FEBRUARY 25-MARCH 3, 2021 | YOUR HOMETOWN PAPER SINCE 1993
Washington state owes a big debt to its eviction moratorium. But now the bill is coming due BY DANIEL WALTERS
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ake the entire population of Spokane Valley (about 90,000), add in Yakima (about 95,000), and you’d still be short the number of people who were BEHIND ON THEIR RENT in Washington state as of January. It’s a crisis putting the squeeze to families, landlords, even the affordable housing providers trying to keep people sheltered. And when the state’s eviction moratorium finally ends, local attorneys worry that the courts will be packed with people getting booted out of their homes. In the meantime, the bills keep piling up. “It makes me catch my breath,” one housing advocate tells us. “Once you get so far underwater, you can’t even breathe. You don’t even want to open your door and your mail. ... There’s nothing you can do.” Staff reporter Daniel Walters sorts it all out — including proposals in the Legislature hoping to stave off the worst-case scenario — in this week’s special report (page 12). — JACOB H. FRIES, editor
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KNOCK OUT THE FLU WITH ONE SHOT It’s more important than ever to get vaccinated against the flu. The flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu and spreading it to others. This is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed.
DID YOU KNOW? The Department of Health recommends a flu vaccine for everyone aged six-months and older every year, including pregnant and nursing women. Most insurance plans, including CHIP and Medicaid, cover the cost of flu vaccine for children and adults. Children aged 18 and under can get a flu vaccine and other recommended vaccines at no cost.
(509) 340-9008 email@example.com www.BetterHealthTogether/HealthyKids @BetterHealthTogether This printed material is supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $250,000. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CMS, HHS or the U.S. Government.
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WHAT’S THE WORST EXPERIENCE YOU’VE EVER HAD WITH A LANDLORD OR ROOMMATE? ALICIA BEN-SAMZEL: I moved to rural Utah for work, and my new landlord decided I needed to be married and took it upon herself to send suitable men to my door.
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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.
BRENDAN FLYNN: Got kicked out over false accusations. And another one made me get a hotel room whenever she had family over. So yeah. SAMANTHA FALCONE: My fiancé had a roommate that never washed the dishes (they were bought by my fiancé) and he asked his roommate if he could at least rinse the cups used for milk before letting it sit on the counter and get all crusty. The next day he got home from work and everything he owned in the apartment was thrown and shoved all over his room including the dishes!
Stanton opens amazing meat market, first in town Village saloons are wicked, lots of adventure Sawmills and breweries polluting the river Gold!! Andy Pritchard starts stampede to Eagle City
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KATE BITZ: My landlord failed to issue me a key for the front door of the building for nearly a month, then blamed the downstairs neighbors for using the deadbolt at night and tried to charge my neighbors for emergency maintenance when I had to call the landlord to be let into the building one night. SHANE MABREY: Fairly recently, each landlord I’ve had thinks security deposit means bonus check for them. No matter if I leave the place spotless, they will say we spent two hours cleaning and have to charge you. JIM MCDONALD: My little apartment in Monterey was broken into and all my music, guitar and TV were stolen. The police came and condemned my home because the ceiling wasn’t high enough. BLAISE BARSHAW: I married a roommate? n
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COMMENT | HEALTH
Firefighter and paramedic Nikko Humphry administers a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Hospice of Spokane volunteer Ron Genova on Jan. 11. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
A Shot in the Arm
For the needle-phobic, it’s our time to grit our teeth and shine BY TARA ROBERTS
ne of my earliest memories is of waiting at a clinic for vaccines as a toddler, spotting an open door and bolting. When I was 7, I got sent home from the dentist because I refused to open my mouth for a numbing shot. At 9, I threatened to kick a doctor who was attempting to sew shut a gash in my knee. Even now, in my mid-30s, I feel the same soul-deep urge to get the hell out of there whenever someone comes at me with an IV, blood draw, shot or suture.
6 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
If you’re like me, congratulations for making it this far in a column that’s already referenced needles eight times. Take a moment to shake off the panic and wooziness, because I need you to stick with me. Fellow needle-haters, we’ve got a job to do in the coming weeks and months. It’s going to be
difficult. It’s going to require planning and fortitude. We’ve got to get the coronavirus shot. Twice. The United States is hurtling toward a half-million people dead of COVID-19 while I’m writing this in mid-February. The vaccine will help us prevent further death and suffering, and by extension get us back to cramming into concert venues, eating in rooms packed with strangers and hugging our grammies. The exact percentage of the population that needs to be fully vaccinated for us to reach this blissful state of not-spreading-coronavirus-everywhere-all-the-time isn’t entirely clear, but epidemiologists agree it’s high — at least 60 to 70 percent. LETTERS For a certain portion of Send comments to the population, the obstacle to email@example.com. getting the shot (shots, ugh) is simple: our intense phobia of needles. It’s a real effect: A 2019 analysis in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that 16 percent of adults didn’t get a flu shot because of needle fear. But in a situation where everyone’s participation matters, we can’t all sit this one out. First, we’ve got to make a plan. If you’re a needle-hater, you’ve totally canceled blood draws and dentist appointments with fake excuses because you couldn’t get your head in the game. Can’t do it with this one, especially when the vaccine rollout so far is mild- to mid-level chaos in many places. You don’t want to wig out a delicate system or risk wasting precious doses by not showing up. Get scheduled as soon as you can so you have plenty of time to prepare and you can’t procrastinate your way to not doing it. Mark it on the calendar and memorize the date. Reflect on what motivates you, and start motivating yourself to show up. Maybe it’s protecting yourself, a loved one or your neighbors. Maybe it’s supporting science, or posting that post-vaccine selfie with pride. Me, I know I’m easily bribed. I’m thinking coronavirus shot No. 1 will merit ice cream… and coronavirus shot No. 2 will also merit ice cream. The next phase of planning is knowing what help you might need. The fun thing about phobias is we can’t just logic or hope our way out, or we would do that and be done with it. I plan to schedule my shot (which will likely be this summer) at the same time as my husband, who is unfazed by needles and sympathetic to my extreme wimpiness. I always tell nurses about my fear — and since nurses tend to be exceptionally patient and generous humans, they usually respond with reassurance and comfort.
The fun thing about phobias is we can’t just logic or hope our way out, or we would do that and be done with it.
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If you know a routine or approach will help you, be bold and ask for it. After announcing my phobia, I usually follow with explaining exactly what I will need to get through the process. For shots, warn me but make sure I’m not looking. For blood draws, keep talking to me. (I interview all my phlebotomists.) If you don’t know your coping mechanisms, the internet is full of mindfulness techniques, breathing exercises and other strategies to try. And if the situation is dire, counseling can help well beyond a single shot, though it takes time. Whatever you’ve got to do, now’s the time to do it. We are millions strong, and those weirdos who don’t mind getting shots can’t get through this pandemic alone. Let’s band together in bravery, fellow needle-haters. The world needs us. n
DELIVERED TO YO U R IN BOX
Tara Roberts is a writer and college journalism adviser who lives in Moscow with her husband, sons and poodle. Her work has appeared in Moss, Hippocampus and a variety of regional publications. Follow her on Twitter @tarabethidaho.
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FEBRUARY 25, 2021 INLANDER 7
A Native American says she shot her alleged rapist in self-defense. Federal prosecutors charged her with murder
Maddesyn George is being held without bail inside the Spokane County Jail. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
BY WILSON CRISCIONE
he shot him with his own gun. It was the same gun, Maddesyn George tells police, that Kristopher Graber kept next to the bed where he raped her the night before. The same gun, she says, that he pulled on her when she tried to escape. She shot him in self-defense, she says. She wasn’t going to let him hurt her again, she tells police. So once he fell asleep, she took the gun, along with his drugs and money. Graber came looking and found her a day later in the passenger seat of a car northeast of Omak, just inside the Confederated Tribes of the Colville reservation border. He reached through the window, shouting at her, threatening her and grabbing her. Then, she says, he saw the gun and tried to wrestle it away from her. She pulled the trigger. Graber — known to friends as Buddy — clutched his chest and fell to the ground. He died at 43 years old. Maddesyn, 27 and a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville reservation, told all of this to tribal police investigating the killing in July, according to tribal court documents sent to the Inlander by her attorney. At least one witness backed up key aspects of her account, repeating several times that it appeared her life was in danger in the moment before she pulled the trigger, records show. But no rape kit was taken. And because the shooting of Graber, a White man, took place on the Colville reservation, the case was referred to the U.S. Department
8 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
of Justice, which unleashed a slew of federal indictments against Maddesyn George. Those include second-degree murder, possession of a stolen firearm, robbery, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and others. Seven months after she shot and killed her alleged rapist, she remains in Spokane County Jail without bail. A member of Graber’s family tells the Inlander they are not interested in discussing the case until after trial. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment when reached by the Inlander. Whether or not a jury will agree that she acted in self-defense, some activists and legal experts argue that the case highlights an unequal legal system that punishes a Native woman standing up for herself, yet too often dismisses violence against Indigenous women. Steve Graham, George’s attorney, says part of the problem is the jurisdictional maze between federal, state and tribal courts. Tribal law enforcement does not have the authority to prosecute non-Native people who commit crimes on tribal land, so those cases are referred to either state or federal prosecutors. But the result can be that non-Native people commit crimes on tribal land knowing that cases fall through the cracks — as federal or state prosecutors often decline prosecution. Graham, who’s been licensed in Colville Tribal Court for decades, says he’s seen that problem on the Colville reservation. “Nontribal members are allowed to run amok up on
that reservation,” Graham says. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors typically have jurisdiction for major crimes committed on tribal land when a Native person is involved, which is why Maddesyn George has been indicted in federal court. But Jonnie Bray, a former prosecutor for the Colville Tribal Courts, doubts federal prosecutors would have taken the case if Maddesyn had been harmed. “I’ve never seen the United States prosecute a nonIndian on behalf of the Colville Tribes,” Bray says. “And I’ve been working in the court system for 26 years.”
