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Firefighter in sex scandal resigns Minutes after a Spokane firefighter resigned Wednesday for photographing sex acts with a 16-year-old girl in a city firehouse, Fire Chief Bobby Williams revealed that the fireman had accessed an adults-only Internet sex site 22 times using a city computer.

Firefighter Daniel W. Ross also used his personal computer on-duty at his regular duty fire station to post “pornographic images of himself” to the Internet in recent months, the fire chief said at a City Hall press conference.

“This is a matter that incensed the community and those of us in the Fire Department,” Williams said.

Ross, an 11-year veteran of the department and the father of a 3-week-old daughter, resigned his $63,769-a-year job just four hours after a coalition of women’s groups gathered outside City Hall and demanded his resignation.

It was the latest escalation in growing public outrage over the incident.

“I am resigning my position on the Spokane Fire Department on March 8, 2006,” Ross said in his one-sentence resignation letter after receiving a half-inch thick stack of city documents that were to be used at a disciplinary hearing today.

The 35-year-old firefighter declined through his private attorney to speak with reporters.

Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession, appearing at the press conference with the fire chief, said he is contemplating putting filters on city-owned computers to bar the city’s 2,000 employees from accessing sexually explicit Web sites.

“We are looking at ways to preclude access to inappropriate sites,” said Hession, appointed mayor three months ago after Mayor Jim West was recalled from office by 65 percent of the voters, in part for violating the city’s computer policies.

Ross has been on paid administrative leave since Feb. 10 when his encounter with the teenage girl initially was reported to police as a rape. The incident occurred at the Indian Trail Fire Station, No. 17, in northwest Spokane where Ross was on fill-in duty. He regularly was assigned to Fire Station No. 13 at Wellesley and Jefferson, also on the North Side. 

The Fire Department’s internal investigation wasn’t begun until March 1, after the county prosecutor’s office declined to bring any criminal charge against Ross.

The Police Department is still conducting its own internal affairs investigation that could lead to disciplinary action against a detective and his sergeant-supervisor who made the decision to delete sexually explicit photos Ross took of himself and the girl.

The mayor and fire chief said the public needs to understand that because the firefighter was protected by Civil Service and union grievance procedures, the city administrators couldn’t move more quickly than they did in bringing disciplinary action against Ross.

“It does not surprise me that he resigned,” Hession told reporters.

Williams said the Fire Department’s internal investigation of Ross showed he used a city computer in his regular-duty firehouse to visit “AdultFriendFinders.com” 22 times within the last few months. The Web site offers free memberships and bills itself as the “world’s largest sex and swinger site.”

“We also understand from our investigation that he used his personal computer in the fire station to distribute pornographic images of himself,” Williams said at the press conference.

“We have no indication that this was anything but an isolated incident,” Williams said in response to reporters’ questions.

The chief said the investigation showed the two other firefighters on duty had no knowledge that Ross took the 16-year girl to the fire apparatus area in the 8,800-square-foot station and then engaged in sex with her in the furnace room on the second floor and took digital photos of the activity.

The chief wouldn’t say if fire apparatus was visible in the photos or describe them in detail.

“The pictures contain images of sexual activity between two individuals,” said the chief, who has not seen the photos but read descriptions of them in police reports.

“It was only those two individuals who were involved,” Williams said when asked if other third parties may have taken the photos.

The firefighter and the girl had not met before but had exchanged text messages, apparently using their private cell phones.

After being placed on paid leave, the firefighter hired private attorney Christian Phelps.

“It was the best decision for him and his family,” Phelps said of Ross’ resignation. “He was painfully aware of the public outcry.”

“At first, this seemed like a non-event. The police declined to prosecute. But then it blossomed into this frenzy. He began to wonder, why subject yourself to this?”

Phelps said statements last week from Hession made it look likely that Ross would be terminated.

“We had discussions, and he wanted to cooperate with the process. But he decided on his own this week that it was the best thing to resign.”

Hours before the announcement that Ross had resigned, a women’s coalition that includes former Spokane Mayor Sheri Barnard called for his immediate firing.

