Paula Wissel

Law & Justice Reporter

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KPLU since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KPLU, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

Paula's most memorable moment at KPLU: “Interviewing NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr about his ability to put current events in historical context. It’s something I aspire to.”

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Paula Wissel / KPLU

Creating places where drug users could go to shoot up heroin or smoke crack is an increasingly popular idea.  Treatment advocates say it’s a recognition that addiction is a public health crisis. A mock up of a drug consumption site was on display in various Seattle parks this week.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A mortgage company’s practice of locking people out of their homes before the owners have been foreclosed on is illegal. The Washington Supreme Court says it’s a violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Across the country, people with serious mental illness are ending up in county jails in large numbers. A national survey out today highlights the extent of the problem. This comes at a time when Washington state is in trouble over how it deals with mentally ill inmates.

Harvey Barrison / Flickr via Creative Commons

A Washington ballot initiative, I-1431, which would give grandparents the legal right to seek visitation with their grandkids, has failed to get enough signatures. But that hasn't deterred supports who are now seeking signatures for an initiative to the state Legislature, I-877. Grandparents' rights groups decided to go the initiative route after spending more than a decade trying to get a bill through the Legislature.

Barry Sweet / AP Photo

If you're in your 20s, it might be difficult to imagine, but there was a time when there was no web to browse, no Internet to access, and when few people outside of an academic setting had an email address.

This was in the early 1990s.

By the mid-90s, the internet was becoming available to the general public. There was a lot of buzz about it. On late night TV in 1995, David Letterman famously asked Microsoft founder Bill Gates about "this internet thing."

Paula Wissel / KPLU

People in Washington State who would have benefited from President Obama’s plan to stop deportations of some undocumented immigrants are expressing disappointment. The United States Supreme Court effectively blocked implementation of the plan that would have allowed parents of children here legally to stay in the U.S. as well.

Corinne Chin & Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times

Talking about race can be like walking into an emotional minefield where no one is comfortable. Opening up a discussion online can be even more treacherous. Nevertheless, the Seattle Times has launched an online, interactive project about race called “Under Our Skin.”

Walt Jabsco/Flckr

Why the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies have placed hidden cameras on utility poles in Seattle, or even where they are, remains a mystery. A federal judge has ruled that the city of Seattle is not allowed to release information about six surveillance cameras the city allowed the agencies to put up.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

As part of earthquake preparedness, Seattle has identified community hubs where people can gather after a quake. On Saturday, the hubs will be activated for an exercise. But, there are no hubs in some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods, including Belltown, Downtown, the Central District and Capitol Hill.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Landlords of apartments in Seattle with broken heaters and other safety violations will be prevented from raising the rent under a new Seattle ordinance. The law is likely to be challenged in court.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

Think of it as crowdsourcing emergency CPR treatment. A smart phone app called PulsePoint is now usable in Seattle. The Seattle Fire Department and the Medic One Foundation, which are launching it in the city, say it’s a way for people to be alerted when someone nearby is in sudden cardiac arrest.

Historic Seattle

After being closed for renovations, Washington Hall, a legendary jazz and performance venue and gathering space in Seattle's Central District,  is set to re-open today. Historic Seattle has spent $10 million refurbishing the hall, which will be open to the public from 5 - 8 p.m.

In 2014, Florangela Davila produced this radio feature story about Washington Hall and its importance to Seattle's early jazz scene. 

In 2015, the federal grant to the Washington State Office of Crime Victims Advocacy went up 400 percent over the previous fiscal year. That's an extra $30 million the state is now able to spend helping victims of everything from sexual assault to identity theft. 

txinjuryblog.com

Washington state is suing Johnson & Johnson over its marketing of vaginal mesh implants. It’s estimated that 12,000 women in the state have the implants.  Washington filed a consumer protection lawsuit in King County Superior Court on Tuesday.

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You could call Michelle Cummings a pioneer. The Bonney Lake woman is the first person in Washington to be licensed as a limited-license legal technician. So far, Washington is only state that allows non-lawyers to give legal advice.Obtained License A Year Ago

Presensa420/Flckr

When Washington voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, the hope was that it would do away with illegal sales and bring in new tax revenue. But, an article in the May 9 edition of The Atlantic, tilted “The Failed Promise of Legal Pot” makes the case that a black market continues to thrive in the state, in part because taxes have inflated the price of legal pot.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

In Washington state, fatal crashes involving drivers who’ve used marijuana have doubled since recreational pot was legalized in 2012. That’s according to a report from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. But, the study also indicates it’s difficult to measure how much marijuana makes a driver impaired.

