City of Spokane Use of Force Commission, First year progress report

(Previous post deleted and replaced with this one)

City of Spokane Use of Force Commission, Final Report. This is the report issued in 2013 in the aftermath of the SPD’s killing of innocent Otto Zehm and the subsequent cover up and general disrespect of the people of Spokane by the SPD. Inlander’s coverage of the 2013 report. Read the full report for yourself before you look at the 2014 presentation.

As a footnote to last year’s final report, remember that a former City of Spokane attorney routinely filed lawsuits against anyone making a complaint against the police, cutting off an important data point to recognize SPD problems.

This past week, the city presented a one-year progress report. The presentation is a public-relations sales pitch, bundled with propaganda. Lots of photos of happy smiling faces.  Fits in to the general theme of over the top propaganda throughout Spokane’s culture.

The more useful document is the 12 month progress report. As you read it, compare each recommendation to the problems detailed in last year’s report.


Spokane County jobs recovery in charts, recovery remains weak

This chart comes from the Calculated Risk blog and shows the impact of the Great Recession on U.S. non-farm jobs, compared to other recessions.  As of today, the US has recovered almost all of the jobs lost (see red line) and by the next update, next week, will likely have recovered 100% of the jobs lost.


Spokane County has recovered just under half of the jobs that were lost. The Great Recession began in November of 2007. This chart shows non-farm jobs from January 2008 to the present.

Spokane County’s job recovery is very weak relative to the nation as a whole.

SMS53440600000000001_265454_1396052338773The chart comes from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Police shootings in Spokane, by the numbers

Prior blog post on this topic – certainly relevant today: Police shootings in Spokane, by the numbers | Spokane Economic And Demographic Data.

Spokane Police Shooting Audio Analysis

Video shows robbery suspect shot, killed by Spokane Police | Spokane/E. WA –

Here is an audio trace made from the video shown by KXLY TV and KREM TV. Click on the image for a larger view.


Timing marks are minutes:seconds:frames from the start of the video clip. There are 30 frames per second.

First part of recording appears to be police urging him to give up, there are people who care about you, do the right thing, come on Stephen, … sounds like “step on out here okay” (uncertain) and then the following:

  • 01:06:09: Audio sounds like “He’s gotta gun”
  • 01:06:21 door appears to open
  • 01:07:06 suspect just becomes visible to camera view (hand and forearm seen)
  • 01:07:12 to 01:07:19 (1/4 second) unintelligible police shout
  • 01:07:07: Suspect exits the door and becomes visible to camera
  • 01:08:01: First shot fired
  • 01:10:08: Last shot fired
  • 2.3 seconds from time the door appears to open to first shot fired
  • 1.8 seconds from time suspect’s hand is visible to camera to shots fired
  • 0.8 seconds from time suspect exits the door (in camera view) to first shot fired
  • 13/30th of a second from “unintelligible” to first shot fired
  • 3.03 seconds from time he appears visible in camera view (hand seen) at the door to last shot fired.
  • 2 seconds – total duration of shooting. News reports say 14 shots fired.
  • 4.3 seconds from time door appears to open to last shot fired

The words “Drop it” are not audible on the recording (this does not mean they were not said but they are not apparent on the recording). They may have been shouted at 01:07:12 to 01:07:19 but were unintelligible to my ear; shots were then fired at 10:08:01 which is less than 1/2 second later (faster than the suspect could have reacted).

The video recording appears to have differences from the statements made by Police Chief Straub after the shooting. Straub has not yet commented on the discrepancies. (Update: The “SPD would like to clarify initial statements” and that a CO2 powered pellet gun was found near the body.)

Note: Time units may be off by 1 or 2 frames (each frame is 1/30th of a second). Seconds are approximate and rounded based on the frame by frame analysis.


Spokane Propaganda-style never goes stale!

The Pacific Northwest Qualifier Volleyball Tournament will host 603 teams at the Spokane Convention Center.”

