Austin Jenkins

Olympia Correspondent

Austin Jenkins, KPLU’s and N3’s Olympia Reporter, has been covering the Washington State Legislature and regional public policy issues since 2004. Prior to becoming a public radio reporter, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise – to name just a few of his stops. Austin grew up in Seattle and is a graduate of Connecticut College. Austin’s memorable moment in public radio: “There are too many to pick just one: Covering Washington’s contested 2004 gubernatorial election, flying in an Army Reserve Chinook helicopter to the top of Mt. Rainier, spending 24-hours on a tug boat on the Snake River, the list goes on.”  You can also track all the current events at Washinton's capitol on Austin's blog, The Washington Ledge.

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Budget surprises
8:06 am
Mon July 18, 2011

Washington’s litter hotline falls to budget cuts

Washington's litter hotline is no more. The toll free number to report people throwing trash out of their cars has fallen victim to state budget cuts.

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Business
11:16 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Wash. pays JPMorgan more for electronic benefits than other states

OLYMPIA, Wash. – JPMorgan Chase charges Washington approximately 700-thousand dollars a month to issue food and cash welfare benefits via debit card. But public records show Washington is paying a premium compared to other states. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins continues our coverage of Washington’s electronic benefits program.

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Welfare benefits
10:38 am
Thu July 14, 2011

State pays a premium for use of debit card service

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington spends nearly four times what Michigan does to provide food and cash benefits via debit card. That’s just one of the findings in a recent survey of what states are paying large financial institutions to provide welfare benefits electronically.

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Law
8:45 am
Wed July 6, 2011

Report: Former Wash. DOC chief admits to affair with staffer

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s former prisons chief has admitted to an extramarital affair with a subordinate. And Seattle TV stations are airing video they say shows Eldon Vail leaving a motel with that staffer. Vail resigned suddenly last Friday.

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State prisons
6:26 pm
Mon July 4, 2011

To save money, state deporting some prison inmates early

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington has begun to deport some prison inmates before their sentences are up. The new program is expected to save $2 million a year. But the deportations have immigrant rights advocates concerned.

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Law
8:49 am
Mon July 4, 2011

Prisons chief resigns as new details emerge on escape attempt

Clallam Bay inmates Kevin Newland (left) and Dominick Maldonado.
Washington DOC

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington's prisons chief has resigned suddenly citing personal reasons. The announcement late Friday came the same week an inmate was fatally shot during a prison escape attempt.

Governor Chris Gregoire's staff says she did not ask Eldon Vail to tender his resignation.

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Law
11:45 am
Thu June 30, 2011

Cuts in juvenile parole left teen in 'Tuba Man' case unsupervised

Edward McMichael, pictured at a game in 2004, was a beloved Seattle street musician known as the "Tuba Man.” He was found dead Nov. 3, 2008 from beating injuries he received in a robbery.
Associated Press

One of the three teens convicted of killing a popular Seattle street musician in 2008 continues to make headlines for his tangles with the law. Billy Chambers – who's now an adult – was most recently locked up for hit-and-run. It turns out he did not qualify for supervision by a juvenile parole officer because of state budget cuts.

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Other News
11:08 am
Wed June 29, 2011

Wash.-Based Soldier Overcomes War Wounds, Gets MBA

Army Captain Brian Giroux at home in Lacey, Washington with his wife and six-year-old daughter.
Austin Jenkins. Northwest News Network

LACEY, Wash. – Over the past year, we've brought you several stories about soldiers struggling in their transition home from war – some have gotten in trouble with the law, others even died tragically. Today, we hear another kind of story. It's about an Army captain who battled back from a grave injury and recently graduated from business school.

As the neighbor dogs carry on, Brian Giroux drives nails into a storage shed he's constructing in his back yard.

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Other News
9:44 am
Wed June 29, 2011

Washington Secretary of State to retire

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington voters will select a new Secretary of State in 2012. Republican Sam Reed announced [today] Tuesday that he will retire at the end of his third term and not seek re-election.

Reed has held elective office for 35 years, first as Thurston County Auditor. He says he's disappointed he didn't get to usher in the era of Internet-based voting.

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Law
9:37 am
Wed June 29, 2011

Witness: Corrections “completely failed” in Clemmons case

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Department of Corrections failed to adequately supervise Maurice Clemmons from the day he arrived in Washington from Arkansas. That's the conclusion of a former corrections supervisor who's now an expert witness in a new lawsuit against the Department.

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Discover Pass
3:57 pm
Sat June 25, 2011

Fees boost price of Washington state park pass beyond $30

Washington State Parks

The true cost of the new annual pass for Washington state parks will be $30 plus fees, when purchased online or at a licensed dealer.

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Seattle terror plot
3:41 pm
Sat June 25, 2011

War crimes case may have influenced Seattle terror suspects

A federal building that houses the Seattle Military Processing Center in Seattle. Two men have been arrested in a plot to use machine guns and grenades in an attack on the military recruiting station there.
Associated Press

The Seattle terror plot federal authorities say they foiled this week may have been fueled – in part – by alleged war crimes committed by Washington-based soldiers. Court documents indicate one of the terrorism suspects referred to alleged "atrocities" by soldiers charged in the so-called "kill team" case.

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Law
10:46 am
Fri June 24, 2011

Journalist in US illegally obtained Wash. driver license

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Pulitzer prize winning journalist who is in this country illegally managed to obtain a Washington driver license – even though he doesn't live in Washington. How did he do it?

This week in the New York Times Magazine, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas revealed himself as an illegal immigrant from the Philippines. Part of his story involves obtaining a Washington driver license earlier this year – even though he doesn't reside in the state.

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Rock 'n' Roll marathon
3:14 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Wearing blue, one team runs in memory of war dead

Lisa Hallett, whose husband was killed in Afghanistan is one of the founders of Wear Blue: Run To Remember.
Chantal Anderson Northwest News Network

Lisa Hallett was cradling her 2-week-old daughter at a military family support meeting when a commander called her out of the room.

"There’s just this panic. And we walk across this big field. We're in one building, we're going to this other building and I'm like tell me John's okay, tell me John's okay."

But he wasn’t.

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State funds
3:41 pm
Thu June 16, 2011

Forecast takes $570 million bite out of state reserves

Washington lawmakers left town last month with a balanced budget and $700 million in a reserve fund. However, the revenue forecast for Washington released today erases most of that cushion.

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