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JANUARY 28-FEBRUARY 3, 2021 | LIBERTY, EQUALITY AND FREE PAPERS

How local officials threw an innocent man behind bars and allowed the real killer to go free BY WILSON CRISCIONE PAGE 14

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INSIDE

Here for Spokane

VOL. 28, NO. 16 | COVER ILLUSTRATION: DEREK HARRISON

COMMENT NEWS COVER STORY CULTURE

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FOOD FILM MUSIC EVENTS

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I SAW YOU GREEN ZONE ADVICE GODDESS BULLETIN BOARD

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EDITOR’S NOTE

A

t the center of this week’s must-read cover story are FIVE MEN. The first is a 40-yearold Army vet who survived multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq only to be beaten to death in Spokane Valley. The second is the man who killed him. The third is an innocent man arrested in front of his kids for a crime he didn’t commit. The fourth is a Spokane County sheriff’s detective who arrested the wrong man but later told prosecutors who the real killer was. The fifth is Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell, who declined to do anything with the investigation, citing “potential problems” with the “credibility” of the case. But while the case may be officially closed, it’s certainly not over for the families involved, for the kids who watched their father get whisked away one night, and for the kids whose father will never come home again. Don’t miss staff writer Wilson Criscione’s special report on page 14. — JACOB H. FRIES, editor

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Thank you. Everyone at Avista would like to thank you for your

44 contract crews and 19 vegetation-management

patience and support while our crews restored service

crews worked to clear debris and restore power to

following the powerful windstorm that recently hit our

thousands of homes. Joining in these efforts were an

community. At the peak of the storm, wind speeds reached

additional 21 mutual-aid crews from utilities outside

71 miles per hour, matching those of the record storm

of our area to whom we also owe our gratitude.

that caused a major disaster in our region in 2015.

Lastly, we do not want to forget to thank the many area

Significant damage from trees falling on power lines

residents who warmly opened their homes to family, friends

and blocking roadways presented challenging conditions

and neighbors during this crisis. Our region’s generosity is

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SHELBY BALDWIN: Yes, but it wasn’t great! Not sure I understand the point of outdoor dining? It’s literally the same as being inside except it’s cold. I’d say I was even closer to people because they’re trying to shove lots of seating in a small area.

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Spokane Falls Gazette

HAVE YOU DINED ON A HEATED, OUTDOOR PATIO? IF SO, WHAT WAS IT LIKE? IF NOT, WHY?

EDITOR’S NOTE

Normally, we ask our question of the week of people we randomly encounter on the street. But with the coronavirus pandemic, we instead asked our followers on social media to share their thoughts.

ANNE STUYVESANT WHIGHAM: I just tried one place this week. First time in a restaurant for many months and first time outside eating since August. I went with my daughter to support our restaurant industry. The food was great, but it took a long time… The heat was not sufficient for the room. But my main issue was that the tables were too close together for my comfort… I don’t think I will try this again for a while. JESSICA STRODE: We have eaten at several of the “outdoor” dining options over the past few weeks. Some places are able to keep their area warmer than others. But overall we have found the social distancing at each establishment on par, the service above average and the attitude of other patrons friendly and supportive. LAUREN MORROW: My family has been enjoying the outdoor dining experience. The places we’ve been to do have heaters, but it’s still not even close to warm enough to take off your hat and coat. Bundle up, and don’t choose a metal table!! JULIE SHEPARD-HALL: It was so cold the heater didn’t help at all. I was frozen by the time I got home.

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STACEY-JEREMY WINKLE: Yes! Best kept secret in Spokane... I’ll share though: Black Label, Peace Pie and Stella’s have this amazing courtyard surrounded by beautiful tall brick walls to keep the wind out. They have overhead heaters at each table and a cozy fire pit. SHANNON DOYLE VERITY: We have dined outside a few times and don’t mind it at all — we love the outdoors and it is kind of fun to enjoy the fresh air. Sure, it can be a little chilly but most places have heaters. I would choose the outdoors before the indoors! n

JANUARY 28, 2021 INLANDER 5


COMMENT | POLITICS

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Are We Irrelevant? Since the fall of Tom Foley, Spokane seems to be stuck on the sidelines BY ROBERT HEROLD

W

hen Spokane had Tom Foley as its representative in the Congress, federal dollars poured in, bolstering our push for prosperity. From what are now buildings serving WSU’s Elson Floyd School of Medicine to the Foley Center Library on the Gonzaga campus (named for his father, Ralph) to Fairchild Air Force Base to the Spokane International Airport, his impact is still felt today. The farmers of Eastern Washington had a power broker in Congress for whom their interests were a top priority. We did things, like putting on a World’s Fair. While Foley was essential to the success of Expo ’74, our U.S. senators, Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson, were just as critical to Spokane being awarded the necessary money. Both were Democrats from the West Side. Elected in LBJ’s 1964 national landslide, Foley impressed his congressional colleagues, who promoted him up the ranks and eventually selected him to be the Speaker of the House. Tom provided Spokane with many years of notoriety for producing so respected a leader.

B

ut then Newt Gingrich happened, and local Republicans, whipped into an antiClinton frenzy, decided to get rid of all that. Tempted by promises they’d clean up the

swamp (sound familiar?) by term-limiting legislators, the voters of Eastern Washington went for the bait and voted Foley out of office. So much for Spokane’s influence. First came George Nethercutt, and now we have Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who spent the last four years at the altar of Trump. At the state level, Spokane enjoyed a slight comeback when Lisa Brown went to Olympia and became Senate majority leader. Now Andy Billig holds that same post. Despite all that, our standing in statewide and national politics is rock bottom — a long, predictable fall starting with Foley’s defeat. Our local daily newspaper was among the very few to judge Donald Trump the right choice for four more years. Our congresswoman stands as the only one of Washington state’s representatives in D.C. to believe impeachment is no way to treat a president who manufactures an insurrection against the government. We keep electing people in Spokane Valley who want to form a separate state that would rival Mississippi in its economic prospects.


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S H O P I Nor S T O R E ONLINE Speaker of the House Tom Foley (right), First Lady Hillary Clinton and House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt in 1993. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PHOTO

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o, as the world turns: All of a sudden the Democrats control the presidency, certainly for the next four years, and the Congress for sure for the next two. Meanwhile, King County ensures that Washington state will vote Democratic and, well, that’s pretty much the ball game. The state’s political future looks a lot like a donkey. The West Side benefits directly from what happens in Seattle, but Spokane? Without the clout of a Tom Foley, we get the crumbs. Our governors come from the West Side, our U.S. senators come from the West Side, but here we see the same impulses that voted out Tom Foley are keeping many in the greater Spokane area from understanding that the health of the City of Spokane is the key to the health of the region. It’s not just that our fellow Washingtonians look over the Cascade curtain at us with bewilderment. No, that hurts — so many of us are so much better than that. But it’s more that we need a place at the table, to be part of the conversation — and allocations of resources — as the economic recovery unfolds. We need to find a way to better understand our own often self-defeating history and — as Joe Biden might say — find some common purpose the way we used to do it. n Robert Herold is a retired professor of political science who taught at both Gonzaga University and Eastern Washington University.

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ETHICAL LAPSE

Steven A. Smith, a former editor of the Spokesman-Review, argues in a column on Inlander.com that the paper’s current editor, Rob Curley, committed an egregious ethical lapse. Curley attended Joe Biden’s inauguration as the plus-one guest of CONGRESSWOMAN CATHY McMORRIS RODGERS and despite his access to the press-avoidant lawmaker, he failed to question her on why she supported Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. As Smith writes, “The ethics issues here are clear. Journalists, among other vital, value-driven functions, are to serve the public interest, providing information citizens need to exercise their citizenship. That is a fundamental ethical obligation, and one Curley looks to have disregarded.”

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GOVERNMENT

WHEN WILL IT OPEN? Spokane voters want union bargaining done publicly, but COVID and a court case have delayed open negotiations

Negotiations with the Spokane police union have been ongoing since 2017. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

BY SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL

I

n November 2019, a whopping 77 percent of Spokane city voters agreed that union negotiations with public employees should, in fact, be public and not conducted behind closed doors. A few things have happened since then that have kept such deal-making shrouded from public view. For starters, just a few months after that key vote, a global pandemic broke out, throwing a wrench in in-person public meetings everywhere (though virtual solutions have been adopted). Secondly, local efforts to make bargaining public first started in neighboring Lincoln County, which quickly saw a lawsuit from one of its major unions to block the move. That court case is still ongoing, and until either the public commission that rules on collective bargaining provides clear guidance for open negotiations or the state Supreme Court takes up the case, government agencies and unions are keeping a watchful eye. Regardless of those challenges, Spokane city leaders are being urged to open up its contract negotiations this year. In a Jan. 11 letter to city officials, a group of business leaders, the conservative-leaning Washington Policy Center and the president of the Washington Coalition

8 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

for Open Government argued that bargaining should be open to the public. “Since government union contracts account for such a large portion of spending, they should not be negotiated in secret,” the letter states. “It is predictable that union leadership would resist such a change. If they continue to resist, the city of Spokane should simply proceed as required in the charter — publish a public offer to the union(s) and await a response.” Otherwise, the letter also warns, “Failure to comply with the city charter, in violation of your oath, could open the city up to further legal action.” Labor leaders, meanwhile, continue to argue that this supposed effort at transparency is really a thinly veiled attempt to hurt and undermine unions. And with COVID restrictions and legal uncertainty looming, it remains to be seen if city leadership and union representatives will be able to agree to ground rules for the first three contracts subject to the new rule in a way that gives the public a seat at the table, virtual or not.

TENSE LETTERS

The Washington Policy Center-led letter came partly in response to a letter that Chris Dugovich, executive director

of the Washington State Council of County and City Employees, sent to Spokane County and the city in December. That state council represents Local 270, the city of Spokane’s largest union, with close to 1,000 workers who do everything from engineering and administrative work to sewage treatment and refuse driving. In the letter, however, Dugovich specifically takes issue with the county, lamenting that Spokane County correctional officers, under another part of his union, have worked throughout the pandemic without a contract since the end of 2019. Similar to the city of Spokane, the county also passed a requirement that bargaining with unions be moved into the public, but unlike the city, which put that measure to voters, the county measure was approved solely by County Commissioners Josh Kerns and Al French. “The Union has relentlessly for over a year tried to have substantive negotiations but have only been met by a flat-out refusal to bargain,” Dugovich writes. “This letter is in hopes that both the City and the County return and continue to bargaining (sic) in good faith. Failure to do so may mean that the bar room brawl just may break out to the streets.” ...continued on page 10


JANUARY 28, 2021 INLANDER 9


NEWS | GOVERNMENT “WHEN WILL IT OPEN?,” CONTINUED... Washington Policy Center’s Eastern Washington director, Chris Cargill, says he finds that language threatening and inappropriate. Similarly, Spokane City Councilman Michael Cathcart, who helped put open bargaining to a city vote, says he found the language to be concerning. “Bullying language is definitely not the way to win this rhetorical argument,” Cathcart says. “The public is saying they want more transparency in this process.”

