Gabriel Spitzer

Health & Science Reporter / Assistant News Director

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.

Gabriel received his Master's of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and his degree in English at Cornell University. He’s been honored with the Kavli Science Journalism Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and won awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and Public Radio News Directors, Inc. He lives in West Seattle with his wife Ashley and their two sons, Ezra and Oliver.

Gabriel’s most memorable KPLU moment was: “In just my second week here, I found myself covering the unfolding story of a mass shooting and citywide manhunt. It was a tragic and chaotic day, when the public badly needed someone to sort the facts from the rumors. It made me proud of our profession.”

Pages

Marijuana Legalization
3:30 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

On eve of legalization, clouds still hang over pot law

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says replacing an illegal market with a legal one will take time.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

At the stroke of midnight, adult marijuana users will no longer be lawbreakers in Washington. But lots of legal questions remain about how marijuana commerce will work, where it’s legal to use and how the federal government will respond.

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Education
6:00 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Should the Washington PTA be partnering with McDonald's?

McDonald's, seen here from atop the Space Needle, is linking up with the Washington state PTA.
Han Shot First Flickr

When you think healthy eating for kids, you might not picture a Happy Meal. But local McDonald’s franchises and the Washington PTA are teaming up to encourage kids to make healthy diet choices. That’s touched off controversy among some parents.

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Education
9:52 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Washington's pot law stops at the edge of campus

Colleges and universities must continue to ban marijuana, or risk losing federal funding.
dblackadder Flickr

In just a few days, smoking marijuana won’t be much different from drinking a glass of wine, as far as state law is concerned. But in what may be the place most associated with pot-smoking – the dorm room – it will still be banned.

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:00 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Washington counties brace for same-sex marriage rush

King County Administration Building where same-sex couples seeking a marriage license can go at midnight Thursday.

Same-sex couples can start applying for marriage licenses in Washington at midnight on Thursday, and county officials say they’ll be ready.

The King County auditor’s office will open bright and early: Couples will be able to start queuing up at 10:00 the night before. County Executive Dow Constantine will preside over a special licensing ceremony for a handful of couples right after the stroke of midnight, and the office will keep operating right through 6:30 that night.

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Education
6:00 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Seattle's science experiment: A STEM school for the early grades

Students learn engineering principles by building towers out of straws and twist-ties.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Many jobs of the future will be in fields that go by the shorthand “STEM”: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. But these are precisely the subjects where many American students are falling short. Educators are responding by creating STEM-focused schools, and in Seattle officials are breaking ground by pushing that emphasis back into younger classes, all the way to kindergarten.

Principal Shannon McKinney is in charge of figuring out how to build one of the first STEM elementary schools in the Northwest. K-5 STEM at Boren, as it’s awkwardly named, is in West Seattle, but any elementary student in the district can apply for a spot here.

As the school wraps up its first semester, McKinney and her team are still working out what a STEM education for Seattle’s youngest learners should look like.

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Seattle Marathon
6:00 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Thwarted NYC runners head to Seattle Marathon

The race winds from downtown Seattle to the shores of Lake Washington and back again.
Courtesy of Seattle Marathon Association

About 15,000 runners and walkers will wind through downtown Seattle on Sunday as part of the Amica Insurance Seattle Marathon, and this year’s event will include a special contingent of runners who had expected to be racing on the other side of the country.

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Transportation
6:00 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Metro adds bus trips to make RapidRide live up to its name

Metro is still tweaking its first urban RapidRide lines. The agency will add another line next year.
Atomic Taco Flickr

King County Metro is beefing up its new RapidRide bus lines, hoping to get service up to snuff through downtown Seattle and to prevent some of the early heartburn when they add a whole new line next year.

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Charter Schools
4:02 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Legal challenges ahead for charter schools?

I 1240 passed by a narrow margin, but legal challenges may await it.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Now that charter school backers have declared victory, opponents are readying possible legal challenges to the new law established by Initiative 1240.

