Skip to main content
KUOW Blog Header.jpg
KUOW Blog Header.jpg

KUOW Blog

News, factoids, and insights from KUOW's newsroom. And maybe some peeks behind the scenes. Check back daily for updates.

Have any leads or feedback for the KUOW Blog? Contact Dyer Oxley at dyer@kuow.org.

Stories

  • Seattle drug plan will balance rehabilitation and public safety, Harrell says

    KUOW Blog
    caption: Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announces new plans to address drug trafficking in downtown, while also providing resources for those addicted to drugs, April 19, 2023.
    Enlarge Icon
    Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announces new plans to address drug trafficking in downtown, while also providing resources for those addicted to drugs, April 19, 2023.
    Seattle Channel

    Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell explained his plan Thursday to balance public safety and rehabilitation in the face of a growing opioid crisis that has killed more Washingtonians so far in 2023 than all of last year.

    Harrell issued an executive order Thursday that spells out what police and other officials will do to enforce the city’s new drug consumption law. That controversial law was approved last week to align Seattle’s city code with state law and allow the city attorney to prosecute charges of public drug use and possession.

    Harrell’s enforcement order emphasizes rehabilitation and providing people with services over arrests and imprisonment. Officers will only arrest opioid users if they are a threat to others, using drugs near businesses, public events child care facilities, parks, or transportation stops.

    If an opioid user is not posing a threat to others, officers will “make a reasonable attempt” to connect them with resources instead of arresting them, Harrell said.

    “Fentanyl and other dangerous drugs are killing people, causing harm, and creating unsafe conditions Downtown and in neighborhoods across Seattle,” Harrell said in a prepared statement. “This law gives us another tool to help those in need access treatment and to keep sidewalks and neighborhoods welcoming for all residents.”

    Chief Adrian Diaz said Seattle Police are ready to implement the new law in accordance with Harrell’s guidelines.

    “We are committed to ensuring that the enforcement efforts are equitable, treatment-focused, and evidence-based, but which also provides communities some respite from the chronic public harm that both the ordinance and the executive order acknowledge,” Diaz said in a written response to Harrell’s announcement.

    The executive order also provides measures for the city to collect data to measure the effectiveness of the new drug law. That data includes the number of people referred to diversion programs compared to the number of people arrested for drug possession and use.

    The city’s new drug law takes effect next month.

    Continue reading »
  • MacPherson's, longtime Seattle produce market, is closing

    KUOW Blog
    caption: MacPherson's Fruit and Produce has been a fixture on Beacon Hill for more than three decades.
    Enlarge Icon
    MacPherson's Fruit and Produce has been a fixture on Beacon Hill for more than three decades.
    KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna


    MacPherson’s Fruit and Produce, a longtime fixture on Beacon Hill, will close in next month.

    Owner Greg MacPherson declined to comment. An employee said he’s not ready to talk and feeling emotional about the decision.

    The employee said rising food costs have played a role. She also noted that ever since Mercer Middle School closed for demolition, business dropped. Store workers, who were informed two weeks ago, are still processing the news.

    Some customers are hearing about the closure for the first time.

    “That’s really sad,” said Rob Wood of Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood. He points to the containers of strawberries in his cart —99 cents a pound.

    “In these neighborhoods and in these spaces, affordable produce is really important. And I’m sad to see one more space go by the wayside.”

    Continue reading »
  • There are as many pho restaurants as Starbucks coffee shops in Seattle. Here's why

    KUOW Blog
    caption: Sup Shop, a pho restaurant in Seattle, bustles with guests. Pho is so popular in Seattle that it may be the city's unofficial soup.
    Enlarge Icon
    Sup Shop, a pho restaurant in Seattle, bustles with guests. Pho is so popular in Seattle that it may be the city's unofficial soup.
    KUOW/ Juan Pablo Chiquiza


    If an alien landed in Seattle, it might get the impression the city runs on coffee and pho. There are as many pho restaurants as Starbucks coffee shops.

    This humble soup, a breakfast staple in Vietnam, has become a Seattle mainstay, thanks to the refugees who made their home in Washington state following the collapse of South Vietnam.

    Pho Bac, on the corner of South Jackson Street and 13th Avenue in Seattle’s Little Saigon, is the O.G.

