Tag Archives: Washington State

WA Attorney General: Racist for landlords not to rent to felons

I’m so glad I sold my rental property in Washington state last year.


From MyNorthwest.com: A recent court filing indicates that the Washington State Attorney General’s Office believes that denying a prospective tenant with a felony conviction is racially discriminatory.

A member of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Unit served a Consent Decree on Dobler Management Company, a property management firm in Tacoma, after conducting a simulated test on whether the landlord was illegally discriminating against potential tenants.

According to the briefing sent to KTTH’s Todd Herman, in May, the state asked a tester to follow up on a rental property advertisement on Craigslist, which said the apartment complex would automatically deny renters with a felony record. The state’s tester confirmed that the unit was still available and asked if he could apply for the unit despite having a felony conviction. The leasing consultant responded via email that a “felony would be an automatic denial.”

“In denying the tester, the leasing consultant did not consider when the conviction occurred, what the underlying conduct entailed or what the tester had done since the conviction,” the state wrote in a consent decree filed in Pierce County Superior Court.

The state explains that there is a discriminatory link between criminal history and restriction of housing:

“In Washington, racial disparities exist in the criminal justice system. African Americans are arrested, convicted, and incarcerated at higher rates than non-African Americans. As a result, criminal history restrictions on housing justified by a legitimate nondiscriminatory interest and is tailored … a housing provider’s blanket policy prohibiting tenants based on criminal history discriminates based on race or color.”

Herman says that this explanation is based on a new theory called Disparate Impact, which was recently enshrined into law by the Supreme Court. He says that this leads to the assumption that if there are unequal outcomes between races, that tacit racism exists, even without any intent.

say what

The AG’s decree comes on the heels of the Seattle City Council’s renter protection ordinance in August that made it so landlords can no longer choose which tenants they believe will be best. Seattle landlords instead have to choose the first applicant who qualifies. The goal is to prohibit discrimination against people with different forms of payment, such as vouchers and subsidies.

In the case of the State of Washington’s vs. the Pierce County property owner, the AG’s office seeks financial penalties and wants to force property owners into sensitivity training on the issue.

The attorney’s office representing the management company told Herman that there was “absolutely no engagement or outreach” by the AG or any housing regulator on this “novel” theory of liability, adding that the AG Ferguson’s office “began actively and aggressively ‘shopping’ for apartments under the guise that they had felony convictions.”

The defense says that the amended Washington RCW directs that a background check, including a prospective tenant’s “criminal history” is authorized.

Herman likened Ferguson’s standard as a form of blackmail. He says the logic is backward: “You can’t ban felons because there are more African-Americans who are felons. Therefore, if you don’t want felons living in your building, you are a stone-cold racist.”

Herman says the AG is using a “web of dictates” rather than looking to change the standards and deal with the real issues: Getting families back together, increasing graduation rates, etc.

“Is there any concern here in this state at all about why — Why more African-Americans are arrested and charged?” Herman asked. “Or is this the way we’re going to solve the problem, by not letting landlords screen out felons? Which one will solve the problem?”


Washington voters to decide on nation’s first carbon tax


From MyNorthwest.com: Washington lawmakers have tried and failed in recent years to make polluters pay for their carbon emissions to fight climate change. Now, voters will get to decide.

An initiative on the November ballot asks voters whether the state should impose the nation’s first direct carbon tax on the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline.

Sponsors say residents have a moral responsibility to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and a carbon tax is the best way to do it. The tax encourages businesses to conserve or switch to clean energy by making fossil fuels more expensive, and it makes the tax system fairer by using the revenues to reduce other taxes, they say.

Businesses say the tax will drive up fuel and energy costs and put Washington companies at a competitive disadvantage.

And in a move that has bewildered some, major environmental and other groups — including those that backed Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal last year to cap emissions and make carbon polluters pay — oppose the initiative. They say it takes the wrong approach.

Yoram Bauman

Yoram Bauman

Yoram Bauman, an economist who founded Carbon Washington, the grassroots group that gathered more than 350,000 signatures to qualify Initiative 732, defended it as great climate and tax policy. “It does almost everything right for Washington,” he said.

Audubon Washington supports it. “Our members came down on the side of urgency. We don’t have time to wait,” said Gail Gatton, the group’s executive director. “Climate change is happening, and this is our best available option right now to protect birds.”

But the Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council and the advocacy group Front and Centered say the initiative is the wrong carbon-pricing approach and will hurt the state’s revenues. Whereas Inslee’s pollution fee would have raised money for education, transportation, clean energy and programs to help disadvantaged communities affected by climate change, Initiative 732 provides no such investments, critics say.

Rich Stolz

Rich Stolz

“It’s not a path that makes sense for our communities,” said Rich Stolz, executive director of OneAmerica, which works on social justice issues. Stolz said the initiative ignores climate justice and lacks input from communities of color.