At a press conference Wednesday morning on the steps of City Hall, the Spokane Women’s Coalition also called for a thorough investigation and the possible demotion or firing of the detectives who directed Ross to delete the photos of the girl.

The women’s press conference was held on International Women’s Day, hours before the coalition sponsored a two-hour celebration of progress in women’s rights.

City officials’ handling of the incident is a flashback to the days when “the good old boys’ network was the only game in town,” said Jet Tilley, a leader in the Spokane Women’s Coalition.

“It is unfortunate that in the midst of our local celebration of women’s progress, women in Spokane are grappling with revelations of misconduct, indiscretion and possible criminal acts by city employees entrusted to protect,” Tilley said.

The public deserves more transparency from City Hall, Tilley said, noting that Hession called a press conference to report developments in the case last Thursday only after the city learned that The Spokesman-Review was planning the next day to identify the firefighter involved in the sexual encounter.

“The timing alone makes it difficult to know whose interests are being protected,” Tilley said.

Linda Long, the coalition’s co-chairwoman, also assailed detectives’ decision directing Ross to delete the photographs. “Destruction of evidence is a cover-up,” Long said.

In his press conference last week, Hession rejected any accusations of evidence-tampering by the police but called the decision to delete the photos “not the best investigative practice by our detectives.”

On Monday, Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks said Ross told Detective Sgt. Joe Peterson and sex crimes Detective Neil Gallion he didn’t know the girl was under 18 and said the detectives directed Ross to delete the digital images because they couldn’t allow him to continue to possess the sexually explicit photos – a violation of state law – after he was told she was 16.

The women’s group also called on the city to better train its staff in the handling of sexual abuse allegations and said the Fire Department should clarify standards for the conduct of its employees in public firehouses.

“Is the Fire Department a brothel where we can have sleepovers?” snapped an angry Marion Moos, a longtime women’s rights activist in Spokane.

Judy Orr, whose husband George Orr is a retired Spokane Valley firefighter, attended the press conference. She said the community outrage over the firehouse incident is shared by many of her husband’s firefighting colleagues.

No charges to be filed in firehouse sex caseNo photos, no criminal case, prosecutor saysBill Morlin and Thomas Clouse Staff writers June 8, 2006

Read moreFirefighter sex scandal

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker said today there’s insufficient evidence to charge a former Spokane firefighter for photographing and having sex with a 16-year-old girl earlier this year in a fire station.

“I’m not saying something wrong didn’t happen here,” Tucker told a news conference at the Spokane Police Department.

The firefighter, Daniel W. Ross, took sexually explicit photographs of the sexual encounter, but two police detectives instructed him to delete those photographs from his personal camera.

They later returned to get the camera. By then, Ross had switched memory cards and the photos couldn’t be retrieved, Tucker said.

At Thursday’s press conference, city prosecutor Howard Delaney said there was insufficient evidence to charge the two detectives, Sgt. Joe Peterson and Neil Gallion , with destruction of evidence. Delaney said he based that opinion on an independent review of the case by Asotin County Prosecutor Ben Nichols.

“There was no intent to impair or obstruct the investigation,” Delaney said of the detectives’ decision to delete the photographs.

Deputy Chief Bruce Roberts said with the criminal case now concluded, an internal affairs investigation will begin that could lead to disciplinary actions against the two detectives.

Ross, 35, quit his $63,769-a-year firefighter job on March 8, a day before a departmental disciplinary hearing to discuss his sexual encounter with the girl in the furnace room of Fire Station No. 17.

Ross told investigators that he met the girl on the Internet and exchanged phone text messages before meeting face-to-face on Feb. 10, just hours after Ross' pregnant wife and young daughter had left the station after watching TV coverage of the Winter Olympics.

"They deleted it. They stopped it from being evidence," Tucker said of Peterson and Gallion. "It might be looking like the detectives were tampering with evidence. But if they didn't think a crime was committed, then how could they be tampering with evidence?

