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December 2, 2013 at 11:56 AM
The beleaguered city of Gold Bar is in trouble with the Washington State Auditor’s Office again for lax financial procedures and spending more than it brought in for three of the past four years. The city of 2,000 has only enough money in its emergency fund to cover 1.5 days of general-fund expenditures, and it owes its own water utility $80,000.
In its third straight negative annual audit, the auditor criticized the city for loose financial policies. According to the audit, the city’s travel policy doesn’t require receipts, it keeps its city credit cards in an unlocked safe “where all employees have access and can self-check-out by use of a logbook.” And city fuel cards are in envelopes with the PIN written on the outside. The city’s petty cash drawer is unlocked and, at the time of the audit, short $145.
There is no purchase-order process, and expenditures by the council are approved by a panel of one council member and two city residents who don’t consider the city’s current policies, the auditor wrote.
November 2, 2013 at 9:29 AM
Updated | 10:20 p.m.
Seattle City Light said it expects to restore power to 13,000 customers currently without power by 10 a.m. Sunday.
Gusty winds rattled the region Saturday, leaving at least three people injured, cutting power to some 200,000 and even forcing officials to close the Highway 520 bridge for about two hours.
The State Patrol closed the bridge about 11 a.m. after some 50 people driving westbound on the bridge “panicked” and decided to abandon their vehicles amid splashing water and low visibility, Trooper Chris Webb said. The bridge was reportedly swaying as much as five feet.
“I’ve been on (the State Patrol) 22 years. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this,” said Webb, who said drivers should not abandon vehicles in the middle of the road.
The drivers were escorted to safety, and the bridge reopened just after 1 p.m.
The closure, which backed up traffic on the Interstate 90 bridge, was just one way in which the fall storm affected life in the Puget Sound.
None of the injuries were expected to be life-threatening.
A construction worker was hurt on Capitol Hill in the morning when a piece of metal awning he was installing blew off and hit him. A 2-year-old boy in the University District was seriously injured by a falling branch around 9:30 a.m. And a 48-year-old Granite Falls man was seriously injured south of Monroe when a tree fell across Highway 203 and onto his Mustang, according to the State Patrol.
Roughly 200,000 homes and businesses lost power at some point Saturday, according to reports from three local utilities.
Puget Sound Energy tweeted at 3 p.m. that 105,000 customers were without power “due to nearly 1,000 outages across a wide area.” The hardest hit areas were Northern King County, Kitsap County and Whidbey Island, according to another tweet. At 8 p.m., the utility was reporting 55,000 without power, most of them in King County.
Outages among Seattle City Light customers were slowly falling in the afternoon. By 10 p.m., the utility reported that just over 13,000 customers, most in North Seattle, were without power. That was down from a high of 46,000.
The hardest-hit areas were in Northeast Seattle between Wedgwood and Lake City; just north of Carkeek Park; on both sides of Aurora Avenue North between 165th and 195th streets; and along Lake Washington in Lake Forest Park. Laurelhurst and Madrona were also affected.
In Snohomish County, outages peaked at 40,000 in the morning before dwindling to about 10,000 by 3:30 p.m. Those outages were concentrated in the southern part of the county, between Bothell and Monroe, spokesman Neil Neroutsos said.
Neroutsos said the outages should be fixed by early evening. But he cautioned that “if we get another set of winds coming through, it could create some more problems.”
National Weather Service meteorologist Johnny Burg said the worst of the high winds were passing through the Seattle area around noon, and that high-wind advisories were in place for Seattle until 8 p.m.
Breezy weather and scattered showers are forecast to continue throughout the day, with gusts of up to 50 mph. There was no chance of flooding, but Burg said up to 6 inches of snow is expected in the passes this afternoon, as the snow level drops to around 2,500 feet. On Sunday, there is a chance of showers, but the forecast also says it will be partly sunny.
Webb, the state trooper, said officials are on high alert.
“It’s been a crazy day,” he said.
October 9, 2013 at 1:55 PM
If the federal government is still shut down at the end of October, 38,000 women and young children will lose access to an important federal nutrition subsidy called WIC, and 82 King County staff will be laid off.
That is the chief message delivered this morning by King County Executive Dow Constantine, Metropolitan King County Council budget chairman Joe McDermott, U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott and Suzan DelBene at a White Center press conference.
“They are literally taking food from the mouths of babies,” said Constantine.
The federal shutdown means USDA funding for WIC runs out Oct. 31. Families depend on WIC for health screenings, nutrition and health education, and breastfeeding support, and also use benefits to get free nutritious food, milk and infant formula.
“This shutdown is hurting Seattle, it is hurting Washington State, and it is hurting our country,” McDermott said. “We don’t have time to wait for the GOP to come to their senses. We must end this shutdown now.”
At a news conference today at the White Center Public Health Center at Greenbridge, Executive Constantine was joined by King County Councilmember and Council Budget Chair Joe McDermott, and a WIC client, Crystal Ruegger.
August 29, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Nickelsville, the 5-year-old homeless encampment currently on West Marginal Way, plans to move to three different sites this weekend. The Seattle City Council directed the mayor to clear the current site by Sunday.
The group won’t say where it is going. Tim Harris, a homeless advocate, said one of the sites is in the Central District on South Jackson Street and 20th Avenue South, on land owned by the Low Income Housing Institute. Private property owners can apply for a temporary permit to have an encampment on their property, but Harris said the long-term plan is to find a church that will host. The city can’t stop a religious institution from hosting a homeless encampment.