n the hours following the shooting, tribal police asked Maddesyn why she did it. Maddesyn was initially reluctant to answer, and police stopped the recording, according to the transcript of that interview. But when the recording went back on, she describes what happened the night before, on July 11, when someone she “thought of as a friend” started acting differently than she’d seen before. Maddesyn’s mother, Jody George, tells the Inlander that the family had known Graber, of Omak, for years. He was better known as Buddy, she says, and he used to date Maddesyn’s older sister. He was around Maddesyn even after that, Jody says, partly because he occasionally helped fix her car, and partly because he was a meth dealer and her daughter is an addict. ...continued on page 10
FEBRUARY 25, 2021 INLANDER 9
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Maddesyn has three felonies on her record — two related to drugs, and one for burglary. Graber, meanwhile, had seven felony convictions on his record. In October 2019, Graber was arrested in Okanogan County with 142 grams of meth, 7.7 grams of heroin and an illegal gun, according to news reports. He was released from jail on the condition that he stayed on electronic home monitoring, but as of May 2020, he’d violated the conditions of his release at least three times, records show. He also had a number of arrests related to domestic violence, including several convictions for violating restraining orders. The night of July 11, Graber was still on electric home monitoring. He and Maddesyn were scratching lottery tickets on his bed, a typical place to hang out in his small house, Maddesyn recalls to police. He started getting aggressive and touching her, and she told him “No, stop,” but she says he kept going, pinning her down. When she told him, “get the f--- off me,” he pulled out a gun from a dresser by his bed, she says. She describes to police how he pulled the clip out and emptied it, then put two bullets back in. She told him she wanted to leave, but he wouldn’t let her, telling her, “I don’t think you’re going anywhere. You don’t want to go,” as she describes it. He raped her for half an hour, she says. For a while after, they acted like things were normal, but she felt like she couldn’t leave. She tried to lay down with him, thinking that the quicker he went to sleep, the quicker she could leave. A friend picked her up, and they went straight to Jody’s place, where Maddesyn’s four-month-old daughter was staying as well. Jody tells the Inlander that Maddesyn seemed off when she saw her Sunday morning. “She told me that he hurt her,” Jody says. But she says her daughter didn’t elaborate, and she didn’t learn the details until after the shooting. Graham, her attorney, says two other witnesses recounted to investigators that Maddesyn told them she was sexually assaulted before the shooting. Maddesyn told both her mother and Graham that Graber gave her the money and drugs to, as Graham puts it, “make nice with her so she wouldn’t go to the police.” But she took the gun so it couldn’t be used against her again. Maddesyn did not immediately report the alleged assault to police. Jody says her daughter had grown distrustful of law enforcement, due in part to previous incidents involving men who hurt her. Plus, Graham has noted in court filings, she had “seen first hand how this recidivist’s behavior was unchecked by any constraints of the criminal justice system.” Bray, the former prosecutor for the Colville Tribal Courts, says she understands why Maddesyn wouldn’t go to police. They would be looking at her as an addict, Bray says, and checking to see if she had warrants. Colville Tribal Police
did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment for this story. “Meanwhile, we have had multiple tribal women killed on our reservation and no indication anyone is investigating those cases,” Bray says.
Maddesyn George and her mother, Jody. On July 12, Graber was looking for her. He found her sitting in a car just north of Omak, and just inside the edge of the Colville reservation. A neighbor there says Graber had come by with a shotgun earlier that day calling for Maddesyn. That neighbor saw the shooting. He described Graber as a “dangerous person” to police, repeating that her life was in danger, and adding that “it don’t bother him to beat the living shit out of a woman. He’s known for that.” Maddesyn called her mom almost immediately, saying she shot someone and was waiting for the cops to arrive. “She said, ‘I just grabbed the gun before him, and I shot it,” Jody George says.
ody George still asks herself: What if Maddesyn didn’t grab the gun first? Even if the altercation had ended without anyone dying, would her daughter’s alleged rapist ever be held accountable? She doubts it. “I don’t think anything would happen to him,” Jody says. Growing up on the reservation, Jody says she’s known girls who have gone missing, never to be heard from again. She’s known girls who used to live close by, but whose bodies were found dismembered and buried by the river, yet the killer was never found. Lawmakers and advocates have called missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls a crisis. But it’s been difficult to pin down statistics that truly show the scope of the issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that murder is the third-leading cause of death among Native women, and rates of violence on reservations can be up to 10 times higher than the national average. The Seattle-based Urban
Indian Health Institute says there were 5,712 cases of missing Indigenous women reported by the National Crime Information Center in 2016, yet the DOJ only logged 116. That same Health Institute report identified 506 missing or murdered Indigenous women cases, but acknowledged that was an undercount. Washington had the second-highest number of missing or murdered Indigenous women of any state, the report found, with 71. Tribal courts have jurisdiction if a Native person commits a crime against another Native person. But when cases involve a non-Native person and are referred to the federal government, U.S. attorneys are often unwilling to prosecute. They decline just under half of cases on reservations overall, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Most commonly denied were assault and sexual assault cases. And there remains a lack of clarity at times over who has jurisdiction. David Rogers, missing and murdered Indigenous persons coordinator for the U.S. attorney’s office, tells the Inlander that a major crime committed by a non-Native against a Native on the Colville reservation would fall under federal jurisdiction. But Graham and Bray, both with experience in Colville Tribal Court, say it would be referred to Okanogan County, under a federal law called Public Law 280 that applies to some tribes and gives authority to states in those cases. And Graham says those cases can become an afterthought for state prosecutors.
ON INLANDER.COM More than a year after Army veteran Daniel Jarman was beaten and left to die outside a Spokane Valley bar, his killer still has not been charged with any crime. In an Inlander cover story last month on the case, Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell said one reason his office declined charges was because the evidence pointed to a “self-defense scenario.” But Jarman’s family says that’s not good enough, especially considering that prosecutors had already mistakenly charged the suspect’s lookalike in connection with Jarman’s death before dropping charges when detectives realized it was the wrong guy. Jarman’s sister, Jami Humphries, started an online petition asking Gov. Jay Inslee to take another look at the case. If Inslee’s office asks the attorney general’s office to step in, it’s possible the state could bring criminal charges. “I will do whatever it takes to get justice for my brother,” she says. — WILSON CRISCIONE
Earth-Feather Sovereign, a member of the Colville Tribes and founder of the nonprofit organization Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Washington, says non-Native people too often are not prosecuted when they harm women on tribal land. She says it’s partly why she hasn’t moved back to the Colville reservation. “I am really fearful that my daughters would become a victim,” she says. Sovereign says she was disheartened to hear about this case — not only because she fears that if it had been a Native woman who was killed, police and courts may not have taken the case seriously, but because she thinks Maddesyn must have been fearing for her safety. “She probably didn’t want to get raped again. She probably did feel like he was going to murder her. She was feeling like she had to put it in her own hands to get justice for herself,” Sovereign says.“It takes a lot for someone to feel like they need to do something like that to another human being.” n firstname.lastname@example.org
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FINAL NOTICE Deseray Hendrickson owes $4,000 in back rent to Spokane Housing Ventures, the owner of the 55th Avenue Apartments. But she’s not the only one. The low-income housing provider has been grappling with $450,000 in unpaid rent. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
12 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
Washington state owes a big debt to its eviction moratorium. But now the bill is coming due BY DANIEL WALTERS
ike most tenants, Amy March has her complaints about the place she’s renting. There’s the bathroom sink, broken for over a year, that’s forced her family to wash their hands in the bathtub instead. There was a busted pipe that flooded their basement for three days. There are the “complete addicts” living nearby. Yet, for all this, what really scares her is that she and her family might be forced to leave. She knows what the alternative is. The 40-year-old has lived it. She spent a year and a half homeless — March, her girlfriend, March’s autistic son and her high-school-aged daughter — spread across three tents set up in a friend’s backyard. They survived, despite her son’s seizures and her fibromyalgia neuropathy and the windstorms and blizzards. They adapted, piled on blankets and ran an extension cord from her friend’s house to a $5 Walmart space heater so they didn’t “freeze too much.” But then her daughter became pregnant, and camping wasn’t acceptable anymore. March’s mother chipped in part of her Social Security check every month, and everyone — 10 people, four generations, from infants to grandmothers — packed into this little century-old house. It’s here, near the Mega Wash Express car wash in the low-income West Central neighborhood, that they weathered the pandemic and all the other crises of the past year. But as one misfortune built on top of the other — her mother died in her sleep on the Fourth of July; her daughter’s boyfriend was murdered in December — she says that paying the $1,195 in rent a month became impossible. March doesn’t exactly know how far she’s behind on rent. Some months she only gave the landlord $300; other months they were able to scrape together $600 or $850. She believes that, for now, one thing and only one thing is keeping her family sheltered: On March 18, 2020, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made it temporarily illegal for landlords to evict anyone for not paying rent. As the pandemic raged, Inslee extended the moratorium again and again. “Literally, it has been a blessing,” March says. “If it wasn’t for it, we would have, guaranteed, been evicted awhile ago.” March’s family aren’t the only ones hanging on by their fingernails: In the final week of January, according to a Census Bureau survey, more than 190,000 Washington state tenants were behind on their rent. Despite boosted unemployment checks, two rounds of federal stimulus and an infusion of rental assistance funds, the numbers have only worsened as the pandemic has dragged on. And Amy March also knows that, by the end of next month, the state’s eviction moratorium is scheduled to end. “That’s what we’re worried about — is all of us being out in the streets again,” March says.