State superintendent Randy Dorn has been warning for some time that he doesn’t believe the charter school law would be constitutional. Dorn’s office is charged with overseeing public schools in Washington, while the new charter schools would largely skirt his authority.

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Education
6:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Mock elections, real democracy

A student at Chief Sealth International High School votes online in a mock election.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

As voters in Washington continue to mail in their ballots this week, a group of distinctly smaller citizens is weighing in online. Students across the state are voting in a pair of mock elections, giving democracy a dry run.

At Seattle’s Chief Sealth International High School. politics isn’t exactly front and center for a lot of students. Many do have opinions about the presidential race, or whether to legalize marijuana, but what about these guys Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna?

“No one really talks about that stuff at school,” said ninth-grader Janelle Barlow.

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Marijuana legalization
3:22 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Marijuana Notes: If it passes, possession is legal on Dec. 6th

“... however you wound up coming into possession of marijuana, it is not a crime for you be in possession of marijuana," said an initiative backer.
Pedro Fp Flickr

If Initiative 502 passes, walking around with a bag of marijuana (up to an ounce) will be legal just in time for the holidays … so take note, gift-givers (and be aware those of you who might think the law takes effect right away). 

Even though the elaborate state-regulated apparatus for growing, processing and selling marijuana would take more than a year to come online, simple possession would be legal starting December 6.

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Charter Schools
6:00 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Charter school initiative: How easy would it be to 'flip' a school?

cdsessums Flickr

One item on the November ballot might look familiar to Washington voters, an initiative to allow charter schools. The deja vu could be because charter school measures have already gone before voters three times, most recently in 2004. 

But there’s a key difference this time that could have some far-reaching effects, and that’s what parent Steve Nesich wanted to talk about when he testified before the Seattle School Board about Initiative 1240.

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Salmon
5:27 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Pesticide protections for Pacific salmon head to court

Pesticides sprayed on farm fields can run off into streams, potentially threatening fish.
tpmartins Flickr

An East Coast court case could have big impacts on West Coast fish, and farmers too. Chemical manufacturers are suing the federal government to get a rule restricting pesticide use wiped off the books.

In 2008 the National Marine Fisheries Service ruled a certain class of pesticides is a mortal threat to salmon and steelhead populations. Organophosphates are common on farms, and used to be widely used in gardens before regulators phased them out.

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Charter Schools
12:22 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Public education honchos gather in anti-charter schools camp

Charter schools opponent Melissa Westbrook urges the school board to come out against the initiative.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Some prominent education officials, including the top dogs in Seattle and in Washington State, want voters to reject a ballot measure that would allow up to 40 charter schools in Washington. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn is announcing his opposition to Initiative 1240 Thursday morning, the day after Seattle School Board members voted unanimously to oppose the ballot measure. Seattle Superintendent Jose Banda recently reiterated his personal disapproval of the initiative as well.

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Proprty Crime
3:59 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Vandals shatter hundreds of windows at eight Auburn schools

Staff at Auburn High School found more than 50 windows damaged by vandalism this week.
Auburn Police Departmemt

Vandals targeted eight schools over two nights this week in Auburn. The spree left some 265 windows shattered at elementary, middle and high schools, as well as the district’s pool and several vehicles.

School staff discovered the first wave of damage Monday morning. Vandals apparently armed with pellet guns had shot out windows at schools and district facilities across town. That night, the vandals appear to have struck again, doing even more damage. Auburn High School principal Richard Zimmerman says more than 50 windows were destroyed at his school.

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Business
2:57 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

A record crusie ship season in Seattle

jdnx Flickr

A record number of cruise ship passengers shoved off from Port of Seattle this year, according to Port officials. Hitting a new height of 933,900 passengers aboard 202 ships. Each of those ships generates $2.1 million for the local economy, according to the consulting firm Martin Associates, including everything from taxes to tourism to stocking the galley.

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