Mayor-elect Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council recently spent $30,000 on a law-enforcement adviser who flew to town on December 9 for several important dates, including a meeting with the interim police chief, Jim Pugel. In their meeting, the adviser had a stunning message: He reportedly told Pugel he will be ineligible for the permanent position of chief, according to three sources at city hall familiar with the discussion who provided information on the condition of anonymity.
Why? According to the sources, the adviser, Bernard Melekian, said the council wants the chief to be hired from outside the department—not from within the ranks, as the city did with its last police chief, John Diaz, who was criticized throughout his tenure for failing to rein in and discipline bad officers. Compounding the memory of Diaz's poor leadership, the entire council is up for reelection in 2015, and they must appear strong on police reform (the SPD is under a federal court order to quash a pattern of misconduct), the sources attest to Melekian saying. Appointing an outsider will show that the council is reforming the SPD.
This raises a problem: Seattle wants the best chief possible—as good as Pugel or better. But if Pugel is the best candidate available, yet we pick another candidate based solely on his or her status as an outsider, Seattle won't get the best.
Nonetheless, many political insiders are fine with this. An op-ed in the Seattle Times last week by attorney David A. Perez (a member of Murray's transition ream) and former prosecutor Maurice Classen declared that Murray should "choose an outsider." It's also widely known that Council Member Tim Burgess opposes an insider...
UPDATE 2: The truck has been found, according to SPD spokesman Mark Jamieson, but the art was not in it. The truck was parked on the 3400 block of SW Walnut Street in West Seattle yesterday morning. The FBI will post the art to its stolen art database, but SPD is handling the case. Detective Hiro Yamashita is the contact; call him with tips at 206-684-8945. (Kucera is offering the reward; see below for his contact.) There are seven artworks missing, all by Whiting Tennis, the largest a woodblock print and oil on paper mounted on panel that's 72 by 96 inches and titled Document (aka New England Prospect). Jamieson will be posting images of all the missing art on the SPD Blotter today.
A 16-foot Budget rental truck containing seven paintings by Whiting Tennis was stolen at 145th and Aurora on Thursday morning sometime between midnight and 2 am, according to an email from Greg Kucera Gallery, which represents the artist.
The truck was parked at the Holiday Inn Express parking lot. It was a Ford 350 model with the Oklahoma license plate 2TM878. All of the paintings, on canvas and wood, were wrapped in cardboard and plastic.
With any information, call SPD Detective Sargent Backstrom at 206-684-8948, or Auto Theft Detective Tracy Puffner at 206-684-4762. Or call Kucera at 206-235-0525.
UPDATE: No leads yet. Greg Kucera Gallery is offering a reward. He believes the thieves had no idea this truck contained art when they stole it. "The question now is what do they do to the art," he said in a phone conversation just now. "We are simply trying to get the word out that we fully expect that these paintings could be just sitting somewhere in a parking lot having been dumped out by these guys thinking, 'What are these crazy things?'" They're not in fancy gold frames. ...We're offering a reward in the hopes that maybe they would sense there's something to be gained by letting us know where these are, or maybe leading us to them. Or that somebody peripherally involved who hears about this will think, 'I'm gonna get that reward.' We don't care who comes forward."
Here's Stranger Genius Rodrigo Valenzuela, describing being robbed while sleeping in Costa Rica, where he's shooting a project called Maria TV:
He emailed the full sorry and scary story—sorry because of the art and equipment loss (I'd really like to see Maria TV completed), scary because he's stranded:
When we arrived to Costa Rica, After 6 days of solid buses riding and immigration searches (Nicaragua-Costa Rica border is the worst!) we felt sleep really fast. The house has 12 people, Anastasia, Zane and me sleeping on the living room they broke in during the night taking 4 mac books, 3 iphones, my cellphone was 10 inch from my face! my backpack had every Cameras, passport, credit cards, etc... they even took time to unplug the chargers and take them. When we woke up the door was wide open and everything gone. The police is shitty.. there is like 3 "kind of police services" the locals, the police for tourist, and Investigation police....that is like 1 hr away. We went there and they still use type writers ...paper work is piling up from floor to ceiling (walls of it!) so I dont have too much hope for them. I call this weekend and they dont work saturday or sunday!