"What (Peterson and Gallion) were doing was preventing a crime from occurring, possibly. That's what I'm thinking right now," Tucker said.

City cleared in firefighter sex scandal civil lawsuitPosted: Sep 08, 2008 3:05 PM PDTUpdated: Sep 17, 2008 1:41 PM PDTDaniel Ross resigned his position with the fire department in 2006 after details of his sexual encounter were made public.SPOKANE, Wash. - District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle granted the City of Spokane's motions for summary judgment Monday, dismissing all remaining state and federal claims against the City and two Spokane Police Department officers in the "Jane Doe" civil lawsuit filed following the firefighter sex scandal that happened at Fire Station 17 in February 2006.

Two police officers were suspended in the wake of the scandal involving firefighter Daniel Ross, who resigned his position with the fire department once the details of his sexual encounter were made public.

Detective Neal Gallion was placed on suspension for two days because he authorized photos of the sexual activity be deleted. Sergeant Joe Peterson was suspended for three days because he was the on-scene supervisor and held ultimately accountable. The two allowed Ross to delete the pictures in an effort to protect the teenage victim.

They did say however, that they wish they would have kept the images or the camera as evidence.

In ordering the suspensions, the Deputy Chief noted that prosecutors investigating the incident "found no intent by the officers to impair or obstruct the investigation".

In addition to the disciplinary action, the Police Department announced in July of 2006 that it would change its policy with regard to similar situations. The disciplinary actions were taken nearly a month after Spokane County prosecutors said they would not file charges against anyone connected to the firefighter sex scandal.

Ross admitted to having sex with a 16-year old girl in a Spokane Fire Department fire house. But prosecutors said, after two criminal investigations, they did not have enough evidence to warrant charges against Ross.

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker said they could not recover apparently sexually-explicit digital photos taken of the girl because Ross deleted them at the direction of the two Spokane Police investigators.

Police believe the digital card that was in the camera at the time the pictures were taken had been switched, but Tucker said that could not be proved.

Judge dismisses recall against Spokane prosecutorAssociated Press
Published Friday, January 6, 2012SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a recall effort against Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tucker.

The Spokesman-Review reported Friday (http://bit.ly/zbcBoW ) that Judge Craig Matheson of Benton and Franklin counties ruled that four recall charges brought by Shannon Sullivan were insufficient.

Sullivan targeted Tucker for failing to file charges against a former Spokane firefighter in a sex scandal involving a 16-year-old girl and failing to prosecute Spokane police officers in a 2006 fatal confrontation with a man in a convenience store.

The U.S. Justice Department won a federal conviction last November against one of the officers for excessive use of force and lying to cover up the crime. Tucker has said that he was deferring any action by his office until the federal case is completed.

(11/11/2008) A Spokane firefighter fired for having sex with a 16-year-old girl in a city firehouse in 2006 is believed to have engaged in similar conduct with another teenage girl 19 months later, but it took investigators and prosecutors almost a year to investigate and bring criminal charges.In brief: Firefighter charged with sexual assault

(10/7/2008) A sheriff's deputy found the body of a missing Spokane man in a forested area of Boundary County, Idaho just after midnight Sunday after a hunter spotted his vehicle.
Ex-firefighter faces new troubles

(8/30/2008) Former Spokane firefighter Daniel Ross – dismissed from his city job in 2006 in a firehouse sex scandal involving an underage girl – has been accused of sexual abuse against a second juvenile in a separate incident, state officials confirmed Friday.
Settlement sought in firehouse sex case

(7/4/2008) A federal judge is being asked to order the city of Spokane to participate in a court-supervised settlement of a civil rights lawsuit brought by a teenage girl who claims she was raped and photographed by an on-duty firefighter in a North Side firehouse.
Depositions to begin in firehouse-sex case

(10/1/2007) Attorneys for a teenage girl who alleges she was raped in a Spokane fire station by an on-duty firefighter are scheduled to begin taking sworn depositions this week from various city officials and employees.
Suit alleges firefighter raped girl

(12/16/2006)

A teenage girl who alleges she was raped by an on-duty firefighter in a Spokane fire station filed a civil rights lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court.

