Ron The Cop

A lie told often enough becomes the truth.

April 27th, 2008

UPDATE – S-R Ombudsman Dr. Tallent, ‘Do you care?’

Dr. Tallent replies in a more moderate tone and I respond.

Ron the Cop


Dear Det. Wright,

I would hope that I am correct about the SPJ code of ethics – I was one of 14 people in the room when we wrote it and heard (clearly) from our legal council, Bruce Stanford, about why we could not include an enforcement clause. Unlike lawyers and physicians, journalists are not required to belong to any specific professional organization in order to practice our profession; that is the difference in why SPJ cannot enforce the code. However, we do like to say that thinking journalists will follow it as a matter of practice and I know that several newspapers have used the code as a template.

I have also seen the letter from the Washington State Bar Association in re: Tim Connor’s grievance against Duane Swinton. Appeal or not, at this time the WSBA cannot find any clear evidence that Mr. Swinton violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, so no conflict of interest. Unless it is overturned on appeal, we are at the end of this discussion.

After reading the rest of your last message, it is very clear that you favor the principles of the Committee of Concerned Journalists. Congratulations. I stand by the principles of the Society of Professional Journalists. Don’t fret, there are some similarities. However, what I see is that you believe in what we term “citizen journalism,” a concept I am very much in disagreement with due to a number of legal, ethical and education issues when it comes to reporting news. Let us just say that on this point, we must agree to disagree.

As for your point about the fundamental responsibility of a free press is to “We the people,” again, we disagree. If you understand the business of journalism and the history of media (for which I strongly recommend you read “The Press And America” by Emery, Emery & Roberts) while the media reports information to the public, the media outlets have always been owned by individuals or corporations in this country, and these individuals or corporations are free of government oversight, permitted to cover what they considered to be newsworthy to their readers/viewers/listeners. As I say in class, the person who can afford to set up the media outlet (pay for the presses or the equipment to send out over the airwaves), they are the people who control the message as well as the medium. It is a cold, cruel fact that journalism is a business and the businesses are most often owned by individuals, whether it be Benjamin Franklin, Rupert Murdoch or a family.

As I’ve said, I believe that we simply must agree to disagree on several points including your “facts” and your absolute hatred of the Cowles family.


Becky Tallent

Becky Tallent, Ed.D.
The Spokesman-Review
Spokane, WA


Dr. Tallent, Ombudsman
Spokane, WA

Dear Dr. Tallent:

Thank you for your clarification regarding SPJ. I might add though as a past secretary of the board of trustees of a national association, an association does have some control over renewal of memberhsip of their members who don’t abide by standards, by-laws, or rules of the association. Yes I do understand the business nature of journalism. What I do object to is the elitist sometimes paternalistic attitude of MSM news outlets and prefer the New/Alernative media or as you refer to as citizen journalism or crowd sourcing. A better sense of reality emerges when one takes and average or triangulates the multiple sources of information in the Blogos.

One of my chief complaints as Mr. Smith is quite aware is the AP and other newswire feeds out of Iraq suffer from shoddy sourcing. And at times are suckered into running stories that are enemy propaganda. The enemy is very adept at doing this to achieve its objectives that it can’t on the battlefield in head to head combat. This is to weaken the political will and support of the American people. As I’ve said many times in S-R Blogs the Bush Administration has made major mistakes in the prosecution of this war but on the other hand the MSM has presented a skewed sense of reality. This is documented at the Media Mythbusters website and blog. The citizen correspondents I monitor are by far more accurate in their reports than stories filed by the newswires. The Blogos has massive parallel processing power that has the fact checking ability that no newsroom can afford. This is where I believe a positive collaborative relationship between the new and old will emerge.

Yes I will read the source you recommended. I would also encourage you to read Hugh Hewitt’s book Blog and Law Professor Glenn Reynolds (AKA Instapundit) book An Army of Davids. They both are discussing the major communication reformation period we are living in that is as great or greater than that of Martin Luther when control of the information, news, and thought of the day was wrested away from the elitist aristocracy and the Catholic Church.

It is the diversity of views I seek. This is having a major impact on our current presidential election:

The Power of New Media on the Presidency

It’s no longer,

. . . just the Democratics vs. Republicans, , but also the Political Class vs. the People. The Political Class includes Old Media, powerful incumbents on both sides of the aisle, political operatives, lobbyists, and all others who suck-off the teat of the federal government. The People are the New Media-fueled citizens who are now listening to that multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas. What is shocking is that in this cycle, the Political Class actually lost.
And here’s a companion piece:

News Without Reporters

. . .We have lost perspective on what a reporter actually is — a middleman. On one side are news events. On the other are audiences who want to know about them. A reporter’s job is to move “the truth” from Point A to Point B as accurately as possible.

this relates to my remark to Mr. Floyd after I was banned from commenting in S-R Blogs:

. . .I posted an opinion piece in “A Matter of Opinion” re the death penalty ruling and the new breaking news re Duncan pulling a stunt to act as his own attorney. The “thought police” have pulled it and now we have three identical pieces from Casey. So much for voicing an “opinion” Mr. Floyd. This is why the MSM is on its downward spiral. You no longer control the flow of information and decide what is “new” news any longer.

With regard to the inherent conflict of interest with Mr. Swinton’s continued representation of the S-R, while the WSBA found no legal ethical violation the Washington Press Council did find this was a journalistic conflict. That was my point regarding will the S-R follow it’s own code of ethics et al as I explain here:

S-R Reports on WSBA initial ruling on Swinton bar complaint


BREAKING – Bar Investigator finds “insufficient evidence” that S-R attorney violated state ethics rules

I do find it encouraging that Mr. Smith has chosen to seek outside counsel on matters involving RPS. In fact I’m the one who challenged S-R Reporter Jonathan Brunt to seek the documents that Attorney O. Yal Lewis sent to Mayor Verner that the City Attorney is blocking from release. I would encourage Mr. Smith to continue to fund this effort because these documents should be disclosed to the public and may be in fact adverse to the interests of the Cowles Co.

The bottom line the old MSM paradigm is shifting just as it was in Martin Luther’s time with the advent of the printing press. The large overhead of the print, radio and TV media is no longer necessary to communicate with the people. The medium of expression is now essentially free – the Internet and the Blogos. As I’ve written:

. . .The new media does not require large capital investments e.g, printing presses and transmission networks of the traditional or mainstream media. The new medium of expression is essentially free for all to participate. The currency of the new media is the validity, reliability, and predictability of the information provided in one’s own daily life. The sources that best meet those needs will attract readers and grow Those sources which lack credibility and/or don’t correct misinformation quickly will die.

and updated with this piece:

UPDATE – The Currency of the New Media

Again thank you for your thoughtful reply. As for the Cowles Co we will have to agree to disagree.


Det. Ron Wright (Retired)

April 27th, 2008

S-R Ombudsman Dr. Tallent, ‘Do you care?’

I asked the new S-R Ombudsman Dr. Becky Tallent, ” . . . do you care?” This was after S-R Editor Steve Smith banned me from his blog after I commented following his post on Public records and state audit – “S-R Pot Calling the Kettle Black?” This was a snarky remark about the S-R’s continued relationship with Duane Swinton of Whiterspoon & Kelley (See here and here for context).

It’s refreshing though to see that the S-R is now using outside counsel to represent it in matters regarding RPS:

Interesting though Mr. Smith confirms the S-R is seeking documents that the City is now holding and is using outside counsel to obtain. These are more than likely the Lewis documents that I challenged S-R Reporter Jonathan Brunt to seek. It was expected the City Attorney would block their release. It will be interesting to see how vigorously the S-R will pursue these documents.

Ron the Cop


Dear Det. Wright,

Do I care? Yes, I care passionately and deeply about ethics of all kinds. Media ethics are a special cause of mine and I am delighted to see newspapers such as The Spokesman-Review actually spend the time, money and Herculean effort to create a comprehensive code of ethics.

FYI – Here is the difference between the S-R code and the voluntary SPJ code: the S-R will be able to enforce its code, plus I know Steve Smith and Gary Graham just well enough to understand it will be enforced for anyone who is employed by the newspaper, even Steve, Gary and me. Voluntary groups, such as SPJ, cannot enforce their codes because it would be unconstitutional for such an organization to require all people within a field to obey a code when membership in that organization is not required for employment. Employers, however, can create codes that can – and in this case will – be enforced for employees.

Now, speaking of ethical conduct, I personally find the actions of you and your cronies absolutely reprehensible in your latest vitriol against The Spokesman-Review. To make accusations of criminal conduct without an apparent shred of evidence that is acceptable to working law enforcement authorities is disgraceful, unethical and shrieks volumes about you, your group of friends and your obvious disregard for the truth. What I am seeing is that you are trying to using smoke and mirrors claiming fraud and even murder while you try to justify your conspiracy theories. Sorry, that will not wash with me. If you had any real evidence then the Washington Attorney General or any other reliable law enforcement organization would take up your cause in a heartbeat. As a retired law enforcement officer, I know you understand that concept very well, or at least should. Because active legal agencies have not taken up your cause, for your group to continue to spread speculation and invention is deplorable. Shame on you for screaming about ethics when you do not follow any ethical precepts yourself.