But actually:

The teams play at one of three sites in the greater Spokane area: Spokane Convention Center, Eastern Washington University, and the HUB in the Valley

The logos of all three locations are prominent here. Don’t bring your own food to the Convention Center because apparently that’s dangerous; the other two venues allow you to bring your own food.

As reported here previously, the 2007 economic study attributed all of the economic benefits to the Convention Center.

“The annual PNW Volleyball tournament took place in 2012 at  Eastern Washington University, Liberty Lake HUB Sports Center and at the Convention Center. But the CH Johnson study (Table A-19, page 19) appears to attribute 100% of the 2007 Volleyball PNW economic impacts to the Convention Center and none to other venues. That does not seem right.”

But its right and proper when you use Spokane Propaganda-style to hide the decline in attendance. The last time the Spokesman-Review accurately reported on declining Convention Center attendance was back in 2005.

This story is obviously off limits. But apparently media’s shredding of their own credibility is not off limits, since that is what they are doing. Too bad.

This is not about whether the event is good or not (obviously its good!) or whether having the Convention Center in town is good or bad. This is about hiding the decline in attendance from the people of Spokane while repeatedly expanding the facilities. The most direct and honest objective measure of management success is – attendance – which is in a long term decline. But don’t tell anyone! Keep this a deep secret please!


Spokane Propaganda-Style

After an officer involved shooting, we should wait for the results of the investigation before passing judgement. 

Recently, an officer involved shooting took place in Spokane Valley. Sadly, it appeared to be “suicide by cop” by a heavily armed individual who had telephoned 9-1-1 with his intentions. Not much controversy there. We all have sympathy for the victim, the victim’s families, the deputies and their families. This must be awful for all involved.

Days after a shooting, law enforcement issues a press release with the names of the officers or deputies. These releases routinely list the training, commendations and awards, and sometimes past work experience of those involved.

Here’s the text of a local law enforcement press release – there is something odd here – see if you can spot which”one of these doesn’t go with the others”:

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is releasing the names of the deputies involved in the shooting incident that occurred at Sullivan and Indiana the night of February 11, 2014.

Deputy Brett Hubbell-14 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and SWAT Team Leader

Received a Certificate of Appreciation in 2010 for his professional work with a bank robbery investigation Sheriff’s Office Patrol Procedures lead instructor He’s received over 10 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism. 3 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Jeff Thurman- 12 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and K9 handler with Laslo

Emergency Vehicle Operations and Control (EVOC) Lead Instructor and Subject Matter Expert for Pursuit Review Sheriff’s Office Field Training Officer Patrol Procedures Instructor Chief Tactical Flight Officer for SCSO Air 1 Received the 2013 National Tactical Flight Officer of the Year Award by the Airborne Law Enforcement Association Received a Certificate of Appreciation in 2010 for his professionalism and patience Received Certificates of Commendation in 2011 and 2012 for his excellent work. He’s received over 15 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism 6 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Dale Moyer-7 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and SWAT Team member

In 2011 he received the Sheriff’s Star Award for his excellent work and professionalism. Sheriff’s Office SWAT and Patrol Procedures Instructor He’s received 3 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism. 12 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO Received a Life Saving Award for helping a suicidal female in Kootenai County Previous law enforcement instructor at North Idaho College Joint Agency Drug Task Force detective, Field Training Officer, Patrol Procedures Instructor and Citizens on Patrol Instructor for Kootenai County Veteran-U.S Army Active Duty/Reserve

Deputy Ryan Walter-7 year Sheriff’s Office veteran and SWAT Team member

He’s received over 10 letters internally documenting his good work and professionalism 2 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Brian Hirzel-5 year Sheriff’s Office veteran

17 years of previous law enforcement experience before joining SCSO

Deputy Randy Watts has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 10 months

Prior to joining SCSO, he served in the U.S. Navy Helicopter Systems Operator-Search and Rescue Swimmer Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) instructor with the Join Personnel Recover Agency

The SIRR Team’s investigation of the incident is ongoing. No additional information is available at this time.

