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It appears one of the judges got cold feet and switched his vote -- perhaps after receiving his income tax form in the mail.
Animation by Drew Christie

Seattle officials took a big step to change Seattle's tax structure this month by passing an income tax on high earners. It’s the first income tax in Washington state.

A former state Supreme Court justice says the plan could face a tough road in the courts.

Washington Lawmakers Leave Enviros Feeling Shorted

Jul 21, 2017

Washington’s legislative session, the longest in state history, did not deliver the money environmentalists wanted for toxic cleanup, oil transportation safety, or natural resources.

Going into the session, the Environmental Priorities Coalition — made up of more than twenty Washington environmental groups — had placed a priority on getting the state to spend more on environmental protection.

Chris Wolf and his colleagues at Oregon State University had a question. They wanted to figure out which is worse: chopping down an acre of woods in a forest that’s already been disturbed or chopping down an acre of woods in a forest previously untouched by humans.

Going into the study, he said, “we were more concerned about forest loss in areas that had already experienced a great deal of forest loss.”

Wolf and his team hypothesized that cutting down a last little patch of remaining forest would have disastrous effects for biodiversity.

Washington state lawmakers have adjourned and gone home without passing a $4.1 billion capital construction budget. For a community in southwest Washington, that means an elementary school may not get built on time and on budget.

If you liked the warm, dry start to our Northwest summer, you'll probably like the rest of it. There's no change to the dominant weather pattern in sight.

KUOW PHOTO / KATE WALTERS

The first lawsuit over Seattle's new income tax on high earners has been filed. The city is being sued by Michael Kunath in King County Superior Court.

He and his attorney didn't immediately respond to interview requests, but according to court filings, Kunath argues that Seattle's new income tax on high earners violates the state constitution. That's because the constitution says cities cannot impose a net income tax.

Forestry Asks Landowners For Help Avoiding Eclipse Wildfires

Jul 21, 2017

Oregon’s Department of Forestry is asking land owners in several districts around the state to help ensure the agency is prepared to respond to wildfires as the solar eclipse approaches.

Land owners in several districts in the path of totality were sent letters from the Department of Forestry earlier this month asking residents to plan ahead. Fire responders warn of the challenges that might arise with an estimated 1 million visitors coming to the state to witness the eclipse.

What's the best way to ensure the return of salmon and steelhead to something like their historic numbers in the Columbia and Snake rivers? It’s been a hotly debated question for more than 20 years. And it's getting a renewed look with a controversial option on the table:

Removing the four lower Snake River dams.

Seattle's mayoral candidates explain themselves

Jul 21, 2017
Top candidates for Seattle mayor debate in a forum hosted by KING 5 and KUOW.
KING 5

What separates top candidates for Seattle mayor? How would they tackle housing costs, police reform and other problems facing a booming city? KUOW interviewed them on the top issues and here are the results.

Dozens of murals hang on the walls at the Northwest Detention Center. They're painted by detainees, and the designs must be approved by staff. Painting is also considered a voluntary job, and the artists are paid $1 per day for their work.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The policy changes came fast as President Donald Trump took office.

In Seattle, a city where roughly one in five people are immigrants, protests erupted. First, when Trump ordered a crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants.

The U.S. Department of Energy rolled out several options at a public meeting Thursday night to stabilize what’s known as Tunnel 2 at the Hanford nuclear reservation in southeast Washington. Stabilizing the tunnel became a priority after nearby Tunnel 1 was found partially collapsed this spring.

Tunnel 2 is filled with highly-radioactive equipment leftover from a plutonium plant, and the feds say it's also in danger of collapse.

At the meeting, they presented a raft of ideas to stabilize it:

The King County Council decided to put a proposed property tax increase before voters this November. The levy renews funding for veterans and now also, seniors.

Thursday the King County Board of Health approved a new regulation for pregnancy resource centers, otherwise known as limited service pregnancy centers.

Under the rule, they need to post signage saying "This facility is not a health care facility."

Tommy Le's family sit front and center at Asian Counseling and Referral Services (ACRS) in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Angela Nhi Nguyen

A community forum was held Wednesday night in Seattle, to give people a chance to talk about the fatal officer-involved shooting of 20-year-old Tommy Le. Parents of the young man spoke about his death.