In the future, please take any complaints you will have directly to the Washington Press Council – despite your current cries to their offices, SPJ is not an investigative/legal authority — and I am washing my hands of you and your group. As Steve Smith said, should you be able to prove your allegations, I will apologize; but until that moment, absolutely not.

Becky Tallent

Becky Tallent, Ed.D.
The Spokesman-Review
Spokane, WA


Dear Dr. Tallent, Ombudsman
Spokane, WA

Dear Dr. Tallent:

Thanks for your reply.

You may be correct regarding the Society of Professional Journalists as a membership association not being able to enforce its voluntary code of ethics. Say what you will but I do have experience in the investigation and prosecution of complex criminal fraud conspiracies over a 35-year law enforcement career in a large Southern California city. After hearing US Attorney Jim McDevitt ‘s responses on the Mark Fuhrman Radio Show, in my opinion nothing was going to happen in Spokane with the alleged RPS bond fraud until the day he recused himself from the process. There are now two ASUAs in the US Attorney’s Office in Seattle actively reviewing the information supplied to them by Tim Connor and Cherie Rodgers to decide whether a federal grand jury should be impaneled to determine if any criminal indictments are warranted. This should have happened years ago and Mr. McDevitt should have led this effort and not waited passively for a case to be brought forward to him. Mr. McDevitt’s recusal was not the result of any investigative reporting by the S-R. Mr. McDevitt’s recusal was the direct result of his appearance on the Mark Fuhrman Show. This is at the root at of my cognitive dissonance with the S-R not asking the obvious probative questions. This leads to my complaint regarding the inherent conflict of interest with the S-R and the cross-media ownership and domination of the media in the Spokane market by the Cowles Co.

As I challenged regarding media ethics, I favor those principals of the Committee of Concerned Journalists. While the Washington News Council’s study is flawed in several areas, even the Washington News Council found fault with the S-R maintaining its relationship with Duane Swinton and Witherspoon and Kelley as its legal counsel (See Camas reporting). Witherspoon and Kelley is the same law firm that represented the Cowles Co in withholding RPS documents from public disclosure. This is an inherent journalistic conflict of interest even the Washington State Bar Association in its initial ruling did not find it a legal conflict of interest. It was the same Mr. Swinton who initially fronted the seed money to Preston & Gates to create the “foundation” that the RPS bonds were issued “on behalf of” by the City of Spokane. This is the same foundation that the IRS found was a sham front by the developers when it disallowed the tax-exempt status of the first RPS bonds that “tanked” by stating the “casino” was rigged. The IRS most likely because Mr.McDevitt was subsequently appointed as US Attorney for the Eastern District of WA, fell on their sword and never pursued this case criminally as a fraud. The IRS got their back taxes I’m told of some $8M paid through Preston and Gates in a concealed deal. The IRS cited Camas Magazine documents in reaching this finding.

US Attorney Jim McDevitt
while in the employ of Preston & Gates, has billable hours associated with creation of the RPS foundation. This foundation never received a 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. He was also involved with fellow Preston & Gates Attorney Michael Ormsby in closing the escrow of the first RPS bond sale during which certain material facts were not disclosed to the institutional bond investors. The is same Mr. Ormsby that loaned Mayor Hession $10K in the last election. The S-R only belatedly reported the significance and context of Mr. Ormsby’s loan several days before election day. This was a mailed election. Fortunately many voters were holding their ballots until the last minute and may have been influenced with this information. In essence the first RPS bonds became a a gift of public funds. These bonds “tanked” and the bond investors sued for fraud. The citizens of Spokane are now saddled with repaying almost $2M per year in general fund revenue to service the debt of the second round of RPS bonds issued to repay the original defrauded bondholders.

A thought-provoking movie that is an analogy to Spokane with shaking paradigms at the micro level, is Ben Stein’s new movie Expelled. This movie perhaps may broaden your perspective:

Mayor Verner – Thoughts on Ben Stein’s new movie and Spokane

Mr. Smith can call me whatever he likes. I meant what I said. It would be refreshing for once if Mr. Smith et al would debate the facts and not dismiss so easily with a broad brush those who would question. Read the Fancher report (full report at this link). This reports precedes my arrival in Spokane regarding the Cowles Co, the “company” nature of this town and its dominance of the media that is as true today as it was when it was written. If the information amassed by Tim Connor and Larry Shook of Camas Magazine who I’ve relied on to form my professional opinion is so erroneous:

. . .To make accusations of criminal conduct without an apparent shred of evidence that is acceptable to working law enforcement authorities is disgraceful, unethical and shrieks volumes about you, your group of friends and your obvious disregard for the truth. What I am seeing is that you are trying to using smoke and mirrors claiming fraud and even murder while you try to justify your conspiracy theories.

it would be well to point to specific instances where Camas Magazine is in error. I’m sure they would readily acknowledge any misstatement of facts. The IRS found their collective work credible enough to cite as evidence in their ruling. If Camas reporting is so onerous and libelous why haven’t they been sued? The Cowles Co in the past has never been reticent in launching suits to intimidate those who would ask probative questions.

As Larry Shook recently responded Mr. Smith comments:

. . . In the insults and groundless charges he flings toward those with whom he disagrees, Smith betrays not just stunningly immature impulse control, but a disregard for the truth that is something to behold. Speak up and Smith responds by criticizing California police officers. Object and he recants by saying he meant bad California police officers, not good ones. Who are the good ones? Smith knows; ask him.

Smith’s problem, and the problem of his employers, is evidence. If he wants to discredit the evidence he’s going to have to start with it, not those who have the temerity, in the face of his slander and the character assassination of his newspaper, to cite it. A good starting place . . . is with the half-million or so unrefuted words published at and

I’m just a private citizen that enjoys the many fine attributes of Spokane and that’s why my wife chose to relocate here. I have no vested interest other than seeking the truth. I’m sorry if based on my training, education, and experience, I see things that others don’t, fail to acknowledge, and/or will tolerate. I will not be a victim or be extorted. I will not standby while robberies are committed in my presence. We are individuals citizens holding our government accountable when the normal political and governmental checks have failed because of being co-opted/corrupted by this incestuous, insidious, and malignant ongoing criminal enterprise.

This is nothing more than organized crime without the Sicilian surname that must not be tolerated and must be eliminated. Why should the citizens of Spokane be concerned? This is not a free market. In my opinion a compelling FTC antitrust case can be made regarding a clear pattern and practice of unfair business practices by the Cowles Co et al that give it an unfair competitive advantage over other businesses both new or established. New businesses are deterred from locating here because of “the company town” nature. There is a high entry level cost threshold of those who would enter this market who would also chose to challenge the Cowles Co domination.

I will hold the S-R accountable and their owners if no one else will. This has nothing to do with the credibility of me or others. The onus is on the S-R to demonstrate to its readers its own credibility. The readers will ultimately decide whether the S-R is a trusted, reliable source of news, commentary, and thought of the day that has relevance and predictability in their daily lives. I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Dr. Tallent time will tell. Again as the Ombudsman of the Spokesman-Review will you hold it accountable to any ethical standards? Will the Spokesman-Review ask the probative questions?

Will the S-R follow the lead of the Committee of Concerned Journalists?

Please remember that the fundamental responsibility of a free press is to WE THE PEOPLE and not its owners and/or their business interests. An inquisitive free press that asks the probative questions serves as a fundamental check on the abuse of power of our governmental WE THE PEOPLE chose to govern and empower.


Det. Ron Wright (Retired)

April 24th, 2008

S-R Reports on WSBA initial ruling on Swinton bar complaint


A continuation from the developing story in the previous post.

S-R Reporter Camden covers WSBA initial ruling on the Swinton bar complaint by Tim Conner. Interesting. This is more reporting on the RPS bond fraud than I’ve ever seen by the S-R since moving here a year ago. Did I miss something? Did the S-R ever report the initial filing of this complaint as “new” news? Why report it now?

Anyway Camden does a fair job in his report but does gloss over the real crux of RPS bond fraud as being very complex public/private funding arrangement . Nothing really that complex here though – the foundation was a sham by the developers as determined by the IRS, Swinton was funneling money to Preston & Gates to obtain the 501(c)(3) status for the RPS foundation that never was issued, the first bond escrow was allowed to close by Preston & Gates Attorneys McDevitt and Ormsby knowing the bonds would likely tank, everybody was CYA’g. No one was going to get paid for a lot of legal work if this bond escrow didn’t close. The institutional bond investors sued for fraud.

Special City bond counsel Laurel Siddoway “gutted” the City’s “case in chief” for fraud and the citizens of Spokane were left holding the bag. This was after Mayor Powers fired Attorney O. Yale Lewis hired by the then Mayor John Talbott (Branded a “civic terrorist” by the S-R) who was on the verge of unraveling and exposing this fraud. Mind you Siddoway and her husband were large contributors to Powers’ campaign and our man Ormsby was his campaign treasurer. The citizens of Spokane are now paying to the tune of about $2M per year in general fund revenue to service the debt on the subsequent bonds issued to repay the defrauded bond holders. The IRS most likely because McDevitt was subsequently appointed as US Attorney for the Eastern District of WA, fell on their sword and never pursued this case criminally as a fraud. The IRS got their back taxes I’m told of some $8M paid through Preston and Gates in a concealed deal.