Stolz’s group is part of a coalition that worked on an alternative carbon-pricing measure. Last-minute talks between that coalition and I-732 supporters to collaborate on one ballot measure fizzled last year.

The initiative is designed to be revenue neutral, meaning the tax revenue increase from fossil fuels would be mostly offset by decreases in other taxes. In this case, revenues would be returned to people and businesses by cutting the state sales tax by one point, virtually eliminating business taxes for manufacturers and providing rebates for working families, sponsors say.

A state analysis, however, estimates the measure could cost the state about $800 million in lost revenues over the first six fiscal years. Initiative sponsors dispute the state’s analysis, saying it double-counted the rebates in the first year.

The carbon tax is modeled after one in the nearby Canadian province of British Columbia. California has a cap-and-trade program, which limits emissions and allows carbon polluters to buy and trade pollution credits. If approved, Washington’s carbon tax starts at $15 a ton of carbon emissions in July, goes up to $25 the next year and incrementally increases afterward.

The Washington State Tree Fruit Association, which represents growers, packers and marketers, is among those opposed. It takes a lot of fuel to grow and transport produce, and the tax will be paid by those in the state, not competitors outside it, said Jon Devaney, the group’s president. “Raising food prices in Washington state will make us less competitive compared to others,” he said.

Initiative sponsors say a $25 carbon tax would raise the price of gasoline by about 25 cents per gallon and the price of coal-fired electricity by about 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. They say power plants and fuel suppliers likely will pass those costs on to consumers, but that consumers will see price reductions in other things they buy because the sales tax is cut. The tax wouldn’t apply to electricity from renewables like hydro, wind or solar power.

The campaign has raised $1.2 million from nearly 1,200 unique donors; more than half of those total contributions are under $200. The No on 732 campaign sponsored by the Association of Washington Business has raised $300,000 to oppose the tax.


My vacation is almost over…

I left Oklahoma early last week to go back to Washington state to visit family and friends. Thought I’d share some pictures with you!

A Vote Trump flag in western Washington! (And I saw a lot more Trump signs in eastern Washington.)

My dad’s dog Fluffy ready for fun!

A rainbow over eastern Washington.

Just outside of Creston in eastern Washington.

The view from my friend’s home along the Columbia River.

My friend’s German Shepherds surveying their territory.

One of the doggies checking in on me at 2:38 am in the morning 😀

So far a wonderful trip. I’ll be back to Oklahoma soon!


Highline School District struggles with fallout after limiting student suspensions

This program was supported by the same school superintendent that sent letters to parents calling for inclusion because she had received reports from staff that students have been repeating language they heard from presidential candidates in the media (mainly Trump). Looks like her “progressive” ways aren’t that successful.


From Seattle Times: When Jasmine Kettler kissed her mother goodbye at Sea-Tac Airport and boarded a plane to Bangkok last month, she carried nothing but a backpack, laptop and memories so traumatic that the former Highline High School teacher had purchased no return ticket.

Her plans are fluid. She may volunteer in a refugee camp on the Burmese border. She could spend a few months in a Thai monastery. The only firm agenda: healing from what she describes as three years of constant frustration and fear as a Highline teacher.

The pack-up-and-leave solution may be extreme, but Kettler is among more than 200 educators who had resigned from the district as of June, many saying Highline’s new approach to student discipline has created outright chaos.

The turmoil of the past school year didn’t help, with an alleged gang rape, several student deaths and criminal charges, including murder, for a group of boys not yet out of middle school. Six of the 19 homicide charges filed this year in King County have been brought against current or recent Highline students.

Veteran teachers are shaking their heads. Three years ago, Highline sat poised at the leading edge of a national effort to rethink the way schools handle misbehavior, based on evidence that booting kids out results mainly in their return to class angrier and more behind than ever — if they return at all.

Superintendent Susan Enfield

Superintendent Susan Enfield

Superintendent Susan Enfield, an ambitious and visionary schools chief, vowed to eliminate such punitive sanctions, except in cases that jeopardized campus safety. Instead, Highline would keep its students on campus — even if they cursed at teachers, fought with peers or threw furniture — attempting to address the roots of their behavior through a combination of counseling and academic triage.

The outcry that has emerged since reveals a vast gulf between announcing ideals and making them real.

Early signs of trouble

Kettler, like many, initially thought Enfield’s progressive-minded approach was inspiring, even brilliant. The phys-ed teacher considered it a personal mission to help break the well-documented connection between sending kids out of school through old-fashioned discipline and seeing them end up in jail cells, a pattern known as the school-to-prison pipeline.

Across Lake Washington in Bellevue, similar concerns have spurred that district to spend an extra $160,000 this year on substance-abuse counselors and mediation training. Schools in Renton, Kent and Federal Way are experimenting with “restorative practices,” which fosters deep conversation between students and teachers.

