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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Sports Arena
3:17 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

NBA arena for Seattle deal isn't without risk, council told

King County Executive Dow Constantine, left, and proposed arena financier Chris Hansen (photographed at a press conference in Seattle on April 5) face some skepticism from the King County Council.
Jonathan Klapel KPLU

If an NBA team comes to Seattle, what guarantees are there that it won’t leave again? That’s one of the questions King County Council members are asking.

As a proposal for a privately built basketball and hockey arena works its way through the political process, both Seattle City Council and King County Councils are mulling it over.

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Metro Transit
12:00 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Helping the poor when Metro 'free ride zone' disappears

For nearly 40 years, riding the bus in downtown Seattle has been free. Now, with Metro Transit set to end the free ride zone in September as a cost saving measure, officials are wrestling with how best to serve people who won’t be able to afford the new fares of $2.25 to $2.50.

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Seattle police
6:46 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

NAACP: Was police stop coincidence or pay back?

Christopher Franklin is one of two men planning to sue the city of Seattle over treatment by Seattle police.
Paula Wissel KPLU

Was a Seattle police stop of two African American men in February just a coincidence or, as some are suggesting, "retaliation" for the publicity surrounding a previous stop. 

The NAACP says it wants answers from Seattle Police.

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:30 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Why do we tint our windows in the rainy NW?

If it seems like you’re seeing more tinted windows here, you are.
Rik_C Flickr

You pull up to a stop light, look over and the windows on the SUV next to you are so dark you can’t see in. Why are we hiding behind tinted automobile windows here in the Pacific Northwest?

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

Crime
12:01 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Former King Co. Sheriff thinks millennials will change policing

Former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr believes younger police officers will rely less on physical responses for upholding the law.
Jonathan Caves Flickr

Could the Millennial Generation transform law enforcement, making it more focused on communication skills than physical force? Sue Rahr, the new director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, thinks so.

Rahr, the former King County Sheriff, says people who are part of what's come to be called the millennial generation are different than baby boomers or even Gen Xers.

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Crime
11:14 am
Tue March 27, 2012

Mentally ill man's bomb threat ruled 'true threat' to Sea-Tac

Calling in a bomb threat to Sea-Tac Airport, seen here on a normal Seattle day, can land you in jail ... even if you are in a psych ward.
David Prasad Flickr

If you  threaten to blow up an airport, you'll  face jail time. According to the Washington State Court of Appeals, that's true even if you're mentally ill and the threat is not considered credible.

Back in 2009, James S. Ballew called 911 and, after asking to speak with a specific officer with the Port of Seattle Police, told the dispatcher he had five friends who had placed bombs in and around Sea-Tac Airport.

The call was traced to Harborview Medical Center’s psychiatric ward. 

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Rental housing
3:44 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Website links needy renters with affordable rentals

Combining a view with affordable rent can be tough in Seattle.
Cris Pierry

Finding a place to rent can be a hassle.  If you don’t have much money,  it’s even more difficult.

Now, a new website, HousingSearchNW.org,  provides help in locating reasonably priced housing  in King County. The website is a free service for tenants and landlords. It's been in operation a little over a month and is averaging about 12,000 searches a week.

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IWW Encore Edition
6:19 am
Fri March 23, 2012

Why did Seattle turn manhole covers into works of art?

yelahneb flickr

"We, in our 20’s and 30’s, took over the city from the old men who were sitting in the Rainier Club playing dominoes all day."

There are thousands of manhole covers on the streets of Seattle. Some of them, 115 to be exact, are official works of art. Artists are commissioned by the city to create them. It’s one of those little quirks that set the city apart.

Why the city decided to decorate these "personnel hatch covers," as the city now refers to them, harks back to a time when the city was full of creative energy and lots of city activists were looking for ways to improve the quality of urban life.

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

Traffic laws
12:01 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

You don't have the right to vote on red light cameras, court rules

What a red light camera sees.
The Associated Press

The Washington Supreme Court says voters do not have the right to vote on the use of red light cameras for traffic enforcement.  In a 5 to 4 ruling on a case involved a proposition on the ballot in the city of Mukilteo, the justices held that:

“Because the legislature expressly granted authority to the governing body of the city of Mukilteo to enact ordinances on the use of automated traffic safety cameras, the subject of Proposition 1 is not within the initiative power.”

In November 2010, Mukilteo voters approved Proposition 1 by a 70 percent margin. The Proposition had the backing of anti-tax activist Tim Eyman.

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Universities
4:28 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Pacific Lutheran University names new president

(Video of incoming PLU president Thomas Krise by journalists at PLU's The Mooring Mast student newspaper.)

Pacific Lutheran University has a new president. Thomas W. Krise takes the helm at the private university this June.  He replaces Loren Anderson, who’s retiring.  

Krise comes to PLU from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., where he’s been the dean of the school of arts and sciences. Krise, an Episcopalian, is the first non-Lutheran to head PLU since it was founded in 1890.

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Gangs
4:40 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Tacoma gangs recruit middle schoolers

Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood, where 31 men were arrested for gang activity in a police sweep in 2010. A new gang assessment survey shows middle school kids are targeted for recruitment in Tacoma.
KPLU Photo

Kids start joining gangs in middle school, according to a year long assessment of gang activity in Tacoma. The  gang assessment report was presented to the Tacoma City Council on Tuesday.

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Social Security fraud
4:51 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Family guilty of decades long disability fraud

Four members of a Renton family have pleaded guilty to fraud for pretending to be disabled and collecting more than $350,000 in Social Security and Washington state disability benefits.  The scheme to defraud the government went on for 30 years.

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Winter storm
5:20 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Big storm leads to confusion at city hall

Van Asselt Community Center, 2820 S. Myrtle St., is staffed by the Seattle Parks Department. During the January 2012 snow and ice storm, 70% of Parks Department employees didn't show up for work.
Laurel Mercury Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation

During the January snow and ice storm,  Seattle officials told commuters to stay off the roadways.  But the message caused confusion among the city’s own employees.

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John T. Williams
11:52 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Update: John T. Williams totem pole raised

Roughly 90 people carried a totem honoring slain First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams from the Seattle Waterfront to Seattle Center on Sunday.
Erin Hennessey KPLU

A 34-foot totem pole honoring slain First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams was carried from the Seattle Waterfront to Seattle Center and raised by some 90 people on Sunday. The pole was carried to its final destination with traditional singing, drumming, and dancing. 

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I Wonder Why ... ?
4:30 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Why don't we in the Northwest honk our horns?

If you live in Boston, Manhattan or Mumbai, the sounds of rush hour include the overwhelming sound of beeping and blaring car horns. But, that’s not the case in the Pacific Northwest.

Honking the horn just doesn’t seem to be part of our driving DNA.

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

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