I wanted to take like 15 day to get back and shoot more but now I have to wait for the USA embassy (the chilean consulate can do nothing)!
Valenzuela specifically lost 5D and Pentax 67 cameras, all his audio gear, memory cards, and Green Card—"all of my worldly possessions, as well as my livelihood." He is stuck in Costa Rica at the moment. For ID, he has his driver's license and nothing more. I'm imagining he'll get approximately zero of his stuff back. Donate to his Indiegogo campaign here and send out some kind of prayer for, um, compassionate border guards? We are so sorry, Rodrigo.
MIAMI (AP) — Prosecutors say they will not file domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman after his girlfriend said in a sworn statement she did not want to pursue the case.
Call me crazy, but I suspect this isn't the last we'll hear from old George Zimmerman.
In the Atlantic, Lexi Pandell takes a look at the Olympic Peninsula's Patrick Drum:
As far as Drum was concerned, he had been protecting the community’s children when he murdered Paul Ray’s son and Leslie Blanton’s husband. He may have killed two sex offenders in June of that year, but he had set out to kill sixty more.
It may or may not surprise you to learn that Drum has a number of supporters in Clallam County, and around the country.
The downside: It's not really uncensored or unredacted. "Don’t take the page’s name completely literally," says the debut post, "sometimes we may post documents with names or other info redacted in order to protect crime victims." Here's the SPD Tumblr manifesto:
We think Tumblr is the perfect space to tell visual stories [ed's note: like Labradors sniffing piss] that we can’t always do justice to through Tweets and blog posts. Basically, this page will act as a bit of an online museum and archive.
When we say we’re stepping up patrols in a precinct or a neighborhood, we’ll show you what that looks like, too, through pictures and video.
We can write all we want about how our investigators solved a crime after finding fingerprints at a scene. But meticulous forensic work remains much more impressive when you actually see it.
SPD says it will also use the Tumblog to answer questions from fellow Tumblr-ers, showcase the department's history, and share "photos of things from our strange office."
What's next, Pinterest? Vines from body cameras? Go forth and conquer the social medias, SPD! You shall be rewarded with hearts and minds.
Of course, this advice was meant for their swimming-in-cash corporate execs, not their drowning-in-cooking-oil poverty-level workers.
The tipping guide from etiquette maven Emily Post on McDonald's website lists several high-ticket suggestions for givers during the holiday season, including "a gift from your family (or one week's pay), plus a small gift from your child" for an au pair, "one day's pay" for a housekeeper and "cost of one cleaning" for a pool cleaner.
The site also lists suggestions for dog walkers, massage therapists and personal fitness trainers.
Via the great QT, who headlined it "Marie McAntoinette Update," which would be a great new Slog category.
Sometimes, I think America is in the middle of the dark ages. Stories like this one in the Huffington Post leave me feeling pretty hopeless:
American gun sales have been climbing for nearly a decade, but they have surged under President Barack Obama — particularly after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December 2012. According to FBI data, the number of firearm background checks has risen dramatically during the Obama era.
In 2005, there were nearly 9 million background checks performed. In 2008, the year before Obama took office, there were 12.7 million background checks. Through the first 11 months of 2013, that figure totaled more than 19 million, only about 500,000 shy of the total for all of last year.
Basic math, to me, would indicate we're going to be hearing a lot more stories about accidental gun deaths for years to come, either by people who are so scared about imaginary home invaders that they shoot up anyone who steps onto their property or by kids who come across improperly stored guns. It's a sickness, or an addiction; we hear about people behaving badly with guns and so we buy more guns to protect ourselves from people behaving badly with guns, which begets more people behaving badly with guns. I find it hard to imagine an ending to this particular merry-go-round.
