Author Archives: cforjustice

Join us on Monday: Spokane Council votes on sick leave for Spokane

On Monday at 6 pm at Spokane City Hall, the Spokane City Council will consider passage of an ordinance that says no one in Spokane has to choose between going to work sick or losing pay.

Our community has made it clear in forums and city council meetings that workers need at least 5 days of sick and safe leave each year to care for themselves and their families.

Unfortunately, the City Council is bending to pressure from the business community and is proposing only 3 days of leave per year in the current draft of the ordinance.

The City Council needs to hear a strong outpouring of community support for 5 days as they make final revisions to the proposed ordinance this week. At stake is whether we have a strong policy that protects the 40,000 workers in Spokane who currently don’t have earned sick leave to take care of their families’ health and safety.

Tell the City Council to put the health of Spokane families first and pass a strong sick and safe leave law!

Please attend the meeting or send the members of Council an email (send it to citycouncil@spokanecity.org). Tell them:
•Thanks for considering this important issue.
•You strongly support paid sick leave.
•You believe that Spokane workers deserve 5 days of leave.
•Sick and safe leave impacts everyone in Spokane: from the server who gets their customers sick, to the parent who can’t afford to stay in the emergency room with their sick kid, to the mom who struggles to leave an abusive relationship.
•Twenty cities and five states, and one county from across the country have established earned sick and safe leave standards, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, San Francisco, Oregon, California, and Jersey City. It’s time Spokane joins them.

Passing a high-quality sick and safe leave policy is critical for creating a Spokane where everyone can be healthy and safe. Sick and safe leave is proven to build economic security, protect public health, lower health care costs, and create healthier workplaces. Studies have shown that sick and safe leave pays for itself in lower employee turnover, fewer workplace accidents, and higher productivity.

Everybody has the right to care for themselves and for their loved ones without risking their job or paycheck. Join us on Monday or send a message to the City Council urging them to support a strong sick and safe leave policy for all Spokane workers!

Are you renting and the wind damaged your home? Know your rights!

Do you rent your home and was it damaged in last night’s windstorm? If so, it is important that you know your rights to have your home repaired.

Under Washington law, your landlord must keep your home weather tight, structurally sound, and generally fit to live in, including maintenance of plumbing, electrical, heating, and appliances. The landlord is responsible for repairing all damage to the home, unless it is caused by the tenant or a tenant’s guest. Generally the home must be kept in a condition equal to or better than it was at the beginning of the tenancy. If your rental home is damaged or poorly maintained, here is what you can do:

  • You MUST notify the landlord and/or manager IN WRITING of all damage to your home. (A phone call is not enough! Keep a copy of the letter or email and when it was sent/delivered. If possible, have someone not in the household witness this.)
  • Do not stop paying rent! (If you withhold rent, you will get evicted from your home, instead of getting it repaired.)
  • After receiving your notice, the landlord must begin taking steps to make repairs as soon as possible:
    o Within 24 hours for heat, hot and cold water, electricity, or hazardous conditions
    o Within 72 hours for refrigerator, range and oven, or plumbing
    o Within 10 days for all other conditions
  • If the landlord does not make repairs in a timely manner you can:
    o Move out after giving written notice (Give written notice to your landlord and move out immediately thereafter. You are entitled to a refund of prepaid rent and should get your deposit back, in accordance with the rules governing deposits.)
    o File a lawsuit using the Residential Landlord Tenant Act or common law doctrine of Warranty of Habitability. (arbitration and mediation are also options)
    o Make repairs yourself or hire someone else to, and then deduct the cost of repairs from your rent. If you choose this option, you must CAREFULLY AND CORRECTLY follow the law. (A link with more information is available below.)
    o Rent Escrow (We do not recommend doing this without the help of an attorney.)
  • (The landlord is generally not responsible for damage to personal property – things like your TV, bike, car, cloths, etc.)
  • The landlord cannot enter your home without your permission and must give you 48 hours advanced notice in writing, except in the case of an emergency or if you landlord has a court order. But, be reasonable, there can be penalties if the landlord or the tenant abuse rules governing right of entry.

More information about repairs and other tenant rights can be found at www.washingtonlawhelp.org, under Housing, Tenant’s Rights http://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/resource/tenants-what-to-do-if-your-rental-needs-repai?ref=SkU9m.  The website, maintained by our colleagues at the Northwest Justice Project, also has other “Disaster Recovery & Relief” information for consumers and homeowners.

