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Friday 13 Mar, 2015

Will Ferrell plays second for Mariners. Temp to reach 71 in Centralia.

Drought in three Washington regions

at 5:35pm by David Kroman

Governor Inslee declared drought in the Olympics, central Cascades and the Walla Walla region Friday. The decision reflects the lack of snowpack in Washington’s mountainous regions, just 27 percent of what’s considered normal. In the Olympics, snow levels are at a mere 7 percent normal. The fear is that rivers and lakes will be significantly drier due to lack of runoff from snowmelt in the spring and summer.

According to the statement, water suppliers in Tacoma, Everett and Seattle are not worried about supplies. But fishing and agriculture will likely take a hit. The Department of Ecology has reportedly requested $9 million in emergency funds from the legislature for fishing and agriculture projects, emergency water-right permits, changes to existing water rights, and grant water-right transfers.

Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinalt Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula said that the declaration is no surprise “The fact that the snowpack in the Olympic Mountains is just seven percent its normal level is absolutely devastating,” she said in a statement. “But it is, in fact, part of an ongoing problem we have been facing for some time. The salmon are going to suffer due to lack of snowpack, low precipitation and spring and summer runoff. It is a horrible thing to happen,”

 

NASA Water Scientist: California has just one year of water left

at 3:34pm by Berit Anderson

Jay Famiglietti, “senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine“, has a rather terrifying op-ed on LATimes.com today. He writes,

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.

Washington's safest places

at 2:29pm by Cody Olsen

A study conducted by Value Penguin, a site dedicated to “providing high quality resources to help consumers understand the topics they’re interested in” has released a list of the safest places in Washington. At the top of the list were Sammamish, Duvall and Snoqualmie. Seattle, on the other hand, didn’t fare too well, coming in 110th out of 113, ahead of only Tacoma, Spokane and Tukwila.

WA Senate tackles 'dark money' in politics

at 2:23pm by Cody Olsen

The state Senate has unanimously approved a bill mandating Washington political campaigns to disclose their biggest contributors, according to a report by The Olympian. The bill would require campaigns to disclose any nonprofits contributing $25,000 or more. An earlier amendment narrowed its scope to apply only to nonprofits, exempting groups that already have to report contributions. It now moves to the House.

Seattle City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco retiring

at 1:59pm by David Kroman

Jorge Carrasco, Seattle City Light’s General Manager and CEO, announced his retirement Friday morning. In a press release, Mayor Ed Murray thanked Carrasco for his service. “Jorge brought renewed financial sustainability to City Light,” the statement read. “Under his leadership, the utility stabilized electricity rates, cut workplace accidents in half and became the first carbon neutral utility in the nation.”

Murray’s praise aside, Carrasco’s tenure did not lack controversy. In 2008, an anonymous e-mail blamed Carrasco for handing out excessive public money and positions normally held by city employees to private contractor Lands Energy. Some felt that Carrasco gambled too much on the open market, buying and selling energy without enough risk management to protect against any energy shortages, a distinct possibility for a region heavily dependent on hydro-electric power.

He also received blowback when news broke that he was receiving a large raise, approved by the Seattle City Council, despite furloughs and layoffs within the utilities department. Carrasco initially claimed that he had not requested the raise, but later admitted he had, in fact, asked Murray for more money. While Murray was initially in favor of the raise, he rescinded the offer amid “judgement” issues.

Last July, Carrasco also apologized for hiring Brand.com, an online reputation company, to bury negative stories about him and to replace them with positive ones.

Considering the recent controversies, it’s worth wondering if Carrasco’s retirement is entirely on his own terms.

The cost of government transparency? It's not free

at 1:57pm by Cody Olsen

How easily can the public view government documents? Maybe not as easily as you think. As The Olympian reports, government agencies in Washington and other states can charge fees for a number of things related to public records requests,  including searching for records, making copies and the time spent looking at them.

“It’s incredibly easy for an agency that doesn’t want certain records to be exposed to impose fees in the hopes that the requester is dissuaded,” said Adam Marshall, a fellow with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The article highlighted a few such instances around the country, including the time Kansas’ Office of the Governor told The Wichita Eagle it would have to pay $1,235 to view emails between his office and a former chief of staff, now a prominent lobbyist.

Historical perspective for 47 Senators who wrote Iran

at 10:00am by Mary Bruno

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Kathleen DuVal, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina, explains why the U.S. president is, and should be the point person on foreign policy. “… it was not uncommon, in the years immediately following the American Revolution, for individual Americans to negotiate directly with representatives of foreign governments,” writes DuVal in the Times. “… The Constitution and the office of the presidency centralized American foreign policy making and made possible the rising power of the United States through the 20th century. It would be strange for a group of 21st-century senators to take advantage of the negotiations with Iran and return us to an earlier age of cacophony and weakness.”

UW looks into charges of racial slurs by frat brothers

at 8:06am by Mary Bruno

The University of Washington is investigating allegations from black students that members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity booed marchers in a recent Black Lives Matter protest and called them “apes” as they passed by the frat house, according to The Seattle Times.

How quick is too quick?

at 8:00am by Cody Olsen

The state House has let die a bill that would have imposed a one-year “cooling-off” period before top officials can take jobs lobbying their former offices. As The Olympian reports, the cooling-off period would have applied to state legislators, statewide elected officials, the directors and senior staff of major state agencies, and top legislative aides.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, and requested by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Carlyle said he wished to fix the “revolving door” between politicians and lobbyists. “Of course I respect legitimate differences of opinion, but I cannot hide my personal sense of disappointment that we are embarrassing the institution of government.” Carlyle said.

Gender-pay bill is before state Senate

at 7:00am by John Stang

The House has sent a bill to address the differences in pay for women and men holding similar jobs to the Senate.

House’s Democrats and a handful of Republicans provided a 55-43 victory Wednesday for Mercer Island Democratic Rep. Tana Senn’s bill, which requires employers to provide valid reasons — such as differences in education, training or experience — if employees challenge pay disparities between workers of the opposite sex for essentially the same work.

The bill would also allow gender-based pay disputes to be taken to an administrative judge at the Washington Department of Labor & Industries. It would also forbid employers from ordering workers not to disclose their salaries, and would forbid ordering employees from sharing pay information with each other. Similar laws exist in close to 10 states around the country.

“We have an opportunity to significantly impact families all across Washington by insisting women earn what they deserve,” Senn said in a press release. “Thousands of families will benefit from our actions today and all it takes is giving women the same opportunity as everyone else.”

The news release cited a study by Claudia Goldin, a labor economist at Harvard University, that found after controlling for age, race, hours and education,  women who are doctors and surgeons earn 71 percent of men’s wages. Female financial specialists earn 66 percent of men’s wages.

 

No split for Seattle Public Schools

at 6:00am by John Stang

A bill to split the Seattle Public Schools into two separate districts died quietly Wednesday when a legislative cut-off deadline passed.

State Reps. Sharon Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew, both south Seattle Democrats, introduced the bill, arguing that the school district pays less attention to the multicultural, blue-collar south Seattle than to the more affluent north side. They said a smaller school district would lead to better attention to in-the-trenches matters.

The bill would have forced the breakup by forbidding the existence of any school district with more than 35,000 students. With roughly 52,000 students, only Seattle fits that description.

Their bill made it to the House Rules Committee — the legislative equivalent of baseball’s on-deck circle — where majority caucus leaders decide what measures will go to floor votes. But the leadership decided against moving the bill forward.

Wednesday was the final day for bills to receive approval in their house of origination.

