[Spokesman-Review archive photo circa 1991 showing a RPS Parking Garage vehicle barrier that failed in similar fashion as the one that broke in 2006 causing Jo Savage to fall – screaming all the way to her horrible death on April 8, 2006 – see more photos below.  These barriers were failing on average of  one to three time per year in the decade preceding Savage’s death.  The owners, the Cowles Co and owners of The Spokesman-Review, knew this for some fifteen years and yet did nothing to remedy this imminent public hazard]


Award winning investigative reporter Larry Shook shares his opinion regarding the Associated Press’ [AP] failure to report the RPS Bond Fraud, the Jo Savage Manslaughter death at the hands of the Cowles Co and their subsequent cover ups:

Here’s what’s so troubling to me about AP’s handling of the RPS scandal. The blurb below is the agency’s boast about it’s work. When I apply this statement to AP’s RPS reporting, particularly given Spokane AP reporter Nick Geranios’s recent statements about it, it’s hard for me not to conclude that AP is instrumental in a cover-up that helps insulate Cowles activities from “more than half the world’s population.” For the Cowles family, that’s a pretty good insurance policy [Emphasis added].

On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 7:35 AM, Larry Shook <lwshook@gmail.com> wrote:
Detective Wright:

Here’s what’s so troubling to me about AP’s handling of the RPS scandal. The blurb below is the agency’s boast about it’s work. When I apply this statement to AP’s RPS reporting, particularly given Spokane AP reporter Nick Geranios’s recent statements about it, it’s hard for me not to conclude that AP is instrumental in a cover-up that helps insulate Cowles activities from “more than half the world’s population.” For the Cowles family, that’s a pretty good insurance policy. Unfortunately, it puts AP in the same skeleton-hiding business as the Cowleses and public officials at various levels who do their bidding. This is a story about the power of an American publishing dynasty to corrupt government all the way up to the highest levels. It’s the story of the role played by that corruption in the death of an innocent woman. (See documentation at www.camasmagazine.com and www.girlfromhotsprings.com. The American journalism establishment is simply ignoring this story. The story will never go away, but the longer American journalism ignores it, the more it becomes part of the story. The moral seems to be that society’s watchdogs aren’t very good at watching themselves. I think public resignation about that is what sustains the Cowles family’s Wizard of Oz status. Larry Shook

The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the largest and most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP.”


Mr. Shook:

I concur with your analysis.  We all know these intertwined stories are of great significance – The RPS Bond Fraud, the manslaughter death of Jo Savage in the RPS Parking Garage, the underlying reasons these occurred and their subsequent cover ups.  In a normal political/governmental environment this story would be Page One Above the Fold in the paper of record.  The catch here is the perpetrators own or control Spokane’s regional media.  In a normal political environment the press as a governmental watchdog by its reporting would drive public opinion that in turn would hold those elected/appointed officials accountable for their actions.

AP’s Spokane based reporter Mr. Geranios’ disingenuous dismissive characterization of these stories as “booooooring” and that he lacks the resources to report these stories is simply an outright lie:

SPOKANE, WA – Is the AP shilling for the Cowles Co in its efforts to conceal a manslaughter death? You decide

In my profession I was held to the standard, “To tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”  In my opinion The Spokesman-Review and the AP have lied by omission.   They have failed in their journalistic responsibility to inform/educate their readers.  The AP as you quote has the corporate resources to report these stories.

Why isn’t the AP reporting? 

To me the answer is quite clear unless the AP engages and objectively reports these stories an impartial jury reviewing the evidence that Tim Connor and you have amassed will infer the AP’s motivation and intent.   Just as you have concluded as a professional journalist, the AP is deferring to the interests of the Cowles Co media dynasty.

. . . AP is instrumental in a cover-up that helps insulate Cowles activities from “more than half the world’s population.”

I wasn’t so generous in my opinion:

SPOKANE, WA – Is the AP shilling for the Cowles Co in its efforts to conceal a manslaughter death? You decide

Nick [AP Reporter Geranios] this story will break eventually.  The truth seeks to be free. The AP and other media outlets have been playing catch up to breaking stories by the new/alternative/social media.

