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Today So Far Blog

News, factoids, and insights from KUOW's newsroom. And maybe some peeks behind-the-scenes. Check back daily for updates. And read the Today So Far newsletter here.

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  • Appalled, but not surprised: Seattleites react to SCOTUS ruling on Roe

    Today So Far Blog
    caption: Carol Dole (right) of Jackson Park and Rebecca Dietz (left) of Wedgewood demonstrate their reaction to the Supreme Court decision Friday overturning Roe v. Wade.
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    Carol Dole (right) of Jackson Park and Rebecca Dietz (left) of Wedgewood demonstrate their reaction to the Supreme Court decision Friday overturning Roe v. Wade.
    Credit: Photo by Joshua McNichols / KUOW

    People in Seattle and across Washington state are reacting to today's Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortions nationwide. Although abortions remain legal in Washington, people who were out enjoying the summer sun had strong opinions about the historic decision.

    Carol Dole, pictured above, said she was "appalled" by the Supreme Court ruling.

    "I'm scared, for all the women who deserve to take care of their bodies in the way they want to," said Dole, who lives in Jackson Park.

    She was walking the Meadowbrook Pond trail with her friend, Rebecca Dietz, of Wedgewood. Dietz predicted chaos as women requiring abortions are forced to cross state lines to get the medical help they need.

    "I have always given money, I have been a volunteer at various organizations, NARAL, Planned Parenthood — that's not gonna stop," Dietz said. "I just feel like all of us, you need to bring it up in conversation with people who aren't comfortable about it. You need to continue to get out and vote. Your vote does matter. Your local officials do matter. Who runs your state Legislature does matter."

    Cindy House lives in Kent, and teaches a fitness class for older adults at the Meadowbrook Community Center in Seattle.

    After her class was dismissed, she shared her thoughts about some states outlawing abortion following the court’s decision.

    “I really feel that each individual woman should have her own right to make a decision on her own body," House said. "When somebody doesn’t want something, they don’t give it the care it needs.”

    She says babies suffer – and mothers don’t get the help they need either.

    “Well, then you have the baby, and you have no support," she explained. "So it’s hard, it makes life hard for the baby, it makes life hard for the parents, too. Nobody wins when you can’t make your own choice.”

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  • Washington license plates are about to get a lot more expensive

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    Vroom vroom! Ka-ching! The price of a Washington state license plate is about to increase.

    Starting July 1, car owners will have to pay $50, instead of $10, for a new plate. Replacement plates will cost you $30.

    If you're registering your car from another state, the price is shooting up from $15 to $50.

    Motorcycle license plate prices are also going up. They're $4 now. A replacement plate will be $12, and a new plate will be $20.

    The prices increases are slated to help pay for the $17 billion Move Ahead Washington transportation package that was signed into law earlier this year.

    Washington's Department of Licensing has more details.

    More updates on KUOW's Today So Far Blog

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  • Kirkland is exchanging gift cards for guns

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    The Kirkland Police Department will hold a Guns for Gift Cards Exchange on Saturday, June 25.

    The event will be from 9 a.m. to noon at the Kirkland Justice Center. And if getting up early enough to run an errand at 9 a.m. on a Saturday doesn't sound too appealing (maybe I'm projecting here), another Guns for Gift Cards Exchange will be held on July 20 from 5-7 p.m.

    Kirkland residents who want to relinquish an unloaded gun can do so anonymously. In exchange, they'll get a gift card worth between $25 and $250.

    Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold says they want to get these weapons off the streets and out of homes so they're less likely to be used in suicides and accidental shootings.

    “Kirkland experienced six gun-related suicides since 2020. Encouraging community members to voluntarily relinquish ownership of unwanted guns is one step we can take to help reduce the likelihood of accidental injuries and suicides by firearms,” Arnold said.

    No registration is required, but proof of Kirkland residency is needed to get a gift card (utility bill, etc.). No personal information will be recorded.

    KPD is asking people dropping off firearms to:

    • Stay in their vehicle when they pull up to the Kirkland Justice Center.
    • All guns must be unloaded when dropping off.
    • Have guns in the trunk or back seat of your car (basically out of reach of anyone in the vehicle.

    The Kirkland Justice Center is located at 11740 NE 118th Street.

