Slide Show Of Jon Snyder

City Council AM Recap 1/12/15: Earned Sick and Safe Leave

Over one hundred people packed the chambers, and seventy-two people signed up to testify. A vast majority of them were for one thing: an earned sick and safe leave policy for the City of Spokane. After two years of work, and a couple of revisions and amendments, the council adopted an earned sick and safe leave policy on a 6-1 vote that gives employees at firms with ten or fewer employees twenty four hours of earned sick and safe leave, and employees at firms with ten or more employees forty hours. While it is not as strong a policy as I advocated for, I am proud of the work Council did on this and believe that this ordinance will have positive impact on the health, economic security and safety of our community. With the adoption of this policy, Spokane joins twenty four other cities in the country who have passed an earned sick and safe leave policy.

Councilmember Lori Kinnear sponsored the first resolution of her term asking the State legislature for funding to replace some of the public trees lost during the horrible wind storm we experienced a few weeks ago. I want to thank her for bringing this forward and working with Angel Spell (our Urban Forester) and Senator Billig on this resolution; as public trees remain a critical asset for our communitys health, well-being and resilience. Council passed this unanimously.

Council also considered a resolution I sponsored to support a ballot proposition for the general election of 2016 for the purposes of funding the Central City Line and other Spokane Transit Authority Projects in the Moving Forward Plan within the City limits. I brought this forward because I feel it is critical to the economic vitality of our community that our city maintain and improve our public transit system. It is my hope that the Spokane Transit Authority Board will move forward with a ballot proposition that is system wide so we will not have to go it alone; but if they are not able to, the citizens of the City of Spokane, who voted in favor of Proposition 1 back in April by quite a margin, deserve an opportunity to have their calls for an expanded transit system within our city limits heard. This resolution passed on a 6-1 vote.

Also on the agenda last night was a resolution approving the process to fill the council vacancy in District 2, a resolution I sponsored for request for responses (RFP’s) for proposals for affordable housing projects at select locations where combined sewer overflow facilities will be constructed, a resolution approving the appointment of Lisa Key as the New Director of the Planning Department, and an emergency budget ordinance to refinance bonds that will save the city and citizens of the City of Spokane money. All of these items were passed unanimously.

Council Recap 1/5/2016: Independent Investigator Contract and Open Forum Changes

Two items on our agenda last night were not passed unanimously. The first item was a contract to hire an outside an investigator to inquire about the handling of the Cotton-Straub incident. A group convened by the Council and the Administration accepted applications for an investigator and agreed upon hiring former federal prosecutor Kris Cappel with the Seattle-based Seabold Group. Councilmember Fagan was the only vote against the contract. The second item was a change to the Council rules brought forward by Council President Stuckart that limits the amount of times someone can speak at open forum to once a month. I supported this change for two reasons: First, because I’m hopeful it will provide others a chance to speak at open forum who may not feel comfortable doing so given the dynamics of open forum in the past, and second, because it only limits the amount of time a citizen gets to speak on television, not the amount of time or various avenues they have to contact their councilmembers directly. The change to the rules passed on a 5-2 vote, with Councilmembers Fagan and Stratton voting against.

We also took action on three items relating to street vacations last night. We unanimously voted to amend an ordinance relating to the vacation of Carlisle Avenue in the Logan Neighborhood, amended an ordinance vacating a portion of Marietta Avenue in the Logan Neighborhood and amended an ordinance vacating Buckeye Avenue from Standard St. to Dakota St.; also in the Logan Neighborhood.

At next week’s meeting, Council will be considering an ordinance for a citywide earned sick and safe policy. To learn more about what is included in the current ordinance, click here.

Senator Billig unveils charter school proposal

OLYMPIA – Charter schools would be accountable to locally elected school boards, making them constitutional and able to continue to receive funding under bipartisan legislation introduced today by Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane.

“At this point, it’s no longer about how you voted on the charter school initiative,” said Billig. “The fact is we have real kids in charter classrooms who deserve certainty about their education. We should find a way to provide stable funding for these schools and ensure they are complimentary and accountable to the rest of the local public school system, which benefits the children in the charter schools as well as the entire community.”

Billig’s bill creates “District Charter Schools” within the local school district, which not only complies with the Supreme Court decision because they will be under the control of the locally elected school board, but also means funding will be stable and reliable since these schools will be well within the definition of basic education.  This bill creates a charter option for local school districts but a district would not be required to create a district charter school.

