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 20, 2013 at 9:16 AM
Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray came to the aid of a bicyclist who had apparently fallen on Lakeview Boulevard East on Capitol Hill just before 8:30 a.m.
Murray was riding in a vehicle with his Seattle police security detail when they came upon a woman who had crashed her bike, said Jeff Reading, Murray’s spokesman. The woman was on the side of the road.
“Ed got out and his security got out and they just stayed with her,” Reading said. ”They had some towels and helped with her face. Asked her some questions then help came.”
The officer assigned to provide security to the new mayor radioed in what they saw and Seattle Fire Department medics responded.
Seattle fire spokesman Kyle Moore said the 24-year-old woman, who was wearing a helmet, fell at the Lakeview overpass and hurt her head. She was not hospitalized.
November 12, 2013 at 9:51 AM
“If you like being free like me,” says rapper Macklemore, join the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Seattle-based superstar has launched a video on his Facebook page and promoted via his Twitter feed urging people to join the ACLU to protect precious personal freedoms.
In the 50-second spot, the rapper tells people to get the ACLU membership card, in part, because it “lets my gay friends marry the hell out of each other.”
“I’ve got a lot of things to do during the day,” he says on the video. “So something like being beaten with a club, pepper-sprayed, and tased for expressing my political views would really slow me down. That’s why I carry the ACLU card.”
Macklemore and his partner Ryan Lewis this year won a YouTube Music Award, a Billboard Music Award, and three MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Video with a Message for “Same Love.”
Macklemore said, ”The tireless work of the ACLU to preserve the freedoms of all people in our country inspires my music and my deepest connection to my human community.”
The video was produced by the ACLU of Washington in partnership with the Wexley School for Girls, a Seattle-based ad agency.
Kathleen Taylor, ACLU of Washington executive director, said, “Free speech, marriage for same-sex couples, and reproductive freedom – Macklemore addresses civil liberties issues that really matter to his fans and the ACLU. And he does so humorously and irreverently. That’s the beauty of it.”
According to an ACLU news release, Macklemore has 3.3 million Facebook fans and 1.7 million Twitter followers.
November 6, 2013 at 6:21 PM
Sue Peters’ lead over Suzanne Dale Estey for a seat on the Seattle School Board has grown slightly.
In Tuesday night’s returns, the split was about 51.5 percent to 48.2 percent. On Wednesday, it widened to 51.8 percent to 47.9 percent.
For Peters, the good news is that more of the new votes – about 53.5 percent — went her way, compared with 46.5 percent for Dale Estey.
October 28, 2013 at 5:32 PM
A Richland florist is asking a Benton County Superior Court judge to dismiss a state lawsuit against her for refusing to provide floral arrangements for a gay wedding, saying Attorney General Bob Ferguson lacks the authority to bring the suit, particularly since the couple at the center of the case never complained to the state.
In April, the attorney general sued Arlene’s Flowers and its owner, Barronelle Stutzman, under the state’s consumer-protection law after reading news accounts about her refusal to provide wedding flowers for the upcoming wedding of two gay men.
Days later, the ACLU of Washington filed a civil suit against Stutzman on behalf of the men, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. The two cases have been consolidated.
Stutzman is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal organization that defends individuals in religion-based suits.
In their motion to dismiss the state’s case against the florist, they argue that for 30 years, the attorney general’s office refused to address discrimination complaints directly, deferring instead to the Washington Human Rights Commission, which is charged with enforcing the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
They argue the state has “undeniably failed” to pursue any of a range of remedies available through the commission’s administrative process.
In a separate motion, they are also asking the judge to dismiss claims in both cases that Stutzman is personally liable as a corporate officer of her company, pointing out that state law does not allow someone to attack a corporate officer personally, except under exceptional circumstances when that person knowingly engaged in fraud, misrepresentation or theft.
October 22, 2013 at 9:13 AM
Washington state’s attorney general will still seek penalties against a food industry group that recently identified donors who contributed money to oppose a food labeling initiative, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson will move ahead with a lawsuit filed last week against the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Ferguson has accused the group of improperly collecting the cash in a manner that shielded the identities of the companies to protect them from scrutiny.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association has since identified about three dozen companies who contributed a combined $7.2 million to help defeat Initiative 522, which would require labeling on genetically modified foods in Washington state.
Janelle Guthrie, a spokeswoman for Ferguson, said the office still believes a penalty is appropriate.
“Ultimately they didn’t comply because they originally concealed,” Guthrie said.
No court date has been set in the lawsuit.
I-522 has shaped up to be one of the costliest initiative fights ever in Washington state, with many parts of the food industry contributing large chunks of cash to oppose the measure.
PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Nestle each contributed more than $1 million to the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s effort to oppose the measure, according to records filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission last week. Other prominent contributors included General Mills, Kellogg, Hershey and ConAgra.
Supporters say consumers have a right to know whether foods they buy contain genetically engineered ingredients and contend that the GE label is no different from other food labels. Opponents say that it would cost farmers and food processors and that such a label implies the food is somehow less safe.
In California last year, voters narrowly rejected a genetically engineered labeling measure after opponents mounted a $46 million defense.
October 4, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Concerned there might not be enough legal pot stores to meet demand in Seattle, City Attorney Pete Holmes asked the state Liquor Control Board to consider increasing the number of retail licenses in the city.
The board has allocated 21 stores to Seattle in a plan similar to the way liquor stores were distributed around the state, before voters privatized the liquor market.
Holmes said his concern is that the illicit market will meet demand if there aren’t enough legal pot stores, and that could undermine the purpose of a regulated and taxed recreational-pot system.
Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith said it’s quite likely Seattle could eventually have more than 21 stores.
