About Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is a CHS reporter. Reach him at chasecohen@gmail.com and @bchasesc

Challenger Spear brings Socialist Alternative (and ground game) fight to 43rd District establishment

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Jess Spear readily admits her bid to unseat a powerful, 10-term Olympia politician with strong name recognition will not be a day at the beach. House Speaker Frank Chopp is about as entrenched as you can get in his Capitol Hill-centered 43rd District. But Spear, a 32-year-old climate scientist and Socialist Alternative candidate, says the political landscape is shifting in her favor. After taking leading roles in the successful $15 Now and Kshama Sawant campaigns, Spear is hoping to ride the momentum into Olympia.

“The political situation has changed,” she told CHS. “When we organize, we win, and we’re carrying that lesson forward.”

As ballots dropped last week for the August 5th primary, Spear will be staking out Capitol Hill street corners to get out her message of a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage and repealing the nearly $9 billion Boeing tax break state lawmakers approved last year. To those that say it can’t be done, Spear is quick to point out that many leveled the same charge against Sawant and $15 Now. Continue reading

SPD investigating two shooting targets left on Capitol Hill

The used shooting target left at the 18th and Madison office (Photo: LWVS-KC)

The used shooting target left at the 18th and Madison office (Photo: LWVS-KC)

Seattle police are investigating why two paper shooting targets riddled with bullet holes were left outside within a block of each other this month on Capitol Hill. The first was reported by staff at the League of Women Voters  at 18th and Madison, in what a spokesperson said was likely an attempt at intimidation for the groups’s recent endorsement of gun control legislation. The target was left outside the nonprofit’s door sometime over the 4th of July weekend.

CHS found out about the second shooting target on Friday when a CHS tipster emailed us after seeing it posted on a tree near the Shell gas station at 17th and Madison.

“I didn’t take a photo but there were bullet holes similar to the one left at LWV,” said the tipster in an email.

The tipster made a report to SPD, but a police spokesperson was unable to provide CHS with any details at the time. On Monday SPD said they had little information on who might be behind the targets and asked anyone with knowledge of the targets to call 911. From SPD’s Blotter: Continue reading

Yancy Noll murder trial pushed back to September

The trial for the man accused of gunning down a Broadway Market QFC wine steward in 2012 is slated to begin next month, according to court documents. The trial for Thomasdinh Bowman in the murder of Yancy Noll is now scheduled to start September 22nd after it was initially slated to begin in February. According to court documents, prosecutors expect the proceedings to last three to four weeks.

In September 2012, Bowman was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting Noll in the head outside Noll’s at 15th Ave NE and 75th home. King County prosecutors have called it a “thrill kill” case. If convicted, prosecutors say Bowman, a former child prodigy and onetime resident of the E Republican Melrose Terrace co-op building, will face up to 31 years in prison.

Bowman’s defense attorney John Henry Browne entered a plea of not guilty on charges Bowman gunned down Noll in his vehicle just blocks from each of their homes. According to charging documents, Bowman pulled his car next to Noll’s at 15th Ave NE and 75th and shot Noll in the head. The two men are believed to have never met prior to the shooting.

12th Ave theft ring trial

Police seize allegedly stolen items from Darling’s Capitol Hill house in 2012. (Photo: CHS)

Police seize allegedly stolen items from Darling’s Capitol Hill house in 2012. (Photo: CHS)

Also scheduled for trial in September is the Capitol Hill man arrested in 2012 for allegedly running a sophisticated operation to sell stolen goods from his 12th and Mercer home.

Prosecutors say Rabindranath Darling was buying items he knew to be stolen and selling them on eBay. Darling, who pleaded not guilty in the case, is scheduled to appear in court September 2nd.

When police raided the 12th Ave house in November 2012, they needed a trailer to haul off all the evidence. Computers, tools, and bikes with an estimated worth of “well in excess of $100,000″ were allegedly found throughout the Capitol Hill property. Police reported finding a shed filled with professional grade musical mixing equipment, scuba gear, Tiffany brand jewelry, and “a large amount of one brand of makeup.” Boxes in the basement contained Rolex watches and expensive data storage equipment. Many items would later be traced to past burglaries around Capitol Hill and Seattle.

Booming rental market has kept phones ringing at Tenants Union — Plenty of calls from Capitol Hill

The Whitworth Apartments, where some rents rose 20% last year (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

The Whitworth Apartments, where some rents rose 20% last year (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

As rents on Capitol Hill continue to rise at breakneck rates, so are complaints of landlords trying to displace the residents paying those rents. Jonathan Grant, executive director of the Tenants Union, told CHS that calls about rent increases have become the top issue on the organization’s tenant’s rights hotline.

