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caption: FILE: The block-long Black Lives Matter street mural, beginning at 10th Avenue and East Pine Street, is shown on Saturday, June 13, 2020, inside the area known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, or CHOP, in Seattle.
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FILE: The block-long Black Lives Matter street mural, beginning at 10th Avenue and East Pine Street, is shown on Saturday, June 13, 2020, inside the area known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, or CHOP, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

KUOW Daily News Blog

This blog updates throughout the day with news briefs by KUOW journalists.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Seattle Schools considers in-person return to buildings

4 p.m. -- A small number of Seattle students with special needs are already receiving services in school buildings. Other students with special needs may return to school this year as well, as the district checks in with families by mid-October. These family meetings could result in more students returning to school buildings.

The Seattle School Board convened on Tuesday afternoon to discuss what school reopening might look like for schools. The focus was on special education students and those from bilingual families.

Online learning has “created a major disruption in the delivery of all education,” said Concie Pedroza, chief of student support. That is particularly true among special education students, she said, and Black, indigenous, families of color.

A slide that Pedroza shared said, “Families of color already have racialized trauma; the pandemic has added racial trauma to their lives.”

Tacoma's first Black mayor Harold Moss dies

2 p.m. -- Harold Moss has a few "firsts" behind his name -- Tacoma's first Black council member and first Black mayor. He was also the first Black Pierce County council member. He passed away this week at the age of 90.

Moss became involved in local social justice causes after he faced discrimination when trying to buy a house in the Tacoma area. He went on to become president of the local NAACP, and then on to a career in politics. He was involved in Tacoma politics starting in the 1970s when he served on the City Council. After an absence, he returned to the Council in the 1980s, and then moved on to the mayor's office in the 1990s. From there, he became a county council member until 2004.

Last year, Tacoma named a bridge after Moss.

-- Dyer Oxley

Former Washington auditor plans to take case to Supreme Court

10 a.m. -- Former Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley has one last avenue of appeal and his lawyer says he plans to take it -- petitioning the US Supreme Court to review his case.

Kelley was convicted in 2017 of possession of stolen funds and other crimes related to his prior real estate services business. Kelley has long maintained his innocence and previously appealed to the 9th Circuit.

In July, Kelley lost that appeal and earlier this month the 9th Circuit refused to reconsider its ruling.

Kelley’s petition to the Supreme Court is something of a long shot. Four justices would have to agree to take his case on appeal. That only happens in a small percentage of cases.

Read more details here.

-- Kim Shepard

Restoration effort for Capitol Hill BLM mural

9:30 a.m. -- Efforts to make the Black Lives Matter mural in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood permanent get underway Tuesday.

Parts of it are already faded and chipped, so crews are going to use heavy machinery to etch it into the ground so it can be redone.

"The etching in stone of our mural is a great look, but it's also really about action, as far as you know policy and law," said Takiyah Ward with the Vivid Matter Collective of artists. "We're hopeful the city can really come through in a real way with regard to proving that Black lives matter."

The artists who painted the mural back in June during the Capitol Hill Organized Protest are collaborating with the city's arts and culture office in this restoration effort. The city says it wants to save the mural due to the cultural significance of the art itself.

The work - weather permitting - is scheduled to be finished by this weekend.

-- Paige Browning

Census official wants more time

9 a.m. -- West Coast states, including Washington and Oregon, want more time to ensure a complete count during the 2020 Census.

The census is scheduled to end next week, on September 30. Census workers are close to the finish line for the once-every-10-years count. They've collected responses from 97, 98 or 99 percent of known addresses in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, respectively.

This is a remarkable feat given everything that's happened this year, says Washington state's point person on the 2020 Census, Marc Baldwin.

However ... "We need to make sure that the census counts are accurate. Washington could use another month. I think most states could use another month on the census collection."

Baldwin says the stakes are high for capturing billions of dollars of future federal funding based on population and for the reapportionment of state and federal legislative seats.