King County Sheriff Deputy Patrick “K.C.” Saulet has been placed on administrative leave for an incident last summer involving a reporter for The Stranger, one of Seattle’s alternative newspapers. Sheriff John Urquhart confirmed Thursday that he placed Saulet on administrative leave just before Thanksgiving, just months after Saulet was demoted for his actions in a separate incident...
Urquhart’s recent decision to place Saulet on leave was connected to the deputy’s treatment of Stranger reporter Dominic Holden, who said Saulet threatened him for taking pictures on a public sidewalk.
Background on my complaint is over here. I hadn't heard these details, so props to KING 5's Linda Byron for getting the leak from the department. I could only dig up a little bit more info.
It turns out that Saulet is appealing some sort of discipline.
Reached by e-mail moments ago, King County Sheriff John Urquhart told me, "The investigation into your incident is complete but the discipline is pending because Saulet requested a Loudermill hearing." That hearing is essentially an officer's chance to appeal their recommended punishment directly to the sheriff. But that's a dicey gamble. As we just learned, a King County sergeant who was facing a 20-day suspension appealed to Sheriff Urquhart recently, and Urquhart made the punishment more severe—firing the sergeant for dishonesty.
Urquhart was tight-lipped about the rest of my complaint: "I can’t comment in the case, other than he is on administrative leave, with pay, pending the hearing." Sergeant Saulet's hearing will be held December 19. Stay tuned.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney's office has filed theft, burglary, and malicious mischief charges against Samuel Kenneth McDonnough for allegedly trying to steal the Vitoria Clipper ferry last week. Obviously, McDonough is an awful character in a made-for-TV movie. But the real stars are the writers at the prosecutor's office and SPD (click to embiggen):
I've uploaded a copy of the incredible record—including the SPD hostage negotiations team's account of calling McDonough on the ferry's cell phone only to be told "I don't want to talk right now" before he hung up—HERE.
Immigrants rights advocates are celebrating today after the King County Council narrowly passed an ordinance that says the county can ignore certain requests from federal immigration agents. Under the new law, the county narrows the criteria under which it will honor requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to "hold" people in county jails past their release dates while ICE assesses whether to deport them.
"This ordinance sends a clear message that King County will no longer collude in funneling its residents into an unjust deportation system," said Ann Benson of the immigrants rights group One America.
Proposed by Council Member Larry Gossett this summer, the ordinance was supported by local police (including the King County Sheriff) who say it will encourage immigrants report crimes without fear of being detained. Here's how Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel and Snohomish County executive John Lovick put it in a guest op-ed last month:
When Jim Pugel was promoted from assistant chief to interim police chief earlier this year, he did so by leap-frogging over a higher-ranked officer. That was Deputy Chief Nick Metz. And it's increasingly clear why. After a federal court settlement mandated that the department reform problems with excessive use of force and racially biased policing, it seems Metz was still part of the problem.
The Seattle Times has done some excellent reporting on this recently: A report last month from the court-appointed police monitor found some officers—even officers on the senior command staff—were dragging their feet on reforms. “If the current senior command staff remains in place and their attitudes toward the Settlement Agreement do not change, the SPD is unlikely to be able to achieve full and effective compliance,” said the monitor's report. Then last week, Pugel stunned the department by telling Metz to take a step down or quit. Pugel gave a similar ultimatum to an assistant chief.
As Steve Miletich at the Seattle Times reported, Metz ultimately agreed to the demotion. But some cops got their holsters in a twist.
Pugel responded to that controversy today. He posted a statement on the police blotter that seems directed at grumbling cops more than the general public:
As the Chief of the Seattle Police Department it is my responsibility to make tough decisions to help guide this department toward progress and constitutional policing.
I understand that the personnel decisions that I made last week regarding two assistant chiefs have not come without controversy.