Will the AP go down with the Cowles Co’s ship?  Bottom line the survival of the Mainstream Media is dependent upon regaining the trust and credibility of your readers.  Ball’s in your court Nick.

Again thank you for engaging in this fascinating discussion.  This is an example of the power of the new alternative media where members of the old media can engage in dialogue with its readers in a symbiotic manner that in the end is beneficial to the readers and the public.

The horrible death of Jo Savage in the RPS Parking Garage is a story that will eventually break.  The truth always seeks to be free.   If the mainstream media (MSM) can’t or won’t report,  these stories will eventually be discovered by the new media.  The photos speak for themselves (see below).   Many recent breaking stories were first reported by the new media.  The MSM et al is playing catch up to the new media e.g., the unvetted Obama czar story, the ACORN debacle and the 9/12 DC demonstration.  With the advent of the new media where the medium of expression is essentially free, the MSM can no longer control or filter the flow of information, news, or lead what the public concerns of the day should be e.g., Hugh Hewitt’s book, Blog, Glenn Reynolds book, An Army of Davids, and most importantly Clay Shirky’s book Here Comes Everybody.

Both former Sheriff Bamonte of Breaking Blue fame and I are seasoned law enforcement professionals who have reviewed the evidence surrounding the death of Jo Savage in the RPS Parking Garage.  We have professionally concluded, independently of each other, that there is extraordinary evidence to charge the owners of the RPS Parking Garage with First-Degree Manslaughter.  An impartial jury should have been allowed to hear this case to decide guilt or innocence of the owners of the parking garage.  County Prosecutor Steve Tucker by his failure to ensure that a complete, thorough, transparent and impartial criminal investigation was done that followed the evidence that the US Attorney’s Office gave him wherever it would lead, ensured the Savage case was buried from public view and scrutiny.  No jury would ever see and hear the very damning evidence of the death of Jo Savage.  I filed a formal criminal complaint against Steve Tucker with Governor Christine Greogoire alleging Steve Tucker rendered criminal assistance to the ongoing criminal enterprise headed by the Cowles Co. Sheriff Bamonte and I are again breaking blue in publicly exposing our law enforcement colleagues for their failure to do their sworn duty in turning a blind eye to Savage’s death.  Why did they fail to act?

The owners of the parking garage knew full well that these parking barriers were failing on average one to three times per year in the decade preceding Savage’s tragic death.  The defense that these parking barriers met any building code is specious, a red herring and fails the “common sense”  or “reasonable man” test.  Whether these barriers met any building code standards is not relevant, the fact remains as built these barriers were failing and the owners knew it.  The tragic death of Savage was a foreseeable and likely event for fifteen years running.  Yet the owners did nothing to remedy this imminent public hazard.  See the explosive civil deposition by former RPS Parking Garage Manger Rex Franklin.  Why? [Emphasis added]

The Cowles Co.’s motivation is entwined in the original RPS Bond Fraud.  The RPS Parking Garage was fully depreciated by the Cowles Co in preparation to offing this accumulating liability onto the City of Spokane with the much-touted RPS expansion project.  The owners did not want to put any more money into the garage.    Title of the garage would eventually pass to a nonprofit public foundation formed that the original RPS bonds were issued on behalf of by the City of Spokane with the convoluted and contorted public financing of the garage’s expansion.  The IRS would later rule and castigated all the players by saying this deal was a fraud and a sham, “The Casino Was Rigged.”    Further once title of the garage was passed back to the Cowles Co in the RPS Bailout, the owners still did nothing to mitigate this imminent public hazard until the death of Savage [Emphasis added]. 

The question remains is the RPS Parking Garage safe for continued occupancy?  See the quote below by Steve Rudd a highly respected construction fraud expert, “This is the most dangerous public facility I have ever seen.” [Emphasis added]  The City has failed to act on my demand for an immediate inspection of the RPS Parking Garage to ensure that it is safe for public occupancy. Why?

