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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Changing Of The Guards
10:35 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Murray Appoints Veteran Bailey As SPD's New Interim Chief

Harry Bailey, right, is Seattle Police Department's new interim chief.
Paula Wissel

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has appointed retired assistant police chief Harry Bailey as the new interim chief for the Seattle Police Department.

Murray said Bailey, a 35-year veteran of the force who retired in 2007, will help implement the court-ordered consent decree while the hiring process for a permanent chief moves forward.

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Inauguration Day
4:33 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Seattle's New Gay Mayor, Socialist Council Member Sworn Into Office

New Seattle Seattle Council member Kshama Sawant, left, holds up a clenched fist as she stands with Nicole Grant, who assisted in a ceremonial swearing-in, at an inaugural event Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Seattle’s new Mayor Ed Murray and city council member Kshama Sawant promised to work to improve the city as they took their oaths of office on Monday.

Hundreds gathered to watch the city’s first gay mayor and first modern-day Socialist council member, who were among several city leaders sworn into office during a public ceremony.

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Inauguration Day
5:00 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Seattle's New Gay Mayor, Socialist Council Member To Be Sworn In

File image
AP Photo

As many as 2,000 people are expected to attend the inauguration of the city's first gay mayor and its first modern-day socialist council member at City Hall today.

Both candidates were officially sworn in during a private ceremony on Jan. 1. Today's ceremonial event is open to the public, and takes place in the City Hall lobby at 3:30 p.m.

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Drug Laws
5:00 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Proposal To Make Possession Of Cocaine, Meth A Misdemeanor

FILE - A detective in the Ocean County Prosecutors office sorts out packets of confiscated heroin Wednesday Aug. 7, 2013, in Toms River, N.J.
Mel Evans AP Photo

If you’re caught with cocaine, meth or heroin, you can be charged with a felony and face up to five years in prison. But there’s a proposal in Washington, prefiled HB 2116, to make possession of hard drugs a misdemeanor if they are for the defendant's personal use. It would also reduce the penalty for the possession of more than 40 grams of cannabis from a felony to a misdemeanor.

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Minimum Wage
3:51 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Not Yet In Office, Sawant Promises $15 Minimum Wage In 2014

File image
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Seattle’s newly-elected Socialist city council member Kshama Sawant isn’t wasting any time. At a news conference Tuesday, Sawant boldly promised “2014 will be the year of the $15-an-hour minimum wage.”

Sawant, who won’t be sworn in until January, has already been meeting with council members and labor leaders. But she says she’s also looking for support from ordinary people on the street.

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Smart Lighting
5:01 am
Thu December 12, 2013

5 Tips to Help You Look Better on Skype, FaceTime

Blandine Van de Velde optimizes available light while Skyping by using a towel-covered lamp.
Justin Steyer KPLU

There’s no question more and more people are using Skype and FaceTime to connect with family and friends. And businesses are finding the technology to be a convenient way to interview job candidates to connecting with clients.

But what about how we look staring into those tiny computer and phone cameras? It seems everyone I talk to has a story about looking at themselves on Skype or FaceTime and thinking, “I look terrible.”

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human rights
5:01 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Supporters Rally for Renton Woman Held in Mexican Prison

Grisela Rodriquez, daughter or Nestora Salgado, fights back tears as she speaks at the rally.
Paula Wissel KPLU

Human rights advocates rallied in front of the Mexican consulate in Seattle on Tuesday on behalf of a Renton woman being held in a Mexican prison.

Nestora Salgado, who was the commander of a community police force, was arrested in the Mexican state of Guerrero in August and charged with kidnapping. Her family in the Seattle area say the charges are trumped up in retaliation for her efforts to combat corruption in Mexico.

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Then and Now
5:01 am
Thu December 5, 2013

80 Years after Repeal Day, How Wash. State's Cocktail Culture Has Changed

J. Aronson Liquor sign ca. 1916.
Courtesy MOHAI

It was 80 years ago on Dec. 5 that Prohibition ended. But in Washington state, restrictions on alcohol were around long after Prohibition was repealed, and some remain in effect even today.

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gay rights
5:04 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Two Same-Sex Couples Sue BNSF over Health Benefits

Michael and Eli Hall, right, hold their marriage license certificate, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 as they talk to reporters in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren Associated Press

Listen to Paul Wissel discuss the story with Dave Meyer.
Listen to Paula Wissel's story.

Two workers are suing BNSF, one of the nation's largest rail companies, saying their same-sex spouses have repeatedly been denied health benefits even though gay marriage is legal in Washington state.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle states BNSF refused to add the spouses of locomotive engineer Michael Hall and conductor Amie Garrand to their plans.

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Sports with Art Thiel
2:42 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Thiel: No Surprise UW's Sark Leaving Job for USC

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2013 file photo, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian runs onto the field before NCAA college football game against Washington state in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

University of Washington head football coach Steve Sarkisian has accepted a coaching job at the University of Southern California, USC announced on Monday.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the news "wasn't a surprise."

“I believe I wrote when he was hired five years ago that he would last in this job until USC has a head-coaching vacancy,” said Art. 

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unemployment
1:15 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Wash. to Regain Some Long-Term Jobless Benefits

Michael Dwyer Associated Press

A worsening unemployment rate in Washington state is leading to extended unemployment benefits for some.

The state's Employment Security Department said Monday that the state's three-month unemployment rate average has risen back to 7 percent. That means some additional federally-funded emergency unemployment compensation will restart Sunday, extending benefits for nine weeks.

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Help for Homeless
4:25 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Pay by App in the Works for Real Change Newspaper

David Rice sells Real Change on the corner of Third and Madison in Seattle.
Paula Wissel

The lack of actual cash in our pockets is putting the squeeze on vendors trying to sell the Seattle street newspaper Real Change.

Real Change founding Ddrector Tim Harris says vendors, who are homeless or low income, are hearing customers say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any money.”

“We think it’s more than people putting them off; we think people aren’t carrying cash with them," Harris said.

Real Change is turning to technology for a solution.

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gun violence
2:03 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

King County Campaign: Lock Up Guns, Lower Risk of Youth Suicide

Paula Wissel KPLU

Children who live in homes with an unlocked gun are nine times more likely to commit suicide, according to data compiled by Public Health – Seattle & King County between 1999 and 2012. The same data, released Monday, shows more than 5,000 of the county’s children live in homes with an unlocked firearm.

In response to the new findings, King County has launched the Safe Storage Saves Lives campaign through which ten local and national retailers will offer discounts on secure lockboxes, the county announced Monday.

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Law enforcement
4:30 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Are Former Peace Corps Volunteers Willing to Carry a Gun and a Badge?

A Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador.
Peace Corps

The King County sheriff wants to make his police force more culturally aware. So he’s come up with a plan that includes putting former Peace Corps volunteers on the payroll.

Sheriff John Urquhart says the force is “becoming more male and more white every single year," and that's a problem because the force should better reflect the increasingly diverse community.

"And that means we need all colors, we need all races, we need all genders, and we need LGBT, you name it,” Urquhart said.

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Election 2013
5:01 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Seattle Public Campaign Financing Gaining in Vote Tally

This image shows the tally as of Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.

There’s the possibility of another election turnaround.

First there was Kshama Sawant’s dramatic post-election night come-from-behind win over Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin. Now, supporters of Seattle Proposition 1 hope it’s their turn.

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