Police officers suspended

(7/4/2006) The two Spokane police officers who ordered the deletion of sexually explicit photos of a 16-year old girl from fireman Daniel W. Ross' camera after his sexual encounter with the girl at a Spokane firehouse in February have been suspended.
Firehouse charges ruled out

(6/9/2006) There is insufficient evidence to charge a Spokane firefighter who had sex with a 16-year-old girl or seek destruction of evidence counts against two police detectives responsible for deleting photos of the firehouse sexual encounter, the county and city prosecutors announced Thursday.
No charges in firehouse sex

(6/8/2006) Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker is expected to announce today that he will file no criminal charges against a former Spokane firefighter who admitted to having sex and taking explicit photographs of a 16-year-old girl at a fire station.
Firefighter faced charges

(4/13/2006) A Spokane firefighter who resigned last month after having on-duty sex with a 16-year-old girl previously sent pictures of himself engaged in sex acts with other women over the Internet while at work, according to city records ordered released Wednesday.
Sides argue access to firehouse report

(4/12/2006) With ex-firefighter Daniel Ross watching, a lawyer for the Spokane Firefighters Union asked a Superior Court judge Tuesday to withhold results of a City Hall investigation into Ross' Feb. 10 sexual encounter with a 16-year-old girl in a North Side fire station.
Union fighting public release of firehouse sex files

(4/8/2006) The Spokane firefighters union is attempting to block the public from seeing a file of city documents detailing the case against a fireman who quit after admitting on-duty sex with a teenage girl and photographing the encounter.
Investigation reopened

(3/11/2006) After days of community outrage over the handling of a sexual encounter between a firefighter and a 16-year-old girl, the Spokane Police Department has reopened its criminal investigation of the incident.
Firefighter quits amid outcry

(3/9/2006) Minutes after a Spokane firefighter resigned Wednesday for photographing sex acts with a 16-year-old girl in a city firehouse, Fire Chief Bobby Williams revealed that the fireman had accessed an adults-only Internet sex site 22 times using a city computer.
Councilwoman, coalition outraged at firehouse case

(3/8/2006) Some Spokane women are reacting with outrage at the city's handling of the sexual encounter in a firehouse between a 16-year-old girl and a 35-year-old firefighter.
Cops: Fireman thought girl was over 18

(3/7/2006) A Spokane firefighter who photographed and engaged in sex with a 16-year-old girl at a city firehouse thought she was over 18 after the two had met on an adults-only Internet site, the city's acting police chief and a senior detective supervisor said Monday.
Our View: Firefighter sex scandal worthy of outside inquiry

(3/7/2006) When Spokane Mayor Jim West was investigated for misconduct involving sex and the Internet, the city brought in outside investigators to look at possible criminal behavior.
No charges in firehouse sex

(3/4/2006) A Spokane firefighter who took explicit pictures of a 16-year-old girl during a firehouse sex fling apparently violated state law by possessing those images, which later were deleted from a digital camera by a police detective.
Probe targets detectives

(3/3/2006) Two Spokane police detectives are the subject of an internal affairs investigation after directing a Spokane firefighter to delete digital photographs he took while having sex with a 16-year-old girl while on duty in a city fire station.
Firefighter won't face prosecution

(3/1/2006) The Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney's office has declined to prosecute a Spokane firefighter under investigation for having sex with a 17-year-old girl at the city's Indian Trail fire station.
Firefighter's non-supervisory status may preclude rape charges

(2/15/2006) A Ferris High School teacher pleaded guilty last fall to having sex with a 16-year-old girl. A youth pastor at a Spokane church was arrested in December and faces six counts of the same felony charge – misconduct with a minor in the first degree – after a minor told police that they had consensual sex.
Firefighter cleared of wrongdoing

(2/14/2006) Spokane police on Monday cleared a city firefighter of criminal wrongdoing for having consensual sex at the city's fire station in the Indian Trail neighborhood Friday.

