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Today's Headlines: June 21, 2024

Spokane police chief finalists will meet the public

Spokane Mayor Lisa Brown has selected four people as finalists to be the city’s next police chief.

Kevin Hall is Tucson’s Assistant Chief of Police. Matthew Murray is Yakima’s current police chief; he’s retiring June 30. Tom Worthy is another current chief, in Oregon’s The Dalles. And Kathleen Lanier is a colonel with the Memphis Police Department.

All four will appear at a public forum at Spokane’s Central Library next Thursday evening, June 27, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Former police chief Craig Meidl stepped down shortly after Brown won the 2023 mayoral election. Justin Lundgren has been serving as interim chief since the beginning of the year.

The four announced finalists were drawn from a process that included a local selection committee, a search firm, and public input. From the finalist group, Brown may name her pick later this summer.

Expo golden anniversary inspires environmental summit in Spokane

Expo ‘74’s focus on the environment and conservation continues with a legislative summit today at the Spokane Convention Center.

Amanda Parrish is the executive director of the Lands Council, which is hosting the event.

“I think oftentimes, Spokane and the Inland Northwest has a history of being environmental heroes and really leading some of the environmental movement, and that's not always recognized,” Parrish told SPR News. “And I think we have an opportunity to really showcase that on Friday.”

Throughout the day, attendees will discuss various issues centered around climate justice – the idea that marginalized and economically vulnerable communities bear the brunt of climate change’s negative effects.

Policymakers from the Spokane area and across the state, including Gov. Jay Inslee, will hear from attendees and start crafting plans to address the concerns they bring.

SRHD considers spinning off its opioid treatment service

The Spokane Regional Health District is considering spinning off its in-house opioid treatment program.

SRHD’s administrative officer, Dr. Alicia Thompson, says the program, with about a thousand registered clients, is the largest in Washington. It has responded to an increased need for treatment services, but not fast enough.

“We know we are turning away at least five people a week who want to be assessed for admission into our program,” Thompson said.

That’s one of the reasons SRHD is entertaining the possibility of moving the program to a private business that offers the same or similar services.

In a virtual town hall meeting Thursday, people asked how a potential shift to private hands would affect the program’s scope, efficacy and cost. Thompson said the health district is wondering the same things.

“Would an outside organization be able to continue these client-focused services?” She said. “We don’t know.”

Thompson emphasized no decision has been made. The district is carrying out a study now, and more conversations among officials and the public are expected this summer and fall.

Washington Democrats meet for party convention

Back in April, Washington Republicans met in Spokane for a raucous party convention. Now, it’s Democrats’ turn. Their convention opens tomorrow in Bellevue.

The gathering this year is mostly procedural: delegates will vote on the party platform, hear from speakers like Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Senator Maria Cantwell.

But two things make this year stand out: the party is expecting more than a thousand delegates, but according to a party spokesperson, around a quarter of them will attend remotely.

And a number of local Democratic groups are proposing resolutions for the party platform calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and putting conditions on military aid to Israel. There may be protests from pro-Palestinian activists.

One thing not on the agenda: The party has already chosen delegates going to the national Democratic convention in Chicago this summer.

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Reporting was contributed by Brandon Hollingsworth, Owen Henderson and Scott Greenstone.