-- Tom Banse

SPD withdraws subpoena for media companies

8:30 a.m. -- The city of Seattle has withdrawn a subpoena that called on several Seattle-area media companies to hand over their raw video footage from the May 30 protests.

Investigators wanted the video so they could try to identify people who set a number of police cars on fire. But last month the state Supreme Court ruled temporarily in favor of the news outlets.

On Monday, the Seattle Police Department announced on its website that is is withdrawing the subpoena because the decision was being delayed, adding that detectives have done excellent work on the cases in the interim.

-- Angela King

Seattle responds to "Anarchist Jurisdiction" label

8 a.m. -- Mayor Jenny Durkan is calling the Department of Justice's label of Seattle as an "Anarchist Jurisdiction" blatantly unlawful.

The label means that the DOJ could attempt to cut federal funding from Seattle, as well as New York and Portland which share in the designation.

Durkan said that Attorney General Bill Barr's obsession with "Seattle and me is irrational."

The DOJ claimed local crime rose by more than 500% during the time of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone. But King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg released a statement Monday night saying, in part, "the designation seems more of a political statement than a factual one" adding the DOJ never contacted his office for any actual data.

President Trump's earlier attempts to stop federal funding to jurisdictions that declared themselves sanctuary cities have so far been blocked in the courts.

Read more about the DOJ's anarchist label below, under Monday's updates.

-- Angela King

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

Competition emerges for access to Lower Spokane Street Bridge

9:45 a.m. -- The West Seattle Bridge is expected to take years to either replace or repair. But while it’s out of service, more people want to be able to use the Lower Spokane Street Bridge during the day.

The city says it’s looking at ways to make that happen, while the Port of Seattle is getting nervous.

Just over a year ago, the Port announced that it would invest half a billion dollars in Terminal 5. And that means many more freight trucks that can’t use the West Seattle Bridge and only use the much smaller lower bridge.

With commuters now wanting access to the lower bridge, that could cause greater traffic and potential delays.

Terminal 5 is expected to open next summer.

Read more details here.

-- Carolyn Adolph

Redmond police kill woman

9:30 a.m. -- Redmond police officers shot and killed a woman Sunday evening after she called 911 saying someone was trying to kill her, according to KING 5 News.

When officers arrived, they found her on the balcony of her apartment. She said that she may have shot someone and confronted officers with a gun. That's when Officers opened fire.

-- Angela King

DOJ designates Seattle as "Anarchist Jurisdiction" in move to cut fed funds

9 a.m. -- The Department of Justice has declared New York City, Portland, and Seattle as "Anarchist Jurisdictions" under guidelines issued by President Trump earlier this month.

Those guidelines direct federal agencies to cut funding to cities with this designation.

“When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest,” Attorney General William Barr. stated in the declaration. “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”

The DOJ says Seattle allowed violence and property destruction during the summer protests against police violence. It cited seven incidents in its justification for the anarchist designation, including the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone.

As stated in the DOJ declaration:

  • For nearly a month, starting in June, the City of Seattle permitted anarchists and activists to seize six square blocks of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, naming their new enclave the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ) and then the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (CHOP).
  • Law enforcement and fire fighters were precluded from entering the territory. The Seattle Police Department was ordered to abandon their precinct within the CHOP.
  • Person-related crime in the CHOP increased 525% from the same period of time in the same area the year before, including by Mayor Durkan’s own count “two additional homicides, 6 additional robberies, and 16 additional aggravated assaults (to include 2 additional non-fatal shootings).”
  • The CHOP was allowed to stand for nearly a month, during which time two teenagers were shot and killed in the zone.
  • The Seattle City Council, Mayor Durkan, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee publicly rejected federal involvement in law enforcement activities within the city of Seattle.

-- Angela King

King Co. considers cutting marijuana revenue from Sheriff's budget

8:45 a.m. -- Should the King County Sheriff’s Office stop receiving tax revenues from marijuana sales?

That's one of the 2021-2022 budget proposals going before the King County Council this week.

Executive Dow Constantine proposes that the county use that revenue on youth drug prevention, employment programs, and to help people with old marijuana convictions.

