News Roundup
6:57 am
Tue February 1, 2011

Tuesday morning's headlines

Making headlines this morning around the Northwest:

  • Another Prosecution in Afghan War Crimes
  • Local Reaction to Health Bill Ruling
  • Seattle Schools Audit: Rules Not Followed

 

Army To Prosecute Fifth Stryker Soldier

The Army will prosecute Spc. Michael Wagnon, the fifth Stryker Brigade soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord accused of war crimes against Afghan civilians. The News Tribune's Adam Ashton reports Wagnon is accused of a variety of crimes, including murder, conspiracy and drug use:

The murder charge against the father of three from Las Vegas is based on an incident a year ago that the Army contends was a staged killing.  Wagnon allegedly shot his rifle at an Afghan civilian to help Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs cover up the murder of another noncombatant.  

Wagnon is awaiting court martial. His attorney told the Trib the case against his client is weak because little evidence has been produced.

 

Local Reaction to Federal Health Care Ruling

Monday's ruling by a Florida judge that the new federal health care law is unconstitutional drew mixed reviews from state leaders.  Jim Camden of the Spokesman-Review surveyed reactions, including that of Washington's Attorney General Rob McKenna. He stirred controversy among bill supporters when he signed the state onto the suit:

“While we all recognized the vital need to access health care services in our country, forcing all U.S. citizens to buy a commercial product in the private market is an unprecedented and unconstitutional move by the federal government,” he said.

Camden reports Governor Gregoire says the issue is about fairness, and will continue to retain a state attorney to fight for the law.

 

Audit Finds Seattle Schools Oversight Lacking

The Seattle Public Schools needs to improve how it oversees school construction projects. The Seattle Times' Linda Shaw reports on the results of a state audit that found the district could tighten its belt if there were better adherence to rules:

...the Auditor's Office concluded that the state's largest school district generally has well-designed policies and procedures for managing its capital-construction program, but also found a number of instances from 2005-2008 when district staff members didn't follow them.

As a result, the audit found the district spent over $1 million more than it needed on seven different projects. The district says some of the shortcuts were taken to get construction projects moving before construction costs went up.