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

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.

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.

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.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

Learning how to budget and save is something everyone can benefit from, even people who barely have a penny to their name.

That’s the idea behind so-called Financial Empowerment Centers Seattle is setting up with a $1.8 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

A Socialist candidate has taken the lead as an updated ballot count was released on Tuesday afternoon in a close Seattle City Council race.

Kshama Sawant initially trailed incumbent Richard Conlin by more than 6,000 votes, but is now leading by about 40 votes—79,751 to 79,710.

“I think the results that we got today confirm that people in Seattle and, indeed, everywhere in the country are actually eager and hungry for a big political shift,” Sawant said Tuesday.

Lawyers are finding themselves facing the same pressures recording artists and journalists have had to contend with: free content on the Internet. 

Technological changes and a DIY culture are also changing the legal profession in fundamental ways. And how to adapt has been a hot topic at law schools in Washington and at the Washington Bar Association.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

 

Seattle may soon have a new mayor.

State Sen. Ed Murray carried 56 percent of the vote in the first round of ballot counting Tuesday night, building a lead over incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn. Because Washington state votes entirely by mail, many ballots were not counted Tuesday.

City of Seattle

With the number of bike commuters up 78 percent since 2005, bike lanes in Seattle are packed. 

But not everyone feels safe riding in close proximity to cars, having to worry about distracted drivers or collisions with car doors.

So Seattle planners are in the midst of an experiment—one they hope will make anybody feel comfortable hopping on a bike to get around the city. Seattle is building what are called "cycle tracks" as a way of making riding on the street more attractive to the novice or reluctant rider.

It isn't always easy to pin down a politician. Most would prefer to list a range of issues they plan to address than choose just one top priority. But Tuesday night, during a debate on KCTS-TV, the candidates for mayor of Seattle, incumbent Mike McGinn and challenger state Senator Ed Murray, were forced to list everything, from housing to education in the order of importance.

David Kohl / AP Photo/File Image

Washington’s Supreme Court will decide whether employers must accommodate the religious practices of their employees.

Justices heard oral arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit that involves four men who makes meals for airline passengers. Because they are not allowed to bring their own food to work, their employer, Gate Gourmet, provides them lunch. The men allege the meal choices did not accommodate their religious dietary restrictions. 

Oran Viriyincy / Flickr

Have you ever been stuck in traffic or tried to get on an overcrowded bus, or had to dodge potholes in the bike lanes?

Sometimes, just getting from point A to point B can be an exercise in frustration, even if you live and work within the city limits of Seattle. The candidates for mayor of Seattle, incumbent Mike McGinn and challenger state Sen. Ed Murray both say they’ve experienced problems in getting around the city.

Not surprisingly, each candidate also says he is the best candidate to improve transportation in the city.

aidaneus / Flickr

Advocates for victims of domestic violence are praising a Washington Supreme Court decision that they say could help save lives.

The case concerns the serving of an anti-harassment order by the Federal Way Police Department on a man who later killed his girlfriend.

What if Seattle gets stuck with cost overruns on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project?

That question sparked a lively exchange on KING-TV between the two candidates for mayor of Seattle during their first televised debate.

During the hour long debate sponsored by KING-TV, KIRO-FM and The Seattle Times, Mayor Mike McGinn and Sen. Ed Murray traded jabs on everything from leadership style to police reform.

But their discussion of the tunnel project raised one of the most interesting questions.

zeraien / Flickr

A survey shows more than 60 percent of Seattle residents approve of the job the Seattle Police Department is doing. But it’s a far more problematic picture when you break down responses by race.

While the vast majority of whites and Asians give high marks to the Seattle Police Department, when you talk to African-Americans and Latinos, the approval rating drops dramatically.

Paula Wissel

Last weekend’s random killing of Shoreline Community College English Professor Troy Wolff in Pioneer Square has prompted Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn to call for more money to be spent on mental health resources, including a possible tax dedicated to mental health.

Donnell Jackson has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the stabbing of Wolff and Kristin Ito, who survived the attack.

Paula Wissel

The Space Needle’s labor practices are on trial in a federal hearing room in Seattle. All week, the National Labor Relations Board(NLRB) has been presenting its case against the privately-owned Seattle icon.

