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

The Alaskan Way Viaduct sank 1.25 inches in November, prompting state officials to consider stopping a water pumping project nearby.
Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Anyone who's hosted a party has probably had that panicky feeling beforehand: What if you throw a big party and nobody comes?

State transportation officials face a similar worry: What if after they build a $3.1 billion underground highway to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, not enough people use it?

Build It And They Won't Come?

The state Legislature has decreed that tolls have to pay for $200 million of the state Route 99 tunnel's construction cost.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

State officials said Friday afternoon that the tunneling machine known as Bertha had to stop, not because it hit foreign objects, but because it clogged with dirt.

The Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, one of Washington's top 10 sources of greenhouse gases.
Flickr Photo/Scott Butner (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e4EJ5B

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included the Washington Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals’ mistaken assertion that Tesoro’s fines had been reduced to $858,500. The correct figure is $658,500.

Safer practices and better steel could have prevented a deadly explosion at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash., in 2010, according to a new report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.  

The blast killed seven workers.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

To get Bertha moving again, state officials announced Wednesday that they are sending in human reinforcements – in a giant, pressurized bubble.

Courtesy of Jon Rongey

Last January, Mike Rongey, a seasoned climber, was assigned to climb a cell phone tower in Mount Vernon, Wash., to replace electronics that are part of the Clearwire wireless network.

KUOW/John Ryan

The nation's highest minimum wage goes into effect Wednesday in the city of SeaTac, Wash. For all the national attention the new $15 an hour minimum has received, it affects a small number of businesses.

U.S. Coast Guard

Exactly a year ago, an oil rig being towed to Seattle ran aground on a remote island in the Gulf of Alaska. The New Year's Eve accident capped a year of trouble for Shell Oil in Alaska and in Puget Sound.

Shell is still seeking federal approval to drill in the Arctic, and a critical ship in Shell’s Arctic fleet is still sitting idle on the Bellingham, Wash., waterfront.

B. Braun training video on YouTube.com

Editor’s note 2/7/2014: This story has been edited to remove references to VA officials’ incorrect claim that a Seattle VA nurse saw the Infusomat recall at the FDA website in March 2012. While manufacturer B. Braun sent the VA and other customers its recall notice in March, FDA did not post information about the manufacturer’s March 23, 2012, recall letter until August 1. The story has also been edited to attribute to medical records the statement that, the night Eddie Creed died, a doctor asked his sister if she wanted an autopsy to be done. Creed's sister claims the VA never asked her about an autopsy. The content in the edited story differs from the audio in the original broadcast.

When Eddie Creed, a Seattle jazz musician, died at the Veterans Affairs hospital on Beacon Hill last year, his death certificate said throat cancer had killed him.

But a KUOW investigation reveals what his doctors knew: A medical device called an Infusomat, which had been recalled the month before, ended his life. Still, nobody knows why.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

After Army veteran Eddie Creed died at the Seattle VA hospital in April 2012, his loved ones awaited official word: Why had he received a lethal overdose of morphine in his sleep there? The VA still hasn't released the independent investigation it commissioned concerning his accidental overdose.

Flickr Photo/Still Burning (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1Svg0qt

A new federal report says overcrowding and under-staffing puts the health of Snohomish County Jail inmates at risk. The report comes after eight deaths at the Everett, Wash., facility in the past three years.

White-collar crime often occurs in the very profitable realms of Wall Street and big business. But financial fraud also takes place in the nonprofit world. A Washington Post investigation out this week found more than a thousand nonprofit groups have reported their money going missing in recent years.

Historic gas pump
John Ryan

Investment advisors from across the country met on Friday in Seattle in hopes of cutting fossil fuels from the stock portfolios they manage.

Photo courtesy of Jan Angel and Nathan Schlicher

A California billionaire has pumped $400,000 into the race for a single seat in the Washington state senate. Out-of-state businesses and political groups have poured tens of thousands into the election as well.

A bad fall in the hospital can turn a short visit into a long stay.

Such falls featured in congressional discussions about patient safety, and in a new study in the Journal of Patient Safety about medical errors. Falls are one part of a multistate clash between nurses and hospitals over how to improve the safety of hospitalized patients.

Courtesy Vancouver Aquarium

Scientists in two nations are on the lookout for an underwater epidemic that is killing starfish. 