In the past, some leaders in this department have faced criticism for failing to make difficult decisions. I do not wish for this department to be viewed as one afraid of change and progress, and I believe that the decisions announced last week were necessary and correct.
It is my job to ensure that this department has the leadership it needs and deserves and our department has the right leaders in the right places working toward reform and improvement.
I am dedicated to preventing bias within our department and have made sure that SPD is supportive and fully participates in the city wide Race and Social Justice Initiative.
Pugel seems dead right for two reasons: He's essentially saying that any officer who fucks up the police reform plan—no matter how entrenched or senior—will be demoted or canned. And second, as Pugel makes clear in his closing sentence, a cop can being weeded out for showing bias or resisting the city's race and social justice agenda.
Some cops are gonna throw a conniption fit. And that will be helpful, too. Pugel will know who to target next.
Back in August, Seattle Times reporter Lynn Thompson began an article about downtown feeling unsafe by citing a bus-shooting:
Monday’s shooting of a Metro bus driver came just two weeks after downtown business leaders urged Mayor Mike McGinn and the City Council to address increasing violence and disorder in the city’s busy retail and tourist corridor.
Even though crime rates downtown hadn't actually changed much, and had dropped significantly in many parts of downtown (Pioneer Square, Belltown, International District), the Seattle Times Editorial Board chimed in with the headline "Downtown Seattle feels unsafe. Fix it." The board explained:
That perception is more damaging than data, because statistics change month to month, but reputations become set in stone...
Mayor Mike McGinn, who is running for re-election, recently allocated $400,000 for extra patrols, but it shouldn’t take the midday shooting of a bus driver for the mayor to heed the concerns of downtown retailers.
But those dark days are over. After 31 suspected drug dealers and gang members were busted last week, and Ed Murray was elected mayor this month, it turns out that dangerous reputation isn't set in stone. Thompson reports today—in an article that doesn't cite any crime data, which is secondary to perception anyway—that downtown "feels safer" and it's "boosting spirits":
“It feels cleaner down here. It feels safer,” said Crudo, a 26-year-old college student who watched with alarm last summer as open-air drug dealing and gang activity intensified in and around the park. “The gang members and criminals partied down here.” ...
“I’m ecstatic,” said Tom Norwalk, president and CEO of Visit Seattle. “It doesn’t help Seattle’s brand if people come here and experience the streets as out of control.”
Yay for the SPD busting bad guys! Yay for more police foot patrols! Yay for the Seattle Times burying this detail:
It’s an ongoing effort. On Monday night, a man with a mask and a gun boarded a bus at Third Avenue and Pike Street and robbed passengers.
It's a good thing that detail was halfway down the article, played off as a manageable problem. Otherwise focusing on a masked gunman roving downtown could make people feel unsafe. Perceptions are what count. And right now, Thompson perceives that it's safer.
The contradictory core of racism is its universality. Racism courses through all of the colors of the human family without once meeting a barrier. In this case, it's blacks on Jews:
A surveillance video shows the latest assault in Crown Heights at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night, as a group of young African-American men cross the intersection at Kingston and Crown streets.
One of them can be seen beating a Jewish man, 20-years-old, in the face.
Police confirmed that this is only one of the eight incidents being investigated by the hate crimes task force of the NYPD.
A young Jewish girl was also attacked on Crown Street, and last Wednesday, a 12-year-old boy was beaten and thrown to the ground near Brooklyn Avenue and President Street.
Anti-Semitic graffiti has also been spray-painted in the neighborhood.
I'm sure this is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution:
George Zimmerman had five guns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition with him when deputies arrested him earlier this month on domestic violence charges, according to court documents released Tuesday.
A search warrant made public by the Seminole County court clerk shows that Zimmerman had a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle and three handguns when he was arrested Nov. 18 at his girlfriend's house.
I know Zimmerman believes his life is in danger, but what scenario does he imagine when he stocks this arsenal? Does he believe he'll be fending off a zombie horde at some point? Does he think he's going to be trapped in a Los Angeles office building with a small army of terrorists? What could he possibly be preparing for?
