NEWS ROUNDUP
8:00 am
Wed June 8, 2011

Wednesday morning's headlines

30 percent chance of showers this morning. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 64. Forecast here.

Making headlines around the Northwest:

  • Fast-attack sub commander relieved of duty
  • Odd news roundup: Biting flies, yearbook fail
  • Groups push for minority districts in Washington
  • Seattle parking meters balk at credit cards

Navy cans officer over classified information

The Navy says the commanding officer of a fast attack submarine homeported in Washington state has been relieved of duty after an investigation into the mishandling of classified information.

According to a Navy announcement, Cmdr. Michael Varney was reassigned Monday for violating a general order, making a false official statement and for wrongful interference in an adverse administrative proceeding.

The 45-year-old Varney, of Kittery Point, Maine, took command of the USS Connecticut in February 2009.

Cmdr. Christy Hagen is spokeswoman for Submarine Force Pacific. She told the Kitsap Sun that she can't talk about the classified information but adds Varney had no malicious intent. In her words, "He just failed to live up to the meticulous standards we have for control of classified material."

Capt. Benjamin Pearson has temporarily taken command of the Connecticut, homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton.

Odd news: Bad Hair Bandit, biting flies and yearbook fail

The Bad Hair Bandit has apparently struck again. A woman wearing a wig robbed a Moses Lake bank Tuesday and got away. The suspect matches the description of a woman wanted in a string of about 15 bank robberies that began last December in Tacoma and includes holdups at other banks in the Puget Sound area, Ellensburg and Spokane.

Wenatchee High School cut a page out of 1,100 yearbooks to remove an offensive caption that identified two freshman girls by their weight instead of their names. Yearbook adviser Jeanette Marantos told The Wenatchee World she believes it was not malicious and that the caption writer intended to fill in the names later. But the 280-page annual went to press earlier this year without the change.

The Spokane Health District says it's been fielding more calls this spring about bug bites that draw blood. KXLY-TV reports the bugs are black flies. They look like houseflies, but they draw blood when they bite, often on the ears, scalp or neck.

Groups push for minority districts in Washington

Civil liberties, immigrant and minority rights groups are lobbying the commission in charge of redrawing the state's political map to create districts where minorities are the majority and would have the voting power.

The American Civil Liberties Union and fellow advocates sent a letter Monday to the Washington State Redistricting Commission arguing that while the number of Latinos in Yakima County continues to grow, they do not have political representation in the state Legislature and a legislative majority-minority district is needed.

"It is vital that the large and growing population of Latinos and other minorities in central Washington have the ability to elect candidates of their choice," Sarah Dunne, ACLU of Washington legal director, said in a statement. "Such a district will be geographically compact and will fulfill the democratic and legal imperative to create districts allowing full participation for all Washington citizens."

The ACLU's effort follows an earlier proposal from an umbrella group of labor, immigrant and environmental organizations to create a minority congressional district in King County.

KOMOnews.com has the complete story.

Seattle parking meters unable to accept credit cards

KING5 reports that a glitch in Seattle's parking meters over the last week have left some meters that normally take credit cards for payments sporadically unable to connect, preventing drivers from paying. Frustrated drivers are pleading with parking officials for leniency.

The parking meters experiencing problems have been identified on Capitol Hill, First Hill, Belltown, Downtown and the U-District. Many drivers are leaving notes on their cars to parking officers, explaining they were unable to pay.

The city has told parking officers to be lenient and use their own judgment when giving tickets in those neighborhoods. According to the City of Seattle, the cellular company that provides service to the pay stations has a weak signal. Therefore, the meter can't always connect with the credit card company to approve a charge.

No notices have been put up on the meters. The city has known about the problem for a week.

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