If you are low-income, you can also call 1-888-201-1014 between 9:15 am and 12:15 am. (Warning, it can be hard to get through but keep trying.) If you’re over 60, you can call 1-888-387-7111.

This information is not intended as legal advice, but merely to share basic information about Washington law.  If you have specific legal questions, please contact an attorney.

Center for Justice joins forces with ACLU to Increase Voting Registration Opportunities

Individuals now have a much improved opportunity to register to vote when they sign up for public benefits, thanks to efforts made by the Center for Justice along with the ACLU-WA and the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to improve compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

“Changes made by DSHS have strengthened democracy by enhancing access to voting for thousands of people in Washington state,” said Rick Eichstaedt, executive director of Spokane’s Center for Justice.

“Access to voting is a cornerstone of democracy,” said Nancy Talner, staff attorney for the ACLU-WA. “We are pleased DSHS took swift action to uphold the NVRA, avoiding costly litigation that has occurred in other states.”

Although best known as the “motor voter law,” the NVRA was designed to reduce demographic gaps in voting by making voter registration more accessible in a variety of ways. Among them: requiring states to offer an opportunity to register to vote whenever someone applies for public benefits, renews benefits or submits a change of address to an agency that provides public assistance.

Until recently, DSHS’s Community Services Division had not offered the opportunity to register to vote as often as the law required, and had not consistently recorded and/or reported when the opportunity was offered, despite the fact that the recession prompted more people to seek benefits from the agency.

After the Center for Justice and ACLU-WA raised the issue with DSHS in 2014, the agency agreed to improve its compliance with the NVRA. In fact, DSHS was already in the process of making improvements as the result of an internal audit it had performed earlier that year. Since then, DSHS has ensured 100 percent of staff in its Community Services Division received training on the requirements of the law, and changed its computer system and paper forms so that workers are always reminded to offer a voter registration opportunity, regardless of whether the contact with the client is online, over the phone or in person.

The percentage of DSHS Community Services Division clients who were offered voter registration assistance increased from 29 percent in January 2014 to 92 percent in August 2015. As the newly adopted technology and reporting systems are implemented, officials expect that number to continue to rise.

“The changes made will help increase the number of historically disenfranchised people who are registered to vote,” said Nancy Talner. “Citizens have a right to make their voices heard by registering to vote and voting. We appreciate the state’s efforts to make this right a reality for those who too often have not had a voice in elections.”

“Ensuring that our clients have the opportunity to register to vote lets us assist people with exercising that fundamental right,” said DSHS Assistant Secretary David Stillman. “It’s also an integral part of our agency’s mission to transform lives.”

Spokane Riverkeeper Joins National Movement to Derail Outdated Train Infrastructure

This week, we joined Waterkeeper Alliance, ForestEthics, and other environmental non-profits in releasing a report exploring the harmful effects of old train foundations. Since 2008, a 5,000 percent increase in oil train traffic has caused a threat to our waterways. This increases the likelihood of environmental disasters.

Photo courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance
Photo courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

Defects in the rail bridges could lead to an oil train disaster causing oil spills, fires and explosions. In Spokane, we have numerous rail bridges that cross the Spokane River and its offshoots through the downtown area.

From July until September of this year, Waterkeepers from across the nation took a deeper look at 250 railway bridges along known and potential routes of explosive oil trains. Of the 250 railways that were surveyed, 114 bridges— nearly half of the railways we explored—showed signs of significant stress and decay, such as rotted, cracked, or crumbling foundations, and loose or broken beams.

After looking at safety standards for rail bridges, we found that the federal government lacks oversight of inspections and repairs necessary for safe railway bridges. Through our investigation, we found that broad federal law, lax regulations, inadequate inspections, and a lack of authority combine to create a threat from oil trains.

As a result, we are calling for immediate, decisive action by the federal government on this issue.

“What the Waterkeepers have captured shines a light on the need for immediate, independent inspections of all rail bridges that carry explosive oil trains,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “People deserve to know the state of this infrastructure and the risks posed by oil trains rolling through their communities.”

ForestEthics has calculated that oil trains directly threaten the life and safety of 25 million Americans, while also jeopardising the drinking water supply for tens of millions more. Our collaborated report attempts to alert communities about this risk and calls for nationwide action and reform of rail safety standards.