Gates Foundation investing in companies

at 1:04am by Mary Bruno

The Seattle-based foundation that’s given away billions in grants to improve the health and lives of people in developing countries is now investing directly in companies. According to The New York Times, the foundation has bankrolled about a dozen companies over the last two years, including last week’s $52 million stake in CureVac, whose technology promises to make vaccine production faster and cheaper.

Meet Mariners' new second baseman: Will Ferrell

at 1:03am by Mary Bruno

The comedian and actor played a little shortstop for the Oakland A’s, got traded between innings, then took over at second for the Mariners during Thursday’s spring training game against Oakland in Mesa, Ariz. Ferrell will be playing with 10 different major league teams this spring as part of an HBO special, Funny Or Die, which airs later this year.

Friday in Centralia: cloudy and (OMG) 71 degrees

at 1:01am by Mary Bruno

Screen shot 2015-03-12 at 7.56.33 PM

Thursday 12 Mar, 2015

Secret Service agents crash car into White House barricades. Alabama dives into Harper Lee controversy.

Lack of snowpack fans flames for more intense fire season

at 4:54pm by Amy Augustine

And in today’s doom-and-gloom weather news, a lack of snowpack this winter doesn’t just spell trouble for potential droughts; it could mean an earlier and more extreme fire season, according to KUOW.

Low snowpack means fire season could come early, and with them, firefighters, who are normally brought in June to start preparing for the hottest months, according to John Saltenberger is with the Interagency Coordination center in Portland.

“Because of the drought the forests are more receptive to starts,”Saltenberger says, “and while lightning starts aren’t that likely, human starts are possible. We’re seeing those already.”

On Tuesday, Oregon reported a 100-acre fire in Grant County, its cause unknown.

Safety first: Viaduct construction project sees uptick in worker injuries

at 4:14pm by Amy Augustine

Seattle’s tunnel project is becoming more than just a metaphorical pain, at least for construction workers. Associated Press is reporting that state occupational safety numbers show workplace injuries on the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct are on the up, resulting in nearly $1 million in compensation claims last year.

The figures, provided by the state to AP following a public records request, also show more injuries last year than 2012 and 2013 combined. More than 117 workers have been injured since the project started in 2012. Absent were the 2015 numbers, as well as updated claims amounts for 2014, meaning that figure will rise.

For its part, contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners said it places great emphasis on workplace safety.

The medical bills ranged from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, with injuries from a traumatic injury to a laborer’s foot when he was struck by a falling object to Bertha crushing a worker’s hand was crushed in the tunneling-machine’s cutter head.

Ouch.

The SR 99 tunnel in Seattle takes shape in October 2013. Two workers walk through the first rings of the tunnel toward Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine. Later in the tunnel drive, crews will use special trucks to make the increasingly long trip to the machine. (Credit: Washington Department of Transportation)
The SR 99 tunnel in Seattle takes shape in October 2013. Two workers walk through the first rings of the tunnel toward Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine. Later in the tunnel drive, crews will use special trucks to make the increasingly long trip to the machine. (Credit: Washington Department of Transportation)

Mix and stir: Powered alcohol is now legal

at 4:14pm by Amy Augustine

Long day at the office? Forget Happy Hour, just pick yourself up a bag of booze in power form. The LA Times reported that Palcohol – or powered alcohol – is now approved by U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for consumer sales. Just add water and you’re on your way to a great hangover.

So how does it work exactly? We’ll let Palcohol founder Mark Phillips explain:

“Imagine a regular margarita on a counter,” Phillips told the Times last year. “Now imagine if you could snap your fingers and the margarita turns into powder. That’s what Palcohol is . . . without the magic.”

No way this could possibly be a bad idea, right?

Clinton with horns: deliberate or not?

at 1:47pm by Amy Augustine

Time magazine's April cover
Time magazine’s April cover

Editors at Time magazine are catching — pardon the pun — hell after its latest issue hit stands this morning. What people want to know: Did the editors deliberately make Hillary Clinton look like Satan?

Not according to TIME’s political reporter Zeke Miller, who took to Twitter to tell of the “actual discussion in the TIME office: ‘That’s not the way the horns would be.’”

The magazine later issued a statement claiming that “any resemblance to cats, bats or devil horns is entirely coincidental,” adding that this is not the first time a prominent figure resembled ol’ Lucifer on its cover. There have, in fact, been 34 others, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Pope Francis, Jesus and Darth Vader.

 

Rep. Reichert given trade hero award

at 1:08pm by Cody Olsen

The Washington Council on International Trade has given Republican Rep. Dave Reichert its 2014 Trade Hero award. According to its website the organization’s mission is to advocate “for public policies that increase our state’s international competitiveness.” In a blog post, the organization says “Representative Reichert has gone above and beyond to not only vote ‘yes’ on trade policies, but also to introduce and co-sponsor key trade legislation and to educate other elected officials on the importance of international trade to our economy.”

 

Letter to Iran roundup

at 12:04pm by Cody Olsen

Monday’s open letter from 47 Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran has the political world in a frenzy. And things keep getting curiouser and curiouser. The letter warned Iranian officials not to put too much energy into negotiations with the Obama Administration over Iran’s nuclear program, because “We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between president Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an order with the stroke of a pen.”

Many politicos were taken a back by this seemingly intentional attempt to scuttle an important international deal. Secretary of State John Kerry claimed “utter disbelief.” (The Republican signatories are aligned with hardliners in Iran over the nuclear issue and neither wants to see a deal come to fruition.)

Sen. Barbara Mikulski D-Maryland, speaking to NPR, trashed the letter and the freshman Senator (Tom Cotton, Oklahoma) who led the effort: “There is a pattern here of acting like Barack Obama isn’t president and like we don’t even have a president at all — that we can all engage in this kind of temper tantrum politics.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to the letter in a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “It seems that the authors not only do not understand international law,” said Javad Zarif, “but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.”

Mint Press News is one of many news outlets that questioned the legality of the GOP letter, pointing to the 1799 Logan Act, which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. A petition on whitehouse.gov to file charges against the Senators has already received 237,673 signatures, well exceeding the 100,000 in 30 days needed for the White House to respond.

For some historic perspective on U.S. foreign policy contretemps, Politico examined just how unprecedented this now-infamous letter to Iran really is. Its story highlights other efforts by Democrats and Republicans in Congress to sabotage the Commander-in-Chief’s foreign policy.

Officers ambushed, shot following protests in Ferguson

at 11:58am by Amy Augustine

Law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Mo., are on high alert after two officers were ambushed and shot outside of the town’s police department. Both are in serious condition at a local hospital and no arrests have been made, Al Jazeera America reports.

The shooting came during a demonstration in response to Police Chief Thomas Jackson’s announcement that he will resign in the wake of a Department of Justice report finding widespread racism within the town’s police department and criminal justice system.

Don't gimme shock therapy

at 11:13am by Cody Olsen

The Olympian reports Washington’s Senate has unanimously passed a measure banning licensed therapists from using extreme therapies such as shock treatment to change the sexual orientation of minors, or to stop them from using illicit substances. The bill now goes to the House.

Full text of FCC's Net Neutrality rules now available

at 10:41am by Cody Olsen

The FCC has released all 313 pages of its recent net neutrality ruling, called the Open Internet Order. NPR broke down some of the report’s key points, including what FCC chairman Tom Wheeler dubbed its “bright-line rules.” The highlights? No paid prioritization for internet “fast lanes,” and no blocking of legal internet content. Consumers who pay for the internet must have access to all of it. If you have a LOT of time on your hands, NPR has a PDF of the full, 313-page document.