THE DISAGREEMENT

At both the city and county level, the open bargaining rules would allow reporters and members of the public to witness negotiations that have previously been kept secret until a final deal is presented to government officials to approve or reject. When unions and agencies reach an impasse in closed-door negotiations, it can be hard for the public to know what led to standoffs that can leave workers without contracts for years. “I think it’s good policy no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re from and it shouldn’t really be an ideological issue,” Cargill says. “We want people who are part of the union to hear what’s being negotiated on their behalf, and those who are taxpayers in the public to hear what’s being negotiated on their behalf. Sunshine is the best disinfectant to any issue.” At the city level, negotiations with the police union have been ongoing since 2017, says city spokesman Brian Coddington. A deal was presented to Spokane City Council in early summer 2020, but the council rejected it due to disagreement over police oversight requirements, sending the deal back to the bargaining table, which remains closed to the public. Negotiations with the firefighters union, Local 29, have been underway since fall 2019, before the open bargaining requirement was passed by voters. But in recent weeks, after delays due to COVID-19, the city has finally started laying the ground rules for negotiations with three unions representing management professionals, firefighter officers and that largest group of city employees covered by Local 270. Those three negotiations would be the first subject to the city charter change that voters enacted in 2019. “The city’s stance is there’s an expectation of open bargaining and we’ll pursue that,” Coddington says. The city will also look for any legal guidance that may come out of a court case between Lincoln County and the Teamsters union Local 690. The dispute over public bargaining there has been going on since late 2016. Most recently, the state court of appeals directed the Public Employment Relations Commission to provide clearer guidance about how a public process would work if labor unions and agencies agree to go that route.

Before becoming a city councilman, Michael Cathcart helped put open bargaining to a city vote. intent of busting up or hurting unions, as the language was pushed by the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation, which has also worked for years to inform union members that they are not required to join or pay dues. Dugovich also points out that unlike Spokane’s ongoing police contract issues, his union has had great success in reaching deals with government agencies. Their last strike in Spokane County was in 1992. Essentially, he says, the system wasn’t broken. “This was a solution that was unnecessary. It’s not a problem, but they’ve been influenced by this very anti-union group, and they’re using it as a means to stop negotiations,” Dugovich says. Still, proponents of making bargaining sessions public argue that taxpayers should be able to see how the sausage is made, not just how it’s served on the plate to elected officials. Cathcart, meanwhile, now sits in the uncomfortable position of being briefed on the current status of negotiations during council executive sessions, which may not be discussed publicly. Still, he says he firmly believes that the actual bargaining sessions with unions should be conducted publicly, in part so even he can be held accountable. “Our negotiations should absolutely be open to

“This was a solution that was unnecessary. It’s not a problem, but they’ve been influenced by this very anti-union group.” Cathcart, who notes that he’s not a lawyer, suggests that the city may not be impacted by that ruling in the same way the county might, because the city measure was passed by voters. But the Washington State Council of County and City Employees’ stance is that all the city and county open bargaining measures that have been passed break the state law that guides collective bargaining. Dugovich, the state council director, argues the measures have the

10 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO

public scrutiny and public observation,” Cathcart says. “That’s the only way to give the public the opportunity to measure your success or failure and hold you accountable as an elected official.” But Dugovich reiterates that bargaining deals can be approved or denied in public by council once they’re finalized, and says that in his nearly 40 years negotiating contracts around the state, he has not seen any case where public employees got too much money. “You’d be real hard-pressed to find a contract settlement in my union or a lot of unions that you’d sit back and go, ‘Boy, that’s crazy!’ or ‘That’s unbelievable,’” Dugovich says. “You can’t blow up the city hall and sell the bricks — you want to make sure it’s standing after this is done. We do our utmost to make sure our employers are successful in their mission to serve the public.” Dugovich says Local 270 has had early meetings with the city of Spokane to start figuring out how they’ll negotiate a new contract, and he expects another meeting within the next month. But if making negotiations public is the sticking point, he says it’s possible that the union could have to turn to the courts for a solution. “We’re not going to allow our collective bargaining act statewide to be piecemealed, so that may end up being where we have to go for a resolution,” Dugovich says. “Hopefully not, but if we’ve got no other alternative that’s where you settle a dispute.” n samanthaw@inlander.com


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4 burgers, fries and beer DEPTH CHART At halftime during Saturday’s game against Pacific, I looked across GONZAGA’S BOX SCORE and something stood out. A player, first name starting with “J”, was approaching a triple-double. Two weeks ago, on Jan. 9 against Portland, Joel Ayayi recorded Gonzaga’s first triple-double in program history with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists. Ayayi had come tantalizingly close in a number of games prior to that, so it makes sense that he’d come tantalizingly close, if not accomplish it outright, at least once more. He wasn’t the player whose name starts with “J” who was closing in on it this past Saturday, though. That player, on that night, happened to be Jalen Suggs, who finished the game with 11 rebounds, 9 points and eight assists. Frustratingly close to a triple-double; so close to what would have been just the second triple-double in program history … merely two weeks after the first. As if we needed another reason to recognize just how absurdly loaded with talent this season’s Gonzaga team happens to be. (WILL MAUPIN)

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NEWS | OLYMPIA

Losing Interest Would a bill to cut steep penalties on unpaid property taxes help poor homeowners or reward rich scofflaws? BY DANIEL WALTERS

M

organ Sanders, a former facility engineer, first realized something was wrong when he started falling off ladders and getting dizzy driving. Then, nearly a decade ago, came the devastating diagnosis: He had a brain tumor. During the depths of the recession, he struggled to pay his bills, including his mortgage and his Spokane County property taxes. “I worked extremely hard to keep up with my taxes,” Sanders says. “[But] I was a year behind. After you miss the first due date, it escalated something fierce.” Go a year without paying your property taxes in Washington state, and your tax bill skyrockets by a full 23 percent. To start with, you’ll have to pay an additional 1 percent in interest each month your bill remains unpaid. But it gets worse: You’ll be hit with an additional 3 percent penalty in June and an 8 percent penalty in December. “Other people who were struggling in an economy that was failing were losing their homes left and right,” Sanders says. About seven years ago, he started urging reforms, successfully lobbying the Legislature to allow treasurers to accept partial payments of unpaid property taxes. Yet he wants the state to go further and reduce the sky-high penalties punishing those who fall behind. “I’m not talking about the deadbeat that just doesn’t want to pay taxes,” he says. “I’m talking about Mr. or Mrs. Joe that loses their job in a bad economy. Or the women whose husband dies and didn’t know they were behind because they were struggling.” It’s an issue that Spokane County Chief Deputy Treasurer Mike Volz says he knows well. “We get calls all the time in

the office from folks that are concerned about that,” Volz says. Volz, however, is in a unique position to do something about it: He’s also a state representative. In that role, he’s repeatedly introduced bills to simply eliminate the extra penalties on unpaid property taxes. “I’ve fought every year to just reduce that to 12 percent simple interest,” the Republican lawmaker says. During this year’s legislative session, he plans to try again. Volz’s proposals have drawn biparRep. Mike Volz tisan support from Spokane County Democrats like Rep. Marcus Riccelli and Rep. Timm Ormsby. But they’ve also drawn bipartisan opposition, including from many treasurers in other counties who warn that killing the penalty would sabotage county revenues while rewarding tax scofflaws.

A

decade after the depths of the Great Recession, another potential housing crisis is brewing: With key sectors of the economy crippled by lockdowns and virus-control measures, record numbers have lost their jobs. State and federal governments have issued eviction moratoriums, preventing landlords from booting tenants who aren’t paying their rents. But what was a

relief for tenants was a crisis for the landlords. “We’ve had a number of landlords — with nonpayment of up to 10 months from some tenants — pursuing bankruptcy,” says Steve Corker, president of the Landlord Association of the Inland Northwest. Last year, property owners in Spokane County got a break. Spokane County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner significantly delayed the property tax filing deadline, giving beleaguered taxpayers more time to scrape together payments. But Corker says the financial impact of the moratorium is likely to hurt landlords well into 2023, and the penalty for unpaid taxes exacerbates the issue. “When you throw 23 percent on top of your bill, it makes that bill that much harder to pay,” says Corker. “Honestly, if credit card companies or somebody else charged those kinds of rates, they would be outraged, and rightfully so. … Today, Jesus Christ would come in the courthouse and throw them out on the street. It’s punitive and ridiculous.” In fact, in most circumstances, charging 23 percent annual interest rates is flat-out illegal in Washington state, Volz notes. But when it comes to unpaid property taxes, the law makes an exception. “It’s wrong for everybody else, but it’s OK for property taxes,” Volz says. While Republicans like Volz, Baumgartner and Rep. Rob Chase — another former Spokane County treasurer — champion reducing the penalties for missing the tax deadline, so do nonprofits like the Northwest Justice Project that try to save homeowners from foreclosure. “Those homeowners who get deep into the foreclosure process are the most vulnerable among us,” Joseph Jordan, supervising attorney for foreclosures at the Northwest Justice Project, said at a legislative hearing last year. And while exceptions can be made in some circumstances like a death in the family, Jordan argued that the

DAVID SEIBOLD/CC BY 2.0 PHOTO

12 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021


vulnerable people often don’t learn of them until they’re already deep in the hole. “It seems that the penal nature of the property tax scheme in Washington unfairly targets the most destitute,” he said.

S

pokane County Commissioner Al French, however, sees the legislation as a misguided piece of populism. “It’s a bad piece of legislation,” French says. “It rewards people that don’t pay their property taxes, and it punishes people who do.” His main objection: Those steep penalties end up funding an important part of the county’s already-stressed budget. “This will rob from Spokane County over $2 million of revenue that we use to pay for public safety,” French says. “That, in my world, is about 20 sheriff’s deputies. Who’s going to get punished by this is those people that pay their taxes and have an expectation of government services.” Volz says the cost to Spokane County wouldn’t be quite that high — it’s closer to $1.2 million to $1.6 million. And Baumgartner argues that it’s a bad practice to rely on people doing the wrong thing to raise revenue. “It’s like setting up a speed trap to fund the government,” Baumgartner says. “It’s just predatory.”