The legal elements and burden of proof for manslaughter in the Savage case are the “ordinary care and/or due diligence” standard of care any owner owes to their patrons.   First-Degree Manslaughter in the State of Washington requires,”. . . recklessly causes the death of another person” (RCW 9A.32.060).  As defined “reckless” is the:

(c) RECKLESSNESS. A person is reckless or acts recklessly when he knows of and disregards a
substantial risk that a wrongful act may occur and his disregard of such substantial risk is a gross
deviation from conduct that a reasonable man would exercise in the same situation. [RCW 9A.08.10]

The owners of The Station bar in the Providence, RI were held to this standard of care when criminally convicted for the  tragic fire that killed 100 peopleIn my opinion the complicity and guilty knowledge of the RPS garage owners is even more compelling and egregious than in the bar fire case [Emphasis added].   The Spokesman-Review owned by the Cowles Co has conspicuously avoided educating and informing the public on the Savage death while at the same time with the investigative zeal characteristic of the free press has doggedly followed the death of Otto Zehm at the hands of the Spokane Police Department.  In fact Gary Graham Gary Graham, S-R Editor, emailed Larry Shook of Camas Magazine  requesting that he remove the very damning Franklin photo (lead photo above) from the Girl from Hot Springs site for copyright infringement. Why?  As I said previously:

. . . To me when I first saw this photo I immediately recognized it as critical evidence in the Savage manslaughter case.  This photo is direct evidence that this was a serious imminent public hazard, that the owners were well aware and did nothing to mitigate this hazard over the ensuing years (Hinzman engineering report and Franklin sworn depo statement) [Emphasis added]

In the case of the Jo Savage manslaughter, the RPS Bond Fraud and their subsequent cover ups,  the perpetrators and all whom have aided and abetted the perpetrators, all now have guilty knowledge e.g., for the purposes of a federal civil RICO action.  The burden of proof in such a civil RICO case is only by preponderance.  All complicit parties must now decide whether the liability they are incurring in continuing to aid and abet in this cover up to avoid the wrath of Cowles Co’s is financially worth it.  Mind you the RPS Bond Fraud alone will approach a  loss to the citizens/taxpayers of Spokane of some $100M.  A successful federal civil RICO action would result in treble damages plus attorneys’ fees and costs [18 U.S.C. Section 1964(c)][Emphasis added].  While it would be ludicrous for the citizens of Spokane to sue themselves for recovery by naming as a defendant the Municipal Corporation of the City of Spokane of which they are stakeholders, the Spokane officials both appointed and elected complicit in this fraud and cover up, are exposed to personal civil liability as the normal grant of governmental immunity will not shield them.  This RICO case is now ripe for action.  The financial deep pockets in such a civil action are the Cowles family trusts and now potentially the AP.

I will formally write AP CEO Mr. Tom Curley, who previously responded to correct a previous factual error and under reporting by Mr. Geranios in the Savage case, to clearly put this  “on the record.  Mr. Curley, who has the fiduciary and moral obligation to his board of directors and stockholders, will have to make this financial decision.  Is it financially worthwhile to continue to defer to the interests of the Cowles Co, a story that could break at any time, or absolve the AP of civil liability in the cover up of the manslaughter death of Jo Savage and the RPS Bond Fraud by simply reporting these stories in a fair and objective manner [Emphasis added]?

This is the bottom line.


Det. Ron Wright (Retired)

[S-R archive photo circa 1991 showing RPS Parking Garage vehicle barrier that failed in similar fashion as theone that broke in 2006 causing Jo Savage to fall to her deathon April 8, 2006 – see below.]

[Evidence located found that these barriers failed in the same manner on average of two to three time per year since 1991 with full knowledge of the owners and yet they chose to do nothing until after the death of Jo Savage in 2006.  Why?]

[NOTE:  This is from an earlier post that goes beyond the cover up of Jo Savage’s death and begs the question – Is the RPS Parking Garage safe for continued public occupancy?  Are you and your loved ones at risk?  Neither I nor my wife will be parking in the RPS Parking Garage until this question is answered.

So far the City of Spokane has not responded to the formal demand by Sheriff Bamonte and I for an immediate inspection of the RPS Parking Garage last February.  Again why?]

Detective Wright:

Yes, I saw I saw Mr. Camden’s acknowledgment of his paper’s unethical reporting about the owner’s business affairs. I consider it a repeat of the same bomb disposal acknowledgment that was in the “audit” of the paper’s RPS reporting.  “We did this bad stuff but we don’t do it any more.” (See “Invitation to an Audit” at www.camasmagazine.com.)

