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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.

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

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  • Incumbents move ahead in key Washington races: 2022 primary election

    KUOW Newsroom
    caption: Waverly Cassill casts her ballot with her dog, Ace, in tow on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, in Issaquah.
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    Waverly Cassill casts her ballot with her dog, Ace, in tow on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, in Issaquah.
    Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

    The results from this week's primary are still taking shape, but we've got a good idea of who will be on the November ballot in some key Washington state races.

    As of Friday, Democrat Steve Hobbs is on his way to the General Election for the secretary of state race. Hobbs was appointed to the job after former Secretary of State Kim Wyman left to take a job with the Biden administration. He's running to stay in the role.

    Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who opted to run as a nonpartisan, is currently in second place, which means she could be against Hobbs on the November ballot. However, she's leading two Republican candidates by slim margins, so it's too soon to say either way.

    If she's successful, though, no Republican candidate would be in the running for the secretary of state position — that's significant. Before Hobbs' appointment, Republicans held that seat for nearly 60 years. Now, they may not even be in the running to get it back.

    KUOW's Austin Jenkins says the fractured Republican field was likely an advantage for Hobbs and Anderson.

    "As one eastern Washington Republican observer told me this week, this was a major Republican screw up," Jenkins told KUOW's Angela King. "The party needed to endorse one candidate."

    Still, as the remaining votes are counted, the tide could shift in at least one Republican's favor for that second spot on the November ballot. As of Friday, the same was true for so-called "Trump-revenge candidates" in the 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts. Joe Kent and Loren Culp, respectively, are trailing in third place as of Friday morning, Aug. 5. Incumbent Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse are currently qualifying for the November ballot.

    The outcome in the Eighth Congressional District is more settled.

    Incumbent Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier is holding onto a comfortable lead in that primary — a relief for congressional Democrats who are fighting to keep the majority in D.C.

    Republican King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn surprised some observers when he conceded the race, having fallen behind Schrier and fellow Republican Matt Larkin.

    Larkin has been arguing he's the most Conservative Republican running this year, and that seems to have paid off in the district outside of King County.

    Continue reading »
  • Emerald City Comic Con brings back mask policy for summer 2022

    Today So Far Blog
    caption: Cosplayer Pixie Bomber in artist alley at Emerald City Comic Con 2021.
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    Cosplayer Pixie Bomber in artist alley at Emerald City Comic Con 2021.
    Credit: Dyer Oxley / KUOW


    Emerald City Comic Con has announced it will now require masks for all attendees at its event this month. Masks will be required in all areas of the convention.

    Emerald City Comic Con is Aug. 18-21 at the Seattle Convention Center. There is no requirement for proof of vaccination. Cosplayers will be asked to enter without helmets or costume masks to confirm they are wearing an approved face covering.

    Covid cases in King County have trended downward since late May, however, the numbers remain high. As of Aug. 5:

    • King County is averaging 665 new cases each day.
    • Communitywide, the county has 203.6 cases per 100,000 residents. Health officials generally want to see this metric below 200 per 100,000.
    • Hospitalizations remain low with 7.8% of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients. On average, three people are dying from Covid each day.
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  • Larkin advances, Dunn concedes in 8th Congressional District

    KUOW Newsroom
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    King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn is throwing in the towel in the 8th Congressional District primary.

    Dunn conceded to fellow Republican challenger Matt Larkin, who will face incumbent Democrat Kim Schrier in the general election.

    As of Friday morning, Aug. 5, Dunn had 14.62% of the vote. Larkin had 17.07%. They were separated by 4,048 votes. So far, Schrier has taken in 47.67% of the vote (a total of 78,788 votes).

    In a statement, Dunn said, "Matt will make a wonderful Congressman and I encourage all of my supporters to support him as well."

    Dunn continued to say:

    "I am proud of the campaign we ran, and I look forward to continuing to serve this area on the King County Council. I will keep fighting for the values I ran on, supporting our law enforcement heroes and ensuring fiscal responsibility. I will continue in my commitment to be a voice of reason on the County Council, and push back against extreme and irresponsible policies. Now more than ever, we need local leaders in King County who will stand up for what's right, not what's politically expedient."