Almost half of the Washingtonians behind on rent told Census Bureau pollsters that they think they are very or somewhat likely to be evicted in the next two months. This month, the Spokane County Bar Association predicted that Spokane County would have as many as 2,500 eviction filings every month in the period after the moratorium was lifted. It’s why landlords and tenants, legislators and activists are all fighting — sometimes with each other, sometimes side by side — to avert a possible disaster. They see a potential wave of evictions dumping vulnerable people into a collapsing low-income rental market at a moment when a deadly virus still looms. “If we get evicted, it’s not only us getting displaced,” March says. “We’re looking at children, their elderly grandmother — we’re looking at a long list of people who are literally going to be homeless.”
Before a big storm hits, there’s a moment when everything gets quiet. In the weeks after the pandemic first hit last year, people seemed to think the problem was just a temporary blip, says Carol Weltz, director of community action for SNAP, the local nonprofit that doles out rental assistance. But denial soon evaporated into desperation. “Probably three months out, we started getting more and more panicked people not being able to figure out how to pay their rent,” Weltz says. “The weight gets heavier. One month behind, you’re nervous. Three months behind — most households don’t have enough savings to pay for three months back rent.” Things start to get real scary real quickly, she says. Entire sectors of the economy were frozen — waiters, symphony musicians, retail workers found themselves effectively unemployed. Weltz felt echoes of the 2008 economic crash, when the sorts of people who’d never known financial distress were suddenly facing ruin. At SNAP, Weltz knows just how devastating an eviction can be, how it doesn’t stop the debt collectors from calling, how it’s a black mark that stains rental applications and credit scores, and how it can plunge a family into homelessness. And that’s during normal times. The pandemic had blown a gaping hole in both formal and informal safety nets. Normally, if a family loses its house, they phone a friend to find a spot to crash, Weltz says, but “who’s going to want a family of five to come stay with them during a pandemic?” Homeless shelters, despite all their precautions, are even riskier, with every night turning into a potential superspreader event. By the end of last year, three different homeless shelters in Spokane had suffered COVID-19 outbreaks. And by February, the Union Gospel Mission shelter had joined the list, with at least 70 guests and staff members having tested positive for the coronavirus. In other words, Inslee’s eviction moratorium didn’t
just keep people from losing their shelter — it may have kept them from losing their lives: A National Bureau of Economic research paper published last month assessed different counties across the nation and concluded that those that limited evictions cut COVID-19 deaths by 11 percent. And yet the moratorium didn’t solve the crisis — it merely delayed it. The threat of eviction has been taken off the table temporarily, but that didn’t stop unpaid rent from piling up. The damage isn’t just financial — it’s psychological. “It makes me catch my breath,” Weltz says. “Once you get so far underwater, you can’t even breathe. You don’t even want to open your door and your mail. ... There’s nothing you can do.” In her second-floor apartment on the upper South Hill, a Bosnian refugee named Mirela Gujica knows the feeling. She took pride in her work ethic, in how working 66 hours a week at two jobs meant she never missed a rent payment. But then came COVID-19. And as she listened to co-workers chatter about death tolls, the brutality of her Bosnian childhood came roaring back into her mind — hearing grenades boom and neighbors scream; seeing gunshots, fired through a window, pierce her sister’s chest and hand; witnessing her mother, with no medical training, extract the bullets from her sister’s body with tweezers. Gujica’s anxiety with watching the pandemic unfold was all-consuming. With her relatives missing or dead or still in Bosnia, she felt utterly alone. “Just knowing that you don’t have anyone to turn to,” she says. “All I could think is, my daughter has underlying health problems.” She quit her credit union job to be with her two kids, while at the same time, she watched her restaurant job hours plunge. Sixty-six hours of work a week collapsed into 18. She watched her bills climb and her credit rating plummet. She had to make stark choices: Pay rent or buy food. She says she has a green card as a permanent resident, and yet she got a letter from the state unemployment office, accusing her of being illegal, telling her she’ll have to repay the thousands of dollars in food stamp money she got over the past year. Gujica says she owes more than $3,000 in rent today. The looming debt deepens her anxiety. “It’s constantly overplaying, and it just keeps replaying and replaying,” she says. “It is a very dark spot, believe me when I tell you.” A few doors down, in the same apartment complex, Deseray Hendrickson, a 23-year-old mom, has been in her own dark spot. Her relationship with her partner had already been bad before the pandemic — she quit her job a year ago to make sure her kids were safe — but she says the stress of COVID just made it worse. “He started getting really mad because he couldn’t go out anymore,” Hendrickson says. ...continued on next page
FEBRUARY 25, 2021 INLANDER 13
HOUSING “FINAL NOTICE,” CONTINUED... She got a protection order against him, but that didn’t solve her financial woes. She applied for unemployment, but it took five months for her application to chug its way through the state’s bureaucracy. “While waiting for unemployment, I had to scrape by,” Hendrickson says. “Right now, I have $4,000 in debt.” And that’s just in rent payments. Both tenants say their property manager assured them they would be able to work out some sort of payment plan. “She told me that, some way, we’ll figure things out,” Gujica says. But it would be one thing if Spokane Housing Ventures, the nonprofit that manages their apartment and other low-income rentals across the state, just had to deal with two tenants in crisis. Instead, they’ve faced hundreds. As each month has progressed since the pandemic hit, an additional 10 percent of Spokane Housing Ventures tenants started falling behind in rent, says Dianne Quast, the nonprofit’s interim director. In Spokane County alone, they already have 177 renters behind on their rents. “We’ve got some folks who are $6,000, $7,000 in debt now with us, because it’s been going on for so long,” says Quast. From March to December, they went from having $127,000 in unpaid rents in their properties to having over $450,000, and it keeps getting worse. The renters are suffering most, but the landlords are struggling, too. “All these bills still keep coming in, but we have less and less money to work with,” Quast says. If nonprofits don’t get help, “then we’re gonna start losing housing, because people aren’t gonna be able to afford to keep the doors open.” And it’s the same story for other big nonprofits that provide affordable housing, such as SNAP and Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington. A few weeks ago, Ben Stuckart, director of the Spokane Low-Income Housing Consortium, reached out to Spokane’s 10 largest low-income housing nonprofits to assess the damage. Nearly a quarter of their units — 1,100 households in all — were at least a month behind on rent. Total them up, and those 10 providers were owed more than $1.3 million in Spokane County alone. “It’s affecting their ability to pay their mortgage payments, any loans they took when they built their lowincome housing,” Stuckart says. “It puts them at risk as a nonprofit — if they go under, that puts all of their housing units at risk.” It’s tempting to caricature the debate over the eviction moratorium as being between victims and villains on one side or the other. But it’s often a lot more complicated: Sometimes, the tenant advocates and the landlords are the same people. When Stuckart talks to nonprofit directors, he can hear the dilemma that’s tearing them up: Their mission is to house people, not evict them. But what happens when it seems like finances make that mission impossible? “The concern in their voices when we discuss this is real,” Stuckart says. “It’s a real financial concern; it’s a real moral concern.”