Hormone disrupting chemicals cost Europe billions

at 10:09am by Amy Augustine

Credit: Blue Yonder/Flickr

If, for some strange reason, you haven’t picked up the latest issue of the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, there’s news in there that might give you forswear eating leftovers from your Tupperware container. The European Union spends an estimated $209 billion each year on health-related problems attributed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals — the ones pervasive in plastics, makeup, furniture and children’s toys.

The hefty price tag, about 1.2 percent of the EU’s overall GDP, comes with a real human cost, too: lower IQ, adult obesity and an estimated 5 percent (at least) of autism cases are linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors, which have long been suspected of being harmful to male reproductive health. “The shocking thing,” Harvard’s Philippe Grandjean told the Guardian, “is that the major component of that cost is related to the loss of brain function in the next generation.”

Bon appetit!

FDA to WA pet pot product sellers: stop making false claims

at 8:01am by Mary Bruno

The federal agency sent a letter to Seattle’s Canna-Pet and Sultan-based Canna Companion taking issue with claims that their products ease symptoms of cancer, dementia and asthma — in pets.

Two cops shot in Ferguson

at 7:55am by Mary Bruno

The officers were shot during a demonstration near Ferguson police headquarters. Both are in serious condition — one shot in the face, the other in the shoulder — but expected to recover, said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who called the shooting an “ambush.” According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, local law enforcement “swarmed” a home in Ferguson this morning in search of suspects.

The return of Monica Lewinsky

at 7:00am by Mary Bruno

Monica Lewinsky, the notorious White House intern, the one with the beret and the blue dress, “that woman” is back. After dropping out of sight for 10 years, reports The New York Times, Lewinsky has reclaimed the spotlight on her own terms, speaking out (at a TED conference and in other public forums) against cyberbullying, a form of digital harassment she knows a little bit about. “I lost my reputation,” said Lewinsky about her experience in the aftermath of revelations about her affair with then president Bill Clinton. “I was publicly identified as someone I didn’t recognize. And I lost my sense of self.”

Did Harper Lee really okay publication of a novel she wrote 50 years ago?

at 1:04am by Mary Bruno

That debate has raged ever since Harper Collins said it was planning to publish Watchman, a long-lost manuscript from the much-loved — but mentally fragile — author of the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, says The New York Times, the state of Alabama has jumped into the fray. In response to concerns about potential elder abuse, state investigators talked with Ms. Lee at her assisted-living facility. It’s unclear where the investigation goes from here.

2 (tipsy?) Secret Service agents crash car into White House barricades

at 1:03am by Mary Bruno

Two senior Secret Service agents, one a member of the president’s very own protective detail, drove a government car into security barricades at the White House on Wednesday. That’s according to the Washington Post. An official from the Secret Service said the pair had been drinking at a late-night party. What’s with these Secret Service guys?

Warm with clouds for Arlington

at 1:01am by Mary Bruno

Sunny and warm in Arlngton on Thursday, March 12
Sunny and warm in Arlington on Thursday, March 12. Credit: Weather.com

 

Wednesday 11 Mar, 2015

O'Toole's new hires. Sous chef turned bank robber. #WALeg does reproductive rights all over again.

Attorney General files lawsuit against Super Bowl ticket pre-seller

at 4:01pm by Alyssa Campbell

In a press release this morning, the Office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that it would file a consumer protection lawsuit against ticket vendor SBTickets for “deceptive business practices.” The Attorney General’s Office previously received 24 complaints from SBTickets.com customers after the company announced just before the Super Bowl that they would be unable to provide the “100% guaranteed” tickets they had advertised online. This was after customers had already paid between $1,875 and $3,500 per ticket.

The lawsuit filed by the state demands that the company not only reimburse customers for ticket costs, but also for travel and lodging expenses. Moreover, the company could face a penalty of $2,000 per ticket.

While it seems unlikely SBTickets.com will survive the lawsuit unscathed, the incident is also a lesson to customers: If a website claims “no tricks or gimmicks”, it’s likely there’s something fishy going on.

Ironically, the site is already selling tickets for the next Super Bowl.

Ferguson police chief resigns

at 3:49pm by Cambria Roth

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned Wednesday, a week after a scathing Justice Department report slammed his department. In a text message to CNN’s request for comment, he said, “It’s a really hard pill to swallow.”

UN wants to resettle Syrian refugees in Northern Europe

at 12:59pm by Alyssa Campbell

Four years since the break-out of violence in Syria, the UNHCR has asked senior EU officials to allow for the “orderly relocation” of thousands of Syrian refugees to Northern European countries, as the Guardian reports.

Military helicopter crash leaves eleven missing

at 11:21am by Alyssa Campbell

A US army helicopter crashed Tuesday during a nighttime training exercise in Pensacola, Florida. As the BBC reports, the search continues for the seven marines and four soldiers who were passengers in the aircraft.

Sen. Lindsay Graham has never sent an email

at 10:00am by Mary Bruno

Seriously. That’s what the South Carolina lawmaker told NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday. According to today’s New York Times, Graham isn’t the only Luddite on Capitol Hill. In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s personal emailgate, the media is outing congressional technophobes like Graham and New York Sen. Charles Schumer. “Maybe once every four months,” Schumer told The Times, “I do one email.” Given Clinton’s current email woes, that’s looking like a pretty smart strategy. (Though it is a little scary that lawmakers who will decide on things like net neutrality are still living in the Dark Ages.)

Speaking of Clinton, The Atlantic has a good story on her first public response to why she used a private email account to conduct official business while serving as Secretary of State. (She reportedly sent and received more than 62,320 emails from that private account, and said we’ll just have to trust that the 30,490 she handed over to the State Department were the only ones that were work-related. She deleted the rest.)

Tourists rejoice! Euro's downward spiral continues

at 8:50am by Mary Bruno

Euro bills_550_FlickrThe euro has been losing ground against the dollar for a while now. But Wonkblog tells us that the wobbly currency has now fallen to a 12-year low (of $1.07). That’s down more than 30 cents since last year, and experts don’t see that trajectory turning around anytime soon. Which is great news for tourists planning that Euro dream vacation; not so great for manufacturers trying to sell their goods abroad.

$7 million spent on Oso mudslide victims, but not everyone's happy

at 8:08am by Mary Bruno

Local charities that responded to last year’s devastating Oso mudslide say they raised $9.5 million — and spent $7 million to date — to support slide victims and their families. But according to The Everett Herald not everyone is happy about the way those millions were distributed.

O'Toole's new hires

at 7:51am by Mary Bruno

Kathleen_OToole550_Allyce_AndrewThe Seattle Times preempts the announcement SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole will make later this morning by reporting the chief’s four new assistant chief hires: two insiders, two outsiders. And the winners are . . .

Robert Merner, Boston PD’s chief of detectives is Seattle’s new, um, chief of detectives. Perry Tarrant, head of  Yakima’s gang-free initiative, takes over SPD’s Special Operations Bureau. In a break with tradition SPD Lieutenant Lesley Cordner gets bumped to assistant chief in charge of federally-mandated forms. (Typically you have to be a captain to be considered for assistant chief.) And current SPD precinct captain Steve Wilske becomes assistant chief in charge of patrol operations.

And there you have Kathleen O’Toole’s new posse. Good luck and congratulations to all. (Look for our full coverage later today.)