A grand jury has indicted four more people—all educators—in connection with the 2012 rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, bringing the total count of adults charged in connection to the case up to six. (Two teens were found guilty of raping the girl last March.)
The most serious charges are being brought against Superintendent Michael McVey: one count of tampering with evidence and two counts of obstructing justice, both felonies. McVey is also charged with making a false statement and obstructing official business.
Via Think Progress:
The grand jury made its first arrest last month, jailing a Steubenville school official who was accused of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice.
In a news conference on Monday morning, DeWine explained that four additional adults are now facing similar charges. In addition to the superintendent, an elementary school principal, a wrestling coach, and a volunteer football coach were also charged—the first two for failing to report child abuse, and the last for facilitating the underage drinking and delinquency of a minor. The high school’s beloved head coach, who was accused of telling football players that he would protect the two rapists from any repercussions, is not facing any consequences from the grand jury.
DeWine told reporters that he doesn’t anticipate future charges in the case, although he cautioned that he can’t completely rule out that possibility. But he did indicate that he hopes the four new arrests will allow the community to feel a sense of closure.
Jason Lajeunesse—who, with business partner Dave Meinert, is reopening the beloved grime pit/venue after the previous owner abruptly closed the doors in early October—said he thinks the amount taken from the ceiling was close to $1,000. However, he says, "The value wasn't the issue, of course, it's the years of history attached."
This afternoon, Seattle Police officers entered the Horace Mann building, a Central District property owned by the Seattle School District, and arrested four people that the district says have been illegally using the property since this past summer. The four were led out in handcuffs past a large banner that read, "Help us stop the school to prison pipeline now."
Ansel is reporting from the school; he says there's a large police presence and Cherry Street, between 24th and 25th Avenue, has been blocked off. "They're pulling out individuals in handcuffs," Ansel says. He asked one arrestee, a man named Greg, what the scene was like inside the building and "he shouted that the SPD has been very professional in how they've been handling him." With roughly 20 cops milling about the area, it's unclear if more arrests are forthcoming.
The Seattle Police Department apparently decided this morning that the arrests would take place after receiving notice that there were no children in the building. However, the arrests come as no surprise to those familiar with the protracted fight over the Horace Mann building. Central District News has the backstory:
The Nova Alternative High School is set to open in the E Cherry Mann building next year, but groups operating under the More 4 Mann coalition have been using the space for various activities, including outdoor movie events, mentoring programs, vocational training, and other programs.
The groups were told to vacate by Aug. 15, then Aug. 30, and most recently by Sept. 18 so renovations could begin to stay on track for a Nova return next fall. More 4 Mann continues to operate out of the building, which has raised the hackles of some in the community.
More 4 Mann has been essentially occupying the building, calling on the Seattle School district to do more to address racial inequities in our public school system. Most recently, on November 7, Seattle Public Schools superintendent José Banda informed the group that they were trespassing.
"This is bullshit," a bystander and More 4 Mann supporter named Charlie Mitchell said on the scene. "We were standing up trying to do something for the kids. They were putting up an antenna radio. These are just peaceful folks trying to make a stand for the kids."
"I don't support any eviction," says Malakhi Kaine, a parent of Seattle public schools students and member of the Africatown Center for Education and Innovation Task Force, which operated out of the Mann building, when reached by phone. That group left the building on the district's schedule and is still negotiating with the district to get a new space. "I don't think that was necessary," he adds. "The negotiations are still underway... We have a lot more support than we first started. We've never been on hostile terms with the district. And we're moving forward."
The four people arrested today will be charged with criminal trespass, says SPD spokeswoman Detective Renee Witt.
More photos after the jump.
Sweden has experienced such a sharp fall in the number of prison admissions in the past two years that it has decided to close down four prisons and a remand centre.
