Will James

South Sound Reporter

Will James covers the South Sound region, as well as housing and immigration issues, for KNKX. He came to the station from Newsday in his home state of New York. 

Ways to Connect

Will James / KNKX

This segment originally aired February 18, 2017. 

The electronic data we use isn't as ephemeral as it seems. Our photos, videos, and email take up physical space in the world.

Patty Martin knows this. Some of it ends up outside her kitchen window. 

Martin lives in Quincy, a rural Washington town that happens to house vast chunks of the internet in gigantic data centers. 

Quincy, a town of about 7,000 people in a bowl of gentle hills, was known for food processing plants that turned potatoes into French fries.

Will James / KNKX

A fee that funds services for homeless people in Washington state is scheduled for a large cut in 2023. 

Washington residents pay the $58 document recording fee when they buy a home or perform other real-estate transactions.

In five years, it's scheduled to shrink by more than half, to $28. That means a cut of tens of millions of dollars statewide for anti-homelessness programs. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 Monday to pass a citywide income tax on high earners.

The 2.25-percent tax applies to annual income over $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a couple filing jointly.

Mayor Ed Murray supports the tax and is expected to sign it into law. 

The tax is scheduled to apply to income earned in 2018, though proponents say they expect a lawsuit that may delay its implementation. 

Legal experts view the city's legislation as a test case that may determine whether citywide income taxes are legal in Washington state.

"sad pug" by Matt Wiebe is licensed under CC by 2.0 https://bitly.is/1g3AhR6

If you have a dog or a cat in your Seattle apartment, you know monthly pet rent can cost $25, $35, or even $50 a month. 

Ballard Locks
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Rich Deline's love affair with the Ballard Locks started decades ago, as he walked the gardens as a forestry student at the University of Washington.  

It persists to this day. 

Will James / KNKX

The Trump administration’s travel restrictions are causing complications for refugees and groups that resettle them in the Seattle area.

"TASER" by cea + is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2tm3SSA

Tacoma City Council members voted Tuesday to lift an 11-year ban on electroshock weapons, including stun guns and Tasers.

The policy change came amid pressure from a gun rights group and doubts about whether the city's ban would hold up in court.

ALLIE FERGUSON / KNKX

The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to move forward with part of its travel ban while a court case is pending.

The decision came down Monday. This week, legal experts are scrambling to figure out what a partial ban means for immigrants and refugees headed to Washington state.

Will James / KNKX

Tacoma officials are at a critical point in their new plan to manage homelessness.

This week, city leaders are attempting to move an entire encampment of homeless people to a new site overseen by the city, much of which will be covered by a gigantic tent.

That means convincing dozens of people to voluntarily pack their belongings, abandon their shelters, and accept the rules of the sanctioned encampment, located a mile away.

Will James / KNKX

A vigil for Charleena Lyles turned into a rallying cry for family members, neighbors, and hundreds of other residents who demanded answers about her death.

Mourners crowded a square outside Lyles's apartment complex Tuesday evening, two days after she was shot in her apartment by two Seattle Police officers. Lyles was black and the two officers are white. 

"I just want to grieve right now," said Lyles's younger sister, Tiffany Rogers. "I can't even do that because I'm so angry. I'm scared of our so-called protectors. I was before, but I definitely am now."

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

What was billed as a "free speech" rally at the Evergreen State College turned into yet another West Coast showdown between conservative activists and hooded members of the "antifa" or anti-fascist movement.

Several dozen members of the conservative group Patriot Prayer gathered Thursday evening to make a statement against what they view as liberal intolerance on the Olympia campus.

Will James / KNKX

Several dozen right-leaning protestors gathered in front of Seattle City Hall this weekend for what was billed as a rally against traditional Islamic law, or Sharia. 

In this progressive stronghold, they were quickly met by a much larger counter-protest of several hundred people opposing what they saw as forces of intolerance in their city.

The counter-march drew mainstream liberals and Muslims, but also masked and hooded "antifa" activists and self-described anarchists. 

Courtesy of The Evergreen State College

 

As protests overtook the Evergreen State College last month, students watched their school become a national symbol of campus radicalism.

Videos circulated of students shouting down professors and administrators amidst protests around race and equality. That attention led to threats of violence that shut down the Olympia campus for three days.

Courtesy of the Greg Kucera Gallery

The first things you notice upon stepping into Greg Kucera's art gallery in Seattle's Pioneer Square are gigantic oil paintings of Hispanic men standing in their work clothes or sitting on luggage. 

The portraits are by the artist John Sonsini, who picks up day laborers and pays them to sit in his Los Angeles studio. Those workers then find their images hanging in some prominent places.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

 

In countries like China and South Korea, internet and video game addiction is seen as a major public health threat, capable of ruining lives.

But here in the United States, just two or three centers in the whole country are devoted to treating the issue, which American psychology doesn’t officially recognize as an addiction.

Will James / KNKX

The city of Seattle is facing a lawsuit from a group of landlords challenging one of the city’s most recent protections for tenants. 

