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Friday 1 Aug, 2014

The Hit-and-run vehicle identified. Late flood of support for Sen. Sheldon. Transgender health insurance OK'd.

Photobombing for judge’s edification?

at 1:35pm by John Stang

First-time offender Ali Abukar Mohamed hopes his photobombs with Seattle officials will lower his sentence convicted of selling crack cocaine, the Seattle Times reported.Mohamed faces an 8 ½ year sentence for selling crack cocaine in his shop in South Seattle in 2012 and 2013, mostly because of mandatory additions to his time because he sold the drug four blocks away from an elementary school. In an attempt to lower his sentence, Mohamed’s attorney, Howard Phillips, submitted a sentencing memorandum to the judge that includes reference letters attesting to Mohamed’s community work, signatures from over 200 individuals that support him and the dozens of snapshots of Mohammed with Seattle police officers, community members and officials including Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Mayor Ed Murray. The photos were Mohamed’s idea and intended to show his relentless engagement with his community. The officials were unaware they would be included in the file. — J.B.

‘Jaws’: The river edition?

at 1:35pm by John Stang

Don’t be fooled by the Seattle Aquarium’s adorable otters, toting slogans such as “we hold hands in our sleep so we never drift apart.” While swimming in the Pilchuck River Thursday morning, an 8-year-old boy and his grandmother were attacked by a 4-foot river otter. The boy likely needs stitches, and his grandmother was taken to Harborview Medical Center to undergo serious eye surgery, according to a KING 5 News report. As of Thursday evening, the otter had not been caught, but will likely be euthanized or relocated if found. Ruth Milner, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife, told The Herald that otter attacks are rare, but they have happened before in Washington and across the country. — E.W.

Hutch: Birth control pills tied to breast cancer

at 1:35pm by John Stang

new study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington suggests that taking birth control pills could elevate the risk of breast cancer in women. Scientists analyzed pharmacy data to track oral contraception use by 1,102 women between the ages of 20-49. They discovered that women taking high-dose estrogen pills were 2.7 times more likely to have breast cancer, while the likelihood rose by 1.6 times in women using moderate-dose pills. Low-dose estrogen pills did not carry an increased risk. But you may not need to rush to throw out the pills just yet. High-dose estrogen pills are typically only prescribed to people with medical conditions or those who don't tolerate side-effects of other contraceptions well, according to The Atlantic. And study author Elisabeth Beaber of Fred Hutch noted in the Puget Sound Business Journal, “It is important to remember that breast cancer is rare among young women and that there are other established health benefits associated with oral contraceptive use.” Those include decreased risks of ovarian and endometrial cancer. — M.L. 

Victory for transgender rights

at 1:35pm by John Stang

A state board voted unanimously on Thursday to offer insurance coverage for all transgender health services, The Olympian reports. Starting January 2015, employees will be covered for hormone therapy, office visits and mental health treatment. Coverage for sex reassignment surgeries will be available starting July 2015. The Public Employees Benefits Board estimates that the additional coverage for transgender care could cost $1 more per month per subscriber in the system serving approximately 350,000 state employees, family members and retirees. Other states, including California and Oregon, already cover these services for public employees, as do Seattle, King County and several major employers like Microsoft, Best Buy, Pepsico and Group Health Cooperative.“Providing the full range of services to transgender individuals is literally a matter of life and death,” said Seth Kirby, board president of Pride Foundation. “PEBB’s decision sends a clear message to transgender individuals that they matter, and paves the way for other employers to follow suit.” — M.L.

Business has senator's back

at 1:35pm by John Stang

Business interests are taking no chances regarding the possibility of state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, coming in third in a three-way primary race. Only two candidates will survive next Tuesday's primary in the 35th Legislative District on the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas. The Olympian newspaper reported that independent business-related political action committees have pumped roughly $161,000 into Sheldon's campaign against Democrat Irene Bowling and libertarian Republican Travis Couture. The PACs donated most of the money for Sheldon in the past week.Although technically a Democrat, Sheldon mostly votes with the Senate Republicans. And his membership in the Republican-dominated Senate Majority Coalition Caucus gives the GOP control of that  body. (For Crosscut’s expanded coverage of the politics of the 35th District race and its significance for the state, click here; a look at the ins and outs of the three-way race is here.) — J.S.  

Mean Streets

at 1:35pm by John Stang

City-contracted waste hauler, Recology CleanScapes, said Friday that it operated the truck involved in a First Hill pedestrian fatality, which occurred on Thursday afternoon. A woman, whose name has not yet been released, was the victim of the accident. Although the truck driver drove away from the scene he has not been arrested. The incident remains under investigation. Yesterday, the police department said they were not certain whether the driver knew that he had hit the woman. The accident took place on James Street near Eight Avenue.Later Thursday evening, a suspected drug dealer, who was fleeing from police, ran a red light and a stop sign, hit a parked car and then careened his own vehicle onto a sidewalk near Sixth Avenue and Denny Way, striking a woman who was pushing a baby in a stroller.  The mother and child were treated for minor injuries at Harborview Medical Center. Cops later arrested the suspect and booked him into King County Jail for drug charges and an outstanding warrant. Just before the accident he had escaped arrest near Fourth Avenue and Battery Street. Officers did not chase the suspect after he drove away because they did not want to endanger people in the area. — B.L.

Thursday 31 Jul, 2014

The Frank Chopp's challenger arrested. Pot cop busted. Trouble in apple country.

Sunday, Aug. 3

at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

: 12:15 p.m. – 2:40 p.m., (full show)
— M.L.