As landlords go, Keith Kelley was almost an idealist. He was proud of his record of never evicting anybody. He saw offering affordable housing to low-income tenants as part of making his neighborhood — his city — a better place. He won the Inlander’s Peirone Prize in 2013 for his efforts to improve the low-income West Central neighbor-
14 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
hood, including through housing. evictions for immediate health and safety reasons, he And when 13 West Central rental homes were going says, “clearly the attorney general’s office was operating to be torn down in 2016 to make way for the Mega under a different agenda.” Wash, Kelley fought to preserve some of them as lowIn a statement, Brionna Aho, spokeswoman for the income housing. But now, for financial reasons, he’s in AG’s office, said that their attorney’s interactions with the process of selling at least one of his own West Central Kelley had been “congenial” and that Kelley hadn’t properties, taking it off the rental market entirely. provided the full context to them. She says evictions have “I’m liquidating property,” Kelley says. “I’m fighting occurred for safety reasons during the moratorium, and tooth and nail to keep my business alive.” she encourages landlords to contact the AG if they have The idealism has been replaced by exasperation. Kelquestions. ley argues that Inslee’s broad eviction moratorium — and Indeed, this month, Kelley is in the process of his aggressive enforcement strategy — is pushing landlords to dump their low-income rental properties precisely when they’re needed the most. Yes, the strain is financial: He says his rents are down 25 percent from the prior year. But there’s also another issue, the feeling of “not having any power or control in a situation and seeing that situation become progressively more lawless.” “Every day, I get calls from tenants, crying and Without being able to evict for unpaid rent or, in some cases, bad behavior, landlord Keith Kelley says, “We’re asking for help,” kind of like on a roller coaster holding on tight, hoping that the restraining belt doesn’t let go.” YOUNG KWAK PHOTO Kelley says. “And every day I hear of another 911 call in another one of my first-ever eviction — kicking out a different problematic properties.” West Central tenant for property damage — but he says Low-income housing providers, like SNAP and if it weren’t for the moratorium, it would have happened Catholic Charities, have also lamented how destructive five or six months earlier. Worried about the AG’s agbehaviors and conflicts between residents have increased, gressive stance and the reaction of local courts, he says, while the moratorium has handcuffed their ability to he was “frozen.” enforce even minor behavioral issues, like smoking or Tenant advocates, however, can counter with their playing loud music. own parade of shady landlords. From her perch as a For his part, Kelley rattles off an inventory of horrors housing attorney at the Northwest Justice Project, Jessica visited upon some of his 75 rental properties in the past Schultz describes landlords “stretching the facts” to try to year: fights, theft, harassment, knives wielded, axes branjustify evictions, or trying to force tenants out by “makdished, light fixtures ripped from ceilings, one furnace ing things unpleasant enough.” sabotaged and five chickens “murdered.” After the Inlander reported last year that property Last year, one of Kelley’s tenants, Ginger Cox, esmanagers at Whitewater Creek’s low-income apartments sentially evicted herself, moving out to escape one of her were issuing eviction threats in violation of the moratohousemates. rium, the AG’s office fined them. The offender, she says, was a misogynist who “treat“It is unfortunate that landlords are suffering and losed women like shit,” would pass out drunk in common ing money, but the tenants are the most vulnerable — our areas and would scream at the other renters. clients are the most vulnerable people,” Schultz says. Los“To me, the breaking point is I came home from ing a chunk of your investment stream, she argues, isn’t work one day, I walked into my house, he was naked and as remotely significant as losing the roof over your head. peeing in the sink,” Cox says. “Nobody wants to walk in But Kelley argues the state’s approach — in his view, and see that. Nobody wants to walk in on a naked-ass “doing surgery with a chainsaw rather than a scalpel” 60-year-old man.” — is actually “disintegrating inventory of affordable housKelley attempted to kick the man out, giving the ing,” ultimately harming vulnerable tenants. tenant a list of social-service providers that could help After all, there’s a relatively simple way for landlords him find a new place. But he says that just earned him a to get around the eviction moratorium: Sell the property. threatening phone call from the state attorney general’s “We’ve had close to 100 homes that we’ve seen out of office. our portfolio sold in the last year,” says Washington state “They basically said this: ‘Keith Kelley, do you have Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, who runs a property an attorney?’” Kelley recounts. “You better get one, son, management company on the west side. “They don’t because you’re in a world of hurt.” want to be housing providers anymore.” While the eviction moratorium specifically allowed In Spokane, selling a home is becoming more lucra-
tive right at the moment that renting out a property is becoming more difficult. “We’re seeing large double-digit price increases in price year to year. The demand for housing in Spokane is about to skyrocket,” says Darin Watkins, government affairs director for the Spokane Association of Realtors. “I am telling you a tsunami is coming.” Spokane County’s rental market was already suffering from a suffocatingly tight vacancy rate before the pandemic hit — and this would just make it worse. It’s not clear how many local landlords like Kelley are selling rentals or turning them into owner-occupied units. In some cases, Schultz points out, unscrupulous landlords have even pretended they’re going to sell the property just long enough to evict a tenant. But Schultz has seen a serious shift in the apparent availability of housing. “My clients who need a place to go are having trouble relocating,” Schultz says. “It seems like there are fewer vacancies.”
“My clients who need a place to go are having trouble relocating. It seems like there are fewer vacancies.” In normal times, there’s churn built into the low-income rental market — some tenants get kicked out, others leave for nicer apartments — giving nonprofits like SNAP openings to house clients who are homeless or who need to relocate. “When the pandemic first came on, we were still housing people, it wasn’t a problem, everything was still flowing,” Weltz says. “About three months in, it just kind of stopped.” Everything is frozen. No evictions. No vacancies. In a lot of their housing programs, Weltz says, landlords “who have been willing to take a chance on people who’ve had some problems” don’t want to risk it now. Stuckart says he knows two people who bought rental properties during the last year as an investment, but are waiting until the moratorium is over before renting them out. Will the frozen market thaw once the eviction moratorium is over? “It’s really hard to know what’s going to happen because everything is so unprecedented,” Schultz says. “I keep using that word.” But here’s what she is certain about: Take a year of backlogged evictions, combine it with a year of pandemic-propelled unemployment, and when the moratorium lifts, the consequences are going to be “massive.” “Enormous,” she says. “It’s going to be catastrophic.” Kelley agrees. But he worries that the wave will not only throw thousands of renters overboard, but that the eviction moratorium has already sunk some of the lifeboats that could have rescued them.
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If a wave of evictions does hit after the moratorium is lifted, local attorney Michael Cressey is already positioned at the beachhead. With a long record of representing tenants through the Voluntary Lawyers Program, the county brought him out of semi-retirement to help brace for a potential “onslaught” of eviction cases filed. “You’re dealing with people who are literally facing, perhaps for the first time in their life, being thrown out on the street,” Cressey says. When the moratorium ends, he’s expecting the number of eviction cases packing the courts to be a double or triple the normal rate. The state has launched a series of “Dispute Resolution ...continued on next page
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FEBRUARY 25, 2021 INLANDER 15
MEANWHILE, IN IDAHO... Across the border in Idaho, there’s no
Carol Weltz, director of community action at SNAP, says, “There’s a lot of money that’s going to be coming in the community shortly,” including millions in rental assistance funds. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
“FINAL NOTICE,” CONTINUED... Centers,” including in Spokane, as part of a strategy to negotiate between tenants and landlords and, ideally, avoid evictions. When the moratorium ends, Cressey says, landlords will need a certificate from one of these centers to prove that they made a good faith effort to work something out before evicting tenants. And some are getting that part out of the way earlier. In January alone, Cressey says, just one attorney started the process to send 400 to 500 tenants through the Dispute Resolution Center. That attorney, Nik Armitage, disputes the idea that his landlord clients are just going through the motions in preparation for evictions, and he doesn’t expect a huge wave. “A flood of evictions isn’t good for landlords either,” he says, citing the costs of eviction and vacancies. He says they’re legitimately trying to hammer out compromise repayment plans, and that they’ve been successful most of the time, but that about 70 tenants “have just not responded whatsoever.” As both parties in Olympia have rolled out bills to end the eviction moratorium, these Dispute Resolution Centers are key pieces of both proposals. The Republicans’ bill, from Barkis, the representative in Olympia, would end the Washington state eviction moratorium, but also would require that landlords provide a 45-day warning before a tenant must vacate and connect their tenants with resources to help them, including Dispute Resolution Centers. The Democrats’ proposal, from Washington state Sen. Patty Kuderer of Bellevue, would allow evictions, but only if landlords first jumped over a series of hurdles to ensure every other alternative had been exhausted. For tenants a half-year or less behind on rent, landlords would have to offer them a reasonable repayment plan. If that didn’t work, the landlord and tenant would head to a local Dispute Resolution Center to hammer out a compromise. Fail there, and it’s off to mediation. “It’s really about making sure that there is an exit ramp for people to climb out of this hole that they’re in, through no fault of their own,” Kuderer says. But for all the efforts at negotiation and mediation, Cressey says it’s not that easy. “We have just not had a lot of success with coming
16 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
