by Carolyn Bick
This is the first in a series of articles examining the pushback and internal pressure former Office of Law Enforcement (OLEO) director Deborah Jacobs appears to have faced during her tenure at OLEO. This pushback appears to have mainly stemmed from within the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), the very law enforcement entity OLEO is tasked with overseeing, as well as the King County Police Officer’s Guild (KCPOG), some of whose members belong to the KCSO. Multiple sources have alleged that certain members of the KCSO and the KCPOG mounted an internal campaign against Jacobs and said that the main goal of the campaign was Jacobs’ ouster. The King County Council decided not to renew Jacobs’ contract, after an independent investigation found that Jacobs had violated King County discrimination codes. Jacobs has since filed a tort claim against King County.
Sitting at the table with other King County officials, Deborah Jacobs watched then-Sheriff John Urquhart gesture towards his side as he answered questions in a private 2017 meeting at the Asian Counseling and Referral Services’ headquarters, just before a public one for the community at the same location, regarding Tommy Le’s death, only weeks after it happened. Urquhart was talking about where King County Sheriff’s Office then-Deputy Cesar Molina had shot Le.
It’s unclear whether Urquhart knew at that point that Molina had shot Le in the back. But Jacobs knew. And it was then, said Jacobs — the director of the King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) at the time — she realized that she might very well lose her job: She said that she did not want to hide the fact that Molina had shot Le anywhere other than in the back but that she was bound by internal politics and policies that forbade her from speaking about the shooting in public.
Deborah Jacobs would eventually lose her job when, in 2020, the King County Council voted not to renew her contract. But while she served as OLEO director, she appears to have faced a years-long internal campaign against her by the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) and the King County Police Officer’s Guild (KCPOG), whose ultimate goal was her ouster. Furthermore, Jacobs would also spend much of her tenure at OLEO caught in a contentious collective bargaining agreement negotiation with KCPOG and the KCSO that would prove to hinder her ability to do her job as she saw fit.
Continue reading ‘The Knives Come Out’: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County
by Kevin Schofield
This week’s “long read” takes us into the world of climate change and how the nation’s lead agency on climate and weather tracks it.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is responsible for all things weather and climate in the United States: It runs the National Weather Service, supplies forecasts to other government agencies and to the public, and collects and archives atmospheric readings from a collection of tracking stations across the United States. That data is used to improve weather forecasting models, but it is also used to analyze broader climate trends.
Continue reading Weekend Long Reads: The Climate ‘New Normal’
by Carolyn Bick
There was nothing but good news at the Public Health – Seattle & King County COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, May 12.
Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin announced in the press conference that the data suggests that not only has the County started to “turn the corner” on its most recent surge of COVID-19 cases, but that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has officially approved the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to young people aged 12-15.
Continue reading Seattle and King County 12-15-Year-Olds Become Vaccine-Eligible
by Ashley Archibald
Professor Daudi Abe has written books. He defended his dissertation to get his Ph.D. in education from the University of Washington. He’s taught college classes at Seattle Central College since 2003 and given talks to crowds on the complicated intersections of race and culture.
But this time, he was nervous.
For nearly five hours on a cloudy Wednesday in April, Abe stood in a conference room in front of law enforcement officers and leaders of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) and walked them through the course he had helped to write on the history of race and policing. Soon, it will be their job to lead recruits through the same information.
Continue reading Washington Law Enforcement Will Soon Be Required to Learn the History of Race and Policing, Will It Be Enough to Spark Change?
by Kevin Schofield
Every year the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), releases updated statistics on births and fertility rates in the United States, and this week it published figures for 2020. There have been plenty of predictions about what effect the pandemic would have on births, with some (including myself) guessing that with everyone cooped up at home we might see a mini baby boom.
Alas, it was not so. There were 3,605,201 births in the U.S. last year, a 4% drop from 2019. Birth rates declined across all age groups except for the youngest teenagers and the oldest women. Other than a slight bump up in 2014, the number of births in the United States has been steadily dropping since 2007, and 2020 saw the lowest level of births since 1979.