    Quyenvy Pham’s parents were part of the first wave of refugees to resettle in Seattle. In 1982, they opened a sandwich shop on Jackson Street called Cat’s Submarine. Pham’s mother would make a pot of pho on weekends for homesick friends when they visited the shop.

    “Word just spread,” Pham said, “and they sold more pho than sandwiches.”

    Pham said that’s when her parents decided to ditch the sandwich menu for pho. Pho Bac, Seattle’s first pho restaurant was born. Soon, even non-Vietnamese customers started coming in for hot bowls of noodles.

    The funny thing, Quyenvy said, is that their mom didn’t cook until they came to America.

    “She wrote a letter to a friend back home in Vietnam and asked for the [pho] recipe. From there, she kind of created something of her own.”

    Continue reading »
  • Cantwell, Murray join Democrats calling for Menendez to resign

    KUOW Blog
    caption: Sen. Bob Menendez leaves federal court, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in New York. Menendez pled not guilty to federal charges alleging he used his powerful post to secretly advance Egyptian interests and carry out favors for local businessmen in exchange for bribes of cash and gold bars.
    Enlarge Icon
    Sen. Bob Menendez leaves federal court, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in New York. Menendez pled not guilty to federal charges alleging he used his powerful post to secretly advance Egyptian interests and carry out favors for local businessmen in exchange for bribes of cash and gold bars.
    AP Photo/Seth Wenig

    Washington's Democratic senators are joining the growing number of lawmakers calling for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) to resign.

    Menendez has been charged in a federal corruption scheme. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

    Now, Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray are calling on Menendez to step down.

    In a statement Wednesday morning, Cantwell said, "I don’t believe anyone under such a damning indictment can effectively serve, and I urge Senator Menendez to step aside."

    And if he won't, Murray said she would encourage the Senate Ethics Committee to open an investigation. As president pro tempore of the Senate, Murray's comments were especially notable. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has so far resisted calls to take a position on the matter, saying only that Menendez "has a right to due process and a fair trial" last week.

    Menendez faces charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion.

    His wife and three people described as New Jersey associates and businessmen have also been charged.

    The indictment alleges that Menendez and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. In return, Menendez allegedly used his position as a U.S. senator to help the businessmen by providing sensitive U.S. government information to aid the Egyptian government.

    About half of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate has rebuked Menendez, urging him to step down.

    New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, also a Democrat, is calling for Menendez's resignation, too.

    Continue reading »
  • Why hasn't Washington state joined the federal antitrust case against Amazon?

    KUOW Newsroom
    caption: Amazon associates Charles Ortenzi, left, and Amanda Jewett, right, unload a trailer on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Kent.
    Enlarge Icon
    Amazon associates Charles Ortenzi, left, and Amanda Jewett, right, unload a trailer on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Kent.
    KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

    The Federal Trade Commission accused Amazon of operating a monopoly in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Seattle. Seventeen states joined the complaint, but Washington, where Amazon has its headquarters and employs more than 80,000 people, was conspicuously absent.

    Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he isn't ruling anything out when it comes to the federal government's antitrust crusade against Amazon.

    "We are reviewing the FTC’s complaint and will monitor their litigation," Ferguson said in a statement to KUOW.

    Ferguson cited several successful lawsuits his office has brought against the homegrown tech giant, including one that shut down the "Sold by Amazon" third-party pricing program.

    RELATED: U.S. sues Amazon in a monopoly case that could be existential for the retail giant

    At its core, the FTC lawsuit boils down to the fact that Amazon operates a marketplace and sells goods in that marketplace. Regulators are accusing the company of “biasing Amazon’s search results to preference Amazon’s own products over ones that Amazon knows are of better quality.”

    The complaint also says Amazon is abusing its power by only allowing sellers to qualify for its Prime program if they purchase fulfillment services from the company. At a tour of an Amazon fulfillment center in Kent, Washington, on Tuesday, General Manager Julius Yu likened the "Fulfilled by Amazon" program to charging rent to sellers who house products in the company's facilities.

    The FTC says sellers are forced to pay Amazon close to 50% of their revenue for these types of services.