Spaceflight Industries files $19.2M round

at 6:15am by Berit Anderson

The SEC filings don’t lie: Seattle is still a space hub. Writes Geekwire’s John Cook:

Spaceflight Industries, which helps the U.S. government, Planet Labs and other customers launch small satellites on larger space transportation vehicles, has snagged $19.2 million in financing, according to a SEC filing. Backers of the company — which is led by former GotVoice and Starwave executive Curt Blake and Andrews Space founder Jason Andrews — include Chugach Alaska Corp. and RRE Ventures. Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures also participated, along with Razor’s Edge Ventures.

The company is currently operating out of a headquarters near the Museum of Flight.

How did a successful Seattle sous chef turn into a bank robber?

at 6:00am by Berit Anderson

Allecia Vermillion’s article in the March issue of Seattle Met doesn’t answer that question. Cody Spafford, the goofy, blonde Walrus & the Carpenter sous chef, is probably the only one who really could. But he’s dead now, shot and killed in a stand-off with police after a heroin-fueled bank robbery.

What her article does though is almost more important: It is a heartbreaking portrait of the hardworking, kindhearted and ambitious Spafford and the oyster restaurant that embraced him; as real with his flaws as his accomplishments. It is a mirror to be held by anyone who has ever worked in a kitchen; who has ever grown to love a dark soul attracted to that porchlight. And it is very much worth the time it will take you to read it.

Reproductive health bill passes House

at 5:00am by John Stang

For the fourth straight year, the Washington House has sent the Reproductive Parity Act — redubbed this year as the “Reproductive Health Act” — to the Senate. Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, introduced the bill. The House passed the measure Tuesday by a 51-46 vote that was mostly but not totally along party lines.

The bill would require health plans that cover maternity care to cover abortions as well. The most recent House bills on this topic died in the Senate Health Committee. In the past two years, rumors ran rampant that a few moderate Republican senators would support the bill if it made it to a floor vote. No such rumors have been apparent so far this year.

Tuesday 10 Mar, 2015

Chief O'Toole replacing SPD management team. Starbucks expands mobile ordering.

Is nuclear an alternative energy source?

at 9:21pm by John Stang

The Washington Senate passed a bill Tuesday by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, to add nuclear power to the list of alternative power sources that certain utilities can offer to customers as “green” energy sources. The current list of alternative sources includes wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy.

Twenty-three Senate majority coalition members and six minority Democrats voted for the bill. Three Republicans and 17 Democrats voted against it. The bill now goes to the House.

“Nuclear energy is a carbon-free resource,” said Brown in the floor debate. Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, countered: “This is a bill that continues to unravel the renewable energy industry in our state.”

Study: Skyrocketing traffic on Seattle's I-5

at 3:59pm by Amy Augustine

A study by the Puget Sound Regional Council slated to be released on Thursday yields some news that’s not exactly surprising: Traffic on Interstate 5 in Seattle is terrible.

The issue, according to Rick Olson, communications director for the organization, has to do with regional growth that has outpaced infrastructure, KING 5 first reported. The PSRC, made up of regional leaders and stakeholders, has looked at the traffic issues for months.

About 144,000 people have moved to the region since 2010, a 3.9 percent increase. The study suggests delays on regional freeways have gone up more than 52 percent since 2010, with a 25 percent increase between 2013 and 2014 alone. The study suggests the worst pinch point is Interstate 5, between Fife and Everett, increasing 92 percent between 2010 and 2014.

Olson told KING 5 the biggest change has been on I-5 from the University District to Downtown Seattle, where delays have increased by 290 percent since 2010.

In related news, the PSRC released another study on Wednesday indicating that more people are using public transportation. Go figure.

Oregon scientist finds opportunity for cleaner drinking water

at 3:58pm by Cody Olsen

A Scientist at the University of Oregon may have found an easy way to lower arsenic levels in groundwater, making it safe to drink, reports KUOW. Oregon geology professor Qusheng Jin has discovered microbes in underground water working to transform toxic water-born arsenic into a gas that rises into the soil where it’s less of a problem. The hope is to use ethanol to speed up this process and ensure lower levels of arsenic in drinking water. Dealing with arsenic in the water is a fairly common problem in the Northwest, especially for smaller water systems.

Hacked by ISIS?

at 3:55pm by Cody Olsen

KUOW reports that over the weekend a group claiming to be the self-proclaimed Islamic State hacked a number of businesses, including Tacoma’s own South Sound Magazine. While a quaint magazine covering art, lifestyle and culture doesn’t exactly scream ‘ISIS target’ the magazine’s website read “Hacked by Islamic State” Saturday. With the message, “We are everywhere ;)” below. And yes, that is a winky-face at the end of the hackers’ message. South Sound Publisher Josh Dunn encouraged other business to examine their own security systems, while the FBI said it is investigating.

Doctor shortage leaves mentally ill detainees without beds

at 3:53pm by Amy Augustine

A clinician shortage at Lakewood’s Western State Hospital has forced the institution to deny beds to mentally ill patients for weeks, the News Tribune reported on Tuesday.

Since Feb. 19, the state psychiatric hospital has turned away 90-day involuntary commitments, one of its two main types of admissions, further stretching an already beleaguered mental health system. As of Friday, 41 people were waiting for beds, according to Victoria Roberts, deputy assistant secretary with the Department of Social and Health Services. Of the hospital’s 557 beds for involuntary commitment, 528 are full, she said.

Hiring and doctor retention have been a challenge, Roberts told the Tribune. Nine of 45 psychiatrist positions are vacant or about to be vacant at the hospital.

Roberts said that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has “been recruiting our doctors very, very hard” with salaries up to $250,000.

The average salary for a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs physician is $204,000, about 20 percent over the national average, according to governmentsalarydata.com.

State psychiatrists are paid up to $164,000, Roberts said, but the state last month approved a $459,000 measure to increase salaries for doctors at Western State and Eastern State hospitals by 15 percent. The state also won an agreement to hire contract doctors, while some staff doctors have agreed to work extra shifts. That should allow the hospital to again accept 90-day involuntary commitments, ideally this week.

O'Toole to name new assistants on Wednesday

at 3:30pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Mayor Ed Murray will name new assistant chiefs and a new chief information officer on Wednesday morning, according to a press release sent by the mayor’s office. The Seattle Times reports that all four of her current assistant chiefs were passed over. The appointment of a new information officer likely means that O’Toole sees a need to deepen and speed the changes she has been pursuing in how the community sees the police.

Jake Locker retires from ... football

at 3:20pm by Joe Copeland

As Sportspress Northwest notes in calling the decision a stunner, the former Husky quarterback star is 26. He cites a loss of “burning desire” to play football. He does mention that he wants to pursue other interests. Baseball America points out that the Los Angeles Angels drafted him twice, in 2008 and 2009. And Baseball America’s writer parses Locker’s statement carefully, noting that he didn’t say he was retiring from sports, just pro football. Baseball teams looked at him as potential outfield standout, with both speed and power.

Iditarod racers reduced to slush puppies with lack of snow

at 3:06pm by Amy Augustine

Washington skiers aren’t the only ones hurting from a lack of snowpack this year. In Alaska, high temperatures forced organizers of the famed Iditarod sled dog race to truck in snow to kick off the annual thousand-mile competition. The PBS NewsHour has some footage of the slushy start:

Seahawks trade for Jimmy Graham ... Seriously.

at 3:03pm by David Kroman

ESPN reports that the Seahawks will deal center Max Unger and “multiple draft picks” to the Saints for superstar tight end, Jimmy Graham. It’s no surprise the Seahawks were in the market for a tight end: they released Zach Miller last week after he spent the majority of the season on injured reserve. Russell Wilson did not target a tight end once in the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.

Historically, Graham has been among the most effective tight ends in the NFL — except against the Seahawks. And there was no love lost between him and the Legion of Boom, or the rest of the Hawks’ D. He underperformed last year as he battled a shoulder injury all season.