"We have seen an out-of-the-ordinary decline in the number of inmates," said Nils Öberg, the head of Sweden's prison and probation services. "Now we have the opportunity to close down a part of our infrastructure that we don't need at this point of time."
Prison numbers in Sweden, which have been falling by around 1% a year since 2004, dropped by 6% between 2011 and 2012 and are expected to do the same again both this year and next, Öberg said.
A chilling, unnerving, depressing longread from Emily Bazelon at Slate:
Stieve got his “material,” as he called the bodies he used for research, from nearby Plötzensee Prison, where the courts sent defendants for execution after sentencing them to die. In the years following the war, Stieve would claim that he dissected the corpses of only “dangerous criminals.” But on that day, Pommer saw in his laboratory the bodies of political dissidents. She recognized these people. She knew them.
On one table lay Libertas Schulze-Boysen, granddaughter of a Prussian prince. She’d been raised in the family castle, gone to finishing school in Switzerland, and worked as the Berlin press officer for the Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. She joined the Nazi Party in 1933. On a hunting party, she flirted with Hermann Göring, commander of the Luftwaffe, the German air force. But in 1937 Schulze-Boysen joined the resistance with her husband, Harro, a Luftwaffe lieutenant. They helped form a small rebel group the Nazis called the Red Orchestra. When Libertas started working for Hitler’s movie empire in 1941, she gathered photos of atrocities from the front for a secret archive. Harro was transferred to Göring’s command center and with other dissidents started passing to the Soviets detailed information about Hitler’s plan to invade Russia. The Gestapo decoded their radio messages in 1942 and arrested Harro at the end of August. They came for Libertas eight days later. Both she and her husband were sentenced to death for espionage and treason.
Now Harro’s body lay on another table in the lab. Pommer could see that he had been hanged and Libertas had been decapitated by guillotine. On a third table, Pommer identified Arvid Harnack, another member of the Red Orchestra who had been a key informant for the American Embassy as well as the Soviets.
This week, the Seattle City Attorney's office dropped criminal trespassing charges it had filed against five activists who held a sit-in at a bank in July to protest a South Seattle man's foreclosure and eviction.
"We looked at the cases again after your inquiry," says John Schochet, the city attorney's deputy chief of staff, "and determined that they didn't meet our standards for civil disobedience/protest charges." Pressed to explain why the city would initially believe it had the basis to press charges and later retract them, Schochet said that even if a crime was committed, "our office is exercising its discretion not to pursue these charges here."
Some of the activists suggest they were charged—and then let off the hook—because Wells Fargo is the city's bank, and prosecution would entail political undertones. "They realized a trial where they are representing their bank's interests against three senior citizens and two young teachers wouldn't look too good in the eyes of the public," says Kailyn Nicholson, a teacher who participated in the sit-in. "I'm glad they came to their senses."
The 35-year-old man rolled a cigarette, alone. He'd lived in the small, L-shaped condominium building long enough to know the rules—if you wanted a smoke, you had to take it outside, either in the condo's gated parking lot or on the sidewalk. He was a computer programmer, not a rule breaker.
Laughter and muted conversation spilled out from a nearby bar. More horny-dull people struggling to make a connection in this crazy, horny-dull world. But that wasn't what captured his attention as he took a drag off his cigarette. It was the empty, nice car he says he saw parked illegally, partially blocking his condo's driveway. As he walked toward the rear of the car, he says, he saw an elegant woman shitting right where the driveway and the street meet.
As I posted yesterday, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has finally gotten around to suing the Grocery Manufacturers Association for concealing the source of contributions to the No on I-522 campaign—alleging the most massive such campaign finance disclosure violation in state history. And the most striking thing from reading through the AG's complaint (pdf) is how blatantly obvious the GMA's deception appears to be.