That would take $4.6 million out of the sheriff's departments roughly $400 million budget.

But the idea already has an opponent on the County Council -- Reagan Dunn.

Dunn issued a statement saying "It’s time for leaders to stand for law and order.” It’s a phrase that resembles President Trump's campaign messaging.

Executive Constantine also wants to boost community safety programs, and support youth offenders instead of filing charges against them, among other proposals.

The cuts to the sheriff's office are supported by the county’s Prosecuting Attorney's Office, as well as Black Lives Matter Seattle and King County.

--Paige Browning

Boeing could move 787 Dreamliner production out of Everett

8:30 a.m. -- Reuters is reporting that Boeing may shift more of its 787 Dreamliner production from Everett to South Carolina.

The move is a cost-cutting strategy.

According to Reuters' sources, a final decision is expected to be announced by late next month when Boeing issues its next earnings report.

-- Angela King

Potential cause of fire that struck Malden, Pine City

8:15 a.m. -- We may now know what caused the fire that nearly wiped out the eastern Washington town of Malden.

Avista Utilities told the Spokesman Review that a tree may have made contact with a power line in the area and sparked the fire. But the utility says it has not found any evidence that any equipment deficiencies or vegetation management were to blame.

The fire not only wiped out an estimated 80% of the town Malden, it also destroyed more than half of homes in the neighboring town of Pine City.

-- Angela King

King County deputy shoots and kills man in Auburn

8 a.m. -- A King County sheriff's deputy is on leave after shooting and killing a man in Auburn Saturday afternoon.

A person waved down the deputy and said they saw the man firing a gun in a nearby back yard, according to KOMO News. The sheriff's office says a 32-year-old came out and got into some sort of altercation with the deputy. That's when the deputy opened fire.

It is unknown if the man was armed at the time.

-- Angela King

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

Child pepper spray case: Seattle Police accountability office finds no wrongdoing

10:05 a.m. — The city's Office of Police Accountability has wrapped up five investigations into complaints filed against the Seattle Police Department amid ongoing protests, including a case in which a child was hit with pepper spray.

The office has received roughly 19,000 complaints about police officers' conduct since May 30, and is still working through more than 100 use of force investigations.

The newly released findings, detailed below, involve the following cases:

  • A young boy hit with an officer's pepper spray at a May 30 protest in Downtown Seattle. No violations found were found in this investigation and the deployment of the pepper spray was found to be "lawful and proper."
  • An officer placing his knee in the back of a person's neck during an arrest in Downtown Seattle on May 30. Video of the arrest circulating online Two violations were found in this case: Improper use of force and a violation of the Seattle Police Department's professionalism policy.
  • An officer allegedly shoving an elderly man during a May 30 demonstration in Downtown Seattle. The Office of Police Accountability determined the evidence in this case was inconclusive, citing the inability "to identify whether and when this occurred and, if so, who the involved officer was."
  • An officer threatening to hit demonstrators and stating that he has "a hard on for this shit." That officer was found to be in violation of the Seattle Police Department's professionalism policy by making that commentary.
  • Allegations that officers used excessive force when pushing demonstrators back and were particularly aggressive with a man because of his sexual orientation. Investigators found that the use of force in this case was "lawful and proper" and that the claims of discrimination were unfounded.

Read more here.

Liz Brazile

Federal judge blocks changes to USPS ahead of November election

10 a.m. — A federal judge in Yakima has temporarily blocked some of the controversial US Postal Service changes that have been slowing mail delivery across the country.

Judge Stanley Bastian called them "a politically-motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service" ahead of the November election.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson led the charge by Washington and 13 other states.

Under the ruling, the USPS has to stop telling drivers to leave some mail behind and it will need to reassemble and reconnect some of the mail sorting equipment that was ordered to be removed.

Angela King

BLM files request with Seattle inspector general for SPD conduct

9:30 a.m. — Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County is asking the city's inspector general to investigate "the Seattle Police Department's potentially unlawful actions against protesters during demonstrations earlier this year."