Saturday, Aug. 2

at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

: 12:15 p.m. – 2:40 p.m., (full show) 

  • Friday, Aug. 1

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    : 12:15 p.m. – 2:40 p.m., (practice)

    • Express lanes closed from 12:15 to 2:40 p.m. 
    • Express lanes closed from 12:15 to 2:40 p.m. 
    • Express lanes closed from 12:15 to 2:40 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 31

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    : 9:45 a.m. – noon; 1:15 – 2:40 p.m. (practice)

    • Express lanes closed from 9:45 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. 
  • At right: Blue Angels. Photo by U.S. Navy. 

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    Here’s the schedule of the closures:

    I-90 closures for Blue Angels 

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    The Blue Angels are roaring through the sky today, practicing for their performance at Seafair this weekend, and you know what that means: Sections of the I-90 floating bridge between Seattle and Mercer Island will be closed on and off throughout the weekend, starting Thursday.

    Ferry delays everywhere

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    Is Washington’s ferry system fraying at the seams? First the “Tacoma” ferry lost power Tuesday in the middle of Puget Sound, leaving 405 passengers stranded until the vessel could be towed to Bainbridge, according to King5. While WSF engineers investigate the source of the power outage, ferry commuters are fuming because the Wenatchee, the other regular boat on the Seattle-Bainbridge run, is in the shop, and the replacement boat (Walla Walla) only holds 188 vehicles. The Wenatchee can carry 202. Bottom line: bummer.Edmonds-Kingston commuters are wishing for hour-long delays. That route, down to one boat, was serving up two-hour waits on Thursday morning. (Both boats were now back by noon). And there's more bad ferry news: Service has been cancelled on the Anacortes to Sidney, B.C. route today and tomorrow. To follow all the ferry fun, monitor the WSDOT website. — M.L.Blue Angels

    Pot cop busted

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    Of the 83 tickets issued for public marijuana use in 2014, 66 csame from Seattle police officer Randy Jokela. New police chief Kathleen O’Toole said that Officer Jokela's, um, enthusiastic enforcement came to the attention of the SPD during a review of its first semiannual report on marijuana enforcement.According to The Seattle Times, Officer Jokela allegedly flipped “a coin in one instance to decide who would be cited.” On some tickets he actually requested the attention of "Petey Holmes." the Seattle City Attorney who has been a strong advocate for pot legalization. (According to Times’ reporters Steve Miletich and Jennifer Sullivan, citations for public marijuana use typically go to Seattle Municipal Court, not the City Attorney's office.)Not surprisingly, Pete Holmes released a statement on Thursday, reassuring the public that, although he has been a proponent of legalization, he is committed to keeping shared, public spaces marijuana free. “This isn’t about fining people,” wrote Holmes. “It’s about getting people to stop smoking marijuana in public, especially in crowded areas and places where families and children congregate.” Holmes also expressed his concern about the "disproportionality" in citywide enforcement "across the five precincts.” Jokela, whose beat includes the downtown core, International District and SLU, is under investigation. — K.H.

    Snobby in Seattle?

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    Movoto Real Estate got bored of open houses and decided to dive into “journalism,” posting a list of the snobbiest small cities in America on their blog. Four Seattle-area cities made the cut. Kirkland came in 19th place, followed by Redmond in 31st, Olympia in 38th and Sammamish in 44th. Movoto’s snobby scale was based on a wide range of criteria, including median household income, art galleries per capita and scarcity of fast food restaurants. (We think measuring designer handbags per capita and caviar consumption would have led to more accurate rankings). — E.W.

    Posted July 31, 1:01 p.m.:

    Preschool unions team up

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    The battle pitting preschool union leaders against city councilmembers just got hotter. Union leaders behind I-107, which mandates a $15 minimum wage and more training for early education workers, filed a lawsuit against the city and county on Wednesday. The suit claims that officials seek “to deny voters of a clean vote on I-107.”In June, the Seattle City Council decided in a 6-3 vote that I-107 contradicts an existing city-backed ballot initiative to expand preschool access to 2,000 low-income children, KPLU reports. That meant that voters would have to decide between the two measures, rather than approving both. Backers of I-107 wrote in their court filings that I-107 and the city’s preschool measure “provide different solutions to different problems."But Mayor Ed Murray says that boosting wages immediately would counter the $15 minimum wage deal he made with businesses leaders. The city also points out that I-107 doesn’t identify funding sources, while the preschool measure includes a $58 million property hike. — M.L.

    Plutonium-contaminated groundwater? Don't worry about it!

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    The U.S. Department of Energy is proposing that it leave groundwater contamination around one of Hanford's nine defunct plutonium-production reactors to dissipate on its own rather than cleaning it up. The DOE predicts that the radioactive and non-radioactive contaminants would dissipate or decay to benign levels in 35 to 150 years, according to the Tri-City Herald.The Hanford Advisory Board — which includes everyone from Westside environmentalists to Tri-Cities business interests — is leery about the concept, afraid it might set a lax precedent for tackling groundwater contamination at eight other defunct reactors along the Columbia River's shore. — J.S.

    Immigration trouble doesn’t fall far from WA apple trees

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    A glitch in the U.S. State Department’s computer system has created a backlog in their system for issuing entry permits for legal migrant farm workers. It could take weeks for the system to get up and running again at full capacity, which has furrowed the brows of many Northwest farmers, worried about the upcoming apple harvest. The majority of temporary foreign workers have already arrived, Dan Fazio of the Washington Farm Labor Association told KUOW, but up to 2,000 more with contracts to work in Washington are still waiting to cross the border. — E.W.