Did you spot the single line on Deputy Brian Hirzel? That is odd for a deputy that has his very own topic page at the local newspaper!

From public records, Deputy Hirzel has been involved in three officer involved killings (2 by gun fire, one by hand). While the investigating agency announced he would be interviewed 3 days after the Creach shooting, the deputy was on vacation to Las Vegas, one of many factors that created controversy and cynicism.  There is a Mr. Hirzel that is also founder and principle investigator at Critical Investigations, LLC, a private investigation service in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (See additional footnote below as the web site appears to have been taken offline after this post).

Another of the deputies was involved in a previous shooting too, and this is not mentioned.

The Spokesman-Review read their own archives and pulled up the missing details.

Leaving out inconvenient detail is called “lying by omission. No one actually lied, no one said anything that was not true. But the intent is to influence by giving part of the story in a way to intentionally misrepresent- in other words, it is propaganda. The recent news story about the Spokane Arena left out the most important metric of all – the long term downward attendance trend and that attendance for 2012 is almost 1/3 less than the peak.  Dissembling is where true facts are presented in a way or in an ordering intended to lead one to an untruthful conclusion and is a common method used in propaganda.

This is what we call  Spokane Propaganda-Style!

This blog post is not about the officers involved or whether the shooting was justified or not – this story is about Spokane Propaganda-Style. Propaganda leads directly to cynicism and a loss of trust in local institutions and leaders. 


Footnote update:

Just wanted to clarify that we did not haphazardly link to a random web site.

 Deputy Hirzel’s LinkedIn page has a link on it to the Critical Investigations web site – see “Websites Company Website“. Portions of Deputy Hirzel’s LinkedIn page have almost identical wording to that used on the Critical Investigations web site.   The Critical Investigations web site appears to have been taken offline after this post was made here on this blog.  

An Internet Archive copy of the page is here

Screen shot of the main page is here: image capture

Spokane Memorial Arena Attendance

Here’s the chart and the rest of the story at the link. All data comes from public domain sources including Eastern Washington University.


Here’s the propaganda spin in the Spokesman-Review because, you know, this is Spokane.  Attendance trends are only hinted at in a single sentence near the end of the story where they write “Average attendance from 2008-2012 was just over 700,000 people, peaking in 2010 at 879,813“, giving the impression that attendance is growing, which is false. Nothing in the story disputes that attendance remains down over the long term in spite of numerous facility upgrades.

Patrick Jones of EWU says there may be higher spending than in 2010.   He must be hypothesizing per person spending has gone up (likely). But compare the 2010 attendance peak with 2012.  The writer appears to have taken this quote out of context to give the impression that the Arena is bringing in more money than in 2010 – but with one third fewer attendees. Since the Chiefs and Shock account for about 364,000 fans per year (more than half of the 2012 attendance), and they attract a mostly local crowd, this means locals account for a larger percentage of attendance than in 2010 during the national skating event. And that means less outside money is coming to town. Local money is mostly re-arranging spending from one local place to another.

We also see the drop in out of town visitors in the airport’s passenger usage trend – note the local peaks in 2007 and 2010 (Dec and Jan now show year over year increases and the recent trend may have bottomed):


The SR’s story reinforces a major point of this blog – distortion and exaggeration remain alive and well!

We were about to make some posts about the Spokesman-Review recently descending into propaganda mode, but they just made the point for us!  The SR scored their “own goal” by scoring a point for the other team 🙂 Hilariously funny. 

The end of the story hints at what’s coming: the Arena is 18 years old and the PFD will need taxpayers to build an even bigger arena in spite of declining attendance. This propaganda piece is battle space preparation.

Can you guess which two years are the only years for which Arena economic impact studies were done? This is really hard but try to guess 🙂

Update: Like yesterday, a clarification based on feedback. This is not about whether there should be an Arena, or whether it is good for Spokane, or about taxpayer funding. This post is about:

  • Why is the decline in attendance at the Arena and other PFD facilities deliberately hidden from the public by the local press? (Today’s news story confirms this is deliberately hidden.)
  • What steps are management taking to reverse the attendance decline?