We would like to see the Federal Railroad Administration ensure that no rail bridge be used for oil trains or other hazardous materials unless it passes a rigorous and recent third-party safety inspection with strict federal guidelines to ensure zero risk to our drinking water, our river and our community. For more information about what we found out, check out the official report here.

A note from the Spokane Riverkeeper: A huge thanks to our intern, Bella Colpo, for writing this blog post!

Train bridge safety

Half of surveyed oil train bridges are deteriorating, report says

Waterkeeper Alliance surveyed 250 bridges used by trains carrying volatile crude oil; there are more than 100K in the US

The pier on the upriver side of a railroad bridge over the Spokane River in Washington has missing cribwork and fill, according to the report.

A pier of a railroad bridge over the Spokane River in Washington has missing cribwork and fill, according to a report by three environmental groups.
Waterkeeper Alliance  – photo courtesy of Dancing Crow Media

A survey of 250 oil train bridges across America found that almost half showed signs of considerable deterioration, including missing or crumbling concrete, partially washed-away footings, rotted pilings and badly corroded steel beams, according to a report released Tuesday (PDF).

Determining whether the problems found by three environmental groups pose a threat to public safety is almost impossible, however, because the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) rarely inspects the nation’s estimated 100,000 rail bridges, including some built more than 100 years ago. Instead the agency leaves that responsibility to the railroads, which don’t make their inspection records public.

“Because the federal government has shirked its responsibility to regulate the safety of oil trains and the bridges they cross, we are shining a light on the need for immediate, independent inspections of all rail bridges that carry explosive oil trains,” said Marc Yaggi, the executive director of the Waterkeeper Alliance, one of the groups that produced the report.

The Waterkeeper Alliance, which is dedicated to protecting watersheds around the world, was assisted in the report by two other groups also concerned about oil trains, Riverkeeper and ForestEthics.

The report, “Deadly Crossing: Neglected Bridges and Exploding Oil Trains,” cited Department of Transportation statistics showing that bridge failures caused 58 train accidents from 1982 to 2008.

“The magnitude of the threat of an oil train derailment caused by a failing bridge to the surrounding communities, waterways and drinking water means that, even if rare, an accident could be catastrophic,” the report said.

Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for the Association of American Railroads, who was unable to review the still unreleased report, said rail bridges in use today are capable of safely supporting oil trains, which can be more than a mile in length pulling more than 100 tankers loaded with 3 million gallons of crude oil.

“Railroad bridges are among the safest segments of the nation’s infrastructure,” he said. “Some bridges are painted. Others are not. Some are more weathered than others. But outward appearance does not indicate a bridge’s safety. Inspectors scrutinize a bridge to assess its structural integrity, which is a thoughtful and thorough engineering process, with no relationship to whether the bridge is aesthetically pleasing.”

No bridge collapse appears to have been involved in any of the 10 fiery oil train derailments that have occurred in North America in the past 29 months.

Greenberg noted that the environmental groups’ report involves “observations by noncertified bridge inspectors,” adding that the industry “follows an aggressive 24/7 safety-first process should a bridge inspector or train crew raise a concern about a particular bridge. That structure is immediately taken out of service until a qualified railroad bridge engineer examines the structure to determine its condition.” If a safety problem is confirmed, “a process is in place to get crews to the structure to address the situation.”

But there is no public documentation of this process, so the railroads aren’t accountable to state and local officials. The FRA says Congress hasn’t given it the authorization or resources to independently inspect rail bridges or to force the railroads to be more transparent.

Sarah Feinberg, the head of the FRA, has begun a campaign to get them to be more voluntarily transparent. Her efforts came after Milwaukee officials and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., tried unsuccessfully to get Canadian Pacific to turn over inspection reports on a 99-year-old steel bridge there, dubbed Old Rusty by locals. Concern was raised by news reports this spring that showed corrosion had eaten away the base of some of the bridge’s support beams.

A rail bridge over the Normanskill, a tributary of the Hudson River in New York.

A rail bridge over Normans Kill, a tributary of the Hudson River in New York, shows extensive cracking and major deterioration of concrete, including large chunks of concrete missing from the bridge’s footings, according to the report.
Waterkeeper Alliance

In September, Feinberg wrote a letter to hundreds of railroads, including Canadian Pacific, imploring them to be more open and cooperative, saying, “When a local leader or elected official asks a railroad about the safety status of a railroad bridge, they deserve a timely and transparent response.”

