Simone Alicea

Business & Labor Reporter

A Seattle native and former knkx intern, Simone Alicea has returned to the Pacific Northwest from covering breaking news at the Chicago Sun-Times. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times. 

Ways to Connect

Hope for Gorilla/Flickr

School start times in Seattle are expected to change again next year, but doing it will take some maneuvering by the City Council this week.

The district school board has already voted to lengthen the school day and enact Wednesday early dismissals. Board members also want to change this year's three-tiered bell system to one with two tiers.

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

The National Park Service is asking the public to weigh in on whether it should allow cell service providers to set up in Mount Rainier National Park.

The proposal would allow providers to set up equipment in a building in a developed part of the park. Coverage would be limited to the area immediately surrounding it.

When the park service first floated the idea last fall, comments were split about half in favor and half opposed.

"edge of belltown" by Jeff Wilcox is licensed under CC by 2.0

A person has to make nearly $19 per hour to comfortably rent a one-bedroom apartment in Washington state, according to a new report from a national housing advocacy group.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition's annual Out of Reach report measures housing affordability in terms of how much a person has to make to rent average homes of various sizes.

The report ranks Washington as the 10th most expensive state in the country by that measure. Hawaii was ranked number one.

Ted Warren / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council approved a tax on sugary beverages in a 7-1 vote Monday. 

After months of debate, the council passed a 1.75 cents-per-ounce tax on beverage distributors. The drinks affected include soda, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Diet drinks, baby formula, medicine, weight-loss drinks and 100 percent fruit juice were explicitly exempted. It's unclear whether syrup-flavored coffee drinks like lattes will be included.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Like communities across the Puget Sound region, Bellingham and Whatcom County are struggling to deal with homelessness and housing affordability.

Bellingham city officials are hoping to address some of those issues in a June 13 town hall meeting. Residents have until Wednesday to submit questions beforehand about housing and homelessness.

"I think the main thing we're looking for is to open up the line of communication on one of the most pressing issues," said council president Michael Lilliquist.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Private bike-share companies are looking to Seattle to see if stationless bike-sharing might be a viable alternative to the defunct Pronto system.

Three companies with bases in the Bay Area -- Bluegogo, LimeBike and Spin -- are talking with city officials to coordinate a Seattle launch. 

Paula Wissel / KNKX

Seattle and King County have released a report on the area's homeless population that will be used by officials and service providers to determine how resources should be allocated.

The 2017 point-in-time count was taken on Jan. 27. Volunteers canvassing the county counted 11,643 people living outside, in cars, in emergency shelters and in transitional housing. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Puget Sound region is more civically engaged than other metropolitan areas in the country, according to Seattle City Club's latest Civic Health Index.

The report has come out every few years since 2011. It tracks several metrics for civic engagement, such as voter participation and charitable donations. 

Simone Alicea / KNKX

A deal has been reached between the owners, a developer and two nonprofits on a valuable piece of property in Seattle's Central District.

Lake Union Partners has agreed to buy the old Midtown Center property on 23rd Avenue and East Union Street for $23.25 million.

The property is one of the last full blocks of undeveloped land in the city and lies at the historical heart of Seattle's black community.

Elaine Thompson / AP

The Seattle City Council approved an ordinance Monday to increase civilian oversight of the police department in a unanimous vote.

"There really is unity around this," Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said. "When we do get together and we do listen to each other, we can come up with this kind of solution."

The legislation calls for additional civilian staff for the Office of Professional Accountability, the agency responsible for investigating individual cases of officer misconduct.  

"PT 511 at Union Station" by SounderBruce is licensed under CC by 2.0. bit.ly/2qzO7W8

While cities around the country debate how to deal with a future full of self-driving cars, Pierce Transit has been incorporating technology into its fleet of buses to make them safer.

Transit agencies around the state began experimenting with collision avoidance technology last year. Buses are outfitted with sensors on the front and sides that alert drivers when pedestrians or bicyclists get too close.

Ted Warren / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council is digging into how best to proceed with a tax on sugary drinks proposed by the mayor last month.

The city wants to accomplish two things with the tax. The first goal is to encourage healthier choices by making drinks like soda more expensive and less appealing. The second is to use the new revenue source to pay for programs for low-income children.

Tom Banse

The city of Seattle is partnering with a car-sharing company to install more charging stations for electric vehicles.

ReachNow is headquartered in Seattle and run by BMW. They have invested $1.2 million to install 100 new chargers in 20 locations around the city.

"That increases the density of electric charging infrastructure that makes it easier to own and use an electric car in Seattle," ReachNow CEO Steve Banfield said.

Al Grillo / AP Photo

The Environmental Protection Agency has settled a lawsuit with Canadian-owned Pebble Limited Partnership over development of a copper and gold deposit in southwest Alaska.

Two years ago, the EPA proposed restrictions on the Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region. The settlement walks back that proposal, giving the company up to 30 months to apply for proper permits and limiting the agency from pursuing further restrictions for four years.

Bristol Bay is host to a world-class fishery and produces about half of the world's supply of wild sockeye salmon.

