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

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

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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.

Joe Bushnell

The Washington state Department of Transportation is trying to figure out what went wrong on Saturday when dozens of pieces of construction lumber on the Nalley Valley viaduct project on Highway 16 came loose and fell onto the roadway below, smashing into pieces as drivers watched in disbelief. 

An independent panel that oversees the state’s foster care system is going away. And it isn’t because of budget cuts. The panel was scheduled to disband this year.

The Braam Foster Care Oversight Panel, which held its final meeting earlier this week, was put in place seven years ago as part of a landmark legal agreement requiring foster care reform in Washington.

Paula Wissel

Spending a semester abroad is often a highlight of college life. But for one University of Washington graduate, it was anything but.

Grace Flott is still dealing with scars from a tragedy she suffered while overseas. Now she’s working to help others learn from her experience.

Hanging drywall is a dirty, hard job. And 250 workers at Summit Drywall, Inc., based in Issaquah, say it was even worse for them because they didn’t get paid the wages they were due.

The U.S. Department of Labor is suing Summit Drywall on behalf of the workers, claiming the company failed to pay minimum wage and time and a half for overtime.

Workers near Sea-Tac Airport, who prepare the meals served on many airlines, say their employer is failing to accommodate their religiously-based dietary needs. Gate Gourmet provides meals for employees who are not allowed for security reasons  to bring their own food into the facility or to eat lunch off-site.

Paula Wissel

It’s been twenty years since Tacoma lost its only law school. Now, civic leaders are hoping they can bring back a legal-degree program to the South Sound.  They say it will help train lawyers who stay and work in Tacoma and add energy to the city's intellectual climate.

Morgan/Flickr

Everyone waits until the last minute. That apparently was the case with reaction to proposed rules for the legal sale of marijuana in Washington. 

As Monday's deadline for public comment approached, the  Washington Liquor Control Board received so much input on its first draft of rules that it plans to delay the final draft of the regulations. 

Minority leaders were among those expressing concern about how the new marijuana law will be implemented.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr

Violent crime has gone up in our region, according to the latest statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the FBI's Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report for 2012, Seattle and Tacoma saw more murders, robberies and aggravated assaults in 2012 than in 2011. Some other Washington cities, including Bellevue, also saw more crime.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of private retail liquor sales in Washington. According to the Liquor Control Board, 1,680 retailers now stock vodka, whiskey, and other spirits.

Dean Hasegawa, manager of the Red Apple supermarkets on Seattle’s Beacon Hill and in the Central Area, says the biggest problem for him and other retailers has been theft. 

"That was an expensive learning curve, I’m going to tell you," said Hasegawa, reflecting on the past year.

The Captain Joseph House Foundation's Facebook page

For families who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, Memorial Day can be a time of unbearable sadness. That’s especially true for Betsey Reed Schultz, a grieving mother in Port Angeles. But the woman is a shining example of someone trying to turn her sorrow into something beautiful.

A mother's worst nightmare

It was two years ago on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Betsy Reed Schultz got the visit every deployed soldier's mother fears.

Two officers, including a military chaplain, were standing at her door. The moment felt surreal.

Associated Press

United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jenny Durkan faced tough questions from senators in Washington D.C. on Wednesday when she testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

Durkan, who was speaking as chair of the U.S. Justice Department Task Force on Cyber Crime, was asked why more isn't being done to stop thieves who use the Internet to steal everything from credit card numbers to trade secrets.

Aaron Hushagen

At least 17 protesters were arrested and eight officers injured Wednesday as an "anti-capitalism" May Day march took a violent turn, first on Capitol Hill then in downtown Seattle. 

Vandals shattered the glass door of Sun Liquor, at 512 East Pike, around 7 p.m. before heading downtown, hurling metal pipes and rocks at cars and police, shoving camera crews and setting off flares along the way. 

Justin Steyer

A planned rally and march for workers and immigration reform progressed without interruptions by anarchists Wednesday, easing fears of another violent May Day.

Thousands of people gathered at Judkins Park, behind St. Mary's Church, for the Rally for Workers and Immigrant Rights at 1 p.m. Several unions were present, as were some representatives of the Occupy movement. Many people were displaying the flags of U.S. and Mexico, as well as signs urging comprehensive immigration reform. 

Schulte family

A Seattle man who lost his parents and whose wife and infant son were critically injured by a drunk driver says these tragedies must be stopped. 

"This is preventable and it should be prevented," said Dan Schulte at a news conference Tuesday. "I don't know what that means yet. I don't know if I'm going to dedicate my life to this cause, which I might, but I do know that things need to change."

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