    Protest or campaign event?

    at 3:48pm by Berit Anderson

    Seattle Police arrested State House of Representatives candidate Jess Spear, according to a tweet from her campaign, and threatened to arrest Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant for blocking a set of railroad tracks on Thursday afternoon. According to an article by Q13Fox.com, the situation played out on a set of BNSF tracks near the Olympic Sculpture Park. The council member and and the house candidate, both socialists, were joined by others protesting oil train traffic in the city. Photos on Twitter also showed some of them holding up a large Vote Jess Spear banner that spanned two sets of tracks. For more on Spear, who is running against Speaker of the House Frank Chopp in Seattle's 43rd Legislative District, check out Crosscut writer John Stang's article on the race today. — B.A.

    Wednesday 30 Jul, 2014

    The South Carolina gets more 787 work. Police shoot man at Gas Works. Pinging power sought for police.

    A plot twist: Apple challenges Amazon with Boise tech startup

    at 4:33pm by John Stang

    Apple recently bought BookLamp, a Boise-based company that’s like Pandora for books. The acquisition had a price tag between $10 and $15 million, according to an Idaho Statesman report. BookLamp analyzes a book and classifies it based on pace, style and content and then makes recommendations of other books to a user, a service that Apple could use to compete with Amazon and other big players in the book and podcast arena. It's unclear how Apple will use BookLamp's software … perhaps an iPod shuffle of chapters from your favorite romance novels is in the works? The bad news for Boise: BookLamp appears to have decamped to Cupertino, Calif. — E.W.

    Parks’ showers shut off = sandy feet

    at 4:33pm by John Stang

    Some Seattle beachgoers were bummed Tuesday to find outdoor showers and a fish-cleaning table shut off at popular beaches. Seattle Public Utilities had busted the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation for operating facilities at Alki Beach Bathhouse and Seacrest Park that have been directly discharging untreated water into the Puget Sound, violating pollution laws. “It seems like there are other things they can worry about. People are only going to rinse the sand from their feet,” Seattle-resident Sylvia Ochoa told The Seattle Times. (How about sewage discharge from boats? But there are efforts to deal with that, too.)Louise Kulzer, a manager in SPU’s program-development section, said the problem posed by the facilities is messier than sand between toes. “It’s the lotion and the soaps, and the sunscreen. And chlorinated water is … a very potent pollutant and kills fish.” — E.W.

    Church bells ring, Mars Hill dissenters protest

    at 4:33pm by John Stang

    Mars Hill Church is due for a Sunday morning wake-up (which won't include free coffee and pastries after services). Former congregation members are planning to hold signs outside the mega-church’s Bellevue campus this Sunday to send a message to Mark Driscoll, the senior minister, according to Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com. Earlier this month, Driscoll said he is unable “to work things out” with dissenters because he doesn’t know who they are. After this Sunday, maybe Driscoll will have an easier time identifying who the angry former flock-members are. – E.W. 

    Pardon me while I ping your phone, sir

    at 4:33pm by John Stang

    State Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, can use himself as Exhibit A next legislative session when he tries for a third time to create a law authorizing police to ping a cellphone to get its location without having to obtain a search warrant first. Earlier this month, a burglar snuck into McCoy's garage, stealing a rental car and an iPhone. When police arrived, McCoy used his own iPad to ping the location of the stolen iPhone, allowing police to find the car and arrest the suspect, according to The Herald in Everett.Currently, police cannot get a phone company to ping a cellphone to get its location without a warrant. In 2013 and 2014, McCoy won House committee approval for a bill  to allow police to ping a cellphone. But both times, the bill did not receive a full floor vote in the Washington House. — J.S.

    Man fatally shot by Seattle police in Gas Works Park

    at 4:33pm by John Stang

    A still-unidentified man was fatally shot at 2:30 a.m. today in Gas Works Park by Seattle police after threatening them with a broken liquor bottle, police said. After a group of police officers arrived to patrol Gas Works Park because of recent vandalism, a Seattle Parks and Recreation security officer told the officers that a man drinking near a campfire had attacked him when he told the man to extinguish the fire. When the police officers approached the man, he broke the bottle he was drinking on concrete steps where he was sitting and began waving the broken bottle and approached them. Two officers tried unsuccessfully to subdue the man, who was described as very agitated, with a Taser. As the man approached a third police officer, two officers fired off multiple rounds. Medics treated the man at the park and then took him to Harborview Medical Center where he died. The Seattle Police Department’s Firearms Investigations Team and the Office of Professional Accountability are investigating. — J.B.

    Washington’s sky-high Boeing ambitions land in South Carolina

    at 4:33pm by John Stang

    Boeing has decided to assemble the 787-10 Dreamliner solely in South Carolina rather than Everett. In an announcement today, Boeing said the key reason behind their decision is that the 787-10s fuselages are "too long to be transported efficiently" from South Carolina, where they are fabricated, to Everett’s assembly line. Everett is currently pumping out more 787 Dreamliners per month, but that could change, according to a Puget Sound Business Journal report. South Carolina may wind up with more 787 assembly lines than Everett. – E.W.

    Tuesday 29 Jul, 2014

    The Superintendent roulette. Gas Works vandalism. Paying more for pensions?

    County public health chief resigns 

    at 4:46pm by Berit Anderson

    After seven years in office, Dr. David Fleming, the director of Public Health Seattle & King County, is stepping down from his post, saying that his “personal plans and needs” prohibit him from making the “long-term leadership commitment” required for the agency.“During his tenure, we helped more than 165,000 King County residents sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, reduced youth obesity by 17 percent in participating King County schools, and established King County as the region with the world’s best survival rate for cardiac arrests,” said Executive Dow Constantine in a press release.The search for a replacement will begin immediately while Fleming acts as interim county health officer. Starting August 11, Patty Hayes, Director of the Community Health Services Division in Public Health, will serve as the interim director. — M.L.

