Murray names deputy mayor
Mayor Ed Murray today appointed Kate Joncas, CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association for 20 years, as his deputy mayor for city operations. Joncas has experience with numerous city issues and served on Murray's transition team. She replaces Andrea Riniker, a retired Sea-Tac Airport executive who had taken the position on a short-term basis. After all those years working to improve downtown (and she almost universally gets high marks for that), will Joncas be an advocate for every neighborhood? Yes indeed, says Joncas. Murray's other deputy mayor, Hyeok Kim, will continue to focus on community outreach and external relations.— J.C.
School's out for ... picketing?
About 100 students in South Tacoma got unexcused absences from school yesterday, but not for the usual repertoire of unapproved reasons, like toking up in the parking lot or making out behind the bleachers. Students walked out of Mount Tahoma High School during their last hour of classes to protest what they believe are unfair teacher cuts, according to a News Tribune report. The district says two Tacoma teachers won’t have jobs next year, and four more will be reassigned elsewhere in the district due to budget cuts and other factors, such as falling enrollments, that influence school staffing levels. About 63 teachers will be displaced districtwide as part of the cuts and reassignments. — E.W.
Teacher tenure laws repeal: No more bad apples?
With the help of Students Matter, a nonprofit founded by Silicon Valley tech biggie David Welch, nine California students won a court ruling Tuesday. The students' lawsuit argued that teacher tenure laws keep bad-apple teachers in public schools. Judge Rolf M. Treu of Los Angeles Superior Court agreed, ruling that tenure laws did violated students’ civil rights and their right to an education under the State Constitution. (This according to a New York Times report.) In the ruling, Treu said incompetent teaching disproportionately affects poor and minority students. Teachers’ unions plan to appeal, but both sides agree that this ruling could have ramifications across the country, including in the Pacific Northwest. Students Matter is already considering lawsuits in Oregon and Idaho. — E.W.
McMorris Rodgers staying put
U.S. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane says she has decided against trying to succeed defeated fellow Republican Rep. Eric Cantor as Majority Leader, the second most powerful position in the U.S. House of Representatives, The Seattle Times reports. Cantor lost his Virginia party primary to a Tea Party challenger on Tuesday. McMorris Rodgers says she will stay in the position of Republican conference chair, the fourth ranking spot in the party's House leadership. From there, she looks forward to continuing her work to "improve the image of House Republicans." — J.C.
Traffic: You got home by dawn, right?
Seattle Police today decided they had to explain the disruption of traffic caused, in part, by their shutdown of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The closure was necessary to first aid and then investigate at the scene of a serious car crash. As SPD noted on seattlepi.com and elsewhere, the priority has to be the safety of the victims and the people helping them. But, at last check on the site's unscientific poll, some 53 percent of readers complained that the police response was inadequate and that "traffic should never get that bad." Deep breath, everyone. — J.C.
Two stolen paintings recovered at a 7-Eleven
In the latest development in an already bizarre case, two of the six paintings by Seattle artist Whiting Tennis that have been missing since December were recovered last week — by Seattle gallery owner Greg Kucera. So says The Seattle Times. The six paintings and one sculpture disappeared when the rental truck transporting them to Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, Ore. was stolen. Greg Kucera of Kucera Gallery (which represents Tennis) got a mysterious call on his cell phone saying the two paintings turned up in an alley. After negotiations with the mystery caller and some problems transporting the paintings, Kucera arranged to pick up the art at a 7-Eleven in Federal Way. Kucera paid the caller's friend, who supposedly found the paintings, a $1,000 reward. He gave the caller $100 for the two paintings and hopes the rest are eventually returned. — J.B.
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