You might assume that if you go to court and secure a civil sexual assault protection order against an assailant the protection order will be permanent. But, that's not the case in Washington even though protection orders in domestic violence, harassment and stalking cases in the state are. Advocates for victims have been trying to change the law that says sexual assault protection orders are only good for two years.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Nintendo of America is selling its majority stake in the Seattle Mariners. The current minority owners of the team will take over majority stake, led by wireless pioneer John Stanton. Stanton will also become the new chairman and CEO of the team, taking over from longtime CEO Howard Lincoln.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the crimes Ms. Rosario was in prison for.  

Across the country, there’s a push to make it easier for people getting out of prison to find employment. In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee has signed an executive order directing state agencies to work to eliminate barriers felons in the state face looking for a job after being incarcerated.

Chris Meade

In Tacoma, tests are continuing on homes found to have problems with lead in drinking-water lines. Last week, the city revealed it found high lead levels in the water supply at four houses in the Lincoln District.

Patrick Rodriguez via Wikimedia Commons

Tacoma has been known as the “City of Destiny” for more than 140 years. While the city’s slogan has had a unique longevity (when was the last time you heard Seattle referred to as "Jet City?"), the slogan's originator is even more extraordinary.

George Francis Train is often credited with naming Tacoma the “City of Destiny.” At the very least, he popularized the slogan, using it over and over in his bombastic syndicated newspaper column called, inexplicably, “Train’s Vander-Billion Psychos.”

realtor.com

Finding a place to rent in a tight housing market is stressful enough. Being turned down because you are retired or living on disability can make it even worse. That’s why Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he wants to outlaw discrimination based on a person’s source of income.

Columbia Legal Services attorney Merf Ehman says she recently had a case where a landlord flat out refused to accept any tenants who lived on retirement or disability benefits because, he said, he wouldn’t be able to garnish their wages if they didn’t pay the rent.

StoryCorps

You hear about the power of books to change lives. A Tacoma woman says she is proof. Her story of what the local library system's bookmobile meant to her is the subject of an animated short being released today by StoryCorps.

KPLU

Do you have an app on your smartphone that sends you a text message reminding you to exercise? Or one that alerts you when the bus is going to be late? The federal government is also using this sort of push technology to help prepare you for disaster.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP Photo

If you bought a flat screen TV a decade ago, you probably paid too much for it. The same is true if you purchased a color computer monitor back then or even an iPod.  What these items have in common is an LCD screen and, because of a settlement reached in a price-fixing case brought by states against manufacturers of LCD screens, money is available to consumers who were overcharged. In Washington, the settlement amount to be distributed is $63 million.

Provided by Corrie Yackulic

Another lawsuit has been filed against the Ride the Ducks company, the city of Seattle and Washington state, over last year’s deadly crash on the Aurora bridge. This latest suit was filed by relatives of the youngest victim, Runjie Song, a 17-year-old from China who died in the tragedy.

Mark Arehart / KPLU

That knock on your door may be for Fido, or possibly, Fluffy. King County is sending out canvassers to identify unlicensed pets. The canvassers, who are temporary county employees, will be out every weekend between now and the end of October, sporting county ID badges and carrying pet licensing documents.

Puyallup Tribal Administration

Indian tribes in the Northwest will be getting an infusion of cash. It’s part of a nearly $1 billion settlement the federal government recently reached with tribes across the nation. The settlement with the tribes is restitution for decades of underpayment by the federal government for tribal administration of contracts for such things as health care and social services. In all, tribes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho will receive more than $204 million.

Atomic Taco / Wikimedia Commons

King County Executive Dow Constantine used his State of the County address to make a pitch for a massive expansion of public transportation. A $27-billion-dollar Sound Transit 3 tax proposal is on this fall’s ballot. Under the proposal, light rail would extend to Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood and, eventually, run from Everett to Tacoma. The completion date would be 25 years from now.

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