The BLM group filed a request with the City of Seattle Office of Inspector General on Thursday, asking for them to look into:

  • If elected officials or city staff interfered with SPD’s response to protesters.
  • Who gave the order for police to abandon the East Precinct -- which they argue could have jeopardized public safety. Also, if officers used city resources to prolong their absence from the building.
  • If Seattle police used less-than-lethal weapons on protesters after a court ordered them not to.
  • If Seattle police illegally surveilled protesters using non-SPD devices, and if police illegally access personal records of protesters.
  • If the Office of Police Accountability shared information about police conduct and disciplinary decisions with the media.

In a statement, BLM Seattle-King County says "This probe, along with another filed this week with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC), are together designed to ensure that elected officials and city staff are held accountable."

Angela King

Air quality in Puget Sound region

9 a.m. — The rain may be on the way, and the smoky conditions improving, but an air quality alert for places like King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties has been extended through 10 a.m. Saturday.

Right now the Department of Ecology still has the air quality listed as unhealthy for most of the Puget Sound region -- despite slight improvements in some areas.

A storm that's set to move through the area later Friday will help scrub out the air.

Angela King

New momentum for ban on native mascots

8:45 a.m. — Democratic state representative says she's drafting a proposal for the next legislative session that would ban Native-themed mascots and team names at public schools.

And while Native American leaders have been calling for something like this for a while, the argument has found new momentum.

This move is "long overdue" according to a panel of Native education leaders who spoke to the Washington State Board of Education on Wednesday. Willie Frank is a Nisqually Tribal Council member.

"One of the most degrading things for us as Native people is to see a non-native running around in our regalia with their face painted and they're war whooping or they're chanting," Frank said. "That's tough to see."

The state Board of Education has twice passed resolutions urging school districts to discontinue monikers such as Chiefs, Indians and Warriors. But about two-dozen schools in the state still use team names like that because the resolutions were nonbinding. If the Washington Legislature passes a mandatory phase out next year, it'd be about six years behind Oregon and 15 years behind the NCAA. Both of those, though, make exceptions for schools to keep a Native-related team name by written agreement with a nearby tribe.

Tom Banse

Ballard P-Patch saved

8:30 a.m. -- The Ballard P-Patch has been saved from development, but there’s a caveat.

A church that owned the property wanted to sell the land beneath the garden in order to pay for a remodel. The gardeners staged a dramatic effort to raise $2 million to save the community garden. Their efforts came close, but fell a little short.

Nonetheless, this week they announced that a non-profit land conservancy called "Grow Northwest" had stepped in and officially purchased the garden from the church.

The catch is that the money for the purchase is not a gift, but a two year loan.

Still, that gives the gardeners a little breathing room to raise the $300,000 that remain, and to wait for King County to deliver a promised grant.

They’re hosting a fundraiser – a virtual 5K run - later this month.

Joshua McNichols

NW smoke reaching New York

8 a.m. — There's so much smoke in the Northwest that it's drifting all the way to the East Coast.

According to the National Weather Service, the wind patterns this week have carried smoke eastward. It has reached the Dakotas, New York, and some has even spread over the Atlantic Ocean.

Meteorologist Matt Solum is watching this pattern from the National Weather Service's western headquarters.

"Just happens to be the perfect set up for just having enough smoke and the right wind direction the higher up in the atmosphere you go, to bring it clear across the country," Solum said.

He says because there is so much smoke, it's being pushed up into the jetstream.

Solum says forecasts for the Seattle area still call for a storm pattern Friday evening that could clear out some of the smoke, sending it elsewhere instead.

The smoke and particulate matter that has traveled to the East Coast is not low enough for people to breath, but is visible as haze and red skies.

Paige Browning

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

Washington facilities are on the front lines of a new innovation in veterans’ health care

10 a.m. -- Next month, Spokane’s Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center and the VA’s Puget Sound Health Care system will switch to a new electronic medical records system. Agency officials believe it will help veterans and active duty service members better navigate multiple health care systems.

John Windom is the executive director of the VA’s Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization.