    In a lengthy statement, Amazon executive David Zapolsky said the FTC lawsuit shows a lack of understanding of retail and antitrust law.

    He said the lawsuit would, "if successful, force Amazon to engage in practices that actually harm consumers and the many businesses that sell in our store—such as having to feature higher prices, offer slower or less reliable Prime shipping, and make Prime more expensive and less convenient."

    The long-expected lawsuit is FTC Chair Lina Khan's latest attempt to broaden enforcement of antitrust law to apply to the behavior of Big Tech. Khan skyrocketed to prominence in law school when she published "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox," a paper claiming antitrust law should be reexamined to deal with the online economy.

    Continue reading »
  • Bellevue residents asked to voluntarily limit water use

    KUOW Blog
    water faucet tap
    Enlarge Icon

    Bellevue has become the latest Western Washington city to ask its residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water use following the region's unusually dry summer — despite the recent rainfall..

    "We have a Water Shortage Management Plan for instances just like this, where the region experiences prolonged dry weather conditions,” Bellevue City Manager Brad Miyake said in a statement. “That’s why we are activating the voluntary stage of the plan and asking residents and businesses to reduce water use until our region receives more rainfall.”

    People in Seattle and Kirkland have also been asked to use less water.

    The Seattle area is still more than 6 inches shy of the amount of rain it should have by this time of the year.

    RELATED: Start saving water, Seattle, utility says. We’re in drought conditions

    The city of Bellevue is recommending that its residents take short showers, don't wash their cars, and fix any leaks, such as leaky toilets. The city says it is also cutting down on the water it uses in municipal operations.

    According to the city:

    The voluntary phase of Bellevue’s Water Shortage Management Plan comes at the direction of Cascade Water Alliance Bellevue’s water supplier and supports water conservation efforts enacted recently by Seattle Public Utilities, which sells water supply to Cascade. Water use reductions are necessary to stretch the region’s water supply until significant and sustained rainfall replenishes the mountain reservoirs.

    Continue reading »
  • Many Seattle area schools have stopped publicly tracking Covid cases, despite imminent fall surge

    KUOW Blog
    caption: Ximena Vaca Torres, 8, walks into her first day of 3rd grade at Mount View Elementary school on Thursday, September 2, 2021, in Seattle.
    Enlarge Icon
    Ximena Vaca Torres, 8, walks into her first day of 3rd grade at Mount View Elementary school on Thursday, September 2, 2021, in Seattle.
    KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

    School districts across King County have changed how they’re reporting Covid cases this year, following updated guidance from the state.

    Previously, many districts published online dashboards tracking the number of current Covid cases among students and staff. At the time, districts were required to publicly report any Covid cases, whether a student self-reported testing positive or they took a test at school.

    Now, districts are only required to report cases from in-school testing to the state, and some have stopped updating public dashboards.

    The Seattle, Lake Washington, and Northshore school districts retired their public Covid data dashboards at the end of last school year. Meanwhile, the districts in Federal Way, Bellevue, and Issaquah have continued to update their dashboards.

    The changes come as Covid hospitalization rates have been on the rise across the nation and Washington. Earlier this month, state officials warned that Covid, RSV, and flu combined are expected to cause a surge in infections this fall and winter — though it won’t get as bad as it was in 2021.

    Since the school year began, Issaquah has recorded 259 cases in its schools, Bellevue reports 162 cases, and Federal Way has had 122.

    Northshore spokesperson Carrie Campbell said in a statement that the district has stopped updating its dashboard so that staff can focus on preventing the spread of Covid. One example: The district is hosting flu and Covid vaccine clinics for students, families, and staff this week.

    In Lake Washington, district officials say they decided to discontinue the dashboard because of waning public interest and a reduction in the number of cases to report. Between September 2022 and May 2023, page views of the dashboard decreased by more than 75%, said spokesperson Shannon Parthemer.

    Seattle has not yet responded to a question about why the district stopped updating its dashboard.

    Seattle’s dashboard logged the total number of cases every week, broken down by students, staff, and district region. When it was last updated on June 30, the week’s total Covid cases stood at 25 — a tiny fraction of the district’s roughly 50,000 students and 7,500 employees.