“It’s like setting up a speed trap to fund the government. It’s just predatory.” But Baumgartner’s counterpart in Pierce County, Assessor Treasurer Mike Lonergan, worries that weakening the penalty for unpaid taxes could end up flat-out rewarding scofflaws. Lonergan points to Point Ruston, a sprawling 97-acre waterfront development in the Tacoma area. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, Point Ruston in 2018 owed more than $750,000 in back property taxes, late-fees and interest on a parking garage and other properties. Point Ruston developer Loren Cohen told the Tribune that they’d intentionally decided to delay paying taxes on some properties, arguing it made more sense to “keep that money working, either in an apartment building or buying other land to develop.” Their refusal to pay didn’t just hurt Pierce County. “Point Ruston happens to be half in the city of Tacoma, and the other half in the town of Ruston, a town of 700 people,” Lonergan says. “When their taxes were not paid on time, it was a tremendous burden.” Lonergan notes that the whole reason why the Legislature introduced such steep penalties for unpaid property taxes was that — in the era of skyrocketing inflation and interest rates in the late ’70s and early ’80s — it was smarter for property owners to delay paying taxes as long as possible. Since interest rates are so much lower today, he acknowledges the property tax penalties may seem “extreme,” but there’s no guarantee that rates will stay this low, he says. He worries that reducing penalties might result in more property owners procrastinating, lulling them into a false sense of security until it’s too late. “They’re at risk of losing their entire property,” Lonergan says. “After three years, our job is to auction off your property if you do not pay your taxes.” But Baumgartner counters by arguing that when Spokane County delayed its tax property deadline last year, it had effectively eliminated the property tax penalty for a year, almost as a kind of natural experiment. Yet they saw no decrease in tax collection, he says. For every wealthy Point Ruston example of a rich developer getting away with it, Baumgartner and Volz can point to a more sympathetic example like Sanders. “We had a single mom who had a broken transmission and couldn’t pay her taxes and she was being charged 23 percent,” Volz says. “It really impacts our vulnerable fixed-income folks.” n danielw@inlander.com

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14 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021


THE

WRONG

MAN After a father is beaten to death, the killer walks free as his lookalike takes the blame BY WILSON CRISCIONE

T

It turned out Joe Riley’s real crime was looking like someone else. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

he banging thunders through Joe Riley’s house. Boom, boom, boom. Riley has no clue who it could be. His wife and kids are relaxing in the other room as he opens the front door. Two detectives are outside. “What’s going on?” Riley asks. The Spokane County sheriff’s detectives tell him why they’re there. It’s Jan. 2, 2020, four days after a brutal assault left a man unconscious in a pool of blood outside Ichabod’s East, a bar in Spokane Valley. Daniel Jarman, 40, would die from the beating, and the attacker fled into the night before police arrived. Days later, two women would tell detectives they figured out who was responsible for the vicious attack: Joe Riley, a guy who owns a tattoo shop at the Valley mall. The two women were wrong. Riley had nothing to do with it. But the detectives at Riley’s front steps don’t know it yet. Detective Marc Melville, an Air Force veteran wearing plain clothes and a dark jacket, asks Riley to step outside. Melville tells Riley about the investigation and asks where he was at 2 am on Dec. 29. Riley tells the truth: He was at home with his wife. Melville looks at Riley’s hands. No bruises or cuts of any kind. No evidence that they’d been used to beat a man to death. Melville, for the moment, is stumped. Why would those two witnesses tell him that it was Joe Riley? Melville steps away and makes a call to one of the witnesses, asking once again for a physical description of the suspect, investigative records show. The woman repeats it. Melville glances again at Riley. The description fits. Riley is placed under arrest. While he’s being handcuffed, Riley sees his four kids’ faces plastered against the window. He catches his wife’s look of utter horror. There is no other evidence against Riley — only the

word of two witnesses who found him on Facebook and thought he looked like the killer, investigation notes indicate. That was enough for the detectives. Riley’s only real crime was looking like someone else — like the man whom investigators would later identify as the real killer. Riley and that man have the same eyes and smile. Both have a stocky build, chin hair and tattoos. They’re nearly the same age, born just two months apart. But there’s one glaring difference: One evidently beat a man to death. The other was arrested for it. As Riley is locked behind bars, as he’s labeled a murderer, as he’s forced to prove his innocence, as he’s later cleared of wrongdoing, as the case is closed and Riley is left to restore his good name, the real killer escapes justice, never once answering for the evidence against him.

A SOLDIER FINDS HIS FOOTING

The night Daniel Jarman would lose his life begins with him feeling hopeful. On Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, Jarman is drinking water at an Outback Steakhouse bar with one of his buddies, witnesses later recalled. He can’t contain his excitement because he’s just bought a house in Spokane Valley that will allow him to spend more time with his kids. Some girls sitting at the bar tell him he should celebrate with a beer. Jarman knows he shouldn’t. Mixed with his prescription medication, alcohol hits him much harder than other people. It brings out things he’d rather forget. Jarman grew up just north of Seattle and, like his two young sons, he loved playing soccer as a kid. When he graduated from high school, he decided he wanted to be a chef. He joined the Army because it would help pay for school — not expecting war. But he signed up just weeks before 9/11 and ended up serving multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He wasn’t quite the same afterward. ...continued on next page

JANUARY 28, 2021 INLANDER 15


“THE WRONG MAN,” CONTINUED... “He came home with some problems,” says his mother, Janet Jarman. After serving in the Army, he graduated from Western Washington University and worked in banking. In 2009, he met a woman named Natasha Clark. They were set up by their friends and immediately hit it off. Clark loved his smile, and remembers how polite and gentlemanly he was. They had their first son together in 2012, and their second two years later. But part of Jarman was suffering. While he didn’t talk about it too much, he was haunted by war. Once, he told Clark, he witnessed one of his friends get shot in the head right in front of him. Eventually, he got treatment for PTSD and bipolar disorder. It helped. The VA gave him medication — but he wasn’t supposed to mix it with alcohol, so he stopped drinking. He and Clark split up in 2016, she says. She moved to Soap Lake, while Jarman lived in Curlew. It wasn’t ideal — Jarman got tired of always having to pick up his sons and drop them off again. He wanted to be with them all the time. So at the end of 2019, he bought a house in Spokane Valley and proposed a deal to Clark: He could live downstairs, and she could live upstairs. But at least the kids would be there. She agreed. “I had already moved half of my stuff over there,” Clark says. That weekend, on Dec. 28, Jarman was moving into his new house, beginning his new life. It’s why, at Outback Steakhouse that Saturday night, Jarman is in a celebratory mood. He drinks a beer. The first beer is followed by another and another, and everything becomes a blur and then suddenly, eight hours later, he finds himself in the backseat of a car, next to some guy in a dark, puffy jacket. In the front seats of the car sit the bartender from Outback and her friend, who are trying to figure out what to do with Jarman, who’s very drunk and ready to pass out. The guy next to him suggests just leaving Jarman there — he can figure out how to get home on his own, witnesses recall. They all argue. Jarman and the other guy step out of the car. A blurry, choppy surveillance video captures what happens next, frame by frame. In one frame, the two are facing each other, maybe 5 feet apart. Jarman appears much thinner. In the next frame, the man wearing the dark jacket has lunged at Jarman and appears to be in the follow through of a right-handed swing. Jarman’s head is cocked back and to the side following the hit. Both fall out of the frame. Seconds later, a handful of onlookers are there surrounding the spot where Jarman lay. The Outback bartender, still in the front seat of the car, sees it all. She’d later describe it to detectives in detail: The guy knocked Jarman “out cold,” then “sat there and just wailed on his face” at least a dozen more times, all within seconds. She calls 911 at 1:58 am, reporting that “some guy just got punched a whole bunch of times,” and adding that he’s bleeding and unresponsive. A man takes the phone from her and says “she’s wrong,” Jarman “fell on the ground because he’s drunk.” But he begs for someone to help this man, choking on his own blood. The bartender takes the phone back. The dispatcher asks, “Who punched him?” “I have absolutely no idea,” the bartender says. “He hit him and took off, and we have no idea who it was.” For days, Jarman is in critical condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center with a section of his skull removed. His entire face is swollen, he has blood caked to his cheek and

16 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

a ventilator is keeping him alive. Friends and family have a difficult time seeing him like this. On Jan. 3, Jarman’s mother, Janet, has to make the worst decision of her life. Doctors say her son won’t be able to recover. She agrees to take him off life support. The decision rips her apart. “A mommy shouldn’t have to do that,” she says.

PEGGED BY PROFILE PICTURE

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office had no leads on Jarman’s killer in the hours after he was beaten in the parking lot. None of the witnesses — not even the two women in the car with the guy — say they know who did this to Jarman. On Monday, Dec. 30, Detective Melville is assigned to lead the case. Melville, who declined to comment for this article citing pending litigation, calls the bartender from Outback Steakhouse who witnessed the incident. We’ll call her Witness A. She now says she knows who punched Jarman: A guy named Joe Riley who works at Speakeasy Tattoo at the mall. She didn’t know who it was days ago, but she says she found him on Facebook and thinks it’s him. Melville interviews Witness A and later her friend, Witness B. The Inlander obtained audio of the interviews. We are withholding their names because the women fear for their safety with the killer out free. Witness A, the bartender, describes how after work, she ended up at Ichabod’s late at night. There, she was talking to Jarman, who had been with her all night. She says her friend, Witness B, was talking to another guy — “this guy, Joe, that she knew,” as Witness A puts it. Her friend and this guy “Joe” followed her and Jarman to her place. Jarman looked like he was going to pass out on the couch, however, so they all got back in one car to take him home. But first, they stop at Ichabod’s because one of the girls forgot a jacket. That’s where they get in an argument, the two guys step out, and Jarman is dropped with one punch. To be clear, this witness refers to this other guy as “Joe” when speaking to detectives on Dec. 31 because, by that point, she’d been convinced that they found him on Facebook. At no point in this recorded interview with two detectives does she describe being told this guy’s name was “Joe” on that night. Witness B more explicitly denies knowing the guy as “Joe” when she saw him that night. She, too, believes the killer is Joe Riley days after the assault, but only because of his Facebook page. Melville then presses her, misrepresenting what Witness A told him just hours earlier. “She said that you saw him coming and [said], ‘Hey this is Joe, he does tattoos,’” Melville says, though Witness A didn’t actually say that in the interview. Witness B holds firm. “Yeah, no, I don’t remember ever saying, ‘this is Joe,’ like, at all,” she responds. Melville continues to pressure her, telling her that he doesn’t think she’s telling the entire truth. He asks her “what’s more important: A friendship, or a life?” He brings up that Jarman is in awful shape at the hospital, in a medically induced coma, and that he may die. She gets upset. “You understand this could turn into a homicide investigation, not just an assault?” Melville says. “Yes.” “Somebody could end up getting charged with manslaughter, murder,” Melville says. She understands, she says. ...continued on page 18

Before he died, Daniel Jarman was looking forward to spending more time with his two sons. COURTESY PHOTOS

She calls 911 at 1:58 am, reporting that “some guy just got punched a whole bunch of times,” and adding that he’s bleeding and unresponsive.


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The parking lot of Ichabod’s East, a bar in Spokane Valley, where Daniel Jarman was knocked down and beaten.

YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

“THE WRONG MAN,” CONTINUED... “And you understand that people who lie to us, or try to point us in the wrong direction, can be charged as an accessory?” “Yes, of course.” He asks again if there’s anything she can tell him. Still, she never tells him she knew the suspect’s name the night of the incident. But she wants the potential killer to be caught. She really believes that guy she found on Facebook is the same guy she saw at the bar, so she says what she can. “I know it’s Joe,” she says. Days go by, New Year’s Day passes, and there’s no more evidence against Joe Riley. But rumors were circulating. Riley was getting weird, nasty comments on his Facebook page from people who knew Jarman. On Jan. 2, records say, Melville checks Riley’s Facebook and sees two of these comments. Melville decides to act. It’s then that the detectives go knock on Riley’s door and arrest him in front of his family. The next day, Jan. 3, Riley’s bond is set at $150,000. The affidavit of facts, signed by Melville, states that “[Witness B] introduced Joseph as ‘Joe’” to her friend. Neither woman described that happening in the interviews obtained by the Inlander. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office attempts to build a case against Riley over the next few days and weeks. But there is no case to be made. There are no receipts proving Riley was at Ichabod’s. A bartender working the night of the beating says she knows Riley, and he wasn’t there that night. Still, Riley remains in jail for two weeks before he makes bail.

18 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

Doug Phelps, Riley’s attorney, called the arrest of his client “terrible police work.” “They ignored all the evidence that pointed away from Joe,” Phelps says.

