Dick’s slapped with citations after worker health, safety, and COVID complaints

With a reputation as a model workplace for employees, Dick’s Drive-ins has been cited by state investigators for health and safety violations stemming from worker complaints made earlier this year about two of the popular chain’s locations including the bustling Broadway drive-in.

Workers rights advocacy group Working Washington announced the August 4th citations heading into Labor Day weekend.

CHS reported here in March on the complaints made by five former and current employees alleging failure to enforce mask-wearing by both employees and customers, inconsistent hand-washing requirements, mold contamination, and failure to adequately sanitize. The complaints also say thin plastic gloves provided to employees can melt and have sent at least one employee to the emergency room with burns. The complaints were centered on the Broadway and Lower Queen Anne locations of the popular chain. Continue reading

Washington is masked again as governor announces all of state’s teachers must be vaccinated

For all the things Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington got right in the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, it took leaders in Olympia until June 2020 to put mask requirements into place. This summer, just over a month into the state’s reopening, mask mandates are back as the spread of the virus has again accelerated.

Gov. Inslee announced the return of required masking for everyone Wednesday along with new vaccination requirements for teachers across the state as the new school year is about to begin.

Health officials across King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, and Grays Harbor counties had already issued new recommendations calling for everyone to continue to wear facial coverings “when in indoor public settings where vaccination status is unknown.” Continue reading

From cops to the mayor’s office, City of Seattle joins state in requiring COVID-19 vaccination for employees — UPDATE

(Image: City of Seattle)

Employees of the City of Seattle must join state employees, and employees at private health care and long-term care facilities and get vaccinated against COVID-19. Mayor Jenny Durkan joined Gov. Jay Inslee, and County Executive Dow Constantine to announce the new vaccination requirements Monday.

City and state government employees and the workers under the new requirements have until October 18th to be fully vaccinated.

The mandates join renewed masking requirements as areas across the state including populous King County return to levels of “substantial transmission” of the virus and more virulent variants.

In Seattle, the directive applies to city workers “in executive departments, regardless of whether or not they are reporting to the office, unless they have a sincerely held religious or medical exemption.” Continue reading

Progress in Olympia? Police reform, ‘cap and invest,’ voting rights, and a Juneteenth holiday

What has changed after a year of protest, and pandemic isn’t always clear. Seattle’s steps toward increased spending on social and community programs and efforts to reduce its policing budget are moving are moving forward — but more slowly than many who marched have called for. But there is change. This year was possibly one of the most consequential in Olympia in recent history. Progressive politics dominated the Legislature, and a host of wish list policies, some which had been stalled for years, have been placed on the governor’s desk. “We experienced first-hand the real cries of frustration of a lot of people about the police and how they have interacted with our communities,” Democratic Sen. Jamie Pedersen, the chair of his chamber’s Law and Justice Committee,said during a town hall on the 2021 session with his fellow electeds representing Capitol Hill and the state’s 43rd District.

Here is a look at what legislators pushed forward for Washington in 2021. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to take action on many of the bills Monday afternoon (PDF).

“The Communist Party Newspaper, New World, published articles attacking racial restrictive covenants in 1948” — Racial Restrictive Covenants: Enforcing Neighborhood Segregation in Seattle

In something that might matter to hill homeowners, the state has planned a review of property titles with an eye toward removing unlawful racial property restrictions. (HB 1335) The practice of adding title restrictions that forbade selling properties to people of color (commonly known as redlining) was rampant in Seattle, and on Capitol Hill in particular, forcing most of Seattle’s black population into the Central District, while Asians were routed to what is now called the International District. Though such covenants are no longer legal and cannot be enforced, some may still exist on title documents. The bill directs the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University to comb through property records looking for such restrictions, and then inform the property owners of such restrictions. It also provides methods for removing the language from property titles. The bill won’t do anything to stop rampant gentrification, but removing racist language from the public record isn’t a bad thing.

Juneteenth will officially be recognized as a state holiday. (HB 1016) The holiday, to be observed on June 19, marks the end of slavery in the United States. Continue reading

Plea deal: Capitol Hill man gets 6-month sentence for assaults on media during Washington governor’s mansion protest

The Capitol Hill, Seattle man accused of assaulting and threatening media in Olympia the same day as the January 6th storming of the Capitol in Washington D.C. will spend six months in jail after pleading guilty Monday in a Thurston County courtroom.

Damon Huseman, 27, agreed to plead guilty to three counts of third-degree assault, two counts of harassment, and a count of criminal trespass, according to court records. Continue reading

43rd District legislators talk holding police accountable, taxing capital gains, and helping renters at town hall

Capitol Hill-area lawmakers talked reforming police accountability, taxing capital gains, and helping renters in a virtual town hall with constituents Saturday afternoon.

