Paula Wissel

Law & Justice Reporter

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KPLU since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KPLU, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

Paula's most memorable moment at KPLU: “Interviewing NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr about his ability to put current events in historical context. It’s something I aspire to.”

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Privacy Law
4:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Court To Lawyers: Not OK To Secretly Record Phone Calls As Evidence

Chris Campbell Flickr

Secretly-recorded phone calls are not protected under law even when done in the course of gathering evidence for a lawsuit, law firms were told in a state court ruling.

The Court of Appeals case grew out of the surreptitious recording of a former executive with a technology-engineering firm by lawyers at the Seattle law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine.

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Crime
4:30 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Copper Thieves Leave Tacoma Streets In The Dark For Months

Some streets in Tacoma will be in the dark for at least another six weeks, maybe longer. Thieves have been stealing copper wire from street lamps and city workers haven’t been able to keep up with repairs.

The theft of copper wire is nothing new. But this winter, Tacoma has been especially hard hit. Curtis Kingsolver, director of public works for the city of Tacoma, says for the first 10 months of the year, the city had about one copper wire theft-related street light outage a month.

“But, in the last two months of 2013, we had 56 outages, so we just had this huge rash of occurances that it’s been very demanding for us,” he said.

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Legal Marijuana
11:36 am
Thu January 16, 2014

State Attorney General: Cities Can Block Pot Business

File image
Matilde Campodonico AP Photo

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says cities and counties can block licensed marijuana businesses from operating.

In a long-awaited opinion Thursday, Ferguson says the state's legal marijuana law, Initiative 502, leaves local governments the option of adopting moratoriums or bans that prohibit licensed grow operations, processing facilities or retail shops from their jurisdictions.

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Open Records
5:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Locking Out Homeless? Seattle Man Wants More Information From City

Outlets in the Armory, formerly the Seattle Center House, are blocked with covers and padlocks.
Paula Wissel

One Seattle man says he’s on a quest to expose why the Seattle Center blocked off use of power outlets in public spaces, and he is arguing his case before the Washington state Appeals Court today.

In September of 2012, Howard Gale noticed Seattle Center staff putting covers and padlocks on all of the electrical outlets, not long after the center had been remodeled and the outlets had been installed. 

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Changing Of The Guards
10:35 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Murray Appoints Veteran Bailey As SPD's New Interim Chief

Harry Bailey, right, is Seattle Police Department's new interim chief.
Paula Wissel

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has appointed retired assistant police chief Harry Bailey as the new interim chief for the Seattle Police Department.

Murray said Bailey, a 35-year veteran of the force who retired in 2007, will help implement the court-ordered consent decree while the hiring process for a permanent chief moves forward.

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Inauguration Day
4:33 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Seattle's New Gay Mayor, Socialist Council Member Sworn Into Office

New Seattle Seattle Council member Kshama Sawant, left, holds up a clenched fist as she stands with Nicole Grant, who assisted in a ceremonial swearing-in, at an inaugural event Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Seattle’s new Mayor Ed Murray and city council member Kshama Sawant promised to work to improve the city as they took their oaths of office on Monday.

Hundreds gathered to watch the city’s first gay mayor and first modern-day Socialist council member, who were among several city leaders sworn into office during a public ceremony.

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Inauguration Day
5:00 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Seattle's New Gay Mayor, Socialist Council Member To Be Sworn In

File image
AP Photo

As many as 2,000 people are expected to attend the inauguration of the city's first gay mayor and its first modern-day socialist council member at City Hall today.

Both candidates were officially sworn in during a private ceremony on Jan. 1. Today's ceremonial event is open to the public, and takes place in the City Hall lobby at 3:30 p.m.