to agreements with the landlords,” Cressey says. “The government money keeps drying up.” Without more rental assistance money to sweeten the pot, he says, it’s “more of a jump-through-the-hoop and get the certificate program.” And there’s where you find landlords and tenant advocates, like mismatched buddy cops in an action movie, temporarily setting aside their differences to fight for the same goal: Bucketloads of cash to help struggling landlords and tenants. Late last year, Weltz was in charge of distributing $5.9 million in rental assistance funds through SNAP, describing the scramble to get the money to those in need as “running really fast with your hair on fire.” At the same time, the city of Spokane handed out around $2.6 million in state and federal funds to local agencies to provide rental assistance. Both efforts ran into hurdles. City Council President Breean Beggs says they “underestimated the challenge of getting tenants to sign off.” Some tenants, apparently overwhelmed by being so deep in debt, don’t even want to open the door, he says. Weltz says SNAP’s experience was the opposite. “There’s been a few cases where the tenant will apply, but the landlord doesn’t want to accept the money,” Weltz says. Their rental assistance, from the state of the Department of Commerce, required the landlord to forgive 20 percent of the rent owed, and some weren’t willing to take the deal. But the biggest problem with the funding was that there wasn’t nearly enough of it. Within 60 days, Weltz says, the coffers were bare. A lot more help is on the way. The state recently passed a COVID relief bill distributing $365 million in federal funds to help tenants and landlords. Spokane County is getting $9 million from the feds for rental and utility assistance, while the city of Spokane is getting $6.7 million. The fight isn’t just over whether that amount is enough — a lot of observers say it isn’t — but also over who gets help, and how. Stuckart, for example, argues that a big chunk of the money should go directly to the large housing nonprofits disproportionately impacted by the crisis. Barkis’ bill, meanwhile, establishes $600 million to fund the Emer-
statewide eviction moratorium. A federal moratorium put in place in September places almost all of the burden on the tenant to enforce it. Tenants have to declare, under penalty of perjury, that they’ve taken advantage of all government assistance possible, that they’re paying as much as they can, that they’ve experienced a massive financial hardship, and that they’d be effectively homeless if evicted. “Landlords and judges are making subjective decisions about whether or not the declaration should be upheld,” says Ali Rabe, director of Jesse Tree, a nonprofit fighting evictions in Idaho. Evictions paused for five weeks last year while Idaho’s courts were limited, but as soon as the courts reopened, evacuations spiked back up to almost identical levels as before the pandemic. “Evictions are just proceeding as business as usual,” Rabe laments. In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee’s moratorium, meanwhile, puts the burden more on the landlord, banning nearly all evictions — including for all but the most dangerous and destructive lease violations — and also banning late fees, rent increases, and threats of evictions or rent increases in the future. — DANIEL WALTERS
gency Rental Assistance Grant Program — both landlords and tenants could apply to the fund for help. But tenants would have to fill out an affidavit showing that they’ve been severely impacted by COVID-19 before receiving it. While the Washington Department of Commerce plans to inject $43.5 million in additional rental assistance, Commerce Director Lisa Brown worries that there will continue to be aftershocks if the moratorium ends. If the rental market continues to shrink, she says, there might be “another wave of people that really don’t know where they can go.” Brown lives in Kendall Yards, just south of the West Central neighborhood, where Keith Kelley is getting rid of one of his rental houses and where Amy March’s family is struggling to hang on to theirs. “I walk through the neighborhood all the time,” Brown says of West Central. “I know that a lot of the neighborhood is rentals. I think that will be a place where a lot of this plays out, frankly.” It will play out in apartment complexes and lowincome rentals in struggling neighborhoods throughout the city. Gujica, the Bosnian refugee, says she managed to get $1,700 from rental assistance, but that wasn’t nearly enough to deal with her backlog in rent. Hendrickson, the mom who left her partner because of domestic violence, says she applied for rental assistance but the program “ran out of money” before she could get any. March says she’s been calling SNAP recently, asking them when rental assistance money will be available again, and if she’ll receive any. She says she’s tried to negotiate with her landlord, even offering to clean his other properties in exchange for a break on rent. If she doesn’t get help by the time the moratorium is lifted, she’s left with one last recourse: “Pray to God that we can scrounge up the rent money.” n email@example.com
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FEBRUARY 25, 2021 INLANDER 17
Drew Timme has magical feet, and a soft touch around the basket. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
THIS DUDE ABIDES The Zags’ Drew Timme keeps the game fun while dominating opposing big men BY WILL MAUPIN
his past December, Gonzaga played two games against the Northwestern State Demons on back-to-back days. During the second half of the Demons’ second consecutive lopsided loss in Spokane, Northwestern State big man Larry Owens backed down Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, scored on him and drew a foul. Then, Owens ran his index fingers across his upper lip and extended his arms out into the air in celebration. It was a carbon copy of the celebration Timme had done after scoring on the Demons in the previous game. Owens didn’t steal it from Timme, though, and it wasn’t done out of malice. Owens had asked Timme for his blessing prior to using his own celebration against him. “I was like, ‘Yeah, bro, go ahead,’” Timme said after the game. “I thought it was cool someone wanted to do it. Pretty funny, you know. I find it funny. I do it because it’s just a little joy for me. If it brings others joy, then good.” That’s Drew Timme for you. Even the guys he’s playing against, the guys he’s normally outplaying to be quite honest, find it hard not to like him. His quirky nature was on display well before he arrived in Spokane, though. The 6-foot-10 forward from Texas was seen as a top-50 prospect in the class of 2019, and as a result he received offers from dozens of programs around the country. Most elite recruits make a big deal on social media about their recruiting process. But Timme largely stayed out of the spotlight. Soon after arriving in Spokane, though, the spotlight became impossible to avoid. An impactful player coming off the bench a year ago, Timme has blossomed into one of college basketball’s best players as a sophomore. As of press time, Timme leads the Zags in scoring, at just under 20 points per game, and rebounding, with more than seven per contest. He’s a versatile forward who can bring the ball up the court or
18 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
back an opponent down with strength and sublime footwork on the low block. While this year has been his breakout season, launching himself into All-America and NBA draft conversations, those in the know saw this coming. During the Zags’ final game last season, an 84-66 win over Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament just before the coronavirus brought the season to an untimely halt, ESPN’s eternally excited color commentator Dick Vitale helped introduce Timme to the nation. “He’s my favorite player,” Vitale said while calling the game, between exclamatory outbursts of “Oh baby!” and “Timme!” “I think they are going to love him in Spokane because he’s going to be special.” Dickie V was mostly correct in that assertion. The only thing he got wrong was that people in Spokane already loved him. Back then, fans were allowed to attend games. The ones who arrived early got to watch Timme, the team’s self-appointed handshake maestro, practice his handiwork with the young kids who mingle beside the court during pregame warmups. As the youngsters reach out for high-fives, most players oblige with a classic open palm, but not Timme. The sight of the big man intricately dapping it up with children half his size and age is nothing short of instantaneously endearing. Timme’s personality and sense of humor shine through like few Zags’ before him. Whether it’s the handshakes or the facial hair — usually bearded, Timme has on a few occasions this season rocked a mustache that makes him look like the slimmer second coming of Hulk Hogan — those antics are just part of what makes Timme a beloved presence for the Zags. And like the rest of the team, he’s a fierce competitor. “We’re a competitive bunch, and all we want to do is win,” Timme says. “It doesn’t ...continued on page 20
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CULTURE | ZAGS “THIS DUDE ABIDES,” CONTINUED... matter when, where, how. We just want to win. We just want to win every game in every chance we get out there, because you don’t know how many games we can have left with COVID. Every chance we get, we want to go out there and prove we’re the best.” At that they’ve succeeded. Timme’s arsenal of offensive moves around the basket has helped Gonzaga spend this season rated as the best shooting team in the country. In a sport that has become more and more enamored with the three-point shot, the Zags are bucking the trend, thanks in large part to Timme. The Zags have knocked down 64.5 percent of their two-point shots this season, and they’re taking a ton of them. Gonzaga is among the 20 teams in the country most reliant on two-pointers. Like the team as a whole, there’s quite a bit of finesse to Timme’s game, but sometimes all it takes is physical power. “We’re a physical team,” Timme says. “We go against each other every day in practice.” That work, put in when nobody is watching, is what allows Timme to make highlight plays at the rim. Like earlier this month against Pacific, when Timme sealed his defender in the paint, caught a dump-down pass from Corey Kispert and pushed his defender out of the way for a one-handed slam. Timme busted out his mustache celebration after the play and brought a moment of levity to an otherwise hard-nosed game. “I think it’s good to de-stress, especially on the court,” Timme says of his jovial nature. “It kind of lightens the mood in serious games.” In one moment there’s pure focus, physicality and a tenacious will to win. In the next, he’s just a guy having fun playing a game he loves. The two sides of Drew Timme don’t seem like they should exist within one person, but that’s what makes Timme so special. n
CULTURE | DIGEST
NEARLY LOST HIM I’ve read quite a few rock bios and autobiographies, and none are as harrowing as Mark Lanegan’s 2020 tome, Sing Backwards And Weep. The co-founder of Seattle early ’90s titans Screaming Trees pens an unflinching look at the life of an addict, and it’s a wonder that he survived to write this book. Music fans will naturally be drawn to his tales about best friends Curt Cobain and Layne Staley, and the violent relationship among the Trees’ members, but Sing Backwards really stands out for Lanegan’s detailed misadventures trying to score dope in foreign cities, manufacture and sell crack, and deal with an entirely dysfunctional family life growing up in Ellensburg. The book is often funny, more often it’s sad and disturbing, but it’s never less than enthralling. (DAN NAILEN)
Heart (left) and Ice-T, together at last.
A Monster Idea
BY DAN NAILEN
ou’ve probably heard about efforts to hold a big concert at Joe Albi Stadium that celebrates the 1988 Monsters of Rock tour that stopped there, before the Powers That Be tear that sucker down. I didn’t live in Spokane at the time, but I’m all for any giant rock festival happening once we’re safe from the ’rona. I’m so jonesing for a big show that organizers could throw virtually anyone on the bill and I’d say, “Sign me up!” I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m also old enough to be jealous of the folks who saw Van Halen, the Scorpions, Dokken, Metallica and Kingdom Come (OK, not really Kingdom Come). I have enough hard-rock fandom that I can understand wanting to revisit that long-ago headbangers’ ball.
