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

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

One of the most pressing questions in the debate over education funding in Washington state is about how much money should come from local school districts in the form of levies.

Voters around the state see levies on their ballots regularly, but understanding what they have to do with education can get complicated fast.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

Microsoft is suing the U.S. Justice Department, claiming it exploits the company's trove of data on customers who use its cloud-based products.

The Redmond-based company is asking the court to declare that a section of the law that governs electronic privacy is unconstitutional. Specifically, it wants to be able to tell customers when the government is investigating them.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray affirms the city's "sanctuary city" status at a November press conference.
Elaine Thompson / AP

Seattle and many other "sanctuary cities" are pushing back on the latest executive orders signed Wednesday by President Donald Trump.

The orders deal in part with Trump's campaign promise to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. It also gives broad power to federal immigration authorities, imploring local law enforcement to participate in a crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

That requirement is problem for a city like Seattle, which does not allow police or other agencies to ask about a person's citizenship status.

Henry Alva / Flickr

Trade advocates in Washington state are feeling disappointed after President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP is a trade pact between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, including Canada and Japan. 

The agreement was signed by all twelve countries, but Congress never passed it. Trump and other TPP critics have said the partnership would have been good for corporate interests and bad for American workers.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

We learn in school that the three branches of government -- the legislative, the executive, and the judicial -- are designed to provide checks and balances on each other.  

To understand what that looks like, a good place to start is the Washington State Legislature, which is being held in contempt by the state Supreme Court for failing to fund basic education.

Jeff Chiu / AP

Ride-hailing company Uber is suing Seattle to block the city's new driver unionization law.

The ordinance passed by the City Council allows taxi drivers and drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to join a union.  The city has spent the past year writing the rules for how that happens. 

Those rules went into effect Tuesday, the same day Uber filed the lawsuit in King County Superior Court.

"Welcome at SEA" by bfishadow is licensed by CC BY 2.0

A new immigration bill introduced in Congress last week could affect technology companies in Washington state.

Companies like Microsoft and Amazon often hire through the H-1B visa program, which allows highly skilled workers to come to the U.S.

Stephan Brashear / AP

Everett police are running  monthly active shooter drills this year in a vacant store at Everett Mall.

The training sessions have been in the works for a long time. But events like the deadly September shooting at Cascade Mall in Burlington serve as a reminder that police need hands-on training. 

In that shooting, five people were killed after a man with a rifle opened fire in a department store at the mall.

A King County Metro RapidRide B Line bus approaches.
Simone Alicea / knkx

King County Metro is trying out a few programs this year to improve parking access for its transit system.

Building a parking lot near transit can be more cost effective than building frequent bus or train lines outside a dense city center. But the transit agency's park-and-ride lots often fill up before many commuters can get to them. 

"Access to the system is a big piece of the puzzle," said Metro's manager of strategy and performance, Christina O'Claire.  "If you can't have access to the system ... you can't use it."

"hallway in the cherry tree inn in billings" by Bradley Gordon is licensed under CC by 2.0

Three hospitality business groups are suing Seattle over a measure intended to protect hotel workers that voters approved in November.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association, the Washington Hospitality Association and the Seattle Hotel Association filed the lawsuit in King County Superior Court on Monday.

Courtesy of Boeing

Leaders at Boeing have announced that the company will see more job cuts in 2017 in a further effort to reduce costs as orders have slowed.

Washington state's largest private sector employer has already cut jobs in its commercial airplanes unit by eight percent, according to a joint statement to employees from Boeing Vice Chairman Ray Conner and Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Kevin McAllister.

Postmates is an app-based food and grocery delivery service.
Chandice Choi / AP

On-demand delivery startup Postmates has been ordered to pay more than two years' worth of worker compensation premiums for its couriers in Washington.

The San Francisco-based company says the cyclists and drivers who work through the app are independent contractors who should be exempt from workers' comp coverage.

"Looking up Thomas towards Space Needle" by Alan Wu is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Local designers and developers are going to try to "hack" Seattle's snow problem.

The city is hosing the "Let It Snow" hackathon Thursday night to come up with better ways to communicate when conditions get icy. Thirty participants will use the transportation department's winter weather map and other city data.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Brian Schmetzer hopped off the trolley carrying the MLS champions along their celebration route, and joined fans carrying banners and following the procession.

Schmetzer grew up a fan of the original Seattle Sounders, played for the earlier incarnation of the Sounders and now as coach has led them to their first MLS Cup championship.

It felt only right to be with the fans.

"It's just the way I am," Schmetzer said. "I like being with the fans. I'm a fan, I was a fan for a long time. So it was just natural.”

A sign that reads "15 Good Work Seattle" is displayed below Seattle City Hall, right, and the Columbia Center building, left, Monday, June 2, 2014, after the Seattle City Council passed a $15 minimum wage measure.
Ted S. Warren / AP

Seattle has been a national leader in passing labor standards like paid sick and safe time, a $15 minimum wage and secure scheduling. But these laws meant to help workers can leave businesses struggling to keep up.

Wendy Gillihan owns Gryffin Consulting and helps businesses comply with Seattle's labor standards. She also sits on the mayor's Labor Standards Advisory Commission. 

Seattle Ethics and Elections Comission

Registered voters in Seattle have begun receiving notices about 'democracy vouchers,' the result of an initiative passed last year to change the way local campaigns are financed.