    More updates on KUOW's Today So Far Blog

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  • Washington AG forms task force to tackle organized retail theft

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    caption: Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson looks on during a news conference in Seattle on Dec. 17, 2019.
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    Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson looks on during a news conference in Seattle on Dec. 17, 2019.

    Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is creating a task force that will focus on organized retail crime.

    Ferguson says that unlike typical shoplifting or theft that is driven by poverty, these organized thieves are stealing goods to make a profit. And he says it’s become a problem not only for retailers but for consumers too.

    For example: Parents who need baby formula.

    "These thieves become resellers and online marketplaces," Ferguson said. "And that means that parents who unwittingly buy stolen formula on the secondary market may be putting their babies at significant risk if the thieves, for example, fail to store the product at the appropriate temperatures, or if the thieves manipulate the packaging such as changing the expiration date."

    The President of the Washington Retail Association notes that this kind of theft also means a loss of tax revenue for cities and counties throughout the state.

    The task force will be made up of local, state, and federal agencies, along with small business and worker representatives. . It will meet quarterly over the next year.

    More updates on KUOW's Today So Far Blog

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  • Cuts at Seattle City Hall are on the table as city aims to fill $117M budget gap

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    Credit: Flickr Photo/Daniel X. O'Neil (CC-BY-NC-ND)/

    The city of Seattle is facing a projected $117 million revenue shortfall in 2023. Senior Deputy mayor Monisha Harrell says the funding gap will have consequences around town.

    "The city will have to cut back on some programs, we do know that," Harrell said. "We are evaluating all of our programs at this point in time. We are evaluating programs to make sure that we're getting the return on investment that we are seeking."

    Seattle's economic growth was stalling out before Covid struck in early 2020. The pandemic snarled efforts to address the funding gap in the meantime. While pandemic relief from the federal government helped, that money is now drying up.

    What kind of cuts could Seattle be considering?

    Deputy Mayor Harrell says staff cuts will be the last option on the table. The city is considering leaving some open positions vacant, however.

    Mayor Bruce Harrell is required under state law to submit a balanced budget to the City Council by late September.

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  • 'It's a sad day': Seattle pastor on the overturning of Roe v Wade

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    While reporting on breaking news that the Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v Wade Friday morning, KUOW Reporter Kate Walters reached out to local clergy for their response.

    Pastor Derek Lane with Seattle's Maranatha Seventh-day Adventists Church sent the following comments, allowing KUOW to reprint them here.

    At 8:57 this morning, shortly after the decision was announced, I received a voice recording of the decision from one of my church members.

    I shared a two-worded response. "Sad day"

    It's sad because there is an assumption that all people of faith stand in solidarity with this decision. While my own particular religious denomination recognizes the multi-layered aspects of the debate, it does lean towards a more conservative stance and emphasizes the sanctity of life.

    But upon closer examination people of faith within my faith tradition as well as many others who represent a 'silent majority' have long recognized another valuable and equally important aspect of faith, and that is freedom. The Bible and all other sacred texts recognize the value of both life and freedom and do not see it as a zero-sum game.

    As a faith-based leader and community activist I lean towards freedom because that is what I see my sacred text and values promote above all else.

    It's a sad day because the same court that restricts freedom and promotes life by denying women the right to choose also expands that same freedom to make it easier to take a life by granting permission to carry a concealed gun outside of the home.

    It's a sad day because abortion providers will now have to close their doors to the poor and BIPOC communities who already experience limited healthcare options because of economic injustice in our healthcare system.

    It's a sad day because we have finally exposed the hypocrisy of a system and society that places more value on life before the womb than after. We expend energy, resources, and a half century to protect the unborn but deny them fair housing, free healthcare, and a living wage.

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  • From 'fight back' to 'life wins.' Washington leaders weigh in on overturning Roe v Wade: Today So Far

    Today So Far Newsletter
    caption: A crowd is gathered during a pro-choice rally and press conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
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    A crowd is gathered during a pro-choice rally and press conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at Kerry Park in Seattle.
    Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
    • Local leaders respond to overturning of Roe v Wade.
    • Will Washington pause its gas tax?
    • SPD is not welcome at Seattle Pride Parade.
    • Social housing is one step closer to Seattle's ballot.

    This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for June 24, 2022.

    The Supreme Court knocked down Roe v Wade this morning (officially, since we already knew it was coming). It didn't take long for Washington's leaders and other prominent voices to weigh in, from, "We are going to stand up and fight back" to, "Today, life wins."

