Community mourns Frank LaSalata, judge at Issaquah Courthouse

September 7, 2012

NEW — 2 p.m. Sept. 7, 2012

King County District Court Judge Frank LaSalata, a judge at the Issaquah Courthouse, died Sept. 1 after a battle against cancer.

Frank LaSalata

The legal community — other judges, attorneys and courthouse employees — remembered LaSalata as a fair-minded and hardworking jurist.

LaSalata, 60, served as a King County District Court judge in the Northeast Division since 2006. Before then, he served for eight years as a pro tempore, or substitute, judge in King and San Juan counties.

In 2009, district and municipal court judges throughout the state elected LaSalata to serve on the board of governors for the Washington State District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association.

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King County launches treatment court for veterans

June 26, 2012

King County officials celebrated the launch of Veterans Treatment Court on June 14, a milestone in the effort to direct veterans into treatment and services, rather than incarceration.

The combination of mental health issues, alongside post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, can lead veterans into the criminal justice system. Officials said the Veterans Treatment Court offers a better route for nonviolent offenders.

The program, a part of Mental Health Court, is rooted in legislation adopted by the King County Council last year. Officials gathered at the King County Courthouse to launch the program.

The program is to receive future funding by the Veterans and Human Services Levy. King County voters renewed the property tax levy package in 2011 with almost 70 percent approval. Read more

King County launches Veterans Treatment Court

June 15, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. June 15, 2012

King County officials celebrated the launch of Veterans Treatment Court on Thursday, a milestone in the effort to direct veterans into treatment and services, rather than incarceration.

The combination of mental health issues, alongside post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, can lead veterans into the criminal justice system. Officials said the Veterans Treatment Court offers a better route for nonviolent offenders.

The program, a part of Mental Health Court, is rooted in legislation adopted by the King County Council last year. Officials gathered at the King County Courthouse to launch the program.

The program is to receive future funding by the Veterans and Human Services Levy. King County voters renewed the property tax levy package in 2011 with almost 70 percent approval.

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How the inquest unfolded to examine Issaquah police officers’ actions

May 29, 2012

The decision from a King County-appointed inquest jury May 23 ended the long investigation set in motion after Ronald W. Ficker abandoned a Kia sedan on a busy downtown Issaquah street.

The inquest process is a fact-finding hearing conducted to determine the circumstances in any officer-involved shooting in the county.

Inquest jurors answer a series of questions, called interrogatories, to determine the facts in the case. Jurors answered 22 interrogatories related to the officers’ actions and Ficker’s death.

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Inquest opens to examine Clark Elementary School shootout

May 22, 2012

King County authorities started to examine the actions of Issaquah police officers involved in a deadly September 2011 shootout at Clark Elementary School as a prosecutor-led inquest opened May 21.

The officers shot and killed Ronald W. Ficker, 51, after the rural Maple Valley man abandoned a rental car at a downtown Issaquah intersection and, brandishing rifles and carrying ammunition, set off in the direction of school campuses.

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King County executive orders inquest into Issaquah police shooting

December 27, 2011

NEW — 11:10 a.m. Dec. 27, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine on Tuesday ordered a prosecutor-led inquest into the lethal shootout at Clark Elementary School — a standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

Ronald Ficker

The action came a little more than three months after Ronald W. Ficker, 51, trekked across downtown Issaquah, brandishing rifles at passers-by. The bizarre episode ended on the elementary school campus as police officers and Ficker exchanged gunfire.

In the days before the Sept. 24 incident, Ficker told others, “Something big is going to happen.” Then, the day before the shootout, he rented a Kia sedan at a Seattle rental car counter, drove more than 450 miles and, just after 11 a.m. Sept. 24, abandoned the car at a downtown Issaquah intersection and set off to Clark Elementary.

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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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King County considers creating treatment court for veterans

August 23, 2011

King County leaders could create a treatment court to offer military veterans treatment and support services for mental illnesses — a concern as service members return from Afghanistan and Iraq suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Under a proposal developed by County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilman Bob Ferguson and King County District Court, a Veterans Treatment Court could debut as a yearlong pilot project to offer special court services to former service members.

The proposal calls for using resources from the existing Mental Health Court to create the pilot project. If a Veterans Treatment Court pilot is carved from Mental Health Court, the cost to the county could be nothing.

The county courthouse in Issaquah, as a site for Mental Health Court, could also host Veterans Treatment Court. If the County Council approves the proposal, a Veterans Treatment Court pilot could start as soon as January.

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King County considers creating treatment court for veterans

August 16, 2011

NEW — 1 p.m. Aug. 16, 2011

King County leaders could create a treatment court to offer military veterans treatment and support services for mental illnesses — a concern as service members return from Afghanistan and Iraq suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Under a proposal developed by County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilman Bob Ferguson and King County District Court, a Veterans Treatment Court could debut as a yearlong pilot project to offer special court services to former service members.

The proposal calls for using resources from the existing Mental Health Court to create the pilot project. If a Veterans Treatment Court pilot is carved from Mental Health Court, the cost to the county could be nothing.

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Issaquah residents defied trends in November election

December 14, 2010

The ballot measure to create a state income tax failed just about everywhere outside of left-leaning Seattle and Vashon Island — except for a precinct nestled along Lake Sammamish.

Initiative 1098 received ironclad support — 80 percent — in the precinct. The catch: King County records indicate the precinct has 11 registered voters; 10 participated in the Nov. 2 election.

The information about the Lake Sammamish precinct comes from a detailed analysis of the precinct results in the recent election. (Issaquah is carved into 30 precincts.)

The neighborhood-level data — released a month after the election — illustrates how the Issaquah electorate bucked state trends on some issues and rejected incumbents even as the candidates cruised to re-election.

The dueling liquor initiatives on the ballot, 1100 and 1105, received uneven support from Issaquah voters.

Initiative 1100, a liquor privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco — the largest employer in the city — received broad backing in the city even as the measure came up short statewide.

Initiative 1105 failed in every Issaquah precinct and only managed to garner 35 percent of the vote statewide.

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