The complaint doesn't cite the sources of its factual allegations, but it is filled with dates and numbers and quotations from documents detailing the GMA's plans to raise money from its members to fight Initiative 522 (which would label products made from genetically engineered crops), while intentionally hiding the contributors' identities:
In December 2012, following meetings of the GMA Government Affairs Council and GMA Board, the GMA Board directed GMA staff to conduct baseline polling in Washington State "to determine the viability of a campaign to defeat I-522." The GMA Board also directed GMA staff to "scope out a funding mechanism to address the GMO issue" "while better shielding individual companies from attack for providing funding." At the same time, the GMA Board directed GMA staff to prepare to oppose "efforts to require mandatory GMO labels: a. Fight Washington State Ballot Measure" and "begin preparations for a campaign, ... to defeat I-522, the Washington State Ballot measure."
According to the complaint, the GMA funded its anti-522 efforts through voluntary assessments on its members (major food companies) separate from their normal association dues. Invoices were sent to GMA members in March and August of 2013, with the goal of raising $10 million to oppose I-522. As of the No on I-522's most recent disclosure report, the GMA had contributed $7,222,500.
Of course, the GMA and its members are free to spend as much as they want opposing I-522; the issue here is their failure to disclose the source of the money. GMA members—familiar brands like Pepsi, Kraft, Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Kellogg's—faced a ton of bad publicity for the millions they contributed to defeat the similar Prop 37 in California last year. The complaint outlines what appears to be a deliberate effort to shield these companies from similar publicity, in direct violation of Washington's voter-approved public disclosure laws. In addition to penalties and legal fees, the AG is seeking to force the GMA to register as a political action committee and reveal its donors.
But as compelling as the evidence of the GMA's actions outlined in the complaint may be, equally damning is what the GMA has not done. The GMA will surely argue that this special assessment was to broadly fight GMO-labeling nationwide, not specifically to oppose I-522. Yet since first invoicing their members in March, they have spent this assessment almost entirely in Washington State. This is the very definition of an anti-522 PAC.
As for which companies have funded the bulk of the GMA's anti-522 efforts, one can probably assume that it's similar to the list that funded the No on Prop 37 campaign last year. A former GMA official tells me that special assessments are proportional to the size of the company, so it is most likely that America's largest food manufacturers are the largest contributors. But that's something that will have to wait for a court order to confirm.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed suit in Thurston County Superior Court alleging that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) violated the state’s campaign disclosure laws. Ferguson alleges the GMA illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its contributors. The funds were spent to express opposition to Initiative 522, a measure requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods, seeds and seed products in Washington.
“When Washington state voters overwhelming approved Initiative 276 in 1972, they voiced their desire for transparency and openness in elections,” Ferguson said. “Truly fair elections demand all sides follow the rules by disclosing who their donors are and how much they are spending to advocate their views.”
There is little doubt that the GMA did exactly what Ferguson alleges—whether that technically violates the letter of our public disclosure laws is what's left for the court to decide. Which makes the earlier SLAPP judgement against I-522 advocates all the more bizarre. A group of actual moms calling themselves "Moms for Labeling" was fined $10,000 plus legal fees for attempting to bring the exact same allegations court. It's hard to imagine that's how Washington's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute is supposed to work.
In any case, just another indication of how incredibly dishonest the No on I-522 campaign has been, and just one of the many reasons why the SECB has endorsed Yes.
A new report on the Los Angeles Sheriff Department Canine Special Detail finds that the number of minority individuals bitten by police dogs has dramatically increased between 2004 to 2012. In a department already plagued by accusations of racial targeting, 100 percent of dog bite victims in the first six months of 2013 were blacks and Latinos.
And that's not much of an anomaly. According the report, the annual percentage of black and Latino dog bites generally stands about 90 percent. Surely, 90 to 100 percent of all crimes in Los Angeles aren't being committed by blacks and Latinos. But you know, this couldn't possibly be due to racial profiling because that just doesn't happen on our nation's police forces anymore.
Our very own Seattle Police Department was recently featured on the Colbert Report in a segment they deem "rife with errors." So they reached out to Colbert and crew in an open letter to correct the record on a few points:
You also claimed our department has not done enough to keep “medical-grade dispensary dank away from kids,” and has failed to address the serious side effects of marijuana, such as short-term memory loss.