    Larkin is a businessman and former Pierce County deputy prosecutor who for ran for state attorney general in 2020. Earlier this year, KUOW asked Larkin how he compares to other Republicans running in the 8th District.

    "I view myself as being the most conservative one in the race," he said.

    Larkin's yards signs with the slogan, "Make Crime Illegal, Again" can be seen throughout the sprawling district, which runs from Issaquah in the west across the Cascades to Chelan in Eastern Washington.

    Voters in the 8th District will decide between Schrier and Larkin in the November election.

    Continue reading »
  • Trump strategist falsely claims state primary was rigged against Culp, Kent

    KUOW Newsroom
    caption: Former White House strategist Steve Bannon, center, speaks with reporters as he departs federal court on Friday, July 22, 2022, in Washington.
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    Former White House strategist Steve Bannon, center, speaks with reporters as he departs federal court on Friday, July 22, 2022, in Washington.
    Credit: AP

    This week, conspiracy theorist and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon is claiming – without evidence – that "elites" are rigging the primary ballot count in Washington state.

    He made the groundless claim in interviews on his podcast with two Trump-backed Republican candidates – Joe Kent, who is running in Washington's 3rd Congressional District, and Loren Culp, who is running in the 4th.

    “They’re working this thing out to get the vote they want to have,” Bannon said. In separate interviews, neither candidate disagreed with Bannon’s election conspiracy theories.

    When asked by Bannon if he agreed, Culp responded, “Yeah, they don't want Loren Culp and Joe Kent in Congress… They want the money laundering scheme that they've got going to continue.”

    Both candidates are trying to knock off Republican incumbents who were among the 10 in the U.S. House to vote to impeach Trump. But the two Trump-backed challengers are in third place in each of their races after the last mail-in ballot count.

    Incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is currently in second behind Democrat Marie Perez, who will advance to the general election in Washington’s 3rd District. In the race for the 4th District, Rep. Dan Newhouse is currently in first place with Democrat Doug White in second.

    Only the top two candidates from either party will move on to the general election under Washington’s top-two primary system.

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  • Seattle caps fees on food delivery services

    Today So Far Blog
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    The Seattle City Council has voted to place a permanent cap on the basic fee that food delivery companies charge restaurants.

    When restaurants sign up with delivery companies like DoorDash or Uber Eats, they are charged a fee for every order. It's how such delivery companies make money. But they have become a common complaint among some restaurants.

    When the pandemic struck in 2020, and more people were staying at home, the city implemented a 15% cap on food delivery fees. The council's decision this week makes that cap permanent.

    But Anna Powell with the app-based delivery service Door Dash said the company is against the ordinance.

    “Price controls lead to higher costs for customers, fewer orders and revenue for restaurants, and fewer earning opportunities for Dashers," Powell said.

    Prior to 2020, some companies charged restaurants up to 30% for delivery services. Supporters argue that the permanent cap will help restaurants survive while many continue to struggle financially.

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  • Issues at play for the November 2022 election: Today So Far

    Today So Far Blog
    caption: Republican voters gathered to watch as primary election results came in on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Issaquah.
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    Republican voters gathered to watch as primary election results came in on Tuesday, August 2, 2022, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Issaquah.
    Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
    • Abortion rights are well secured in Washington state, but that doesn't mean the issue won't be front and center leading up to the November elections.
    • Housing. It's not just for rich people.

    This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for August 4, 2022.

    It should be said that abortion rights are pretty well secured in Washington state. In fact, Washington was the first state to legalize abortion through a vote of the people in 1970, before Roe v Wade. But that doesn't mean we won't be hearing about this issue ahead of the November election.