    Ballmer's L.A. Clippers

    at 4:46pm by Berit Anderson

    Sorry, Sonics fans but the big deal is (almost) sealed: A judge appears to have cleared the way for former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to buy the L.A. Clippers for a record-breaking $2 billion. In a tentative oral decision issued Monday, Judge Michael Levanas favored Shelly Sterling, wife of the embattled former team owner Donald Sterling — allowing her to move forward with the sale against her husband’s will, the Wall Street Journal reports. The judge noted in his ruling that "Ballmer paid an amazing price that cannot be explained by the market."Ballmer was previously part of an investor group seeking to resurrect an NBA presence in Seattle. While Ballmer may have abandoned the Seattle cause, group leader Chris Hansen issued a statement in the spring “assur[ing] Seattle fans that my remaining partners and I remain committed to bringing the NBA back to Seattle.” Would-be owners Peter and Erik Nordstrom, as well as team executive Wally Walker, reiterated their involvement in the investor group, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. — M.L.

    Paying more for pensions

    at 4:46pm by Berit Anderson

    As state retirees live longer, rising pension costs are pushing the state to seek additional funding options. On Monday, the Pension Funding Council voted to increase the pension contribution requirements from state workers as well from state and local governments, The Olympian reports. The state will have six years to ramp up its pension investments, even as it struggles to find sufficient funds for schools to adhere to the McCleary court decision. Budget writers will have to carve out $100 million toward increased pension contributions in the 2015-17 biennium, according to House Appropriations Committee chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina. Starting next July, rates for workers in the Public Employees’ Retirement System 2 will bump up to 6.12 percent from 4.92 percent, and rates for Teachers’ Retirement System will grow from 4.96 percent to 5.95 percent. — M.L.

    Superintendent roulette

    at 4:46pm by Berit Anderson

    Why can’t Seattle Public Schools keep a superintendent? With the recent departure of Superintendent Jose Banda for a job in Sacramento, a Seattle Times article today suggests the district’s high turnover rate (five superintendents in the last ten years) is due at least in part to a fractious school board engaging in “strident advocacy. “The Times dug up an email from Banda himself scolding the board for bullying his staff over the selection of a new math textbook for the district. Though board president Sharon Peaslee denied the bullying charge, a range of other board members, lawmakers and other education advocates backed up the Times’ findings and said they go way beyond the math book incident.So what did Banda have to say about all this? Asked whether the board’s dysfunction played a role in his decision to go, he said, “It does in a way influence that decision. Yeah, I’ll leave it at that.” — B.A.

    Gasworks vandalized!

    at 4:46pm by Berit Anderson

    A group of teenage vandals hit Seattle's most iconic park last night, leaving swarms of empty beer cans and graffiti in their wake. An article on Q13Fox.com has some good photos of the destruction and the Seattle Times reports Seattle Parks and Recreation has dropped all other painting projects to clean up the park. There's a certain cruel irony in the fact that, in the rest of the country, Gas Works is best known as the site of a massive paintball fight in the '90s teen flick "10 Things I Hate About You." Still, I'm guessing Parks workers aren't amused.  — B.A.

    Monday 28 Jul, 2014

    The Eastside Senate race gets nasty. Boeing, Tesoro face protests. Southwest's lazy plane maintenance?

    Boeing protest

    at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

    Protestors blocked the main entrance of Boeing's Tukwila offices for three hours this morning, demanding that the company stop providing weapons to Israel Defense Forces. Protesters claimed that Boeing Defense, Space and Security has supplied weapons to the IDF that are then used on civilian targets, such as schools, homes, mosques, hospitals and schools.The activists, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, locked themselves together and laid across the hot asphalt for three hours this morning while protestors read the names of Palestinian civilians who have died in the last 21 days of fighting, a list that now includes more than 1,000 names. “Boeing, Boeing you need to stop it. Palestinians dying for your profit,” they chanted.In an email, Boeing spokesperson Todd Kelley said that the company was "relieved the demonstration was peaceful," but he did not answer a question about the validity of protestors' allegations. The Tukwila Police Department and Boeing Fire Department monitored the situation, but no arrests were made. The group unlinked at 11:30 a.m. and walked away chanting. — J.B.

    Protesters take part in a "die-in" at Boeing's Tukwila offices entrance. Jessica Buxbaum

    Did Southwest get lazy on plane maintenance?

    at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

    The Federal Aviation Administration today proposed fining Southwest Airlines $12 million over what the agency says were problems with maintenance work done on the airlines' Boeing 737 fleet by Southwest and an Everett-based contractor, Aviation Technical Services. Some of the problems date back to 2006. In one instance, FAA says that required steps in the repairs didn't take place but the overall work on the planes was later shown to have met safety standards. A $12 million fine is the second largest proposal by the FAA on record, but Southwest and the FAA are expected to negotiate the amount, according to the Chicago Tribune. — J.C.

    Eastside Senate race gets ugly

    at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

    A campaign mailer to residents of the 45th District, an area that includes Redmond, Kirkland, Medina and part of Bellevue, is taking aim at Democratic state Senate candidate Matt Isenhower's political allegiances. The mailer, which includes the phrase, "If Matt Isenhower is a Democrat, then Jay Inslee is in the Tea Party," claims that because Isenhower worked for President George Bush's White House, he is not a real Democrat.Isenhower is running against incumbent Sen. Andy Hill, R- Redmond, in the 45th District race, which will be key in determining which party controls Washington's Senate in 2015. The mailer was distributed by the Centralia-based Good Government Leadership Council, which received $580,000 from an Olympia-based Republican PAC in 2013, according to Washington Public Disclosure Commission records.In an email, Isenhower, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant, said that when he was in the Navy, he prepared a briefing memo on Washington state for President Bush prior to a visit to this state. "Like most people who are interested in politics, I jumped at the chance to volunteer, even if it was only for two weeks, at the White House. Also, as a naval officer, I felt that serving my Commander-in-Chief was the right thing to do," Isenhower wrote. — J.S.