The bad stuff, of course, facilitated the unremediated multi- million-dollar RPS public funds fraud, the death of Jo Ellen Savage because of unsafe conditions in the RPS garage, and the possible continuing risk to members of the public who park in the garage. And then, of course, there’s the issue of what the public’s financial exposure might be if there’s another death or injury.

Do you think an aggressive plaintiff’s attorney might want to reach into the pockets of Spokane’s taxpayers? Worst case scenario would be a serious injury–say a chunk of concrete falling on a baby’s head from the RPS ceiling, as Steve Rudd fears (see “Deathtrap,” and “Death by Parking” at www.girlfromhotsprings.com). That would enable an attorney to stand before a jury and say, “Look at what public officials in Spokane tolerated, and look at what this community’s passive citizens allowed to happen. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you must make them pay enough so they will fix this problem and not permit such innocent suffering in the future.”

It’s the Gerry Spence/Ford Pinto scenario. (”If you can’t give me back my daughter’s life I want you to pay enough so you don’t consider it economical to kill anyone else’s daughter.”) Do you think such an attorney might want to give a jury the opportunity to listen to former Mayor Talbott explain why he thinks many people have Ms. Savage’s blood on their hands, or listen to former real estate manager Dennis Beringer testify about the issue of the garage’s non-inspection? Do you think such an attorney might enter into evidence the email and pictures below that I distributed broadly last spring?

The pictures show why construction fraud expert Steve Rudd is so worried about the public’s safety in the RPS garage. I can tell you that there are many other people who go to bed worried every night that Ms. Savage’s tragedy might be repeated. Once again, you will notice that I have copied this message widely in order to build the public record.


Larry Shook

[Shook’s email from last spring he referred to above]

Dear All: I have had many messages since the announcement yesterday by Spokane Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tucker that he would not press first-degree manslaughter charges in the April 8, 2006, death of Jo Ellen Savage in the Cowles-owned River Park Square parking garage in downtown Spokane, WA. Former sheriff Tony Bamonte filed those charges in August 2007. (See “Deathtrap” and “Death by Parking” at www.camasmagazine.com.)

As I responded to one person who wrote me: “Found myself thinking of John Donne (’For Whom the Bell Tolls’) and Dostoevsky (’Crime and Punishment’) yesterday. I think this area has plenty of Roskolnikovs walking around today, although Jo Ellen Savage wasn’t a greedy pawn broker but a woman much loved by many. Poor Jesse Savage. What a memory to carry about how his mother died. Ah, life…”

Clearly, one of the most troubled observers  of the failure of the county prosecutor and state attorney general to prosecute Ms. Savage’s death is her former husband, David Savage. In one of the supreme ironies of the River Park Square scandal, Mr. Savage (who has long been divorced from Ms. Savage) happens to be an attorney with special expertise in wrongful automotive death. He is also past president of the Washington State Bar Assn. Mr. Savage represented Jesse, the son he and Jo Ellen had together, in Ms. Savage’s death.

In September 2008, Mr. Savage told Spokesman-Review reporter Jonathan Brunt that he turned over to investigators records produced during civil litigation over Ms. Savage’s death. Those records contained “substantial grounds for a criminal prosecution for manslaughter,” said Mr. Savage.

Of Mr. Tucker’s decision not to prosecuted his former wife’s death, Mr. Savage told KXLY TV reporter Eric Loney: “We don’t feel it’s the product of a full, fair, impartial and robust review of the evidence. We continue to have grave concerns about the safety of the garage because of professional input provided to us.”

That quote did not make it into the story Spokesman-Review reporter Jim Camden wrote yesterday about Mr. Tucker’s decision not to prosecute the Savage death. Instead, Mr. Camden ended his story by giving Cowles real estate/First Amendment attorney Duane Swinton the last word: “The River Park Square project has been looked at from different angles on a variety of issues. I can’t imagine what else is left to be investigated.”

