Power of the pen
At the beginning of June, the city of Seattle announced that it would have to refund or cancel nearly 200,000 parking tickets because of a technicality that meant that the officers issuing them didn’t have the legal authority to do so.
While that loophole was swiftly closed, it still meant a loss of as much as $5 million to the city.
As it turns out, lucky over-parkers and the city finances have one person to thank: PubliCola’s Publisher and Editor Erica C. Barnett.
In a series of tweets, Barnett said that she had emailed the city in March asking whether or not parking enforcement officers had the legal authority to issue tickets. The City Council had moved parking enforcement officers out from under the umbrella of the Seattle Police Department in fall 2021 in an effort to shrink the footprint of the department.
As Seattle Times reporter David Kroman wrote in June, they didn’t.
Readers can find more of Barnett’s work at publicola.com.
Get them gone
A majority of likely voters in Washington support a ban on military-style assault weapons similar to the AR-15s that were used to kill 19 children in Uvalde, Texas, according to a new poll by the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI).
The poll, released on June 10, found that 56 percent of the 1,039 voters surveyed on June 1 and June 2 supported the ban outright, while 38 percent said they were opposed. Another 6 percent said they weren’t sure.
Breaking down those numbers a bit further, NPI found that 52 percent of respondents strongly supported a ban, compared to 31 percent who were strongly opposed.
While the poll suggests that Washingtonians are ready for a ban on military-style assault weapons, the state legislature has not voted on a bill that would accomplish that goal, despite advocacy from Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Washington voters have inched forward on gun control through the state’s initiative process. In 2018, voters passed Initiative 1639, which raised the minimum age to buy a gun to 21, added background checks, increased waiting periods and mandated safe storage requirements. Some sheriffs, including former sheriff-turned-politician Loren Culp, refused to implement the law, and a measure was floated in 2020 to repeal it. That initiative never made it to the ballot.
The poll comes at a time when all eyes are on legislators to see what they’ll do about gun violence. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there had been 255 mass shootings in the United States as of 1:35 p.m. on June 10, 2022, resulting in 292 deaths.
Read more of the Jun 15-21, 2022 issue.