The Spokane County Project you paid for twice

The County is turning on its new digital public safety radio communications systems but failed to mention that voters paid for this system – TWICE.

In 2003, Spokane public safety agencies sold a sales tax increase on the basis of needing to upgrade emergency communication systems. In the wake of 9/11, this upgrade was said to be desperately needed to replace the County’s ancient, vacuum tube and tin can communications system or we were all going to die.

The public safety agencies then proceeded to spend the tax money on everything but public safety communications upgrades. See 2005 Spokesman-Review article “Funds not allotted for Network” and  2009 ballot measure argument against, page 41.

In 2009, Spokane public safety agencies again brought a sales tax “extension” to pay for an upgrade of the emergency communication system for which the taxpayers had already paid. Twelve years later they are starting to turn the new system on. We could have fought and won three World War IIs in the time it took these clowns to implement a supposedly urgently needed upgrade to a radio system that was paid for twice.

The original 2003 ballot was misrepresented by public safety agencies – in any other context, this would be fraud. Or at least bait and switch. But the ballot initiative had a clause allowing them to spend the money any way they wished, in spite of the sales pitch. Which meant they could have promised anything at all, since it included an escape clause to do what ever they wanted. Just like the Spokane Public Facilities District selling voters on never ending expansions with false claims of more jobs, more attendance and more visitors.

When you hear a sales pitch in Spokane, you can be pretty certain that leaders are telling you lies or making false promises.

Update: Based on some feedback, let me clarify. This is not about whether or not the upgrade was needed. This is not about Federal rules that required digital and narrowband upgrades. That is not the issue. The issue is that in 2003 taxpayers were asked to fund this upgrade as part of a public safety tax. The tax election was marketed as funding a needed communications upgrade. The money was mostly spent elsewhere and the government had to ask again in 2009 to extend the tax for another five years. This is not a secret although some wish it might be. The upgrade that was urgently needed in 2003 is going online in 2014. Read the linked references for more background.

Yes, it really took over a decade to install the urgently needed upgrades. Compare that to how long it took too fight and win WW II 🙂

Recent news about the system finally coming online did not seem to mention the unusual history.

State legislature votes to defund Spokane-based Innovate Washington

Innovate Washington is the successor to SIRTI. It was largely defunded last year but continues on in a zombie state.

The House voted unanimously to end Innovate Washington by June of 2015. The Senate already voted in favor of a similar measure so presumably the differences between the two bills now get ironed out and finalized.

This blog has written extensively about SIRTI, its history, and its Board structure that had become disconnected from its mission du jour. SIRTI then evolved to become Innovate Washington and thence Zombie Innovate Washington.

Update: The Legislature has approved the shut down of the Spokane-based Innovate Washington agency effective June 2015 and the Governor signed the legislation. By law, Innovate Washington will be shut down.  The building IW partially occupies will be turned over to WSU-Spokane.

Report claims Spokane roads among worst in State

Nothing in this “report” should be taken too seriously. It’s from the impressive sounding “TRIP Transportation Research Group”, a “non profit”.

Here’s the lead:

A new report released Tuesday shows Spokane has some of the worst road conditions in Washington State. It said drivers spend hundreds of dollars a year fixing their cars because streets in the area are so bad.

The report was funded by civil engineering groups, road paving, bridge construction, asphalt and other materials suppliers. The report strings together lots of numbers with scary comments that we are all going to die unless we quickly borrow or print money and hand it over to them.

This “study” is from a “non-profit” funded  by the industry and the “non profit” label provides cover for government lobbying. Their Board of Directors is almost entirely road construction executives whose companies benefit from government spending on construction. This is disclosed in their IRS Form 990.

Local lobbyist GSI jumps on the bandwagon, as usual.