Unger only played six regular season games last year, dealing with recurring ankle and knee injuries. While the Hawks looked better with him in the lineup, they still managed a winning record in games he did not play.

Doug Baldwin took to Twitter to salute Unger and welcome Graham. Richard Sherman, who once got into a pre-game shouting match with Graham, retweeted the welcome.

This one is a hard pill to swallow. A great player, a great teammate and a great man. Thank you @MaxUnger60 for everything!

— Doug Baldwin Jr (@DougBaldwinJr) March 10, 2015

With that being said. 12s welcome @TheJimmyGraham to the PNW!

— Doug Baldwin Jr (@DougBaldwinJr) March 10, 2015

More to crow about

at 2:03pm by Amy Augustine

A crow is silhouetted in the moonlight. (Photo credit: Jyrki Salmi/Flickr)
A crow quietly plots world domination in the moonlight. (Photo credit: Jyrki Salmi/Flickr)

We recently ran an article about Gabi Mann, an 8-year-old Seattleite who’s become buddies with the crows that live around her house. The BBC, in response to the same article, heard from a number of readers about their special relationships with these highly intelligent creatures.

University expels students over racist chants

at 1:09pm by Amy Augustine

Officials at the University of Oklahoma on Tuesday expelled two students believed to have led a racist chant on a bus over the weekend that sparked national outrage, the New York Times reported.

Secret Service conducts clandestine drone testing over D.C.

at 12:53pm by Amy Augustine

Quoting an anonymous official, Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the Secret Service will practice secret drone-flying methods over the next several weeks to thwart potential civilian attacks on the White House.

Missouri Supreme Court takes over Ferguson cases

at 10:56am by Mary Bruno

In the wake of controversy surrounding the shooting of black teen Michael Brown and last week’s damning report from the federal Justice Department, Missouri’s highest court took the “extraordinary action” of handing off every Ferguson municipal court case to the state’s circuit court. That’s according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Ferguson municipal Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer has also resigned.

UW med school ranked top in the nation for primary care

at 10:49am by Amy Augustine

The University of Washington has received top designations for its primary care and rural and family medicine specialities, besting other top graduate programs in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Graduate School Rankings released Tuesday.

The school performed well in other disciplines, too: More than 50 of the UW’s graduate offerings ranked in the top 40 schools and specialty programs on the U.S. News lists.

Hillary breaks silence on private email kerfuffle

at 10:46am by Mary Bruno

Hillary Clinton, presumed presidential candidate — and controversy magnet — will finally address concerns over her use of a private email account to conduct business while she was serving as Secretary of State. The Washington Post reports that Clinton will come clean in a news conference on Tuesday, her first presser since 2012. Hillary is expected to announce (yay or nay) on her presidential intentions next month.

Big shakeup as SPD prepares to replace four assistant chiefs

at 10:32am by Amy Augustine

The Seattle Police Department is getting an anticipated facelift, according to The Seattle Times. SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole will replace  assistant chiefs Robin Clark, of the detectives and investigations division; Paul McDonagh, who runs the Special Operations Bureau; Tag Gleason, who oversees federally mandated reforms; and the Field Support Bureau’s Mike Washburn, who handles the 911 call center and data-driven policing. All four were invited to apply for their current jobs, which they did, but O’Toole told each of them on Monday that they didn’t make the cut. According to The Times, two of the four new chiefs will come from outside the department, two from within.

 

 

Wikimedia adds ammo to lawsuit targeting government surveillance

at 10:28am by Amy Augustine

Wikimedia,the non-profit that hosts Wikipedia, is joining a lawsuit brought against the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice for the agencies’ longstanding assault on privacy. (Think citizen surveillance programs and interception of communications).  Slate reported the move on Tuesday. “Our aim in filing this suit,” said Wikimedia in a statement, “is to end this mass surveillance program in order to protect the rights of our users around the world.”

More Starbucks will have mobile ordering

at 10:22am by Mary Bruno

When you really need a mochachino you don’t want to wait in line. And that’s why Starbucks plans to extend its new mobile ordering service to 650 cafes across the Pacific Northwest. By next week. So says Geekwire.

Monday 9 Mar, 2015

Japan, China scramble jets daily. Reader photo. Weather.

GOP tells Iran: Watch out, we can undo any Obama deal

at 6:01pm by Joe Copeland

The warning could complicate the negotiations over a nuclear deal, CNN reports, but Republicans defended their letter to Iran.

Mike O'Brien and Ed Murray urge investigation into Port's housing of Shell

at 5:15pm by David Kroman

Seattlepi.com broke the news a while back; The Stranger, arguably, made it a hot button issue: The Port of Seattle, whose motto is “Where a sustainable world is headed,” is leasing space to the Royal Dutch Shell oil company to house its Arctic drilling fleet.

Now, City Councilmember Mike O’Brien is urging the whole council to stand against that deal. He passed around a letter in Monday’s council briefing that argued the permit issued in 1996 for Terminal 5, where the Arctic fleet sits, was meant for cargo only. With regards to Shell’s occupancy, he said, “That use may be inconsistent with the existing permit.” He concluded by hoping for an investigation.

On KUOW’s Week in Review last Friday, Crosscut’s Knute Berger pointed to this as an example of a deep-seated conflict within Seattle: The city relies on and supports blue collar industries like the Port and Boeing, but citizens are often wary of the work they do.

Some argue if Seattle doesn’t play host, someone else will. “The issue is whether we and Seattle enjoy the benefit of the jobs this will reap,” said Paul Stevens, CEO of Foss in a post on the West Seattle Blog. But K.C. Golden, policy director at Climate Solutions, said in seattlepi.com, “The model of fossil fuel development is not consistent with goals of this community. It is time to stand up to the fossil fuel industry.”

O’Brien appeared to have support from his council colleagues and, he says, from the mayor: “The mayor’s office is interested in signing on to this letter.”

Update 5:20 PM: As reported by the Stranger, Mayor Ed Murray asked the Seattle Department of Planning and Development to “conduct a thorough review of the Terminal 5 proposal” from the Port of Seattle so that all environmental and economic impacts of the lease are “sufficiently disclosed” to the public. The move by the mayor hopscotches over O’Brien’s letter, which was urging exactly this action.

Pontoon construction for 520 finished

at 5:06pm by Joe Copeland

The Washington State Department of Transportation says the last of 77 pontoons for the new Highway 520 floating bridge are ready to be floated Tuesday from a construction facility in Aberdeen. They will be inspected before their journey to the construction site. The new bridge is scheduled to open in the spring of next year.

Behind Amazon's choice to join forces with China's Alibaba

at 5:00pm by Alyssa Campbell

GeekWire explores Amazon’s recent decision to launch a storefront on their competitor’s e-commerce portal, largely a result of Alibaba’s widespread reach in China.

Apple's thin new Macbook: Neener-neener-boo-boo

at 3:19pm by Berit Anderson

Today Apple introduced the new Macbook, its thinnest yet. It also introduced the equivalent of a tech company sticking its tongue out at all of its customers, doing away with the right click and all ports on the machine. (You know, those holes in the side of your computer that you use for such conveniences as charging your phone and plugging in your external hard drive.)

“…hopefully you’re not one of those jerks that actually uses the ports on the side of your computer,” TechCrunch’s Matt Burns writes. “This MacBook only has a single USB-C and it does everything from charging, to sending video out and transporting data.”

What the hell is a USB-C? Video game news site IGN has a good explainer here. 

