John Ryan | KUOW News and Information

John Ryan

Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2009

John welcomes story ideas and feedback from listeners. Email him at jryan@kuow.org or call him at 206-543-0637. For secure, confidential communication, he's at 1-401-405-1206 on the Signal messaging app, or you can send snail mail (but don't put your return address on the outside) to John Ryan, KUOW, 4518 Univ. Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105.

Good thing John was a clumsy traveler.

Otherwise his cheap microcassette recorder wouldn't have fallen out of his pocket in an Indonesian taxi, a generous BBC stringer wouldn't have lent him some professional recording gear, and he wouldn't have gotten the radio bug. But after pointing a mic at rare jungle songbirds and gong–playing grandmothers for his first radio story, there was no turning back.

In the past decade, he's freelanced for shows such as All Things Considered, Living on Earth, Marketplace and The World. He also continued his print career by reporting for newspapers including the Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times and Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.

In 2009, John moved back to Seattle after two exciting years covering avalanches, political intrigue and just about everything in between for KTOO FM, the NPR station in Alaska's capital city.

John has won national awards for KUOW as a freelancer (check out "As the Sound Churns") and now as a staff reporter, including the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi awards for Public Service in Radio Journalism and for Investigative Reporting. He believes democracy only works when journalism holds the powerful accountable for their words and actions. 

In addition to the recent stories below, John's KUOW stories from September 2012 and before are archived here.

Ways to Connect

Jonathan Murrell said his life spiraled out of control after a car accident in 2012.  He hasn't had housing in years.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Ten years ago this month, King County made a bold promise to end homelessness in 10 years. The ranks of the homeless have declined in Washington state and nationally during that time. But in the Seattle area, the number of people sleeping on the streets and in shelters has only gone up.

Homeless families outside a shelter in downtown Seattle
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

If you have an emergency, you call 911.

If you need emergency shelter or housing, you can call 211 – but be prepared to wait six months or more.

In the Seattle area, as throughout the United States, there aren’t enough beds.

Alex Williams, an operator for 211, King County's information line for emergency food or shelter.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

A phone rings in a room full of busy operators at Seattle's Crisis Clinic. Alex Williams answers this one. 

“Good morning, thank you for calling King County 211. My name is Alex. How can I help you today?"

King County 211 is the line members of the public can call for emergency shelter or social services.

A clipboard used for King County's annual One Night Count.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

When a homeless person needs help, they are often asked for a lot of personal information.

For victims of domestic violence, that information could potentially help an abuser track them down. That’s why homeless people in Washington state are given the choice to keep personal information from a big database that service providers keep and share on the people they help.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

A labor dispute with dock workers has led to slowdowns and backups at West Coast ports. One part of the Port of Seattle's cargo business is booming. KUOW's John Ryan reports.

Tesoro workers killed in a 2010 refinery explosion are commemorated outside city hall in Everett, Washington.
KUOW Photo / Bond Huberman

About 200 workers at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington, are on strike. They've had a 24-hour picket line at the plant's main gate for more than a week.

Crowds of homeless people often gather on the sidewalks of downtown Seattle near social-service providers.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The ranks of the homeless continue to swell in King County. An overnight count found 3,772 people living on the streets — a 21 percent increase since last January.

Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across the county in the wee hours of Friday morning to take count of the region's rising homeless population.

KUOW photo/John Ryan

Seattle City Council has put new restrictions on who gets to work on the city’s construction projects. Under legislation passed Tuesday, 20 percent of workers on public works projects will need to live in disadvantaged ZIP codes in King County. That percentage has to double over the next decade. KUOW’s John Ryan reports.

A Seattle homeless camp's eviction notice, taken in January 2015.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Even as Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a plan on Wednesday to establish new tent cities for Seattle's growing homeless population, homeless people were being evicted from their camps on public property in the city.  

Such evictions occur almost daily in a city where the demand for shelter outstrips the supply, especially for those who need it most.

U.S. Coast Guard/Travis Marsh

The Seattle Port Commission decided on Tuesday to let Shell Oil's Arctic drilling fleet use West Seattle as its home port.

Shell's drill rigs and barges would overwinter at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 in West Seattle while the terminal is being renovated.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

Sixty-four people died on the job in Washington state in 2014, more than in any of the past three years, according to preliminary figures from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. The fatal incidents varied widely, from an ironworker falling off a roof on Jan. 6 to a logging truck driver being run over by his own truck on Dec. 30.

An oil tanker and a container ship about to cross paths near Seattle.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Oil tankers bring about 15 million gallons of oil every day into Washington state. Starting Jan. 1, those ships are required to have double hulls.

The oil-spill prevention measure has been in the works for decades, ever since Capt. Joseph Hazelwood ran the Exxon Valdez onto Alaska's Bligh Reef in 1989. Eleven million gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound, killing thousands of seabirds and sea otters, devastating the region's fisheries and unleashing action in Washington, D.C.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

Eddy Mahon says the Aloha Inn saved his life.

