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.”

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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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If It's Legal ...
6:00 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Will legal marijuana make our roads more dangerous?

Sgt. Robert Thompson of the Puyallup Police Dept. makes a traffic stop, looking for impaired drivers.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

If Washington voters approve a ballot measure this fall legalizing marijuana, it would bring big changes – not just in the justice system, but in our communities. In our series “If It’s Legal: Five Ways Legal Pot Could Affect Your Life,” we consider some ways things could change for all of us, even people who never smoke pot. We begin with a basic question: would legal marijuana lead to more danger on the roads?

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Earthquakes
10:58 am
Thu September 27, 2012

New warning system could alert you seconds before quake hits

A pilot project shows what the quake warnings might look like.
U. S. Geological Survey

What would you do if you knew a major earthquake was about to strike in 10 seconds? Some scientists say even a few moments’ warning could save lives, and they’re setting up a system that might soon give Washingtonians time to act before the shaking starts.

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Animal cruelty
3:02 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

39 sick horses seized from Pierce County property

"Animal control and Vets work on a horse - From a flea bag hotel to the Hilton," said Ed Troyer of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.
Ed Troyer Pierce Co. Sheriff's Department

GRAHAM, Wash. – Dozens of horses were seized Wednesday from a Pierce County property where authorities said they were living in squalid conditions.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department took 39 sick or starving horses from the property in Graham. Among the horses recovered were a dozen Arabians and some stallions.

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Education
5:00 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Want to weigh in on Seattle schools' billion-dollar ask?

About 200 parents and students showed up at Seattle Public Schools' first public meeting on its upcoming levies.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Seattle Public Schools will ask voters next year to approve more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funding, and this week the public will have two chances to weigh in on the district's proposal and its priorities.

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Law
2:11 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Don’t bust medical cannabis sellers near schools, say officials

Medical cannabis dispensaries aren't explicitly blocked from operating near schools in Washington state, but they aren't explicitly permitted, either.
City of West Hollywood Flickr

Medical cannabis advocates and some local officials say the federal government should leave marijuana businesses alone, even if they sell near Seattle schools. The advocates decried a recent wave of enforcement, framing it as an assault on patients and law-abiding businesses.

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