City Council decides against property tax increase for 2012

November 15, 2011

The still-struggling economy prompted the City Council to decline to increase the property tax rate for 2012.

In a Nov. 7 decision, council members decided against a possible increase and directed city staffers to prepare legislation to set the rate for next year. The council last increased the property tax rate in 2007 amid a stronger economy.

The unanimous decision is meant to hold the property tax rate at the 2008 level — $1.38 per $1,000 in assessed value. The council is poised to set the property tax rate at a Nov. 21 meeting.

The council adhered to a recommendation from Mayor Ava Frisinger not to increase the property tax rate for 2012.

“The fact that the council has not raised property tax for what — if this motion passes — for five years is a reflection of the fact that we understand that a lot of our citizens are having a lot of difficult times during the economic downturn,” Councilman Fred Butler said before the decision.

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Ex-Issaquah insurance agent pleads guilty to swindling seniors

November 15, 2011

The former Issaquah insurance agent responsible for stealing more than $1 million from elderly clients to spend on clothing, online psychic advisers and more pleaded guilty Oct. 31.

Jasmine Jamrus-Kassim, 49, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree theft in King County Superior Court. Prosecutors reduced the number of charges from 21 as part of a plea deal.

The victims approved of the plea deal, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. In some cases, victims’ family members agreed, because the victim had since died.

Prosecutors said Jamrus-Kassim stole at least $1,052,088 between late 2007 and late 2009. The seniors — ranging in age from 74 to 90 — made out checks to Jamrus-Kassim. The clients thought she intended to reinvest the money for them.

Instead, she funneled the money into a personal account for clothes, jewelry and a trip to Mexico.

Court records also show she made large payments to online psychic advisers, including $20,000 to a psychic website in a single month.

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Local man joins Occupy Seattle protest

November 15, 2011

The ongoing demonstrations at Occupy Seattle and other Occupy Wall Street-inspired rallies launched a national discussion about economic and social equality.

The local demonstration also attracted Reece Allawatt, a Sammamish resident, Eastside Catholic High School alumnus and recent Gonzaga University graduate.

“It’s like the Constitution says. It’s ‘we the people.’ We’re the ones who have the power,” he said. “If we don’t like the way that our representatives are representing us as a people, then we have the right to voice our dissent.”

In between LSAT preparation and part-time jobs, Allawatt joined the crowd at Occupy Seattle.

“Some of us Occupys have real jobs that we actually have to take part in,” he quipped.

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Kiwanis Club of Issaquah hosts coat, shoe drive

November 15, 2011

The Kiwanis Club of Issaquah is holding a coat and shoe drive throughout November.

The drive runs through Nov. 30 and donations benefit the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

Coats and shoes — in adult’s and children’s sizes — should be clean, and new or gently used.

Donation sites include The Issaquah Press, 45 Front St. S.; the Issaquah Gilman branch of KeyBank, 405 N.W. Gilman Blvd., Suite A; and AtWork! Issaquah Operations, 690 N.W. Juniper St.

Skyline High School girls swimmers sail to state title

November 15, 2011

Katie Kinnear leads Spartans to third consecutive girls swimming title

The Skyline High School girls swim team, wearing Spartan towels designed by one of the team member’s moms, hoists the 4A state championship trophy for the third consecutive year Nov. 12 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. By Greg Farrar

FEDERAL WAY — Skyline High School senior Katie Kinnear didn’t have any specific goals in mind going into the state 4A swimming and diving finals Nov. 12 at the King County Aquatic Center. As long as she swam her best and did her part in the relays, things would probably go fine. Read more

Occupy movement comes to Sammamish

November 15, 2011

The Occupy movement in New York, Seattle and other big cities is coming to Sammamish from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 19 at Inglewood Hill Road and 228th Avenue.

The group, comprised of middle-class citizens from a range of occupations, with diverse political views and at different stages of life, invites the citizens of Sammamish to join them in a peaceful, orderly Occupy Sammamish demonstration.

Learn more at MoveOn.org.

King County Council adopts ‘stable and balanced’ 2012 budget

November 15, 2011

In a unanimous decision Nov. 9, King County Council members adopted a $5.2 billion budget for 2012 focused on basic human needs, such as food and shelter, and maintenance for aging roads in rural and unincorporated areas.

The total includes a $650 million general fund budget — dollars for elections, law enforcement and other basic government functions. Leaders did not tap reserves for the 2012 spending plan.

“This stable and balanced budget is a product of a decadelong effort to respond to shrinking revenues by cutting costs while maintaining our high bond ratings through sound fiscal management,” Councilman Larry Phillips said.

The budget outlines a plan for some streets in rural and unincorporated areas near Issaquah to receive reduced maintenance and a lower priority for snow removal.

In turn, King County plans to shift attention to heavily traveled roads, such as Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast.

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City seeks input on proposed Rowley Properties rezone

November 15, 2011

The process to transform about 80 acres in the decades ahead is due to continue Nov. 21.

City Council members plan to gather input from citizens about a proposed rezone of Rowley Properties-owned Hyla Crossing and Rowley Center from commercial land to urban village — a designation used to foster mixed-use construction in the Issaquah Highlands and Talus.

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Issaquah Schools Foundation makes last pitch in annual phoneathon

November 15, 2011

Launched in late summer, the Issaquah Schools Foundation’s “All in for Kids” campaign is heading towards the finish line of its $250,000 goal and will launch its last big push Nov. 16, 17 and 19.

Those dates will mark the ISF’s annual phone drive.

Lynn Juniel, development manager for ISF, said the 2011 campaign benefiting the Issaquah School District had brought in about 68 percent of its financial goal, or roughly $170,000, as of Nov. 11.

In the past, campaigns have reached about 25 percent of the foundation’s target audience, namely district households. The organization will recalculate that figure at the end of the current campaign. Juniel added ISF set for itself some fairly high participation goals.

“We would love to reach 50 percent,” Juniel said, later noting both the Bellevue and Mercer Island school foundations have financial support from at least half of the families in their districts.

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Computer ‘hiccup’ caused late ballots for local voters

November 15, 2011

King County Elections officials attributed the cause for late ballots to more than 11,000 Eastside voters — including more than 900 in Issaquah and Sammamish — to a computer “hiccup” in the days before the office sent out ballots.

The elections office sent ballots to the impacted voters in late October, about a week after other voters received ballots in the mail. Officials traced the delay to the glitch from late September.

The “hiccup” occurred Sept. 29, as staffers downloaded a database of registered voters into a file to send to K&H Election Services and the computer froze. The staffer rebooted the computer, and did not notice any problems after the download ended.

“For loss of a better word, a hiccup occurred where those 11,000 were skipped over,” Dale Hartman, IT service delivery manager for the elections office, told the King County Council in a meeting Nov. 7, a day before the deadline to return ballots.

Officials checked the information sent to the printer, Everett-based K&H Election Services, to ensure the elections office did not neglect to send information.

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