Mr. Swinton played a central role in the RPS scandal, acting to suppress public records both as the Cowles family’s RPS real estate attorney and its newspaper attorney. (See, inter alia, “Under the Influence,” “Swinton v. Swinton,” “The Verdict,” “Duane Swinton and Cowles, Inc.,” and “Swinton Cleared” at www.camasmagazine.com.) (The City of Spokane handed over to Camas magazine  $415,000 of taxpayer money because city officials violated state public records law along the way to allowing the Cowleses the dubious ability to leverage some $100 million in public funds to re-develop River Park Square. The city’s first RPS special counsel, O. Yale Lewis, raised the possibility that Spokane officials had entered into a civil conspiracy with the RPS developer to “improperly divert public money for private purpose.”)

Neither was Mr. Savage’s quote included in the AP story that went out to the world. This, too, is part of– but only part of– the Jo Ellen Savage memorial. Photographs of another part of the memorial are included below.

Because Mr. Swinton used to be a newspaper reporter himself, he should have known that at least one thing “left to be investigated” by Mr. Camden in yesterday’s story was how Mr. Savage felt about the failure to prosecute his former wife’s death. But Mr. Camden didn’t even seek comment from Mr. Savage. At least, if he did, he didn’t note it in his story, as journalistic convention required. This is exactly the kind of suspiciously selective reporting that has led former sheriff Bamonte and former economic crime detective Ron Wright to accuse the Cowles family of using its newspaper as an instrument of its ongoing criminal activity. I personally have come to think of Cowles reporting about Cowles business affairs as a kind of bomb disposal. It takes steely nerves… or something else.

For me, one of the most seriously disingenuous aspects of Mr. Camden’s story yesterday was its assertion that the Cowles garage is safe because it passes building code.

“After Savage’s death, garage officials said the facility exceeds code and insisted it was safe,” Mr. Camden reported. (This has always been an interesting argument to me. The building was “safe” because it passed building code. Thus, a safe building killed Jo Ellen Savage.) Continued Mr. Camden: “Swinton said Cowles Co. has always asserted the garage met building standards, but he couldn’t speculate if Tucker’s decision will end questions about the structure, or any other controversy surrounding the project.”

It does not end questions Steve Rudd, a highly respected construction fraud expert, has about the garage’s safety. Mr. Rudd worked on the Cowles garage and brought concerns about its safety to the attention of former Cowles KHQ TV anchorman Randy Shaw, whose superiors, as Mr. Shaw confirmed, wouldn’t let him report the story. Mr. Rudd says he has been troubled ever since about the facility’s condition. After I quoted Mr. Rudd in “Deathtrap” at www.girlfromhotsprings.com, he wanted to take me on a tour of the Cowles garage and point out what worries him. He asked me to bring a camera and take pictures. I did. As we walked, water dripped from the garage’s ceiling on our heads and splashed on parked cars.

Photos taken February 26, 2009

Mr. Rudd considers cracks and water staining like this found in the garage’s ceilings to be a bad sign.

Everywhere I looked up I saw sights like this…

… and this…

… and this.

A “repaired” barrier on the floor from which Ms. Savage fell. Note the lateral cracks.

This is what you see when you stand at the place where Jo Ellen Savage fell.

This is what you see when you look up.

When I asked Mr. Rudd what sights like this meant, he said simply: “This is the most dangerous public facility I have ever seen. If the roof in my house was leaking, I’d fix it. Wouldn’t you fix your roof if it was leaking? The structural integrity of this building depends on the bond between the concrete and the rebar inside. These cracks and stains suggest you’ve got water on rebar. Not good.” [Emphasis added]

But does that mean the Cowles garage is still dangerous? Mr. Rudd told me that regard for public safety leads him to conclude that the building is dangerous until extensive testing completely independent of the public corruption that led to its construction proves otherwise. Taxpayers paid the Cowleses more than $30,000 per stall for their garage at a time when the national per-stall average for such facilities was $9,000.

The irony, of course, is that if the Cowles garage does kill again, Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker and the state attorney general’s office have provided the Cowles family with an alibi: The building meets code. Such  legal doctrine suggests that the purpose of building codes is not to protect human life but to protect building owners whose indifference to the sanctity of human life causes its loss.

Whether that’s a good enough reason for you to park in the River Park Square garage, or recommend that your friends and loved ones do, is up to you. You might want to forward these pictures and let them decide for themselves. [Emphasis added]

Sincerely, Larry Shook