Politics
5:26 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Wash. State Park Employees Face Holiday Layoffs

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 2:55 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - About 160 Washington State Parks employees are receiving letters this week explaining that their jobs may be eliminated or reduced. Park officials issued these warnings because of a budget shortfall.

Until this past summer Washington State Parks were state-funded and free to the public. A new Discover Pass user fee program replaced tax funding.

But sales of these passes didn't take off as hoped. That created an $11 million hole. Dozens of rangers and other employees are suffering the consequences this holiday season.

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Science
5:22 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Ignorance has its place in democracy, researchers say

The least informed among us, tend to side with the quieter majority rather than follow the vocal minority. And in that sense, decisions are more democratic. Researchers at Princeton figured this out by studying schools of fish.
Olivier Roux Flickr

Some say ignorance is bliss.  Others say ignorance is a drain on society.  But as contrary as it might sound, researchers have found there may actually be a place for the uninformed in group decision-making.

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Protesting Wall Street
5:19 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Washington To Evict Occupy Olympia Encampment

Governor Chris Gregoire says her Occupy Olympia eviction order comes as conditions in the camp deteriorate.

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 4:24 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Occupy Olympia has until midnight Thursday night to clear out of Heritage Park on Washington's Capitol Campus. Governor Chris Gregoire Thursday issued a cease-and-desist notice. Her move comes more than a month after the state asked for the voluntary removal of tents and two months to the day after the camp was established.

"We have allowed people to express their First Amendment rights unfettered," Gregoire says. "We have been as patient as we could. And now it's time for them to go home."

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Budget crisis
5:03 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Wash. Governor Proposes To Privatize State Lottery

Governor Chris Gregoire wants to invite private companies to bid to operate the state lottery.

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 2:49 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Illinois did it earlier this year. Now Governor Chris Gregoire wants Washington to explore privatizing the state lottery. That's just one of several ideas she unveiled Thursday to reform general government operations.

It would take legislative approval. But Gregoire wants to invite private companies to bid to take over lottery operations.

"Some have asked me should the state be in the gambling business? Well let me be clear in my opinion on that subject and it is 'No,'" Gregoire says. "So let's see if it can be done better through the private sector."

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Salmon virus fears
2:28 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Scientist claims early evidence of salmon virus, feared lab would be closed

Canadian scientist Kristi Miller testifying that she found evidence of the ISA virus in salmon at the Cohen Commission hearings in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday.
Craig McCulloch KPLU

VANCOUVER, B.C. – A Canadian scientist testifying in front of a commission on the collapse of the Fraser River salmon fishery says that tests done as far back as 2002 did find indicators of the Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) virus in pacific salmon and that her lab had discovered evidence of the virus from fish gathered in 1986.

Dr Kristi Miller, Head of Molecular Genetics in Nanaimo for the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean, testified in Vancouver, B.C., that Canada's food inspection agency was not happy with her doing the tests.  

She said there was a general feeling she should not be looking at viruses or diseases. She was fearful that all samples would be taken from her lab and was also very concerned that samples from her genomics program, also based in the lab, would be removed.

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Sports with Art Thiel
12:00 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Preview: The Hawks' late rise

Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson greets teammate Doug Baldwin after Baldwin scored a touchdown Monday night in Seattle. The Seahawks defeated the Rams 30-13.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

The Seahawks' late-season winning streak is keeping their hopes alive for making the playoffs. A lot of things have to happen first, but there's a sliver of hope they'll make it to the post-season for the second year in a row.

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Initiative rules
11:56 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Olympia leaders eye overhaul of Washington initiatives 

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Political leaders in Olympia are considering an overhaul of the state's popular initiative system, proposing a requirement that ballot measures have their own funding source.

A group of lawmakers proposed a constitutional amendment Thursday. The Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire have expressed frustration with voter-approved measures that require hundreds of millions of dollars in spending with no way to pay the bill.

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Education
11:49 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Ex-Seattle school official pleads not guilty 

A man accused of taking money from a Seattle School District program pleaded not guilty Thursday to theft charges.

KOMO Radio reports Silas Potter remains in jail following his arraignment.

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Budget crisis
9:56 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Washington Legislature adjourns special session

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen presides over the Washington State Senate as it prepares to adjourn. Photo by Joe Concannon

Originally published on Wed December 14, 2011 5:27 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are headed home for the holidays. The legislature adjourned its special session Wednesday afternoon after taking a nearly $500 million bite out of the state budget gap.

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire called lawmakers back for 30 days to close a $2 billion hole. Instead, they stayed 17 and addressed about a quarter of the problem.

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Job Searching
9:42 am
Thu December 15, 2011

Jobless in Idaho: Laid off mill worker uncertain of his future

Allen Brown was laid off when Clearwater Paper sold its Lewiston mill to the Idaho Forest Group. So far, he hasn't been able to find a new job.
Allen Brown

When the Clearwater Paper sawmill announced it was selling its Lewiston mill to the Idaho Forest Group back in October, the fate of 250 mill jobs was unclear. For many, it still is, even as the mill gets ready to re-open next week. For one of those laid-off workers, the upcoming holidays are just a reminder of that uncertainty.

This year, December 25th has taken on a new meaning for Allen Brown. It’s the day he’ll receive his final severance-pay-check from the former Clearwater Paper sawmill in Lewiston. “So, Merry Christmas," Brown says. "I’ll be trying to live on unemployment and raise three kids and myself.”

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