But Highline has focused on in-school suspension. Rather than tossing kids for defiant behavior, teachers were expected to manage their outbursts in class, and refer chronic misbehavers to a kind of super study hall where an academic coach would get them back on track and connect those who needed it to counseling.

Over three years, from 2013 to 2016, expulsion and home suspensions in the district, which once totaled 2,100 incidents annually, plummeted 77 percent, to 475 last June, and Enfield began receiving applause throughout the region for her work on behalf of marginalized youth.

Data from Highline Public Schools

Data from Highline Public Schools

But in Highline classrooms, trouble cropped up immediately. Teachers had received little or no training on de-escalation techniques to use in their classrooms. Each school interpreted the new discipline rules differently. And in a district of 20,000 mostly poor kids, a single truancy officer was employed to ensure they attended class.

“I’ve never seen a kid come back from in-school suspension caught up,” said Kristina Smethers, an art teacher at Mount Rainier High. “In fact, they seemed to get worse, as if they really didn’t consider it much of a consequence.”

“Learning as we go”

Enfield acknowledges some missteps. It was a mistake, she said, to use the phrase “eliminate suspension” because the district always intended that principals would send kids home if they harmed staff or other students.

In-school suspension, she added, should not necessarily have been led by certified educators. But rather, people who could connect with kids. And classroom teachers could have benefitted from more training up front.

“We were kind of flying blind at first,” Enfield said. “I feel confident that we’re not giving suspensions for the wrong reasons anymore. Now we need to make sure what’s happening when they’re in the building is going right. We’re learning as we go.”

This year, she promises instruction for all educators on the effects of trauma, and how to defuse the explosive behaviors that often result. Simultaneously, those running Highline’s in-school suspension programs will follow up with kids to ensure they remain on track. Return visits will be seen as a red flag signaling the need for more serious corrections.

But overall, Enfield remains unapologetic about her belief that much of the responsibility for handling difficult students rests with teachers. “We are telling them, ‘You no longer get to write kids off.’ For some people, that’s been a struggle,” she said.

By way of example, she told the story of a seventh-grader who had cursed her teacher, pulled a hood over her head and refused to speak — all of it behavior that once would have resulted in a home suspension for defiance.

“What’s going on?” an assistant principal asked, after the girl was sent to the office.

For 20 minutes, the teen made no sound. Then a few tears dribbled down her face. She had been raped by her stepfather that morning, Enfield later learned. “What if it was three years ago and we had sent her home — back to that hell?” said the superintendent, tearing up herself. “I’d act out too if I was 13 and that was happening to me.”

Leaving in droves

Educators may be leaving by the score, but that also does not concern Enfield, who says turnover rates of 10 to 11 percent are standard in Highline.

Teachers union President Sue McCabe, however, sees those 200 resignations as evidence of a much deeper issue. This spring, 23 educators left Highline High School — almost 30 percent of the staff. Another 20 left Mount Rainier High, a quarter of the teaching force. This year, the entire science department at Global Connections High School is new.

“We have a morale problem,” McCabe said. “Rather than fighting for their students, or for themselves, people are leaving. Two hundred educators resigning — that’s a lot, no matter how ‘normal’ it is.

Read the whole story here.


Washington State AG wants to ban “assault weapons”

AG Ferguson working hard to protect your Second Amendment rights...

AG Ferguson working hard to protect your Second Amendment rights…

From MyNorthwest.com: Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, his office announced Wednesday.

Ferguson’s office said the AG will submit agency request legislation in the 2017 legislative session to ban certain weapons. The bill would ban weapons such as the AR-15 and limit magazine capacity to a maximum of 10 rounds of ammunition — the state currently does not have a limit.

“The recent tragedy in Mukilteo drives home the need to act with urgency to end the availability of weapons designed with only one purpose — to kill people,” Ferguson said. “I have a duty to protect the public, as well as uphold the constitution. My proposal will ban some of the deadliest weapons, while respecting the Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

Three people were killed and one person was injured when a 19-year-old began shooting during a party in Mukilteo in July. Police say Allen Ivanov used a semi-automatic AR-15.

Sen. David Frockt (D-46) and Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-40) are working with Ferguson to craft the legislation.

Ferguson’s proposal targets sales, not current ownership. The legislation would not require registration of existing weapons.

molon labe


A group of about 30 people paint “kill cops” messages on downtown Olympia buildings

Proggies being proggies.

olympia kill cops

From Q13Fox: A group of about 30 people made their way through downtown Olympia on Sunday night, painting messages on buildings advocating killing police, Olympia PD said.

Police said the group traveled down Fourth Avenue painting messages along the lines of “kill cops.” No arrests were made and nobody was hurt.

Police are going through video surveillance from various businesses in hopes of identifying suspects. Most of the people involved were wearing masks, however.

