Joshua McNichols | KUOW News and Information

Joshua McNichols

Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2007

Joshua has been the "growing pains" reporter since 2015, documenting the region's growth and change. 

Joshua “took the long way” to radio, working in architecture firms for over a decade before pursuing his passion for public radio in 2007.

By "long way," he means he's also been a writer, bicycle courier, commercial fisherman, bed-and-breakfast cook, carpenter, landscaper and stained glass salesman. He’s detailed animal enclosures to prevent jaguars from escaping the Miami Zoo. Once, while managing a construction site in Athens, Greece, he was given a noogie by an Albanian civil war refugee in his employ. “You do not tell those guys how to place stucco,” he said.

All of which has no doubt made him the story-teller he is today.  

Ways to Connect

Cindy Jatul teaches biology/biotech at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. She says her first-period students are often too sleepy to learn.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

What time should the school day begin? That’s the question an online survey is asking Seattle parents through this weekend.

To get a sense of what’s at stake, just visit a first-period class at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. At 7:50 a.m., you'll find biology/biotech teacher Cindy Jatul coaxing her students into wakefulness, and having a hard time, too.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

In a city known for tech wizards, you might expect parking costs to depend on huge data sets collected electronically in real time. You’d be wrong.

Seattle finds just the right algorithm in the old-fashioned way: It counts cars once a year in a survey.

Garfield High School
Flickr Photo/Don Brubeck (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Eleventh graders in Washington state are saying heck no to the Smarter Balanced Assessment. At Garfield High School in Seattle’s Central Area, 95 percent of kids didn’t show up to the test this week.

At Richland High School in Eastern Washington, 83 percent of juniors didn’t show up on the first day of testing. (Some may have shown up later, but a compliance officer at the school said that was highly unlikely.)

The test is not required to graduate, which is why they’re not showing up.

A police van at Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

There’s an open air drug market between Westlake Center and the Pike Place Market. People who live and work downtown are getting tired of dealing with that. So are business owners.

"You’re facing shoplifting multiple times a day, you’re seeing people overdose in your bathroom, you’re cleaning up heroin needles," the Downtown Seattle Association’s Jon Scholes said.

Now the city of Seattle is trying to do something about it.

There have been 95 arrests over the last few days – without a single incident of use of force, Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole says.

Many have wondered what Kshama Sawant's next fight will be, now that Seattle has a $15 minimum wage (to be phased in over several years). At City Hall on Thursday night, she'll make the case for legalizing rent control.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle’s rents are rising fast – San Francisco, San Jose and Denver are the only cities outpacing us, according to real estate research firm Reis.

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant says there's a way to stop that trend.

“Everywhere I go, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I hear people talking about the skyrocketing rent," Sawant said. "And when I ask them, 'What do you think we should do about it,' invariably they tell me: ‘We need some sort of rent control.’” 

The Summit Inn on Seattle's Capitol Hill still hums with artists, even after losing many tenants in the wake of the building's sale last December. The remaining tenants expect to be kicked out this fall for renovations.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

On the top floor of the Summit Inn, a run-down building on Capitol Hill where artists live, Philomel Swango, 64, shows off bolts of colorful cloth and talks about the costumes she sews for a living.

"I just did a pirate wedding," she says. "I made the bride’s dress. I made it look like she mugged Marie Antoinette."

Kayakers protesting the arrival of Shell's Polar Pioneer rig in Port Angeles in April
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It was the kind of David-and-Goliath moment that Greenpeace was looking for: Kayakers paddling out in their tiny craft to meet a mammoth oil drilling rig pulling into Port Angeles.

Shell Oil’s Polar Pioneer arrived aboard the carrier Blue Marlin at dawn Friday, in preparation for inspection before it’s brought to Seattle over the objections of environmentalists.

The Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer arrives off Port Angeles early Friday aboard the carrier Blue Marlin.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

A Shell Oil drilling rig at the center of environmental protests about oil exploration in the Arctic arrived off Port Angeles at dawn Friday on a trip that will eventually land it on the Seattle waterfront.

Alyne Fortgang of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, didn't sleep well Wednesday night.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Thursday was the first day at Woodland Park Zoo without its elephants. Chai and Bamboo are on their way to Oklahoma City. KUOW’s Joshua McNichols has more.

Here on Capitol Hill, Vicki Lopez says you always have to arrive 30 minutes before a dinner party starts to allow time for parking. Her friend, Koll Carlsteen, half-jokingly suggests the shortage of parking is a racket - designed to earn the city more mon
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

About 12 percent of the apartments built in Seattle since 2012 have been built without parking. They’re being built in neighborhoods like Ballard, Capitol Hill and the University District, where there’s heavy competition for parking and where special zoning allows them.

This county road between Maple Valley and Issaquah may not look like a major traffic corridor. But come rush hour, it's bumper to bumper on county roads like this as commuters seek out alternate routes to shave precious minutes off grueling commutes.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

 

In East King County, a critical piece of infrastructure is falling apart: the county road system. That's 1,500 miles of mostly two-lane roads. Stretched out, they would reach from Canada to Mexico. There’s no money to repair them properly. So the county’s going to have to lower the speed limits and eventually shut some of them down.

Alex Guy stands in the kitchen of her South Lake Union apartment, one of the last affordable apartments in the neighborhood.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle can be a frustrating place to live. There’s the rising rents, and the constant noise from construction sites and traffic. Despite all that, we choose to live here.

