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.”

Ways To Connect

There’s a lottery being held in Seattle. But, this one isn’t about winning big bucks. It’s about a chance at affordable housing.

The lottery is being run by the Seattle Housing Authority for slots on a wait list for the Section 8 voucher program.

Paula Wissel

Volunteers spread out around downtown Seattle today carrying buckets filled with daffodils. Handing out the flowers on the first day of spring is an 18 year tradition.

Pike Place Market spokesman Scott Davies says it's a way for the market to celebrate spring.

“We share the floral love with people downtown," said Davies.

Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

T-Mobile has illegally prevented workers from speaking out.

That’s what a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge has ruled. The ruling affects 40,000 T-Mobile call center and retail workers around the country. 

Bellamy Pailthorp

A year ago Sunday, 43 people died in the devastating Oso mudslide. Thousands of volunteers turned up to help. And, even if they hadn't lost someone themselves, coping this past year has been tough.

LISTEN: Two volunteers describe their experience:


Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

With a growing economy comes a crowded airport.  Port of Seattle officials say the annual number of passengers traveling through Sea-Tac will double to 66 million in the next 20 years. The question is how to accommodate them.

A plan, called the Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP), is being circulated by the Port of Seattle and will be presented at a series of public meetings, the first one on Thursday, March 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Seattle Central Library.

Worker rights advocates say it’s great that Washington is considering raising the minimum wage and that several cities have already passed higher wage and paid sick leave laws.

But they say it’s important to make sure such measures are enforced. That’s why a union local is teaming up with the University of Washington School of Law.

Brennan Linsley / AP Photo

People who survive gunshot wounds have a high risk of being the victim of a firearm again, according to a study conducted by the University of Washington. Researchers also found the victims were more likely to commit crimes and more likely to ultimately die from gunshot wounds.

Christos Tsoumplekas / Flickr

Seeing what's on the white board in front of the classroom doesn't mean you can read the textbook in front of your nose, so say lawmakers who are pushing a bill to have more comprehensive eye exams for students in Washington public schools.

The problem, as those supporting the bill see it, is that school eye exams are only required to measure distance vision, not near vision.

Jen R / Flickr

Ever think about what happens to the information the government collects on you?

Even signing up with a utility or reserving a room at a local community center can result in your data being stored somewhere. Improvements in technology have made that even more likely. 

It's the reason Seattle city leaders say they want to make sure people’s privacy is being protected.

Courtesy of Zach Powers / Pacific Lutheran University

Lt. Col. Celia FlorCruz, 55, has done a lot in her life. She graduated from West Point at a time when women were just being allowed in. She flew a Medevac helicopter in a war zone. She’s now a top officer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and is married to JBLM I Corps Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl.

What she’s never done, until now, is speak about her personal experience as a victim of sexual assault, both in college and in the U.S. Army. 

Paula Wissel / KPLU

Heroin deaths are on the rise in Washington and a high percentage of the overdoses are in people under 30. One Seattle mother wants to help put a human face to that statistic.

Speaking before a Heroin and Opioid Overdose Summit at the University of Washington, former news anchor Penny LeGate shared her heartbreak over her own daughter’s death. Listen to her story:

Although there’s a law on the books in Washington that allows child victims of sexual abuse to testify remotely, a state lawmaker says the option isn’t being used often enough.

State Rep. Lilian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, is also a mental health counselor. For years, she’s worked with child victims of sexual abuse.

Scott Davidson / Flickr

Even with all the talk about police misconduct, a bill in the Washington legislature could result in less discipline for cops accused of bad behavior.

When a cop is put on the stand as a witness for the prosecution during a trial, if there’s anything in the officer’s background indicating a lack of truthfulness or bias or misconduct, the prosecution is required to let the defense team know about it since it could help clear the accused.

Paula Wissel

The Space Needle corporation engaged in unfair labor practices, according to a ruling from a three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The ruling was issued on Friday, Jan. 30.