UNRELIABLE WITNESSES

It’s not uncommon for eyewitnesses to identify the wrong person, criminal experts say. In fact, it factors into more than 70 percent of convictions overturned through DNA evidence in the U.S., according to the Innocence Project, a national nonprofit that works to free innocent people. But Riley’s case is unique, says Jim Petro, former attorney general of Ohio and author of False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent. Usually, wrongful identification occurs in a lineup where witnesses must choose the person matching their description out of several. Petro says he hasn’t seen any cases where witnesses use social media to misidentify a guy they saw at a bar as a killer. Petro, who worked with the Innocence Project in Ohio, says investigators should always be wary of arresting someone based on eyewitnesses alone. “Eyewitness I.D. should never, without other support, be on its own considered adequate,” Petro says. He says the credibility of the two witnesses, the fact that Riley didn’t have marks on his hands, and his lack of criminal history should have been red flags caught by investigators. “They made a mistake,” he says. “A mistake is a mistake.” He adds that the boss — Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich — should require the investigators

involved get additional training. “If the leadership of the police department didn’t take the mistake seriously, then they’re at fault also,” Petro says. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has faced intense scrutiny when previous investigations fell apart. In 2012, three men were released from prison after their convictions in an armed robbery were tossed out. That case wasn’t based on a mistaken eyewitness, but a jailhouse snitch who gave false testimony. A sheriff’s office sergeant said the detectives failed to corroborate the informant’s statements, calling it “extremely poor police work.” But Sheriff Knezovich, contradicting that sergeant, defended the investigation, arguing the detectives were thorough. The three men received $2.25 million in a settlement. Knezovich tells the Inlander he can’t comment much on the Jarman investigation, due to pending litigation. But he says he “most definitely” has confidence in Melville’s abilities as a detective. “Frankly, it was Melville’s investigation, and continued investigation, that cleared the first suspect,” Knezovich says. Indeed, Riley made bail a couple weeks after his arrest, and by the end of January 2020, his first-degree assault charge had been dismissed. But Riley fears he was too close to being wrongfully convicted. Before his case was dismissed, he says prosecutors were telling him and his attorney that they had enough to put him in prison. At his arraignment, a prosecutor said the charge would likely be upgraded to second-degree murder. ...continued on page 23


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“THE WRONG MAN,” CONTINUED... And Riley doesn’t credit detectives with clearing him. The assault charge was dropped only after Witness B called detectives back on Jan. 28 and said that she made a mistake and Joe Riley was the wrong guy. A friend showed the witnesses pictures of someone else named Jamie Peterson, records state, and as soon as the women saw it, their hearts sank, now believing Peterson was the guy. Detective Melville knew of Peterson. In fact, according to Melville’s investigation notes, he already knew Peterson was a dead ringer for Riley. There was a receipt from Ichabod’s the night of Jarman’s death in Peterson’s name, and Melville had looked him up on social media and compared him to Riley, noting the similarities. Peterson, 39, did not respond to calls, texts or voicemails seeking comment for this article. Nor did his friends and family members. At Peterson’s Spokane Valley home, a block away from an elementary school, a woman answered and said he wasn’t there. The Inlander left a note and business card there with contact information. Shortly before this article was published, Peterson blocked an Inlander reporter from seeing his Facebook and blocked the reporter’s phone number. A year ago, on Jan. 29, a day after Witness B pointed to Peterson, Melville called Peterson. The detective had found his phone number from a report that Peterson was in a bar fight months earlier. Peterson agreed to meet with Melville at a pizza place around lunchtime. Peterson acknowledged he was at Ichabod’s bar the night of the fight but said he left just after midnight, when his receipt was printed. In fact, phone records pegged him in the area of Ichabod’s as late as 2:03 am, minutes after the assault of Jarman. Then Melville noticed something else: A “lasered off” tattoo on his left arm, exactly where one of the witnesses described one being on the suspect. As investigators narrowed in on Peterson, they discovered that his involvement was something of an open secret among those connected to the bars near the crime scene. A bartender at nearby Sullivan Scoreboard answered a call from Melville in March. When she was told Melville was seeking someone who was involved in the fight, she replied, “You mean Jamie?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Wilson Criscione has been a staff writer at the Inlander for five years, examining systemic issues in education, foster care, criminal justice and homelessness. He can be reached at 509-235-0634 ext. 282 or at wilsonc@inlander.com.

Chad Kemp, a bouncer there who agreed to an interview with the Inlander, told Melville he didn’t see what happened that night, but he heard about the incident shortly afterward. He says multiple people told him within a day that it was Peterson. One of those people was apparently an eyewitness. Melville contacted that witness in March. The witness described to Melville how he saw Peterson on Dec. 29 standing over Jarman, saying something like, “He wanted to start shit, he wanted to keep running his mouth.” When the Inlander contacted this witness, however, he denied ever speaking to a detective. Nobody with information on Peterson, including this witness, volunteered to tell law enforcement. At least nobody but the two women allegedly in the car with him and Jarman that night.

Joe Riley and his wife Shalee in the tattoo shop that he owns. Kemp says it’s possible people are afraid of Peterson. Kemp knew him as someone who could cause problems at the bar. Peterson also has a felony on his record for making harassing phone calls more than a decade ago to his then-estranged wife. According to court documents, he threatened to hurt his wife’s dad if Peterson’s assault rifle wasn’t returned, then later “threatened to kill” her entire family. Peterson’s father, meanwhile, is Lee Peterson, an attorney with Craig Swapp & Associates, a prominent law firm specializing in personal injury cases. Lee Peterson did not respond to multiple phone calls and messages from the Inlander. With Riley released and his charges dismissed, the investigation into Peterson slowed to a crawl, as detectives waited for DNA results from Witness B’s car. Then, in August, Melville collected a DNA swab from Peterson, comparing it with the DNA sample found in the car. It was a match. Peterson had denied knowing those two women or Jarman, but his DNA had been found inside the same car that Jarman and his attacker are seen on video exiting at 2 am. Considering there were now three witnesses identifying Peterson as the man who punched Jarman, along with DNA evidence and phone records proving he was there, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office recommended that Peterson be charged with second-degree manslaughter. It wasn’t enough. The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office declined to charge Peterson. The case was closed. County Prosecutor Larry Haskell tells the Inlander that “in this case, the evidence supported a likely mutual combat or self-defense scenario… in addition, the prosecutor must evaluate potential problems with the case and make a judgment call on all foreseeable issues including credibility of the state’s case.” Haskell did not answer follow-up questions asking if, after Riley was arrested and charged, new evidence supported a self-defense scenario for Peterson. He also did not say whether Riley’s initial arrest, or the investigation itself, hurt the credibility of the state’s case.

LYING TO PROTECT

When her husband went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit, Shalee Riley didn’t know what to tell the kids. She had to come up with something, so she said he had an emergency business call and he had to go away.

YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

“I had to really hold it together,” she says. “It’s sad. I had to lie.” The whole experience has shaken their sense of security to this day. Joe now sleeps on the couch, in an effort to protect the family, and he often wakes up in a panic. They don’t go out much, and not just because of the pandemic. They feel like they might get framed for a crime. “We don’t trust people. Things are not the same,” Shalee says. “We can’t believe this happened, and the justice system is like this.” Joe Riley says that he will still go to the grocery store and hear people call him a murderer. He’s always explaining himself. His tattoo business has suffered. He constantly wonders why this happened to him. He looked up Peterson, and he isn’t so sure they look that much alike. Riley gets angry thinking about him at all. “If it was self-defense, why wouldn’t he turn himself in? Why did he willingly and knowingly let me sit in jail and make me take the fall and almost lose my entire life, if he’s so freaking innocent?” Riley says. Jarman’s family has similar questions. His sister, Jami Humphries, doesn’t understand why Riley was charged but Peterson wasn’t. “The thing that frustrates me the most is them saying that it was self-defense,” she says. “I believed in the system until this.” Jarman’s loved ones are still seeking justice. They won’t accept that the case is closed with no charges. His mom, Janet, says she still cries for him every day. Maybe he shouldn’t have been out drinking that night, she says, but she’s pretty sure he wasn’t planning on getting killed doing it. “He was a good guy. Troubled. But a good guy,” she says. “He was getting better all the time.” His kids, 6 and 8 years old, never got to move into the Spokane Valley house with their mom and dad. Clark instead moved them back to Soap Lake. They miss their dad. They were told that he was in an accident and died. She hasn’t told the boys what really happened yet. “I know when they’re age appropriate, I’m going to have to tell them the actual truth,” Clark says. How will she tell them their dad’s killer got away with it? n

JANUARY 28, 2021 INLANDER 23


THEATER

WAR CRIES

Stage Left’s streaming production An Iliad gives audiences a startling look at what war does to humanity BY DAN NAILEN

I Robert Tombari (the Poet) runs through lines in An Iliad at Stage Left Theater. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

24 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

magine if, through twists of time and space, you were cursed to live through humanity’s worst moments. Moments when men and women brutally clash on battlefields, suffer in infirmaries, die at each others’ hands via swords, guns, spears and bombs. Then imagine your lot in life is to move through the centuries telling stories of those wars, forever forced to relive those horrific clashes until humanity finally wises up and stops killing each other. That seems like a pipe dream, I know, the ending of war. But that’s the only hope for the Poet to change his life in An Iliad, a new filmed stage production arriving Friday from Spokane’s Stage Left Theater.

It’s part of the theater’s Alone Together series of prerecorded streaming productions that will run through 2021 thanks to a Spokane Arts Grant Award. At its heart, Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s play An Iliad is an epic and imaginative work of The Iliad fan fiction, and based on Robert Fagles’ translation of Homer’s Trojan War tale. When Peterson and O’Hare wrote their play, they were driven by their reaction to the 2003 Iraq War and searching for a way via the theater to address what it means to be a country at war. That eventually led them to The Iliad, and then to create their own character within Homer’s work, the Poet. ...continued on page 26


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CULTURE | THEATER

FROM LEFT: Stage Left Managing/Artistic Director Jeremy Whittington, actor Robert Tombari and An Iliad director Susan Hardie

YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

“WAR CRIES,” CONTINUED... Nearly two decades after the war that inspired its creation, and three millennia after the Trojan War, An Iliad is still, unfortunately, utterly timely. That’s part of what attracted actor Robert Tombari to pitch An Iliad as a potential Stage Left show when he was poking around for one-actor shows last summer. “I fell in love with the character of the Poet when I read it,” the 28-year-old Tombari says. “He’s just so different from any other character I’ve read before. I connect to him on some level. And this story needs to be told right now. “There’s always been war in my lifetime. I don’t think we’ve ever known peace, really, as a country. We’re always involved in proxy wars and different skirmishes from around the world.” Tombari’s acting challenge is considerable. Not only is he on stage alone for 90 minutes, but he is tasked with tackling some lines delivered in Greek, slipping in and out of several characters in the Poet’s stories, and propelling the show through its shifts in tone and eras.