Seriously as a former planning commissioner with a graduate degree in public administration with course work in urban planning I have nothing against private/public redevelopment projects to spur development in areas that are really in decline by purchasing property to make larger chunks of property available that investors and new businesses may not have the capital to do otherwise. However with that said all the cards need to be clearly laid on the table, equitable sharing of the risks, and lastly when a project goes belly up the costs are equitably shared without the public getting left holding the bag and unduly shafted to the tune of some $100M. This smacks of a common con game to me. The stakes are just higher than in any pigeon drop or Three-card Monte game.

Yep no ethical issues with attorneys in this town!

Standby for the new game in town with the STA’s reissue of the sales tax increment financing. However this time without a “sunset clause.” I’m willing to vote for the STA reissue but without a “sunset clause.” When the STA is allowed to build a “bubble” of the public’s money they tend to make bad capital project decisions. Need I remind folks of the STA Transit Plaza that was built for some $20M on perhaps property that was staged in acquisition looking for a public project to fund the purchase. Of course no one wants to be reminded that there was a arson/murder fire where the STA Transit Plaza now sits. Oh heavens we can’t go there! Now it seems the Transit Plaza was poorly located and yet again will likely be moved because of the concentration of undesirables nearby that offends the noses of the denizens of the Sterling bank building.

OK for the record and demonstrating the true nature of my conspiracy theory personality, just wait STA will propose a light rail system for downtown linking Kendall Yards with cute little rail trolleys. They will dig up the streets that the citizens have already repairing and improving with a large road bond. Now I’m all for urban mass transit but the density in the Downtown corridor is still lacking to generate a self-sustaining revenue stream without a large public subsidy. Can’t we all get along and perhaps purchased more of those cute little trolley buses that sometime run empty. Now I’m all for completing the North/South link for US Hwy 395 to get the trucks off of Division.

What do I know I’m just a retired cop but we can be vicious when defending the sheep from an attack by the wolves. Take a read of this piece by Lt. Dave Grossman from an address at the US Naval Academy:

On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs
(From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col Dave Grossman)
Ron the Cop

Friends of Mark Fuhrman

Investigation finds no ethical breach by RPS lawyer

Jim Camden
Staff writer
April 24, 2008

Document: Read the letter from disciplinary counsel (PDF)

An attorney for the owners of River Park Square did not violate bar association rules against conflicts of interests when he represented the mall and the company that publishes The Spokesman-Review, an investigator for the Washignton State Bar Association said.

Randy Beitel, the senior disciplinary counsel for the bar association, said he was dismissing the complaint by independent journalist Tim Connor against Duane Swinton, saying the attorney was following the directions of one client, Cowles Co., which own both businesses.

“Mr. Swinton’s duty of loyalty ran to that one client, Cowles,” Beitel wrote in a letter to Connor explaining the bar’s decision. If there were competing interests that had to be balanced between the mall and the newspaper, “those were issues for Betsy Cowles and Stacey Cowles and their staff to resolve.”

Read More


Dick Adams one of S-R Editor Smith’s little green men sent this comment to S-R Reporter Jim Camden:

From: Dick Adams
Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 12:31 PM
Subject: RPS attorney story 4/24

Your story today regarding the RPS attorney stuff was candid, straight forward, and fair. You did good.

Having said that, at some point in time, common sense has to dictate the truth and nothing but the truth. If Swinton for example, is representing one big company and also represents smaller subsidiary companies, 2 or 3 of which may be the news media, how can he fairly represent both the newspaper which has a responsibility to explain to its subscribers and the public at large all known truths, good or bad, and be honest too both?

One example might be corporate welfare. Usually either social or corporate welfare is money taken from the public trough/public cash register. Swinton, may even be covering up money deals he might think are of a questionable nature?

I remember looking into real estate tax exemptions many years ago. I discovered while snooping around at the court house, the Spokesman Review building had been granted a 10 year historic building tax exemption. Looking deeper at the exemption, I found out the owners of the Spokesman Review building, not only the structure was tax exempt but the land the building sits on was also exempt. The owners (Cowles) paid zero tax on the building or the land the building sits on. Furthermore, I discovered, the owners built another building attached to the old one and for the record, recorded that the new building was needed for the structural integrity of the old building. Guess what? The newer part of the (built in the early 1980`s) building was also granted a tax exemption, on both the building and the land. I investigated records at the Tax Equalization Office where I noticed Swinton`s had signed documents on behalf of the Cowles for several structures.

During my investigation it was obvious Attorney Swinton was involved in many Cowles` records. I tried for years to get the SR to print about the corporate welfare regarding the Cowleses historic preservation and such a huge tax exemption I felt were unfair. To no avail.

I think my story was newsworthy yet my investigative work was for not. Impossible to expose the tax payer`s money that was given away. It was`nt only the Cowles family with its snoot in the public trough but other know elite movers and shakers that also live in the Lilac City.

I have more examples of stuff not published, which in my opinion is a disservice to the public. Ask yourself next time you look in the mirror, if what I say is true, and it is, how come these kinds of things are withheld not published in the Spokesman Review? Does attorney Swinton, looking after the many interests of the big company and others have anything to do with what is or what is not reported? Conflict of interest?

Common sense should dictate.

Dick Adams, a subscriber of the SR for over 20 years.


S-R Reporter Jim Camden replies to Dick Adams’ email:

rom: Jim Camden
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 12:03 PM
To: Dick Adams
Subject: RE: RPS attorney story 4/24
Mr Adams

Thanks for your e-mail. I did receive it, but I was out of the office (and out of state) for much of the last week.

Not sure I can address all your points to your satisfaction, but I’ll try. First, thanks for the compliment. Above all else, we try to be fair.

As far as the ins and outs of legal conflicts of interests, I have to leave it to the bar association to address their rules. I’m no expert on it at all, and all I can do is report what they say. Common sense may or may not have something to do with this (as in many legal matters); I believe that Mr. Swinton felt he could serve both the newspaper and the mall development companies, and thus the parent company, well. The management of the newspaper, when it discovered what happened regarding the secret agreement made by RPS in 1999 to make the lease payments if AMC pulled out (a story that was first reported in The Spokesman-Review, by the way) decided that was not the case, and no longer uses Mr. Swinton or his firm for any stories related to RPS. They and Mr. Swinton have a difference of opinion on this point; I don’t know who’s right, and I don’t really care. From my standpoint, if I need legal advice on how to shake loose a document on RPS, I call a lawyer in Tacoma; if I need legal advice on anything not related to RPS, I call Mr. Swinton, who in some 25 years of advising me, has generally done a good job. I think the newspaper has a responsibility to use the best tools it has available, and as far as legal advice on things related to the news media, Mr. Swinton remains one of the best in the state. I have no reason to think he is “covering up money deals he might think are of a questionable nature.”

I think corporate welfare is a term a bit like congressional pork. If you think it’s a worthwhile project, it’s a wise investment in the local infrastructure; if you disagree with it, it’s corporate welfare. The mall deal involved programs that leveraged public money. The decision to do that was made by the city council, and as you and I both know (and no doubt remember) it was a political decision. They made it after some people told them to do it and others told them not to. The circumstances of their decision were covered at the time, and have been written about repeatedly since then. It may not have been covered to everyone’s satisfaction and in the detail that later surfaced, but it was covered. There were some things that were not revealed when the council voted, most notably the Nordstrom lease; but remember the superior court ruled (and was later affirmed on appeal) that the lease was not a public document until public money started to flow into the project. It was, however, public after that point (and reported on). I can’t reconstruct all the RPS stories that have been written here; all I can say is that the newspaper did it’s best to tell people what was going on with the mall, both financially and politically. You can believe me or not, but no one from the parent company — not Stacey or Betsy Cowles, their uncle, the company’s treasurer, Mr. Swinton, or their PR firm –, ever told me to change one of my stories or made a change in one of my stories through an editor. I’m not ashamed of the newspaper’s coverage, and have talked freely to Camas Magazine, the televisioin stations, the Washington News Council and others, but I’m not going to rehash all of the arguments now. My view on the whole mess is that the deal was too complicated, relied too heavily on streams of money that weren’t as reliable as people thought, began to fall apart when garage revenue was way below estimates, and was further complicated by a huge shift in the political structure of Spokane. You’re free to disagree with me on any and all of this, but I’m not going to debate it. 

