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 KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

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

Ways to Connect

Chris Meade

In Tacoma, tests are continuing on homes found to have problems with lead in drinking-water lines. Last week, the city revealed it found high lead levels in the water supply at four houses in the Lincoln District.

Patrick Rodriguez via Wikimedia Commons

Tacoma has been known as the “City of Destiny” for more than 140 years. While the city’s slogan has had a unique longevity (when was the last time you heard Seattle referred to as "Jet City?"), the slogan's originator is even more extraordinary.

George Francis Train is often credited with naming Tacoma the “City of Destiny.” At the very least, he popularized the slogan, using it over and over in his bombastic syndicated newspaper column called, inexplicably, “Train’s Vander-Billion Psychos.”

Finding a place to rent in a tight housing market is stressful enough. Being turned down because you are retired or living on disability can make it even worse. That’s why Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he wants to outlaw discrimination based on a person’s source of income.

Columbia Legal Services attorney Merf Ehman says she recently had a case where a landlord flat out refused to accept any tenants who lived on retirement or disability benefits because, he said, he wouldn’t be able to garnish their wages if they didn’t pay the rent.


You hear about the power of books to change lives. A Tacoma woman says she is proof. Her story of what the local library system's bookmobile meant to her is the subject of an animated short being released today by StoryCorps.


Do you have an app on your smartphone that sends you a text message reminding you to exercise? Or one that alerts you when the bus is going to be late? The federal government is also using this sort of push technology to help prepare you for disaster.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP Photo

If you bought a flat screen TV a decade ago, you probably paid too much for it. The same is true if you purchased a color computer monitor back then or even an iPod.  What these items have in common is an LCD screen and, because of a settlement reached in a price-fixing case brought by states against manufacturers of LCD screens, money is available to consumers who were overcharged. In Washington, the settlement amount to be distributed is $63 million.

Provided by Corrie Yackulic

Another lawsuit has been filed against the Ride the Ducks company, the city of Seattle and Washington state, over last year’s deadly crash on the Aurora bridge. This latest suit was filed by relatives of the youngest victim, Runjie Song, a 17-year-old from China who died in the tragedy.

Mark Arehart / KPLU

That knock on your door may be for Fido, or possibly, Fluffy. King County is sending out canvassers to identify unlicensed pets. The canvassers, who are temporary county employees, will be out every weekend between now and the end of October, sporting county ID badges and carrying pet licensing documents.

Puyallup Tribal Administration

Indian tribes in the Northwest will be getting an infusion of cash. It’s part of a nearly $1 billion settlement the federal government recently reached with tribes across the nation. The settlement with the tribes is restitution for decades of underpayment by the federal government for tribal administration of contracts for such things as health care and social services. In all, tribes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho will receive more than $204 million.

Atomic Taco / Wikimedia Commons

King County Executive Dow Constantine used his State of the County address to make a pitch for a massive expansion of public transportation. A $27-billion-dollar Sound Transit 3 tax proposal is on this fall’s ballot. Under the proposal, light rail would extend to Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood and, eventually, run from Everett to Tacoma. The completion date would be 25 years from now.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

With Democratic Party caucuses taking place this Saturday in Washington, the two candidates vying for the presidential nomination are zeroing in on the state. On Sunday, Bernie Sanders spoke to a large crowd at Key Arena in Seattle and he’s expected to make a return visit to the state later this week.  Hillary Clinton  campaigned in Washington on Tuesday.

Marco Ugarte / AP Photo

Nestora Salgado, of Renton, Washington, who was held in a prison in Mexico for two and a half years, was released this morning from Tepepan prison in Mexico City. Human rights activists in Mexico and the United States had been pressuring the Mexican government to free her.

Journalists in Washington state cannot be forced to reveal their confidential sources. It’s what’s known as a news media shield law. In a recent ruling, a state court ruled the law could apply to reporters in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. This was the first test of Washington's shield law, which was passed by the state legislature in 2007.

Ada Be / Flkr Creative Commons

A recent deadly house fire in Centralia, which killed three children of a Washington lobbyist, had a lot of us thinking about our own families and homes and wondering if we are doing everything we can to prevent a similar tragedy. I called up Washington's Deputy Fire Marshal Lysandra Davis for some fire safety advice.