Each day, thousands of people speed by the run-down old motel on Highway 99 just south of Seattle's Aurora Bridge. It's no longer a motel. Now it's a place where homeless people can stay for up to two years and get help while they try to get back on their feet; there's a long waiting list to get in. Mahon manages the Aloha.

He told his story to KUOW's John Ryan.

A condemned house on the edge of the Ledgewood Beach landslide on Whidbey Island.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

new report from the SR 530 Landslide Commission makes 17 recommendations for improving public safety in a state that is dotted with landslide-prone slopes. Recommendations range from mapping Washington state's most dangerous ground in detail to improving emergency response.

The independent commission set up in response to the deadly March 22 Oso landslide says more money is needed to prepare for slides statewide.

The hole built to rescue Bertha, the deep boring machine.
WSDOT webcam

  Much of Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood has sunk an inch or more, according to a map released by state transportation officials on Thursday.

The sinking is greatest next to a 120-foot-deep pit being dug to rescue the broken-down tunnel machine known as Bertha. There, the ground has sunk 1.4 inches.

Areas more than a quarter mile away from the pit have sunk by half an inch or more.

Flickr Photo/WSDOT

Transportation officials say a stretch of the Alaskan Way Viaduct settled an inch last month.

They told state legislators Friday that there is no risk to public safety from the newly discovered subsidence of the elevated highway. KUOW's John Ryan reports.

TRANSCRIPT

The viaduct sank an inch during a two-week span in November, right next to a giant shaft that's being dug near King Street and Yesler Way.

That access shaft is needed to dig up and repair the tunneling machine known as Bertha.

Tent City 3 resident and executive committee member Jeff Roderick
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Seattle Pacific University will become a home for the homeless this winter. Starting next week, the school is set to host the camp known as Tent City 3. KUOW's John Ryan reports.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

A state commission on landslides is urging nearly two dozen improvements in the way Washington state prepares for and responds to landslides.

Statewide mapping of landslide hazards, better funding and coordination for emergency responders, and "innovative" land-use regulations to improve public safety top the commission's preliminary list.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Rents are rising sharply in Seattle, and the city has launched another effort to tackle the shortage of affordable housing.

At an Ethiopian community center in the Rainier Valley, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's new affordable housing committee tried Wednesday night to take the pulse of a community hit hard by housing costs.

The 28-member committee's first open house began slowly as a consultant showed the multicultural audience how to use handheld electronic clickers to take part in an instant survey.

Courtesy of King County Sheriff's Office

State officials adopted a more cautious approach to logging near landslide-prone slopes on Wednesday.

The adoption of new, voluntary guidelines came in response to the Oso landslide that killed 43 people in March.  

The most expensive race in Washington state politics keeps getting pricier: $53 a vote as of noon Monday.

KUOW/Kara McDermott

With control of the Washington state Senate up for grabs, millions of dollars are pouring into key legislative races around the state. One race on Seattle’s Eastside has attracted more cash than any other: Republican state Senator Andy Hill versus Democratic challenger Matt Isenhower.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

If today is a typical day in the United States, about 200 hospital patients will die with an infection they picked up while they were in the hospital.

Only one patient in the United States has ever died of Ebola, and many deadly diseases spread much more easily than Ebola.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Hate crimes are up in Seattle despite the increasing efforts of Seattle Police to fight them.

Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle are hotspots for crime that involves hatred of targeted groups of people, according to Seattle Police.

Jim Simon looks over the Ledgewood Beach bluff from the unmowed lawn of a condemned home on Whidbey Island.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The deadly Oso landslide in March sparked a debate over Snohomish County’s apparent failure to protect residents at the base of a known landslide zone.

But Washington state is dotted with landslide-prone slopes, and many counties and cities do less than Snohomish County to keep homes away from harm.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

A homeless camp has popped up on a busy sidewalk in Seattle’s University District. Members of the small tent community say 20 people live here.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

You might not think there's much of a connection between the deadly Oso landslide and this month's racially charged unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Courtesy of Gordon Janz

The U.S. Department of Justice has closed its four-year criminal investigation into whether environmental and worker safety laws were broken leading up to the fatal Tesoro refinery blast.

Workers at American oil refineries die on the job about three times as often as their counterparts in Europe. As John Ryan of KUOW reports, when accidents do kill American workers, the companies they work for rarely pay a heavy price. Case in point: Tesoro, which hasn't incurred a significant penalty since its Washington state refinery exploded in 2010, killing seven people.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) are calling for a national strategy to respond to ocean acidification and protect the nation's fishing industry.

On Monday, the senators called for federal funding for a national network of ocean-going devices — from high-tech buoys to aquatic drones that resemble small yellow missiles — to track just how fast the world’s oceans are turning sour.

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