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f course, while Tombari’s challenge is not dissimilar to what it would be in “normal” times, the jobs behind the scenes are taking on some new demands thanks to the virtual aspect of An Iliad’s production. For director Susan Hardie, that means thinking about cameras in place of a live audience, among other things. “It’s a play, and we’re staging it as a play, but … we’re really aware that this is going to be filmed,” Hardie says. “We’re always keeping in mind the notion that we have three cameras available to us. Because this isn’t pure theater, we have to embrace the tools we have. “I’m directing this with a mind toward, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be fascinating if the Poet just talked directly to me on my screen? If

26 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

there was a moment when the Poet filled the screen with his face?’ Really utilize the tools we have available that we wouldn’t normally … Rather than being restrictive [staging the show via streaming], for me, it’s really opening things up to new possibilities.” One moment in the play comes to mind as ripe for a creative approach from Hardie and Stage Left videographer Paul Watts. There’s a point when the Poet gets lost in his rageful thoughts and starts listing every war that occurred on Earth, starting with the Trojan War and proceeding up to and beyond the Iraq War and recent actions in Syria and Afghanistan. The playwrights made their script adaptable for adding new wars to this dramatically long recitation. Rattling off this massive list in front of a live audience would be a stunning moment, a collective realization of just how many wars the Poet (and humanity) has witnessed. A screen on stage, and the computer screens of viewers at home, give Watts the opportunity to flash images from many of those wars, images that will drive home the horrors in a way no monologue could. “The Poet, this is all happening in his head,” Hardie explains. “He’s taking this trip through these wars, through the horror, because he’s lived them. That’s our conceit, that he’s been there on the front lines all this time. What we’re hoping to convey is this sense that this man, this wanderer … is being moved by all he has seen.”

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aving read the script, it’s hard to imagine anyone who logs in to An Iliad not being moved right along with the Poet. There’s humor along with the horrors of war, and exciting passages as the Poet unfurls the showdown between Achilles and Hector. Thankfully (to me, at least), it’s not delivered via the dactylic

hexameter rhythms of Homer but in a much more conversational, modern style that makes it easy for the audience. “The Poet is talking about things like what it’s like to get cut off in traffic, and how rage can take over. It’s not just on the battlefield, but it’s the rage within us,” Hardie says. “I see war on my television set, and in the paper, and I intellectualize war ... But I totally get being cut off in traffic. I get what it does to me personally. There are many moments when the Poet brings it home like that.” Jeremy Whittington, Stage Left’s managing and artistic director, was struck by the play from the moment Tombari pitched it to be part of the theater’s one-person show series, Alone Together. The idea of streaming one-person shows came after Stage Left had success streaming some of its regular festivals as well as a couple of plays. Landing a SAGA grant kicked the idea into gear as part of the way the theater is “rolling with the punches” of the pandemic. Whittington notes that, thanks to that grant, An Iliad will be the first time everyone involved with a Stage Left production will be paid for their work. For the audience, the play offers a way to experience stirring theater while supporting local artists. And with An Iliad, they have a show worth doing both. “It’s that personalization of war that is told very well through this script,” Whittington says. “It’s a beautiful roller-coaster of emotion. It’s done with levity, and with seriousness, and with fun storytelling and tragic storytelling … The point the Poet is trying to make for us is to help us connect so that we might learn something.” n An Iliad • Jan. 29-Feb. 7, Thu-Sat at 7 pm, Sun at 2 pm • $20/$15 for seniors, military and students • Online; tickets and info at showtix4u.com/event-details/44777 and stagelefttheater.org


CULTURE | DIGEST

Honoring Unsung Heroes TED TALK Ted Danson would be an American TV legend even if he’d never made another series after Cheers. But after some years in the unfunny wilderness (sorry, Becker fans), the man is on a late-career hot streak thanks to memorable roles in The Good Place, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Bored to Death. His latest, Mr. Mayor, comes from the brains behind 30 Rock (Tina Fey and Robert Carlock) and premiered this month on NBC (it’s also streaming on Hulu). So far, it’s shown potential for greatness with jokes rooted in celebrity culture, city politics and SoCal superficiality. Danson is at the center as a businessman-turnedneophyte politician, and Holly Hunter is pretty great as a city-level Bernie Sanders. (DAN NAILEN)

D

BY SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL

uring the pandemic, we’ve had many reminders to thank our health care workers, our teachers, and the people whose work mandates in-person

labor. For 60 students at Spokane Valley High School who are working on their project-based curriculum virtually, the thanks for 10 unsung heroes will come in the form of carefully curated gift baskets featuring gift cards and treats purchased from and donated by local stores. Led by the teaching team of Joni Chambers, Eric Sanchez and Seth Robertson, the class worked in teams to gather nominees, create a website where the public can vote on a winner who will receive an extra special prize, and gather the ideas for the basket items funded by a small grant. “Part of our mission is to be very community oriented at this school,” Chambers says. “It’s been an eye opener for the students to think about what other people have donated to our community and what really

THE BUZZ BIN

THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST There’s noteworthy new music arriving in stores and online Jan. 29. To wit: BLACK PISTOL FIRE, Look Alive. Saw these cats open for Gary Clark, Jr., and they ripped. ANI DIFRANCO, Revolutionary Love. Ani’s ascended to “I always want to hear what she’s up to” status in my book. WEEZER, OK Human. OK band. (DAN NAILEN)

runs a community. It’s not all big business, it’s boots on the ground keeping people fed.” Indeed, the nominees come from a variety of service areas instrumental to helping people throughout the past year. There’s Doug Beane, a Meals on Wheels driver who delivers meals to seniors in need, and Marion Hill, who at more than 80 years old has spent the last quarter of a century volunteering at the Cheney emergency food bank. Christine Duncan makes medical house calls with Dispatch Health, while Ben Preiss, an ER doctor at Sacred Heart, told students the best part of being a doctor is getting to be there for people on their best and worst days. Fellow health-related nominee Lin Preiss is a chaplain at Sacred Heart who’s provided counseling and spiritual guidance to patients who are isolated as COVID-19 not only puts people in the hospital but prevents many visits. Sharon Grant has helped seniors learn new ways to stay in touch with their loved ones while living at Canterbury Court, where she’s director, and Tennille O’Blenness worked quickly to ensure inpatients getting substance abuse treatment at Isabella House could get connected digitally with resources they needed. Demetrius Palmer, a life coach at Excelsior Wellness Center, created daily motivational YouTube videos for his students, and Calvetta Phair provided low-income students with computers for virtual learning through her foundation, “On It.” Meanwhile, Mel Luedders, a preschool teacher and director at Plum Tree, revamped and built outdoor structures to enable in-person learning to continue for the youngest students in the community. The students ask that you vote for your favorite hero on the list at bit.ly/3sKiaIL. n

BATTLE(SHIP) OF WITS Steven Soderbergh has been making mostly charming, low-key efforts since ending his self-imposed “retirement” a few years back, and his latest, Let Them All Talk (HBO Max), is a predictably breezy romp with a surprisingly sobering coda. Shot in an improvisatory style aboard an actual voyage of the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner, it follows a revered novelist (Meryl Streep) on a cruise with two of her oldest pals (Candice Bergen and Dianne Wiest), both of whom have conflicted feelings about their friend’s career. The film isn’t a major work in any of these legends’ filmographies, and yet they’re all terrific in it, and it ends up having a lot to say about aging, forgiveness and artistic license. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)

MONEY WELL SPENT Buying music and merch from your favorite band via Bandcamp.com was already a great way to support artists and indie labels because the site pays them a far better percentage of the sales than typical online outlets. Since the pandemic started, Bandcamp has done even better for artists, waiving its share of the sales revenue completely on the first Friday of each month so struggling musicians can make a little extra cash. The idea’s been a smash hit, as fans generated some $40 million for artists and labels on Bandcamp Fridays since the site launched them. The better news? Since the touring industry is still locked down, Bandcamp Fridays will continue into 2021, at least until May. So consider buying some tunes Feb. 5. (DAN NAILEN)

SPACE RACE The fifth season of The Expanse (Wednesdays on Amazon Prime) is already halfway through, easily becoming the series’ tensest and most action-packed storyline so far. Now that the Ring Gate — a portal to distant planetary systems — has been opened, Earth, Mars and the (asteroid) Belt are racing to explore and claim these new, resource-rich lands. Splinter factions from the Belt, meanwhile, have united as one under a charismatic and manipulative leader who’s more than willing to use violence and force to demand the Belt get first dibs on everything inside the gates, considering the “Inners’” centuries-long oppression of Belters. In the show’s own lingo, “throwing rocks” is not off the table. (CHEY SCOTT)

JANUARY 28, 2021 INLANDER 27


Rock City Grill co-owner Jim Rhoades

YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

COVID-19

Winter’s Waiting Game Local restaurants struggle as chilly weather and COVID-19 continue to keep diners away BY CHEY SCOTT

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eople’s general feelings about dining outdoors in the middle of winter, in the middle of a deadly pandemic, are about what we expected when we asked this week’s “On the Street” question of Inlander readers (see Page 5). Plenty of respondents noted that recent outdoor meals were definitely chillier than is comfortably tolerable, even with the presence of portable propane or electric heaters. Some said restaurants’ temporary outdoor shelters seemed to be more crowded than current regulations allow, or that tables didn’t appear to be adequately distanced. Others mentioned that even being seated outside isn’t enough of a safety precaution for them, and instead they plan to only order takeout for the foreseeable future. Not all the comments were negative. Several people also noted having enjoyable dining experiences in recent weeks, saying the chance to leave the house for a few hours for a tasty meal is worth bundling up. They shared that service was friendly, and some outdoor spaces were plenty warm. For the region’s hundreds of restaurants, this ex-

28 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

tended wintertime patio dining, paired with updated rules for open-air dining in indoor spaces when certain conditions are met, plus a continued focus on takeout orders, remains a critical financial lifeline. It still might not be enough. Last week, several restaurant owners from across Eastern Washington sent out a recorded plea to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, asking for a 50 percent capacity seating (double what’s currently permitted), which applies to patio and open-air indoor seating combined. Meanwhile, a poll conducted by the statewide Washington Hospitality Association shows 75 percent bipartisan support from residents for restaurants to reopen at 50 percent indoor capacity. Nearly as many also support recently introduced legislation (Senate Bill 5144 and House Bill 1321) to allow restaurants to reopen indoor dining at 25 percent capacity and to transfer power from the governor to the Legislature to increase capacity over time.

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quarter of normal capacity at Rock City Grill on the upper South Hill, for example, is about 11 tables total, says owner Jim Rhoades. That’s five

tables on the restaurant’s covered patio, and six indoors when the building’s garage door to the patio is open, he says. Rock City is one of dozens of local restaurants able to utilize the state’s open-air rule, which lets restaurants seat at indoor tables as long as accommodations are made to increase inside ventilation, like opening roll-up bay doors or multiple windows. A major stipulation of those options, however, is constant carbon dioxide monitoring to ensure fresh, outdoor air is moving throughout the space. “This last week, we were able to call a couple people back on the schedule who hadn’t been on because there wasn’t enough work for them, and it was a busy, great weekend,” Rhoades says. “It felt like a restaurant again with the heated patio and the six [indoor] tables. It was fun. It felt like something I remember.” Rhoades says despite the many challenges he and fellow restaurant owners have faced since last March, the outpouring of community support has given him, his wife, Rose, and their staff a positive outlook. “During the first shutdown, the response from our regular customers and the amount of tips they left for our


staff was really surprising and wonderful,” he says. Lately, Rock City has been on the receiving end of a chain of pay-it-forward donations from Rhoades’ friends and family. In the past several weeks, the restaurant has received more than $4,500 in cash donations that were then used to support its staff and purchase meals for frontline health care workers at local hospitals, as well as local nonprofits like Meals on Wheels. “We have some real generous friends out there taking care of our businesses and doing what they can to make sure we make it,” Rhoades says.