THE BUZZ BIN
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST There’s noteworthy new music arriving in stores and online Feb. 26. To wit: ALICE COOPER, Detroit Stories. Taking inspiration from his hometown and featuring all the surviving original members of the Alice Cooper band. MELVINS, Working With God. Thirteen new tracks of sludgy rock, coming up! NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE, Way Down in the Rust Bucket. This live album captured at a 1990 show leans heavy on the band’s Ragged Glory tracks. (DAN NAILEN)
Here’s the thing, though: Look at that ’88 lineup. If you’re too young to know those bands, I’ll paint a quick picture. It’s all White. It’s all male. That might have been cool in 1988. (It really wasn’t.) It’s definitely not in 2021. Hell, just three years after Monsters of Rock, the first Lollapalooza tour showed you could have just as rocking a good time and include Black artists (Living Colour, Ice-T) and bands led by women (Siouxie and the Banshees) right alongside killer White bands (Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails). As Spokane organizers look to book an August celebration that recalls that epic Monsters of Rock show 33 years ago, I’m hoping they might consider diversifying a bit. It can still be all big, loud and rocking, but it doesn’t have to be so pale. Not that they’re asking, but here are some ideas. Book some bands that were huge in 1988 and can still light up a stadium in 2021. I’d love to see Iron Maiden, but bands like Aerosmith or Metallica (now with a Bassist Of Color!) could also fill the headlining spot. I could see getting Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang to bring his new band, Mammoth WVH, to have a tie-in to the ’88 show, and you could book Led Zeppelin knockoffs Greta Van Fleet to take the Kingdom Come spot. Between those bands, though, how great would it be to have the Pretenders, Joan Jett or the Go-Gos in the mix, or Washington’s own Heart? How awesome would it be to have hip-hop legends like Public Enemy or Ice-T fire up the crowd, or the Roots bring one of the best live bands around to the proceedings? I’m all for bringing back the Monsters of Rock. But there’s nothing that says those Monsters have to all be White men. n
NINTENDO NEWNESS Mario’s latest task is here: save an adorable cat-themed island from the rage and destruction of his longtime nemesis Bowser. New on Nintendo Switch, Bowser’s Fury is part of the reissued Switch version of Super Mario 3D World, originally on Wii U. While it’s a quick game, Fury packs a punch with innovative platforming across an open-world map as Mario hops from island to island collecting “cat shines” to bring the light back to this Bowser-blighted kitty paradise. An asymmetrical co-op mode lets a friend play as Bowser Jr., who’s asked Mario to help him get his dad to quit raging. (CHEY SCOTT)
KICKSTART THE ARTS Spokane band Trego has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the release of a new self-titled album, and fans can chip in to turn their raw recordings into a fully mastered package. This new LP, recorded in Oregon, will be the band’s first since 2017’s Great Northern, back when they were still known as Folkinception. The band previously crowdfunded their 2014 album Tower Mountain, and this new fundraising campaign runs through March 18. Donor perks include CDs and vinyl copies, Trego-related merch, and private performances from the band. Find the link at tregoband.com. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)
PERFECT LITTLE MOMENTS There’s a simple beauty in Amazon’s 2021 movie The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. The plot sounds familiar — two teens wake up every morning to relive the same day repeatedly — and its characters poke a little too much self-aware fun at the fact it’s not the first movie to use the device. But while there are plenty of there-at-the-right-moment gimmicks from witnessing the same tiny accidents hundreds of times, the movie’s focus on the simple happy moments of life offers many opportunities for genuine smiles. With a strong focus on friendship and family love, the light-hearted film makes for a good watch any night of the week. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)
FEBRUARY 25, 2021 INLANDER 21
The Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival goes virtual, showcasing community and traditions from all over the world
Those Who Remained
LENKE SZILÁGYI PHOTO
BY NATHAN WEINBENDER
ow in its 17th year, the Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival continues to highlight stories about the Jewish experience, both contemporary and historical, for Inland Northwest audiences. But this year, like every other festival in the world, things look a little different: The organization is taking a cue from prominent film events like Sundance and South by Southwest and has converted to a virtual model for 2021. Neal Schindler, director and co-chair of the festival, says that putting on an online-only festival presents a whole different set of challenges from the in-person event. “At the beginning, there was a day or two where I was like, ‘This is going to be less work,’” Schindler says. “But there are a lot of moving parts. Normally, this is a festival that has three features over one weekend. And this time around, it’s got seven features and two shorts over 10 days” Of those features on the festival’s upcoming roster, Schindler points to the intense drama Incitement (screening March 4-7) as a particular highlight. Israel’s entry to the 2019 Academy Awards, this is an inexorable dramatization of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s 1995 assassination, following political radical Yigal Amir as he fastidiously plots the murder, a reaction to the Rabin-led Oslo Peace Process. “This film is looking at a very significant turning point in Israel and Israeli political history,” Schindler says. “The Israeli peace movement of the mid-’90s, which was more or less embodied by Rabin, was fueled by hope. And from Amir’s perspective, it was a futile or naive hope that wasn’t going to lead to anything but more Israeli casualties. That was his belief. “But I think beyond just his own individual characteristics and personal experiences, we’ve seen so recently
22 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
this toxic blend of fringe politics and, in many cases, radically interpreted scripture… lead to some extremist, violent behavior.” If ever a film demanded an after-screening discussion, it’s Incitement, and Eastern Washington University Professor Rob Sauders will offer a historical and political perspective following the March 4 premiere. Those Who Remained (March 9-12) is another of Schindler’s favorites from the 2021 fest, a Hungarian film set in the aftermath of WWII. It’s about a doctor who is still recovering from his imprisonment in a concentration camp, where his wife and children died. He strikes up an unusual friendship with one of his young patients, a 16-year-old orphan girl whose parents have gone missing in the Holocaust. She still holds out hope that they’re alive, though, and her desire for an emotional anchor leads to her relying more and more on the lonely doctor’s company. “These characters are genuinely trying to re-integrate into life in Hungary, with the understanding … that communism is going to have a really significant effect on everyone’s life,” Schindler says. Those Who Remained is really a story of trauma, and about a relationship that is either ethically troubling or some kind of two-sided coping mechanism. “Apart from all of the overtones and undertones of that, it’s a post-Holocaust film with two survivors at very different stages of life, and that sort of dual character study in the relationship study is so lovely, and I think it’s very artful,” Schindler says. Other films on this year’s program include Crescendo (March 3-6), a German musical drama about the conductor of an Israeli-Palestinian youth orchestra; They Ain’t Ready for Me (March 6-9), a documentary following a Black rabbinical student and anti-violence activist in
Chicago; and The Crossing (March 7-10), a family-friendly adventure in which children survive in the wilderness as they flee the Nazis. For the ideal festival experience, viewers are encouraged to start the films at their designated times. But if you’re unable to watch a given film at its premiere time, you’ll still have a three-day window to view it. Several of the festival’s entries will be followed by filmmaker and expert Q&As, some of which will immediately follow the initial film screenings and others of which, due to time zone differences, will occur the following day. The benefit of that delay, Schindler says, is that more folks can see the film during its viewing window and attend the talk-back. Schindler says that in the seven years he’s been a part of the festival, he’s seen countless movies about the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Those are important subjects, to be sure, but he’s hoping that next year he’ll be able to book enough films that don’t deal with those two common topics, and that he’s able to further broaden genres — more comedies, coming-of-age dramas and even horror films centered on the Jewish experience. And it’s critical, he says, that the festival keep bringing those experiences to the forefront, especially at a precarious time when stories about collective culture and the human spirit feel as necessary as ever. “We have a following, and not just within the Jewish community,” Schindler says. “[People] are really committed to attending, and I think that it’s important that it happened this year.” n Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival • Wed, March 3 through Fri, March 12 • Festival passes $30-$50, individual tickets $5-$8 • sajfs.org • 747-7394
n April 1990, I went to see Junkyard, a middling bluesmetal band with a guitar player who’d been in Minor Threat, thereby raising my punk rock-loving curiosity. There were maybe 12 of us in this cement box of a venue underneath an interstate. The place typically drew an amazing slate of underground/indie bands, along with regular visits from bored local Nazi skinheads, and my friends and I got there early this night, in time for the unknown opening band. That band was the Black Crowes, touring for the first time two months after releasing their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker. There was no mistaking they had something special. The lanky singer moved like classic Mick Jagger, the two guitarists traded killer riffs on song after song, and the whole band delivered like they were playing an arena instead of a mostly empty shithole. The Black Crowes played those types of venues for a few months before the album took off thanks to a hit cover of Otis Redding’s soulful “Hard to Handle,” Stones-y rockers like “Jealous Again” and a massive ballad about a heroin addict, “She Talks to Angels.” Their tour eventually did move to arenas over the next 18 months, the Crowes opening for the likes of Aerosmith and ZZ Top, and Money Maker slowburned its way into becoming the third best-selling album of 1991, right behind Mariah Carey and Garth Brooks, and ahead of Madonna, Whitney Houston and the Crowes’ fellow Georgians R.E.M. Shake Your Money Maker was a strange success in that musical landscape. The Crowes’ retro sound hit the sweet spot for rock fans after hair metal dominated the late ’80s and before so-called “grunge” hit big. It launched a long career for the Crowes, selling more than five million copies, and band-leading brothers Chris and Rich Robinson reunited in late 2019 after years of brotherly turmoil to announce a 30th anniversary tour celebrating Money Maker. The pandemic had other ideas, so now the tour is planned for 2021, and a 30th (OK, 31st) anniversary special edition of Shake Your Money Maker arrives this week, including demo tracks, long-lost recordings from the Money Maker sessions, and a complete live show recorded in the band’s Atlanta hometown in 1990. Rich Robinson called from Nashville to talk about his Money Maker memories and more. These responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson (left) and Chris Robinson JOSH CHEUSE PHOTO
STRUTTIN’ BLUES The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson reflects on the band’s breakthrough debut, Shake Your Money Maker, and a new edition celebrating its 30th birthday BY DAN NAILEN
INLANDER: What do you think of now when you look back at recording the album? RICH ROBINSON: Being 19 years old, it was just a tremendous amount of fun, and it seemed like a big accomplishment, coming where we came from. We didn’t have a huge following in Atlanta; we were playing music that didn’t really fit in anywhere. There weren’t many rock ’n’ roll bands during that time in our music scene. It was either heavy metal or really alternative, and when we started we came from more of an alternative place. We were way into R.E.M. and Let’s Active and the Paisley Underground movement on the West Coast. But some of my earliest childhood memories were listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and Joe Cocker and Sly Stone and Bob Dylan. Otis Redding and Mose Allison. You have these influences that come from your parents, and you reach a certain age, and you reach out for your own musical identity. Chris got way into Prince and Funkadelic, and I was into AC/DC and bands like that. By the time we got to where we were going to be a band and start writing songs, we came back to rock ’n’ roll music, in its broadest sense. Why do you think the album was commercially successful? It wasn’t just a bunch of critics who liked it. We put out Shake Your Money Maker on a tiny-ass label [Rick Rubin’s Def Jam Records], and God knows why [it took off], but it was authentic. It was sincere. We wrote these songs that spoke to us, and we weren’t bullshitting. We weren’t trying to be successful. We weren’t trying to write ...continued on next page
FEBRUARY 25, 2021 INLANDER 23
MUSIC | ANNIVERSARY “STRUTTIN’ BLUES,” CONTINUED... power ballads or compete with Warrant or whatever. We just made this music, and for whatever reason, it connected. You had a lot of songs ready, and some that didn’t make the album are coming out on this new edition. How did you decide what made the album? That was [producer] George [Drakoulias’] decision. George had been in the studio; he was an associate producer on the Cult’s Electric record. He came to us, and he had a brilliant ear, and he knew what he was doing. We didn’t even have a manager. George just kind of said, “Let’s go make a record.” I don’t even think we’d signed a record deal when we went in to start making the record.