Firefighter on paid leave following WSP confrontation A Spokane firefighter exonerated on child pornography charges two years ago is on paid leave again after an apparently violent confrontation with state troopers during a drunken driving arrest.

Lt. Todd Chism was jolted with a stun gun several times after troopers found him trying to drive his truck out of a ditch along Highway 291 about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday, said Bob Calkins, a Washington State Patrol spokesman.

Troopers performed field sobriety tests, but Chism “began to more actively resist,” which led troopers to use the Taser, Calkins said.

But the high-voltage jolts had “surprisingly minimal effect,” Calkins said.

“The next step is we have to go hands on, which becomes a wrestling match,” Calkins said.

Trooper Gregory Riddell broke his thumb and may need surgery. Trooper Greg Birkeland may have a broken hand, Calkins said, and Chism suffered a cut over his eye.

Chism was booked into the Stevens County Jail on a drunken driving charge Tuesday morning. He posted $500 bond about noon that day, according to the jail.

The city of Spokane announced Thursday afternoon that Chism has been placed on paid administrative leave until a charging decision is made in Stevens County. Calkins said the investigation is ongoing.

Chism did not return phone calls seeking comment.

It’s the second time Chism has been placed on paid leave since January 2008, when detectives with the State Patrol arrested him on suspicion of possessing child pornography and searched his Nine Mile Falls home. All charges stemming from the child pornography investigation were later dismissed.

Chism was arrested Jan. 29, 2008 after the WSP detectives learned a credit card in his name had been used to purchase child pornography online.

But Chism contended he was the victim of credit card fraud, and a judge ruled the next day the evidence was “too slim” to hold him in jail. Charges were dismissed in April after WSP confirmed that no child pornography was found on Chism’s computers.

Chism returned to work and sued WSP in U.S. District Court for improperly arresting him and searching his home, but a judge dismissed the civil suit in January.

“To have one’s home searched for evidence of child pornography and to be accused of such a repulsive crime is undoubtedly traumatic and humiliating,” wrote U.S. District Judge Lonny R. Suko. However, detectives “reasonably believed they had probable cause to seek and obtain the warrants at issue.”

Chism has appealed Suko’s decision.

Calkins said neither trooper recognized Chism when they approached him.

“The troopers were called to a collision,” Calkins said. “They did not single a vehicle out on the freeway to pull over in any type of retaliation.”

State Patrol settles with Spokane firefighter SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Washington State Patrol has settled a lawsuit with a Spokane firefighter for $2.4 million.

The case stems from a botched search for child pornography in the home of firefighter Lt. Todd Chism in 2008, The Spokesman Review (http://is.gd/Ysz5X6 ) reported in Saturday's newspaper.

Chism and his attorney had filed a $10 million suit against the State Patrol, which arrested Chism on the charge of child pornography possession. However, the investigation soon found the pornography was purchased with Chism's wife's stolen bank card and the Chisms had done nothing wrong.

Chism says he decided to settle to put an end to his family's strife.

"This has caused terrible damage to my family," Chism said. "My opinion is they defrauded the taxpayers of $2.4 million because they knew in the first week that they had made a huge mistake. Rather than doing the right thing, they chose to do everything they could to not take responsibility."

WSP spokesman Dan Coon said his agency accepted the settlement and acknowledged that WSP investigators made mistakes.

"It was originally a good-faith effort to protect children from a predator," Coon said of the flawed 2008 investigation. "But as we have seen, there were some oversights in the investigation process that was involved. Most regrettably these oversights caused the Chism family distress in the public arena. We learned from our mistakes and continue to move forward protecting the children."

The settlement follows a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that false statements made by WSP Detective Rachel Gardner and Sgt. John Sager amounted to "intentional and reckless conduct" that infringed on Chism's civil rights.

Gardner and Sager used false information to obtain the search warrant in which a dozen or more troopers and Spokane County sheriff's deputies converged on the Chism home, said his attorney, Bob Dunn.

In the application for the search warrant, Gardner did not inform the judge that the IP address associated with the Internet accounts in question "were traced to people other than the Chisms."