A

daptability has also been the key to survival for Susan Readel’s three southwest Spokane businesses, Latah Bistro, Wine & Taps bar and Latah Latte coffee stand. “We’ve adapted our menu, seating and spacing; we had to move furniture out of the restaurant,” she notes, adding that sales are down 60 to 80 percent compared to before the pandemic. For the bistro, Readel recently invested about $2,000 in three outdoor “globes” that are allowed as part of the state’s outdoor dining regulations during COVID-19. Each of the transparent domes seats up to five diners, and each is available for three reservation-only seatings per night, with a $100-$150 minimum purchase requirement. A large roll-up door to the patio at Wine & Taps next door to the bistro has also allowed for a handful of customers at a time to sit inside. “People are so excited about the bar being open; they’re wearing hats and gloves and coats and coming in happy to say hello to our bartenders,” Readel says. Up in far north Spokane, a covered outdoor patio at Hop Mountain Tap Room and Grill has proved to be a popular option for neighborhood regulars, say owners Joe and Katie Condon. “Instead of doing tents, we built a permanent structure,” says Katie Condon. “It’s completely covered, and we have a fireplace that’s piped out and tall space heaters, so it actually stays quite warm in there. We’ve actually had four or five customers donate wood to us for the fireplace.” The couple last week were also awaiting the delivery of a carbon dioxide monitor to be able to seat customers indoors, however they expressed concerns over increased heating costs to counteract the cold coming inside at a time when sales are already drastically down. “At that point, is it even worth ramping up the electricity bill for everyone to sit inside and still be cold, when you’d be warmer outside?” says Joe Condon. Based on the outpouring of support from their customers so far, the couple are optimistic their restaurant can weather the pandemic, although they’re still worried about the impact of continued back-and-forth changes from the state on how they can operate.

I

n another move to adapt to the ever-changing pandemic landscape, Latah Bistro’s Readel says she and her staff reduced the menus to just one for both the bar and bistro, a change that also helps with weekly ordering of ingredients and supplies. Weekly menu updates are posted on each venue’s social media pages, which have been vital resources to share updates with customers. “We try and do what people really Visit inlander.com/food love, and also we’re seeing some trends for a list of restaurants of what people are craving,” she says. offering patio and “People have been wanting seafood, so open-air indoor dining. we’re doing halibut and shrimp. And steak — people want steaks, so we’re doing rib-eye. And desserts; they’re into desserts. We usually run out of everything we buy because we order what we think we’re going to sell, and we usually sell out.” Like at Rock City and Hop Mountain, it’s the support from loyal regulars who are helping the team at Latah Bistro and its sister spots stay optimistic, Readel says. “The overwhelming gratitude brings us all to tears, from our loyal customers who have reached out to do anything to support us, whether it’s on social media as a ‘like’ or a gift card or a simple hello or a pickup to-go order,” she says. n

What can you give this week? VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES SCHOOL-BASED MENTORS NEEDED - COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS

The PrimeTime Mentoring Program is a rewarding 30 minutes to one-hour per week investment in making a difference to an at-risk youth in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney or Medical Lake. Mentors provide friendship and encouragement. Due to COVID-19, Communities in Schools has developed a virtual option for our PrimeTime Mentoring Program. Volunteers participate in group mentoring sessions, which are facilitated and guided through an online platform by a session host. Learn more online or contact Kelley Hinrichs at kelley@cisspokane.org or 509-413-1436. spokane.ciswa.org/services/primetime-mentoring-at-schools

HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS NEEDED - MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is seeking community volunteers with health care experience to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts. Nurses, CNAs, physicians and others with health care experience who are not currently employed or have personal time are needed to assist with the region’s vaccination efforts, and in the event of a significant virus surge. The MRC is looking for professionals from various disciplines including: • Registered nurses and nurse practitioners • CNAs and NACs • Physicians and physician assistants • Medical assistants • Mental health professionals To learn more or apply, visit the Medical Reserve Corps of Eastern Washington’s website. srhd.org/programs-and-services/medical-reserve-corps-of-easternwashington

VOLUNTEERS WANTED - BLESSINGS UNDER THE BRIDGE Every Wednesday night, Blessings Under the Bridge serves hot meals and dishes out hope and support to Spokane’s homeless community. Each week 20 volunteers are needed to set up stations and serve. Sign up on your own, with your family, friends or co-workers. Learn more about Blessings Under the Bridge online or contact the volunteer coordinator at butbvolunteer@gmail.com and she will email you back with dates available. butb.org

DONATIONS NEEDED WELCOME HOME KITS - FAMILY PROMISE In putting together a Welcome Home Kit, you provide essentials for a family moving from homelessness to housing. You’ll find lists of several different kinds of kits on the Family Promise website. Below are the requested items for a cleaning kit: Disinfectant wipes • Multipurpose cleaner • 3 Sponges • Drain Cleaning Product • Window Cleaner • 6 pack paper towels • Scissors • Dish Soap • Laundry detergent • Laundry basket familypromiseofspokane.org/give

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JANUARY 28, 2021 INLANDER 29


FESTIVAL

PRETEND IT’S

PARK CITY Spokane native Trish Harnetiaux discusses her short film playing at the virtual Sundance Film Festival; plus, a rundown of this year’s Sundance highlights BY NATHAN WEINBENDER

I

n 2020, the Sundance Film Festival was one of the last big movie-centric events to happen in person before international COVID-19 shutdowns took effect. But the show must go on, and the landmark independent film forum is back in 2021, albeit in a virtual version. That’s right: If you’ve always dreamed of hobnobbing at Sundance but have never made the trip, you can now purchase e-tickets and see the work of hundreds of filmmakers from around the world. One of them is Spokane native Trish Harnetiaux, whose new film You Wouldn’t Understand was selected as part of this year’s Sundance shorts program. It’s easily the biggest venue where the 10-minute film has played, and it’s also the first time one of Harnetiaux’s films has played the buzzy Park City, Utah, festival. “It’s always been a dream. And what a year to be in Sundance,” Harnetiaux tells the Inlander. “It’s a bittersweet opportunity for us, and clearly we’re disappointed that there’s no Park City this year.”

But she says that the Sundance staff has been generous with their time and support, and that their enthusiasm is representative of the “pandemic pivot” that so many arts organizations have had to lean into. “They’re doubling down and trying to get exposure for everybody, and the shorts program is available for the entirety of the week,” Harnetiaux says. “There’ll be a lot more eyes on it. That’s pretty exciting.” Born and raised in Spokane, Harnetiaux was heavily involved in the local theater scene from a young age; her father, Bryan Harnetiaux, has been the playwright-in-residence at the Spokane Civic Theatre since 1982. After attending the University of Washington and studying theater and playwriting, she moved to New York, where she still resides. ...continued on page 45

PUNCH YOUR E-TICKET The virtual Sundance Film Festival runs from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2, and the schedule includes more than 70 feature films. Obviously we can’t list them all, but here are a few of the titles we’re most looking forward to. See a full schedule and purchase tickets at festival. sundance.org.

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH Originally slated for theatrical release last summer, this historical drama follows Black Panther Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) and his doomed friendship with FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield). It also drops on HBO Max on Feb. 12.

LAND The directorial debut of actress Robin Wright, who also stars as a woman living alone deep in the woods and grappling with a dark event from her past. Part nature survival drama, part study of trauma and self-worth.

ON THE COUNT OF THREE In this dark morality play, two deeply troubled men, played by Jerrod Carmichael (who also directed) and Christopher Abbott, make a bizarre pact to be dead by the end of the day. If you like your films edgy and unpredictable, look no further.

PASSING Yet another directorial debut from an established actor, in this case Rebecca Hall, the story of two Black women (Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga) who form an unusual bond after learning they’re both passing as white.

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND Nicolas Cage stars in the latest weird effort from director Sion Sono, a futuristic Western about a bank robber, a missing girl and an exploding leather jacket. Cage himself has described this as the wildest film he’s ever made… think about that.

THE SPARKS BROTHERS Edgar Wright’s first documentary focuses on the influential, cultishly adored band Sparks, the idiosyncratic, pop-literate project of brothers Ron and Russell Mael. The film will serve as a musical history lesson and will also boast new concert footage.

You Wouldn’t Understand

30 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

SUMMER OF SOUL One more music-centric documentary from a big name director, in this case the Roots drummer Questlove. The subject here is 1969’s Harlem Cultural Festival, also known as Black Woodstock, which featured Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and others. n


Paul Stanley of KISS (right) and Rock Camper Pistol Crockett

DOCUMENTARY

Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy The documentary Rock Camp takes us inside the event that lets regular people live out their superstar fantasies BY NATHAN WEINBENDER

F

or anyone who’s ever lip-synced to their favorite song in the bathroom mirror or busted out the air guitar during a Jimmy Page solo when no one was looking, Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp might be your kind of jam. It’s an annual four-day getaway that lets “campers” rub shoulders with actual rock stars, sitting in on master classes and Q&As, and forming bands with seasoned musicians and performing on real venue stages. The fantasy camp is now the subject of a new documentary called Rock Camp, which explores the ins and outs of the experience and introduces us to a select group of campers from all walks of life and skill levels. It also features interviews with a roster of big names: the Who’s Roger Daltrey, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS, Slash, Nancy Wilson, Alice Cooper and members of Judas Priest, Jane’s Addiction, Whitesnake and more. At the center of it all is David Fishof, a longtime music booker, tour manager and sports agent who was instrumental in reuniting the Monkees and forming Ringo Starr’s hugely popular All Starr Band. Fishof founded Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp in 1997 and has overseen it

ever since, and he spoke to the Inlander about the release of Rock Camp, the state of live music during COVID-19 and whether rock stars are actually as wild as we think they are. Responses have been edited for clarity. INLANDER: Because you’ve worked with so many famous musicians over the years, are you always fielding questions about what certain rock stars are like in person? DAVID FISHOF: People always seem to ask me, “What’s this one like? What’s that one like?” When I was [managing] the All Starr Band with all those musicians, that was when the phone rang every day, because everybody in the industry wanted to know how they got along. Everyone said it could never happen — that you could put all these superstars in one band and tour. We like to think of the rock star lifestyle as being pretty debaucherous, but am I wrong in thinking it’s probably a lot more mundane behind the scenes? You’re wrong. [laughs] But when the Monkees were

touring, they had their wives and their kids on the road. When Ringo was touring, most of them were in 12-step programs. The craziness happened years ago. Personally, I always ran to my room. I don’t drink, I never got really involved in that, so it became mundane. But you hear stories about Mötley Crüe on the road. To alleviate all that boredom, they would do crazy things. Rock Camp has been put on hold because of the pandemic, though I know you’ve been hosting Zoom master classes with artists. What’s it like not having that regular get-together? I’ve been trying to think for many years, how do I take my business online? In June, I came up with this idea of [reproducing] those master classes that we do at Rock Camp, where people get to sit around and talk to the rock stars. We’ve done 150 of these master classes since June. What I love about them is that the artists are doing these classes and they’re not promoting their tours, they’re not promoting their records. ...continued on page 45

JANUARY 28, 2021 INLANDER 31


MORE EVENTS Visit Inlander.com for complete listings of local events.

