Registration is still open to vote in April 17 election

April 5, 2012

NEW — 5:30 p.m. April 5, 2012

King County residents not registered to vote in Washington can still register in person at the King County Elections office or the voter registration annex through April 9, elections officials announced Thursday.

The ballot includes a question for Issaquah School District voters. The electorate faces a choice on a $219 million school construction bond in the special election. (The school district stretches from Preston to Newcastle, and from Sammamish to Renton.)

“Register to vote so you can participate in the April 17 special election,” Elections Director Sherril Huff said in a statement. “Once you’re registered, you’ll have the opportunity to vote in every election and help shape the future of your community.”

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Proposed $200 million property tax levy clears hurdle

April 5, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. April 5, 2012

The proposed $200 million property tax levy to raise funds for a juvenile detention center cleared a King County Council committee Tuesday — a key step to sending the measure to voters.

Budget and Fiscal Management Committee gave a “do-pass” recommendation to a measure to fund a replacement for the aging Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility in Seattle. The legislation heads to the full council for final consideration. The council must act by the end of April to place a measure on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.

Led by Councilman Bob Ferguson, council members proposed the nine-year levy. If the levy is placed on the ballot and passed, homeowners should pay about 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $20 per year for a home assessed at $350,000.

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Chicago veterinarian is next director for animal control agency

April 5, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. April 5, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine named the administrator of Chicago’s largest critical-care veterinary hospital as the manager for the local animal control agency Wednesday.

Gene Mueller is scheduled to start as the Regional Animal Services of King County chief June 4.

“Gene brings a strong record of building partnerships with animal welfare groups, as well as experience leading a major metropolitan humane society and running a large veterinary hospital,” Constantine said in a statement. “I look forward to bringing his experience to bear to build on the success we’ve had with our new regional model that has transformed animal care in King County.”

Mueller most recently led the Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center, and served as president of the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago. Mueller also led the Commission on Animal Care and Control for Chicago municipal government.

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King County executive appoints manager for unincorporated areas

April 4, 2012

NEW — 8 p.m. April 4, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed a top adviser Wednesday to lead the outreach effort from county government to residents in rural and unincorporated areas.

The executive named Alan Painter — Constantine’s former adviser on human services, health and housing policy — as the manager of the community service areas program — designated areas to coordinate on issues, such as crime prevention or potential development.

The proposal is almost certain to reshape the relationship between county leaders and the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area Council, a liaison for unincorporated area residents near Issaquah to the county government based in Seattle. Leaders in the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area expressed reservations about the proposal last year.

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Washington earns national good-government awards

April 4, 2012

NEW — 7 p.m. April 4, 2012

Washington ranks near the top as a leader in government accessibility and transparency in a series of separate reports released in recent weeks.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity ranked the Evergreen State as No. 3 in the nation as a leader of integrity and government transparency. The report card is based on 330 separate benchmarks, including internal auditing, ethics enforcement and open communication.

Washington received a B in a report card issued by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The accompanying report noted the state’s improvement in the past year to improve online access to public spending data.

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Municipal League honors King County Library System, elected officials

April 3, 2012

NEW — 8 p.m. April 3, 2012

Efforts to help people find jobs, learn English and grow small businesses earned the Issaquah-based King County Library System a top honor from the Municipal League of King County.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization recognized the library system as Organization of the Year, and also honored King County Executive Dow Constantine and local state Sen. Steve Litzow, in the 53rd Annual Civic Awards.

Each year, the Municipal League and the Municipal League Foundation present the honors to highlight people and organizations for significant contributions to the community. Organizers plan a Thursday ceremony to honor the recipients.

Constantine earned the James R. Ellis Regional Leadership Award for years of public service, efforts to bring a culture of performance to county government, completion of major projects and improved relationships among the county and other jurisdictions.

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Department of Health urges vaccinations as whooping cough reaches epidemic proportions

April 3, 2012

NEW — 8 p.m. April 3, 2012

State health officials said whooping cough cases reached epidemic proportions throughout Washington, and urged residents Tuesday to get vaccinated against the highly contagious disease.

Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said officials recorded 640 cases in 23 counties through March 31 — the highest number of reported cases in decades. King County experienced 88 cases through March 31. Officials recorded 94 whooping cough, or pertussis, cases statewide during the same period last last year.

Pertussis is highly contagious and spreads easily from person to person through coughing and sneezing. The disease is most serious infants, especially children too young to receive the vaccination. Pertussis causes cold-like systems followed by a long, severe cough.

The pertussis vaccine, Tdap, is recommended for all children and adults.

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Stores say no more ‘pink slime’ in meat cases

April 3, 2012

Questions about ground beef fly more often across the counter at Fischer Meats since the issue of “lean finely textured beef” — more recognizable by the headline-grabbing nickname “pink slime” — captured the media zeitgeist late last month.

“I’ve probably had a half a dozen people that have mentioned it and said, ‘We’ll never buy ground beef in the grocery store again because of that,” owner Chris Chiechi said April 2. “We have been selling a little more ground beef in the last month. I wouldn’t call it a huge impact.”

Fischer Meats does not use the additive.

The product is made from beef trimmings treated in ammonium hydroxide to eliminate pathogens. The additive is used in ground beef and beef-based products.

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State orders businesses to stop collecting expired sales tax

April 3, 2012

Consumers should scrutinize bar and restaurant receipts a little more closely, after state officials said some establishments continue to collect a long-expired King County sales tax.

The county used the revenue from the half-percent sales tax to pay for Safeco Field construction, but the tax expired Oct. 1. In the meantime, the tax on food and beverages at bars and restaurants remained in place at many businesses.

“Short of auditing every business, we don’t really know whether they collect it or not, but our sense is that it’s pretty widespread,” state Department of Revenue spokesman Mike Gowrylow said March 30.

King County bars and restaurants should collect the state and local sales tax rate of 8.6 percent to 9.5 percent — not 9.1 percent to 10 percent. Issaquah is inside the Sound Transit taxing district, so consumers pay 9.5 percent. (The regional transit authority collects a 0.9 percent sales tax.)

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Best Buy announces closures, but no plans for Issaquah store

April 3, 2012

Best Buy announced a plan March 29 to close 50 stores nationwide, but the electronics retailer did not outline the future for the Issaquah store.

“We will announce details about additional, specific store locations and timing for closings as they are finalized,” a company representative said in a response to emailed questions.

In February 2010, Best Buy — headquartered in Richfield, Minn. — announced plans to open a store in Issaquah. The store opened in the same retail center as Fred Meyer in November 2010, just in time for the holiday shopping rush.

The local Best Buy sprawls across almost 40,000 square feet in the former La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries.

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