Chism said the investigators used "gestapo"-type tactics in how they handled the case by not verifying the information before searching his home and Spokane real estate business. He said WSP troopers came up to him after his arrest and offered apologies even as their agency defended its investigators' actions.

"What's more scary than an organization that can come into your house illegally and charge you illegally?" he said. "That has had a devastating effect on my family for four-and-a-half years."

Fake officer arrested for Corbin Park rape wanted in Asotin Co. SPOKANE -- Spokane Police say a man who pretended to be a police officer and then allegedly raped a woman at a local park Sunday morning also attempted to detain two other people.

It happened around 1:30 a.m. Sunday in Corbin Park in North Central Spokane.

Police say Christopher Clough, 29, faces First Degree Rape, First Degree Kidnapping and First Degree Criminal Impersonation charges.

Clough was pulled over by officers 30 minutes after the victim reported the rape, using "an excellent suspect physical description and suspect vehicle description."

He arrested near Augusta & Standard. Handcuffs were found on the passenger seat of the vehicle.

The 19-year-old victim told officers she was walking near Monroe and Indiana and saw a couple being detained by Clough. The woman said one of the men told her he was a "drunk off duty cop."

Police say Clough let the couple leave and approached the vicitm. The woman told police Clough advised her it was an unsafe neighborhood and that he should take her home. She told police she believed him to be an undercover officer and got in the car.

According to police, the woman said Clough threatened to arrest her for Minor in Possession because she was drinking beer. The woman said Clough asked for her information and parked near her house, placing her in handcuffs.

The woman told police she believed she was under arrest.

Police say Clough told the woman he needed to search her and parked near Corbin Park. Police say Clough searched the woman in the park and negotiated taking her to jail.

Police say Clough indicated that if she had sex with him, he would not take her to jail. Once Clough raped the victim, he left her and drove away in his car.

Clough told police the encounter was consensual.

Detectives would like to speak with the couple Clough had detained at the McDonald’s, Indiana and Monroe. Detectives say Clough may have approached others in the community acting as a police officer and would encourage those citizens to file police reports.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

KREM 2 News has learned there is a current arrest warrant for Clough in Asotin County for writing bad checks. The warrant is for $250 for Failure to Pay Fine, Unlawful Issance of Bad Check.

Clough was previously convicted in Asotin County in 1999 for vehicle prowling.

Deputies there say he had a 12-year criminal history in Asotin County, dating back to his juvenile years, including vehicle theft in '96 and '97. Clough was not convicted in either of those cases.

An Asotin County clerk also told KREM 2 News he has a charge on his record for assaulting a police officer in Nevada in 1997.

Parents' Facebook sting helps catch Wash. sex offender SEDRO-WOOLEY, Wash. - A 19-year-old registered sex offender has been arrested in Skagit County after the mother of the girl he was dating set up a Facebook sting.

Jesper and Julie Myrfors say they had been concerned about their daughter’s boyfriend.

"We just thought she was getting into a dangerous situation,” said Jesper.

"When I met him, he was totally charming, really likable,” said Julie.

He is 19-year-old William Elms, also known as Liam. Liam was dating the Myrfors' 17-year-old-daughter.

Then, Julie and Jesper learned Liam was a registered sex offender.

"When there's a question, follow it. Find the answer for your kids,” said Julie.

With some help, the parents set up a sting.

"Why not make a Facebook and create a girl?" said Julie.

"When we did this, we had rules. We were not trying to entrap him. We were setting him up a situation where, if he was a bad guy, he could act on it,” said Jesper.

And he did. He began sending explicit messages and pictures.

"My daughter didn't know we had done this. I invited her on to begin watching live. She started watching conversations on our fake little person,” said Julie."The hardest part as a parent was watching her heart break."

The relationship was over, but the story wasn't.

"If we were just to say, well, our daughter's off the hook. We would be bad citizens,” said Jesper.

So they told Sedro-Woolley police.

Elms was arrested at the Snohomish County Jail, where he was serving time for a probation violation. He's now back in the Skagit County Jail, facing charges of Immoral Conduct with a Minor.