This is the latest decision in what’s been a two-year battle between the Seattle icon and its bartenders, servers, cooks and other unionized workers.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Leading up to the Super Bowl on Sunday, there have been lots of rallies for the Seahawks. One of the most unusual took place in the Burke Museum, a natural history museum on the University of Washington campus.  

Rogelio V. Solix / AP Photo

DNA preservation in felony cases is something 35 states require, but Washington state isn’t one of them. A bill being considered in Olympia would change that.

Seattle's Rain Art

Jan 24, 2015
Courtesy of Peregrine Church

Next time you’re walking on a sidewalk in Seattle and it’s raining, look down. You just might see a message reveal itself.

At least that’s the intention of a 21-year-old magician who has created unusual sidewalk art. His stenciled messages are only visible when it’s wet outside.

Read the story and see a map of the artwork on Quirksee.org >>>

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Death penalty cases in Washington state cost the public one-and-a-half times as much as those where capital punishment isn’t on the table, Seattle University researchers have found.

The seven-month study was authored by Seattle University professors Robert Boruchowitz of the School of Law and Peter Collins of the criminal justice department.

Malcolm Griffes / KPLU

The Food and Drug Administration FDA is proposing ending the lifetime ban on gay blood donors. But even if such is the case, there would still be restrictions. And that disappoints activists who’ve been pushing for change.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

It’s been nearly two months since the deadly shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School. Five students died, including the 15-year-old gunman.

Since then, 68 families have turned to the state of Washington for financial help to deal with the tragedy. They've received $23,000 from Washington’s Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

Sean_Marshall / Flickr

The cremated remains of 23 people will be scattered on the waters of Puget Sound on Thursday. The Pierce County medical examiner says all the ashes are either unwanted, or friends and relatives of the deceased could not be found.

As the list of the deceased indicates, some of the cases go back decades.

Paula Wissel

The National Security Agency’s bulk collection of cell phone data is at the heart of a case before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were heard Monday in Seattle.

The plaintiff is an unlikely candidate to take on the U.S. government. Anna Smith is a nurse and mom who lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Paula Wissel

Seattle police promise to do a better job of dealing with property crime.

They acknowledge current response times are too slow. When someone calls 911, it can take 45 minutes for an officer to be dispatched to the scene of a burglary or car prowl.

Charlie Riedel / AP Photo

Federal officials have arrested a Washington state man for allegedly posting Internet threats to kill the police officer who shot and killed a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Paula Wissel

About 100 people gathered at Westlake Park on Monday for a peaceful protest in response to a grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in the death of Michael Brown, a black man, in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jim Mone / AP Photo

 

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says police don't need permission to record their interactions with citizens using cameras worn on their uniforms.

In an opinion issued Monday, Ferguson says interactions with on-duty police are presumed to be public, and therefore officers are under no obligation to turn off the cameras if people object to being recorded — even if the conversation is being recorded in someone's home.

The Urban Rest Stop, which has been serving the homeless population in Seattle for 15 years, recently faced a possible loss of one-third of its budget. But the Seattle City Council voted instead to continue full funding.

I toured the facility with Urban Rest Stop program director Ronni Gilboa. Here's a two-minute recap of what it's like there:

Gilboa, who was the director when the program started in 1999, says she's never wanted to leave.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

State health officials are putting a positive spin on the bumpy rollout of the state’s health insurance exchange.

Over the weekend, the Washington Healthplanfinder website shut down just a few hours after it opened for business. It’s now back online after a glitch involving tax credit calculations was fixed.

Domestic violence calls are some of the toughest police face. Emotions are usually running high and often there’s a weapon in the mix.

On Thursday in Seattle’s City Hall, some domestic violence first responders will be honored for  extraordinary service.

David Sullivan is one of the responders:

Sullivan and the other first responders will be honored Thursday in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in Seattle City Hall at 10 a.m.

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