Tag Archives: Washington State

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.”

DCG

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.”

DCG

Washington State teacher ‘abandoned’ students on field trip, keeps his job

The union backed the teacher, of course.

Teacher Noam Gungle

Teacher Noam Gundle

From MyNorthwest.com (by Jason Rantz): A Ballard High School teacher remains on the job, even after an investigation found he “abandoned” high school students on an overnight field trip with no one but one of the student’s 19-year-old boyfriend.

Why did he leave them? So he could attend a Seattle teacher’s union protest.

Seattle School Superintendent Larry Nyland

Seattle Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland

Even though the Seattle Public School District recommended Noam Gundle (who has a rating of just 2.16 out of 5 on ratemyteachers.com) be fired for conduct that put these students “at great risk…,” Seattle Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland imposed just a 10-day unpaid suspension and he won’t explain why. Meanwhile, Gundle still has his job.

Gundle took students on a two-night trip to Deception Pass for his Oceanography class on May 17, 2015. Gundle explained to his students prior to the field trip that it would be cut from two nights to one night so he could attend the SEA (Seattle Education Association) Walk Out union protest.

Seattle teachers doing their yearly strike...

Seattle teachers doing their yearly strike…

While the majority of his students left with him and other chaperones after the one night, Gundle allowed five students to remain at the campsite without approved adult supervision, nor permission from all the student’s parents. In fact, the only adult around was one student’s 19-year-old boyfriend. This raised serious safety and judgment concerns according to the investigative documents.

Gundle, who is active in supporting union causes, justified his decision by telling the school:

Just as I am not responsible for students and their behavior when the [sic] leave school, I am not responsible for their actions after they leave my care. It was clear that when left, they were no longer in my care. Their parents were aware, they gave permission and the field trip was over.

Actually, it wasn’t clear. The investigation reveals Gundle did not commit to the legwork necessary to allow for this kind of unchaperoned overnight trip. The exhaustive investigation found that he “made no official announcement before he departed [the field trip] and never indicated that the field trip was officially over.”

Further, in his written statement to the school, he claimed he “received permission from each student’s parent for the student to spend the extra night.” This was absolutely not true, according to the investigation, and even if it were, he did not have the schools’ permission to leave the students to spend an extra night without a chaperone. Further, the district found he didn’t even know how the students who spent the extra night would get home from the field trip.

Gundle admitted he doesn’t remember speaking with one of the parents, but said he “…remembered that [the student] told him that her mother said it was okay.” The investigation found he did not have parental permission for this student.

In fact, the night before the scheduled field trip, the investigation found one mother emailed Gundle to explain it would be inappropriate for him to cut short a class activity so he might attend a union protest.

Gundle admits he didn’t read the email until four days later. He did, however, reply telling her that the students weren’t missing that much with his decision to cut the field trip short.

This is not where Gundle’s rule violations ended. The investigation found:

  1. Gundle did not properly list all the trip’s chaperones with the school;
  2. He allowed student drivers to transport classmates to Deception Pass without permission from the school nor the parents;
  3. He allowed two students to drive on their own to Deception Pass, without school permission nor parental consent (one student did not have access to a seatbelt in the car);
  4. He did not obtain permission from the school to leave the students behind.

Days after the field trip, on May 22, Gundle was placed on paid administrative leave as the district investigated.

On June 18, 2015, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Dr. Brent C. Jones wrote to Gundle to explain that the recommendation from the district that “there is probable cause to terminate your employment as a teacher for abandoning students during a District sponsored overnight field trip.”

Gundle fought the recommendation with the help of his union representative, arguing the termination was too harsh. After meeting with Superintendent Nyland, Gundle successfully lobbied to avoid termination, instead earning just a 10-day suspension without pay. He was also told he couldn’t host overnight field trips for two years, nor day field trips for one year.

This light punishment raises significant questions. If Nyland believes Gundle’s actions put the students’ safety at great risk, and the district’s HR department recommended termination, how did the punishment get reduced so dramatically? Nyland isn’t answering any questions.

After a protracted back-and-forth, Seattle Public Schools’ only comment is: “Seattle Public Schools cannot comment on personnel issues.” When asked how often recommendations are overturned by Nyland, the district refused to answer, instead referring to their previous statement. Gundle, similarly, did not respond for comment after multiple attempts to reach him.

But we know this: according to the district’s own investigation, Gundle put students’ safety at great risk, but he’s still teaching and will soon be able to take students on field trips once again.

DCG

New gun restriction could be headed for Washington State ballot

I-1491 campaign manager Stephanie Ervin (r). Photo from her LinkedIn bio.

I-1491 campaign manager Stephanie Ervin (r). Photo from her LinkedIn bio.

Via Seattle Times: Supporters of a proposed ballot measure in Washington state that would create protection orders to take guns from people deemed a serious threat to themselves or others turned in more than 330,000 signatures to the secretary of state Thursday.