Spokane County employment data

Not Adjusted raw data and chart

Data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics



Seasonally Adjusted data and chart



Non-Farm Employment remains at about the 2005-2006 level with slow growth whether we use raw data or adjusted data. In the first chart, above, the 2nd peak for 2013 remains below the first peak. This lower second peak has been an indicator of a slowing job market in Spokane County in the past. We will not know if this is the case until much later in 2014 and perhaps it only indicates a temporary slowdown.

Spokane Transit Authority squandered taxpayer money on expensive buses

STA chose to buy hybrid buses in 2007-2009 to reduce costs. This decision apparently failed to deliver the cost reductions and here is why.

December 10, 2007:

STA probably won’t recoup the $211,000 price difference between each hybrid and its fully diesel counterpart unless fuel prices increase dramatically over the expected 15-year life of each hybrid.

March 24, 2009:

The acquisition of new buses, including the hybrids, will reduce ongoing maintenance costs for older buses as well as save on fuel costs.

December 9, 2009:

The 29-foot coaches from Gillig Corp., of Hayward, Calif., will get better fuel mileage and have reduced maintenance costs. The savings should offset their additional purchase price over the life of the buses.

How did that cost reduction work out?

March 10, 2014

The agency opted not to continue purchases of Gillig electric hybrid buses based on overall costs.

The STA bet on a high rate of gas price increases:

At today’s diesel prices [2007], each hybrid will save $90,000 in fuel costs over 12 years, Meyer said. If prices go up 80 cents per gallon, that savings would be $128,000.

Here is the fuel price forecast made by the Federal  Transit Agency in the year 2007:

The price of fuel in 2007 dollars is predicted to drop substantially over the next 12 years according to the AEO forecast

What actually happened with Diesel gas prices (chart from U.S. Energy Information Administration):


Actual price change over the period is essentially zero.  We do not know if the hybrid buses achieved their claimed mileage or maintenance advantage.  STA acknowledges their overall costs were too high. Seattle found many hybrid buses had worse gas mileage than the diesels they replaced. Spokane’s probably did too as they were similar to the buses tested by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory which found worse gas mileage on the diesel hybrids than expected.

What the Federal Transit Agency determined as life cycle costs of diesel, hybrid and other bus technologies, as of 2007:


Per the Federal Transit Agency, hybrid buses always cost more to acquire, maintain and use (as of 2007 when the STA made their decision). The FTA points out that without subsidies from other taxpayers, expensive buses do not make financial sense.

The STA bet on higher gas prices and squandered taxpayer money. The data and research available in 2007 when the STA began its hybrid program all indicated higher costs for choosing the hybrid buses.

The hybrid choice was a bad management decision.

Now they want to buy expensive electric buses made in China because, you know, Spokane has money to burn! May be the electrics are good, may be not. May be they have invisible benefits that we can imagine make them a better deal. But can we trust STA to make the right decision?

Spokane institutions have serious management problems that are never addressed.

Sort of like the PFD‘s poor management that led to a steady decline in facility usage since 2000. In spite of taxpayers funding every expansion the PFD asked for and promises to deliver more visitors, more jobs and more attendance.

And may be Spokane’s media problems too: how are those news reports on the 13 year decline in PFD usage coming along Spokane media? Oh, dead silence.

Spokane retains its “Scam Capital of America” title

Read the in depth article by Daniel Walters at the Inlander. This comment is insightful:

Then Hansen gives Spokane the exact beats of flattery it yearns to hear

via The Wizard of Spokane | News | The Pacific Northwest Inlander | News, Politics, Music, Calendar, Events in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and the Inland Northwest.

That comment about the community’s desperately sought after flattery explains much – including the frequent exaggerations and lies told to promote Spokane. Flimflam goes far in Spokane, a city full of the gullible. The “Scam Capital of America” title will not be lost without a fight!

The community of Spokane has defined itself as the city of liars,  the gullible and authoritative sexual predators and institutional coverups. What a sad state of affairs. What an incredibly sick city.

Update: Good grief. This story just keeps going deeper and deeper. Daniel Walters is probably the most thorough and dedicated reporter in Spokane.