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

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.

Swedish hospital entrance
John Ryan / KUOW

US hospitals harm one out of every seven patients they aim to help. So-called “adverse events” inside hospitals are one of the leading causes of death in America.

TJ Guiton

Shell Oil Co. had to postpone its Arctic drilling until 2014 after one of its oil rigs ran aground off the Alaska coast this winter, but Shell’s efforts to open a new frontier of oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean continue in Puget Sound.

The oil giant passed a key test with federal regulators in March in the waters off Anacortes, Wash., north of Seattle.

62-year-old Jeff Poppe (in red) at the 26-mile mark.
Photos courtesy Jeff and Anita Poppe

Runners from the Seattle area spoke to KUOW about the explosions at Monday’s Boston Marathon. Please write weekday@kuow.org or call 206.685.2526 with your stories.

Seattle Channel

Seattle’s police chief stepped down on Monday. John Diaz announced his retirement 33 years after starting with the Seattle Police Department – and one week after a pair of outside reviews criticized SPD under his tenure.

KUOW/John Ryan

The Shell Oil Co. refinery in Anacortes, Wash., sprang a leak last week. Shell quickly shut down the equipment that was boiling oil to make gasoline, but the shutdown led to a release of toxic gases.

U.S. Attorney's Office

A Seattle man received an 18-year prison sentence on terrorism charges on Monday after plotting to attack a military installation in South Seattle.

More than 500 workers at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia are on strike.

KUCB Photo/Stephanie Joyce

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had some tough words for Shell Oil Thursday as he announced the results of an investigation into Shell's Alaskan accidents in 2012. But he did not announce the tough consequences that environmentalists were hoping for in the wake of Shell’s year of Arctic mishaps.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The Tea Party has become a fixture in American politics. But the Sanka Party? Not so much. Other than an interest in hot beverages, the two activist groups have little in common. The Sanka Party got started last summer near Tacoma, Wash., in the unlikeliest of places: inside the walls of the state’s largest psychiatric institution.

U.S. Coast Guard Photo/Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis

Shell Oil Co. has put Arctic drilling on hold. The company announced Wednesday that it will not attempt to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean this year. The announcement comes after a year of accidents and setbacks for Shell’s Arctic drilling efforts.

Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE: Shell plans to use three tugs to tow the damaged Kulluk oil rig to Dutch Harbor in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, where it will await a longer trip to an unnamed Asian drydock. Shell and the US Coast Guard have disbanded the joint command formed after the Seattle-bound rig broke free from its sole tugboat, then ran aground. Officials said the Kulluk's outer hull was damaged but not breached. They did not specify the degree of damage, saying only, "The outer hull did receive damage as expected with a vessel being aground during adverse weather." 

Whitehouse.gov

President Barack Obama has nominated Sally Jewell, the head of Kent, Wash.-based retail chain Recreational Equipment Inc., to lead the Interior Department. 

John Ryan

Close to half of the garbage generated in America doesn’t come from individual homes or businesses. It comes from construction sites.

U.S. Coast Guard

The Obama administration launched a sweeping inquiry into Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling program on Tuesday. The probe, to be completed within 60 days, will look at the company’s mishaps in Alaska and in Puget Sound.

The announcement from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar comes a week after Shell’s Kulluk oil rig ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska.

U.S. Coast Guard/Travis Marsh

A shipwrecked oil rig that was bound for Seattle has been floated off the rocks and towed to a safe harbor in the Gulf of Alaska. A fleet of nine ships accompanied Shell Oil’s Kulluk drill rig on the 45-mile tow. Shortly before noon Pacific Time, the rig reached its anchorage in sheltered Kiliuda Bay on Kodiak Island.  

Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis / US Coast Guard

UPDATE: The Kulluk ran aground late Monday night, with 150,000 gallons of diesel and oil on board.

A floating oil rig that was abandoned on Saturday in heavy seas in the Gulf of Alaska is being towed away from land — a second time.

Historic gas pump
John Ryan

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn wants the city to get its money out of fossil fuels. He has called on the city’s two main retirement funds to divest millions of dollars invested in oil and gas companies.

2017 is the first full summer the Sea-Tac airport is using displays that show the wait time for each security checkpoint.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly replacing passenger-screening machines at some of the nation’s largest airports. The TSA has been moving them to smaller airports and replacing them with security scanners that don’t use X-rays.

T.J. Guiton

The Arctic Challenger left Puget Sound's Bellingham Bay Wednesday night and arrived at a deep-water anchorage near Anacortes, Wash., Thursday morning. The barge is part of Shell Oil’s fleet of vessels aimed at exploring the Arctic Ocean for oil.

The Arctic Challenger’s oil-spill containment system failed its first field test off Anacortes in September. Since then, Shell has rebuilt a 20-foot oil-containment dome that was “crushed like a beer can” in the first test.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A state audit that criticized the Port of Seattle for accidentally giving away free parking at Sea-Tac Airport has also faulted the Port for some intentional gift giving.

State auditors said a program that pays ocean-going ships to use low-sulfur fuel while they dock in Seattle constitutes an illegal gift of public funds.

Sea-Tac International Airport
John Ryan

If you study your credit card bills closely, you might have figured this one out already. If not, the Port of Seattle may have a little holiday gift for you.

Sea-Tac International Airport, run by the Port of Seattle, has given away nearly $400,000 in unintentionally free parking this year. That news comes courtesy of the Washington State Auditor’s Office.

Damaged oil-spill containment dome
BSEE (via KUOW FOIA request)

A KUOW investigation has led a top congressman to demand answers about Shell Oil's underwater accident this fall in Puget Sound.

As we reported on Friday, an underwater test near Anacortes left Shell's first-of-its-kind oil-spill equipment “crushed like a beer can.”

Damaged oil-spill containment dome
BSEE (via KUOW FOIA request)

UPDATE on Congressional interest in this story here.

Shell Oil has been building and testing equipment designed for the Arctic Ocean here in Puget Sound. In September, a key test of underwater oil-spill equipment was a spectacular failure.

Some of the results may not be known for weeks, but the most expensive election ever in Washington state wrapped up Tuesday night. 

Private docks line the shore of Hunts Point, Wash.
John Ryan

You may have seen maps of the United States divided into red and blue, based on whether Republicans or Democrats got the most votes in each area. What would it look like to map how campaign contributors vote with their dollars?

The first map below does just that for Washington state. It follows the money to show how each ZIP code in the state has voted with its collective pocketbook in this year’s federal elections. Have people in that ZIP code contributed more money to Democratic (blue) or Republican (red) efforts?

Flickr/401 (K) 2012 (CC BY-NC-ND)

Businesses have poured millions of dollars into political contributions this election season. But you may be surprised to learn that in Democratic-leaning Washington, the state’s three largest employers tend to favor Republican candidates.

Washington state is heading south in its quest to recover the largest ethics fine in state history. As KUOW reported this spring, a former Evergreen State College professor has evaded efforts to collect the $120,000 fine against him.

But the state hasn't given up just because Jorge Gilbert has moved to South America.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Editors' Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of suicide. If you or someone you know might be suicidal, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8255 (800.273.TALK).

Western State Hospital in Lakewood is the largest psychiatric institution in the Pacific Northwest. Its mission statement says the hospital:

Megan Templeton sitting outside
Suzanne Kuhns

Editors' Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of suicide. If you or someone you know might be suicidal, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8255 (800.273.TALK).

In the past decade, a dozen Western State Hospital patients have killed themselves. More than a hundred others have tried.  Megan Templeton was the most recent. In April, she hanged herself in her hospital room. She had turned 20 the day before.

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