We simply cannot remember a time we were more incensed by such a blatant mischaracterization of our department. We continue to investigate the sale of marijuana to minors, and we certainly do not encourage the use of silly branding like “Bubba Kush” and “Alien Dog.” If it were up to us, pot brands would have names like “Remember to Call Your Mother” and “You Don’t Want to Grow Up to Be a Drummer, Do You?”
My bet is that "Officer" Jonah had something to do with this.
First, please enjoy the deft use of metaphor in the opening sentence of this story:
California inmates locked in solitary confinement have resumed eating, but they're still hungry to have their grievances addressed.
Get it? Hungry for justice? Wocka wocka! (The LA Times ran the headline "Prison Hunger Strike—Food for Thought," but that was for a Ted Rall cartoon so I'm guessing it was more tongue in cheek.)
Moving on: Today, California legislators will hold a hearing about solitary confinement (technically known there—and here—as the SHU, or segregated/special housing unit), in the wake of a 60-day hunger strike led by longtime gang leaders. One of the striking things (wocka!) about this whole story is the way prisoners set aside ancient rivalries to work together.
Today's hearing is scheduled to last two and a half hours, or 2.5 minutes for each day the strike lasted.
Posted Wednesday afternoon and moved up.
Two months ago, I wrote about photographing a large group of police officers who were surrounding a man downtown and questioning him loudly. I'm a reporter, so I usually stop to observe major police activity when I see it. But this time, King County sergeant Patrick "K.C." Saulet charged up and threatened to arrest me when I took pictures of officers. He said that if I didn't leave the the city sidewalk and the nearby county transit plaza—both of which are public property—I would go to jail, even though standing on public property like that is legal, and taking photos of officers is legal. I had been keeping my distance from the cops, standing back from their activity. I was the only person taking photos and the only person in the busy area singled out for an arrest threat. Sergeant Saulet, a big man, was physically intimidating when he rushed up, and it was a scary experience.
I left the scene because I didn't want to be arrested. Still, I wanted to know who was in charge. So, as I reported at the time, I approached three officers leaving the scene to ask who the commanding officer was. In response, Seattle Police Department officer John Marion yelled at me, threatening to "bother" me at my job.
What I didn't know then was that a nearby police van's video system—and a body mic attached to Officer Marion—captured the exchange between Officer Marion and me (unfortunately, there is no video of my exchange with Sergeant Saulet). I obtained the footage via public records request. This video begins just after Sergeant Saulet threatened to arrest me and just before I approached Officer Marion and two other officers leaving the scene. Here's the footage:
The video shows that Officer Marion repeatedly claimed that the King County Metro transit plaza was private property, even though that is demonstrably false, and insisted numerous times that he planned to make a workplace visit to The Stranger for the sole purpose of harassing me. The microphone also reveals that, while I was across the street, Officer Marion was talking about the incident. The recording sounds like Officer Marion was concerned with me taking photos. "He is trying to take a picture of you..." it sounds like he tells Sergeant Saulet, then added that Saulet shouldn't worry because the photo would be poor quality. "Don't worry, the picture of your badge is going to be blurred." The recording also reveals Officer Marion mocking me, saying I was "pouting" after I'd been threatened with arrest, officers laughing at me, and one of them ridiculing my statement that the sidewalk was public property.
"Tell me, where do you work," Marion barked.
When I answered, "Stranger," Officer Marion exploded into the following tirade:
"I'm going to come to The Stranger and bother you at work and see how you like it, how about that? I'm going to come there on my time and come bother you at work. Okay, give me a business card, and I'll come bother you while you are trying to do your job and see how you like that. M'kay? Oh, he's going to write about it some more. I'll just come to The Stranger and find out—and come bother you at work. I'm sure your boss will love it when I just come in there and bother you while you're trying to write your newspaper."