Leaders of the Rental Housing Association of Washington say the City Council violated the state constitution's ban on rent control when it capped the amount of money landlords can charge for a security deposit and other move-in fees.

Lawyers representing the association filed the lawsuit Tuesday in King County Superior Court. 

Will James / KNKX

Tacoma officials' plan to reduce the impacts of homelessness on public health began this month with the installation of a water line and portable toilets at one of the city's largest encampments.

But those amenities are scheduled to be on-site for six weeks at most. City leaders are still figuring out exactly what happens next. 

Will James / KNKX

Water and bathroom facilities are making life a little more bearable for people who live in one of Tacoma's largest encampments of homeless people.

City officials installed a water line and spigot last week, along with a row of portable toilets and sinks, near a few dozen tents and makeshift shelters in Tacoma's tideflats.

It represents a shift in the way Tacoma leaders manage a growing homeless population. Instead of forcing people off vacant lots like this, they say they are trying to make conditions cleaner and safer while they work toward longer-term solutions. 

Courtesy of the City of Tacoma

Tacoma's new poet laureate, Kellie Richardson,  says her writing is laced with explorations of identity, and how different identities intersect. Sometimes, that means exploring her identities as an African-American woman, a mother, an activist, and a Christian.

Lately, she's also been thinking a lot about the identity of the city where she was born and raised. That includes "what gentrification continues to do" but also "having kids, and being able to see their journey's in the city versus mine." 

Courtesy of city of Tacoma

After a nationwide search for a new city manager, Tacoma leaders chose someone close to home.

Courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library http://bit.ly/2pRsmhM

Tacoma was once home to vibrant Japanese-American neighborhood full of photo studios, barbershops, and families. That was before almost 900 people of Japanese ancestry were forcibly removed from the city 75 years ago this week. 

"20040812 08 Tacoma, WA" by David Wilson is licensed under CC by 2.0. http://bit.ly/2qKMFkJ

The University of Washington is preparing to turn students into government consultants for the city of Tacoma.

That's the next subject of the university’s Livable City Year program, which pairs students with government officials for an academic year to help study and shape policy.

PAULA WISSEL / KNKX

Tacoma leaders are signaling a shift in strategy in their fight against homelessness.

City Council members passed a resolution Tuesday calling for an "emergency temporary aid and shelter program." They said it may involve providing trash pickup and sanitation services to homeless people living in encampments -- or even creating a sanctioned tent city for the homeless. 

"The School" by Eric Frommer is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2p8KNRc

Tacoma Public Schools, once labeled "dropout factories," posted record-high graduation rates last year that beat statewide averages.

That's according to a report released Friday by the nonprofit Foundation for Tacoma Students. The group formed in 2010, the year a dismal 55 percent of the city's students finished high school in four years.

Washington State Patrol via AP, File

The man accused in September's mass shooting in a Burlington mall died in jail Sunday evening of what appears to be suicide, authorities said.

Arcan Cetin, 20, was found hanging in his Snohomish County jail cell shortly before 7 p.m.

Cetin was accused of killing five people with a hunting-style rifle in a Macy's store in the Cascade Mall on Sept. 23. Police captured him near his Oak Harbor apartment following a 24-hour manhunt. 

"House of Representatives chamber in Washington State Capitol" by SounderBruce is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2oIa9Wh

Washington is one of the few states in the country where legislative power is split between two political parties.

That means getting things done comes down to the art of the deal.

Right now, Republicans and Democrats in Olympia are locked in negotiations over one of the most consequential issues facing the state: How to fund education

"Airborne - Auburn, Washington" by brewbooks is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2nnpDPO

When Ali Modarres looks at a map, he doesn’t see a line dividing King County and Pierce County. Instead, the urban studies professor sees the booming area right around Seattle as one region and everything to the south, from SeaTac in King County down through Pierce County, as another.

That latter area is what he defines as the South Sound. Southern King County, he said, has more in common economically and demographically with Pierce County than it does with Seattle and Bellevue.

"Bobby Seale" by Peizes is licensed under CC by 2.0 bit.ly/2oL0AWK

More than 50 years have passed since Bobby Seale co-founded the Black Panther Party.

But the lessons of 1960s political movements still apply today, Seale said in an interview this week, before he delivered a lecture on activism at the University of Washington Tacoma. 

PAULA WISSEL / KNKX

Pierce County's social services seem to be keeping pace with a growing homelessness problem, but they aren’t making headway.

That’s one conclusion from the county’s annual census of homeless people, the results of which were released this week. 

Tess Colby, who oversees Pierce County’s homelessness programs, said the county is getting better at moving people into housing.  

"Tacoma SR509 bridge" by Cheryl Marland is licensed under CC by 2.0

Pierce County is growing, but some say it's not the right kind of growth. 

The population is surging. But much of that growth is driven by King County ex-pats seeking cheaper housing.

Nearly half of Pierce County's workers commute to jobs outside the county, many of them to Seattle.

The new Pierce County executive, Bruce Dammeier, says fighting that trend is his first order of business.

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