December 12, 2013 at 4:40 PM
A state trooper will be suspended for four days, and undergo 44 hours of driver retraining following a multiple-car crash just east of Port Angeles on Nov. 29.
Trooper Travis Beebe, 39, was passing a speeding car on Highway 101, on a curve, when he crossed the center line and hit two other vehicles near Morse Creek, the State Patrol said. The retraining will be done with the next recruit class, and Beebe will take a four-hour test ride with a driving instructor.
“Trooper Beebe came forward and accepted responsibility for losing control of his car,” his commander, Capt. Chris Old, said in a statement. “The discipline and retraining I’ve imposed are within the standard range given in these situations. We’re greatly relieved that those involved reported minor injuries.”
The investigation is still under way, and the State Patrol asks any witnesses to call 360-805-1192.
December 12, 2013 at 8:23 AM
Nearly 10 years after a former Seattle firefighter was injured in a fall while on duty, the Washington Supreme Court has upheld a King County jury verdict awarding the man $12.75 million
On Dec. 23, 2003, Mark Jones awoke in a dark bunk room at the Seattle Fire Department’s Station 33, according to court paperwork. He walked through the wrong door while looking for the restroom and fell through a fire-pole hole to the concrete floor below. Jones was knocked unconscious and, according to court paperwork, suffered a head injury, 10 broken ribs, fractures to several vertebrae and his pelvis, and lung, bladder and liver injuries. Jones claimed his injuries left him unable to work.
Jones sued the City, saying his injuries resulted from negligence by the city and the Fire Department for failing to install a proper guard around the fire pole, or the door that led to it.
The city hired investigators before and after the jury trial to monitor Jones to determine his physical abilities, according to court filings.
In their motion to vacate the judgment, lawyers for the city at the Superior Court trial called Jones’ behavior a “deception.” In 2010, lawyers for the city’s insurer released a secretly filmed video showing Jones chopping wood and playing horseshoes and bocce ball after he was hurt.
In October 2010, King County Superior Court Judge Susan Craighead upheld the jury verdict and said the silent video might not tell Jones’ whole story. In February 2012, the state Court of Appeals upheld the King County jury verdict.
In a statement this morning, Kimberly Mills, spokeswoman for City Attorney Pete Holmes, said they are ”disappointed, of course, with the ruling.”
“It’s important to note that the trial occurred during the previous administration,” Mills wrote in an email.
“Mark is a good person, he is an Air Force veteran, a former police officer and a [former] firefighter. He’s unbelievable in terms of service to our community,” Todd Gardner, a Renton attorney representing Jones said this morning
Gardner said his client “did nothing wrong.”
“To make him go back and try this case, when he needs the funding so badly to get his life back together, would be unjust.”
Gardner said that the defense team never argued that Jones wasn’t able to chop wood, throw horseshoes or partake in other physical activities shown on the video released by the city’s insurer.
“The man has no judgment, he has a horrible memory, he can’t find direction, his cognitive abilities are impaired,” Gardner said.
Since his injuries, Jones has split his time between Seattle and Montana. His health has deteriorated and he is unable to work, Gardner said.
December 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM
Corrected version: Due to an editing error, a previous headline on this story gave an incorrect fine amount.
A majority of Seattle City Council members in a committee vote today approved fines of $27 for public pot smoking. The full council is expected to endorse the action Monday.
City Attorney Pete Holmes had initially proposed $50 fines; when administrative fees were added the total cost of a fine could reach $103.
Sponsored by Councilmember Nick Licata, the lower fines were meant to mirror the penalty for illegally drinking alcohol in public. The council wants Seattle police to give a warning before fining someone consuming pot in public, which is prohibited under the state’s voter-approved pot law.
The council also would require the Seattle Police Department to monitor the age, race and sex of those fined, and the locations of violations. Police would be required to report findings every six months.
Five of the nine council members backed the fines in a unanimous vote of the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee. They were Sally Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, Bruce Harrell and Licata.
The legislation would leave it to the Seattle Municipal Court to determine the toal cost of fines after administrative costs. The law would allow the court to tack on about $28 in added fees.
“I fully support this bill,” said Holmes, who has emphasized that it’s in interest of the new legal pot law to enforce its ban against public consumption.
December 11, 2013 at 12:33 PM
A Mill Creek couple are accused of taking money intended as donations for children’s charitable organizations.
The state Attorney General filed a restraining order and a complaint today in King County Superior Court, accusing Michael and Amy Gannon of violating the state Consumer Protection Act.
The complaint alleges that the Gannons used numerous deceptive practices to entice consumers to donate to charities such as Knowledge 4 Kids or Kures 4 Kids, which they operated. The complaint says the Gannons set up tables outside stores and gave donors the impression that donations would help children but in reality the Gannons applied only a small percentage of donations to charitable purposes. The rest went into the Gannons’ pockets and to other expenses such as paying employees to staff the tables outside stores, according to court documents.
In a news release, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said it is the third time the Gannons have been involved in deceptive business practices. Since donations usually increase during the holidays, filing the restraining order quickly was imperative, according to Ferguson’s office.
Efforts to reach the Gannons this morning were unsuccessful.
December 10, 2013 at 4:26 PM
Former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice on Tuesday announced his intention to retire next year as president and CEO of the Seattle Foundation.
The two-term mayor joined the foundation in 2009. He will continue to serve until a successor is chosen, probably by the summer of 2014.
Established in 1946, the Seattle Foundation awards more than $60 million in grants each year. It is the region’s oldest and largest community foundation, with assets in excess of $725 million.
Under Rice’s leadership, the foundation launched its GiveBIG campaign, which raised more than $25 million for King County nonprofits over the past three years. He also focused the foundation’s efforts on education and economic opportunity.
