Last Week in Politics

Top 10 Stories: New Election Polls, ICE, and Washington's Death Penalty

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Anne Dennon October 15, 2018

1. County officials plan to convert a wing of the downtown Seattle jail to a homeless shelter that will house 125-150 people a night, Seattle Weekly reported. The facility will be low-barrier—meaning fewer entry requirements, like sobriety—and remain open 24 hours a day with specialized staff to connect homeless individuals to other services.

2. A new poll shows Initiative 1634—which would prohibit local governments from taxing food and beverages—is failing by 20 percentage points, Crosscut reported. An Elway poll of 400 registered voters found that 51 percent oppose the state measure, despite nearly $13 million in backing from soda companies. 

3. Republican Dino Rossi is now leading in the Eighth Congressional District House race, according to a Crosscut/Elway poll. The survey of 400 registered voters showed far more women in the district are voting for Rossi after the confirmation hearings for judge Brett Kavanaugh. 

According to the new poll, Rossi leads Democratic candidate Kim Schrier by 10 percentage points. Among women, it's 16 percent. 

4. The Washington Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty on Thursday. Chief justice Mary Fairhurst attributed the court’s decision to the cruelty, inconsistency, and racial bias of capital punishment, which together undermine the law’s constitutional legality. The ruling’s most immediate effect: Eight men on death row now instead face life in prison without parole.  

5. U.S. senator Maria Cantwell and Republican challenger Susan Hutchison appeared at their first public debate, where they faced questions on the #MeToo movement. Held at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, the debate opened with both candidates giving their perspective on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Both took strong partisan stands; Hutchison blasted the confirmation hearings, blaming Democrats for how they handled Christine Blasey Ford's accusation; Cantwell said she believed Blasey Ford and said she thought a thorough FBI investigation was important.

6. Northwest Detention Center inmates experience “delayed or absent medical care” for sometimes serious health concerns, Seattle Weekly reported. The 1,575-bed immigration detention facility, one of the largest in the country, shows a long history of complaints about the medical care—denial of hernia surgeries, tumors growing while in custody, as well as lack of basic medical supplies such as ibuprofen and catheters.

7. Pierce County prosecutors charged a Western State patient with assault after he allegedly attacked a nurse, The News Tribune reported. Efforts by The News Tribune to obtain the police report of the incident, when the man allegedly bit off a part of a nurse's ear, prompted state and Disability Rights Washington attorneys to seek a temporary restraining order against the newspaper.

DRW attorneys asked a Pierce County Superior Court judge to require TNT to unpublish the story, which contained the suspect's name and summary of the incident; the judge declined. 

8. A Russian detainee seeking asylum in the U.S. has been on a hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center, Crosscut reported. The man turned himself in at the Mexico border in December and was transported to Tacoma, where he awaits possible deportation. As of Wednesday, the detainee had gone 50 days without food and ICE had obtained a court order for forced hydration and medical care.

9. Despite recent news of stalling rental prices and a growing housing market, Seattle continues to be one of the most expensive cities to rent in, The Seattle Times reported. The average rent in King County increased by 155 percent in the past 20 years, not adjusted for inflation. Seattle ranks as the 10th most expensive place to live nationally among metro areas.

10. Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a permit with the city of Lakewood to build new offices, The News Tribune reported. The new building will house an investigative division of ICE, which will pursue and process detainees before transferring them to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

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