As for the tax exemption, I don’t know anything about it, and so it’s dangerous for me to offer conjecture, but here goes: The company that owns the newspaper remodeled the Review Building, which if memory serves, is one of the oldest buildings in town, in the mid 1980s, and also built the tower next to it around the same time. They had to shore up the original building because it was not earthquake proof, so they anchored it to the new building. In making changes they did certain things to maintain the historic character of the old building, for which they received some tax breaks. I know all of this because I wrote stories about the building project some 20+ years ago. Whether this is connected to the tax breaks you mention, I don’t know. I can’t tell from your note whether you think there’s something illegal or just unsavory about what they did. But from what I know about the tax breaks for restoring historic buildings, I don’t see either problem — that program exists for a reason that some government body has determined to be worth the cost. You may not agree with it, but that doesn’t make it illegal. The fact that Mr. Swinton signed the paperwork is not some huge smoking gun: he is the coroporation’s attorney for many things, and would have had to review legal documents…Again, this is conjecture on my part I’m not an attorney or even a reporter who concentrates on business and tax issues; if you think there’s something wrong, why not ask the county officials who granted the exemption?

You are entitled to your opinion that such tax exemptions are unfair. That does not make them wrong, or illegal. They may, in fact, be bad public policy, but that would be something to take up with people in the position to make tax law, not with me. I think that’s the common sense position on this point.

You are also entitled to your opinion that by not reporting this, I am committing some sort of disservice to the public. In fact, I’m a reporter who covers other issues, have more stories than I have time, and frankly don’t consider it news that a company in Spokane, whether it’s a Cowles entity or someone else, uses a legal tax exemption. Maybe I’m missing something, but absent something much more than you’ve stated here, I’m not likely to agree, and even if I did, I’m not likely the reporter who would write about this. You might be better off to suggest the story to other reporters at the S-R or at any other news outlet in Spokane who are better versed in these topics.

Again, thanks for the e-mail, and for being a subscriber for all these years.

  Jim Camden


S-R Reporter relies to my email:

Mr. Wright

Thank you for your e-mail. I apologize for being slow to respond, but I was out of the state for much of the last week, and unable to reply to e-mails while gone.

While I usually leave discussions of the newspaper’s coverage to editors, I should point out a couple of inaccuracies in your message.

The Spokesman-Review did cover Mr. Connor’s filing of the bar association complaint. We don’t always write about the filing of bar association complaints, because they are not made public at the time, and not even formally acknowledged by the bar association when filing occurs. But when we do find out about them, we sometimes report them in a brief story, and await the bar association’s determination. That’s what we did with Mr. Connor’s complaint, which was in a column of “Briefs” on page B-1 on July 24, 2007. It wasn’t very large, perhaps you missed it.

If it was covered in a few paragraphs then, why write considerably more now, you might well ask? Because we had the document from the bar association that dealt with the complaint and the investigator’s determination of the complaint. It also takes a bit of space to explain the parts of the River Park Square case that were germaine to this complaint.

You are correct that this story does not deal with all of the elements of River Park Square. No single story could, and this one wasn’t designed to do so. It was trying to stay on point with Mr. Connor’s complaint, which had nothing to do with Ms. Siddoway, the status of the foundation, O. Yale Lewis, John Talbott or Jim McDevitt. It was specific to Mr. Swinton’s role as the attorney for two entities owned by the same parent corporation, and the story stuck with that.

You may recall that we did do a larger story when Mr. Connor and former councilwoman Cherie Rodgers’ bar association complaint regarding US Attorney Jim McDevitt. That was, in fact, an exception to what we normally do, because it involved a public official (Mr. McDevitt) a former public official (Ms Rodgers), a series of public statements by both of them and a referral to the Justice Department. To explain all those associated pieces to the story, we wrote more than we normally would for the filing of a complaint. When a decision on the complaint is forthcoming, I suspect we will do a story as long as last week’s on the Swinton complaint, or perhaps longer. It’s hard to predict until we see the decision.  

You say this is more reporting on the RPS bond fraud then you’ve ever seen by the S-R since moving here a year ago. It’s very possible, then, that you missed some of the past coverage of River Park Square by this newspaper, including an 8-day, multi-part series, some of which Mr. Connor tells me were instrumental in his decision to file the complaint. There was also coverage of the trial, the finances of the project and many other things that pre-date your residence here. I’d be happy to send you links to some of those, if you are truly interested. As I’m sure you can appreciate, the newspaper cannot reprise its past coverage just because you have moved to Spokane. You may have also forgotten our coverage of the Connor/Rodgers complaint against Mr. McDevitt…I’m sure you read it at the time because you sent me e-mail about it.

Please understand, I’m not volunteering to engage in a protracted debate about how the newspaper does or does not cover this or any issue. That”s not my job here. I’m a reporter, and one of the things upon which I report over the years has been River Park Square. Readers are free to take issue with anything I write. I just thought, in the interests of accuracy, perhaps you’d be interested in reading it before you comment.

Again, thanks for the e-mail, and your assessment of the story as fair. (I’m assuming that what you meant was that it was reasonable and balanced, as opposed to somewhere between mediocre and good…although even if the latter, I suppose that’s still a compliment.)

Jim Camden

I replied with this comment:

Thank you for your reply.  Yes I did miss the piece in the “Briefs.”  Thank you for calling it to my attention.  I don’t know if this was before or after I called the Swinton bar complaint to the attention of Mr. Smith.  Yes your article was a “fair” representation of the issues surrounding the Swinton issue.  I also found it refreshing re the RPS context that was added.  Yes I know there has been reporting in the past but there has been a dearth of late except for the public outing and sanctioning of the two attorneys of Preston & Gates (Ormsby).  Ormsby I might add has now been brought on by the STA.  I think I would have waited until after their ballot proposition was voted on.  I also find it amusing that Stan Schwartz has been brought in to represent the City et al in its condemnation action on Glenn Cloninger’s property.

And yes I’m aware of the bar complaint re Jim McDevitt as well as the subsequent coverage. The last I understood the WSBA has put this on hold until the feds finish their review. My only complaint was that the info that led to his recusal was readily available and no one called him on it until he appeared on the Mark Fuhrman Radio Show.  I find that interesting as well as his relationship to Mike Ormsby.  Ormsby’s loan to the Hession campaign was not put in context until I complained to the S-R.

My complaint right now is why the S-R hasn’t done any follow-up inquiries with the US Attorney’s Office in Seattle re RPS et al and the Savage death.  They’ve had this case a long time.  An update story would be appreciate even if they say this is an ongoing investigation/review and won’t say anything.  It’s a way of keeping them honest and not let the statute of limitations run on Sheriff Bamonte’s allegation that this death was a first degree manslaughter under Washington law. . .

April 24th, 2008

BREAKING – Bar Investigator finds “insufficient evidence” that S-R attorney violated state ethics rules


This just in from Tim Connor last night.

Ron the Cop


Dear all:

I received the attached (pdf) letter from Randy Bietel of the Washington State Bar Association in my mail this afternoon reporting on the results of his investigation into my July 20, 2007 grievance against Spokesman-Review lawyer Duane Swinton and the Witherspoon Kelley firm. I’m disheartened by the finding but am making it public in fairness to Mr. Swinton and his employers and for those of you who are interested in how the WSBA does its work.I do plan to appeal the decision which, I think is deeply flawed in several respects. For example, I think I and all the newspaper’s other readers were entitled to accept as authoritative the Cowles corporate structure that was published by the newspaper in March of 2004 that described River Park Square as a “separate company” within the Cowles-owned enterprises that separated its publishing and broadcast (journalism) entities from the RPS project. Mr. Bietel, after interviewing Mr. Swinton, Betsy Cowles and Stacey Cowles, disagrees. They told him it’s all one shop. Mr. Bietel accepts that.

It’s true that the inner workings of the ethical codes are a bit gnarly and I certainly knew that when I filed the complaint. But I felt confident based on my earlier reporting (See Swinton v. Swinton, as part of “The Verdict” package at that both the paper’s publisher and editor were correct when they publicly stated that Mr. Swinton had a conflict of interest in his representations. I still think that’s true, and that the conflict can be found not just in journalism ethics but in the applicable professional rules, including those that were the basis for my grievance last year.

Of course, the larger irony here is that the heart of the newspaper’s argument that it can operate in accordance with standard journalism ethics and principles in Spokane is that the journalists can report on the Cowles family’s business enterprises without fear or favor. But Mr. Swinton’s extraordinary role as the newspaper’s First Amendment advocate, and simultaneous and well-documented efforts to keep from the public important information about the family’s River Park Square dealings with the City of Spokane and other public entities destroyed any credence in that objective. Even the Washington News Council, whose work I’ve heavily criticized, recommended that the newspaper find another law firm. S-R editor Steve Smith rejected that recommendation in a column that appeared May 13, 2007.

I have other problems with Mr. Bietel’s findings and reasoning, but I’ll lay those out in more detail later, when I file the appeal.
Tim Connor


WSBA Letter to Connor

Cowles Co Organizational Chart

Swinton v Swinton as part of “The Verdict” report at Camas Magazine


S-R Editor Steve Smith responds to WSBA ruling supplied by Tim Connor

It would be refreshing for once a man of Mr. Smith’s position could refrain from labeling those who exercise their right to ask probative questions to hold their government accountable as, ” . . . loopy conspiracy theories perpetuated by Connor and his fellow travelers.” I’m in the process of replying to a similar name calling email I received from the new S-R Ombudsman. I don’t think the issue with US Attorney Jim McDevitt is as baselss as Mr. Smith would have people believe. I will send it out the reply tomorrow and post at the FOF Blog.

