March 14, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 46

ML court cases cut in half

In the past two years, case filings for the Medical Lake Municipal Court have been cut in half.

Judge Richard Kane was on hand at the Tuesday, March 5 City Council meeting to deliver an annual court report, detailing the types of cases he’s seen over the past year.

Overall, filings are down over a 10-year period and from last year. Total filings dropped from 358 in 2011 to 232 in 2012.

Of the cases in the court, driving with license suspended (DWLS) and reckless driving, which make up criminal traffic cases, increased. Criminal traffic filings increased from 50 in 2011 to 28 in 2012.

“2009 was the last year we had a city police department and those numbers were down,” Kane said.

Prior to 2008, filings averaged around 500 per year, with a high of 593 seen in 2010 and 2012’s 232 case filings being the lowest since 2004.

Kane also said the court would make its own history in the near future by having the first court session held via Skype while he is in New York. He said the technology could be used in other cases rather than having people sitting in jail for over $100 per day, cutting out transportation costs.

Councilman Howard Jorgenson asked if the figures presented took into account criminal acts by juveniles.

Kane said the number didn’t show criminal juvenile activity, as those were handled by the county’s superior court.

“Those are the newsmakers,” City Administrator Doug Ross said. “But they’re not reflected here.”

Also at the meeting, the City Council heard more from Sunshine Disposal regarding the future of Medical Lake’s recycling program. Maintenance cost increases from Waste Management at their new single-stream recycling plant have cut down the amount the city receives for recyclables down by a staggering amount.

“We lost money on recyclables for the first time I’ve been here,” Ross said.

While the monthly amount received from selling recyclables isn’t staggering, it is a small source of income for Medical Lake. Around $45 to $50 per ton was received for cardboard. The city received $5 per ton last month.

“Sunshine can do it more efficiently,” Ross said.

While the return on recyclables will increase, the city will have to send glass to a landfill instead of recycling it.

Capt. Corey Stevens gave an update for the Medical Lake Fire Department, noting there were 46 calls, 37 of which were for emergency medical services. Stevens said there is potential for up to five new personnel on the 22-member staff.

He also informed the City Council that a house burn would take place Saturday, March 16 on the 200 block of South Hallett. The fire department has taken possession of the house, and will use it for training purposes that day.

The City Council also discussed Spokane County’s Joint Land Use Study, following up from its previous decision to not accept a memorandum of understanding that would have continued discussions with the county.

Ross brought the discussion forward to ensure the City Council was sure of its decision from the previous week.

Council members who voted in favor of denying the memorandum of understanding said they were representing the residents who didn’t want the document approved.

“I still don’t have a problem with what’s in it,” Councilwoman Laura Parsons said. Parsons voted to deny approval of the MOU, but didn’t take issue with JLUS’ implementation.

“We’re very small fish in a very big bond,” Parsons said. “We’re making trouble.”

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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