Flickr

Seattle-based Nordstrom reported first-quarter earnings that were better than expected, but the company is still struggling to navigate a new retail landscape.

Revenues met Wall Street expectations at $3.35 billion, but sales at Nordstrom's brick-and-mortar stores are down.

Simone Alicea / KNKX

Apprenticeships are common in sectors like building and manufacturing, but now Washington state is trying to apply the model to the tech industry.

The first cohort of 41 apprentices were pinned by Governor Jay Inslee in a ceremony Friday honoring the state's only registered tech apprenticeship program called Apprenti.

Simone Alicea / KNKX

Amazon hosted a ceremonial tree planting Thursday as work continued on the large glass domes at the center of the company's downtown Seattle campus.

The Australian tree fern is the first plant to call the spheres home. The spheres will house a kind of indoor park for Amazon employees with hundreds of different species of plants from around the world.

"This is an opportunity to link nature to today's office space," said John Schoettler, Amazon's vice president of global real estate and facilities.

Simone Alicea / KNKX

Two security officers who work on the Amazon campus in Seattle say their hours were cut after they marched to the company's headquarters on May Day.

The Service Employees International Union filed a complaint Wednesday to the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of Abdinasir Elmi and Betiel Desta.

Elmi and Desta are employed by Security Industry Specialists, a California-based company that contracts with Amazon.

"This problem has been going on for a long, long time. This is not the first time," Elmi said.

Ralph Radford / AP Photo

Boeing is reporting an increase in profits from the same time last year even though there has been a decrease in plane sales.

The Chicago-based aerospace company did see an uptick in deliveries on its 787 Dreamliner and expects good prospects as it rolls out the 737 Max.

But Boeing is cutting output of the 777 jet, which has consequences for workers in Washington state.

Simone Alicea / KNKX

Since the election, there has been renewed interest in learning about how government works. 

Most high school students said in 2010 that they learned about civics in some form, according to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress in the subject.

But many adults in Washington state and around the country are finding those high school government lessons difficult to remember. 

What Washington Teaches Kids

Simone Alicea / knkx

For our show this week, we wanted to talk to someone who hears lies all the time: Tow truck drivers. That’s what Sound Effect Executive Producer Erin Hennessey suggested. She sent 88.5’s Simone Alicea to a towing company in Bellevue to talk to someone who’s heard it all.

But it turns out Erin wasn’t being totally forthcoming, herself, about the role she had cast for these drivers. She and Simone sat down to compare notes about their impound experiences.

Courtesy of Bunker Labs

A national nonprofit to help military veterans become entrepreneurs has recently opened up a Seattle chapter.

Bunker Labs aims to help veterans start their own businesses by connecting them to the resources they need to do so.

Courtesty of The BLOCK Project

A Seattle organization wants people to open up their backyards to homeless people.

Facing Homelessness is managing the BLOCK Project, which aims to put 109-square-foot homes in backyards in residential neighborhoods around Seattle to help house the homeless.

Simone Alicea / KNKX

Washington state is one step closer to a widespread earthquake warning system.

Scientists along the West Coast have been developing ShakeAlert for about a decade. It can warn about an earthquake between a few seconds and a couple minutes before it happens.

On Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that pilot projects in Washington in Oregon can now use ShakeAlert.

Until now, scientists and engineers here could only observe what the system was saying.

Doug / Flickr

About a dozen juniors and seniors from Tacoma high schools are helping build airplanes as part of the state's first youth apprenticeship in aerospace and manufacturing.

The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee launched the program last week with several manufacturers in Pierce County.

Simone Alicea / KNKX

When it comes to issues of public safety, it's usually good for neighbors to get together and talk about it.

That's what Sara Mae thought. She owns 701 Coffee on 23rd Avenue and Cherry Street in Seattle's Central District. 

She recently held a community meeting at the shop to talk about how to make the neighborhood safer. She says there's been a recent spate of shootings, which are up citywide.

But what erupted in Mae's coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon gets at the core of what it's like to live and work in a place that has been upended by change. 

Simone Alicea / KNKX

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a law that would allow for-hire drivers, including drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft, to unionize in Seattle.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik's granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday stopping continued implementation of the law until two lawsuits make their way through court.

Will James / KNKX

Instead of a property tax to fight homelessness, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he will now pursue a countywide sales tax increase.

Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Monday that Seattle and King County will coordinate to provide homeless services. 

That effort includes a proposed 2018 ballot measure to increase the sales tax by 0.1 percent.

Courtesy Eric Liu

People have been getting more involved in politics since the presidential election, calling their lawmakers and marching in protests.

Eric Liu, founder of Citizen University, says this "civic awakening" has been in the making for awhile. His new book is called "You're More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen's Guide to Making Change Happen." He argues that individuals can learn the language of power to enact broader change.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

An advocacy group will hold a public forum on Wednesday to talk about its proposal to levy a property tax to pay for affordable housing in Olympia.

The Home Fund is a project to encourage cities to dedicate funds for affordable housing around Thurston County.  

The group hopes to get a property tax levy on Olympia's November ballot to build 250 housing units over seven years. The tax would be 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and would raise about $2.2 million annually, according to The Home Fund.

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