Monday morning's headlines

Mar 7, 2011

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Accused Monroe Killer Was Known Threat
  • Northwest Gas Prices Spike
  • Union Claims Seattle School Board Knew About Troubles
  • Pac 10 Tourney Pits UW vs. WSU

Scherf Was Long Considered Risk to Prison Staff

Byron Scherf, who confessed to murdering Monroe prison guard Jaime Biendl, was known to corrections officials as a possible threat to staff for years, according to The Herald of Everett:

"Staff are concerned that his next victim could be a staff person," one corrections worker wrote June 1, 2001, in the running log state prison officials have kept on Scherf's behavior since the mid-1990s. 

Other observations made about the same time point out that Scherf:

..."will likely be a 'model inmate' but he will always be a danger to female staff and, as he agreed, we cannot know if he is having (rape) fantasies or problems; there are no outward signs."

The assessments came four years into Scherf's imprisonment. He's charged with Biendl's strangling at the Monroe facility's chapel on January 29th. 


Gas Prices Soar

Pump prices have risen an average of 38 cents over the past month, and increased a couple of pennies per gallon over the weekend. It all adds up to soaring averages:

  • Bellingham at $3.72
  • Bremerton at $3.66
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett & Olympia  $3.66
  • Tacoma $3.64
  • Yakima $3.48

According to KING-TV's Owen Lei, the high rates are affecting consumer habits:

"If I could buy something a little cheaper and a little more generic, I might go with that," said Lisa Winston, who was filling up at the Shell Station at 15th and Pike in Seattle.  On Sunday, that location saw one of the highest premium gas prices in town -- $4.17 a gallon.

In the past week alone, average gasoline prices in Washington have jumped 12 cents per gallon, in statistics reported by AAA of Washington. Seattle Schools Scandal Was Known to Board

The's Scott Gutierrez reports a construction trades union says at least two Seattle School Board members knew in 2008 that there were problems with the district's small business contract office long before the recent financial scandal came to light:

"The board is attempting to act like they didn't know about this until 2010 and that's just not accurate," said Dan Hutzenbiler, an attorney with the Seattle-King County Building and Construction Trades Council, who provided with copies of e-mails between school board members and union officials.

The official says they had contacted current board president Steve Sundquist and board member Harium Martin-Morris with their concerns prior to 2010. Gutierrez writes that Sundquist could not be reached for comment on Sunday. 

Last week, the board fired Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and Chief Financial and Operations Officer Don Kennedy, for their handling of the problems that led to gross financial mismanagement, according to a state audit.


Loser Out for UW, WSU

The Pac-10 tournament this week finds the fading Huskies taking on the erratic Cougars in a game that is likely the end of any NCAA hopes for the loser. The teams were trumped by USC and UCLA (respectively) on Saturday.  

Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest (and KPLU's sports commentator) writes that USC's 62-60 victory at Hec Ed on Saturday marked one of the lowest points of the season for the UW, now 20-10 and fading:

In the Romar era, it might have been the worst game to end a winning regular season. Closing at 5-6 with two home losses in the final three games, the Huskies’ swagger is gone, replaced by indecision. It’s clear that opponents have learned to slow the Huskies into a half-court game, then strangle the post players with zones.

WSU, meanwhile, is reeling from star Klay Thompson's arrest for marijuana possession after Thursday's win over the Trojans. He apologized to players and fans before Saturday's game, won by UCLA. The Cougs are 19-11. 

Thursday's game in Los Angeles will be the third between the rivals this season, with WSU winning both during the regular season.