Interesting though Mr. Smith confirms the S-R is seeking documents that the City is now holding and is using outside counsel to obtain. These are more than likely the Lewis documents that I challenged S-R Reporter Jonathan Brunt to seek. It was expected the City Attorney would block their release. It will be interesting to see how vigorously the S-R will pursue these documents.

Ron the Cop

Friends of Mark Fuhrman Blog


Swinton cleared of conflict of interest

Posted by Steven A. Smith | 23 Apr 5:24 PM | Comments (0)

Good afternoon,

Thanks to Tim Connor, who blanketed the western world with an e-mail announcing the decision (and vowing to appeal), we know this afternoon that Connor’s conflict-of-interest, unethical conduct charge against SR lawyer Duane Swinton has been dismissed by the Washington State Bar Association Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

We’ll be working up a news story on the decision and will post the relevant documents later this afternoon.

The decision is not even close and it supports the conclusion of the Washington News Council (in its audit last year) that there is a distinction between legal conflict-of-interest and journalistic conflicts.

And, without saying “I told you so,” I believe it confirms my own view that the complaint was merely another baseless extension of the loopy conspiracy theories perpetrated by Connor and his fellow travelers.

This bunch will do everything they can to perpetuate the RPS debate until the day Betsy Cowles is publicly executed on the streets of Spokane — by Connor, Shook and their goofy gang. Anything short of Cowles blood will not satisfy.

Readers of this blog will remember that the News Council did recommend that the newsroom find another attorney to represent the newsroom’s interests, that our use of Swinton and his firm would always present, at the least, the appearance of a conflict.

I rejected that recommendation at the time, saying Swinton’s abilities as a First Amendment lawyer are unmatched locally and retaining an out-of-region lawyer would put the newspaper and newsroom at legal risk.

I still believe that.

However, as I said then, we continue to take all RPS-related issues to outside counsel.

Currently we have retained westside attorney Bill Holt to represent the newsroom in its battle for previously unreleased RPS legal documents now in the hands of city officials.

That request, likely to be denied by an always secretive city, will lead us to take additional and protracted legal action, all of which will be handled by Holt.

The RPS conspiracy gang has filed other complaints against other RPS players and institutions. Connor and crew filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney General against U.S. Attorney James McDevitt. That complaint is just as baseless as the complaint lodged against Swinton.

Expect the AG to dismiss it sometime soon.

And, count on it, the folks behind the complaint will simply lodge another appeal and drag this out, seemingly forever.



Tim Connor shares these additional comments:

Ron, thanks for sharing this and I’m not being facetious. A plain reading of Mr. Beitel’s long letter would reveal there are no issues of fact involved. None. It comes down to a single technical question,( at least in his mind.) The question is whether Cowles Company and River Park Square LLC “be treated as separate entities for the purpose of conflict of interest.” He says no, I say yes, and base my view on, among other things, an extensive interview with a UW law professor, Thomas Andrews, who is a member of the state bar disciplinary committee. I reported Mr. Andrews opinion in my piece Swinton v. Swinton which is part of the reporting package “The Verdict” at Mr. Andrews will obviously have to recuse himself if my appeal reaches his panel. I disagree with Beitel’s analysis but I also trust people who follow this issue can see that there is duplicity here on the part of the family and Mr. Smith. You can’t assert your independence from Cowles interests and then turn around and protect the lawyer by vowing there’s no conflict of interest here because it’s all Cowles Company and Swinton, at all times, was acting with the blessing of the Cowleses. That would mean he was acting with the family’s blessing when he was drafting confidentiality agreements to compel agencies to withhold public records from journalists. I don’t doubt that he was acting with the family’s blessing, but they can’t have it both ways in terms of saying that the paper is institutionally separate from RPS and the other Cowles company business interest. Indeed, Beitel’s construction boils down to the paper being a brazen instrument of the Cowleses commercial (and political) interests. Is anybody in the tower really so proud of that?


April 21st, 2008

Mayor Verner – Thoughts on Ben Stein’s new movie and Spokane


Dear Mayor Verner:

I saw Ben Stein’s new movie Expelled and couldn’t help making this comparison with Spokane.

Ron the Cop

An email to S-R Reporter Meghann Cuniff regarding her recent article:

Social Web sites become crime-fighting tools (4/20/2008)

The boys didn’t know much about their attackers except the nickname of one. So they turned to for help.


Good article on using net resources to force leverage scarce police resources. If you’re interested sometime I can tell you it was a group of bloggers that follow pedophiles that made the connection between Duncan and the Martinez killing in Riverside County. It wasn’t the feds or any law enforcement entity. This is just one example of the collective parallel processing power of a “smart” distributive computer network. . . You can read more in Significant Cases and Achievements. Scroll down to Mission Focused Strategic Communications.

And yes I’ve been a very “bad boy” lately. Mr. Smith has now banned me from all S-R Blogs. Gee so much for News is a Conversation or A Matter of Opinion. Mr. Smith really must go see Ben Stein’s new movie “Expelled.” Whether you have any belief in Intelligent Design or not, it’s an interesting account of marginalizing those who seek a paradigm shift in a fundamental belief system. I lean towards evolutionary theory but Stein did raise interesting questions worthy of further investigation. And I’m a true skeptic of junk science, medical quackery, and a regular reader of The Skeptical Inquirer.

While the physics folks have learned to deal with frequent paradigm shifts from Newtonian to particle physics to string theory, the evolutionary biologists have difficulty in dealing with those who rock their boat. As an example look how long its taken for Western “modern medicine” to realize that there is a mind body connection re certain brain endorphins release with acupuncture with PET and MRI scans. The Eastern paradigm meets West. It’s not whether Intelligent Design has any relevance when he makes the allegorical inference to Nazisim and other totalitarian regimes, it’s all about restricting free thinking. In the end it’s the open and honest debate that allow us to evolve in our understanding of all things and not marginalizing those who think differently.

S-R Editor Steve Smith bans RBT from all S-R Blogs

Any way good article and no you’re not going straight to the Darkside by working for the S-R. There is a new day dawning in Spokane. There will be a paradigm shift. Times are a changing.

Ron the Cop

April 19th, 2008

S-R Editor Steve Smith bans RBT from all S-R Blogs

I’m done throwing Steve Smith “bones” over the fence in his pen at the S-R. I think he’s choked himself one too many times suddenly reaching the end of his chain. I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. I’ve accomplished with my Lt. Columbo persona what I set out to do. I’ve forced him to expose their hand. I have a thing or too up my sleeve that I will reveal in the future:-) As I addressed to several law enforcement agencies that may have an interest in Spokane:

Mr. Smith’s on the record response may prove useful later in any later criminal case that follows re his knowledge of conspiracies and those whom are liable for aiding, abetting, concealing et al.

My operating premise is that the S-R is an instrumentality of this ongoing criminal enterprise. S-R editorial management through it’s self-censorship of its news coverage and selective censorship of it’s blogs of adverse information to its owners is aiding and abetting this criminal enterprise to conceal its criminal acts and thereby avoid justice. This lack of action by the S-R is inconsistent with the normal investigative zeal and behavior of newspapers. This inconsistency and selective censorship is telling of the intent of its owners to use the S-R to conceal its criminal acts.

I think I got under Mr. Smith’s skin a little:

Your lunatic-fringe rants and baseless conspiracy theories don’t belong here. You will claim censorship. Hogwash. You can peddle your nonsense wherever you like. Just not here.

So much for S-R Blogs “News is a Conversation” and “A Matter opinion” and any real or meaningful dialog. Mr. Smith has now killed the mike. David Laird of S-R Blog Community Comment ran this post, “Rocketsbrain is banned…

Mr. Smith brands me and others as “wackaloons” in his comment at Community Comment:

Of course, he has no evidence to support these latest absurd absurd charges, first aired on the Fuhrman show by the usual suspects. He relies on his status as a retired California cop (now there is a select group of unimpeachable law enforcement superstars) to support his claims. . .

Finally, weary of his game, I imposed a full ban. RBT is one of only a handful of banned posters.

All fall loosely into the “wackaloon” category, folks who are so focused on their own issues that they cannot accept our simple standards. Every newspaper has them and they take more of our time and our readers’ time than they deserve.

Larry Shook of Camas Magazine responds to Smith’s comment:

. . . In the insults and groundless charges he flings toward those with whom he disagrees, Smith betrays not just stunningly immature impulse control, but a disregard for the truth that is something to behold. Speak up and Smith responds by criticizing California police officers. Object and he recants by saying he meant bad California police officers, not good ones. Who are the good ones? Smith knows; ask him.

Smith’s problem, and the problem of his employers, is evidence. If he wants to discredit the evidence he’s going to have to start with it, not those who have the temerity, in the face of his slander and the character assassination of his newspaper, to cite it. A good starting place (and this is the difference between your starting line and Smith’s) is with the half-million or so unrefuted words published at and

Ron the Cop



You are no longer welcome on SR blogs. The ban involves all blogs, regardless of topic. If you post, we’ll kill the post immediately. I would ask you to respect the decision and simply move along.