    On Tuesday night, a group of state Democrats held a demonstration outside a primary night watch party in Issaquah for state Republicans. It's a clear sign that Democrats plan to place the abortion issue front and center heading into the November election, locally and perhaps nationally. It's a very personal and intimate issue, but it's also a smart strategic move. A recent poll indicates that abortion is a top issue for Washington voters, and a majority of voters oppose the overturning of Roe v Wade. Nationally, Americans who identify as "pro-choice" are near record highs at 55%, according to a recent Gallup poll. There's also a Pew survey which found that 61% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. An early indication of how voters will respond to the issue just happened in Kansas where voters rejected a state amendment that aimed to block any right to abortions.

    Kansas is just one case, and there may be differences from poll to poll, but the trend seems clear, and that makes Democrats' message simple: Most of us have this opinion, and Republicans don't share it. That was the sentiment from Democrat Kim Schrier on primary election night. Schrier came away with 49% of the primary vote, and used that evening's spotlight to remind voters "that a woman's right to make her own health-care decisions is on the ballot this year."

    There is, of course, nuance among voters and this issue. Pro-choice-voter-A may have different perspectives on the issue than abortion-rights-voter-B. And abortion is just one issue on voters' minds. There's also inflation, gas prices, rising trends in shootings and crime, among others. Campaign ads should be interesting to watch in the months ahead. KUOW's Amy Radil has more on this story here.

    Housing. It's not just for rich people. That's one the big takeaway I got from Gregg Colburn's conversation with KUOW. Colburn is an assistant professor of real estate at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. He is co-author of the new book "Homelessness is a Housing Problem."

    Now, you might read that book title and say, "Well, duh!" But think about it. Much of the conversation around this issue usually involves points about addiction, mental illness, and other problems that can feed into homelessness. But Colburn points out that those problems exist everywhere. And that begs the question: If such issues are present across the U.S., then why is it that they become exacerbated to the point of homelessness in large cities? Colburn points to Detroit as an example.

    "When you think about Detroit, it's the most impoverished city in the country, with the highest level of poverty in the country. And they have a far lower rate of homelessness. We know that poverty causes homelessness, so it's this kind of odd result when you think about it that way. The way that I explain it is that when rent is $600 a month, you can kind of figure it out through familial support, through public assistance, and through low-wage labor. When rent is $1,500 to $2,000 a month, the margin for error is very low. That's what we're living and experiencing here in Seattle. If you slip through the cracks, it's a pretty vicious market to have to find housing in."

    I would add that the high costs of renting is just one obscene factor at play. On top of that, we have landlords imposing high minimum-income requirements and deposits. It's expensive. You need a job and time to save up. But to do that, you need a place to live. And to do that, you need a lot of money ... which means you need a decent-paying job ...

    When I think about my tough times in life, I've generally had some backup to help me out one way or another. Not everybody has that. And yeah, some folks have some extra challenges on top of it all. It's probably more accurate to say that, instead of homelessness being the result of just one issue, or two issues, it's caused by multiple factors woven together. And maybe having some backup (and a place to live) is what is needed. Check out Colburn's full conversation here.

    AS SEEN ON KUOW

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  • Did you know?: George Jetson was just born

    Today So Far Blog
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    You may have missed this important date, but apparently George Jetson was just born on July 31, 2022.

    You know the Jetsons — the animated family of Hanna-Barbera fame. Super Jetson fans recently did some math. The Jetsons first aired in 1962. At the time it was set 100 years in the future in 2062. George Jetson was said to be 40 years old, which means he was born in 2022. But why do folks say he was born on July 31?

    There's no actual evidence that July 31 is George Jetson's birthday. It was just a popular meme that floated around the internet this year. If I had to venture a guess, whoever started the meme picked it because it's their birthday. And folks just went with it. Which means that there is still a chance that George Jetson will be (or has already been) born this year. If you or somebody you know has a baby to be named this year, George could be a good option.

    This Did You Know? segment was included in the Aug. 3, 2022 edition of the Today So Far Newsletter.

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  • Seattle City Council names its first Indigenous Advisory Council

    KUOW Newsroom
    caption: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, left, playfully interrupts Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez as Juarez spoke about the renovation of KeyArena, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Seattle.
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    Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, left, playfully interrupts Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez as Juarez spoke about the renovation of KeyArena, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Seattle.
    Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

    Nine Indigenous Seattle residents will serve on the city's first Indigenous Advisory Council.

