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Voters in both Oregon and Washington are considering measures this November that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. If they pass, the laws would further widen the legal gap with neighboring Idaho, where police worry about spillover.

Idaho State Police Major Kevin Hudgens just learned about the two measures to the west of his state. He says they concern him.

“Common sense tells me that I’m sure we’d see some of our residents going over to Oregon and Washington to purchase marijuana. So, we would likely see an increase in that.”

The city of Seattle is seeking citizens for its new Community Police Commission. The commission is being established as part of an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to reform the Seattle Police Department. Federal and local officials have expressed hopes that the commission will play a strong role in police oversight. But it faces some limitations that could hamper its abilities, as the members of another police review board have already found.

Gregoire To Candidates: 'Sounds Good, Doesn't Work'

Oct 26, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Outgoing Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has a message for the candidates to replace her: “sounds good, doesn’t work.” That’s Gregoire’s take on several of the budget-balancing ideas she’s hearing from fellow Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna.

In response to reporter questions, Gregoire got to play the role of seasoned eight-year veteran of the governor’s office. Both candidates say they would look to close outdated tax loopholes.

“I said that eight years ago," the governor says. "I’ve learned a lot.”

AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey

President Obama is formally throwing his support to Referendum 74, which asks Washington voters to decide on same-sex marriage.

$178 Million Smart Grid Project Launches In Northwest

Oct 25, 2012
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

The University of Washington got its launch Wednesday as the country's biggest testing ground for smart grid technology.

Smart grid is a catch-all term for something power providers are still trying to figure out — namely, how do you use modern technology, like the Internet, to manage how much power is flowing through the grid at any given time?

Read the full story on KUOW's EarthFix

Images via TVW

Whoever is elected as governor this fall could change the course of Washington state's Medicaid program. When the US Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act in June, it determined that the law went too far when it required states to expand Medicaid. The ruling left it up to states to decide whether or not to open up the program to cover people without insurance.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In the presidential race, we hear a lot about the electoral map -- and the math to winning the presidency. It’s all about swing states like Ohio and Florida. At the state level, there’s no electoral college. The candidate with the most votes wins. But there’s still a formula for victory -- even in blue states like Washington and Oregon.

Former state Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt says the way to navigate a path to victory in Washington -- if you’re a Democrat -- involves what he calls a “salt water strategy.”

Polka Is Out, Even At World Accordion Competition

Oct 25, 2012

SPOKANE, Wash. - This week, the Northwest is hosting an historic event –- historic, at least, in the world of accordion music. The top players from 19 countries are competing in Spokane at the World Trophy Accordion Championship.

It's the first time the prestigious international competition has come to the United States and U.S. accordion players feel they've got something to prove.

There's one big problem facing accordion players here. It goes a little something like this.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington State Democratic Party says it will not return $60,000 in contributions from a controversial spiritual leader from Yelm, Washington. This, despite the release of a video that shows JZ Knight delivering a profanity-laced attack on the Catholic Church and others.

In the video, Knight paces a stage in front of a large boisterous audience. In events like these she claims to be channeling an ancient male spirit named Ramtha. Knight as Ramtha uses the f-word repeatedly and rails against Catholics and the Catholic Church.

Flickr/ Neal Gillis

Public health experts are now recommending that pregnant women get the vaccine for whooping cough during pregnancy. The recommendation is in response to the growing outbreak of the disease in the U.S. So far, there are more than 32,000 reported cases of whooping cough across the country.  If the trend holds, it’s on track to be the highest number of cases since 1959.   

Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani
Flickr/ U.S.-Japan Council

The CEO of the Port of Seattle, Tay Yoshitani, can sit on the board of a private freight logistics company without creating a conflict of interest, according to an outside attorney hired by the Port of Seattle Commissioners. The attorney presented his formal opinion to the port Tuesday.

Suzan DelBene at a podium
KUOW/Deborah Wang

On the campaign trail, Suzan DelBene tells the story of how her family struggled when she was a kid. Her father was laid off from his job when she was nine, and the family moved all over the country as her parents looked for work. “They never got back to a situation where they were financially stable,” she explains.

She recounts that despite her family's financial difficulties, she was able to go to college on student loans. “I was in a position to take care of my family,” she says. “I’m not sure I could tell that story today.”

Tacoma resident Jason Puracal says his fight against the Nicaraguan justice system is still not over. Puracal was recently exonerated of drug charges in Nicaragua and returned to the Northwest. Now, Nicaraguan prosecutors are appealing his case to that country’s high court.

Jason Puracal arrived in Nicaragua about a decade ago as a Peace Corps volunteer. He left there last month from a maximum security prison. He was serving a 22-year sentence following a conviction for drug trafficking and money laundering. He was freed in September after winning an appeal.

School desk
Flickr Photo/ccarlstead (CC BY-NC-ND)

This fall, voters in Washington will decide whether to legalize charter schools in the state for the first time. Washington voters have considered charters three times before. But the details of charter school funding, oversight and independence can be confusing. So we took a red pen to claims by supporters and opponents of Initiative 1240, and gave each claim a grade to see who gets to go to the head of the class – and who needs to go back and check their work.

Court candidates Sanders and McCloud speak before a bar association.
(Photo / Amy Radil)

The race for the open seat on the Washington Supreme Court has drawn two staunch defenders of individual rights. One is former justice Richard Sanders, who hopes to return to the court after losing his seat two years ago. The other is appellate lawyer Sheryl Gordon McCloud. Both are passionate about constitutional issues, and even praise one another’s work. But they cite important differences in their positions and personalities.