    3 arrested over oil train protest

    at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

    The Skagit County Sheriff's Office says it arrested three people who chained themselves to BNSF tracks in Anacortes to block a train pulling oil tank cars from the Tesoro Oil Refinery. One of the Rising Tide Seattle protesters called last week's derailment of tanker cars in Seattle a "final straw." The group wants a moratorium on shipments of oil by train. Crosscut's Martha Baskin was on the scene and has a full report here. — J.C.

    Friday 25 Jul, 2014

    The Class size initiative going to voters. Residence-confused legislator resigns. Immigrant kids arriving.

    What do you do with a sore goat?

    at 3:34pm by Joe Copeland

    Life in a petting zoo comes with with aches and pains — along with lots of children's sticky fingers — for a goat named Waldo at Woodland Park Zoo. To decrease discomfort and improve his range of motion, Waldo is undergoing physical therapy, according to a Woodland Park Zoo Blog post. His therapeutic regime includes stretching, massages and core exercises, while sporting a stylish apron, custom-made by one of the zoo’s veterinary technicians, that holds ice or heat packs. Waldo is recovering and seems to enjoy the exercises. Don’t believe us? Watch the video below to decide for yourself. — E.W.
     

    Local marine birds dwindle

    at 3:34pm by Joe Copeland

    The mysterious disappearance of once abundant marine birds in the Pacific Northwest, such as scoters, murres and Western grebes, can partly be explained by a big fish in a small pond: climate change. Several recent studies suggest that the decline in bird populations can also be explained by little fish, according to a Seattle Times report. As populations of forage fish like herring and anchovies dwindle along our coast, many birds are forced to flock elsewhere to find this key food source. – E.W.

    Drone crashes into the Space Needle?

    at 3:34pm by Joe Copeland

    Early this week, an Amazon.com employee from Dallas allegedly flew a drone right past the Space Needle, according to a KOMO News report. What ensued was hovering hoopla — Space Needle security personnel called the police after guests reported that the drone had possibly crashed into an observation deck window. The Seattle Police Department posted on its blog yesterday,“Seattle’s famous sky-high tourist attraction is still standing after police received reports of a drone crash Tuesday at the Space Needle.” But no wonder we’re sleepless in Seattle — now, we have to watch for drones buzzing across the skyline. – E.W.

    SummeRun against ovarian cancer

    at 3:34pm by Joe Copeland

    The annual Swedish SummeRun and Walk for Ovarian Cancer will take place Sunday morning. It’s the 20th anniversary of the run, which was started by oncologist Dr. Saul Rivkin after the death of his wife, Marsha Rivkin, from ovarian cancer in 1993. The event benefits the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research. The event details here; you can still register the day of the race beginning at 6:30 a.m. If you go: Watch for Dr. Rivkin enthusiastically snapping pictures, greeting runners and encouraging everyone. — J.C.

    Dr. Saul Rivkin recently donned a T-shirt from the first SummeRun

    Bellevue put out with rail yard plan

    at 3:34pm by Joe Copeland

    Sound Transit's board voted Thursday in favor of placing a new light-rail yard at the BNSF site next to the upcoming Spring District in Bellevue. Mayor Claudia Balducci called the decision “ironic,” according to the Bellevue Reporter, given the city’s push to establish high-density, transit-oriented development in the Spring District. An existing yard in Seattle's SoDo district won’t be enough to keep up with light rail expansion east and north, so Sound Transit is looking to establish an additional site for maintenance and operations. The decision won’t be finalized until the agency releases an environmental impact statement which is expected in fall 2015. – M.L.

    Varied NW response to immigrant children

    at 3:34pm by Joe Copeland

    Nearly 270 of the immigrant children coming into the United States from Central America were sent to Washington, Oregon and Idaho as of July 7, federal officials told Associated Press. The children were placed with relatives, foster parents or family friends, while a final decision is made regarding where to place these children. The government is still considering the placement of additional children at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “Our state will provide the support and services they need as they await their court proceedings,” a spokesperson for Gov. Jay Inslee told The Spokesman-Review. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said the state welcomes the children, and the flood of immigrants is a signal of Congress’ failures on immigration reform. Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter sent a letter to federal officials Wednesday requesting none of the children be sent to Idaho. In response to a report of eight immigrant children sent to Idaho, Otter spokesperson Jon Hanian emailed The Spokesman-Review: “Assuming this report is true, HHS has not provided any information about this nor did it go through any of the established channels to inform the Governor’s Office that this was happening.” — J.B.

    Legislator quits over residence issue

    at 3:34pm by Joe Copeland

    In a brief letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, Republican State Rep. Mike Hope has resigned. What he didn’t mention in the letter Thursday, though, was a revelation that he is registered to vote in two states.Hope, who was not seeking re-election, says he had no idea that he has been registered to vote in Ohio, through the state’s motor-voter law, since August of 2013. An Ohio native, Hope has been travelling back and forth between Washington and Ohio while he completes a training program for a career in financial services.  He no longer has a permanent residence in Washington.Snohomish County Democratic activist Mark Hintz told The Herald that Hope should reimburse the state for the money he’s earned as a state lawmaker since he registered in Ohio. The state Attorney General's office and lawyers for the state House of Representatives will review whether the Ohio registration disqualified him as a legislator and, if so, what action should be taken. Hope lost in a 2011 run for Snohomish County Executive, opposing incumbent Aaron Reardon. Reardon later resigned as executive in a controversy an aide's requests for public records involving Reardon's critics. — K.H.