After receiving the letter, Canadian Pacific agreed to discuss local officials’ technical questions behind closed doors. But the railroad still rejected their requests to see the inspection reports. The FRA looked at the bridge and inspection reports and then declared it safe, without elaborating. By then, the railroad had already announced it would be repairing the bridge, including fortifying some of its corroded steel beams with concrete.

Canadian Pacific did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.

Last week Feinberg took the additional step of warning the railroads that complaints about rail bridges are pouring into the offices of members of Congress who have then contacted the railroads and “are coming away unconvinced.” If that continues, she warned, “Congress will ask us to step in more aggressively.”

Matthew Lehner, the FRA’s associate administrator for communications, said the agency won’t comment on the Waterkeeper report until it is released. He said an earlier statement by Feinberg summed up her stance on rail bridges. In that statement, she said the FRA “has started re-evaluating the current bridge management program to identity what more can be done with its current, limited resources.”

“We are committed to working with and engaging more local communities, elected officials and the industry to develop a strategy that will raise the bar on rail bridge safety to meet the nation’s current and future transportation needs. The public has put its trust in the FRA to take smart and prudent action to keep them safe, and we will continue working to earn that trust every day.”

The FRA receives complaints about the condition of railroad bridges almost daily, said an FRA official speaking on condition of anonymity in order to comment freely, and in most cases the problems turn out to be cosmetic rather than structural. However, the official said there’s no formal procedure for adjudicating public concerns about rail bridges and no central record kept of complaints.

In January 2014, John Wathen, the “keeper” of Hurricane Creek in Alabama, posted a video of an oil train crossing a 116-year-old wooden bridge in Tuscaloosa. Some of the trestles supporting the oil train, 40 feet above public parks on either side of the Black Warrior River, were resting on posts that were rotted or had makeshift repairs of corrugated pipe and concrete.

The railroad and the FRA insisted the bridge was safe, but a year after Wathen posted his video and began calling attention to the condition of the bridge, the railroad that leases and operates it announced it would do $2.5 million in repairs. It replaced many but not all the rotted pilings. Whether the bridge is safe is unclear because there are no federal engineering standards for rail bridges and even industry standards are silent about the number of defective pilings a rail bridge may have and still be safe.

In their new report, the environmental groups call for a “publicly available national inventory of bridges, a protocol for following up on citizen complaints and concerns and an enforceable set of standards to guide agency action and ensure the safety of railroad bridges.”

The report calls on Congress to “give the FRA the legal and financial tools it requires to run a robust rail bridge safety program.” If Congress fails to act, the report urges the administration to make changes “within the existing system — or outside of it at the state and local level.”

A crack and graffiti grace the north retaining wall of a railroad bridge crossing the Puyallup River, which drains into the Puget Sound in Washington.

A large crack in a retaining wall of a railroad bridge crossing the Puyallup River, which drains into Puget Sound in Washington. The concrete footings in the water also showed signs of erosion, including large gaps, according to the report.
Waterkeepers Alliance

Currently, states and localities are hampered in their dealings with railroads by a system that places most of the regulatory authority over railroads in the hands of the federal government.

That frustration is what led the Waterkeeper Alliance and Riverkeeper to deploy their legion of river, bay and creek “keepers” in kayaks and patrol boats to inspect rail bridges in watersheds across America. Over the summer, 21 “keepers” inspected 250 bridges within the watersheds of rivers like the Columbia, Snake, Hudson, Allegheny and James. They found and documented what they believed to be structural concerns with 114 of the bridges.

Pat Calvert, the “keeper” of the upper James River in Virginia, was one of them. Two years ago, before he knew about the dangers of oil trains, he was focusing instead on the threat of chemical and coal ash spills to the James. But on April 30, 2014, a CSX oil train derailed and set fire to the river a few blocks from his Lynchburg, Virginia, office.

A year and a half later, he still wonders how he missed the risk rising under his nose. He didn’t realize the mile-long oil trains rolling along the riverbank might pose a public safety hazard.