"Right now we’ve got about 130 different Vista systems in VA that don’t really speak to each other," he said. "So that’s going to knock down that barrier. The VA facilities and medical centers will be able to speak to one another and exchange information."

He says the VA will also be able to access records from health facilities on military bases and from private providers who care for veterans.

Dr. Laura Kroupa, the VA’s chief medical officer, says the system will also help the agency on a macro level.

"We’ll be able to discover new things about how military service affects health," Kroupa said. "When we think about having a nationwide network across multiple hospitals and over time, the amount of information that we’ll be able to use to advance research and understanding veterans’ health care issues is going to be phenomenal."

The Washington facilities will be among the first hospitals in the nation to begin using the new system next month.

-- Kim Shepard

Separate deaths in two Seattle-area parks

9:45 a.m. -- A teenager was shot and killed at Houghton Park in Kirkland Wednesday evening. Kirkland police haven't released any suspect information, but they say two men were seen running from the scene around 8 p.m.

In Seattle, a man wanted in connection with a woman found dead in Cal Anderson Park Wednesday night has died himself.

Officers say he barricaded himself inside a nearby building, and after hours of trying to talk him out, police found him dead at the bottom of a 10 foot tank filled with a bleach solution.

-- Angela King

Judge hears arguments around postal service changes in Yakima

9:30 a.m. -- A federal judge in Yakima is set to hear arguments Thursday in a motion from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Ferguson wants the judge to immediately block changes at the US Postal Service that he says are threatening critical mail delivery nationwide.

Among some of the requests -- have the USPS replace, reassemble, or reconnect all mail sorting equipment that's been removed and hold off on any more changes until after the election.

-- Angela King

Wildfire update: Friday brings potential to clear out smoke

9:15 a.m. -- Fire officials say they continue to make progress against the Cold Springs wildfire in Washington state -- it's 80% contained. Another large fire, the Pearl Hill Fire, is 94% contained]. Both are burning in north central Washington.

But the air quality throughout the state remains unhealthy.

The National Weather Service says the smoke should start clearing out of the region on Friday. That's when a new storm will bring rain and smoke-clearing winds.

-- Angela King

King County could cut millions for law enforcement

9 a.m. -- King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing a $4 million cut from county law enforcement and instead investing that money in community programs.

He also said the county should establish new programs to keep young people out of jail, in what he calls a commitment toward racial justice. It's all part of his new biennial budget plan announced Wednesday and it's supported by community groups like Black Lives Matter Seattle and King County.

"The priorities presented today will begin to address some of the injustices the Black community and other communities of color have experienced for decades in King County," said BLM Seattle-King County Board member Marlon Brown. "We want to acknowledge that this is a marathon, not a sprint."

Brown says more change is needed, including ending cash bonds.

Constantine’s budget proposal will go to the county council next week.

In addition, King County Metro will not enforce bus fares for the rest of this year, as enforcement can disproportionately impact people of color.

-- Paige Browning

Seattle gets e-scooters

8:30 a.m. -- They've got two wheels and a lot of power. Electric scooters are now available to rent in Seattle.

The company Lime rolled out its first 500 e-scooters Wednesday. I took one on a test ride, cruising down the Seattle waterfront, near the Aquarium.

The scooter is zippy. I moved along at about 13 miles per hour. The scooter maxes out at 15 mph. There’s a hand break plus a bell.

Seattle is one of the last major U.S. cities to get scooters. In the past, there’s been concerns about scooters cluttering sidewalks. And also the city has a lot of hills; many are far too steep for this scooter to climb.

Now, there are now hundreds of green, free-floating scooters around Seattle. Just remember your helmet.

-- Casey Martin

Recall Sawant petition gets the green light in court

8 a.m. -- A petition to recall Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant got the green light Wednesday in King County Superior Court.

King County Superior Court Judge Jim Roger ruled that the facts in the case for four of the six charges against Sawant were "sufficient" to let the recall move forward.

"The courts role in this case is very limited and acts only as a gatekeeper, reviewing allegations only for legal and factual accuracy and not for their truth," he wrote.