Initiative 1491, backed by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, comes after legislative efforts to create “extreme risk” protection orders failed earlier this year. Stephanie Ervin, I-1491’s campaign manager, said that the initiative creates “an import tool for families and law enforcement to prevent crisis from turning into tragedy.”

Under the measure, concerned family or household members or police can petition the court by filing an affidavit stating specific concerns, such as mental illness or domestic violence, and the number and types of firearms owned. Following a court hearing, if the court finds evidence that a person poses a danger to themselves or others by having a firearm, they can have their guns taken away and be prevented from buying a firearm for up to one year.

Only three states — California, Indiana and Connecticut — have enacted similar laws. California passed its bill after the mass shooting in 2014 near the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Marilyn Balcerak, whose son fatally shot his stepsister and then himself in Auburn last year, said she knew her son was suicidal, but that she was powerless to prevent their deaths. “I did everything I could to keep him from getting a gun, and even went to the police, but was twice turned down,” she said. “If extreme-risk protection orders had been law just two years ago, those police officers I talked to would have been able to help me.”

Messages left with the National Rifle Association and the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation were not immediately returned Thursday.

An initiative requires at least 246,372 valid signatures of registered state voters to be certified, though the Secretary of State’s Office suggests at least 325,000 in case of any duplicate or invalid signatures. The signature validation process is expected to take a few weeks.

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility was also behind a 2014 ballot measure, approved by voters that year, which requires background checks on all sales and transfers of guns, including private transactions and many loans and gifts. Maine and Nevada both have universal background check measures on the ballot this November.

John Feinblatt from Everytown for Gun Safety

John Feinblatt from Everytown for Gun Safety

“For too long, there has been a disconnect between what the American people demand on gun safety and how American politicians vote,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, wrote in an emailed statement. “In 2014, we took this issue to the people of Washington State for an up-or-down vote — and they spoke loud and clear to prevent gun violence by requiring background checks for all gun sales.

The initiative (which is 21 pages) has some text that is questionable, in my opinion. For example:

  • An action under this chapter must be filed in the county where the petitioner resides or the county where the respondent resides. This means that someone living on the west side of the state could be forced to defend themselves in a court on the east side of the state.
  • A petition must: a) Allege that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others by having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm, and be accompanied by an affidavit made under oath stating the specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts by the respondent. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Isn’t there a higher burden of proof if you are going into a courtroom already “guilty” of an incident?
  • SERVICE BY PUBLICATION OR MAIL. (1) The court may order service by publication or service by mail under the circumstances permitted for such service in RCW 7.90.052, 7.90.053, 26.50.123, or 26.50.085. Service by mail or publishing in a newspaper may be enough. Therefore, the gun owner may have no idea that there is even a hearing before their rights are taken away.

There’s several other items in this initiative:

  • The court can consider threats, even if they don’t involve a firearm.
  • The court may consider use of controlled substances, whether or not it is related to any firearms. FYI: Marijuana is legal in Washington State.
  • The recent purchase of a firearm may be grounds for a protection order.
  • One of the factors for consideration by the Court is “The respondent’s ownership, access to, or intent to possess firearms.” So if you intended to own a firearm, the court can restrict that right?

There appears to be a lot of leniency in the Court’s hands here. Slippery slope.

DCG

Amazon, Microsoft, other titans team up for transgenders to use restrooms of their choice

Bullies trying to force their choices on the rest of society regardless of accepted standards of privacy. As if I needed another reason to despise Microsoft.

transgender bathroom

Via Seattle Times: A coalition of corporate heavyweights Friday evening planned to announce its opposition to the initiative campaign seeking to restrict access to bathrooms and locker rooms for transgender people.

The endorsement list for Washington Businesses Won’t Discriminate features a host of local, regional and national players, including Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Adobe, Airbnb, Microsoft, Vulcan and Google. A news release says the number of businesses tops 150.

The formal announcement will come Friday night at the Amazon Event Center, with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Vicci Martinez, a finalist in the TV show “The Voice,” leading the event. The coalition adds to a number of political and community members opposed to proposed Initiative 1515.

The I-1515 campaign, Just Want Privacy, will need to turn in about 246,000 valid signatures by July 8 to get the initiative on the ballot. Joseph Backholm, one of the campaign’s leaders, acknowledged Friday that his group may not get enough signatures.

I-1515 would amend state anti-discrimination law so access to “private facilities” could be limited to those who are “biologically” male or female regardless of their gender identity, according to a summary of the ballot measure.

It also calls for restricting state and local regulations regarding gender-identity discrimination and permitting lawsuits against schools that allow access to facilities based on gender identity.

The businesses gathering Friday “are really standing up against discrimination,” said Heather Weiner, spokeswoman for Washington Won’t Discriminate.

Businesses also oppose the initiative because, she said, “they are not able to compete unless they are able to attract the best employees, some of whom are transgender men and women,” Weiner said. (Oh please….at least be honest and just admit you are pushing a progressive policy. Out of 100 people, two might be transgender. And what are the odds that those two people are going to be the best employees that fit their needs in their specific field? Pretty slim, IMO.)