    Continue reading »
  • Megan Rapinoe, an icon bigger than soccer, takes a bow for the U.S. national team

    caption: Megan Rapinoe waves to the crowd before her final game on the U.S. national team on Sunday in Chicago.
    Enlarge Icon
    1 of 2 Megan Rapinoe waves to the crowd before her final game on the U.S. national team on Sunday in Chicago.
    Getty Images

    In her last game for the national team on Sunday, Megan Rapinoe took a final bow for her career as an international soccer player, basking in the applause and the hugs of her teammates.

    While it's the finish to her remarkable national career, it doesn't quite feel like an ending, because so much of who Rapinoe is and what she stands for extends beyond the pitch.

    Sometimes it seemed unbelievable that someone with such moral courage and aplomb could also score the most goals at the 2019 Women's World Cup, a winger with a foot like a laser. How could all of this talent and nerve be in one person?

    The last match

    In Sunday's friendly match in Chicago, the U.S. beat South Africa 2-0. Rapinoe didn't notch a goal or an assist, but came very close.

    There was her curving corner kick early in the second half, punched away by the South Africa goalkeeper, then headed in by USWNT's Emily Sonnett.

    And there was the moment, so perfectly teed up for the finale: Rapinoe's free kick in the 52nd minute, the chance to go out with a goal in one of her countless surgically executed set pieces. She blasted it toward the goal and the keeper leapt to stop it – but the ball narrowly sailed over the crossbar.

    So there was not a perfect goal to end her national career, just as there was not a perfect performance at the Women's World Cup last month, where the U.S. was knocked out earlier than ever before.

    But that didn't dampen the fans' admiration when Rapinoe was subbed out for the last time, in the game's 53rd minute, giving the 25,000 spectators at Soldier Field a chance to pay their respects.

    Rapinoe transferred the captain's arm band to Lindsay Horan, received the embraces of her teammates, and hugged her replacement, Midge Purce.

    Continue reading »
  • ‘Toxic culture.’ Seattle council members call on police chief to take action after latest embarrassment to department

    KUOW Blog
    caption: Adrian Diaz answers questions during a press conference where he was announced by Seattle mayor Bruce Harrell as the new permanent Seattle Police Chief on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at Seattle City Hall.
    Enlarge Icon
    Adrian Diaz answers questions during a press conference where he was announced by Seattle mayor Bruce Harrell as the new permanent Seattle Police Chief on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at Seattle City Hall.
    KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

    The Seattle Police Department is in the spotlight again as city council members call on Chief Adrian Diaz to take action after an officer was reportedly caught on a recording using abusive and racist language against an Asian-American neighbor.

    The recording, reported on by The Stranger, comes 11 days after a video of another officer was released, showing him laughing about the death of Jaahnavi Kandula, a graduate student from India who was killed by a police cruiser.

    "How can SPD expect the public to trust them while it remains silent as these incidents happen?” Councilmember Tammy Morales wrote in a news release. “What does SPD leadership plan to do to regain control of the department, address its toxic culture, and rebuild this complete breaking of trust?"

    Said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda on X (formerly Twitter), “This is the result of a culture which supports abuse of power with impunity.”

    These are the latest reports in a string of embarrassments to the police department this summer. Earlier this month, KUOW published several investigations about a rumor that Diaz allegedly hired a romantic partner to be his chief of staff. The Seattle Times reported that a break room in the East Precinct featured a large Trump flag and a fake tombstone of a young man shot and killed by police.

    The latest call for action comes from Councilmember Lisa Herbold, chair of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee.

    “This act of anti-Asian hate from a Seattle officer is disgusting and undermines the Seattle Police Department’s ability to provide basic public safety," Herbold said in a statement Saturday. "How can our APIDA communities feel safe calling the police?"

    Herbold said she agrees with calls made by the Seattle Community Police Commission and other council members for Diaz to target racism within the department.

    Said Morales, "No other city employee would be excused from this behavior, where they can laugh and joke about killing somebody, spit racist slurs, and continue taking home a six-figure paycheck."