You certainly know why I am imposing this ban.

We are under no obligation to provide space to someone who flatly and without the least bit of evidence, disregarding the laws of fairness, decency and common sense, accuses our owners of manslaughter, arson and murder and the rest of us of being accessories.

Your lunatic-fringe rants and baseless conspiracy theories don’t belong here. You will claim censorship. Hogwash. You can peddle your nonsense wherever you like. Just not here.

As I’ve told you before, the day any member of the Cowles family is brought before the bar of justice accused of a crime, it will be in the newspaper. And on that day, you will receive a formal apology from me.

Meanwhile, you’re outta here.

Feel free to copy this e-mail to anyone who cares. I noticed in your letter to me yesterday, copied to the world, you failed to include a copy of my letter to you. In the future, I would expect you would provide a complete record to your correspondents, and that includes my e-mails which call you to account for your absurd, lunatic-fringe notions.


steve smith

Steven A. Smith
The Spokesman-Review
999 W. Riverside Ave.
Spokane, WA 99201


Mr. Smith,

Again your call, your paper, and the S-R’s and your credibility not mine in the eyes of the readers. As for your email I did include it. The HTML link at the top goes to a PDF version:

Re: Your email of April 8, 2008

Dear Mr. Smith:

If your were referring to my recent email to S-R Reporter Jonathan Brunt regarding the STA Transit Plaza and the Zukor Building arson/murder fires, I meant what I said, ” . . . if the shoe fits – wear it.”

I’ll leave it as I challenged in a thread sometime ago it would be well if the S-R followed the guidance and collective wisdom of the Committee of Concerned Journalists and the new S-R Code of Ethics. Please remember the responsibility of objective reporting of a free press it to WE THE PEOPLE and not its owners and/or their business interests:

Will the S-R follow the lead of the Committee of Concerned Journalists?

What are you afraid of?


Det. Ron Wright (Retired)


An email sent to Mayor Mary Verner explaining my motivation in challenging the S-R and it’s owners.


Dear Mayor Verner,

I’m just a private citizen that enjoys the many fine attributes of Spokane and that’s why my wife chose to relocate here. I have no vested interest other than seeking the truth. I’m sorry if based on my training, education, and experience, I see things that others don’t, fail to acknowledge, and/or tolerate. I will not be a victim and standby while robberies are committed in my presence.

I will hold the S-R accountable and their owners if no one else will. Bottom line is the death of Ms. Jo Savage in the RPS parking garage in the professional opinion of both Sheriff Bamonte and I, was a negligence homicide plain and simple. Those responsible should be brought to justice. They are not above the law as we just witnessed with Eliot Spitzer who violated the trust of the people.

As Larry Shook commented regarding my reply to Mr. Smith:

. . . You’re tapping your training and experience as a law officer to serve as a proxy for the law here, just as the law contemplates citizens do. What you are doing is generous and noble, and the public is indebted to you. It’s especially important in this case, because a public safety officer–a fireman–died doing his job. Spokane owes it to Capt. Hanna, and to itself, to care about his death. Capt. Hanna was murdered. God help this community if that’s okay with it.

Det. Ron Wright (Retired)


Everyone needs to go immediately and see Ben Stein’s new movie “Expelled” re Atheism, Darwinism, Intelligent Design and Creationism.   Think New/Alternative Media the free flow of thought and information vs. totalitarian regimes and dogma. Challenging the status quo.  The elitist aristocracy will marginalize those with alternative views.

Here’s an interesting review.

At the abstract level this is what we’re doing in Spokane.  We are revealing that the emperor wears no clothes.

April 14th, 2008

O. Yale Lewis Spokane’s Best Hope for Holding Those Accountable for RPS

For those who are not bored to tears over the Riverside Park Square bond fraud, Attorney O. Yale Lewis is the best hope for holding those accountable who violated the publics’ trust and also stem the flow of $1.5M per year from the general fund to repay the bonds that were issued to pay off the first bond investors.

In short whether you agree with the objectives of the RPS project or not, the public financing was a sham. First and foremost was the failure to disclose that the AMC Theater was reneging on paying parking fees that were 50% of the proposed revenue stream to service these bonds. Attorney Jim McDevitt (Now the US Attorney for the Eastern District of WA) and Attorney Michael Ormsby of Preston & Gates did not disclose this material fact to the institutional bond investors while these bonds were in escrow. They allowed the bond escrow to close and the bonds subsquently tanked. The bondholders sued the City and the developers for a SEC civil fraud. They had an excellent case and the City bought their claim and was proceeding to sue the developers. The public foundation formed on behalf of which these bonds were issued was found to be a false front for the developers according to the IRS in DENYING the tax exempt status of these bonds. The IRS collected it back taxes through Preston & Gates in a secret deal.

O. Yale Lewis was brought in by Mayor Talbott to unravel this fraud. Lewis was later fired by Mayor Powers when he was elected. Mayor Powers brought in Attorney Laurel Siddoway to represent the City in its civil fraud case. It should be noted that Michael Ormsby was the campaign treasurer for Powers and Siddoway and her husband were large contributors to Power’s campaign. In my read of the Camas Magazine documents, Laurel Siddoway “gutted” the City’s legal case. It should be noted that Michael Ormsby loaned Mayor Hession’s campaign $10K at the least minute that he lost to Mayor Verner. Hession’s refusal to distance himself from Ormsby was probably a factor in his loss to Verner.

In essence this deal was a “gift of public funds” to the developers. Even though there have been subsequent “agreements” the smart money is betting that if Lewis is brought back and allowed to complete his work these deals can be unwound as fraudulent all the way back to the point the bond escrow was allowed to close. Yes, the developers LLC could be rendered bankrupt. But so what, if this deal could be shown to be a fraud, the LLC can be pierced and all of the assets of the developer would then be on the table to make the citizens of Spokane whole again.

Here’s a related analysis by award winning investigator report Tim Connor on two documents that were withheld by the City Attorney’s Office from O. Yale Lewis. These documents were given to Mayor Verner by Mayor Talbott and Dick Adams at their recent meeting.

Ron the Cop


Thanks for copying me on your response from the Mayor’s office, inviting you to meet with her. It’s your meeting, so have at it, but I just wanted to flag an item for you. It’s at the top of my list of issues that the really harmed the City, and that the City (e.g. Mary Verner) have a moral responsibility to investigate because it involves their records, their officials, and the thwarting of a previous effort by special counsel O. Yale Lewis to identify those culpable for getting the city involved in a fraud.

The item is pretty simple. It’s a pair of letters [here and here] that were sent in late 1996 to City Attorney Jim Sloane from Mike Ormsby and Preston
Gates. The letters notified the City (specifically, Sloane) that Preston had a conflict of interest in the RPS transaction because in August of 1996 it had done work for River Park Square, advising RPS on the public financing options for the RPS garage. You’ll notice when you read the second letter (the 11/20/96 letter that was exhibit #572 in Duane Swinton’s deposition) that it actually references a third letter, reportedly sent in August of 1996 from Preston to Sloane.

Here is what is significant about these letters which I’ve attached as PDF files.

1) There’s no indication that Sloane ever shared the letters, or the specific information about Ormsby’s conflict, with his client, the Spokane City Council. Cherie Rodgers says, flatly, she didn’t know. You can check with John Talbott, but I think it’s safe to say if John knew he would have gone public with it. Moreover, all three board members of the Spokane Downtown Foundation asserted in a federal court filing that Preston/Ormsby failed to disclose to the SDF board that Ormsby had previous worked on the garage project for RPS. This is important because, as you’ll recall, the garage transaction was on “on behalf of” financing, meaning that the SDF was supposed to be acting in the City’s interests.

2) None of these letters (the two we have, the third that is referenced in the 11/20/96 letter) were ever identified to me when I filed broad pubic records requests for city documents in early 2000. In fact, the city never identified the letters to anybody. They only came to light when they were produced by other parties in the RPS litigation. This was a clear violation of state rules requiring the preservation of such documents and, if it were proven that the documents were destroyed to prevent disclosure, it would be an obvious violation of the public records law. More importantly, it’s a clear sign, to me, of obstruction of justice, in that I believe somebody consciously destroyed these letters or the whole file they were in because of the sensitivity of what’s in the letters. Jim Sloane said (in a deposition in our public records case) that he gave all his RPS files to Stan Schwartz. Schwartz, when asked about this in his deposition, got very upset and denied any knowledge that Sloane was relying upon him to keep his RPS records. To me the motive was clear. If either Rodgers or Talbott knew about Ormsby’s conflict, it would have given them the information they needed to scuttle the bond offering. You’ll remember that the bondholders later argued that Ormsby’s conflict was among the material facts that were withheld from them.

3) The letters and the substantive information about Ormsby’s conflict was withheld from O. Yale Lewis. Think about this. Lewis is brought into investigate the city’s involvement in the RPS fiasco and Sloane & Co. neither provide him these letters nor even mention that they know about Ormsby’s previous work for RPS. The first Yale learned about it was in reading Camas Magazine when we published our story “The Many Hats of Mike Ormsby” in July of 2002. Lewis was stunned and outraged.

