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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9/11 Anniversary
11:07 am
Wed September 7, 2011

Slade Gorton says 9/11 Commission got to the facts

Former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton interviewing witnesses appearing before the 9-11 Commission in June of 2004.
9-11 Commission

'NORAD provided us and the public with a highly erroneous history of what happened ...'

On Sept. 11, 2001, former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton was at a conference in Leavenworth, Wash.  He'd gone out for an early morning run when he got word a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York.  He drove home to Seattle over a  Steven's Pass, which had almost no traffic on it,  trying to absorb the news of the attacks.

Gorton was later tapped to serve on the 9/11 Commission by President George Bush.  He considers the work he did some of the most important of his life.

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Storm water runoff
12:20 pm
Tue September 6, 2011

Seattle removes rain gardens in Ballard

This photo, taken in the winter of 2011, shows one of the failed rain gardens in Ballard the city is spending $500,000 to remove.
Ballard Raingardengue blog

Just a year ago, Seattle was promoting its roadside rain garden project in Ballard. Now, the city is spending half a million dollars to dismantle huge sections of it.

Some neighborhood residents say, despite good intentions, the whole thing has been a fiasco.

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cat trappers
1:00 pm
Fri September 2, 2011

Cat trappers fix feral felines and return them to the wild

A trapped feral cat waits for his medical procedure at the feral cat spay/neuter clinic in Lynnwood.
Paula Wissel/KPLU

If you have feral cats in your neighborhood, you know they can be a major headache, what with the loud cat fighting and territorial spraying. 

In Grays Harbor County, two women have taken it upon themselves to fix the problem, literally. They trap cats in order to get them spayed or neutered. They then release them back where they came from.

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Transportation
10:27 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Metro youth fares going up

Kids will be paying more to ride the Metro.
Oran Viriyincy Flickr
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Jobless benefits
6:00 am
Fri July 29, 2011

State nabbing innocent job seekers in unempoyment crackdown?

Creating and maintaining the proper paperwork while collecting unemployment can sometimes be harder than it seems. Nevertheless, some innocent job seekers say they've been caught up in the state's unemployment crackdown.
Solo Flickr

Recently, Washington's Employment Security Department sent out a news release announcing it had identified 9,000 people in 2010 who were not actively seeking work. The state said the individuals would have to pay back $23 million in benefits.

But those claims of jobless benefit fraud may be overstated.

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Attacks in Norway
1:44 am
Wed July 27, 2011

Seattle vigil for victims in Norway

An overflow crowd listens to the vigil on speakers set up on the lawn of the Nordic Heritage Museum on July 27, 2011.
Paula Wissel/KPLU

The Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard was packed last night as hundreds gathered to pray, sing and offer their condolences to the people of Norway. The Vigil of Remembrance, as it was called, was organized by the Museum, the Honorary Consul of Norway and the Pacific Lutheran University.

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Obituary
9:25 am
Wed July 20, 2011

Seattle icon and creator of icons, Bagley Wright dies

As a real estate developer in the early '60s, Bagley Wright was one of the original investors in the Space Needle.
Flickr

One of Seattle’s most -influential arts patrons and real estate developers has passed away.  Bagley Wright died of a heart attack yesterday at the age of 87, according to Seattlepi.com.

His name is synonymous with much of what makes Seattle unique.

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drug laws
5:31 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Seattle council votes to regulate medical marijuana

"Good Lord, how did we get here ..."

Seattle has become the first city in Washington to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. A number of other cities have banned the businesses outright.  The Seattle City Council decided to take the opposite approach after efforts to regulate medical pot at the state level failed.

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Regulating pot
6:06 pm
Wed July 13, 2011

Medical marijuana measure passed to Seattle City Council

A committee has passed on a proposed ordinance to regulate the sale and distribution of medical marijuana.
Flickr

The city of Seattle is getting closer to regulating medical pot dispensaries.

The Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee of the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a measure that would require the marijuana shops to comply with city building codes, zoning ordinances and fair employment laws.

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Metro Transit
11:09 am
Wed July 13, 2011

College students weigh in against Metro bus cuts

Could cuts to Metro bus routes result in more college dropouts? Student leaders at the University of Washington say it’s something they’re deeply concerned about.

Students testifying last night at a hearings in King County over a proposed $20 car tab fee argued in favor of the charge. The money would  help keep Metro busses running at current levels. Without the fee, Metro service is expected to be cut by 17 percent.

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Transportation
5:08 pm
Mon July 11, 2011

More money for street repair in Seattle

Flickr

The city of Seattle is pouring an extra $3 million into road repair. The city is using money it made selling property along Aurora Avenue North, known as the "Rubble Yard," to the state Department of Transportation. 

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Legalizing pot
6:09 pm
Wed June 22, 2011

Treat marijuana like alcohol? Initiative will test voter tolerance

Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes, center, is flanked by campaign director Alison Holcomb, left, and Mark Johnson during a news conference announcing the filing of an initiative to legalize possession of marijuana in Washington state Wednesday.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

It isn’t against the law to sip a martini. So why should you face jail time for lighting up a joint? Supporters of the latest initiative to legalize marijuana say both activities should be treated the same.

Liquor in Washington is heavily regulated. And that’s what the group New Approach Washington wants the state to do with pot.

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Metro Transit
11:49 am
Tue June 21, 2011

Higher car tab fees proposed to avoid Metro Transit cuts

Metro Transit will slash service if a hike in car tab fees isn't approved, according to King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Gary Davis

Are you willing to fork over extra money to register your car in order to keep buses running?

King County Executive Dow Constantine is betting you are. He’s urging the King County Council to pass an emergency ordinance temporarily increasing car tab fees by $20 per vehicle. The two-year charge would generate about $25 million per year and be used to preserve Metro Transit service at current levels.

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Courts
4:00 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Mistakes about race corrupt many eyewitness accounts

Null Value Flickr

If you’ve witnessed a crime, you’ll swear you can accurately identify the person who did it. But, there’s a good chance you’re wrong, especially if that person is of a different race. Still, jurors believe eyewitness accounts.

And, in Washington state, the law doesn't allow judges to tell juries about the problems associated with cross-racial eyewitness identification. One Court of Appeals judge says that's wrong.

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war on drugs
4:56 pm
Mon June 13, 2011

Former police chief says time to end war on drugs

Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper says he was once on the front lines of the war on drugs. Now he’s with a group opposing it, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Associated Press

In June of 1971, President Richard Nixon officially declared a "war on drugs."  Drug abuse, he said, was "public enemy No. 1."

Forty years later, few would call the war a success.  Even President Obama says we need to stop looking at our drug problem as a war. But, some former top cops say the President isn't doing enough to actually end the war.

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