Ryder on his first day of third grade.
Bridget Ambrose

Two-and-a-half years ago, KUOW brought you the story of Bridget Ambrose and her son Ryder. Ryder was in kindergarten at the time. He’s on the autism spectrum. At Ryder’s preschool, he’d gotten special education services like speech therapy and the social skills training that many kids with autism need to teach them how to interact with other kids.

The Seattle Times' Political Ads Cause Controversy

Oct 19, 2012
The Seattle Times
Flickr photo/Mr. T in D.C.

The Seattle Times Company began running its own political ads on Wednesday in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and same-sex marriage.

Industry observers are questioning this new move.

Alan Fisco, an executive with The Seattle Times, says print newspapers miss out on the millions of dollars in campaign spending that go to broadcast television.

Boy Scout badges
Flickr Photo/rocket ship (CC BY-NC-ND)

A court-ordered release of the Boy Scout’s so-called “perversion files” lists 25 men in Washington state.  The complete files identify more than 1,200 Scout volunteers who were accused of child abuse and banned from the organization. These once-secret documents give the pubic an unprecedented look inside the scouting organization.

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

The war of words stemming from the effort to reform the Seattle Police Department is heating up.  At issue is the selection of an independent monitor who would oversee the reforms.

The Justice Department and the city are supposed to jointly select the monitor, but city officials can't agree on whom that monitor should be.

Mayor McGinn opposes the selection of a Los Angeles police consultant named Merrick Bobb, who has been described as being one of the country’s preeminent police reform experts. McGinn said he had questions about whether Bobb would be fair.

Washington Senator Patty Murray has asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to provide a timeline for a review of how the military diagnoses PTSD and other behavioral health issues.

Souvenirs Of Seattle’s World’s Fair

Oct 18, 2012
Paula Jones
Courtesy/Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Regional Branch

Ten million people attended the Seattle World’s Fair over the course of its six month run. Jean Roth was one of them and she was there on opening day: April 21, 1962.

That day was also Roth’s 18th birthday and she and some friends thought it would be great to be the first through the turnstiles.

Line at McDonald's
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

It’s been more than two years since King County required chain restaurants to post nutrition information on their menus.  The goal was to help customers make healthy choices. 

Seattle researchers wanted to see if the regulation has changed the way restaurants market their meals.  One change the study found is it seems restaurants are no longer promoting supersized portions or overeating. 

Liz Jones/KUOW

Washington is one of four states that will vote on same-sex marriage in just a few weeks. History is on the line, as one of these states could be the first to approve gay marriage by a vote of the people. The campaigns on both sides are intensifying efforts to connect with voters but there’s a stark contrast in their strategies.

Here, gay marriage opponents have set up their campaign headquarters in a quiet strip mall just off I-5 in Lynnwood. Their office is tucked in next to a hair salon, a dry cleaners and a chain pizza restaurant.

Seattle Public Schools

The Seattle School Board said a unanimous "no" to charter schools last night. The board members approved a resolution against Initiative 1240, which would bring up to 40 charter schools to Washington over five years.

Alice Walton
(AP Photo/April L. Brown)

The campaign to bring charter schools to Washington state has now raised more cash than any other measure on the ballot. Donors have contributed more than $8.9 million to the Yes on 1240 campaign. Of that, 91 percent came from just ten people, according to the Public Disclosure Commission website.

John Koster
(KUOW photo/Deborah Wang)

If Republican congressional candidate John Koster has a signature campaign issue, it’s the country’s ballooning national debt.

The website for his 1st Congressional District campaign features a national debt clock ticking away. The total now stands at more than $16 trillion.

“I think one of the greatest things that we could do for our constituents and our future generations is not hamstring them with huge debt and huge deficits that they will have to pay off,” he said.

In his two decades in politics, Koster has been a staunch advocate of limited government.

Members of the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players' Organization (SSOPO) voted October 15 to authorize a strike.  In a statement on its website, SSOPO representatives say the latest contract offers from both organizations call for 15 percent reductions in pay and benefits for the 2012-2013 season.  That's on top of concessions the musicians have already made.  The union says its membership can't take further cuts.  

Army Spc. Brittany Gordon
(Photo/7th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office)

The US Department of Defense issued a news release Monday afternoon about the death of Army Specialist Brittany Gordon. Gordon was assigned to the 572nd Military Intelligence Company, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The DoD says 24-year-old Gordon died from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device. Now multiple news reports say Gordon’s death may be the latest in a series of so-called insider attacks in Afghanistan.

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda says he’ll vote “no” on Initiative 1240, which would legalize charter schools in Washington state.

I-1240 would allow up to 40 charter schools in Washington state over five years. Proponents of I-1240 say it would give parents and students more school choice.

Mailer about Referendum 74
(Photo/Liz Jones)

Some senior citizens in Washington recently got a flyer in the mail from same-sex marriage supporters. It says approval of Referendum 74 will preserve domestic partnerships for seniors. Gay marriage opponents call the ad a misleading scare tactic.

The campaign backing same-sex marriage paid for the mailer. It’s targeting seniors because Referendum 74 touches on domestic partnerships between straight couples who are are 62 or older and living together.