Obviously, the whole RPS fiasco is mind-numbingly complicated. The City’s best hope for holding itself accountable was through Mr. Lewis’s efforts. The fact that his investigation was impeded by city officials who did not disclose these records or the substance of them is, to me, direct evidence that his work was being undermined by the City Attorney’s office. It’s as good a reason I can think of for why Verner should invite Mr. Lewis back and let him conclude his investigation with the FULL cooperation of city officials. [Emphasis added]

warm regards, Tim Connor

April 13th, 2008

BREAKING – Mayor Verner to meet with O. Yale Lewis


I will post later regarding the meaning and importance of Mayor Verner seeking to speak with Attorney O. Yale Lewis regarding theories of recovery on RPS.

In the meantime S-R Editor Steve Smith has again questioned my credibility. This time I’ve chosen to respond in kind.

Ron the Cop


Certified US Mail

April 12, 2008

Steve Smith, Editor
999 West Riverside Ave.
Spokane, WA 99201

Re: Your email of April 8, 2008

Dear Mr. Smith:

If your were referring to my recent email to S-R Reporter Jonathan Brunt regarding the STA Transit Plaza and the Zukor Building arson/murder fires, I meant what I said, “ . . . if the shoe fits – wear it.”

Mind you Downtown Spokane can go many years without having three and four alarm structure fires. And yet circa 1980 there were several (See S-R article). Of special note was the District 81 School Adm Bldg arson fire. The Cowles Co real estate firm purchased shortly after this property. The new Nordstroms is now located on this property. The District 81 administration was relocated to another Cowles Co building downtown.

Another noteworthy arson fire was the Zukor Bldg right where the STA Transit Plaza now sits. There’s an interesting civil suit between the owners of the Zukor Bldg and their fire insurer that’s worth a read (See attached PDF). Tragically there was a fire captain killed in fighting this fire. An arson murder has no statute of limitation. If the feds are seriously digging into dirt in Spokane now that US Attorney McDevitt has recused himself, I’d be sweating a little. In my professional experience there are no coincidences in criminal conspiracies. Of course this is my opinion.

Investigative reporters and criminal investigators share many common tools and techniques. In one way we differ is the manner we pose probative questions to potential witnesses and suspects. We all seek the truth and ultimately serve the public. I won’t restate my operating hypothesis outlined in the Brunt email but I will say from my review of the Camas Magazine documents there is a clear pattern and practice in a series of public/private projects in Downtown Spokane where “tainted” public financing was used to enrich the pockets of a few individuals at the expense of the public. Based on my training, education, and investigative experience this is an ongoing criminal enterprise where individuals at different times have acted together in concert to commit criminal acts and/or individually carried out with the knowledge and approval of this group. This by definition, Mr. Smith, is a criminal conspiracy.

In my review of the circumstances and evidence I believe there is reasonable cause to believe a similar MO is apparent in the STA Transit Plaza Project. I don’t know who burned out whom in the Zukor Building arson fire or in the District 81 Building arson fire but some of the same individuals clearly economically benefited from these fires. Generally if anyone aides, abets the principals in the commission of these acts, with criminal knowledge personally benefits, conceals information and/or impedes the investigation is criminally liable. As a criminal investigator I most assuredly would be asking probative questions to seek the truth. I would in a heartbeat use as a “hammer” as any cop would who wasn’t green behind the ears, that Captain Hanna was killed fighting the Zukor Building fire. I would make it very clear this was an arson/murder fire and further ANY involvement could bring criminal liability for murder under the general felony/murder rule. This applies as well to the Savage death in the RPS Parking Garage that both former Sheriff Bamonte and I believe was a negligent homicide arising to the level of a first-degree manslaughter in Washington.

Mr. Smith marginalize if you wish the collective information and work of Tim Connor, Larry Shook, former Sheriff Tony Bamonte, former Councilperson Cherie Rodgers, Tom Grant, Mark Fuhrman, and a long list of others. And now you’ve chosen to marginalize me. For my entire law enforcement career I have been involved in the investigation and prosecution of complex criminal fraud conspiracies. I have included my updated bio and this summary of my more significant investigations. I would invite all to read and decide based on my education, training, and experience as to my credibility. As I said in the Brunt email it is my professional opinion that the collective work of these individuals stands alone on its face. This information should warrant the immediate impanelment of a federal grand jury to compel testimony of reluctant witnesses who either through fear, intimidation and/or complicity would not freely come forward to unravel this Gordian knot. Perhaps since US Attorney Jim McDevitt has now recused himself this process will go forward. I should note McDevitt’s recusal was the direct result of the Mark Fuhrman Radio Show and not from anything in the pages of the S-R.

Mr. Smith marginalizing the messengers is a ploy often used by attorneys when the facts do not support their case to “blow smoke” to confuse the jury. This is the trap that Mark Fuhrman fell into laid by F. Lee Bailey in the OJ Simpson murder trial. If you dispute any information in this collective work, please do enlightened and inform the citizens of Spokane. You are in “check” Mr. Smith. The question is and remains as I challenged in my email to Brunt, “. . .Will you and the S-R do the right thing?”

. . . Perhaps it would be a good time to follow the S-R’s new Code of Ethics (Independence Section)? The operative question is the Code of Ethics merely a PR ploy or will Smith and/or Graham take it to heart and do the right thing?

I should also add in addition to the above Duane Swinton and Whitherspon & Kelley should recuse themselves from any involvement in this matter in representing the interests of the S-R and its owners. [Emphasis added]


Det. Ron Wright (Retired)
Riverside PD, CA

PS: I’m somewhat encouraged that the S-R has now filed a public request for the Lewis documents. I might add I can now confirm that Mayor Vener has been in touch with Mr. O. Yale Lewis and plans to meet with him. This is yet another story that was first broken on the Mark Fuhrman Radio Show and was only belatedly reported in the S-R.

cc: Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, County of Spokane, WA
Mayor Mary Verner, City of Spokane, WA
City Council, City of Spokane, WA
US Attorney Jeffrey C. Sullivan, Western District of Washington, Seattle, WA
Agent Frank Harvill, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Spokane, WA
Sgt. Ken Wade, Washington State Patrol, Spokane, WA
Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, City of Spokane, WA
Acting City Attorney Pat Dalton, City of Spokane, WA

April 7th, 2008

Crocker: Premature Iraq exit would be ‘devastating’

HT Spokesman-Review

Former S-R Reporter Jim Hagengruber interviews fellow Spokanite US Iraq Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

Ron the Cop

Crocker: Premature Iraq exit would be ‘devastating’

U.S. self-image would suffer, Spokane Valley native says

Ryan Crocker and his wife, Christine, share a light moment in the temporary U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Iraq after the surge: what next?M Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus will report to Congress on Tuesday on progress in Iraq. They will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 11:30 a.m. (PDT).

BAGHDAD – On a bright Sunday morning in March, Ambassador Ryan Crocker stepped out of a meeting with top embassy staff, adjusted his silk tie and greeted two visitors from his hometown under the rotunda of Saddam Hussein’s former palace.

Diplomats of his caliber – 37 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, ambassador postings to the world’s toughest countries and now America’s leading political problem solver in Iraq – are typically known as masters of restraint and decorum. But Crocker’s grin can only be described as dumbfounded.

“Well, I never thought I’d stand here in the Republican Palace meeting The Spokesman-Review,” Crocker, a Spokane Valley native, said shaking his head and laughing.

In his jacket pocket, Crocker carried a preprinted, hour-by-hour schedule of the day. Between meetings with the Iraqi vice president, the British Air Marshal, Sen. Carl Levin, the Iraqi prime minister, top U.S. military commander Gen. David Petraeus and Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, Crocker offered an hour to reflect on his first 12 months as ambassador. His comments are a preview to testimony he’ll give alongside Petraeus on Tuesday on Capitol Hill on the progress and setbacks of U.S. involvement in Iraq.

The invitation for an interview was also no doubt a reflection of Crocker’s desire to ease back into the Spokane community. Early next year, Crocker and his wife, Christine Barnes – a fellow career Foreign Service employee – intend to retire to their 13 acres in the south Spokane Valley.

“I very much do consider myself a Spokanite. I haven’t been able to live there very much, but that has always been home. It’s always been my legal residence and I’ve voted in every election,” the 58-year-old Whitman College graduate said, moments after climbing a flight of marble stairs and punching a secret code to enter the secured hallway leading to his office. Taped on the wall outside his door were Valentine cards from the 4-H Club of Renton, Wash.

Read More

April 7th, 2008

Is the New Media forcing accountability of the MSM wire services?


I thought I would share this email to S-R Editor Steve Smith regarding the recent fighting in Iraq and the rise/demise of Moqtoda al Sadr. As I note it’s a case of the glass being half full or empty depending on your perspective. AJ Strata just sent this piece that would indicate Sadr’s days are numbered. Perhaps the reality gap between what the MSM is reporting and what bloggers are reporting on the ground firsthand is now closing.