Seattle voters approved a property tax that is expected to raise $3 million each year for 10 years to pay for each registered voter and other eligible adults to receive four $25 vouchers. 

One woman holds up an "Every Driver Counts" sign while another holds one that says "$15 and a Union" at a packed meeting about for-hire driver unionization at Seattle City Hall.
Simone Alicea / knkx

More than 200 people gathered at Seattle City Hall Tuesday afternoon to talk about how drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft could potentially unionize.

The hearing was held to talk about draft rules the city released a couple weeks ago regarding an ordinance the Seattle City Council passed last year.  

A representative from the Washington State Department of Commerce demonstrates a pickleball paddle made from plane scraps at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Simone Alicea / knkx

A firm in Port Angeles has figured out a way to make pickleball paddles out of plane scraps.

The Composite Recycling Technology Center makes the paddles from recycled carbon fiber composites. These materials are super strong and lightweight.

When a company like Boeing builds its 787 Dreamliner, for example, it has to cut sheets of carbon fiber composites into the right shapes for different parts of the plane. But that same company may not have the resources to figure out how to recycle its leftovers.

Rick Maiman/AP Images for Starbucks

Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz is stepping down as CEO of the coffee chain he joined more than 30 years ago and transformed into a globally known brand.

Schultz will become executive chairman in April to focus on innovation such as high-end shops and social impact activities, the Seattle-based chain announced Thursday. Kevin Johnson, who was named president and chief operating officer last year, will be chief executive as of April 3.

Wash. Democratic Electoral College members Levi Guerra and Bret Chiafalo explain a plan to encourage Republican electors in other states to vote for an alternative candidate to Donald Trump.
Will James / knkx

A handful of Democratic Electoral College members are hatching a plan to deny Donald Trump the presidency. 

Four Democratic electors from Washington and Colorado are leading the effort to persuade 37 Republican electors in other states to vote for someone other than Trump.

They're calling themselves "Hamilton Electors," claiming to honor Alexander Hamilton's vision of the Electoral College as outlined in Federalist Paper 68.

Ralph Radford / AP Photo

The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that the tax incentives offered by Washington state to Boeing are illegal.

Monday's decision is the first in the latest case brought by the European Union against the Chicago-based airplane manufacturer.

photosteve101 / flickr.com

The Washington State Office of Privacy and Data Protection has launched a web-based application to help agencies navigate federal and state privacy laws.

The app is called Privacy Modeling. Alex Alben is the state's chief privacy officer and the person behind Privacy Modeling.

Justin Shearer / flickr.com

A group of neighbors near the future Shoreline light rail station is trying to capitalize on recent rezoning by banding together to sell their homes to a developer as one site.

They're doing it by using CityBldr, an online tool that uses market data and land-use information to help owners see what their property might be worth to developers. 

A North Pacific fishing boat sits at Fisherman's Terminal on Lake Union.
Simone Alicea / knkx

The fleet of boats that fish the waters off the coast of Alaska is getting old, but that could be a good thing for the economy here in Washington state, according to a new report.

Supporters of secure scheduling  march in downtown Seattle in April.
Working Washington

The agency in charge of enforcing Seattle's citywide labor laws is being expanded.

The Office of Labor Standards will be getting a boost in next year's city budget to more than double its staff. The office investigates violations of city labor ordinances and educates workers and businesses about complying with the relatively new laws.

United States Marine Corps

Researchers at the University of Washington say they may have found one way to get soldiers suffering from alcohol abuse the help they need.

A heavy drinking culture combined with the stress of deployment can mean a high rate of alcohol abuse among military members. 

Will James / knkx

Dozens of Republicans rose to their feet with a scream. Donald Trump's victory was unfolding on giant screens beaming Fox News into a Bellevue ballroom.

At a Democratic gathering across Lake Washington, news of Hillary Clinton's concession scrolled across a TV with CNN on mute. Stragglers at the hotel bar moaned, cursed, cried out in disbelief.

"She was supposed to win," said Brittany Silvas, a Clinton supporter from Seattle.

A Sound Transit train passes over a Sound Transit bus in Seattle.
AP Images

Voters have passed a $54 billion proposal that will expand mass transit across King, Pierce and Snohomish counties over the next 25 years.

As of 11 p.m., early numbers had the ballot measure known as Sound Transit 3 winning 55 percent to 45 percent. It's enjoying large support in King County, with 59 percent voting in favor and 41 percent voting against. In Snohomish County, it was winning by a slimmer margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.

Pierce County voters are rejecting the measure, though. The vote there was 56 percent against, and 44 percent in favor.

Workers move a spool for the Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma. Tacoma's growth rate in construction employment surpassed Seattle's in the past year.
"Murray Morgan bridge spool" by Scott Hignst is licensed under CC by 2.0

More people are getting into the construction industry throughout Washington state, but especially in Tacoma, according to a new analysis of federal data from the Association of General Contractors of America.

The organization looked at how  many people were employed in construction between September 2015 and September 2016.

Jeff Chiu / AP

Two recent studies from the University of Washington provide some insight into the ways drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft may discriminate against certain passengers in the Seattle area.

Researchers say there's good news and there's bad news. In one study published in this month's Journal of Transportation Geography, researchers found that app-based ride-hailing service was actually faster in lower-income neighborhoods.

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