Police: Next steps
In a statement Friday, Mayor Ed Murray said his search committee is starting to screen the applicants for the police chief position. The statement has somewhat upbeat but arguably ambiguous phrasing about the overall interest nationally in the position: "Murray and his committee co-chairs Pramila Jayapal and Ron Sims said they are optimistic about the quality of the applicant pool." Murray said he was "confident" he will find the type of bold leader he wants from within the pool. — J.C.
Policing the press at City Hall?
In the wake of Crosscut's story today on the handling of police discipline by Mayor Murray's administration, Dominic Holden, The Stranger's associate editor, emailed a couple of journalists and a host of city officials to say that one revelation in the story may back up a concern he had about being targeted for his use, as a citizen, of the police complaint process. An officer's threat to harass him at his office is a key part of the controversy over the downgrading of police disciplinary findings.
As Bill Lucia's story reported, emails document a suggestion that officials should quietly talk with other journalists to cast doubt on the integrity of Holden's reporting and suggest that he shouldn't be writing about his own case. There was no evidence in the emails that had been carried out. It turns out, however, that Holden already had suspicions that he was being targeted. A string of emails he forwarded shows that he has been questioning officials about his treatment. One item he notes is the appearance of some citizen activists at a press conference on police discipline, after which, he says, several in the group spoke with other journalists, casting aspersions on his work and him (he says he was called a "germ").
In a phone call, Holden said his reporting on his own case attempts to show what any citizen might face in dealing with concerns about the police: "That is my whole point, to take what is a very ordinary type of police misconduct case ... and make it transparent from the beginning to the end." He also saw a parallel between his treatment in a high visibility case and what others have experienced over the years: "What got us [the City of Seattle] in this mess with the Department of Justice was not just a pattern of police misconduct. It was a habit of sweeping this misconduct under the rug, circling wagons to protect officers and sending a message that this kind of misconduct will be tolerated in the future." — J.C.
Amazon: Love the city, not leave it
One point in Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' annual letter to stockholders, is taking on a second life in the news cycle today: The company is paying warehouse workers up to $5,000 to quit if they are unhappy. No wonder: It's unusual, humane and easy to talk about. Expect late-night TV joke writers to keep it going. But Bezos' messages are typically chock full of smart, interesting items. One favorite from the full version posted by GeekWire on Thursday: He acknowledges that building in the suburbs would have been cheaper than staying in South Lake Union but says being in the city is better for environment, employees and the company: "an urban headquarters will help keep Amazon vibrant, attract the right talent, and be great for the health and wellbeing of our employees and the city of Seattle." — J.C.
Your old friend the pocket gopher!
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this week listed four subspecies of the Mazama pocket gopher as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The listing caps more than a decade of litigation, studies and debate about protections for the animal. The stout, buck-toothed rodent is only found in parts of the Olympic Peninsula and the southern Puget Sound (a habitat map can be found here). Populations started to decline in the 1940s, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The four subspecies now listed as threatened are the Olympia, Roy Prairie, Tenino and Yelm. The listing includes rules that will allow for continued business activities at civilian airports, farms and ranches in critical habitat areas.
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