KOMO 4 News has more details:

The small group created huge problems during the march. One person launched fireworks while others tagged up walls along Fourth Avenue. The most disturbing messages included calls to kill police officers.

“Doing it in downtown just isn’t very effective because it affects small businesses that want to help,” said Raven Fire, who works at Dumpster Values clothing store.

Employees are frustrated by the graffiti on their building is frustrating since they want more police accountability too.

“I don’t think that being destructive is necessarily the way to deal with it, but I get why they are doing it,” Fire said.

“I think it’s people that just want to be angry,” Fire said. “They’re not thinking it through clearly.”


Mukilteo shooter’s lawyer says tragedy was ‘compounded by the tools’ available

Maybe the lawyer should take his grievances to the Washington State Legislature, who writes the laws concerning firearm ownership for young adults in Washington. Or maybe his client was intent on committing a crime, regardless of the methods available to him.

The perp Allen Ivanov

The perp Allen Ivanov

From MyNorthwest.com: The lawyer of a 19-year-old accused of killing three people during a party in Mukilteo (Washington) took time in court to note how easy it was for his client to get his hands on a gun. “It’s a tragedy,” Attorney Tim Leary told KIRO Radio. “And in many respects, it’s a tragedy compounded by the tools that were available in this incident.”

Allen Ivanov allegedly went to a party July 30 with an AR-15 rifle and opened fire. Three people, including his ex-girlfriend, were killed. A fourth person was injured.

Ivanov seemed depressed recently after he and his ex-girlfriend broke up. He reportedly did not like seeing is ex-girlfriend with other men.

Leary stressed in court that his client was able to buy a gun at the age of 19. “It’s not black or white,” Leary said. “Obviously, if he didn’t have the firearm this could have been a different case. Is the firearm responsible? Well, no.”

KIRO 7 reports that Ivanov could face the death penalty.

“Ultimately, the state is going to bring evidence that suggests my client is the person responsible,” he said. “But is this what really makes the most sense — when we have a situation where we talk about brain development, and kids, and mental illness and a whole host of issues — to have an AR-15 that is that readily accessible, the stakes and the consequences are that much higher?”

As he spoke for the accused Mukilteo shooter in court, Leary noted that the age to consume alcohol is 21, but people can buy guns at the age of 18.

“The thing that struck me in this case is that my client, who is 19 years old, is accused of a horrific crime and it’s alleged that he purchased an AR-15 when he was 19,” Leary said. “Somebody who is 19 years old, if he would have attempted to buy a six-pack of beer on his way to this party, he would have been turned away.”

Leary said that there were incidents of depression in the past for Ivanov, but he did not have the exact timeline as it relates to the shooting.

“Let’s say that he went in the morning he purchased the firearm and a doctor said he was suffering from a major depressive disorder — that would not be a bar from possessing or owning a firearm,” Leary said.

“There’s a reason why we have this endless debate – there are no easy answers,” Leary said. “This is just not a good situation, and it’s a situation made worse by the weapon that he possessed.”

“I’m just noting the disturbing fact that we don’t trust 20-year-olds to own, possess or consume alcohol, but they could walk in and buy an AR-15 with no training at all — no significant background inquiry,” he said.

Leary said that he has received pushback after his comment in court about the availability of the firearm. He said that people argue that 19-year-olds can serve in the military and handle guns — the same age as the alleged Mukilteo shooter.

“I don’t necessarily disagree,” Leary said. “Whether you were drafted to go to Vietnam, or you volunteered and served in Iraq – there’s a selection process and psychological screening and an immense amount of training and respect that goes into handling a firearm.”

(FYI: Washington State requires no training to purchase a firearm. If you want a conceal carry permit you don’t need to take a class, either. Yet when I moved to Oklahoma, I was required to undergo a written test of the laws to obtain my conceal carry. I was exempt from the range class because I had a conceal carry permit from Washington State.)

On the other hand, Leary said his client was unfamiliar with the AR-15, and reportedly read the gun’s user manual in the car before he allegedly carried out his shooting.

“The police reports suggest that my client read an instruction manual on how to operate the gun before he went into that house,” Leary said. “Ultimately, my client’s responsibility will be determined down the road. But is this the best system, and what can we learn from this situation? The loss, in this case, is immeasurable to my client’s family, to the victims and their families, and the community as a whole.”

FYI: From my Legally Armed 2 book (published in 2015) it is noted from the Revised Code of Washington: “9.41.240 Possession of pistol by person from eighteen to twenty-one: Unless an exception under RCW 9.41.042, 9.41.050, or 9.41.060 applies, a person at least eighteen years of age, but less than twenty-one years of age, may possess a pistol only: (1) In the person’s place of abode; (2) At the person’s fixed place of business; or (3) on real property under his or her control.”