Seattle police officer James Norton is running for mayor
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Monday, July 24, is the deadline for people to register in person to vote in the August primary.

Twenty one candidates for Seattle mayor are vying for votes. There are multiple long-shots in the race, including Seattle police officer James Norton.

Opponents of expanding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon say the move was rushed through with little public notice. Supporters point to a series of well-attended public meetings and a comment period in which more than 5,000 written comments were received.

But Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s visit to the monument last weekend showed that the community divide over the monument is far from resolved.

The sewage system is crumbling in Carbonado, Washington, near Mt. Rainier. And if Washington lawmakers fail to pass a capital construction budget before they adjourn Thursday, a plan to replace it—and many other projects around the state—will be put on hold.

A look inside More Hall Annex at the old nuclear reactor
Courtesy of Washington Trust for Historic Preservation/Jennifer Mortensen

The Washington State Supreme Court has put an end to a decades-old debate between the University of Washington and the city of Seattle.

The court ruled Thursday that the UW has to abide by the city's landmark preservation laws.

Coal and oil trains pass through Spokane daily, but that could change by the end of the year. Spokane’s city council will take public testimony Monday on a proposed ballot initiative that would prohibit coal and oil shipment by rail through specific areas of the city.



Washington state’s department of Fish and Wildlife will kill members of a wolf pack that is causing problems for livestock in Stevens County.



Seattle Police Officer Louis Chan, center, talks with a man in Ballard about his erratic and threatening behavior. Chan is partnered with a social worker to help deescalate volatile situations.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

When it comes to policing, there’s a lot of history in the race for Seattle mayor.

Two of the candidates, Jenny Durkan and Mike McGinn, have faced off before. They negotiated the city’s consent decree between the Justice Department and the city of Seattle.

The crowd at a 2016 public meeting in Tacoma rises when asked to stand if they oppose the proposed methanol plant.
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Environmental issues haven't been a big focus in the race to become Seattle's next mayor, but they're playing a key role in Tacoma.

Police and city staff arrived in the morning of Friday, March 11, 2016 to force out the remaining 16 residents atat the former Nickelsville camp on South Dearborn Street.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Whoever is elected as the next mayor of Seattle will inherit a growing homelessness crisis.

Perhaps the most visible markers of this crisis are the tents that line the freeways and nestle in the city’s green spaces.

The final scramble is on to see the total eclipse on Aug. 21 in the Northwest. Most hotels and campgrounds in the path of totality are booked.

But for those willing to do some research, or pay handsomely, there are still eclipse adventures to be had.

Federal and state agencies are investigating a string of wildfires in southeastern Oregon with a potential link to military training exercises.

Seven small fires ignited across state and federal lands on July 11, all attributed to human activity — a suspicious pattern that indicates they could be connected, according to federal officials.

In August, Oregon will be the first state in the continental U.S. in the path of a total solar eclipse. The rare celestial event is attracting crowds of first-time eclipse viewers as well as seasoned eclipse-chasers, also called “umbraphiles.”

The statewide unemployment rate for Washington is holding at its record low in the latest jobs report out Wednesday. The state's Employment Security Department pegged the jobless rate in June at 4.5 percent, the same as in May.


Jacinta Morales learned she was pregnant after she was processed into ICE detention. She said she was happy to be pregnant.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

She wears a yellow uniform, loose, with a sweatshirt underneath. Her long hair, braided in tight cornrows near her temples. Her handshake, timid.

We talk in a small meeting room at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, with her attorney and an interpreter.


Last year, developmentally disabled residents in Washington state institutions choked to death, were sexually assaulted and nearly drowned. That’s according to a report being released Wednesday by Disability Rights Washington.

Suham Albayati, right, originally from Baghdad, arranges items on her table at the Kent East Hill Farmer's Market on Friday, June 30, 2017, at Morrill Meadows Park in Kent.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It's not easy to find quality produce in the East Hill neighborhood in Kent. For the low-income immigrants who live in the community, it's a trek to ride a bus or walk to and from a grocery store.

So Living Well Kent came up with the idea to start a farmer's market. Once a month the community-led organization partners with groups like Washington's Tilth Alliance to offer organic produce and locally made crafts.

Katherine Banwell of our Race and Equity team visited the market recently and has this audio postcard.


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