WILD AND SCENIC FILM FESTIVAL ILLUSTRATION

FILM WINDOW TO THE WILD

The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is celebrating its 16th anniversary by hosting one of the largest outdoor recreation film festivals in the U.S. This year’s virtual version of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival comprises nine films featuring the wild, public lands of the West. To commemorate the night, the Sandpoint-based nonprofit is partnering with Utara Brewing Company to supply an optional meal, beer and ticket bundle ($42+). Food and beer will need to be picked up at Utara on the night of the festival. In addition to the films, raffle tickets can be purchased for a chance to win outdoor gear, and filmmakers including Sandpoint’s own Erik Daarstad are available for a Q&A. This year’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival streams on Jan. 30 and is available for 24 hours. — SPENCER BROWN Wild and Scenic Film Festival • Sat, Jan. 30 at 6:30 pm • $15 • Streaming online; details at scotchmanpeaks.org/event/ wild-and-scenic-film-festival/

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32 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

VISUAL ARTS CROSSING PATHS

Boise-based artists Kate Walker and Caroline Earley are featured in Eastern Washington University Gallery of Art’s next presentation, Intersections. Walker creates with painting, performance and video, often collaborating with community members to address contemporary social issues, while Earley’s ceramic works highlight relations between form and function. Both artists infuse humor within their artistic works to bring light to issues related to social justice, the environment and the importance of societal interconnection. Walker and Earley’s common focus on formal abstraction is achieved through their visual collaboration of both color and geometric shape. In addition to the main show featuring the artists’ individual works, EWU is also displaying their collaborative piece, Intersexions (pictured). The artists give an online lecture via Zoom on Feb. 18. — NATALIE RIETH Kate Walker & Caroline Earley: Intersections • Jan. 27-March 5 • Free • Online at ewu.edu/cale/art/gallery/

THEATER COFFEE BREAK

It’s not clear when live theater will return, but several local collectives have found workarounds with virtual productions and recordings. Sandpoint’s own Panida Theater has gotten into the spirit, and they’re now presenting theater via Zoom (or, as they’re describing it, Zoom Reader’s Theater) with the short comedy Coffee Shop. The production features a cast of local actors — Scott Johnson, Tim Martin, Andrew Sorg, Alex Cope, Steve Neuder and Panida Executive Director Patricia Walker — playing a collection of quirky characters all gathering in a cafe and having humorous conversations and asides. The production was written and directed by Teresa Pesce and sponsored by Evan Brothers Coffee, and future episodes should be on the horizon. — NATHAN WEINBENDER Coffee Shop • Through Jan. 31 • $5 • Streaming at panida.org


FILM | FESTIVAL

“PRETEND IT’S PARK CITY,” CONTINUED...

BENEFIT SOUP FOR THE SOUL

For its next effort to give back to the community, Cochinito Taqueria is warming both bellies and hearts. Between now and Sunday, preorder a bowl of posole — choose from pork posole rojo or vegetarian posole verde — and you’ll also get a beautifully handmade bowl, made by the local Schumaker’s Pottery and members of the Spokane Potters Guild. Proceeds of both the soup and bowls are being donated to Second Harvest, which has seen a demand for food safety net services increase exponentially since the pandemic’s onset. Only 100 bowls were made for this special fundraiser, so if you don’t want to miss out make sure to call Cochinito to reserve one, a measure that’s also encouraged to help the kitchen keep a good pace and for all to maintain social distancing. Extra posole will also be available, along with to-go cocktails, beer and wine. — CHEY SCOTT Bowl of Sol • Sun, Jan. 31 from noon-4 pm • $25/bowl • Cochinito Taqueria • 10 N. Post St. • facebook.com/cochinitotaqueria • 474-9618

Harnetiaux has had a number of plays staged over the years, but it was around 2012 when she started making short films with her husband Jacob A. Ware and their friend Anthony Arkin (son of Alan). Under the moniker Steel Drum in Space, the trio has produced a number of quirky, offbeat shorts, and Harnetiaux says You Wouldn’t Understand is almost an apotheosis of all the weirdness of their previous films. It’s hard to describe the film without giving too much away, but it begins with a man (Arkin) having a solo picnic in the middle of an empty field on a sunny day. Enter a stranger in a white suit (Ware), seemingly appearing out of nowhere, who asks to borrow some horseradish before devolving into a torrent of nonsense terms. From there, it’s a surreal descent into absurdity that seems to involve a time loop and clones from the future — or maybe the past. “The initial idea was ‘let’s tell a story that you think you know, and then let’s see how we can kind of peel it back and take it in an unexpected way,’” Harnetiaux says. “We talked a lot about influences, and we wanted to have this strange tension and almost Hitchcock-like strangeness to this world, but also infuse it with humor and this sort of Monty Python vibe.” With its small cast and spacious outdoor locale, you might think Understand was produced during the pandemic, but it was actually shot in New Jersey shortly before lockdowns took effect.

MUSIC | DOCUMENTARY

“ROCK ’N’ ROLL FANTASY,” CONTINUED... They’re promoting just giving the best advice you could ever ask for. It’s a way to connect with these artists during COVID. It’s been hard, and live music has been hit the most. But I think it’s gonna come back, and it’s gonna come back in a very strong way. Many of these artists now are all spending time recording and creating great content, and I think there’s going to be some great music coming out and a lot of touring happening.

FOOD SWEET ESCAPE

Valentine’s Day looks different this year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be romantic, fun or memorable. Enter Days of Decadence, the new, virtual format of the annual Decadence! Spokane Chocolate Festival. Over the first three days of February, Decadence hosts local experts in food and drink for a series of free, livestreamed classes. Through Feb. 14, participating local businesses also offer in-store promotions and specials. For the upcoming online sessions, partake in wine and cheese pairings (Feb. 1 at 4 pm) with Wanderlust Delicato’s Amber Park, learn more about the “Wonderful World of Whiskey and Chocolate” (Feb. 2 at 6:30 pm) with bartender Sailor Guevara, and everything about sweet and savory European babka bread (Feb. 2 at 11 am) with Rind & Wheat bakery’s Ricky Webster (pictured). Audrey’s Boutique also hosts a shopping session (Feb. 3 at 2 pm), and optional tasting kits are available for some sessions. — CHEY SCOTT Days of Decadence • Online sessions Feb. 1-3; event runs through Feb. 14 • Free • Details at hopin.com/events/days-of-decadence

Since it has come out in the midst of the pandemic, Harnetiaux and her collaborators haven’t been able to see the movie with an actual audience, although it has played several virtual film festivals since the summer. That’s a bummer for comic filmmakers, who can easily base the effectiveness of their work on what an audience does and doesn’t respond to, but HarTrish Harnetiaux netiaux hopes the film still delivers a little bit of levity — and a whole lot of weirdness — in an otherwise dark time. “It’s maybe not for everybody, and it might go off the rails for somebody. Hopefully people will enjoy the journey of it,” she says. “It also lends itself to multiple viewings, and you can discover something new every time with this one. … I hope that people can escape into it and have fun with it. Because that’s why we made it, and that’s how we made it.” n

Is there a specific moment from the early days of Fantasy Camp when you realized it had a future? I think the moment was when Roger Daltrey came to the Rock Camp in New York. He came in on a Thursday, and he jammed with all the bands on Friday. He turned to me and said, “When do these bands perform?” And I said, “They’re playing at the Bottom Line [rock club] on Sunday night.” He said, “I want to jam with each one of them.” And that was the turning moment when I realized that he had as much fun doing the camp as the campers. It reminded him what it was like when he first started. What do you hope audiences take away from the film, beyond “I want to go to a fantasy camp”? What I really want people to take away from it is that anybody can do what they want to do, but they shouldn’t let fear get in the way. People who have gone to the camp, you see how much they’ve been able to grow. And these rock stars,

they help you along the way and push you forward. I get emails every day from people thanking me — “I’m doing this, I’m doing that, and I’m running my office better because I learned to listen.” So I’m hoping that Rock Camp is a place where you go and it changes your life in all different ways, and I hope the movie inspires people. Is there any big star in particular who hasn’t participated in the camp that you’d most love to get? There’s so many — from Bruce Springsteen on down. I’m hoping that when they see the film, they’ll understand what we do and how we share music. So the list is endless. One of my favorite stories was when Joe Elliott from Def Leppard came, and we’re preparing an old Def Leppard song. I turned to one of the bands and said, “I know you want to do a Def Leppard song with Joe Elliott, but why don’t you prepare a Mott the Hoople song? I know he’s the biggest fan.” And so Joe walked in and said, “OK, what do you guys want to do?” and they said, “We want to do this song from Mott the Hoople.” And his eyes lit up. I remember walking him to his car afterwards and he says, “That was my Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp.” That’s what it’s about. n Rock Camp is available now as a ticketed streaming event through various indie movie theaters and at rockcampthemovie.com. It will be available as a digital rental on Google Play and Amazon Prime beginning Feb. 16.

JANUARY 28, 2021 INLANDER 33


rare freedom, and you are endangering it because your idea of freedom seems mainly limited to what works for you and you only. You should be at the forefront of maintaining the right to bear arms in a manner that reflects the reality of the killing power guns now possess. I have a feeling some of you rail on about the second amendment mostly because you get off on intimidating people with your big guns. You don’t have many other ways to feel important or seen. You’re dealing with your insecurity and fears in a way that frankly hurts to witness. I feel like I see every screwed-over guy from my screwed-over hometown in you. Get off the internet, get off social media, and go to the library and ask a librarian for help. They’ll get you on the right track. And please don’t take your damned guns with you when you go! You won’t need them there.

CHEERS GROOVY! Cheers to David at Groove Merchants for tracking down a hardto-find copy of my daughter’s favorite album on vinyl. She was overjoyed when she saw it. Thanks so much!

JEERS JEERS TO MYSELF & APOLOGY TO COUPLE Mon AM at Sacred Heart elevators. You were a middle-aged couple who pressed “close doors” before I could get on, and I reacted in an annoyed fashion. I am very sorry; hospitals have been causing me great discomfort and I’m still getting used to it. I was a jerk in a neon yellow knit hat. I’m super sorry if I added to any anxiety about having to be at a hospital. Best wishes and sincere apologies.