Fire captain back on payroll after guilty plea A fire captain arrested for helping his son escape a bar fight is back on the Spokane Fire Department payroll after serving a day in jail for three misdemeanors.

Ronald D. Clinger, 54, struck a plea deal that dismissed a felony charge of eluding police, moving him to paid leave with the department instead of unpaid layoff status, assistant chief Brian Schaeffer said.

An internal investigation will determine if Clinger will remain with the department, Schaeffer said.

Clinger makes about $102,000 a year.

Clinger, a 27-year veteran, will be on probation for two years after pleading guilty to reckless driving, first-degree negligent driving and second-degree criminal assistance.

He was sentenced last week to three days in jail with credit for time served. He was released on Saturday after less than 24 hours, records show. Spokane County District Court Judge John Cooney imposed the sentence.

Clinger was arrested on Nov. 4, accused of speeding away from police with his son, who was involved in a knife fight at a bar in Chattaroy.

Daniel W. Clinger, 33, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in February and was sentenced to four months in jail, records show.

Read the original story on the incident Suspect flees bar stabbing A Spokane fire captain sped away from police sirens and the scene of a stabbing at a Chattaroy restaurant early Tuesday, police say, with the primary suspect – his son – in the car.

Ron D. Clinger was arrested for attempting to elude police, a felony, and booked into Spokane County Jail. A judge released Clinger on his own recognizance because he has no criminal history, and after reminding him that, as a fire captain, he should have known better.

Clinger, 53, was placed on paid administrative leave from the Spokane Fire Department, city officials said Tuesday. His annual salary is $102,737.

Clinger’s 32-year-old son, Daniel, remained in jail accused of second-degree assault for stabbing a man in the back twice during a fight at Prime Tyme Restaurant and Lounge.

“If I did stab him, it was because he deserved it for hitting my dad,” Daniel Clinger told police. The knife used in the stabbing has not been found.

The Spokane County prosecutor’s office has three days to file a formal charge against Daniel Clinger.

Ron Clinger, along with his two sons, Daniel and Timothy, were at the restaurant, at 4211 E. Westwood Road, about 1:20 a.m. Tuesday. According to police documents, the 29-year-old victim was talking to a waitress when a man behind him made an inappropriate comment to her.

The victim told the man to “show some respect,” according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office press release. The next thing he knew, he was on the floor being beaten by three people.

Witnesses saw one of the men with a folding knife, court documents say. In addition to stab wounds to his back, the victim also suffered a slash to his knee. He was treated at a Spokane hospital and released, authorities said.

The Clingers reportedly fled the restaurant in a Ford pickup, witnesses told police. A deputy spotted the truck going 85 mph on Deer Park-Milan Road at Missile Site Road.

The deputy caught up with the truck after Ron Clinger – a 27-year fire department employee – pulled into his driveway on Deer Park-Milan Road, authorities said. When the deputy asked Clinger why he didn’t stop, he said: “I saw the emergency lights and heard the siren but just wanted to get to a safe place,” the police document states.

The fire captain was also investigated for driving under the influence, according to the report. He told the deputy he’d had five mixed drinks before driving. His blood alcohol level was between .035 and .039, which is under the legal limit, officials determined. Clinger has not been charged for drunken driving at this time.

A police dog found Daniel Clinger hiding underneath the truck, police said. He had been in the front passenger seat. His brother was in the back.

Daniel Clinger has a criminal history that includes assault, failure to appear and violation of protection orders, court officials said. There are three warrants for his arrest – driving under the influence and violation of a protection order in Spokane County and assault out of Tacoma.

Daniel Clinger lives in North Dakota, but was in Spokane visiting his three children. District Court Judge Sara Derr agreed with a deputy prosecutor that he should be held on $50,000 bail.

Before Derr released Ron Clinger, she chastised him for speeding away from an emergency vehicle.

“Your employment would lead me to believe you would pull over,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m sure as a fire captain, you have advised others to pull over as soon as they see emergency lights.”