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The album took off when you were on the road, and the band basically stayed on tour for a couple years. Could you feel your life changing? It was 22 months and 350 shows. When you’re on tour, you’re in a submarine. You don’t see the world outside. The bigger you get, the more famous you get, the more you need things like security to walk around. Your life changes in that way. I always liken it to a wave, or a f---ing tsunami. You’re riding that wave. When it stops, you have to kind of figure it out. The last three months we were in Europe, and that’s a long time to be traveling around Europe. We played these two or three shows at Hammersmith Odeon in London, a venue we’d heard of and were excited to play. Then they just drop you off at home! No one around; you’re stuck there. There’s no one to tell you where to be. There’s no one to tell you what to do. It sounds silly and weird, but all of the sudden you’re like, “Should I go to the grocery store? Am I allowed to do that?” It’s almost like shellshock, or PTSD. You’re living this [touring] life, and then all of the sudden it just stops. You didn’t spend much time at home. You put out the followup to Money Maker in 1992, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. And it went to No. 1. No sophomore slump. Chris and I had written two albums’ worth of material while we were on tour for Shake Your Money Maker. I remember we got home right before Halloween , and we made Southern Harmony maybe the early part of ’92. And we went right in and it took us a week to make the record. We went into Chris’s garage and wrote the songs, and then went into the studio. Part of it was, “We’re not going to obsess over this. We’re not going to try to have another ‘Hard to Handle’ or ‘Angels.’ We’ve played 350 shows, and we’ve reached the point where we’re a great band. Let’s go into the f---ing studio and play these songs and record them and not overthink this.” Are you still planning on playing Money Maker in order on the tour, or did that change when you had to push the tour back? That hasn’t changed. We’re really focused and excited to do this. We’ve never done anything like that before. From day one, when Shake Your Money Maker came out, we were changing. Our first night opening for Aerosmith, we opened with a brand new song no one had ever heard. What’s your pandemic life been like? It was the first time in over 30 years that I haven’t toured. My last tour with my band Magpie Salute ended in early February of 2019. So it’s been weird, apart from a short round of acoustic shows last February that Chris and I did to build up to the tour. But I have small children, and it’s been really amazing to be able to spend time with them every day, for over a year. n The Black Crowes’ Shake Your Money Maker 30th anniversary edition arrives in multiple formats online and in stores Feb. 26. Their Shake Your Money Maker tour stops at the White River Amphitheatre in Auburn Aug. 26; visit theblackcrowes.com for details and tickets.
24 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
COMEDY ANYONE REMEMBER LAUGHTER?
Spokane Comedy Club has been impressively contorting its business model throughout the pandemic, with the banning of live performances leading to the venue turning to churning out milkshakes, pizzas and breakfast to get to the other side of COVID. So even though reaching Phase 2 in Spokane means shows there are limited to 25 percent capacity, you can imagine they’re thrilled to be back doing what they do best — putting on live shows by all manner of touring and local comedians. This weekend, that means the return of regular visitor Pablo Francisco (above), whose combination of social media savvy, impressive impressions and character work led him to the cast of Mad TV, constant tours and a few Comedy Central specials. — DAN NAILEN Pablo Francisco • Thu-Sun, Feb. 25-28, various times • $15-$28 • Spokane Comedy Club • 315 W. Sprague Ave. • spokanecomedyclub.com • 318-9998
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THEATER SHORT-FORM STORIES
For several years now, Spokane’s Stage Left Theater has hosted an annual theater event called Fast & Furious, and while it doesn’t boast any automotive heists starring Vin Diesel, it is a high-speed good time. Although the series is going virtual this year, it’s following the same concept that local theater fans should be familiar with: You get to see a bunch of abbreviated plays, each running only a couple minutes apiece and performed in rapid succession. 2021’s installment features 22 individual playlets submitted by writers from all over the country and performed at breakneck speed by a group of Stage Left actors. Writers weren’t given any constraints beyond length, so expect all kinds of styles, tones and topics. The show will be streaming live and is free to watch, but viewers will need to preregister first — see the theater’s Facebook feed for links and details. — NATHAN WEINBENDER Fast & Furious • Sat, Feb. 27 at 7 pm • Free • Streaming at facebook.com/StageLeftTheater
WORDS P.M. POETRY PARTY
As part of its monthlong celebration of Black History Month, the Spokane Public Library is next hosting local poet Stephen Pitters for a Facebook Live event. Pitters, who has hosted “The Spokane Open Poetry Program” on KYRS Thin Air Community radio since 2004, plans to share some of his poems and discuss the art that inspires him. Pitters has published numerous poetry collections starting in 2009 with his book Bridges of Visions. His latest collection is The Eye of the Spirit, released in spring 2019 as part of his planned five-part, autobiographically inspired poetry series that starts with his youth and explores his personal, social and emotional maturation. Outside of his poetry work, Pitters has a master’s degree in clinical social work and a teaching certificate from Gonzaga University. — SPENCER BROWN Poetry Celebration in the Afternoon • Fri, Feb. 26 at 3 pm • Free • Online at facebook.com/spokanelibrary/live
FEBRUARY 25, 2021 INLANDER 25
EVENTS | CALENDAR
What can you give this week? VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES VOLUNTEERS WANTED - WOMEN & CHILDREN’S FREE RESTAURANT
In response to COVID-19, the Women & Children’s Free Restaurant is providing contactless curbside meal and food distribution twice a week. Volunteers are needed to safely load food, assist individuals with the walk-up service option and guide individuals on the restaurant’s processes for safe distancing. To volunteer, fill out a volunteer application online or contact the volunteer services manager at email@example.com or by calling 509-324-1995 Ext. 300. wcfrspokane.org/volunteer-form/
DONATIONS NEEDED SPOKANE HUMANE SOCIETY Due to its successful spay, neuter and adoption programs over many years, Spokane Humane Society (SHS) is able to rescue pets from “kill” shelters all over the country. To do this more effectively, SHS is purchasing a rescue transport vehicle capable of humanely transporting 24 animals. Thanks to several supporters, your donation will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $45,000. Donate online or mail a check to Spokane Humane Society, PO Box 6247, Spokane, WA, 99217. Please be sure to write “New Hope” in the memo field on your check.
FOOD AMERICA’S DRINK
Hard cider is in the midst of a major revival, so much so that it’s strange to think that even five-ish years ago coming across it at a local restaurant or bar was rare. A beverage tracing its history deep into America’s past and beyond, cider is once again booming as evidenced by the success of local purveyors like Spokane’s award-winning Liberty Ciderworks, which is co-hosting a special book release and tasting with Auntie’s Bookstore. The event centers on the release of American Cider by cider experts Dan Pucci and Craig Cavallo, who are chatting with Liberty’s founder and co-owner Rick Hastings about the book while also leading a virtual tasting. Tickets to the online event come with a paperback copy of the book and one bottle each of Liberty’s 55 Chain English Style and Gravenstein single-varietal ciders, plus two tasting glasses. Register online for local pickup, delivery or shipping. — CHEY SCOTT American Cider Book Launch and Tasting • Tue, March 2 at 6 pm • $35 • Online; details at libertycider.com
PROJECT BEAUTY SHARE Project Beauty Share has an urgent need for sanitizing wipes. The wipes are used to clean and sanitize donations of personal hygiene items, cosmetics and beauty products, which Project Beauty Share provides to women and families overcoming abuse, addiction, homelessness and poverty. Wipes can be dropped off at Project Beauty Share at 2718 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane, WA, 99202, or search for their Amazon wish list.
EVENTS AND BENEFITS MARCH FOR MEALS
GREATER SPOKANE COUNTY MEALS ON WHEELS The annual Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels March for Meals gets underway this March. Take part virtually, or be among the limited number of participants who can get their steps in at the Spokane Valley Mall or Northtown Mall on March 5. COVID has caused some changes this year, but it’s opened up an opportunity to include some special guests to Meals on Wheels’ annual event: dogs! Virtual walkers can sign up their furry friends to receive a special Doggie Swag Bag that includes treats, a new collar, doggie dish and toys. Virtual participants have until the end of the month to log their miles or minutes. Register online. Marchformeals.com
26 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
MUSIC BACHFEST IS BACK
The 44th inception of Northwest BachFest is here, once again featuring its acclaimed artistic director — Grammy-winning cellist Zuill Bailey — for a series of performances, this time all in the virtual sphere. As a performer, Bailey aspires to involve community in his performances and make music accessible to all, especially children. For this year’s festival, Bailey is showcased in a series of recently filmed performances of Bach’s Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello — the famous composition is widely considered the quintessential music for the instrument — in a nod to his 2010 chart-topping record of the suites. BachFest viewers can get a glimpse of Bailey performing select movements from the suites, filmed last fall at Hamilton Studio and West Central Abbey in Spokane. The first concert is this Friday, followed by more opportunities on March 5; each concert is available to stream for three days after release. — NATALIE RIETH Northwest BachFest Celebrates Bach and Bailey • Feb. 26-28 and March 5-7 • $25 per household, per show • Online; details at nwbachfest.com
face. We are so close to maybe being past the worst of this pandemic. Please keep wearing your masks in public for just a little while longer. Thanks.