“In the last three years we’ve seen rising rents and displacement becoming the number one issue in Seattle,” he said.
Continue reading

Say goodbye to the 47 as Murray’s Metro funding plan heads to November ballot

The-47-on-Bellevue-600x397The Seattle City Council has unanimously approved sending a measure to the November ballot to save King County’s Metro bus service, but it will be too little too late for Capitol Hill’s Route 47. The $45 million plan (PDF) would prevent several rounds of Metro cuts, but not before the 47 and several other lines are slashed in the first round of service reductions scheduled for September.

The measure, first proposed by Mayor Ed Murray in May, is basically a local version of the county-wide Proposition 1 which failed to pass in April. The Seattle plan would raise sales taxes by .1% and add a $60 vehicle licensing fee in the city.

The council rejected an amendment proposed by council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata that may have saved the 47 by replacing the sales tax increase with an annual $18 employee head count tax and increasing the tax paid by commercial parking lot operators from 12.5% to 17.5%. Those revenue streams could have been enacted by council before the September cuts took place.

On the plus side, Murray’s plan has a solid chance of passing. Over 66% of Seattle voters approved Prop. 1 and nearly 80% of voters in Capitol Hill’s 43rd legislative district approved the measure, which included road funding that the current plan leaves out.

After Eastside and rural King County voters torpedoed Prop. 1, CHS’s Bus Stop said this about the 47′s deep history in the neighborhood:

The 47 is Seattle’s shortest trolley bus line, connecting downtown with one of the densest census tracts on the west coast of the US. For 105 years, a bus or streetcar has come up the Hill from downtown, dropped passengers off on Summit Avenue as it headed north, turned around once it hits Lakeview Boulevard, and then headed back down Bellevue Avenue. Its frequency may have gone up or down as the years elapsed, and the 13 streetcar turned into the 14 bus to Mount Baker, which was eventually decoupled to form the downtown-only 47. But this bus has always been here. That looks about to change.

Suspect sought in woman’s rape near Capitol Hill park

Seattle police are continuing to investigate a woman’s claims that she was raped early Sunday morning near an unknown Capitol Hill park by a man who gave her a ride from a downtown hotel.

No arrests have been made in the attack as police work to determine exactly where it occurred. An SPD spokesperson said surveillance footage is still being sought. The suspect was described as Middle Eastern or Black male driving a red SUV.

According to SPD, the woman, who is in her late 20s, was visiting from Texas and trying to get from downtown to her boyfriend’s Capitol Hill apartment when she got into the suspect’s car sometime before 2 AM. It’s still unclear under what circumstances the woman got into the car, but police said the woman was intoxicated and did not know the driver.

The woman told police she was unfamiliar with the area, but said she knew the driver was not taking her in the right direction. During the ride she told police the suspect turned off to an unknown park on Capitol Hill, pulled her out of the car, and raped her. The suspect then dropped her off near 15th and Thomas where a nearby resident saw the woman and called 911.

Police initially said the woman had used the app-based carshare Uber to hail the ride, but later determined the driver was not affiliated with any taxi company nor did he pretend to be.

Tenants petition mayor to stop sale of Central District affordable apartment building

Squire Park Plaza at 18th and Jackson (Image: Central Area Action Committee For Affordable Living)

Squire Park Plaza at 18th and Jackson (Image: Central Area Action Committee For Affordable Living)

Tenants fearing they could one day be forced from their affordable Central District units are fighting to stop the sale of their building to a private company. On Wednesday tenants of the Squire Park Plaza Apartments gathered outside their 18th and Jackson building to call on Mayor Ed Murray to intervene.

Using a mix of tax credits and federal loans, Squire Park Plaza was built seven years ago as a workforce housing project through an agreement between the city and current nonprofit owner, Central Area Development Association. The city has recommended that CADA sell the building in a competitive bid.

“If Squire Park Plaza were sold to a for-profit developer, there is no question that many of our families would be displaced,” said a statement from the group. “Gentrification and displacement have a long and accelerated history in the Central Area and across Seattle.”

While a new private owner would initially have to keep half of the units open to those making under 80% of the area median income, tenants say that over time, the number of below market units would drop. They want the city and CADA to look for a nonprofit buyer to assure the building’s low-to-mid income residents can continue to live there.

The residents have organized under the Central Area Action Committee for Affordable Living: Squire Park Plaza Tenants. The group began a change.org petition in June to submit 400 signatures to the mayor to ask his administration to not sell the building. As of Thursday morning, the group was around 55 signatures short of its goal.