“I didn’t feel so bad when I learned most all emergency planning officials up and down that rail line also did not know [about the risk] and had not been contacted by CSX,” Calvert said. “We were in some ways being duped by the industries that are involved in this.”

Oil trains are a relatively recent phenomenon, arising from the surge in oil produced in North Dakota through hydraulic fracturing. The number of tankers transporting crude, much of it from North Dakota, rose from 9,500 in 2008 to almost 500,000 last year.

Jerry White Jr. is the “keeper” along the Spokane River in eastern Washington. Spokane is a chokepoint in the flow of crude oil from Canada and North Dakota to refineries on the West Coast.

White surveyed two rail bridges across the Spokane River and elevated tracks running over the streets of Spokane. Videographers Rosie Ennis and Joseph Comine documented White’s findings. All three were shocked by what they saw, they said.

“On the city bridges, you’ve got rebar exposed under the concrete,” said White. “On the bridges over the river, you’ve got footings that have actually begun to wash out so that the bridges have begun to settle and crack.”

Comine said he’s angry and frustrated that residents of Spokane aren’t able to independently assess the risk from oil trains because the railroads shroud their operations and maintenance activities in secrecy, including prosecuting trespassers.

“It’s really a case where large industry has crafted law and policy around keeping the community shut out of what’s being transported through it,” he said. “Before, I never even paid attention to trains … But, wow, I really pay attention to them now.”

Why We’re Still “Fishing” For Clean Water in Hangman Creek

For thousands of years, Chinook salmon and steelhead made the incredible journey up the Columbia and Spokane Rivers, into Hangman Creek to lay their eggs. Salmon thrived in a creek with clean, cold water. However, with the current condition of the watershed, this is no longer the case. In recent years, only remnants of these fish populations can make it in the very few headwaters. Fecal material and eroded soil causes nutrients like phosphorus to deprive oxygen for aquatic ecosystems from the water and causing toxic algae blooms on Lake Spokane.

This is bad news for the fish, but also for anyone who enjoys swimming or boating in the creek.

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Agricultural pollution in Hangman Creek, June of 2015
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Hangman Creek runs muddy with sediment in the summer of 2015. Poor agricultural practices allow thousands of tons of soil to wash into Hangman Creek annually.

Poor land use and agricultural practices continue to prevent stream recovery and clean water that all Washingtonians are entitled to enjoy. Cattle commonly graze along the banks of the Hangman Creek and are allowed to pollute the waters that people swim and fish in downstream. Swimming or even boating in this water puts recreational users at risk and degrades the capacity for the creek to support aquatic life. Would you want to swim in a pool of cow dung in the summertime?

Even more concerning, essential trees and bushes have intentionally been torn away from much of the riverbanks in order to squeeze crops and livestock onto every available square foot of land, poor agricultural practices have turned wetlands and tributaries into drainage ditches. Thousands of acres of surrounding soils are intentionally left exposed and allowed to erode into Hangman Creek. Basically, the watershed is extremely damaged.

The Clean Water Act and Washington State law requires the recovery of clean water and habitats that support the trout and salmon. Obviously, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t been holding these standards in Hangman Creek. So we did something about it.

The plan to restore the Hangman Creek habitat lacks the accountability pieces that will assure its success. So we challenged the EPA to rework this plan in order to provide an enforceable, transparent, well-funded plan to make Hangman Creek fishable and swimmable.

Photo of CFJ volunteer Glen Gould

Thank you for your service!

Glen came the Center for Justice a while back through the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). AARP Senior Employment is a local organization that helps retired seniors to get back into the workforce. They work with community organizations like the Center for Justice to provide jobs that enhance their abilities for reentering the job market. AARP pays them a stipend to volunteer at these community organizations. Along the way they acquire new jobs skills and have networking opportunities. It is a huge benefit to the organizations that get to work with these lovely people.

Glen received his AA from Spokane Falls. He started his working career as a carpenter in the Air Force in San Bernardino, CA and Minot, ND before moving to Spokane. He enjoyed building things and the satisfaction of seeing a tangible finished product. Glen has three sons, one in California, one in Oregon and one who lives here in Spokane. When they all get together he loves to go swimming and snowboarding with them.

Through AARP he worked in the veteran’s office and at the UGM motors. He excelled in his time here at the Center for Justice working the front desk. He rapidly picked up the skills needed for this important and sometimes difficult job. His pleasant demeanor and empathetic nature quickly made him an invaluable asset. The clients as well as the staff loved working with him. Glen is also an avid cyclist and frequently rode to work. This dedication to the environment and his health was inspiring.