Laws similar to I-1515 in other states, such as North Carolina, have sparked economic boycotts by businesses and entertainers.

I-1515 comes after a state regulation by the Human Rights Commission took effect in December, guaranteeing access to locker rooms, restrooms and similar facilities according to an individual’s gender identity. It affects public and private buildings, including schools, restaurants, stores and most places of employment. The commission has said the rule just clarifies a 2006 state law.

But it ignited a backlash among some conservatives and others who said they worry such access could let sexual predators more easily enter private spaces and potentially harm women or children.

Just Want Privacy has gathered about 25,000 signatures, according to its website. The group hasn’t drawn the large contributions often necessary to organize a statewide ballot campaign. Public records show it has raised about $126,000, with $7,500 spent on paid signature gatherers.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Backholm, who is also executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington.  Backholm said he was unaware of the Friday event by Washington Businesses Won’t Discriminate.

DCG

Washington State rates going way up in 2017 for individual health-care plans

Shocker, not.

obamacare

From the Seattle Times: Health insurers in Washington are requesting a sharp jump in rates for individual plans next year — up 13.5 percent, on average — and fewer options will be offered through the state-run insurance exchange, officials announced Monday.

Thirteen insurers have filed 154 individual health plans for 2017, including nine companies offering plans within the state exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, and four selling plans only outside of the exchange.

The firms have requested rate increases ranging from a 7.4 percent jump for Coordinated Care to a 20 percent hike for Premera Blue Cross, with an average increase of 13.5 percent based on enrollment, according to figures released by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

The move comes amid predicted rises in rates nationwide as insurers say coverage required by the federal Affordable Care Act health-care law has proved to be a financial drain. In Virginia, for instance, which reports on rate requests early, hikes ranged from 9.4 percent to 37.1 percent.

Premera lost about $117 million in 2015, the company said, largely because it received nearly $412 million in premiums in 2015 but paid out nearly $457 million in claims, plus about $72 million in administrative expenses, according to its filing.

As more consumers have gained confidence in the insurance exchange, use has gone up and rates have to be adjusted accordingly, said Melanie Coon, a spokeswoman for Premera. “We have two full years of data and that is really showing us what we need to do,” she said.

Rates for 2016 rose by about 4.2 percent, but Commissioner Mike Kreidler said the new jump was expected. “The requested rate changes are not a surprise, as we expected insurers to make adjustments based on their earlier predictions compared to who actually signed up and what services they used,” he said in a statement. “Clearly, some of the insurers guessed better than others.”

The increases affect individual plans, not the group health insurance plans many people receive through their employers.

All of the proposed rates, benefits and provider networks for 2017 are currently under review, Kreidler said. How much consumers pay depends on where they live, their ages, lifestyle factors such as smoking and which health plans they select. “We know that no one wants to see their rates go up,” Kreidler said. “We will review each plan carefully over the next several months to make sure that any rate changes are justified.”

United HealthCare of Washington announced earlier this year that it would leave Washington’s individual market in 2017, and Moda withdrew from the state in January. Two other statewide insurers, Premera and Lifewise, announced that they intend to stop marketing plans outside the exchange and will reduce the number of counties where they offer plans.

Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Washington’s uninsured rate has dropped to about 7.5 percent down from 14.5 percent in 2011 (I guess a penalty for not having coverage will do that). Nearly a million more residents have health insurance coverage now, Kreidler said. Nationwide, more than 12 million people have enrolled in the health-plan exchanges, which offer subsidized private insurance.

electionshaveconsequences

DCG

Washington Superintendent candidate says “the government is us” and is fine with taking 40 percent of your income

I’m so glad I moved out of that state.

Jones wants your vote and your money

Jones wants your vote and your money

Via MyNorthwest.com: The biggest problem facing Washington public schools is funding, and one superintendent candidate says it’s going to take billions to fix it.

Erin Jones told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross that it’s going to take about $10 BILLION to properly fund basic education and for the Legislature to make good on bills that have been passed but remain underfunded.

The way to do that is through a “more progressive tax system,” Jones explained. Right now, she says, the poorest people are paying the greatest percentage of taxes.

If that is starting to sound like she wants an income tax, you’re right. Jones, who was raised in the Netherlands, has seen firsthand where higher taxes can lead. Though 40 percent of her parent’s wages go to taxes, she says it’s obvious where that money is going. Education, for example, is paid for from kindergarten through college and covers a PHD.

It would take quite a bit of convincing for people in the United States to agree to such an aggressive tax system, however.  “I don’t think we’ll go there, but we need to be honest on who is paying taxes and making sure the wealthiest are contributing in a fair way,” she said.

Jones says that if Washington wants great schools and social services, residents need to be willing to pay for them. “There’s this expectation that the government will just do these things for us,” she said. “Really, the government is us.”

DCG