 

State Legislature rushes to meet deadline

at 1:08pm by Cody Olsen

KUOW reports that Washington’s Legislature is rushing to move bills out of their houses of origin. Any bill that doesn’t make the move by 5 p.m. Wednesday is out of the running for this legislative session.

Obama imposes sanctions on Venezuela

at 12:55pm by Cody Olsen

President Obama has issued an executive order imposing sanctions on key members of Venezuela’s intelligence and military community. NPR reports that Obama cited an “erosion of human rights guarantees” as reason for his sanctions, which will freeze the assets of seven high-ranking individuals.

Writes NPR’s Parallels blog, “President Nicolas Maduro accuses the U.S. of plotting a coup against him, and is expelling most U.S. diplomats from Venezuela. He is also demanding that Americans secure visas to enter the country.”

Venezuela has seen crackdowns on political dissent and a dramatic shift towards more authoritarian tendencies since President Nicolas Maduro assumed office in 2013 following the death of former President Hugo Chavez. Maduro, who doesn’t have the popular support or charisma Chavez did, has made many nervous about the state of human rights and political freedom in the Latin American country.

Turmoil around fraternity racism

at 12:02pm by Joe Copeland

University of Oklahoma President David Boren and football Coach Bob Stoops are joining other school staff and students in protesting the blatant racism seen in a video from a college fraternity, the Washington Post reports. Boren also is asking the campus community to address more subtle forms of discrimination. The Oklahoma chapter is already suspended, but as another Post story explores, the very exclusion at the heart of Greek life on campuses can be seen as a start or at least a temptation toward ethnic and religious bigotry.

Danny Westneat: Nick Hanauer's initiative plans

at 6:00am by Joe Copeland

The venture capitalist tells Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat he is looking at a statewide initiative to raise the minimum wage — if legislators don’t act.

Japan scrambles jets daily in rewritten version of 'pacifism'

at 5:45am by Joe Copeland

Under conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese forces are aggressively confronting China’s claims to a group of islands, the New York Times reports. At least one analyst says time is on China’s side.

The weather: A little more sun

at 5:01am by Joe Copeland

The weekend’s glow looks to fade. The change is a little less pronounced east of the Cascades.

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Reader photo: Bikes and buses at Overlake

at 5:00am by Joe Copeland

Bikes and buses and Overlake Credit: WhenEliseSings/Flickr
Bikes and buses and Overlake Credit: WhenEliseSings/Flickr

Sunday 8 Mar, 2015

Visa loophole showing in Seattle. Women feel left out by church change. Big aims for Sounders.

China rounds up activists to prevent complaints about sexual harassment

at 5:32pm by Joe Copeland

For International Women’s Day, the activists had planned to call for an end to sexual harassment of women riding buses and subways, the New York Times reports. OK, so President Xi Jinping wants to be seen as favoring impunity for comrade-perverts?

Daylight savings may actually waste energy

at 4:26pm by Joe Copeland

Modern air-conditioning and heating systems have turned Ben Franklin’s  18th century calculations about saving on candle usage upside down, suggests the Wonkblog at the Washington Post.

New season, new GM: Sounders hope to get to the top

at 11:38am by Joe Copeland

Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest writes that new General Manager Garth Lagerwey is ambitious, with an MLS championship only the first target for the team.

Catholic church change: For men only?

at 11:32am by Joe Copeland

Despite Pope Francis’ initiatives, many women feel marginalized, the New York Times reports.

Investment money meant for poor areas flooding into Seattle

at 11:30am by Joe Copeland

The money comes from a green card lottery for wealthy foreigners who put money into creating jobs in rural areas or high-unemployment cities, the Seattle Times’ Sanjay Bhatt reports.

Saturday 7 Mar, 2015

Selma celebrations start. Ready for Apple's watch? After snagging Lynch, Hawks look to Kearse.

Time change: Do we really have to keep doing this?

at 9:37am by Joe Copeland

Ben Franklin gets the credit or the blame, depending on your point of view. The Herald in Everett notes that several legislatures — including Washington’s — have been looking at giving up the practice of daylight savings time. For now, though, it’s a 2 a.m. switch Sunday. And, yes, it’s the dreaded spring forward.

How Hawks' big contract with Lynch works. And why they want to keep Kearse.

at 9:30am by Joe Copeland

There are advantages for the team in the structuring of the contract with Marshawn Lynch, reports The News Tribune. And the team is opening what could be a winning campaign to keep hometown favorite Jermaine Kearse, who could start talking to other teams but who has spoken positively about staying.

Apple's smart watch: Big, or not?

at 9:22am by Joe Copeland

With Apple set for a rollout press conference Monday, AP tech writer Brandon Bailey offers three reasons why it could be a game changer — and three reasons it might flop.

Obama, George W. Bush gather in Selma

at 9:18am by Joe Copeland

No congressional Republican leaders were planning to attend the anniversary of the great voting rights march, but a couple suddenly made plans, the New York Times reports. While the governor of Alabama said the occasion will mark great progress, others said things are going backward.

Friday 6 Mar, 2015

Beastmode scores contract. Town to run its own pot store. Seattle-bound plane lands safely.

Revenge porn could become a crime

at 8:27pm by John Stang

The Washington House voted 98-0 Friday to create the crime of disclosing intimate images — so-called “revenge porn” — without the picture subject’s consent. The bill now goes to the Senate. Rep. Vincent Buys, R- Lynden, sponsored the bill. “I hope this reduces the number of people doing this. When they see the penalty, they won’t do it,” Buys said. Thirteen states have similar bills. Buys’ bill makes this a Class C felony, with an exception for kids 18 and younger who distribute such images without malicious intent.

Friday’s bill passage followed the House unanimously passing a bill Thursday by Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, to make the distribution of intimate images without the subject’s consent a civil offense, with the victim able to seek actual damages or $10,000 — whichever sum is greater — from the perpetrator.

 

 

Bill would allow sealing of some juvenile records

at 7:19pm by John Stang

The Washington Senate passed a bill 48-to-1 Friday that would require a court to seal the record of a juvenile offender if the youth makes restitution of at least 80 percent. Offenders would also be allowed to have files sealed when they can show a good faith effort to make restitution. The restitution amount, which also may include court costs and other financial obligations, can be converted to hours of community service at minimum wage.

Law enforcement agencies investigating a new crime would still be able to gain access to the sealed records.

“This bill gives a youth a second chance. We all need a second chance in our lives,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Tacoma.

The town that will operate its own pot store

at 4:19pm by Joe Copeland

Some cities have banned retail pot stores. But, as the Seattle Times reports, the Columbia River town of North Bonneville is going to open its own pot shop, Cannabis Corner, on Saturday.

Beast Mode 2015!

at 2:43pm by David Kroman

It’s looking good for fans of Beast Mode. ESPN just published the details of Marshawn Lynch’s new contract, a one-year deal, worth $11 million — a $1 million base salary, plus a $9 million signing bonus and a $1 million roster bonus. A beastly contract for a beastly man. Next up, Russell Wilson…

The Seattle Aquarium's octopus is going viral

at 2:00pm by David Kroman

The Seattle Aquarium’s resident octopus tried to make a break for it and there were many on hand to capture the action. Octopuses (I refuse to say octopi) are widely know for their intelligence and, apparently, refuse to be held down.

This isn’t the first time Seattle’s octopuses have been caught trying to pull some sneaky stuff. Remember that time when all the aquarium’s sharks were disappearing? If not, here’s your explanation:

NFL Insider: Marshawn Lynch will return to Seattle

at 1:45pm by Berit Anderson

Found on Flickr: The car-sized rock that fell on North Cascades Hwy

at 1:40pm by Berit Anderson

Wouldn’t want this bad boy landing on your North Cascades Hwy road trip.