Council to tackle firefighter contract Controversial deal negotiated by Verner up for vote on Monday + Spokane city leaders are readying for a showdown with the Spokane Firefighters Union over a three-year contract negotiated between the firefighters and former Mayor Mary Verner in the final days of her administration.

But challenging the deal could prove risky for the City Council and force the city to give the union a more generous contract than the one now before them.

The council on Monday is scheduled to vote on the proposal. A 4-3 decision one way or the other is likely with Councilman Steve Salvatori the possible swing vote.

After nine months of negotiations, the union agreed to settle a new three-year contract with Verner on Dec. 29 – three days before her term ended and the firefighters’ contract expired.

“Myself and my members realize the economic times right now, and we think it is a good, fair deal for both my membership and for the city,” said fire union President Mark Vietzke, who is a lieutenant in the department.

Under the deal, firefighters would get no cost-of-living raises this year or next. In 2014, they would get a 1.9 percent raise. Under a concession agreement the union made to preserve jobs, firefighters also didn’t get a cost-of-living raise in 2011.

In exchange, administrators made changes to the health plan that will put more money in the paychecks of firefighters in 2013, but has the potential to hold down the skyrocketing cost of health benefits beyond that, administrators say.

The contract is estimated to raise the total cost of wages and benefits an average of 2.4 percent a year.

Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she’s concerned that the cost of proposed health plan changes could outpace increases in tax revenue.

“I would like to give the new administration a chance to look at a more holistic view of coming years,” McLaughlin said.

If the deal is approved, the city would pay 100 percent of firefighters’ and their families’ medical premiums in 2013. The city currently pays 82.5 percent of the medical premiums of firefighters who have medical plans that cover their spouses and children. In 2014, firefighters agreed to cover any rise in the cost of medical coverage above 4 percent. In recent years, administrators say the cost to provide health benefits has risen by an average of 12 percent per year.

Because the agreement came so close to the end of the year, the City Council couldn’t approve it until newly elected members were sworn in. The new council has a more conservative majority.

Mayor David Condon has backed the deal, though city attorneys have said Condon doesn’t have a choice.

“The executive branch did their negotiations and now it’s up to the City Council to decide whether they approve or reject that contract,” Condon said in an interview last week. “That is what the executive branch has provided to them so I stand by what the executive branch has given to the council.”

Under state labor law, if parties come to an impasse and a mediator agrees that there’s little wiggle room between parties, terms of the contract are set by an arbitrator. He or she will determine Spokane’s contract based largely on the wages and benefits paid by nine “comparable” fire departments, including the departments in Tacoma, Spokane Valley, Everett, Bellevue, Kent and Vancouver.

Assistant City Attorney Erin Jacobson said the city’s analysis of the wages and benefits in “comparable” departments indicates that in 2011, Spokane firefighters received about 5 percent less compensation than the average compensation among the other nine departments.

Some of the unions in those departments have agreed to freeze wage levels for 2012, but Jacobson said she is unaware of cuts in compensation.

That means, if the city is forced into “binding arbitration” based on the wages in other departments, the city risks having to pay firefighters more than the deal on the table.

McLaughlin said she’s hopeful the union would be willing “to sit down with the new mayor” if the council turns down the contract.

“I know that we would be taking a risk, but that it would shine more of a spotlight on how unlevel the playing field is for cities under the current binding-arbitration laws,” she said.

Some other council members, however, say it would be irresponsible to make an issue out of binding arbitration when the union has offered what they say is a fair deal that holds increases much lower than recent contracts.

Councilman Jon Snyder said the increases appear to come in around the rate of inflation or less.

“That’s solid in my mind,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine any scenario where the city would have to pay less by going to arbitration than they would with this contract.”

Salvatori, who may hold the swing vote, said if the council rejects the deal, it “means we need to talk some more, not stop talking.”

“I’d like to make sure that we can fulfill any promises we make,” Salvatori said. “On the other side of that, I think this contract is the product of extensive and thoughtful negotiations. I don’t feel that this is an irresponsible contract.”



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