Charter schools were approved by voters in 2012. This past September, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that charter schools were operated in ways that violated the state’s constitution and could no longer receive public funding.

“This bill could work in concert with other charter policies or stand on its own as the charter school solution,” added Billig. “Either way, it can be utilized to help current charter schools continue as well as create increased options for school districts seeking more varied choices for students and families in their community.”

As a result of this legislation, district charter schools created by local school districts may be afforded independent elements similar to traditional charter schools such as formulating curriculum, freedom from some district policies, management of portions of the schools’ budgets, and the ability to manage the school’s staff more independently.


For interviews: Sen. Andy Billig, 509-990-9219

For more information: Jon Fowler, 360-786-7535

Police Leadership Advisory Committee Forums and Input


A few weeks ago, the Mayor formed the Police Leadership Advisory Committee, which is tasked with leading a conversation about what the community is looking for in its next police chief and provide input about what a culture audit of the Spokane Police Division should consider. The committee will be tasked with three primary objectives related to the police chief search:

  • Review and make suggestions to the current police chief job description
  • Identify the attributes the community is seeking in the next police chief
  • Recommend the hiring and selection process that should be used

To help guide us in this process, we have been conducting public outreach. Today, we have two public forums scheduled for that purpose:

  1. Police Leadership Advisory Committee Forum at noon at West Central Community Center (1603 North Belt Street).
  2. Police Leadership Advisory Committee Forum at 5pm at East Central Community Center (500 S. Stone Street).

All members of the public are welcome to attend and provide their input. If you cannot make it to these forums, we are also accepting input via email and phone at the address and number below.

Phone: 509-625-6281

Council AM Recap 12/15/16: Street Vacation and Independent Investigation Scope

Thank you to the Spokane Hmong Association for inviting me to Hmong New Years Celebration on December 5, 2015.

Thank you to the Spokane Hmong Association for inviting me to Hmong New Years Celebration on December 5, 2015.

One of the major items at our last meeting of the year involved the closure of Madison between 3rd Avenue and Freeway Avenue on behalf of Larry H. Miller, who has been engaged in substantial work to turn the current car lots into a campus. The resolution failed on a 4-3 vote. I was one of the Councilmembers who voted against. My concern with the request from day one was what it would do street connectivity in West Downtown. Losing even a small portion of our streets could create a significant impact on our system. Council also voted 5-1 (with Councilmember Fagan voting against) to approve the terms and scope of the independent investigation that will look in to how the administration handled the situation regarding Cotton and Straub. Councilmember Stratton abstained from voting due to the fact that she was selected by Council to be a part of the committee that will oversee the investigation.

Items that were passed unanimously at the Council meeting included a resolution setting a hearing for the vacation of an alley between Boone and Gardner Ave, a resolution formally appointing councilmembers to boards and committees for 2016, an ordinance that amends Golf Cart Zones to include alternative vehicles and an ordinance that made changes to the city’s foreclosed property process to ensure the city has a greater ability to handle foreclosed properties before they become a blight. The Council also unanimously approved two emergency budget ordinances for the Parks Department for windstorm expenses and a contract, and two Fire/EMS emergency budget ordinances for overtime pay and HazMat training.

Council does meet for the next two weeks due to Christmas and New Year’s. Our next meeting will be January 4, 2016.

Tuesday AM Council Recap 12/8/15: Electoral Reform Resolution

At last night’s meeting, Council President Stuckart brought a resolution supporting various electoral reforms, including a Constitutional amendment that explicitly states a right to vote, universal voter registration in Washington State, preregistration of 16 and 17 year olds and the Washington Voting Rights Act. This resolution passed unanimously. I was happy to support this resolution. The passage of reforms that expand access to voting and initiate voting behavior at a younger age is something I’m very passionate about. With voter turnout often hovering near 20% in primary elections and 40% in general elections, we can ill afford to do nothing.

The Council unanimously voted to approve the Peaceful Valley Neighborhood Action Plan that has been in the works for some time now. I want to thank everyone involved in the process for their hard work. We also unanimously approved the Six-Year Citywide Capital Improvement Program for 2016-2021. The Capital Improvement Program is meant to guide the city on prioritizing improvements and planning for funding projects on city owned facilities and equipment.