I SAW YOU VERY ATTRACTIVE I saw you at ACE Hardware in Newport, Washington. My dad was asking you questions, about a propane tank. You helped my dad put the propane tank back into the van. Thank you for your time. If your not seeing anyone and would like to know me, please send me a message @ firstname.lastname@example.org. JOE...BUSKER WITH GUITAR AT LUCKY LEAF VALENTINE’S DAY Hi Joe. We made fast friends before and lost touch. I’d love to hang out again. I’ve been keeping my eyes out for you. Ryan email@example.com IN THE PRODUCE SECTION I saw you in the produce section of the grocery store carefully squeezing the lemons, trying to find the best one. You caught my eye, and I was struck... by the sight of your nostrils hanging out above your mask rendering it so completely ineffective. As you breathed your potentially contagious droplets all over the food others may be taking to their homes that night, I couldn’t help to notice that while you may feel like a rebel who can’t be bothered to follow a basic safety rule intended to protect the most vulnerable in our society, you look like an absolute moron who can’t figure out how to put a mask properly on your
CITY OF SPOKANE PLOWING CREW Cheers to the plowing crew up in the Eagle Ridge area on February 16! My husband and I both appreciated that when they plowed they didn’t create 2-foot berms that we would either need to shovel afterward, or attempt a fullspeed driveway exit attempt. After living here for 7+ years this is the best plow job in our area we’ve seen! Thank you for making it easier for us and our neighbors to travel safely! CHEERS TO CHAS, SPOKANE ARENA, AND NATIONAL GUARD Received my first COVID vaccine Thursday. Yaay! Never been so excited to get pokedin-the-arm! CHEERS to Chas, Spokane Arena, and Army and Air Force National Guard units, and others involved in the planning and execution of this mass vaccination site. CHEERS to those who planned the stations, layout, calculated personnel required, and station timing. From start to exit (awaiting appointment check, where to park, security, and the half dozen stations) it took me a mere 65 minutes while hundreds of my fellow residents were also processing through. Flow from station to station was smooth, folks were well trained, cordial and helpful. WELL DONE! BLUE EYES I was willing to fight for you, not with you. I will always love you!... more than Dolly Parton... and you know how much THAT is. - Key of G...or C....or D.
JEERS URGENT CARE To the person that drives a blue truck that works at (or at least parks in front of) Franklin Park Urgent Care everyday. I first noticed your derogatory bumper stickers about a year ago, and I have avoided that
urgent care location ever since. I have changed my families default urgent care to another company due to this vehicle that displays several Trump stickers, anti-LGBTQ with automatic weapons above the letters and an “all lives matter” sticker. Are you just trying to offend everybody? I get free speech, don’t get
me wrong, I am glad you’re proud of what you believe in, but to park this offensive billboard at the front doors of this “professional” practice everyday? A bit much. I will continue to go elsewhere due to this, I hope you’re glad that your location is losing money due to your racist and bigoted arrogance that you feel you must display. FOLLOWING TOO CLOSE On Monday February 15th, about 3:15 pm while driving on Sharp heading toward Hamilton, there was a city cop driving an unmarked SUV riding my tail really! Sharp was not plowed, I am driving slow cause those Gonzaga students just walk out on the street and don’t look, cops tell you to stay a car length behind when the roads are icy, but this cop didn’t care; so when we got to the dumb roundabout I slowed down more but that cop was so close he or she was lucky I didn’t slam on my brakes, how are we supposed to follow the rules of driving in the snow if cops don’t, really now. RE: GREAT...NOW I’M THE BAD GUY I wholeheartedly agree with your premise that it is absurd to expect you pay for the person behind you just because the person ahead paid for you. BUT. You’re going to f---ing Starbucks. It’s hard to take you seriously when your
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DELIVERED TO YO U R IN BOX
DEMOCRATIC INSANITY Double Jeers to the Democratic Party for their
Off” jeers last week, and I must admit, I am a bit envious of your outlook on life. Somehow you manage to waltz around through life pretending that the Spokesman’s Pinch isn’t indirectly responsible for all of the pain, crime and suffering in Spokane. You’ve probably never even wondered where 98%
Received my first COVID vaccine Thursday. Yaay! Never been so excited to get poked-in-the-arm! CHEERS...
Our top 5 picks for weekend entertainment
taste is Starbucks bad. If you’re OK trading in your principles for convenience and a reward program, you deserve bizarre social expectations from your “barista.”
Un-American Policies that luckily should substantially reduce future votes for the party. Let’s start with immigration. Open the borders, provide food, water, health care, shelter and COVID19 testing and vaccination, regardless of criminal records & earlier deportation. REALLY! U.S. citizens, especially in Texas right now need water, food, shelter etc... Americans need vaccination before noncitizens. Americans need employment without supporting noncitizens in the current US state of affairs. Billions sent to foreign governments for assistance at this time is ludicrous & just Un-American. The federal and state taxes most citizens pay should first and foremost take care of our homeland, our environment & our citizens before any funds leave our borders. Never heard about any foreign governments assisting other countries; perhaps that’s the reason they have universal health care for all citizens, for starters. We really need to take care of our own people & country now, more so than in any other time in history, unifying all citizens to stand as one, taking care of each other. Before long nobody will care, tyranny will follow, and our grandkids future, well, your guess is as good as mine DEAR GAL THAT LOVES THE PINCH. I read your response to my “Pinched
of those Amazon rainforest trees have gone to (Hint: Those ancient trees became the Carl’s Jr. coupons you love so much.) Well, I’m afraid to say that the “Pinch Gaslighting” campaign has spewed out another innocent victim. A far too common story, I’m afraid. They broke you. You had to start baking, and blowing paychecks on gifts, just to figure out what the hell you were going to do with all of those Pinches. On a lighter note... I’ve decided to learn one of your suggested hobbies: origami. I will now spend my time folding mountains of cheap newsprint into tiny paper bags. They will be filled with dog crap, set aflame, and left as free gifts, for others to enjoy. Who would complain? After all, it’s free, right? P.S. Did you try to “fireplace shame” me? n
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Sign up now at Inlander.com/newsletters FEBRUARY 25, 2021 INLANDER 27
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Growth Market While much of the country is at a standstill, the cannabis industry is hiring BY WILL MAUPIN
n a year that was disastrous for the economy as a whole, the cannabis industry continued to grow. Last week cannabis website Leafly released its annual jobs report, which looks into the economics of the industry around the country. Its findings show that cannabis was not just COVID-resistent, but actually saw some growth due to the pandemic. A combination of factors, most notably an increase in consumer spending along with the ever-growing number of states pursuing legalization, have made cannabis one of the more secure sectors of the economy. As employers around the nation resorted to layoffs to survive the pandemic and unemployment numbers skyrocketed, cannabis was hiring. According to Leafly’s research, there are now 321,000 full-time equivalent jobs supported by the legal cannabis indus-
28 INLANDER FEBRUARY 25, 2021
try in the United States. The industry added 77,300 new jobs in 2020, more than twice as many as it added the year prior. In Washington, though, we didn’t see quite that level of growth. As one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, Washington’s market is relatively mature and stable. Leafly found that the state is home to 19,873 cannabis jobs, the fifth-most in the country, but up just 524 over the previous year. Locally, Spokane County saw just one new dispensary open for business in 2020. While that’s partly because of the maturity of our local market, it’s mostly due to there being a cap limiting the number of dispensaries in the county to 33. It’s not all good news, though. Leafly’s report highlights a major and well-known problem within the industry: Minorities are
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extremely underrepresented in positions of power. Leafly’s report found that despite Black Americans constituting roughly 13 percent of the national population, Blackowned businesses make up less than 2 percent of the cannabis industry. That’s on par with data from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board that shows only 3 percent of Washington’s dispensaries are owned by people who self-identify as Black or African American. Last March, Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB 2870 into law, which paves the way for minority groups to get priority when new or unused cannabis business licenses become available. Less than a year in, things haven’t changed much just yet. We’ll have to see if that starts turning around by the time Leafly puts out its next cannabis jobs report in 2022. n
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BE AWARE: Marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older under Washington State law (e.g., RCW 69.50, RCW 69.51A, HB0001 Initiative 502 and Senate Bill 5052). State law does not preempt federal law; possessing, using, distributing and selling marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In Washington state, consuming marijuana in public, driving while under the influence of marijuana and transporting marijuana across state lines are all illegal. Marijuana has intoxicating effects; there may be health risks associated with its consumption, and it may be habit-forming. It can also impair concentration, coordination and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. Keep out of reach of children. For more information, consult the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board at www.liq.wa.gov.
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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31. Goody-two-shoes 32. Foal’s mother 33. Like some sugar 34. Programmed to, as a thermostat 35. On the same side 36. 1979 Sigourney Weaver film 37. Demolition material 38. Say ____ (refuse) 39. Hosp. heart ward 40. Squiggly mark in “piñata” 42. ____ to one’s ears 43. Highest-rated 44. 17th-century Dutch painter Jan 45. Hindu god of fire 46. Dockworkers’ org. 47. Ceramists’ needs 48. ____ Francisco 49. Part of DMV: Abbr. 50. Ending with fluor51. “Thank you, Captain Obvious!”
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1. Skirt’s edge 2. Fever that reached America in the mid-’60s 3. Put money on the underdog, say 4. Knowledgeable viewpoint 5. First word of Dante’s “Inferno”
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10. There are 2.54 in an in. 14. HBO series represented by some of the black (and two white) squares in this puzzle’s grid 18. Miscellany
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