    I-1351 makes the cut for November ballot

    at 3:34pm by Joe Copeland

    An initiative to require lower class sizes in Washington’s public schools has qualified for the November general election ballot. If approved, Initiative 1351 would cut Washington class sizes over the next four years. By 2018, Washington would reach a class size average of 17 students for grades K-3, and 25 students for grades 4-12. Washington currently ranks 47th worst in the country for class size. — E.W.  

    Thursday 24 Jul, 2014

    The BNSF oil cars derail. Zillow eyes a purchase of its own. Boeing cuts challenged.

    Dreams of licensed pot growers up in smoke?

    at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

    Washington’s record-setting wildfires have set legal cannabis aflame, before it reached the pipes of recreational users, according to a Seattle Times report. Licensed pot growers have lost their budding crops and faced road closures, setting back product delivery amidst a statewide marijuana shortage. But is cannabis really a casualty among the Carlton Complex fire’s other victims? At least 150 homes and 250,000 acres, according to the Wenatchee World.Luckily, rain and cooler temperatures in North Central Washington have helped firefighters contain more than 50 percent of the Carlton Complex, the World reports. Officials are planning to scale back the firefighting presence in the region, which encompasses nearly 3,000 firefighters, three national management teams and a fleet of aircraft and heavy equipment. — E.W.

    Ship pulled up

    at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

    Crews finally raised a sunken ship from the Hylebos Waterway in Tacoma today, 18 months after it went down and leaked 640 gallons of oil and diesel. An earlier attempt to extract the freighter failed because the 167-foot Helena Star proved too heavy for a single crane. Today it took two floating cranes to hoist the ship so that it could be drained of water, according to the News Tribune. In 1983, the EPA labeled the Hylebos Waterway as a Superfund site, along with the general Commencement Bay area, because of widespread contamination tied to industrial activity. A major cleanup effort has been underway since 2002. Removing derelict ships is imperative to prevent further contamination, officials said in a statement. The Coast Guard will dismantle and recycle the ship’s parts after it is towed to Seattle, reports KOMO News.  – M.L.

    Lobbying for the governor

    at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

    Miguel Perez-Gibson, a longtime lobbyist and legislative policy analyst, has been named as Gov. Jay Inslee's director of legislative affairs. Ted Sturdevant recently stepped down to pursue other interests. Perez-Gibson will assume his new post on Aug. 4.In the past, Perez-Gibson had been a deputy supervisor at the Washington Department of Natural Resources for three years before working four years as a senior policy analyst for the House Democratic caucus. He owns his own firm, which lobbies and provides other consultations for environmental groups, tribes and social justice organizations. He earlier held positions with the state House of Representatives Democratic caucus and state Department of Natural Resources. He also plays several instruments for the longtime Olympia-based band Los Calaveras. – J.S.

    Everyday superheroes, in plastic

    at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

    Is it a bird? A plane? Nope — it’s you, because You Kick Ass! A Seattle company of that name is serving up personalized superhero action figures. With one photo, You Kick Ass can create an action figure that looks just like you, a coworker (the boss!) or a loved one (decked out in a cape and spandex). According to a GeekWire report, the company hopes to deliver the first batch of action figures by the end of September, each packaged in a box decorated with a personalized comic. The company is getting into business with the help of two full-color 3D printers and a successful KickStarter campaign, which has raised $46,603 as of this afternoon. – E.W.

    Oso study planned

    at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

    Gov. Jay Inslee and Snohomish County Executive John Lovick will announce the launch of the State Route 530 Landslide Commission on Friday. It will study the Oso landslide that killed 43 people in order to improve planning and emergency responses in the future. More details are expected at the announcement. – J.S.

    Boeing cuts: Is age a factor?

    at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

    The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace on Wednesday filed charges of age discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the state Human Rights Commission. Boeing called the charges “a baseless complaint” and told The Seattle Times that it “does not discriminate against its employees on any basis.”Ray Goforth, executive director of the union, today told Crosscut that Boeing’s new way of ranking employees for layoffs means that workers in their 40s are twice as likely to lose their jobs as they would have been under a previous system. Employees in their 50s have triple the chance of getting fired as before, and those in their 60s have quadruple the risk, according to Goforth. SPEEA has also filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Board of Labor Relations over what it says is a lack of detailed information from the company on the new system. — M.L.

    Zillow: A big acquisition?

    at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

    As early as next week, Seattle-based real estate site Zillow may acquire its biggest  competitor, Trulia. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the deal could be worth $2 billion. Since these speculations have made their way online, the stock prices of both companies have soared. All the sweeter if it goes through: Trulia is based in San Francisco. — K.H.

    Derailment but no oil leak

    at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

    A train hauling oil tanker cars and other freight derailed under the Magnolia Bay early this morning, but no oil leaked. The three cars, all newer models with a number of safety features, carried petroleum from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields. Crosscut’s Bill Lucia has a full report here. The timing wasn’t ideal for the BNSF railroad and advocates of increased energy exports: A Seattle hearing will take public comments tonight on the operation of the Northwest’s largest oil terminal, operated by BP north of Bellingham. — J.C.

    Wednesday 23 Jul, 2014

    The Rains raise new worries in Central Washington. For sale: big office buildings. Lost dog found, 2,000 miles away.