Credit: Washington State Department of Transportation
Credit: Washington State Department of Transportation

“This large rock (18-feet long, 12-feet high, 12-feet long) tumbled down on to the North Cascades Highway on Saturday, June 5 [2010],” WSDOT writes on their Flickr page. “No one was injured and the road was reopened later that evening.”

Civic Cocktail: Ed Murray in full

at 12:46pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Channel has posted the full video from Wednesday evening’s Civic Cocktail program with Mayor Ed Murray and a panel discussion of climate change. (Crosscut’s David Kroman posted a few highlight yesterday here.)

Trail Blazers lose a starter

at 12:41pm by Joe Copeland

The Portland Trail Blazers (of the league that steals teams from cities) have been on a nice roll lately, including a Wednesday night win over Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers. But last night, starter Wesley Mathews tore his Achilles tendon in a win over Dallas and will be out for the season. The Oregonian reports that he told fans this morning that he was in tears this morning over being out for the season but thankful for an outpouring of support from Portland fans. Yup, Trail Blazers’ fans are pretty cool — something that’s easier to say while Seattle has no team.

Seattle-bound plane lands in London after mid-air emergency

at 8:58am by Joe Copeland

KOMO Radio reports that the British Airways plane just landed safely in London after declaring a mid-air emergency and dumping fuel. The Independent in Britain said 218 passengers were on the flight from Heathrow Airport. Some reports suggested there was a problem with oxygen in the cabin but an airline spokesman would only say that it was a technical problem.

He sings the city constructive

at 6:00am by Joe Copeland

A local poet is set to present a poem about Seattle and its construction boom on Friday. Ed Skoog tells KING 5 that, without his 2-year-old son to accompany him on walks, he might find the city’s rampant growth a nuisance. “I sort of want it to last forever,” he told KING. “I want the transitional period to keep going on.” Good for business, for sure.

Skoog’s Rough Day won the prestigious Washington State Book Award for Poetry last year. And, if he is feeling a little more positive about construction than some Seattle natives, maybe his view is helped by teaching at Everett Community College, a city where growth has a history of never quite pulling into the station.

Zoo has its way on elephants

at 5:30am by Joe Copeland

The Woodland Park Zoo won’t run into Seattle City Council opposition over moving its two remaining elephants to Oklahoma City’s zoo, even though the council’s lead on the issue, Sally Bagshaw, thinks the elephants should go to a sanctuary. The Seattle Times reports that Bagshaw hopes the Oklahoma zoo might free its herd and let them go to a sanctuary — eventually. With enough political change, she could be right.

Activists had urgently pointed out Thursday that the council has the legal right to prevent transfers of animals that violate council policy. But, after years of inaction — especially by earlier councils that seemed eager to be rid of any decision-making responsibility for the zoo on city property — it seemed virtually impossible for the council to come up with any reasonable policy just as the transfer was about to take effect. And the Zoo had made its OKC choice with knowledge of council concerns. How that bit of  disregard for the wishes of the Zoo’s ever-gracious patron plays out in the future could be interesting.

Weather outlook: Sun after some fog

at 5:00am by Joe Copeland

The coming days look like slow starters that brighten up nicely, according to the National Weather Service.

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Thursday 5 Mar, 2015

Another notch in Tom Douglas' restaurant belt. Bill seeks more vaccination education. More traffic woes on 99.

Another notch in Tom Douglas' restaurant belt

at 5:05pm by Berit Anderson

Tom Douglas has announced his latest downtown eatery: The Carlile Room at Ninth and Pine, across from the Paramount Theatre, will feature wine, cheese and rotisserie rib roast and is tentatively slated to open June 1. The eatery’s namesake? Brandi Carlile.

Writes Eater’s Allecia Vermillion, “Douglas isn’t shy about the fact that the singer was his naming inspiration. He has a soft spot for a certain type of ‘great crooner’ (he also name checked Annie Lennox, Bonnie Raitt, and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks…the man needs his own Pandora channel) and he and Carlile both got their start in Pike Place Market.”

No word yet on how Brandi feels about Tom’s homage.

Feds: U.S. banks equipped to take heavy hit

at 4:43pm by Amy Augustine

For the first time since the Fed began conducting so-called stress tests on banks with an upward of $50 billion in capital, not one dipped below the Fed’s capital requirements, according to a report published on Thursday in USA TODAY. That’s a good sign the banks – 31 in all – are well positioned to handle a significant economic slump.

 

Senate hopes to expand vaccination information

at 4:38pm by John Stang

The state Department of Health would have to provide information on childhood vaccinations for couples expecting a child, under a bill sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville.

The Washington Senate unanimously passed the measure Thursday. The bill now goes to the House.

The Health Department already is required to communicate with parents about vaccinations before their children enter school.

Although children are supposed to be vaccinated or show immunity to 11 diseases before entering school, parents can obtain exemptions for medical, religious and philosophical reasons. In the wake of recent measles outbreaks, legislators have been looking at ways to encourage more families to have their children vaccinated.

Death's price tag in Washington? Not cheap.

at 4:16pm by Amy Augustine

Ever wonder how much it’s going to cost when you die? Well, maybe not. But today the SLOG had a little piece that got us thinking about it.

Prices for funeral services, cremations and burials are wildly variable. According to a report last year by the People’s Memorial Association, a Washington nonprofit that promotes consumer choice for end-of-life arrangements, cremation costs can vary by 700 percent and burial prices can vary over 400 percent.

RIP Santa (Credit: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)
RIP Santa (Credit: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)

A few key points from the report:

 

  • The average cost for direct cremation in the state is $1,173 and ranges from $490 to $3,390.
  • The average price of direct burial is $2,195, with prices ranging from $895 to $4,090.
  • A complete funeral service with embalming, viewing, services and basic casket averages $3,785, but can be as low as $1,900 and as high as $8,465.

Long-term closure ahead for SR 99/Aurora Ave

at 4:12pm by Cody Olsen

Highway 99 near Lake Union in Seattle will begin experiencing lengthy lane closures starting March 11, the Washington State Department of Transportation warns.

Construction crews will first work to straighten a curved portion of the road beginning March 9, with a full closure of northbound lanes overnight beginning at 10 p.m. and lasting to 6 a.m. On the night of the 10th, crews will begin blocking off lanes to protect construction workers during closures along SR 99 from Valley Street to the Aurora Bridge. A department press release says the closure will affect one northbound lane for approximately eight weeks, and one southbound lane for approximately 12 weeks. DOT warns of increased traffic congestions.

The release includes a list of suggestions for how best to navigate this, mostly boiling down to: Leave early, and maybe carpool.

Senate bill would expand vaccination information

at 3:50pm by John Stang

The state Department of Health would have to provide information on childhood vaccinations for couples expecting a child, under a bill sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville.

The Washington Senate unanimously passed the measure Thursday. The bill now goes to the House.

The Health Department already is required to communicate with parents about vaccinations before their children enter school.

Although children are supposed to be vaccinated or show immunity to 11 diseases before entering school, parents can obtain exemptions for medical, religious and philosophical reasons. In the wake of recent measles outbreaks, legislators have been looking at ways to encourage more families to have their vaccinated.

 

Urban League CEO to challenge Sawant in council bid

at 3:50pm by Amy Augustine

KING-5 reports that the president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle says she run against incumbent Kshama Sawant for a seat on the city council.

