News Roundup

Top Stories: Seattle City Light CEO's Resignation, KeyArena Renovations, and Al Franken

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Araz Hachadourian December 8, 2017

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 1. Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole on Monday announced she will step down by the end of the year,  citing personal reasons. O’Toole took over the position in 2014 and became a key player in the city's police reform efforts; she took the helm of the state's largest police agency at a time when the city struggled with regaining trust in the community after a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit over excessive use of force and bias. Deputy Chief Carmen Best will fill O’Toole’s role while the city conducts a nationwide search for a replacement. (Best says she plans on applying for the position.)

2. Mayor Jenny Durkan also announced on Monday that Larry Weis, CEO and general manager of Seattle City Light, resigned. Weis’s leave follows several controversies in the department like alleged sexual harassment and a backlog of outdated customer records. Weis, the highest-paid city employee with a $340,000 salary, also asked for a raise earlier this year, which the city council denied. 

3. After months of public debate, council members approved a $600 million plan to renovate KeyArena on Monday. Mayor Jenny Durkan signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Los Angeles-based Oak View Group on Wednesday, and officials promised progress would move quickly from there—the NHL on Thursday said the city can apply for an extension team, indicating it's likely the city will soon get an NHL team. City officials hope the facilities will also attract an NBA team to Seattle.

4. Protestors rallied outside a conference for the Rental Housing Association and Washington Landlord Association to advocate for tenant rights Tuesday. Council members Kshama Sawant and Teresa Mosqueda were there, along with state representative Nicole Macri—who announced plans to introduce legislation that would repeal Washington’s ban on rent control. 

5. Following a call from several Democratic female senators, including Washington's Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, U.S. senator Al Franken announced his resignation Thursday. Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, faced multiple sexual assault allegations. He still denied the allegations and called it "irony" that he would be forced to resign while President Donald Trump remained in the Oval Office. 

6. Washington is the only state that had both its senators included among the seven Democrats appointed to the GOP tax bill conference committee. Murray and Cantwell on Friday demanded an open and transparent process that would include three public meetings and a thorough analysis of the bill's economic impact. 

7. State representative Matt Manweller has been accused of sexual misconduct from his time as a professor at Central Washington University. The university investigated the incidents and later promoted and paid Manweller’s attorney fees, The Seattle Times reported. No complaints have been filed against Manweller from his time as a state legislator, but two anonymous lobbyists told The Seattle Times that there is an "informal network of women in Olympia" who warn newcomers about spending time alone with him and others. 

8. The state Department of Health is considering a rule that would allow individuals to change their birth certificates to a third gender, "X," to accommodate what a health official told KUOW is growing demand for a nonbinary option. The consideration follows Oregon having adopted the same law for driver's licenses in June. Washington state held a public hearing at Tumwater on Tuesday—if officials approve the rule, the change would take effect in January. 

9. Activists from Women in Black and the Housing for All Coalition on Wednesday held a vigil outside the Seattle Justice Center, following the city's cut to funding for at least 300 homeless shelter beds in 2018, prompting a vigil outside the Seattle Justice Center. The activists stood outside to mourn the 88 homeless people who have died this year and presented city officials with a request for interim funding.

10. The U.S. House of Representatives voted on a measure to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday. The majority of both Democrats and Republicans said they felt it was premature with Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into possible collusion with Russia. The only one to vote in favor? Pramila Jayapal.

11. Mayor Durkan and city attorney Pete Holmes on Friday sent a response to the U.S. Department of Justice after it sent a letter last month threatening to withhold funds due to Seattle's sanctuary city status. "Seattle will not be bullied—we will protect our residents," Durkan said in a statement. "We have both the law and justice on our side."

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