PDF Icon

9-16-20 DECISION ON RECALL COUNCILMEMBER SAWANT.pdf

In his order, Judge Roger is careful to note that while four charges are sufficient for the recall effort to move forward, his decision is not a finding of guilt.

The four sufficient charges include:

  • Sawant's role in leading a protest march to Mayor Jenny Durkan's home. The location of Durkan's home is confidential by law due to her previous role as a US attorney. The judge notes that Sawant says she was unaware of this, but also states that the violation is a class C felony.
  • Sawant allegedly handing over hiring and firing authority for city employees to an outside political organization in violation of the city's hiring rules (this issue has previously come up with the city's ethics commission).
  • Sawant allegedly using city resources in support of a ballot initiative and therefore participated in electioneering.
  • Sawant allowing hundreds of protesters into city hall after hours, amid a pandemic with a state order against large gatherings.

The next stop for the recall campaign, legally, could be the state Supreme Court if Sawant appeals, as expected.

While the recall campaign moves forward, Sawant will be getting legal help from the city. The City Council voted 7-to-1 Tuesday afternoon to provide her with legal representation. The majority of council members say she's due that help, under the law, even if they don't agree with her.

"So I realize this is not a popular position in my district, and supporters of mine will be asking for a long time, how can you support Councilmember Sawant," said District 4 Councilmember Alex Pedersen.

Debora Juarez was the only council member who voted against this move.

-- Gil Aegerter, David Hyde, Dyer Oxley

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

Seattle Councilmember Gonzalez reflects on 'harm' of past votes

11 a.m. -- Lorena Gonzalez, Seattle City councilmember, has been reflecting on votes that she has made and apologizing for them.

“As public safety chair over the last four years, I have taken votes to expand the footprint of law enforcement in a way that didn't recognize the need to have equal or greater amount of investments in community programs around education, affordable housing, health care systems that really help BIPOC community members be resilient and successful,” she said.

“This is a moment for us as elected leaders to acknowledge when we've created harm through our policy choices and decisions,” she said. “I hope that other elected leaders in Seattle and across the state take an opportunity to reconcile past policy decisions and acknowledge that now is a moment to move in a different direction.”

Read/listen to more of the interview with KUOW's Angela King.

--Angela King, Kim Shepherd

Seattle police arrest 11 people at Denny Park

10 a.m. -- Seattle police arrested 11 people Tuesday during an anti-police demonstration at Denny Park.

The SPD says those who were arrested were breaking out windows and spray painting businesses as they moved along 5th Avenue near the Space Needle.

According to the Seattle Times, a livestream recording showed some bicycle officers walking next to the group, pulling people out, and taking them into custody.

SPD used pepper spray when, officers say, some tried to intervene with the arrests.

At least one person was taken to the hospital.

Officers say they later recovered bear mace, spray paint, a baton and a knife from those who were arrested.

-- Angela King

Inslee and Culp to debate in October

9:30 a.m. -- A date has been set for a gubernatorial debate between incumbent Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Loren Culp -- October 7.

The two candidates will square off in a televised debate slated to air at 8 p.m. following the U.S. vice-presidential debate.

Two candidates for lieutenant governor -- State Sen. Marko Liias and U.S. Rep. Denny Heck -- will debate on October 22.

-- Angela King

Recall Sawant petition gets the green light in court; City Council votes to help Sawant in legal fight to dismiss recall effort

Updated at 4:45 p.m. 9/16/2020

9 a.m. -- A petition to recall Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant got the green light today in King County Superior Court.

King County Superior Court Judge Jim Roger ruled that the facts in the case for four of the six charges against Sawant were "sufficient" to let the recall move forward.

"The courts role in this case is very limited and acts only as a gatekeeper, reviewing allegations only for legal and factual accuracy and not for their truth," he wrote.

Former U.S. attorney John McKay argued on behalf of the petition brought by Ernie Lou and other residents.