CHS recently wrote about soaring rents throughout the central Seattle area.

CHS Pics | What was your Capitol Hill heat wave cool spot?

IMG_7911The nearly two week string of 80+ degree days on Capitol Hill is threatening to come to an end with some fog expected to roll in Thursday and possible rain over the weekend. So get out there and soak up the sun! Last weekend’s CHS ‘Hot Baby Alert’ has officially ended, but there’s still plenty of heat to enjoy your favorite cool off spot on Capitol Hill. Summer nights also get an honorable mention after this past week’s super moon and blazing sunset. Continue reading

Shooting target left outside Capitol Hill office of League of Women Voters

The used shooting target left at the 18th and Madison office (Photo: LWVS-KC)

The used shooting target left at the 18th and Madison office (Photo: LWVS-KC)

In an apparent attempt at intimidation, an anonymous person or group left a paper target riddled with bullet holes outside the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County office over the July 4th weekend following the nonprofit’s endorsement of gun control legislation.

Last week the LWVS-KC posted a Facebook picture of the shooting target left outside their 18th and Madison office. Recently, the local chapter of the national nonpartisan group had taken a position in support of Initiative 594, a measure that would require universal background checks for all gun purchases in the state.

Ellen Barton, president of the LWVS-KC, said in at statement that the group has a long history of facing intimidation tactics and would not back down from their position.

“This apparent attempt to intimidate us will not dissuade us from our work. The League of Women Voters will continue to be a forum for dialogue, research and education on gun laws and gun violence, and we look forward to reasonable, robust dialogue in the months ahead,” Barton said. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s longtime Olympia powerbroker Chopp faces Socialist Alternative in search of 11th term

unnamedAfter 20 years representing Capitol Hill’s 43rd Legislative District, Frank Chopp has built a reputation as a quiet operator in the Washington state Legislature. He’s a behind a scenes powerbroker who, following the House Speaker custom, sponsors no legislation and hasn’t sent out a press release in years. That would explain the humbly self-typed, black-and-white campaign materials Chopp, 61, came bearing when he sat down with CHS last week at the 15th Ave Victrola.

“I don’t go out there issuing press releases because I want to build a team,” he said. “I see my role as a community organizer.”

After handily beating Kshama Sawant in 2012, Chopp is once again facing a young, firebrand socialist challenger in this bluest of blues central Seattle district. Jess Spear, a 32-year-old Sawant protege, Socialist Alternative candidate, and climate scientist, brashly chose affordable housing as a main campaign policy issue, an issue that Chopp has worked on for decades. Continue reading

Ask ‘potrepreneurs’ all your marijuana questions at Capitol Hill community meeting 


Cannabis Freedom fighters on their annual trek across Capitol Hill in May (Photo: Alex Garland)

Despite the deluge of media coverage of legalized marijuana and the opening Washington’s first retail marijuana stores, there’s still lots of people out there with lots of questions on how all this marijuana business actually works.

To answer those questions, the Capitol Hill Community Council has dedicated its entire Thursday meeting to discussing legal pot. The council has assembled a panel of experts that includes James Lathrop, who’s Cannabis City was the first retail pot shop to open in SeattleMartin Martinez of Capitol Hill’s Lifevine Medical Group will be speaking about where medical dispensaries stand in the post-prohibition era.

Meanwhile, the owner of Mello Times, the only retailer within walking distance of Capitol Hill to make it through the state’s license lottery with a permit opportunity secured, told CHS his 24th and Union shop won’t be operating until later this summer at the earliest as he prepares the business for the long haul.

Continue reading

Blotter | Man arrested after shots fired outside Capitol Hill IHOP

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • IHOP shooting: Seattle police arrested one man after a shooting early Tuesday morning outside the Capitol Hill IHOP restaurant near 10th and E Madison. No injuries were reported. According to police reports, witnesses said the incident began when one man called another man’s girlfriend a “bitch.” Some time later a patrol officer at 11th and Pine heard three gun shots near the IHOP at around 2 AM Tuesday morning. While responding to the scene a second officer stopped a car that matched a description of one that had fled the scene. The driver of the car later told police he fired the shots to break up a fight. Witnesses at the scene told officers that the man fired the shots at another man while yelling “I’m going to kill you!” After the shots were fired, the victim ran into the IHOP where witnesses told police he was screaming that someone had tried to shoot him. Police said the man was drunk and scared, and eventually became uncooperative.

Continue reading