    The "fight back" crowd includes Gov. Jay Inslee who announced today that Washington is joining forces with Oregon and California to "fight like hell" to protect abortion rights. In a statement with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the three governors said that the West Coast will not only uphold abortion rights, the three states will fend off attempts from outside parties to ban abortions. They will also work to counter efforts to intimidate or investigate people who travel to the states for medical services.

    The "Today, life wins" crowd includes Congressmember Dan Newhouse (who made that statement) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers who further stated, "This is one of the most momentous days in American history for the dignity and sanctity of every human life." Just about every politician used the news to hype fundraisers or score political points. Though, McMorris Rodgers took it to a dystopian sci-fi level by claiming Democrats have a radical agenda on par with China and North Korea. Read more on that here.

    And for what it's worth, Pearl Jam said that, "No one, not the government, not politicians, not the Supreme Court should stand in the way of access to abortion, birth control, or contraceptives. People should have the freedom to choose. Today's decision impacts everyone and it will particularly affect poor women who can’t afford to travel to access health care."

    RELATED: Retired nurse remembers how 'everything changed' after Roe v. Wade

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  • 'West Coast states will fight like hell' to protect abortion rights in wake of Roe v Wade overturning

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    As news broke Friday morning that the Supreme Court officially overturned Roe v Wade, Washington's leaders quickly weighed in.

    Among those statements was an announcement from Governor Jay Inslee that Washington is joining with Oregon and California to "fight like hell" in a multistate partnership that will protect abortion rights. The states will fend off attempts to spread abortion bans, and counter efforts to intimidate or investigate people who travel to the states for medical services.

    Via Twitter, Gov. Inslee noted that Washington state's laws remain unchanged — abortion is still legal and protected in the state.

    "...but the threat to patient access and privacy has never been more dangerous. Even in Washington state, Republicans have introduced about 40 bills in the past six years to roll back abortion rights and access to reproductive care."

    "The right of choice should not depend on which party holds the majority, but that’s where we find ourselves," Inslee said. "More than half the nation’s population now lacks safe access to a medical procedure that only a patient and their doctor can and should make for themselves."

    RELATED: 'There's going to be a lack of honesty.' Two Washington doctors on the fallout of overturning Roe v Wade

    RELATED: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

    Inslee added that Washington is joining a multistate "Commitment to Reproductive Freedom," along with Oregon and California.

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  • The look, the feel, of Seattle: Today So Far

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    Is there hope for the future of new housing in Seattle? (I think so)

    This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for June 23, 2022.

    We better stretch first for today's newsletter. Take a deep breath. I know it's gonna ruffle some feathers. Because we're gonna talk about one of the most tense issues around Seattle — housing!

    Architecture and development are a lot like art. Some people look a building and are pleased, even impressed. Then you have people like me, who look at a lot of Seattle's new buildings and say, "I don't get it. It actually hurts to look at. And it costs how much?! For that?!"

    Take my old neighborhood, Seattle's Roosevelt area. New light rail station — awesome. Bars, coffee shops, burritos, burgers — all awesome. New construction — meh. I figure that at some point, someone had to look at nearby Roosevelt High School, and the gorgeous neighboring homes, and say, "That building is so beautiful, majestic, and historic ... these homes are so quaint and lovely ... there's a nice vibe going on ... let's build the opposite of that."

    This is just the opinion of one newsletter writer with absolutely no architecture experience. I've made no secret of my perspective on modern Seattle development, which I feel is inspired by a disheleved pile of shoe boxes, decorated with rejected paint from a bargain bin. But there are also plenty of people who say that Seattle desperately needs that housing, no matter what it looks like. And they're right.

    That's why I have hope after hearing about a new crop of architecture students in Seattle with fresh ideas. They recently presented a few novel plans and designs at the University of Washington, to a crowd of local decision makers, as Joshua McNichols reports.

    Take student Azita Footohi, who explained their idea to KUOW — replace some of Seattle's single-family homes with multi-housing units that don't stick out. Footohi's design looks like a regular house.

    “The idea of doing that was to blend more into the neighborhood and...presumably the response from the neighbors would be a little bit better,” Footohi told KUOW.

    Student Lara Tedrow had a similar idea. Her design has eight units in a building that looks like any old house next door. Other students balanced compromises, such as giving up backyards. Others considered the city's aging population and aimed to avoid displacing them. Add that up and new Seattle could look a lot like the old Seattle we already love.