Here are her top three recommendations for surviving a fire in the home:

Molly McGuire

Heroin use in King County is at epidemic levels. Government and public health officials say something needs to be done. So, they’re forming a task force.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Fifty-six former and retired judges in Washington state are urging the Washington Supreme Court to declare the death penalty unconstitutional. They signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in a case  being heard tomorrow in Olympia.

PBS 'Frontline'

Seattle’s heroin epidemic is the focus of tonight's episode [February 23] of the PBS series "Frontline".

“Chasing Heroin” airs at 9 p.m. on KCTS-TV. The documentary looks at  King County’s LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program, calling it a “radical new approach” to fighting the epidemic.

Courtesy of Peregrine Church


Next time you’re walking on a sidewalk in Seattle and it’s raining, look down. You just might see a message reveal itself.

At least that’s the intention of a 21-year-old magician who has created unusual sidewalk art. His stenciled messages are only visible when it’s wet outside.

Read the story and see a map of the artwork on >>>

You can also read an update to that story by clicking here.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More than a dozen workers at Sea-Tac Airport have filed lawsuits claiming they are being unfairly denied the city of Seatac's current minimum wage of $15.24.  The baggage handlers, airplane cleaners, rental-car wranglers and others who work in support services at the airport say they are also owed two years of back pay.

David Nogueras / KPLU

At what point does a threatening message on social media rise to the level of criminal conduct, particularly when you’re talking about teenagers? It’s something courts are increasingly having to deal with. A recent decision by the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington is a case in point.

Erin Hennessey / KPLU

Every time a cop goes out on a call, chances are good that the encounter will be with someone suffering from mental illness. It’s the reason the Seattle Police Department has trained officers in crisis intervention and teamed them up with mental health professionals.

It’s typical for someone found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to be required to submit to random drug tests as a condition of their probation. But a Port Hadlock, Washington woman convicted of a misdemeanor says such a requirement violates her right to privacy.

Paula Wissel / KPLU

In the late 1960s and early '70s, all sorts of underground newspapers had emerged from the counterculture and antiwar movements. Most of them weren’t actually all that underground, since there wasn’t much risk involved in publishing or distributing them.

But if you were in the military and you wanted to publish stories that strayed from the company line, you could get in serious trouble. That led in part to something called the GI underground movement.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A Lynden, Washington man has been sentenced to eight months in prison and slapped with a $10,000 fine for assaulting federal officers.  According to court records, Wayne Groen, 46,  intentionally drove his truck towards three U.S. Border Patrol agents last July.

And this isn't his first run in with federal agents.

Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp says we often talk about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a sole figure, without looking at the people and events he was influenced by. One of those key influences, says Beauchamp, was the death of Emmett Till on August 28, 1955.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The father of the Marysville school shooter has been sentenced to two years in federal prison. But, a defense attorney for Raymond Fryberg plans to appeal the sentence for illegal possession of guns. Fryberg’s son, Jaylen, killed four students and himself at Marysville-Pilchuck High in 2014. One student survived the shooting.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Following on the heels of President Obama’s gun initiative, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced his own executive action to curb firearm violence. Calling his executive order a “measured, modest approach” to preventing gun deaths,  Governor Inslee is directing state and local health care and law enforcement agencies to do a better job of both collecting and sharing data.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

U.S. Representative Jim McDermott, a Seattle liberal Democrat who is retiring from public office, leaves a legacy both understated and high-profile, according to columnist Joel Connelly. On Monday, McDermott announced he will not seek a 15th term in office.

Peregrine Church

When it’s pouring down rain, a certain kind of art suddenly becomes visible on some sidewalks in Seattle. The stenciled images of things like giant rain drops can only be seen when the surface is wet.  A twenty-two-year-old Seattle man, Peregrine Church, created what he calls rainworks. Now, he’s taking his idea to the world beyond the Pacific Northwest.

Paula Wissel

Have you ever had a job that was so repetitive you did little things to try and spice it up?  Apparently, that’s true even when you’re a professional musician playing in the orchestra for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s "The Nutcracker."

That's what KPLU's Paula Wissel found out when she went to a matinee performance on Tuesday and got a behind-the-scenes tour.