    On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved the nominees, who will advise city officials on issues and policies that directly affect Indigenous peoples.

    The new council includes an Indigenous youth, an elder and representatives of some tribes and urban Indian organizations.

    Council President Debora Juarez , who is a member of the Blackfeet Nation, says the IAC is a historic move for the city.

    "I can't tell you how nice it is to have all these brown people looking back at me in Indian Country," Juarez said during a committee hearing to approve the nine nominees. "It just — you have no idea what this feels like. This is historic. I've never had this feeling in this job, so thank you."

    However, members of the Duwamish Tribe protested what they see as a lack of representation on the new council. It does not include a representative of the tribe, whose members reside within Seattle and have for generations; the city is notably named after Duwamish leader Chief Seattle.

    Duwamish Tribal Council member Ken Workman was selected as his Tribe's delegate to apply for a position on the IAC.

    Workman told KUOW the formation of the IAC is a "great thing" and a happy moment for Indigenous people in Seattle. Still, he cannot help but feel the Duwamish have been made "invisible" without a seat on the council.

    "It feels like nothing has changed, except the clock," he said.

    Several members and supporters of the Duwamish Tribe spoke out about the apparent exclusion during a committee hearing last week announcing the members.

    Juarez and a representative of the IAC were not available for comment following Tuesday's final vote to approve the IAC.

    During last week's hearing, Juarez said the city received 48 applications for the nine available positions on the council.

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  • Trump's reputation as a political kingmaker may be on the line in Washington Primary

    KUOW Newsroom
    caption: Republican Loren Culp greets a large crowd, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at a rally near Graham, Wash.
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    Republican Loren Culp greets a large crowd, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at a rally near Graham, Wash.
    Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

    The first results are in for the Washington state primary, and former President's Trump's reputation as a political kingmaker may be on the line.

    In Washington's 4th Congressional District, Trump-backed candidate Loren Culp is so far running third in his bid to unseat Republican Dan Newhouse.

    The incumbent Newhouse earned Trump's wrath last year for voting to impeach him.

    It’s a tight race, but after the first ballot count, Newhouse is currently in the lead (27.32%), Democrat Doug White is in second (25.98 %) and Loren Culp is in third (21.74 %).

    It’s a similar story in the 3rd Congressional District in southwest Washington.

    After the first count, Democrat Marie Perez is ahead, incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler who voted to impeach Trump is in second, and Trump-backed candidate Joe Kent is in third.

    But there are many more ballots left to be counted in both races. We'll likely find out later this week if either of the candidates the former president is backing makes it to November.

    Continue reading »
  • Democrat Kim Schrier Advances to general election

    Today So Far Blog
    caption: Kim Schrier speaks to a large crowd on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at the Hilton in Bellevue.
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    Kim Schrier speaks to a large crowd on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at the Hilton in Bellevue.
    Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

    Washington Democrat Kim Schrier will advance to the general election in the race for the 8th Congressional District, according to the Associated Press.

    “I want to remind voters that a woman's right to make her own health-care decisions is on the ballot this year," Schrier told KUOW. "I am the only woman doctor in all of Congress and I will always stand with women in allowing them to make their own personal health-care decisions.”

    Schrier earned nearly 50 percent of the vote after the first count Tuesday night.

    Election analysts predict the contest in the 8th will be a toss-up this fall.

    The leading Republican challengers still battling for second place include former prosecutor Matt Larkin, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, and former Army Ranger Jesse Jensen.

    We'll likely find out later this week which Republican makes it through to run in the general election.