Ron the Cop

Moqtada Sadr has decided to surrender his militia. He says he will follow
the guidance of the Shia central committee and Sistani, but they are
already on record saying militia’s need to be disbanded. It seems the
battle of Sadr is over. Now the Dems have no threats of defeat to grasp
onto this week in their joke hearings.



———- Forwarded message ———-
From: rocketsbrain <>
Date: Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 9:48 AM
Subject: Kudos – Re Page 1 Story Re “Iraqi parties close ranks . . .”
To: Steve Smith <>

Steve Smith, Editor

Re: ‘Iraqi parties close ranks . . .’


Parties close ranks against al-Sadr (A1)

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s major Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties have told anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to disband his Mahdi Army militia or leave politics, lawmakers and officials involved in the effort said Sunday

Dear Mr. Smith:

Kudos on running this story on Page 1 above the fold in today’s paper. The MSM has been late out of the gate on this story. This story has been circulating in the New/Alternative Media for the last week as I note in the below emails.

Perhaps the New Media is causing the AP and other wire services to be more timely and accurate in their reporting? Perhaps this time gap is now narrowing. Please see the political cartoon that is making light of this, “Day by Day“:

Major why is media so nervous?
Obsolescence. They’re inside taking text feeds from unverifiable sources –
– while the US troops record real missions and load them on YouTube.
Our guys even have decent production values.

Remember it was bloggers both military and citizen embeds on the ground that noted in their firsthand accounts, the shift in Sunni tribal leader allegiances from AQ to the new Iraqi government. These reports were many months before this began to trickle out in MSM outlets. AQ was just too ruthless in killing indiscriminately both Sunni and Shi’ia. It was this shift that was a fundamental factor in the success of the Surge.

BTW are we “burying the lede” in the S-R’s webpage? Notice the positioning of these articles on the S-R webpage. Do we have an editorial difference between the print and web “editorial we.”



U.S. troops killed in attacks

BAGHDAD – Suspected Shiite militants lobbed rockets and mortar shells into the U.S.-protected Green Zone and a military base elsewhere in Baghdad on Sunday, killing three American troops and wounding 31, officials said. Two more U.S. troops were reported dead elsewhere.


» Clinton strategist quits amid criticism
» Parties close ranks against al-Sadr


HT AJ Strata

The MSM has largely been playing the latest round of fighting from the perspective of the glass being half empty [edited] when in actually Sadr only called for a ceasefire because what is left of his militias loyal to him where getting creamed.


Sadr has been isolated as this weekend the rest of Iraq throws its support
behind Maliki and disbanding the militias. And as a side note, something
may be brewing regarding Iran.




———- Forwarded message ———-
From: rocketsbrain <>
Date: Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 9:55 PM
Subject: Iraqi Citizens Rally in Support of Gov’t. You won’t see this reported by the MSM outlets

Have you noticed most of the recent spin by the MSM that Sadr was a force in reducing the fighting by calling for a cease fire? Others were saying his political power was increasing. More bloggers are saying he’s really lost control of his army that has split into many separate groups. His “army” was getting their clocked clean so the only way to save face was to declare a cease fire. This post from Gateway Pundit seems to suggest the latter.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Iraqi Citizens Rally In Support of al-Maliki & Military

You won’t see this make any headlines…
After the huge win over the Shiite militias in Basra and Sadr City this week, Iraqis rallied in support of their democratically elected leader and military.

Demonstrators display a poster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki during a march in Kut, 172 km (107 miles) south of Baghdad April 3, 2008. Some 1000 protesters took to the streets of Kut supporting the recent military operations of Maliki in Basra, protesters said. (REUTERS/Jaafer Aabed)

Iraq protesters rallied in support of Prime Minister al-Maliki in Karbala. (Reuters)

Iraqi-American Haider Ajina sends this commentary on the situation today from family members back in Iraq:

The recent escalation in violence in Basra and some areas of Baghdad are mostly due to the government crack down on militias and criminals. Word on the Baghdad street is that former Baathist have committed atrocities then made it look as if the Mehdi militia had done it. The Baghdad streets are rife with many conspiracy theories.

What I hear from my father is, while there is escalation and unrest, Baghdad and Karbala are still substantially calmer and safer than a year ago or even last summer. Electric power in Baghdad is on over 16 hours per day (compared to 16 hours per week) and water is more available also. While the skirmishes may bring concern to observers they have shown that the Iraqi forces are holding their own and are able to defeat these elements (hence the call for cease fire by Muqtada). In Basra the unrest is also due to oil smuggling gangs sponsored by Yemen and Saudi Arabi. In our own democracy President Washington had to send 15,000 troops to deal with the Whisky Rebellion. While I do not see Iraq having a whisky rebellion there are many other difficulties a young democracy has to face to establish its footing.

Here’s an even bigger win…
In Basra over 1,000 citizens decided to join the Iraqi military after the fighting.

Iraqi army applicants wait outside the army’s recruitment center in Basra some 550 kilometers (about 340 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, April 1, 2008. About 1000 men from the southern region gathered at the recruitment center to apply to become government soldiers. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

Iraqi army applicants walk to the army recruitment centre in Basra, 340 miles south of Baghdad April 1, 2008. (Atef Hassan/Reuters)

Maliki the Stateman Scores Huge Win in Basra

UPDATE: TigerHawk has Pelosi’s outrageous comments to General Petraeus regarding Basra today.

posted by Gateway Pundit at 4/03/2008 11:59:00 AM Trackback

HT Blackfive

This is exciting re the New/Alternative Media – straight from the battle zone.


Special Forces Fight in Sadr City

Posted By BlackfiveSSG Ryan Creel sends this footage of US Army Special Forces fighting in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq..
About This Video

A crazy night for me ” In War, you have to be … (more)Added: March 25, 2008A crazy night for me ” In War, you have to be brave to shoot bullets, you have to be crazy to shoot pictures!” thanks for watching (less)

From CombatCamera12

Click below for the YouTube video link

Video Link



Steve Schippert of Threatswatch has this alternative view re Sadr’s status

CTA Symposium: Iraq v. Mahdi Army

Fadhil, Ledeen, Peters and Roggio Join Discussion on Iraq, Basra and Iran’s Hand

By ThreatsWatch | April 7, 2008

The recent offensive operations taken by the Iraqi government against the Mahdi Army (Jaish al-Mahdi – JAM) of Muqtada al-Sadr have received much analysis and commentary since the onset. Each of the ensuing analysis and commentary offerings have agreed that the Maliki government’s military actions and the Mahdi Army response are revelatory in nature. But that is where the agreement seems to end, as there appears a divergence regarding precisely what has been revealed: Who has operated and enjoys the position of strength, Maliki and the Iraqi government and military forces, or the Mahdi Army forces of Muqtada al-Sadr, which operate at the behest of the Iranian Quds Force and General Qassem Suleimani?

Read More


Here’s an analysis by Omar an Iraqi native who blogs at Iraq the Model:

Iraq: Whither Sadr and the Mahdi Army?
As fighting rages between government forces and Sadr’s militia in several cities, senior clerics from the hawza (senior Grand Ayatollahs) made a debut in the conflict.

Ayatollah Fadhil Al-Maliki issued a fatwa in which he openly called on police and army to abandon their duty, adding that operation Knights’ Charge is not targeting criminals but an aggression against “the majority of the Iraqi people.” Although there is news about a handful of soldiers and policemen abandoning their posts and joining the militia, this fatwa is not going to have a significant effect on operations. However it’s a reminder that there are still people who bet on fatwas as long as some are willing to offer allegiance to the sect instead of the country.

Read More


I received this excellent analysis from senior blogger Levy Benathome re the fate of Sadr:

Sadr’s moment ended when the Iraqi government sent troops to challenge his Mahdi Army. Up until that time, he was the wild card, the loose cannon that could bring down Iraq. As soon as it was clear he was just another insurgent with forces to be hunted down and killed, it was over. His bluff was called, he wasn’t holding what he said he was holding.

This was exactly what Iraq had to do. Every nation must enforce one law- the nation and the nation alone has the right to initiate violence- or it ceases to exist. There is now, for the first time, a nation of Iraq, and it just proved it will take on challengers of any tribe. Nation must trump tribe, in the courts, in hearts. Even Saddam couldn’t do this- his vision of a nation was his own tribe, exploiting and oppressing the others. In a real nation, no tribe is on top, the nation is.


The WSJ had an excellent editorial piece and commentary today on related subjects in today’s edition:

The Patreaus Effect


The Sergeant Solution


This just in from AJ Strata.  Seems more like Sadr’s days are numbered.  BTW Bill Roggio is former military, a blogger, and embeds in Iraq.  Go to his website and put some money in his tip jar:

Bill Roggio confirmed the reporting I saw yesterday that Grand Ayatollah
Sistani has dumped Sadr and told him the proper path is with Maliki and
the rule of law, but it is Sadr’s decision on whether to be an outlaw or
not.  Amazing turn of events.

And a serious issue for our media who bought the lies of Sadr’s people
without any hesitation.  Sadr’s people are killing Americans and the media
repeated his propaganda, helping him to fight and kill longer.  At some
time a price must be paid for this kind of support to our enemies,
accidental or not.