Force-feeding threatened in Tacoma
Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have warned hunger strikers at a Tacoma detention facility that authorities might force-feed them. So says The SLOG. The protest over deportations and conditions at the Northwest Detention Center is in its fifth day. In a statement to media, organizers said authorities have placed four of the strike's leaders into isolation. — J.C.
Feds probe treatment of Hanford whistleblower
A federal inspector general has launched a probe into the firing of Hanford whistleblower Donna Busche. She was dismissed after raising safety concerns about work by her employer, URS. The major subcontractor is involved in construction of a $12.7 billion plant to convert 53 millions gallons of highly radioactive wastes into benign glass. Busche alleges that she has been retaliated against for raising safety concerns. (Crosscut wrote about her case in 2012.) On Tuesday, a U.S. Department of Energy official revealed the probe during a U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee hearing. That session also featured testimony from Busche, as well as Hanford whistleblower Walter Tamosaitis, another fired URS employee, and Tom Carpenter, director of Seattle-based watchdog Hanford Challenge. — J.S.
West Seattle vote postponed
The Seattle City Council punted Tuesday on a vote about whether to sell a public alleyway in West Seattle to a developer. Lennar Multifamily Communities & Weingarten Realty wants to build two 70-foot tall buildings that will house a Whole Foods grocery and 389 apartments on Fauntleroy Way SW. After a packed hearing on the proposal, several council members said they needed more time before casting a vote on the "alleyway vacation." Critics say the project would create pedestrian hazards and increase traffic congestion; proponents say the current lot is blighted. On top of a debate about design and land use are questions about whether Whole Foods compensates its workers fairly. Several unionized grocery stores are nearby. The United Food and Commercial Workers International union opposes the alley vacation and, in recent days, has robo-called residents urging them to express their opposition. — B.L.
Today in Olympia
- The Washington House approved (97-1) the Senate's slight tweaks to a bill by Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, to seal juvenile records on most crimes. Until now, a person could seek to seal his or her juvenile file on a case-by-case basis, but the criteria for sealing have become stricter over the years. Kagi's bill automatically seals most non-violent juvenile files when the person becomes 18. The exceptions in Kagi's bill include sex crimes, serious violent crimes and drug dealing. The bill is estimated to affect about 6,000 people annually. — J.S.
Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, wants the Legislature to order an annual regular season basketball game between the University of Washington and Gonzaga University University. He introduced a bill Tuesday to make that game a law starting in the 2014-2015 season. "The legislature further finds that no rivalry in college sports history is as exciting and competitive as the battles between our state's two premier basketball teams, the Gonzaga University Bulldogs and the University of Washington Huskies," reads Baumgartner's bill, which also discounts the classic Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn, Oregon-Oregon State matchups and, of course, the Apple Cup. — J.S.
Update 7:30 p.m. On a 36-13 vote Tuesday, the Washington Senate passed a bill that would create a group to study high-tech research-and-development tax incentives. The study would be finished by Dec. 1. This is a revision from a bill originally intended to renew a high-tech research-and-development business-and-occupation tax break, which is set to expire in 2015. A joint legislative committee on tax exemptions earlier concluded that this tax break has not created new jobs in recent years. Some Senate Democrats objected to the creating the work group, arguing it is too stacked with representatives from the R&D community, who would have incentives to create new tax breaks. The bill now goes to the House. — J.S.
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