    Continue reading »
  • Washington heat wave kills 10. Emergency rooms treat 540 heat victims

    KUOW Newsroom
    caption: A patient suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration receives an intravenous drip of saline solution in the emergency room of UW Medical Center – Northwest in Seattle on July 27. The name on her wristband has been digitally obscured.
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    A patient suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration receives an intravenous drip of saline solution in the emergency room of UW Medical Center – Northwest in Seattle on July 27. The name on her wristband has been digitally obscured.
    Credit: KUOW Photo/John Ryan

    Medical officials now believe excessive heat has killed at least 10 people in Washington state since July 25.

    That figure is based on preliminary reports from county coroners and the Washington Department of Health.

    State officials didn’t have the location of all the deaths, but we know that at least three people died in King County, apparently of heat-related causes: two men in Seattle, ages 64 and 77, and a 65-year-old man in Issaquah.

    Heat is also being blamed for deaths in Benton, Chelan, Okanagan, and Snohomish counties, according to those counties’ coroners:

    • An 88-year-old resident of a Wenatchee assisted-living facility went outside and fell on July 25. “No one found her for a while,” Chelan County Coroner Wayne Harris said in an email.

    • A 70-year-old man died Sunday at his home in Lake Stevens.

    • An 80-year-old woman who had emphysema and was living in her car died Monday in Omak.

    • A 38-year-old homeless man in Richland collapsed and died around 4 p.m. Monday, as the temperature there hit 96.

    The tally of heat-related deaths does not count three people who have drowned in King County since Thursday. Drowning accidents often increase during hot weather.

    Cool air returned to Western Washington on Monday, but high heat remained in much of Eastern Washington.

    According to the National Weather Service, temperatures peaked at 104 in Omak on Monday and 100 in Richland.

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  • Cleaning up the Duwamish River: Today So Far

    Today So Far Blog
    caption: Tidal marsh at Duwamish River People's Park
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    Tidal marsh at Duwamish River People's Park
    Credit: Libby Denkmann | KUOW
    • Cleaning up the Duwamish River so your kids can one day swim in it.
    • Monkeypox cases are doubling in Washington state every 8 or 9 days.
    • Washington Congresswoman Suzan DelBene lands in Taiwan with Speaker Pelosi.

    This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for August 2, 2022.

    Not a lot of folks realize that the Duwamish River through Seattle was designated as an EPA superfund site in 2001. That basically means previous industry has severely polluted the environment there and requires considerable cleanup. Such cleanup takes years. There are superfund sites on Bainbridge Island, around McChord Airforce Base, at landfills in Lewis County and near Spokane, the infamous Hanford site, and elsewhere in Washington — there are a bunch, you can look them up here.

    A community program around Seattle's South Park has breathed new life into restoration efforts along the Duwamish River there. The Duwamish River Community Coalition got the Port of Seattle to increase its own restoration work, providing habitat for birds and fish. The result has been more open space and river access in this area.

    "When I was a kid, I always wanted to swim in the Duwamish," said Nico Peters, 17, who helped construct the park with the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps. "My hope is that, in the future, my kids will be able to swim in the river, because I never got that opportunity."

    But more work needs to be done. Soundside has the story here.

    Ever since monkeypox became a story, I've had a little anxiety reporting about it. Not because of the virus itself, rather, because I know there are folks out there who will take the information, funnel it through an ideological filter, and hype it all up as a "gay disease."

    The thing is, there will always be people out there who will twist information to serve themselves. That doesn't mean a reporter shouldn't be sensitive and careful. It also doesn't mean you don't deliver the news. So here it is.

    Monkeypox is doubling in Washington state about every 8 or 9 days.

    "So clearly, this is an outbreak that is not under control," Dr. Tao Kwan-Gett, chief science officer for the Washington state Department of Health, told KUOW.

    As of Aug. 1, there were 145 confirmed cases in Washington state, most of which are in King County and surrounding communities.

    Most cases are among men who have sex with other men. This is important to understand: Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection. It's not only affecting the gay community. You get it by simply touching someone, or potentially having contact with infected linens. Saying that this is only of concern to gay folks is like saying Covid was only a concern for seafood markets in early 2020. If that statement sounds ridiculous ... good, it should. The United States has had monkeypox outbreaks before, and sexual orientation had nothing to do with it.

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