The charges against Sawant include using her official position to let hundreds of protesters inside city hall, after hours, during a pandemic in June. They also object to Sawant leading a protest march to Mayor Jenny Durkan's home, which is protected under state confidentiality laws.

“I hope that we are not living in a time in which our elected officials are not held accountable for violations of the law,” McKay said.

Dmitri Iglitzin represented Councilmember Sawant. He said the petitioners failed to provide evidence that any specific laws had been broken, and argued the court should set a high bar for recalls.

The next stop could be the state Supreme Court if Sawant appeals, as expected.

Either way, Sawant is getting legal help from the city. The City Council voted 7-to-1 Tuesday afternoon to provide her with legal representation. The majority of council members say she's due that help, under the law, even if they don't agree with her.

"So I realize this is not a popular position in my district, and supporters of mine will be asking for a long time, how can you support Councilmember Sawant," said District 4 Councilmember Alex Pedersen.

Debora Juarez was the only council member who voted against this move.

-- Gil Aegerter, David Hyde

Congressional committee releases findings on 737 MAX

8:45 a.m. -- A congressional committee in Washington D.C. has released its findings into what caused two deadly 737 MAX crashes.

It blamed a culmination of design flaws, management failures, a lack of transparency, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA. It also said Boeing made faulty assumptions about how pilots would respond to the flight control system that was implicated in the crashes.

The committee also said Boeing employees were under pressure to keep costs down, and the planes on schedule.

In a statement, Boeing says it's learned many hard lessons from the crashes and is making both manufacturing and workplace changes.

-- Angela King

Seattle makes another step toward backyard cottages

Seattle pushes backyard cottage designs to cut through red tape

Seattle pushes backyard cottage designs to cut through red tape

8:30 a.m. -- This week, the city of Seattle unveiled 10 pre-approved designs for backyard cottages. The goal is to cut through red tape and make backyard cottages easier and cheaper to build.

Gary Olmeim is one of the designers whose backyard cottage plans have been pre-approved by the city. He says people can build his tiniest cottage for about $130,000. It comes in pieces, in a kit.

“They’re kind of like a flat-pack IKEA box," Olmeim said. "Except they’re not in a box, because you couldn’t have a box big enough. But they’re these flat panels that get delivered to your house with a set of instructions and you can put them together out there like a bunch of IKEA pieces.”

The city of Seattle surveyed residents about why they’d want to build a backyard cottage. In North Seattle, more people want to rent them out for extra income. In South Seattle, more people want to house an aging parent.

-- Joshua McNichols

Lime scooters unleashed in Seattle

8:15 a.m. -- The company Lime is deploying 500 e-scooters around Seattle Wednesday.

The City Council approved a citywide pilot program last week, and officials granted Lime a permit for e-scooters Tuesday.

But local leaders are advising residents to limit any travel while the unhealthy wildfire smoke remains lingering throughout the region.

Under city rules, first-time riders will be limited to speeds of up to eight miles per hour. After that, the scooters can travel up to 15 miles per hour.

The city expects that up to 1,500 scooters could be rolling through Seattle streets once other companies like LINK and Wheels apply and get their permits by the fall.

Some healthcare workers say severe injuries to riders have risen as e-scooters have grown in popularity in other cities.

Councilmember Alex Pedersen, who chairs the Council's Transportation Committee, cast the sole no vote, saying he had unanswered questions about the program's viability in Seattle.

-- Angela King

Increase in calls for trouble breathing

Seattle health clinics report spike in calls for difficulty breathing

Seattle health clinics report spike in calls for difficulty breathing

8 a.m. -- Health clinics have been getting more calls this week from people concerned about the smoke.

Neighborcare Health in South Seattle – a nonprofit health center - says people are having trouble breathing, wondering if they’ve developed asthma, asking about inhalers, and just how to avoid the smoke.

There is a smoke shelter available in SoDo for people who don’t have some place inside to go. The county says that’ll be open through Wednesday morning.

-- Casey Martin

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15

Bill Gates Sr. dies at age 94

Bill Gates Sr. has passed away

Bill Gates Sr. has passed away

3:46 p.m. — William H. Gates Sr., perhaps best known as the father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has died at age 94. In a letter publicly shared online, Bill Gates Jr. wrote that his father had passed away peacefully in his home on Monday.