Pamela Banks announced on Thursday she will take a leave of absence to run for the newly-created District 3. Sawant has also filed to fill the seat, along with activists Morgan Beach and Rod Hearne.

Thirty-seven people have filed to run for the nine positions up for election in the fall. The redistricting of the city was approved by voters in 2013.

Banks tells KING that she has hired a prominent political strategist, Christian Sinderman.

Thousands flee battle scene in Tikrit

at 3:40pm by Amy Augustine

The BBC is reporting that a military operation to retake the Iraqi city of Tikrit from Islamic State fighters has forced nearly 30,000 people to flee their homes, the UN says.

Victims testify at trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect

at 1:59pm by Amy Augustine

The trial for alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev kicked off this week, bringing an emotional day of testimony from the victims of the attack. See the Boston Globe’s coverage here. For an intimate, in-depth profile of the Tsarnaev family, check out the Globe’s 2013 package that ran shortly after the bombings.

This 2013 image provided by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. (Credit: Boston Regional Intelligence Center)
This 2013 image provided by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. (Credit: Boston Regional Intelligence Center)

Inslee: I'll open up private emails

at 1:40pm by John Stang

Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday he occasionally uses his personal email account for official business, sending notes to staff members. He said those emails will be opened to the public and archived in state records.

Inslee said those emails can be tracked down via his staff member’s government accounts.

A television reporter asked Inslee about the subject at a Thursday press availability. The question referred to revelations of potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of personal emails for government purposes while she was secretary of state.

Department of Justice upholds Ferguson verdict, but condemns police tactics

at 1:05pm by Cody Olsen

The Department of Justice’s criticisms of police in Ferguson show some very basic problems. Yahoo! News drew some damning specifics from the DOJ’s report, “Between 2012 and 2014, black drivers were more than twice as likely as others to be searched during routine traffic stops, but 26 percent less likely to be carrying contraband.” The Department of Justice also highlighted the lack of racial diversity on the police force, where only four of 54 active police officers are black, as eroding community trust.

“It is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

 

Calling 211

at 10:39am by Cody Olsen

Lesser known than the 911 line, King County 211 is a line anyone can call when they are in need of emergency shelter or social services. KUOW reports there’s such a high volume of these calls the wait time can be long, and delivering that information is never fun.

Clinton emails at center of House subpoena inquest

at 9:43am by Amy Augustine

A congressional committee issued subpoenas on Wednesday seeking information about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private e-mail account for official business while she was secretary of state, the Washington Post reports.

Micro-housing: All good?

at 6:00am by Joe Copeland

The Seattle Times has taken one of its Pacific Magazine stories and posted it online. Message: Micro-housing may be one of the great innovations of recent years. But it’s an extremely well-done look at the people behind the trend and the dwellers who love their tiny places.

MLS won't strike (in case you were worried)

at 5:45am by Joe Copeland

ESPN had the news first and network folks were so excited about the big news for soccer fans that they ranked the story ninth in a home page headline box — after such items as Russell Westbrook of the stolen Oklahoma City franchise being on a Michael Jordan-worthy tear, Peyton Manning taking a pay cut and (would we make up stuff?) a cricket match.

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Weather through the weekend: Spokane, Portland and Seattle

at 5:15am by Joe Copeland

Here’s what the National Weather Service is forecasting.

Spokane

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Portland

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Seattle

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Reader photo: Meadowbrook Pond

at 5:00am by Joe Copeland

"Meadowbrook Pond" Copyright Rick Barry/Flickr
“Meadowbrook Pond” Copyright Rick Barry/Flickr

Wednesday 4 Mar, 2015

Convention center has $1B plan afoot.

Bank of Canada warns people to stop drawing Spock on their money

at 5:06pm by Berit Anderson

We disagree.

spocknote-1

Business Insider has the full story.

KING-TV to become neighbors with Safeco Field

at 4:06pm by Alyssa Campbell

The broadcasting company confirmed plans to move its headquarters to an office building across the street from Safeco Field in Seattle’s Stadium District.

67,000 protest Navy's supersonic warplanes over Olympic National Park

at 1:57pm by Alyssa Campbell

Enjoy your peaceful weekend hikes in the Olympics while you can! A petition protesting the U.S Navy’s plan to conduct warfare training over Olympic National Park and National Forest has gained more than 67,000 signatures, according to a press release from the petitioning corporation Care2. If the petition is unsuccessful, however, the Navy’s plan to fly supersonic warplanes above the Olympics will begin in September 2015 – up to 16 hours per day.

The petition was created by Aaron Viles, a Seattle native, who argues that the Navy’s plan “is a horrible idea for both humans and wildlife” because of the noise pollution the Navy’s jets will create in one of the “quietest spots in the country.” Even more harmful, according to the press release, are the microwave and electromagnetic radiation the planes will emit.

Bob Barker to Mayor Murray: Save Seattle's elephants!

at 1:00pm by Alyssa Campbell

Game show host turned elephant-rights activist Bob Barker is demanding that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council step in to save Woodland Park Zoo’s elephants, Chai and Bamboo. Working with the animal protection organization Zoocheck, Barker is demanding that the two elephants be sent to an adequate facility where they can retire peacefully instead of being transferred to a zoo in Oklahoma.

In a press release this morning, Barker calls the Zoo’s plan to relocate the elephants “irresponsible and cruel.”

Barker is particularly concerned about the fact that the elephants will be moved during the winter, recalling the 2005 death of an elephant named Wankie who died under such conditions. Barker notes that if sent to Oklahoma, Chai and Bamboo may actually be worse off than here in Seattle as a result of the region’s harsh winters and tornadoes.

The case of Chai and Bamboo is especially worrisome following the death of Seattle elephant Watoto last year. For Barker, if the elephants were relocated to the PAWS sanctuary in California, a “paradise for elephants,” the price would be more than right.

 

Bertha's ready for repairs

at 11:42am by David Kroman

Bertha, the tunnel boring machine beneath Alaskan Way, is in position for crews to begin repairs, says WSDOT. After sitting motionless for more than a year, Bertha began inching through 20 feet of concrete on February 17th into an access pit near Main Street. After breaking through the wall on February 19th, Bertha has since moved forward 37 more feet — enough for the massive red crane to lift out the 2,000 ton cutterhead, turn it horizontally, and repair the broken seals. Crews will also replace the main bearing that rotates the cutterhead, mostly as a precaution as it is unclear whether the bearing is in fact broken. Those hoping for instant gratification will have to wait: thousands of hoses and cables must be carefully disconnected before Bertha’s head can be removed. Full repairs will take weeks. WSDOT expects to resume tunneling late this summer.

Washington snow worryingly below normal levels

at 10:42am by Alyssa Campbell

While Seattleites have been outside enjoying a generally sunny and warm winter, such a lucky spell of weather is not necessarily good news. As the Bellingham Herald reports, snowpack in Washington state has been 29 percent below its normal level for winter, while snowpacks in the North Cascades have been at a staggering 40 percent below normal levels.

Low snowpack means low water supply later in the season — more than half of which typically comes from melting snow. According to Scott Pattee, water supply specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, all of this is engendering worries of a drought this summer and fall.

Washington State Convention Center has $1B plan afoot

at 6:20am by Berit Anderson

Capitol Hill Seattle reports that the Convention Center started the public process Tuesday night on a $1B, 1,230,000 square foot expansion.

“Powered by its bonding authority, the WSCC has already acquired $56.5 million worth of land between 9th and Boren, and Howell and Olive Way that is today home to a Honda dealership. King County’s transit center block is also on the WSCC’s acquisition target list.”

Apparently, the project is slated to break ground in 2017.

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