Though we really appreciated having Glen work with us for the time did, AARP likes to expose their workers a variety of places to gain experience, and so he moved on to another organization. Glen enjoyed his time here and says, “My experience with the Center for Justice has left me feeling proud to have been a small part of what they do. The genuine care that is exhibited by the staff is contagious.” Glen will be greatly missed but we wish him well on his next adventure.

As a non-profit, the Center for Justice relies greatly on the contributions of volunteers. We are currently updating a new page on our website that will list our current agency needs across all departments. The tasks will require a broad cross-section skills and experience.   We value the addition of diverse backgrounds whether it be represented by ethnicity, age, physical abilities, lifestyles, education, previously incarcerated, religion, or, you name it! We welcome and celebrate the added value that each individual brings. If you are interested in volunteering for us, please visit the volunteer page.

 

 

After long hearing, council sends immigration-petition signatures for review

From The Inlander; article by Jake Thomas

July 14, 2015

The legitimacy of an initiative petition that would undo a city policy barring police from contacting or detaining individuals solely because they are suspected of being an undocumented immigrant was called into question by its opponents during a drawn-out and emotionally heated meeting of Spokane City Council Monday night.

During the four-hour meeting, the council heard from the initiative’s proponents, who insisted that they just want to see the nation’s immigration laws upheld, and opponents, who insisted that undoing the ordinance would make immigrants less likely to cooperate with police and broadcast an unwelcoming message from Spokane to the rest of the world.

The ordinance in question was adopted into city code by the council last October, codifying a 10-year-old police directive that put Spokane among dozens of cities with some sort of policy intended to steer local police away from enforcing immigration laws. The council had the options of voting the petition into law or sending it to the county to have its signatures verified and potentially placed on the November ballot.

But Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, an opponent of the initiative, didn’t like either of these options. He questioned if the initiative would violate the city charter, calling attention to one of its provisions that would require a referendum on any change to city policies or ordinances that dealt with immigration. He also took issue with a “legislative history” that supporters added to circulated petitions without the city’s approval.

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“[I]f you’re going out and collecting signatures and a biased legislative history is next to what should be non-biased [text], aren’t we really in essence violating the municipal code by collecting these signatures?” he said.

Councilwoman Candace Mumm recalled out-of-town signature-gatherers coming to her doorstep and presenting a petition with the “legislative history.” Mumm said she argued with the signature-gatherers for a half an hour about the legislative history.

Stuckart asked Mike Piccolo, a city attorney who previously advised the council, if they had the option of not sending the signatures to the county for validation. Piccolo told Stuckart the council didn’t have that option, and the legality of the initiative could only be challenged by a citizen group.

During the public comment period, the crowd that packed Council Chambers rose from their seats to show agreement with the parade of speakers appearing before the council.

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Rick Eichstaedt, executive director of the Center for Justice, said he opposed the initiative because the police don’t want it, and it would be costly and ineffective for them to enforce immigration law.

“This petition violates the law, simply put,” he said, pointing to provisions in the city charter that prevented language not approved by the city from being added to petitions. He also alluded to a potential citizen group that was ready to challenge the petition.

Lisa Logan, community education manager at the YWCA Spokane, asked the council to keep this “dangerous anti-immigrant initiative” off the ballot and to oppose it if it made the ballot. She stated that women in immigrant communities stuck in abusive relationships are hesitant to go to the police out of fear that they will be deported. This policy, she said, made them more willing to trust police.

“I have to warn you that if this practice is changed, victims in our city will be killed for fear of reporting the violence against them,” she said.

Earlier that day, Spokane Mayor David Condon said that he supported the policy. He noted that immigration matters generally falls to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement and called on police to provide equal services to people regardless of immigration status.

“It is incumbent upon all employees of [the police] department to make a personal commitment to equal enforcement of the law and equal service to the public regardless of immigration status,” said Condon.

Supporters of the initiative, who were outnumbered by opponents, pointed to a recent incident in San Francisco, which has a similar policy in place, where a woman died at the hands of an undocumented immigrant. Supporters also routinely said they weren’t against immigrants or immigration, they just wanted people to do immigrate legally. Cindy Zapotocky, a supporter of the initiative, gave the city clerk a copy of Ann Coulter’s recent book Adios, America.