Acting on a complaint from Unite Here Local 8, which represents several hundred Space Needle food and banquet workers, the NLRB is making its case that the company engaged in unfair labor practices, including encouraging employees to resign from the union and stop paying union dues.

Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Click here or scroll down for full comparison chart >>>

It used to be if you wanted to get around town or to the airport and didn’t have a car, you’d take public transit or call a cab. But in the last six months, new options have popped up—rideshare services.

I decided to take these services for a test drive, with the help of KPLU news intern Simone Alicea.

Paula Wissel

The state attorney general has compiled a new Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide aimed at helping active-duty soldiers and veterans learn about their legal rights.

Military personnel and veterans have a number of special legal rights when it comes to such things as interest rates on home loans or getting out of rental agreements. The problem, according to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, is too many people are unaware of these protections.

Paula Wissel

It’s a place with plenty of vacancies. And the price might be right—about $130 a night.

But you probably don’t want to book a room.

I’m talking about the King County Jail where there are now a lot more beds than inmates.

Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Taxi drivers are finding more competition on the road these days.  New smartphone-based ride-sharing services are giving consumers a lot of options.

But the highly-regulated taxis call the development unfair since the new companies don’t have to play by the same rules. Both King County and the city of Seattle are trying to figure out how to respond.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

At a White House ceremony Monday, President Barack Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor on Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, a Spokane native currently stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Carter was honored for his actions during the 2009 Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan.  President Obama said Carter repeatedly put his own life on the line to save others. But Obama also talked of Carter's courage in another battle, a battle here at home.

Paula Wissel

When you think of going whale watching, you probably envision taking a boat. But there’s a place on San Juan Island that’s considered one of the best places in the world to see killer whales from shore.

Seattle City Light says new advanced electrical meters will let you monitor your power usage in real time. That way, if you see you’re using too much electricity at any given moment, you can run around and turn off a bunch of lights.

But Seattle is hearing from customers who say they’re worried the meters will collect too much data and also pose health risks.

Nicole was 17 when she met the man who changed her life.

“I met a guy. He put the charms on me, and I fell for it,” she said.

Soon, Nicole found herself on the streets of Seattle and Tacoma, earning money for that same man as a sex worker. 

Florangela Davila

A state senator who drove efforts to make gay marriage legal in Washington state was leading in early returns in Seattle's mayoral primary.

Ed Murray had 30 percent of the vote released Tuesday night. Incumbent Mike McGinn, fighting to avoid becoming the second straight mayor ousted by city voters before the general election, had 27 percent.

Paula Wissel

Editor's note: KPLU has asked all nine candidates in the Seattle mayoral race to tell us about a time when his or her leadership skills were put to the test. One candidate's answer follows.  

Of the nine candidates running for mayor of Seattle, only Mike McGinn has first-hand experience. Leading up to next Tuesday’s primary, KPLU has been asking all the candidates to talk about a time when their leadership was tested.

You could say Mayor Mike McGinn’s leadership skills have been put to the test every day for the past 4 years. How he’s dealt with it has a lot to do with a personal change he made shortly after taking office.

Washington State Patrol

Summer is a great time for a road trip. But if you’re someone who tends to put the pedal to the metal, spending more time on the highway probably increases your chance of being pulled over for speeding. Which raises the question: what does it take to avoid getting issued a ticket?

Joe Bushnell

The Washington State Department of Transportation has now figured out what caused construction lumber to fall off the Highway 16 Nalley Valley Viaduct project and smash onto South Tacoma Way on June 29th.

As KPLU reported, the falling lumber barely missed landing on a man on a moped.

WSDOT says the contractor has now determined that the cause was a defective four-by-six wood support beam, which collapsed spilling the construction lumber onto the roadway below.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Bellingham is the latest local government in Washington state to place a moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses.  Some cities say it’s important to put a hold on things while the state works out the details of legalizing the retail sale of pot. Initiative 502, which passed last November, legalized the sale of  marijuana for recreational use.

Paula Wissel

It seems as much a part of a trip to the ballpark as eating hotdogs.

But, when you hear the announcer say, "Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and remove your caps for the singing of the national anthem," do you ever wonder why you're standing?

As we discovered, you'll find the answer on an obscure plaque in the city of Tacoma.

Pages