Alex Guy is a musician with the band Led To Sea. One of the things that keeps her here is the vibrant music scene.

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KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It’s the day before state testing, and the Dimpsey and Rasche kids gather for a playdate in Kirkland.

Pearl, a third-grader at Peter Kirk Elementary, won’t take the test. “If people didn’t know it was such a big test then I think they would actually do a better job,” she says.

Garfield Teacher Jesse Hagopian says rising standards + inadequate education funding means minorities lose. Gerald Hankerson of the Seattle King County NAACP waits to speak.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

For the 11th-grade math test in Washington state, there's a version in Spanish. There's also a glossary to translate words into Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Arabic, Punjabi.

Notice anything missing? 

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle’s new minimum wage law went into effect April 1, as did a law meant to ensure workers get paid overtime when they’ve earned it. But not everyone’s complying.

So what’s the city doing to enforce the new laws? 

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Expedia, one of the world’s largest online travel companies, is going to be doing some traveling of its own soon. It’s moving across the lake from Bellevue to Seattle.

KUOW’s Joshua McNichols headed to Bellevue to see how people are taking the news.

The Youth Services Center on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
Howard S. Wright/King County

The county is proceeding with its plans to develop a new family justice center, despite ongoing protests. 

The building includes a juvenile detention center, and that’s upset a lot of people who say we shouldn’t be locking up kids, a disproportionate number of whom are African American. Criticisms by protesters have inspired the county to try to reform the system.

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says Premera Blue Cross has been cooperating with an investigation of a cyberattack that exposed data on millions of customers.

Kreidler hopes the investigation will reveal exactly how 11 million customers had their social security numbers and medical information compromised.

One section of Bertha's front body now sits on the ground near the rescue pit.
AP Photo/Ted Warren

A 270-ton section of Bertha’s front body now lies on the ground in downtown Seattle, ready for workers to add steel reinforcing. The Seattle Tunnel Partners hopes to lay the tunnel borer's cutter head nearby in a couple of weeks. 

They’ll be repaired so workers can complete the tunnel that’s replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. KUOW’s Joshua McNichols went to Pioneer Square to see how people are feeling about Bertha these days.

The Pike Place Market will expand westward, toward the waterfront.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The Pike Place Market is going to expand westward.

On Monday, a Seattle City Council committee agreed to pay $34 million from the general fund to build new vendor stalls, senior housing and a public plaza.

The other half of the money comes from tax breaks, grants and philanthropists. The project is part of a larger effort to reconnect the market with the waterfront.

KUOW’s Joshua McNichols has more.

In Puyallup, one of many portable classrooms used to relieve school overcrowding. The portable is decorated with a mural painted by kids: it shows an apple tree, a hand and an American flag.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Many suburban school districts around Seattle, children crowding into their classrooms, can’t get a bond or a levy past voters. That’s put pressure on schools to find other, less than ideal solutions.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

When the Capitol Hill and University link light rail stations open up in about a year, it will change how many people get around Seattle. Something else is changing too: the way King County Metro organizes its bus routes. It’s considering two very different strategies. At a series of open houses this month, it’s asking the public for feedback.

KUOW’s Joshua McNichols has more.

Workers stand on the reddish-gray surface of Bertha.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bertha the drill should be back at work on the tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct by August. There’s still some unstable soil left to drill through.

Officials will be watching Pioneer Square for patches of settling. After that, the ground becomes more firm, and project managers predict smooth drilling at the maximum rate of 65 feet per day.

Tacoma Link Light Rail train approaches
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Politicians in Olympia are negotiating the final size of a transportation package. But we found out this week it may not be as much as some people hoped. Transit advocates hope the final package will pay to extend light rail from Seattle to Everett and Tacoma. 

KUOW’s Joshua McNichols went to Tacoma to find out more.

Rachel Martin owns and manages Ballard Blossom. She says she monitors the news, apps and public websites to determine the most efficient route for her delivery drivers.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Mayor Ed Murray laid out his 10-year transportation plan Monday. The move sets the stage for renewing the transportation levy that expires this year. He plans to reveal a new levy proposal in a few weeks.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Changes are afoot at King County Metro. Bus fares went up over the weekend by 25 cents. Bus drivers started accepting the county's new reduced fare cards, called ORCA Lift. And Metro's gone on a hiring spree as it gears up to fulfill Seattle's custom order, approved by voters last fall, for 10 percent more bus service.

Sahra Farah and volunteers at the Somali Community Center hope development around Rainier Beach station will bring jobs to the neighborhood, where she says young people struggle to find employment.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The Puget Sound region hopes new growth will spring up in urban villages clustered around mass transit. The goal is to avoid further congestion.

Yet in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, where light rail has been running for over five years, development has been slow to come. 

Bertha, the tunnel boring machine, emerges from more than a year of captivity. The machine's turbines can be seen beneath the plume of dust.
Washington State Department of Transportation

The tunnel machine that’s been stuck underground for more than a year reached daylight Thursday.

Now Bertha is slowly inching into position for repair work to begin. 

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

United States Labor Secretary Tom Perez sat down Tuesday with both sides in the labor dispute that’s slowed down shipping at 29 West Coast ports. The two sides are stuck on a disagreement over how to handle disputes. The protracted slowdown has begun to hurt some local businesses. 

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Some parents don’t know how to parent.

When their lack of parenting skills put the child in danger, that’s when the state comes knocking – to take their children away. Nearly 7,000 kids in Washington state were placed in foster care last year.

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