"We will miss him more than we can express right now," he wrote. "We are feeling grief but also gratitude. My dad’s passing was not unexpected — he was 94 years old and his health had been declining —so we have all had a long time to reflect on just how lucky we are to have had this amazing man in our lives for so many years."

Bill Gates Sr. was a prominent civic leader and philanthropist. Gates Sr. was born in 1925 in Bremerton, Washington. After serving in World War II he earned a law degree from the University of Washington.

Starting in 1994, he helped launch and run the William H. Gates Foundation, which later became the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He was also involved with the board of Planned Parenthood before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision making abortion legal in Roe v. Wade.

In his 80s Gates Sr. campaigned for a Washington State income-tax on high earners like himself and his son.

Alaska Airlines cancels fights due to wildfire smoke

9:30 a.m. -- We hadn't seen much in the way of smoke causing problems for major air travel, but Alaska Airlines said Monday that it was temporarily suspending all flights into and out of Portland and Spokane because of wildfire smoke.

But the airline is hoping to resume those flights by 3 p.m. Tuesday. The cancellations also include Horizon Air flights.

Alaska and Horizon have also canceled flights at smaller airports in Oregon, including Eugene, Medford and Redmond/Bend. In Washington, flights were canceled in Pasco and Walla Walla.

-- Angela King

Wildfire smoke threatens Northwest harvests

Wildfires and smoke are threatening Washington's harvests

Wildfires and smoke are threatening Washington's harvests

9 a.m. -- Wildfire smoke from California and the Northwest is choking the harvest of many Northwest crops. And it's causing a headache for agricultural workers.

The Northwest apple harvest got going at the end of July. And it will run until winter. There’s an estimated 134 million boxes of apples to be harvested in Washington. And losing a few days because workers can’t be in heavy smoke is a big deal.

Tim Kovis with the Washington State Tree Fruit Association says the quality of the fruit can also be affected.

“There is an optimal window for our industry where the sugar content, the color, shape, size is right for that piece of fruit to go to market,” Kovis said.

Farmers in the region are also having trouble harvesting their veggies, and are worried about wildfire smoke affecting the flavor of valuable wine grapes.

-- Anna King

Audit finds Seattle bridge maintenance lacking

8:30 a.m. -- A new audit says the city of Seattle isn't spending enough on bridge maintenance and some of our bridges have gotten pretty bad over the past 10 years.

And not just the West Seattle Bridge, which has been closed since March. Five bridges, including the Magnolia Bridge and University Bridge, are listed in poor condition.

Seattle City Council member Alex Pedersen, who chairs the Transportation Committee, asked for the audit following the West Seattle Bridge closure. He said the city needs to spend closer to $36 million on maintenance. Right now it spends about $7 million.

Pedersen says that bridge maintenance shortcomings need to be addressed in the next budget.

SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said the transportation department is already in the process of developing a more comprehensive and proactive bridge preservation program.

--Angela King

2 decisions around recall campaign for Councilmember Kshama Sawant

The effort to recall Councilmember Kshama Sawant faces 2 decisions this week

The effort to recall Councilmember Kshama Sawant faces 2 decisions this week

8 a.m. -- There are two big events this week in the recall campaign against Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant.

First, the council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to vote on whether the city should pay to defend Sawant against the recall campaign. The proposal says the city attorney's office should defend her and bring possible appeals. The attorney's office has defended council members before. For example, in 2011 for council member Richard Conlin.

A second action comes Wednesday when a judge is scheduled to decide whether the recall campaign has enough merit to move to the next step and collect petition signatures. A Seattle resident created the recall effort last month, saying that Sawant violated city rules by participating in a protest march to the mayor's house.

Her supporters will rally outside the King County Courthouse Wednesday morning in solidarity with Sawant,

There are also recall campaigns underway against Mayor Jenny Durkan and Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney.

-- Paige Browning