Seattle’s allocation is based on population and consumption, Smith said. The initial allocation is based on the retail stores capturing just 25 percent of the overall market in the first year. The board can open up additional stores at its discretion. “It’s fair to say that we anticipate adding additional stores as the market matures and more adults get used to going to state-licensed retail stores,” Smith said.
“We ask that the Board carefully monitor supply and demand for recreational marijuana as soon as the licensed dispensers begin sales and consider issuing additional licenses later in 2014 for dispensers in Seattle if the 21 initial licenses are insufficient to meet demand in our city,” Holmes wrote in a letter Thursday.
Holmes was a sponsor of Initiative 502, which voters approved in November 2012, legalizing adult possession of small amounts of weed.
On Monday, the Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote on zoning for pot commerce in the city. The location of stores in the city is constrained by the legal-pot law’s 1,000-foot buffer between pot businesses and places frequented by youth, such as schools, parks and playgrounds.
October 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM
With more than a year to go until the election, it seems that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg might have some competition from a former colleague and a high-ranking member of City Attorney Pete Holmes’ staff.
This morning Satterberg celebrated his campaign kick-off inside a packed ballroom at the Sheraton Seattle. King County Executive Dow Constantine, Sheriff John Urquhart, former King County Executive Ron Sims, retired municipal court Judge Anne Levinson, Pastor Doug Wheeler, Metropolitan King County Council members, defense attorney Lisa Daugaard and Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel were among the attendees.
Satterberg, a Republican, spoke about getting tough on crimes against the elderly and harsh punishment for sex offenders. Levinson, Wheeler and even a former three-strike felon spoke on Satterberg’s behalf.
Stevan Dozier, who in May 2009 became the state’s first three-strikes offender to be granted clemency, talked about the support he had from Satterberg in seeking his freedom. Dozier was convicted in 1994 of three counts of second-degree robbery; he is now mentoring juvenile offenders.
Satterberg has been in the top job at the prosecutor’s office since longtime Prosecutor Norm Maleng died in 2007. Satterberg, who was Maleng’s chief of staff for 17 years, ran unopposed in 2010.
There have long been rumblings around both prosecutors’ offices about Craig Sims, chief of the criminal division at the Seattle City Attorney’s Office and a former senior deputy King County Prosecutor, jumping into the campaign. Yesterday, Sims posted a video on YouTube talking about concerns about how the office is being run. Sims never said he is running against Satterberg, but asked for people to contact him via email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn “regarding new leadership and a fresh new vision at the King County Prosecutor’s Office.” He is asking viewers to share the video with family and friends.
“Over the past several months I have spoken with prominent community members regarding their desire for change inside the King County Prosecutor’s Office and a fresh new vision for our future,” Sims said in the video. “There has been a call for new leadership. There has been a call for a leader who is not afraid to lead, even when it may be politically inconvenient to do so.”
“I would like to hear from you. I would like to hear what’s important to you,” Sims said.
Sims could not be reached for comment.
October 3, 2013 at 9:53 AM
Michael King, the former executive director of the state Senate Democratic Campaign Committee (SDCC) who was charged with embezzling at least $250,000 in campaign donations to fuel his alcohol and gambling problems, pleaded guilty this morning to four counts of first-degree theft and four counts of second-degree theft.
King showed up in King County Superior Court for what was supposed to be his arraignment on eight counts of theft. In an unusual move, he pleaded guilty. The state will recommend he serve two years in prison and pay $250,000 in restitution.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 22.
According to charges filed last month, King faked polling results and other expenses and wrote himself checks from the Democrats’ campaign account between 2011 and early 2013.
The thefts came to light in February, after the SDCC’s then-treasurer, Jason Bennett, noticed the suspicious expenses submitted by King. He informed the co-chairs of the committee, who hired a private law firm to investigate, and notified police.
King acknowledged the thefts during an interview with prosecutors. “I did these things and I have to accept consequences and I do,” he said, according to the charging papers.
Bank records examined by police revealed deposits to King’s personal accounts corresponding with “reimbursements” from the SDCC, and “many dozens” of withdrawals at Goldie’s Shoreline Casino in Shoreline, the Tulalip Casino in Marysville and the Silver Dollar Casino in SeaTac.
September 24, 2013 at 11:41 AM
Seattle mayoral candidate Sen. Ed Murray said today he would hire 100 new police officers to help address crime in the city and rebuild the ranks of the force, after numbers have fallen over the past four years with retirements and a police hiring freeze because of city budget cuts. The remarks represented a contrast with Mayor Mike McGinn, who has proposed funding 15 new officers in 2014.
Murray’s plan calls for 25 new officers each year for the next four years, above attrition. He said the staffing levels are below similarly sized cities at the same time Seattle continues to grow.
Murray’s call for more police came at the annual breakfast in support of Real Change, the advocacy newspaper for homeless and low-income people. McGinn and Murray were featured speakers and addressed half-a-dozen questions about poverty, social services and homelessness posed by moderator C.R. Douglas of Q13 FOX news.
McGinn said police are not the solution and again questioned whether there was a downtown crime problem. He accused The Seattle Times of manufacturing a summer crime spike to undermine his candidacy. He said the enforcement-only model failed in the national War on Drugs and that he has brought people together around his Center City Initiative to tackle the root causes of crime, disorder and untreated mental illness.
Murray said he would not hire new officers until they have the training and skills to avoid problems including bias and excessive use of force, two issues identified by the Department of Justice in its settlement agreement with the city and the SPD.
“I hear it constantly from people who go downtown. They’re hassled or intimidated or mugged. These are not law-and-order, lock em up folks. These are liberal Democrats.”
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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