In September, divers in Vancouver Harbour and Howe Sound near Vancouver, British Columbia, noticed the pizza-sized starfish known as sunflower stars wasting away and dying in large numbers.

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Violence is a “constant disruption” at the state’s two main psychiatric hospitals, according to a new report jointly commissioned by The Department of Social and Health Services and the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW union that represents much of the front-line staff at the hospitals. 

KUOW / John Ryan

Opponents of genetic labels on food just got a $5 million boost. The donation from the Grocery Manufacturers Association sends the No on 522 campaign into the record books. More money is going against the genetic labeling initiative than against any other ballot measure in Washington history.

The No on 522 campaign has amassed a war chest of $17.2 million.

With its latest $5 million check, the Grocery Manufacturers Association rockets past agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. as the campaign’s biggest donor.

Wikimedia Commons

If you own stocks or have money in a retirement plan, your money may be more at risk than you’re being told.

Nine men and one woman from Washington state made this year's list of American billionaires, recently updated by Forbes magazine.

The group of 10 had an oversized influence on Washington state politics in 2012. But so far this year, the billionaires are mostly sitting on the sidelines.

Seattle police patrol cars.
Flickr Photo/Brittney Bollay (CC BY-NC-ND)

Three out of four Seattle residents think the Seattle Police do a good job keeping the public safe.  But the police get much worse reviews from the city’s African-American and Latino communities. Seventy percent of African-Americans and 62 percent of Latinos think the department often uses excessive force.

Flickr Photo/InSapphoWeTrust (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9L3kcm
Flickr Photo/InSapphoWeTrust (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9L3kcm

Mile for mile, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines pollutes less than any other US airline. That's one of the findings of a new study of fuel efficiency in the aviation sector from a nonprofit group.

Monsanto logo

The Monsanto Co. has jumped into Washington state politics in a big way.

With a check for nearly $4.6 million, the St. Louis-based Fortune 500 company has more than doubled the money raised by opponents of Initiative 522, which would require labeling genetically modified foods.

The No on 522 campaign has now raised about $7.9 million, giving it a $3.5 million advantage over backers of the measure to label GMO foods.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Gene White of Des Moines, Wash., has had a litany of health problems in recent years: testicular cancer; cancer in his nervous system; pneumonia; the fungus Aspergillus infecting his lungs. The retired airline pilot says he got great care at Swedish Medical Center and the other Seattle hospitals that helped him survive those life-threatening diseases.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Governor Jay Inslee held a press conference on Tuesday to announce that he wants to call a special session of the state Legislature this fall.

The session would address what Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine described as the state’s urgent transportation needs.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Correction 8/22/13: A previous version of this story contained errors. It overstated the contributions received by the Yes on 522 campaign and the share of donations received from Washington state. The Yes campaign has amassed $3.5 (not 3.9) million, with 79 (not 71) percent of the funds coming from out of state. The nonprofit MapLight, based in Berkeley, Calif., informed us on Aug. 21 that it had double-counted some contributions, which led to the errors.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Medical mistakes are a leading cause of death and injury in America. One of the most frequent mishaps in Washington hospitals: patients who fall. A fall in a hospital can lead to serious complications, even death. Medical experts say that kind of fall should never happen.

One Small Step, One Big Fall

Helen Funston lies on her back in a darkened room. She pushes her shoulder down into physical therapist Stella In’s hand until she gasps with pain.

Funston tells In the pain is an eight out of 10.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

About 30 times a year, a hospital in Washington state leaves a sponge or surgical instrument inside one of its patients. The accident known as a “retained foreign object” is one of the state’s most commonly reported medical mistakes.

Bryan Runbert
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The world’s largest tunneling machine started grinding into the soil beneath downtown Seattle Tuesday afternoon. The machine known as Bertha is digging a 58-foot-wide tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The city of Bellevue, Wash., closed two public beaches to swimming Monday as it sprayed herbicide into Lake Washington’s Meydenbauer Bay. It plans to close a third beach on Wednesday.

Bellevue is fighting an invasive weed known as Eurasian watermilfoil.

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

President Barack Obama’s wide-ranging plan for action on climate change, announced Tuesday at Georgetown University, includes regulating carbon emissions from existing coal-burning power plants for the first time. In the Pacific Northwest, relatively little coal is used, but one of the region’s biggest coal consumers is sticking with its plans to keep relying on the dirtiest of all fossil fuels.

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