The Council also voted on a vacation to vacate an alley between Rowan Ave and Nebraska Ave from Julia Street to Myrtle Street, and we voted to defer action on the closure of Madison Street from 3rd Ave to Freeway Ave.

How to Report Windstorm Damage


Greater Spokane Emergency Management is collecting information from residents and businesses on damage and losses suffered during the November 2015 windstorm. If your Spokane County home or business sustained damage as a result of the storm, you may be eligible for federal disaster assistance as you begin to clean up. Follow the important steps for reporting damages to personal property at this link. If you have any questions, please contact Gerry Bozarth at 509-477-7613.

Councilmember Snyder on TV Program Council Connection

Each month, Councilmembers have the opportunity to take part in a program broadcast on City Cable 5 (Channel 5 on Comcast) known as Council Connection. The program can be a way for Councilmembers to highlight projects, events, initiatives or places throughout the city. For the month of December, Councilmember Snyder filmed two segments: one that gives viewers an inside look at the recent Chinese Lantern festival that took place in Riverfront Park with Sam Song (Acting Riverfront Park Director) and another that tours the Bing Crosby Collection housed in the Crosby House at Gonzaga University with Stephanie Plowman (Special Collections Librarian at Gonzaga). The full program is about 42 minutes long and can be watched in full above.

Billy Frank Jr. Tell Your Story Act Passes House of Representatives


Yesterday the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed the the Bill Frank Jr. Tell Your Story Act; an act sponosored by Representative Denny Heck (10th District, WA) that would add the Nisqually tribe leader and civil rights hero’s name to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. A companion bill in the Senate was introducted by Senator Maria Cantwell. To read more about the act and it’s passage in the House, click here.


Billy Frank Jr. was known as a tireless champion for treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, and salmon recovery. He was on the front lines in the campaign against state-imposed limits on tribal fishing, known as the Fish Wars in the 1960s and 1970s where he organized “fish-ins”—modeled after the sit-ins of the civil rights movement. Those efforts lead to the 1974 Boldt decision, which reaffirmed the Tribes’ rights to half of the fish harvest in Washington.

Billy Frank Jr. was awarded the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, and posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. As chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC), Frank worked to bring together tribes, local, state, and federal officials to further strengthen treaty rights and environmental protection laws. For more information on Billy Frank Jr., click here.

Council AM Recap 12/1/2015: Letter to the Mayor and Cincinnati Greenway Project

At last night’s council meeting, the council passed a letter asking the Mayor and Theresa Sanders to respond to questions we have regarding the handling of a complaint of sexual harassment against former the Chief of Police. As public records related to the incident have emerged in the last few days, serious questions have been raised as to the timing of their release of public records, what the scope of the investigation into the sexual harassment complaint entailed and what was done to ensure the safety and security of other potentially impacted employees during and after the investigation. The letter raises all these questions and further requests the Mayor to send a copy of the agreement between the City of Spokane and Judge Michael Hogan, who the Mayor announced yesterday as the independent investigator charged with looking into this incident, be made public. The council requested that the Mayor respond by December 11, 2015. The vote was unanimous. You can see the letter in full here.

The Council (as the Transportation Benefit District Board) also passed funding recommendations from the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB) for street repair and maintenance. The TBD funds come from the $20 car tab fee instituted by council several years ago, and each year CTAB makes an annual report with recommendations for the next year. I made a motion to add one project to the list: $500,000 for the design and construction of the Cincinnati Greenway Pilot Project. This project has been in limbo for years despite the considerable work done in creating the proposals. The motion was approved and the full list of funding recommendations was passed on a 6-1 vote (with Councilmember Fagan voting against).

Other actions council took last night included: a resolution outlining traffic calming projects from our Photo Red program for the upcoming construction cycle, adding foster children to the definition of household under our municipal code to clarify and align our code with state and federa law, an ordinance amending the process of selecting an interim Ombudsperson, an ordinance relating to inclement weather centers for homeless individuals and families in the City of Spokane, an ordinance amending the boundaries of our Community Empowerment Zone and recommended allocations of lodging tax revenue to the Spokane Public Facilities district. All of these items were passed unanimously. The council also approved a right of way vacation in the Chief Garry Park Neighborhood on the condition that the developer include a traffic barrier that restricts to restrict turn movements on Mission for safety.