Nickelsville has moved many times during its history. The move saves Mayor Mike McGinn from a problematic campaign photo op he would have faced if he had to clear Nickelsville from its site in a confrontation.
“We were aware they were looking for another site,” said spokesman Aaron Pickus.
August 13, 2013 at 1:56 PM
The family involved in a tragic crash this spring in Northeast Seattle has filed $45 million in claims against the city of Seattle for failing to supervise the driver of a truck that hit them while they were out for an afternoon walk. The crash killed a couple and critically injured their daughter-in-law and infant grandson. Filing a claim is the first step toward suing the city for damages, if the family doesn’t settle a claim with the city outside of court.
A pickup driven by Mark W. Mullan crashed into Dennis and Judy Schulte in a Wedgwood crosswalk March 25, while they were out for a walk with their daughter-in-law, Karina Ulriksen Schulte, and her infant son, Elias. Ulriksen Schulte and her son were badly injured in the crash, and Dennis and Judy Schulte died. Mullan smelled of alcohol, failed field sobriety tests and had a preliminary breath-alcohol level of 0.22 percent, nearly three times the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Mullan was on probation after a DUI conviction, under the supervision of the Seattle Municipal Court Probation Department. He had a suspended license and wasn’t supposed to be driving without an interlock device.
According to the claims, filed late last week, “The city of Seattle failed to properly monitor and supervise Mr. Mullan, and as a result, he was allowed to violate the terms of his probation, go untreated and drive his vehicle without an interlock device while intoxicated.” Mullan pleaded not guilty in April to multiple charges.
The claims include damages for physical, mental and emotional injuries, plus medical expenses and wage losses for Ulriksen Schulte and her son, the estates of Dennis and Judy Schulte, Ulriksen Schulte’s husband, Dan Schulte, and his sister, Marilyn Schulte. They total $45 million in all.
Seattle spokeswoman Katherine Schubert-Knapp said she couldn’t comment on the claims.
July 14, 2013 at 10:16 AM
A propane tank exploded Sunday morning at the North Transfer Station in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, shattering the windows of at least one vehicle and prompting people from Eastlake to Wallingford to call 911, saying the explosion shook their houses.
The explosion happened around 8:25 a.m. Seattle Fire spokesman Kyle Moore said workers at the station were using a backhoe to pack down recycled metal in a recyling bin. They didn’t know there was a propane tank in the bin, which should not have been recycled. When the backhoe crushed the tank, it exploded.
“It sent debris everywhere,” Moore said, but no one was hurt. The backhoe driver was in a glass protective cage, and other workers were far away. There was nothing in the bin to catch fire, but the explosion sent up a big plume of dust.
Propane tanks should not be thrown away in the garbage or recycled. They can be traded in at a licensed dealer or disposed of at a hazardous waste site in King County.
July 14, 2013 at 9:32 AM
The victim of an early-morning shooting on Capitol Hill is at Harborview Medical Center, and Seattle Police say his injuries are life-threatening.
Several people called 911 at about 3 a.m. today to report a man had been shot several times at 10th Avenue and East Pine Street, police said.
Police arrested a man they say was running north through Cal Anderson Park as officers arrived. He had a gun. Both the victim and the suspect are 19 or 20 years old, police said, and witnesses said they were having an argument before shots were fired.
June 30, 2013 at 10:34 AM
An officer in a Seattle patrol car saw the motorcycle at about 7:30 a.m. turning onto Greenwood Avenue North, northbound, from Holman Road Northwest. The officer turned on his lights and siren and tried to catch up to the motorcyclist, who failed to stop and turned onto eastbound North 125th Street. The police car kept chasing him, but lost sight of him twice as the motorcyclist sped through the neighborhood. When the motorcyclist apparently tried to turn onto southbound Greenwood Avenue North from North 122nd Street, he collided with a pickup truck heading northbound on Greenwood Avenue North.
Police are still reconstructing the accident, but the motorcyclist would have encountered a stop sign at North 122nd Street and Greenwood Avenue North.
The motorcyclist, a man in his 20s, was transported to Harborview Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. The man driving the pickup truck and his passenger were not injured.
June 30, 2013 at 9:27 AM
Police responding to a disturbance in the 4700 block of University Way Northeast found an adult male in his early 20s who had been stabbed in the torso. The events leading up to the stabbing are still under investigation. The victim later died at Harborview Medical Center.
Detectives are seeking tips in the case and continue to investigate. The suspect is a tall, thin black male, they said.
Anyone with information about this incident or who may know the identity or whereabouts of the suspect is asked to call 911 or the Seattle Police Homicide Tip Line at (206) 233-5000.
June 24, 2013 at 4:59 PM
The Seattle City Council voted today to spend $500,000 to house Nickelsville residents. In September, the council plans to evict Nickelsville from the Marginal Way Southwest property where residents have been camping for nearly two years.
Nickelsville’s fate is coming to a head after a long civic discussion about what to do. In the end, concerns about safety and environmental contamination prompted the council to ask Mayor Mike McGinn to act. McGinn had been working with Councilmember Nick Licata to give Nickelsville more options, but the majority of the City Council does not believe encampments are “an acceptable response to homelessness,” according to a city news release.
Instead, the city will use the $500,000 to help Nickelsville residents find treatment and housing. The city already has been in talks with the Union Gospel Mission about sheltering Nickelsville residents.
“Our goal is to provide safe, secure housing to anyone at the West Marginal Way SW location who is willing to accept it,” said Council President Sally Clark.
On June 25, the council will host an evening hearing about alternatives for encampments in the city.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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