McCleary strikes again: Supremes demand education plan - or else!
So, it’s come to this: Late Thursday, a very frustrated Washington State Supreme Court threatened to hold state lawmakers in contempt if they don’t move on a plan to fully fund education. Justices told the state to show up at a September 3 hearing or risk a contempt citation. Blame the contretemps on the nettlesome McCleary decision, a 2012 court mandate to upgrade the state’s public education system by, among other things, lowering student-teacher ratios in grades K-3 and raising instruction hours in grades 7-12. Upgrades, of course, cost money and let’s just say that reaching agreement on budget issues has not exactly been a legislative strong suit. Bottom line: The legislature’s failure to adequately address McCleary has them in hot water with the state’s highest court. — M.B.
"How many homicides are unsolved and why?" That was the question Tom Rasmussen raised near the end of a City Council committee meeting yesterday, where he and four other councilmembers voted to recommend the confirmation of Kathleen O'Toole's as Seattle's next police chief. Public commenters at another confirmation meeting had caught Rasmussen's attention when they raised the issue of unsolved homicides. "I'd like to hear more about that from you after you've had a chance to be there for a while," he said to O'Toole. Later he added: "It's disturbing to the community, particularly the families, who cannot understand why there has been no arrest."
Police department spokesperson Drew Fowler told Crosscut Thursday that determining the number of unsolved homicides in Seattle is complicated because the cases are never closed. This means that a 70 year old murder could still technically be classified as unsolved. Asked if it was possible to get the number of unsolved cases from the last five or ten years, he said in an email: "The Homicide supervisor has said they don’t have the manpower right now to assemble that data." There have been 14 homicides so far in 2014, Fowler said. Two of these cases were officer-involved. Seven are unsolved. — B.L.
Your library card … a ticket to the World Cup?
Forget watching the World Cup at a bar. Library books beat beer any day. The Central, Northgate and High Point branches of the Seattle Public Library will host free World Cup viewing parties throughout June and July. Andra Addison, Seattle Public Library’s communications director, said she hopes the parties will keep folks that don’t have cable or T.V. kicking. Ghana and the U.S. will be battling among the Central Library stacks at 3 p.m. next Monday — you can check out the full viewing schedule here. — E.W.
Budget cuts hit King County healthcare hard
Public Health — Seattle & King County, which is staring at a $30 million shortfall over the next two years, is proposing to close 40 percent of its public health clinics. The cuts will leave many hospital employees unemployed and significantly cut support services for pregnant women and infants, according to a Seattle Times report. Seattle’s Northgate and Columbia City neighborhoods will likely bear the brunt. Despite this grim financial landscape, Jim Vollendroff, King County’s top mental-health administrator, has pledged to end “psychiatric boarding”, the controversial practice of warehousing severely mentally ill patients in the E.R. until more appropriate facilities become available. Vollendroff remains optimistic even though instances of psychiatric boarding are up sharply since last year. — E.W.
Everything's going to hell in a handbasket
Is it the power of the honey moon? The gravitational pull of Hillary Clinton's Terry Gross gay marriage rebuke? Whatever the case, shit has gotten real this week. Over at the Pentagon, news popped that the Department of Defense is supporting university research to "model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world." That's actually good news since ISIS, a group so extreme even al Qaeda has disowned it, has taken over a swath of Syria and Iraq about the size of Belgium. And its ambitions don't stop there. The only good news in all this? Scientists at Northwestern University discovered an ocean deep beneath the Earth's surface that is three times (three times) bigger than all the world's existing oceans together. When the revolution comes, at least we'll be hydrated. — B.A.
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