Continue reading Weekend Long Reads: 2020 Didn’t Bring a Baby Boom
by Kevin Schofield
If you’ve lived here in the Pacific Northwest for a while, you’ve probably heard of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a massive earthquake fault off the coast of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon where the seismic plate holding up the land is slipping underneath the one at the bottom of the ocean. Pressure builds up for centuries along the area where they overlap and rub against each other, and every 500 years a major “rip” occurs where the mainland plate moves farther west and down, and the ocean plate is pushed up (and potentially east). The resulting earthquake is around magnitude 9.0 — about 100 times stronger than the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, our last big seismic event here in Seattle. In addition to the earth-movement damage that it would cause, the uplifting and dropping of the ocean floor along the fault line is expected to cause a tsunami wave.
Continue reading Weekend Long Reads: A Whole Lot of Sloshing Going On! What a Tsunami Would Do in Puget Sound
by Carolyn Bick
The Seattle Office of Police Accountability has decided that there is “insufficient evidence” to hold the Seattle Police Department officer who drove an unmarked SUV onto a crowded sidewalk last August responsible for assault by allegedly violating City and police department standards and duties, and adherence to the law, as well as City and police department policy.
Continue reading OPA Clears Officer Who Drove Onto Sidewalk of Most Serious Allegations
by Kamna Shastri
Since the beginning of the year, Asian Americans have come increasingly under violent attack. Elders have been assaulted in Chinatowns across the country from Oakland to San Francisco to New York City. In late February, Inglemoor High School Japanese teacher Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend were walking through Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (C-ID) and were attacked without provocation. Nasu was knocked unconscious, and her boyfriend required eight stitches. Asian American community members in Seattle had already been experiencing racial slurs and aggression at increased rates since COVID-19 began in 2020. Then, last week, a 21-year-old white man murdered 8 people at massage parlors 30 miles apart in Atlanta. Six of the victims were Asian women. The businesses were Asian owned.
Continue reading In the Face of Hate, Asian Americans Call for Solidarity With All People of Color
by Joy Borkholder
(This article originally appeared on InvestigateWest and has been reprinted with permission.)
Marissa Reyes still doesn’t understand why her signature would cause her August 2020 Benton County primary ballot to be tossed out.
A letter from the county elections office challenging her signature came to her house in her hometown of Prosser. But Reyes had left for New York, where she had just finished college. Confused, neither Reyes nor her parents had the time to figure it all out before her ballot was rejected.
“I definitely felt annoyed and a little apathetic, but definitely not surprised,” Reyes recalled.
Continue reading Latino Voters Have Higher Than Average Ballot Signature Rejection Rates in Washington State
by Jack Russillo
Southeast of Seattle, in unincorporated King County near Auburn, sits a nearly 39-acre parcel of wild land and outbuildings. Currently called the Red Barn Ranch and owned by Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), the property has been everything from a summer camp to a conference center to a farming education program. For the last three years, though, it’s sat empty. To some Black leaders in Seattle, this property could be exactly what the community needs to move toward an equitable model for Black-led land ownership that helps the Black community thrive.
Several community voices have been lobbying since the summer of 2020 for the City of Seattle to transfer the Red Barn Ranch property to Black ownership. Who the land is sold to is ultimately up to SPR, but a leading candidate to take on the task of stewarding the land is Nurturing Roots, an urban farm located in Beacon Hill.
“People have asked me if I wanted to own it, but no, I want it to be all of ours,” said Nyema Clark, the founder and director of Nurturing Roots, during an interview with the Emerald in October. “All of us should have a share, and that share should never be able to be sold. You could pass it down to other generations, but you couldn’t make money off of it. We want to make a legitimate model that lasts.”
Continue reading Red Barn Ranch Gets One Step Closer to Potential Black Ownership