    RELATED: Fake tombstone and Trump flag renew questions about Seattle police culture

    Continue reading »
  • Washington watching for invasive species as it gets closer in Idaho

    KUOW Blog
    caption: A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer inspects watercraft near Spokane with the help of Fin, an invasive species sniffing dog.
    Enlarge Icon
    A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer inspects watercraft near Spokane with the help of Fin, an invasive species sniffing dog.

    In Idaho, a pesky invasive species has been found near the Snake River, north of Twin Falls. It has spurred increased efforts to keep quagga mussels from spreading into Washington.

    Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials announced they're ramping up monitoring and prevention efforts, after quagga mussel larvae were found in several samples from a park near Twin Falls. The agency says if this invasive mussels take hold in Washington, it would cost the state more than $100 million per year. So far, the department says no quagga mussels have been found in Washington waters.

    Fish and Wildlife has ordered all the boat ramps in the area closed, and has begun trying to assess how widely the species has spread. Once inspectors are able to determine that, they hope to devise a strategy to control it.

    The quagga and its cousin, the zebra mussel, have been on Idaho’s radar for years. In 2009, the state Legislature authorized inspectors to set up shop in border areas to check boats coming into the state. There are several stations along I-90 and other highways in Idaho's panhandle. The goal, according to a state video, is to catch the pest before it can be introduced into a lake or river.

    “Once established, the mussels populate rapidly, clinging to hard surfaces, such as boat motors and hulls, clogging water intake pipes, plugging hydropower systems and destroying native fisheries," the informational video states.

    Read the full story by Spokane Public Radio's Doug Nadvornick here.

    Continue reading »
  • Newest Dick's Drive-In is slated for Everett

    KUOW Blog
    caption: Dick's Drive-In on Seattle's Capitol Hill.
    Enlarge Icon
    Dick's Drive-In on Seattle's Capitol Hill.

    Dick's Drive-Ins fans north of Seattle can rejoice. The locally loved burger joint is slated to open a new location in Everett.

    "We know our customers north of Edmonds have been waiting patiently for us to look north again,” Dick's Drive-Ins President Jasmine Donovan said in a statement. Donovan is the granddaughter of founder Dick Spady.

    Currently, the furthest north Dick's location is in Edmonds, which was opened in 2011. The company still has to work through the permitting process, but if it all works out, it plans to purchase a site at 1629 Center Road in Everett for its next drive-in. It could open as soon as 2025.

    Since 1954, Dick's operated a handful of drive-ins around Seattle. That changed in 2011, when it began to expand to nearby communities. It has opened four more locations since then. The company says that each new location "creates about 50 new jobs."

    “We’ve been working hard to build our capacity to grow sustainably and are very excited to bring Dick’s Drive-Ins to Everett," Donovan said.

    Dick's Drive-Ins currently has five locations in Seattle, including: on Capitol Hill, Holman Road, Lake City, Queen Anne, and Wallingford. It also has locations in Crossroads (Bellevue), Edmonds, Federal Way, and Kent.

    Continue reading »
  • First significant rainfall since April arrives in Western Washington

    KUOW Blog
    caption: A cyclist rides along Harbor Avenue Southwest in the rain on Thursday, November 3, 2022, in Seattle.
    Enlarge Icon
    A cyclist rides along Harbor Avenue Southwest in the rain on Thursday, November 3, 2022, in Seattle.
    KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

    Get ready for what will be one of the wettest weeks the Seattle area has seen in quite a while.

    National Weather Service Meteorologist Dustin Guy said you'd have to go back to early April to find another 24-hour period with as much rain as Western Washington has experienced since Sunday. Some areas could get up to an inch of rain when it's all said and done Monday.

    RELATED: Start saving water, Seattle, utility says. We’re in drought conditions

    It's not stopping either. The rain will continue through Tuesday and into Wednesday, maybe even Thursday. In fact, the National Weather Service in Seattle said Sunday night that the following 24 hours would be "the wettest we've seen in months." Boy, we need it, too.

    The National Weather Service is currently predicting that the fall and winter ahead will be a bit warmer and drier than normal. The Puget Sound region is already experiencing either "moderate" to "severe" drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Seattle Public Utilities has even asked its customers to voluntarily conserve water. The north Cascade Mountains are in "extreme" drought. That's where a few wildfires continue to burn.

    Continue reading »