The full recording of Saturday’s online session is below.

Democratic Sen. Jamie Pedersen, the chair of his chamber’s Law and Justice Committee, said law enforcement reform and gun control were his top priorities this session in Olympia.

“We experienced first-hand the real cries of frustration of a lot of people about the police and how they have interacted with our communities,” he said, noting he lives closest to Cal Anderson Park of any 43rd District lawmaker.

He highlighted several bills moving through the Legislature that would change policing in Washington, from more stringent audits and prohibitions on chokeholds and guidelines on the use of crowd control weapons to the creation of an independent office to investigate police use of force and setting standards for when law enforcement can use force. All four of these measures have passed through the state House and are set for Thursday votes in Pedersen’s committee. Continue reading

Capital gains tax and police reform — State legislators to hold 43rd District Virtual Town Hall

A pre-spring tradition has been an annual gathering of our state representatives and senators for a community meeting about the goings on in Olympia. Saturday, you can tune in for a virtual town hall version of this political rite of spring as Reps. Nicole Macri and Frank Chopp, and Sen. Jamie Pedersen take part in an online update on the legislative session:

43rd District Virtual Town Hall
Saturday March 13, 20201 at 1 PM PST – 2 PM PST
Join your 43rd District representatives for a live virtual town hall on Saturday, March 13 at 1 p.m. Reps. Nicole Macri and Frank Chopp and Sen. Jamie Pedersen will share their thoughts on their legislative priorities and answer your questions on the issues you care about. Submit questions ahead of time: surveymonkey.com/r/MRKT88X

Or submit questions live during the event by leaving a question in the comment section.

Our Seattle-area state lawmakers have said they are working on a suite of legislation that would look to improve police accountability across Washington through a more stringent officer decertification process, a public use of force database, and create a statewide civilian-led body for misconduct investigations. You also might want to ask about the plans for a new state capital gains tax and concerns efforts to forge a statewide payroll tax won’t undermine Seattle’s tax on large companies.


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One of eight with no state income tax, Washington moves forward on plan for new tax on big capital gains

Endlessly challenged by the mix of its relatively progressive politics and a relatively paltry tax base, any shift in the mood around a statewide change in taxation is notable in Washington. Over the weekend, state senators narrowly approved a proposal that would tap into profits from massive stock and bond sales, sending the proposal onto Olympia’s Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

The 25-24 vote moved the bill forward to create a 7% tax on the sale of stocks and bonds, personal property and businesses when annual profits exceed $250,000. Retirement accounts would be exempt. Continue reading

State lowers bar for COVID-19 reopenings — Seattle can advance to Phase 2

(Image: Marmite)

The state’s key metrics — Regions must only meet three of the four thresholds after state officials decided to loosen requirements

The state has lowered the bar on its phased plan for regional reopening of businesses and loosened restrictions on gatherings. The result? Seattle and King County are eligible to move forward into Phase 2 starting Monday allowing restaurants to resume indoor service at reduced capacity and friends and loved ones to visit in their homes.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the change Thursday that lowers the requirements set earlier this month for advancing from a reopening phase. Previously, a region needed to meet all four thresholds measured by the state health department. Now, a region advances if only three of four of the key metrics are met, qualifying King County and its Puget Sound region including Pierce and Snohomish Counties for the next phase of reopening.

The state’s West Region including Grays Harbor, Thurston, Lewis, and Pacific Counties also qualifies.

“The changes come after further conversations with public health partners and the state’s increasing vaccination rates,” the governor’s office said Thursday.

Under Phase 2, restaurants can offer indoor dining at 25% capacity. Gyms can also reopen at 25% capacity. Museums, aquariums, bowling alleys, and theaters, can also reopen at 25% capacity with no more than 200 people. Competitive sports can also resume games beyond the practices allowed in Phase 1. Continue reading

Insurrection in the Capitol: Huseman pleads not guilty in assaults on journalists, three more SPD cops investigated


The Capitol Hill, Seattle man accused of assaulting and threatening media in Olympia the same day as the January 6th storming of the Capitol in Washington D.C. has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.

Meanwhile, three more Seattle Police officers are being investigated for their part in the day’s chaos at the U.S. Capitol.

Damon Huseman pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Thurston County Superior Court.

CHS reported here on the pre-Inauguration Day arrest of the Summit Ave resident who had been charged with two counts of assault and a count of felony harassment in the days following the attempted storming of the Governor’s mansion in Olympia and was the subject of a search warrant and an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” barring Huseman from having access to firearms. Continue reading