Health site hiccups
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange web site got off to a bit of a rocky start. The Spokesman-Review in Spokane reported a variety of error messages popping up when a reporter tried to access the site mid-morning, though it had been working earlier. There are close to a million Washingtonians without health insurance. Guess all that traffic was too much for the one new site to bear. — J.C.
Certifying Washington weed
Retail marijuana stores could be opening as early as next spring, but labs are scrambling to figure out how to certify the quality of their primary product. Yes, as KPLU reports, all pot sold in the state's stores must be certified potent and free from E. coli, molds and other foreign matter. A state Liquor Control Board official tells public radio's Austin Jenkins that the state is behind where it would like to be at this point in terms of quality control. But he remains confident that final testing standards will be in place in time to get sales going. So relax . . . and if you can't, we recommend a shot or two of, say, single malt scotch, about whose potency and safety you can feel very confident. — J.C.
Garfield hazing gone bad
A booze-soaked scene of high school hazing unfolded at the Washington Park Arboretum last Friday afternoon. When Garfield High Principal Ted Howard and a police officer assigned to the school arrived on scene — following up on an anonymous email tip — they found some 100 Garfield students drinking (beer and liquor), some wearing diapers, being paddled or covered in shoe polish or egg. Howard described the incident in an email to parents on Friday. Seattle Public Schools weighed in today. In his email, Howard reported that one unidentified student called him a racial slur and that, as students fled the scene, they caused at least one car accident by running through traffic. The student who used the racial slur was wearing a mask and hood, according to Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Teresa Wipple. "We did not have a sense there were racial undertones to the hazing itself," Wipple said, adding that "hazing at Garfield that's been going on since the principal himself was a student." Garfield is considering disciplinary action. — B.L.
At 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, the federal government shut down for the first time since 1996, back when the X-Files was TV's hottest show and Tickle Me Elmo was flying off the shelves. More than 800,000 federal workers around the country, including 50,000 right here in Washington, had just four hours this morning to close up shop. Some newly-furloughed staffers swung by the Starbucks across the street from the Federal Building where the IRS, Department of Treasury and the Department of Veteran Affairs are housed. “We’re going to do liquid lunch today,” said one.
Some essential government workers will remain on the clock. Richard Franklin of the EPA’s Region 10 office in Seattle was still taking calls about oil and hazardous waste spills on Tuesday afternoon, and staffers at U.S. Congressman (Sixth District) Derek Kilmer’s office were fielding calls and emails from concerned constituents, many of whom work, er, worked for the government. “The largest employer in our district is the federal government,” said communications director Stephen Carter.
Good luck if you need to reach NOAA; most of its websites redirect to governmentshutdown.noaa.gov. The IRS site reminds anyone venturing there that, shutdown shmutdown, “You should continue to file and pay taxes.” — B.L.
Best of Times still ahead?
The Seattle Times chose managing editor Kathy Best to succeed David Boardman as the paper’s new editor in chief. Best is an ink-stained wretch from way back, having done stints at The Baltimore Sun, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and (moment of silence) the Seattle Post-Intelligencer before joining the Times six years ago. With fellow managing editor Suki Dardanian, Best has been running the paper since Boardman stepped down last summer. (The highly capable Dardarian becomes the director of audience development and innovation, a new position focused on growing Times' readership, print and digital.) In other NW media news, the Oregonian Media Group debuts today. What the heck is the Oregonian Media Group? Why, it’s “new digitally focused company that includes The Oregonian and OregonLive.com.” Oregonians can now get their actual paper delivered four days a week, and avail themselves of newspapers for sale in boxes or stores and online news all seven. — J.C.
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