“This is an issue of law and order,” said Jackie Murray, the sponsor of the petition and daughter of a Jamaican immigrant, who added that Spokane has problems with human trafficking and drug cartels. “It doesn’t matter if they come from Russia, or China or Mexico or Ireland, if they aren’t here legally they need to go home.”

At the end of the meeting, Stuckart cited research from police organizations that supported the city’s policy.

He also recalled a guidance counselor at a local school approaching him and saying that a student was having trouble because his father was beating his mother and threatened to deport her if she called the police. The guidance counselor was able to have the boy’s father arrested because of the policy, said Stuckart.

“That’s a real world story in Spokane,” said Stuckart.

The council voted 4-1 (council members Amber Waldref and Mike Allen were absent) with Stuckart voting no to send the petition to the county.

 

You can find the original article here: http://m.inlander.com/Bloglander/archives/2015/07/14/after-long-hearing-council-sends-immigration-petition-signatures-for-review

Two local advocates honored at Jazzed for Justice event

The Center for Justice honored two exceptional individuals at its 8th annual Jazzed for Justice event on Wednesday May 13.

Justice Hero Award recipient JoanJoan Medina, the founder of Brigid’s Cloak, was selected as this year’s Justice Hero Award Recipient. The individual that nominated Joan noted that Joan “works to provide food, compassion, and love to the homeless that slip between the cracks in Spokane by working with volunteers and going to them in the evening and providing hot coffee, sandwiches, books and some conversation. She is an unsung hero of Spokane.” As Joan was accepting the award she quoted a song called “Living Planet:” We can change the universe by being who we are.

Volunteer of the Year Award recipient MariThe Volunteer of the Year Award recipient is nominated and chosen by the staff of the Center for Justice. This year’s Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Mari Luna of Luna Legal. Mari is an attorney focusing on Dispute Resolution, Family Law, and Estate Planning/Probate/Wills. Mari frequently volunteers at the Center’s monthly Justice Night legal clinic, which takes place the first Tuesday of every month from 5:00-6:00pm at the Community Building, 35 West Main. Mari is an effective and passionate advocate, and is dedicated to her dreams of seeking and doing justice. When speaking about Justice Night, Mari said “I have been rewarded by clients’ words of thanks and expressions of gratitude.”

Thank you to these two amazing women, and all of the other phenomenal advocates in our community that were nominated! Your work makes Spokane a better place to live.

Holding On and Letting Go

By Kendel Froese, Development Director

I am excited to let all of our supporters know that I will be continuing my pursuit of justice as a student at the University of Washington School of Law this fall. As I have been going through this journey of studying, taking the Law School Admission Test, law school applications, and making the decision about where I will attend school, two quotes have inspired and encouraged me:

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I have learned so much during my time here at the Center for Justice, and have met countless passionate advocates that have impacted me along my journey for the last two and a half years and will continue to impact me as I start this new chapter. While I had thought about law school during my time as a Political Science undergraduate student at Whitworth University, I am not sure I would have made the decision to pursue law at this point in my life had it not been for working at the Center for Justice. I have seen how law can be used as a tool to advocate for and come alongside people in our world that are frequently ignored and lack power in our political system. Contrary to how law is typically viewed, I have seen how law can bring people together and bring us closer in proximity to individuals and issues that are desperate for our attention and our help.

The tool of law has become increasingly appealing to me as I have spent time over the last few years pursuing my passion for sexual assault advocacy by volunteering at Lutheran Community Services, the Spokane Regional Health District’s Needle Exchange Outreach Program, and the YWCA of Spokane. My life goal is to be a passionate and effective advocate for sexual assault survivors and women’s rights, and I feel confident that adding law to my toolkit will increase my effectiveness and allow me to impact individuals and our world in a more powerful way.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has been a part of my adventure thus far. I am finding the courage to grow up and become who I really am, and am grateful to everyone that has walked alongside me!

Of course, this new chapter in my life means that the Center for Justice is hiring a Development Director. For a link to the job description, please click here: CFJ – Development Director. If you have questions feel free to contact me at kendel(at)cforjustice(dot)org or Executive Director Rick Eichstaedt at ricke(at)cforjustice(dot)org.

All the best,
Kendel

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