    Doctor's assets targeted

    at 4:46pm by Jessica Buxbaum

    A federal agency wants to seize some of a Bellevue doctor’s assets over his alleged role in prostituting women smuggled into the United States by a sex-trafficking group, seattlepi.com reported.According to court papers, the investigation into the doctor began in November 2012 after the Drug Enforcement Administration learned he was depositing large amounts of money into bank accounts in Bellevue. The DEA might have been called in on the assumption that the physician was profiting from prescription drugs, the news site speculates. But the agency then found the doctor was apparently placing sex-service ads online and renting out apartments for prostitutes. Through a series of sting operations, the DEA discovered that at least six women, who had advertised online, were connected to the doctor and the agents concluded that the doctor’s girlfriend, allegedly a prostitute herself, was managing a prostitution ring of at least 10 women.Unsealed court documents suggest the doctor has laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars through his accounts, wiring some of that money to Thai bank accounts. Authorities believe the women had been smuggled into the U.S. and were attempting to repay the debts they incurred from sex-trafficking organizations. The doctor has not been charged with any crime, but federal prosecutors seized $91,000 from his accounts in February. The prosecutors want the money to be declared the government’s property under the theory that the doctor gained it as a result of illegal activity. Seattlepi reports that the doctor's attorney has not yet responded to the government's claims. — J.B.

    ’s own “Incredible Journey,” with a twist

    at 4:46pm by Jessica Buxbaum

    A little white dog, found on a Tacoma road recently, is back with a family more than 2,000 miles away, thanks to a microchip. The Texas family reunited with their Maltese, named Reese, over the weekend — seven years after he went missing.The dog's Tacoma family, however, is missing him. Kelli Davis of Washington state told KHOU that her family adopted the dog from a Texas shelter six years ago, which had recorded him as voluntarily abandoned. The family moved from Texas to this state, and the dog recently escaped Davis’ home in Tacoma after her 2-year-old daughter unlatched the front door. The dog’s original owners have legal ownership because of the microchip registration, KHOU reported, and they say they aren’t going to loosen Reese's leash. — E.W.

    Tacoma

    at 4:46pm by Jessica Buxbaum

    skyscrapers for sale

    at 4:46pm by Jessica Buxbaum

    Chicago-based Walton Street Capital is selling nine major office buildings in the Puget Sound region, according to a Puget Sound Business Journal report. The state of the region’s commercial property values and the Walton Street buildings for sale have a lot of common ground — both are high-risers. Among the property’s for sale are 1111 Third Ave. in Seattle, One Bellevue Center and Symetra Financial Center in Bellevue. — E.W. 

    Puget Sound

    at 4:46pm by Jessica Buxbaum

    Rain signals flash floods for wildfires

    at 4:46pm by Jessica Buxbaum

    A potential second disaster loomed over Central Washington in the form of rain clouds that threaten flash floods for the wildfire-stricken area. By late afternoon, at least one mudslide had been reported along the Entiat River Road, according to the Wenatchee World.The weather service extended its warning of possible flash floods until 11 p.m. tonight, even as 2,100 firefighters continue to battle the largest wildfire in Washington history, the Carlton Complex.The flood watch was prompted as forecasts predicted thunderstorms spreading across Central Washington and causing moderate to heavy rainfall over the eastern slopes of the Northern Cascades. The weather services noted that in as little as 10 minutes, heavy rain on a slope can cause a flash flood because a fire has burned away the slope’s vegetation. Concern has also been raised over the storms sparking lightning-caused fires. Amid the storm forecasts, President Obama signed an emergency declaration Wednesday authorizing federal services for disaster relief and help in providing resources for local and state agencies. — J.B. 

    Tuesday 22 Jul, 2014

    The Fire crews leery of new blazes. Historic recognition for pot purchase. A letter from school.

    Murray pitches in bucks for parks

    at 4:33pm by Bill Lucia

    Putting his money where his mouth is, Mayor Ed Murray contributed $500 to the Seattle Parks For All campaign earlier this month, according to Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission records. The campaign is backing a ballot initiative that would create a metropolitan parks district in Seattle. The district would be governed by the members of the City Council, acting as the district's board, and would levy property taxes to help cover the cost of parks and other recreational facilities. Murray sent legislation to the council earlier this year that paved the way for the district measure to get put on the ballot. The mayor see the district as a way to provide a stable source of funding for the city's parks and to help take care of a maintenance backlog that is apparently around $267 million. He stumped for the initiative Monday with a number of other supporters at the Yesler Community Center. — B.L. 

    City Light head to shed light?

    at 4:33pm by Bill Lucia

    Seattle City Light's general manager and CEO, Jorge Carrasco, will appear at a City Council Energy Committee meeting Wednesday for a "review." The meeting's agenda says the committee has set aside 60 minutes to discuss several recent controversies involving Carrasco. One of those centered on a contract with a company called Brand.com, which City Light paid to burnish Internet search results related to the CEO's name. In another, a pair of con men duped Carrasco into giving them access to scrap copper, some of which they allegedly then stole. Trouble also erupted after Carrasco was less than forthcoming about whether he had asked Mayor Ed Murray for a pay raise. The City Light boss currently makes $245,000 per year. The Energy Committee, which is chaired by socialist Kshama Sawant, will also discuss "employee morale" at City Light. Murray's recently appointed deputy mayor, Kate Joncas, is also scheduled to be on hand during the City Light discussion. — B.L.

    A different letter from school

    at 4:33pm by Bill Lucia

    Dear Parents in Washington State: Your child’s school is probably labeled as failing under No Child Left Behind Laws, and here’s a letter letting you know you may be able to send your youngster to a better-performing school or obtain tutoring for your child. Don’t worry, we’ll foot the bill. (Certain conditions may apply.) Sincerely, Your School District.That’s essentially the message that thousands of parents across the state will receive late this summer, since the U.S. Department of Education has denied the state’s requests to avoid sending out the letters. Until now, Washington hasn’t had to mail the letters because the state was exempt from No Child Left Behind — a waiver that it lost in May because the Legislature wouldn't update teacher evaluation standards to require some attention to students' testing performance. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn had asked for an exemption from the letters, which he said “don’t serve any useful purpose.” But the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education wrote in a memo that the notifications offer “valuable information” like “what the school is doing to address the problems of low achievement.”Washington did get some leeway, however: School districts who are newly identified as failing or that appear to be on the trajectory toward meeting standards will have more time to send the letters. A spokesperson for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction told Crosscut that school districts will manage the process of providing tutoring or transportation to another school children whose parent request it. More information on the issue will likely be available on August 27 when the state releases reports on school test scores. — M.L.