VALUE DEMOCRACY OVER YOUR GUNS To those who are armed in this country in order to maintain freedom and safety — remember: that’s the point. Attending protests and occupying federal lands and buildings with your oversized weapons scares and silences the people you were or are armed to protect. You are charged with maintaining democracy, and instead you terrorize people and seem to think that unlimited gun freedom is more important than democracy and the well-being and safety of your neighbors. The right to bear arms is a

TRAGEDY WAITING TO HAPPEN! Jeers to a local motel for putting lives in danger including children! In the last year I have rented a room on three separate occasions each time in a different room but they all had one thing in common: light fixtures exposed and hanging by their wires and smoke detectors without batteries. OK, TIME TO PUT UP OR LOOK STUPID! So the worst person to have EVER lived is leaving the White House! And tomorrow the Greatest Statesman to have entered the Hollowed Halls of Political Endeavor begins 8 Years of Diplomacy! It’s been 5 years of having the press bad-mouth everything the President did to now 8 years of the press and social media covering for his 45 years of absolutely NO accomplishment other than he isn’t Bernie Sanders. Many have predicted that between his mental state or health it is guessed his lasting between 6 months to two years before the Queen of the Swamp steps in and pulls out Article 25 on him and puts the Vice President in his place. Then there will be policies that are SO far Left it will be interesting to see how even the Left can stomach it. And where will all the money come from to pay for this? As Prime Minister Thacher said, “Socialism only lasts as

long as OTHER people’s money.” And it’s amazing how in a country that is (or WAS) about Capitalism how HOSTILE the public has become about ANYONE that has ANYTHING! You work hard now and it doesn’t matter because there are ALL kinds of people that think you owe THEM! SO! the next 4 years are going to

attempting to pick up my husband who was standing outside the entrance. I flicked my lights to attract his attention, but instead I created the impression I wanted the lady in the light colored van stopped in front of me to move out of my way. Please forgive me for being rude... it was unintentional.

RE: REFLECTIONS ON 2020 WHINERS One of the characteristics I’ve noticed about those writing in The Inlander is

Frankly those in government are all spoiled children that are so thin-skinned as to be pathetic.

be interesting! Be careful what you wish for you might get it! MAKING SCHOOLS LESS SAFE Jeers to the private school on the north side of Spokane for firing a beloved teacher into a pandemic recession for political reasons. The teacher you fired was the strongest faculty voice for LGBTQ+ students and Students of Color. By caving in to the demands of wealthy conservative families, you made your school an even less safe place for all but your most privileged students. I SAW YOU ... and if I see you again, I’m going shame the $#!t out of you. I saw you walk out of the stall at Costco, middle-age woman in the black coat, white hat. Thursday evening while I was doing the two-minute happy birthday hand wash, you walked right by 4 or 5 vacant touchless sinks yet you choose not to wash your hands. Last I saw you you were headed back by the fruits and vegetables. The shock and disgust I felt has morphed into anger. Like ultra mad. This is a fair warning, if I see you or your type do that again, I won’t be the one regretting not speaking up, you’ll be regretting not washing your hands. I APOLOGIZE FOR CROWDING AT THE SACRED HEART VACCINATION LOADING On Friday January 22 about 5pm I was

SOUND OFF

1. Visit Inlander.com/isawyou by 3 pm Monday. 2. Pick a category (I Saw You, You Saw Me, Cheers or Jeers). 3. Provide basic info: your name and email (so we know you’re real). 4. To connect via I Saw You, provide a non-identifying email to be included with your submission — like “petals327@yahoo.com,” not “j.smith@comcast.net.”

INSLEE?? Dear Cathy Must Retire, Thank You for Outing the Governor as the person responsible for the Malden Pine City Debacle. I thank you also for forgetting he is not responsible for the 400,000 deaths mostly our elders. I do thank you for sharing that your lapdog and spokesman are one and the same. YEP! WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD So the “Mother Ship” newspaper ran an article about how Malden, WA is in the middle of Past President and Worst Person in the World and the Governor of the City of Seattle and all point West of the Cascades (other than Whitman Country and parts of the South Hill in Spokane) for a relief package for the devastation after the fire. Of course HOW could Anyone that wants money think (and I’m talking State of WA Government) that just because you’ve bad-mouthed the President EVERY chance you get and sued the President EVERY chance you could (think State Attorney General— usually over Illegal Immigration) that he wouldn’t Fall Over himself to send aid immediately! After all the RED East of the Cascades is Often visited and Supported constantly by the Governor of Seattle EVERY chance HE gets—YES that is being sarcastic! I’m truly sorry the fine people of Malden are being hung out to dry by ALL sides! Frankly those in government are all spoiled children that

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a failure to note the topic at hand. The person who wrote Reflections on 2020 Whiners seems to have missed the point of the original text. They state “A meal at a eat-in restaurant is going to cost more because you get a different kind of service and the food is generally better.” No duh! Here is the problem brought forth by the original message. THE FOOD ISN’T BETTER!! So, why would someone want to pay more money for sub-par food? I think Spokane & The Inlander share the same problem. They’re both sub-par. For the fools who say “move out”, I say “great plan. That’s what many successful people do. They move out”. I look forward to new opportunities. Please enjoy your sub-par restaurants. n

THIS WEEK'S ANSWERS C A P N A R E A L I Z Z I S P F R I I S A E S O C H O Y E S A S T O Z O O M F R E S P I R D I E T S E S A

S H O O O T P U P P R I U N A I S S N E A E R M E

L A M A Z E Z I P P O

O R G O N E O V E R Z A G

F R E E M I U M

R A V E N

E T A M I N

S I D D E O B N E H D N O E L E A L F R S D I T I N T C O O P O O M L I L P U M A S M O

C O E D U C A T I O N

A N D S K Y E S T

N K N O W S

NOTE: I Saw You/Cheers & Jeers is for adults 18 or older. The Inlander reserves the right to edit or reject any posting at any time at its sole discretion and assumes no responsibility for the content.

When does: $50,000 = $379,723 ?

34 INLANDER JANUARY 28, 2021

are so thin-skinned as to be pathetic not even laughable! And Yet they are sent back to their offices over and over by the fine people of Washington State!

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eed isn’t for the morning, for me at least, but that doesn’t mean weed can’t be an any-timeof-day indulgence. Almost every morning I make a smoothie. It’s become my go-to breakfast. A handful of berries, half a banana, a dollop of Greek yogurt, some spinach — greens make it healthy; ugly, but healthy — and a tablespoon of chia seeds. Yes, the same seeds you put on those terracotta figurines from TV that grow a luxurious green head of hair. Recently, though, I’ve learned that the as-seen-onTV seeds aren’t the only ones that can bring nutrients to your morning routine. This is the Green Zone, so of course, we’re talking about weed seeds. Hemp seeds, to be precise. I had been a fan of chia, but earlier this year a friend

turned me on to hemp. Considering I write about cannabis every week, I figured I may as well use this as an opportunity to bring weed into my morning smoothie via hemp seeds. So far, I’m not regretting it, nor am I limiting it to the morning hours, either. There are trade-offs in my specific situation, like how chia seeds pack a stronger punch of fiber than hemp. But I’m enjoying the transition nonetheless. Hemp seeds are a complete protein source, meaning they contain all of the amino acids the human body can’t produce on its own. They’re also not disgustingly sticky like chia, which makes hemp seeds an ideal addition to any blender-based recipe. Cleaning the blender has been a breeze. Perhaps most important, they’re versatile. The hemp seeds I’ve been using have been mechani-

cally de-shelled — commonly known as shelled hemp seeds or hemp hearts. Because they’re lacking the hard outer shell, which you would encounter in a bag of “seeds and stems,” you don’t need to grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice mill. They’re ready to drop into a smoothie, be sprinkled over yogurt or tossed into a salad. You could even shoot back a tablespoon of the stuff raw if you wanted a quick fix of manganese and omega fatty acids — though that would dry your mouth out faster than a bong rip of dank flower ever could. Plus, they aren’t psychoactive. They’re nutritious, not numbing. They won’t get you high, they’ll just help fill you up. Which is why they’re now being sold at grocers around the region, rather than just in head shops and dispensaries. n

JANUARY 28, 2021 INLANDER 35


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GREEN ZONE

NOTE TO READERS Be aware of the differences in the law between Idaho and Washington. It is illegal to possess, sell or transport cannabis in the State of Idaho. Possessing up to an ounce is a misdemeanor and can get you a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine; more than three ounces is a felony that can carry a five-year sentence and fine of up to $10,000. Transporting marijuana across state lines, like from Washington into Idaho, is a felony under federal law.

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I’m a single woman in my mid-30s with an older half brother I haven’t seen in 20 years. He started calling me several years ago, and we speak sporadically (always instigated by him). He’s married and refers to me as the aunt to his four children (whom I’ve never met). Recently, he asked whether they could all stay with me for a while. On the next call, he asked to borrow money. I have yet to give him answers. I can’t help but suspect AMY ALKON he just intended to use me all along. Is there a way to figure out whether that was the case? If so, I really don’t want anything to do with him. —Wary If you have to give a 40-year-old kid a home in your basement, the kid should at least be yours. Unfortunately, a lack of money is sometimes the root of newfound family. When your half brother first called, it probably seemed like a nice thing. But now that he’s hitting you up for money and housing, it’s natural you’re wondering whether he was just priming you for financial seduction. There are two clashing evolutionary motives in play here: our motivation to sacrifice in order to help our relatives and our motivation to avoid being scammed. It’s in our genetic self-interest to sock away our money and other resources for any children we might have, who’ll carry approximately 50% of our genes (plus 50% of their other parent’s). However, evolutionary psychology research consistently finds we’re prone to set aside our own interests when people in need are related to us, well beyond whatever generosity we’d show to friends or even needy strangers. This makes genetic sense. Half siblings like you and your brother have about 25% of the same genes, on average. That’s not the 50% you’d share with a full sibling (on average), but it’s not nothing. Half bro’s children might share a smattering of your genes (maybe 12.5% or thereabouts). So, by helping half bro, you potentially help at least some of your genes show up in coming generations. That said, our level of relatedness factors into how willing we are to incur costs, though these calculations are done subconsciously. In other words, if this guy were your full brother, you might be more inclined (or a little less disinclined!) to fork over money and bedrooms. We likewise evolved to be on the lookout for scammers. In a harsh ancestral environment, getting conned out of our share of bison McNuggets might be a life-ordeath issue. Evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby find that the human mind has a specialized mechanism for detecting “cheaters,” meaning people who intentionally try to take a benefit they aren’t entitled to. An example of this would be someone scooping up the benefits of being family when his real motivation was just milking you. Granted, you and half bro are family; however, had he not asked for money along with a place to stay, you might not feel so set up. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s research finds that outside of business situations, the mere mention of money sours relationships, “introducing market norms” into interactions with friends, family, nice neighbors, and romantic partners. “Market norms” are “give to get” business norms. The supermarket gives us a loaf of bread, and we give them $3 to get out the door without getting arrested for shoplifting. “Social norms” are the love- and liking-driven standards that guide our giving to friends, family, neighbors, and romantic partners. We don’t expect instant payback (or, sometimes, any payback), and we don’t keep an accounting ledger: “I helped you move your couch. You need to come over and spend a half-hour mopping my floor.” Elements of social norms do emerge in market situations (like if the butcher is fond of you), and when friends or romantic partners are “all take,” we eventually give them the boot. However, muddying the two norms — like if a guy has sex with his girlfriend and leaves a wad of cash on the nightstand afterward — can be disastrous. As Ariely puts it, once market norms spill into social norm-driven situations, “recovering a social relationship is difficult.” Because of the pandemic, many are struggling and suddenly desperate, so it’s possible your half brother’s intentions were warm and familial rather than cold and calculating. It’ll probably take time (with continuing contact) to suss out where he’s coming from. Saying no to him (at least initially) might also do the job -- leading him to blow up and disappear if he’s just there to milk and bilk. Of course, if he’s a scheming sociopath, he might take the long view, deciding Auntie ATM just needs more “grooming” before he can pull off the middle-class version of the vagrant who tells you you’re beautiful so he can ask you for a dollar. n ©2021, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. • Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405 or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)

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