforcement and to restore confidence and trust in our police department
- No on Prop 2: if passed, would place the power of governing in the hands of a radical minority by requiring a two thirds (5/7) supermajority vote requirement on selective tax measures. This means just 3 council members could block proposals to keep libraries open, support important life saving services such as EMS, and create jobs and attract tourism.
- Yes on Prop 3: which requests a dedicated levy for Library services at a rate of 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Homeowners with a home valued at $100,000, would pay a meager $7 a year. The levy duration would be four years and allow for the restoration of regular hours at all branches including those in the lowest income neighborhoods.
Police Accountability: Urge City Council to vote YES on Charter Amendment
Monday Dec 17, 6:00 pm, City Council Chambers, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd
Please come urge City Council members to vote YES to send this Charter Amendment to voters. This Charter Amendment will give the Office of Police Ombudsman permanent independence and investigatory authority. No future contract with the Police Guild could be passed by the City that would conflict with the charter amendment, and this Charter Amendment could never be weakened by future council votes. It’s time to get it done! Learn more from the Center for Justice here and come show your support on Monday night!
Community Meeting for Police Accountability
Because of pressure and pushing from community members, Spokane has taken some steps forward on police accountability. But clearly we’re not done yet! Please come to this Community Meeting to to share your concerns, learn of new developments and, most importantly, find out what you can do to help! Meet other people and organizations that are involved in the fight and how you can become a part of what they are doing!
Spokane Police Accountability and Reform Coalition COMMUNITY MEETING
Wednesday Nov 14, 6:30 to 8:30pm
East Central Community Center, 500 W. Stone, in the Senior Area Read more »
KYRS Local News Nov 2
Highlights, history and analysis from Thursday’s news conference announcing the submission of a newly proposed Police Ombudsman Ordinance for the City of Spokane by the Center for Justice and the Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane. Includes and interview with Liz Moore, Director of PJALS.
Listen here: http://www.kyrs.org/mp3s/LocalNewsNov2final.mp3
PJALS supports new strong Police Oversight ordinance
Liz Moore, PJALS director, gave this statement at a PJALS and Center for Justice press conference this afternoon, where our organizations released a newly drafted ordinance strengthening independent oversight of the Spokane Police Department, with the support of the League of Women Voters.
The Peace and Justice Action League strongly supports this new strong Police Oversight ordinance because it does 3 completely critical things:
1. gives the Ombudsman investigative authority and mandates public reporting on investigations;
2. removes police unions from the process of selecting the Ombudsman responsible for oversight of the police department; and
3. creates a commission of community members to review and guide the Ombudsman’s work.
Police Accountability: a critical window opening now
Though the Zehm case has been settled, now is not the time for activists with our eyes on police accountability to settle in and get comfortable. The next year and a half is going to be critical. The landscape is shifting quickly as Mayor Condon brings in Frank Straub as new chief of police, among other changes current and on the horizon. Read more »
Tell the Mayor: We need a Police Ombudsman every day!
Public pressure works: The city announced today that Spokane Mayor David Condon will extend the contract of Police Ombudsman Tim Burns until the end of the year. More here!
Tonight, the Spokane City Council will vote on a resolution calling on Mayor Condon to keep Tim Burns in the Police Ombudsman position at least until a plan is in place to fill the position for the next 3-year term and to remove the Police Guild’s influence in the selection process. Will you attend or send a message to make your voice heard?
Condon dismissed Burns, the first Police Ombudsman, without a plan to fill the critical position. Read more »
Community Groups Urge Council and Mayor Not to Repeal 2010 Ombudsman Ordinance
Three Spokane public interest organizations who’ve been deeply involved in pushing Spokane city government toward independent oversight of its police department are calling upon the City Council and Mayor Mary Verner to maintain the independence of Spokane’s Office of Police Ombudsman.
In response to an arbitrator’s July 11, 2011 ruling—ordering the City to rescind its July 2010 ordinance (C-34609)—the City Council is scheduled to vote tonight to comply with the arbitrator’s ruling and repeal the ordinance.
“Just because the City has dug itself into a deep hole doesn’t mean it should give up,” the groups argue in their letter. “To repeal the ordinance will only deepen public frustration and undermine the City’s efforts to secure a collective bargaining agreement with the Guild that removes the union’s opposition to a credibly independent Ombudsman.”
The groups’ letter (attached) is highly critical of the City’s “painfully inept mishandling of the defense of the 2010 ordinance that brings us to this juncture.” Although the groups do not dispute a recent determination by David Gedrose of the state’s Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) that the City made a mistake and misled PERC when it sought to arbitrate the dispute with the Spokane Police Guild, neither do the groups believe that the City’s errors absolve PERC of its legal duty to review the 2010 ordinance on its merits—something it has not done.
“What’s deeply frustrating about the place the City finds itself in,” says Center for Justice Communications Director Tim Connor, “is that the City so badly botched its defense of the ordinance that PERC never actually reached the heart of the legal issue: Did the City have the legal authority to give the Ombudsman powers of independence or not? We think the law is clear that the 2010 ordinance is legal. But the law also says that only PERC or a state court have the authority to rule on that question. And neither have done so yet.”
The groups’ letter calls on the city council and Mayor Mary Verner to appeal the arbitration ruling while it negotiates a new contract with the Spokane Police Guild.