Rice served as mayor of Seattle from 1990 to 1997.
December 10, 2013 at 2:30 PM
Overzealous application of de-icer was to blame for a series of crashes on the West Seattle Bridge Dec. 2, officials said in a report to the Seattle City Council today. But it wasn’t only that the city applied de-icer while the temperature was a balmy 43 degrees. A worker also put on twice as much as was necessary, creating man-made slippery conditions that caused as much of a mess as ice might have.
It was an effort to stay ahead of the freeze that backfired on the Seattle Department of Transportation. In a report to the council, SDOT officials said the problem wasn’t that the roadway was too warm, as they initially thought. The main problem was the city spread the salt solution on the road at twice the proper rate, making the bridge too slick to drive on before temperatures were anywhere near freezing. At least three crashes occurred before the city closed the bridge to put sand over the de-icer.
The department was responding to an icy forecast, trying to get ahead of the chill before rush-hour and Monday Night Football traffic started flowing across the bridge.
“We were trying to be pro-active and get ahead of what various forecasts were telling us,” Steve Pratt, SDOT Director of Street Maintenance, told a Seattle City Council committee on Tuesday. ”We always try to err on the side of caution.”
But the department’s analysis left no question, he said: “There was no two ways about it. We made a mistake.”
Indeed, there was no ice when a Seattle Department of Transportation operator started spreading magnesium chloride on a troublesome bend around noon. It was 43 degrees. But the roadway was 38 degrees, and anything under 40 degrees should have been fine, Pratt said. Seattle is particularly sensitive about salt solutions, which the city resumed using in 2009 after ice took days to thaw during a stretch of cold weather in 2008. Then-Mayor Greg Nickels was criticized for his handling of the storm, especially an environmental policy that disallowed the use of salt.
DOT spokesman Rick Sheridan said the city has a claims process people involved in the crashes can take advantage of to potentially pay for damage or injuries.
December 10, 2013 at 12:26 PM
The tunnel machine Bertha has been stopped in its tracks by a mysterious object 60 feet underground. What do you think it is?
Update 2:30 p.m.: Thanks for the overwhelming response. We are no longer accepting new word submissions. See others’ responses below. Or you can still post your guess in the comments area.
December 10, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Workers at the Highway 99 tunnel project are bringing a crane and drilling equipment to the waterfront this morning, to try to remove the mystery object blocking the deep-boring machine, some 60-feet underground.
The crane was unloading steel cylinders from a flatbed truck, at South Main Street and Alaskan Way South, where tunnel machine “Bertha” has been stymied since Friday evening. Floodlights, generators, a tall drill, and a green tank for possible wastewater storage were all being staged or unloaded at nearby Terminal 46 — an indication that work may proceed into the night.
Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) and the state Department of Transportation have yet to identify what’s in the way.
The vertical drilling equipment is similar to what STP used to install concrete pilings, to fortify the launch pit in Sodo. An auger rotates and descends vertically through temporary steel cylinders, as shown in this Seattle Times file photo.
There’s more to the task than simply finding and removing the clog. After that happens, crews will probably have to inject concrete grout or some other hard substance into the earth to fill the resulting gap. Bertha, known as an “earth pressure balance” machine, requires firm surroundings when it drills ahead, so that it can stay on a precise path. So a restart might take several days.
A state DOT spokeswoman said Monday that vertical drilling was one option, to help locate or remove the object. The tunnel team hasn’t replied yet to a request for an update Tuesday morning.
So far, about 1,000 feet of tunnel tube has been installed, close to one-eighth of the total path to South Lake Union. Contractors have been paid at least $730 million to date, of the $1.44 billion contract to build the tube, road decks, and electronic systems by the end of 2015.
December 9, 2013 at 7:07 PM
UPDATE 9:15 p.m.| A man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries late Monday after a car struck him as he crossed the road just north of the Aurora Avenue Bridge, Seattle police reported.
The car struck the man shortly before 6 p.m., as he crossed the 4400 block of Aurora Avenue North from west to east in an area that’s not legal for pedestrian crossings, police said in a press release late Monday.
The man, described as in his 40s, sustained “life-threatening” injuries that police didn’t specify. Fire medics responded to the scene and took him to Harborview Medical Center.
Police late Monday were still interviewing the driver who struck the pedestrian. The motorist, also described as a man in his 40s, was driving a four-door Honda sedan north along Aurora when he struck the man. The driver wasn’t injured, police said.
Northbound Aurora Avenue leading to the bridge was shut down during the Monday evening rush.
December 9, 2013 at 4:25 PM
The Snohomish County Council approved buying nearly 12 miles of the Eastside Rail Corridor on Monday, preserving freight service and also opening the possibility of linking to trail systems in King County.
The approval allows the county to use Conservation Futures bond money to buy the property from the Port of Seattle for $5 million.
The Port of Seattle purchased the corridor from Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad in 2009. Other parts of the 40-mile corridor are owned by the cities of Redmond and Kirkland.
“This action will preserve and improve on a very important regional asset,” said Council Chair Stephanie Wright. “Maintaining freight service, while preparing for our future commercial, recreation and transportation needs is an opportunity we must pursue.”
Council members and elected leaders hope to expand the property’s uses by linking the county trail system, supporting bicycle traffic and eventually adding passenger and excursion trains to local cities, the county said in a news statement.
The Eastside Rail Corridor links the city of Snohomish with Woodinville, Redmond and Renton.
Acquisition of the corridor will also link the Centennial Trail with the trail system in King County, allowing people to connect with the Lake Sammamish, Burke Gilman and other trails, the statement said.
Completion of the sales agreement is expected in mid 2014.
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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