    Mary Jane, you’re famous now!

    at 4:33pm by Bill Lucia

    Mary Jane is officially joining the ranks of city history. The first person to purchase recreational marijuana legally in Seattle donated her pot to the Museum of History and Industry on South Lake Union today (as she had promised a Crosscut reporter). Sixty-five-year-old Deb Greene camped outside of Cannabis City the night before the grand opening on July 8, after deciding to partake in the historic moment on a whim. She was joined at the museum today with representatives of Cannabis City who donated scissors from cutting the red tape and other memorabilia. 

    Lightning’s striking again?

    at 4:33pm by Bill Lucia

    While cool weather is aiding firefighters in squashing the wildfires of north-central Washington, officials are worried about potential lightning strikes sparking new flames. A warning of bad weather is in effect until 11 p.m. Wednesday, spanning across southern Washington to the Idaho border and parts of northern Oregon, according to the National Weather Service. On Tuesday morning, the Carlton Complex Fire was reportedly 16 percent contained, up 2 percent from Monday. The complex has charred 244,00 acres, making it the largest wildfire in state history — surpassing the 1902 Yacolt Burn that spread 238, 920 acres and killed 38 people. Only one death is tied to the Carlton Complex Fire: A 67-year old man died of a heart attack he suffered while attempting to protect his property. An estimated 150 to 200 homes have been destroyed so far, and around 3,600 households are without power in Okanogan County.  Another fire, dubbed the Bugg Road Fire, ignited near Tonasket on Monday, has spread over 1,100 acres, threatening several structures, according to the Washington Department of Natural Resources.Meanwhile, donations from across the state are flooding into Pateros High School, where victims can find food, clothes and household goods, reports the Wenatchee World. Brewster High School is also offering shelter and hot meals. The Red Cross is collecting donations. — M.L. 

    Monday 21 Jul, 2014

    The I-90 traffic: Could've been worse. Wildfires ease a bit. New home for City Attorney offices.

    New digs for City Attorney

    at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

    The Seattle City Attorney's Office is apparently headed to a new office space in Columbia Center next spring. The City Council approved a measure on Monday authorizing the city to lease 63,560 square feet for the city's law department on the 18th, 19th and 20th floors of the downtown skyscraper. The divisions of the City Attorney's Office are currently spread out on multiple floors in City Hall and the Seattle Municipal Tower. The consolidation is intended to improve collaboration within the department. A fiscal note attached to the bill also said that the law department has held off filling vacant positions because it does not have enough cubicle space.The lease rate for the new offices would be $31.50 per square foot in 2015, according to the proposed lease agreement. The average lease price for Class A commercial real estate in downtown Seattle's Central Business District was $34.52 per square foot as of June, according to the commercial real estate firm CBRE's research and consulting arm. The annual cost for renting the space in Columbia Center in 2016, the first full year it would be occupied by the law department, will be $1,859,227, according to the proposed lease. The City Council voted 8-1 to authorize the lease; Bruce Harrell cast the only no vote. — B.L.

    Bacteria hit the beaches

    at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

    Thurston County Officials issued a swimming advisory warning for Burton County Park after testing showed elevated levels of bacteria in the water, The Olympian reported. The beach is not closed, but the warning is cautioning swimmers, especially young children and people with compromised immune system to not go into the water.The warning comes along with two other beaches that have been closed then reopened due to the high levels of fecal matter since the summer season began. Currently, Freeland County Park/Holmes Harbor in Island County and Bayview State Park beach in Skagit County are closed. The state updates conditions on its Washington Beach Program Facebook page. — J.B. 

    Wildfires: A little calmer for the moment

    at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

    Fire crews took advantage of milder weather today, going on the offensive against what has become the largest wildfire recorded in Washington state history. But meteorologists warned that there was a higher chance of thunderstorms in the days to come, which could create new fires.The Carlton Complex fires in Central Washington cover some 380 square miles, surpassing a 1902 fire, according to The Seattle Times. In the only fire-related death so far, 67-year-old retired Washington State Patrol trooper Ron Koczewski, who reportedly suffered a heart attack while he worked to protect his property in Okanogan County. The Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers some 150 homes are thought to have been destroyed but he suspects the number could go higher. — J.C. 

    I-90 traffic: One commute down

    at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

    Thanks to all the early-risers, alternate-route takers and telecommuters, a construction-related traffic jam on I-90 never reached the horrendous levels that advance warnings had suggested. At 5:30 a.m., traffic began to back up on westbound lanes crossing Lake Washington and Mercer Island, growing to about three miles, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. The traffic had pretty much cleared by 8:20 a.m. according to a Seattle Times report.DOT spokesman Mike Allende speculated that people got on the road earlier, took alternate routes or just didn’t drive at all. But Allende hopes people don’t get too comfortable with today’s unexpectedly clear traffic, citing the “Viadoom” closure of Alaskan Way Viaduct in 2011 when traffic was light the first day but increased in severity each day, growing to its heaviest commute by the fourth day. And tomorrow’s commute could be a lot worse, especially with President Obama coming to Seattle to fund raise for the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday. — J.B.

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