    These ideas come at a time when Seattle is updating its comprehensive plan, which has a lot to do with the city's growth. It also has a lot to do with Seattle's affordability. Because even if we can get the housing we need in town, will it even be affordable?

    As a reporter, I have always struggled to get readers into topics like zoning codes and comprehensive plans. But it's this information that is going to dramatically influence your daily life in the years ahead. Also, I will tell you that people will get in heated fights over these details. That's the stage as Seattle attempts to find "middle housing."

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  • No uniformed police in this year's Seattle Pride parade

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    You won't see any uniformed police officers participating in Sunday's Pride Parade in downtown Seattle.

    Event organizers are gearing up for the parade's return since the pandemic hit. There will be a change, however. They say that officers can march in the parade, but they can't wear any insignia or other items that indicate they're with law enforcement.

    RELATED: New, more inclusive Pride flag debuts at Washington Capitol

    The group said it based its decision on the results of a survey conducted after the 2020 racial justice protests. That survey indicated a majority of respondents said they'd prefer if participating officers were out of uniform and also noted ongoing concerns over police historically victimizing their community.

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  • Social housing effort stakes step forward in Seattle

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    caption: Housing is the Cure banner
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    Housing is the Cure banner
    Credit: HON's Facebook page

    A group behind a proposal to create "social housing" in Seattle has turned in nearly 30,0000 signatures to the King County Elections Office this week.

    House Our Neighbors is hoping the majority of those signatures will be validated, meaning Seattle will likely be voting on social housing on the November ballot.

    RELATED: Is social housing the answer to Seattle’s affordable housing woes?

    The social housing model has been described as one where publicly owned housing is run by a renter's governing board, which then determines who can live in the units. But unlike other public housing, social housing does not place heavy income limitations on its residents. People earning 0-120% of the area median income will be considered. Higher-earning residents pay higher rents. Those funds will be used to offset lower-tiered rents in the system.

    I-135 aims to accomplish this by creating a public developer in Seattle City Hall. It would build new housing on surplus city land.

    Supporters say something like this is needed to keep housing affordable in the city especially for low-income communities and communities of color.

    The Housing Development Consortium (a 30-year-old affordable housing advocacy group in King County) has come out against the measure, saying it "distracts funds and energy away from what our community should be focusing on – scaling up affordable housing for low-income people."

    In a blog post, the HDC points out the I-135 does not propose any source of funding and has no taxing authority on its own. It is concerned that it could eventually draw away from existing affordable housing funding for the area. It argues, "this Initiative would divert scarce public resources toward the creation of a new bureaucracy and is a distraction from what should be our priority as a City—greatly increasing funding for affordable housing to meet the scale of the need."

    This debate is something that the Today So Far newsletter saw coming. Today So Far pressed Tiffany McCoy about the funding issue back in April. McCoy is the co-chair of the I-135 campaign, and is the advocacy chair of Real Change.

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  • Not likely that Biden's gas tax holiday has support in Washington state

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    It doesn't look like Washington Governor Jay Inslee, or any local Democratic leaders are getting behind President Biden's call for states to to suspend their local gas taxes.

    A spokesperson for Gov. Inslee said such a move would benefit oil companies and would come at the expense of the state's ability to fix our roads and bridges. His office says it could cut revenue for infrastructure projects in the state.

    The governor's office also notes that he would need to call a special legislative session to introduce or pass any bill pausing the state's gas tax.

    Washington's gas tax of 49 cents per gallon is the second most expensive in the United States. Only California and Pennsylvania have higher gas taxes.

    On Wednesday, President Biden called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months, arguing that it could save consumers money at the pump while gas prices hit record highs.

    The national gas tax is 18 cents per gallon of gasoline, and 24 cents per gallon of diesel.

    Some economists, however, object to Biden's idea.

    "It would be very unlikely that gas prices would fall by more than a dime because of this change. And oil company profits would go up by billions of dollars," Jason Furman told NPR.

    Furman served as a top economic adviser to former President Barack Obama and is now at the Harvard Kennedy School.

    Another economist, Carola Binder, tells NPR that temporarily nixing the gas tax could worsen the already severe inflation the country is experiencing. And it appears that there is little support for the president's idea from Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

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