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Drug Laws
5:00 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Proposal To Make Possession Of Cocaine, Meth A Misdemeanor

FILE - A detective in the Ocean County Prosecutors office sorts out packets of confiscated heroin Wednesday Aug. 7, 2013, in Toms River, N.J.
Mel Evans AP Photo

If you’re caught with cocaine, meth or heroin, you can be charged with a felony and face up to five years in prison. But there’s a proposal in Washington, prefiled HB 2116, to make possession of hard drugs a misdemeanor if they are for the defendant's personal use. It would also reduce the penalty for the possession of more than 40 grams of cannabis from a felony to a misdemeanor.

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Minimum Wage
3:51 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Not Yet In Office, Sawant Promises $15 Minimum Wage In 2014

File image
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Seattle’s newly-elected Socialist city council member Kshama Sawant isn’t wasting any time. At a news conference Tuesday, Sawant boldly promised “2014 will be the year of the $15-an-hour minimum wage.”

Sawant, who won’t be sworn in until January, has already been meeting with council members and labor leaders. But she says she’s also looking for support from ordinary people on the street.

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Smart Lighting
5:01 am
Thu December 12, 2013

5 Tips to Help You Look Better on Skype, FaceTime

Blandine Van de Velde optimizes available light while Skyping by using a towel-covered lamp.
Justin Steyer KPLU

There’s no question more and more people are using Skype and FaceTime to connect with family and friends. And businesses are finding the technology to be a convenient way to interview job candidates to connecting with clients.

But what about how we look staring into those tiny computer and phone cameras? It seems everyone I talk to has a story about looking at themselves on Skype or FaceTime and thinking, “I look terrible.”

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human rights
5:01 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Supporters Rally for Renton Woman Held in Mexican Prison

Grisela Rodriquez, daughter or Nestora Salgado, fights back tears as she speaks at the rally.
Paula Wissel KPLU

Human rights advocates rallied in front of the Mexican consulate in Seattle on Tuesday on behalf of a Renton woman being held in a Mexican prison.

Nestora Salgado, who was the commander of a community police force, was arrested in the Mexican state of Guerrero in August and charged with kidnapping. Her family in the Seattle area say the charges are trumped up in retaliation for her efforts to combat corruption in Mexico.

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Then and Now
5:01 am
Thu December 5, 2013

80 Years after Repeal Day, How Wash. State's Cocktail Culture Has Changed

J. Aronson Liquor sign ca. 1916.
Courtesy MOHAI

It was 80 years ago on Dec. 5 that Prohibition ended. But in Washington state, restrictions on alcohol were around long after Prohibition was repealed, and some remain in effect even today.

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gay rights
5:04 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Two Same-Sex Couples Sue BNSF over Health Benefits

Michael and Eli Hall, right, hold their marriage license certificate, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 as they talk to reporters in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren Associated Press

Listen to Paul Wissel discuss the story with Dave Meyer.
Listen to Paula Wissel's story.

Two workers are suing BNSF, one of the nation's largest rail companies, saying their same-sex spouses have repeatedly been denied health benefits even though gay marriage is legal in Washington state.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle states BNSF refused to add the spouses of locomotive engineer Michael Hall and conductor Amie Garrand to their plans.

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Sports with Art Thiel
2:42 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Thiel: No Surprise UW's Sark Leaving Job for USC

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2013 file photo, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian runs onto the field before NCAA college football game against Washington state in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

University of Washington head football coach Steve Sarkisian has accepted a coaching job at the University of Southern California, USC announced on Monday.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the news "wasn't a surprise."

“I believe I wrote when he was hired five years ago that he would last in this job until USC has a head-coaching vacancy,” said Art. 

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unemployment
1:15 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Wash. to Regain Some Long-Term Jobless Benefits

Michael Dwyer Associated Press

A worsening unemployment rate in Washington state is leading to extended unemployment benefits for some.

The state's Employment Security Department said Monday that the state's three-month unemployment rate average has risen back to 7 percent. That means some additional federally-funded emergency unemployment compensation will restart Sunday, extending benefits for nine weeks.

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