Tuesday morning's headlines

Mar 1, 2011

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Lakewood Explosion Investigated
  • Seattle Superintendent's Future on the Line
  • Will EADS Challenge Boeing's Tanker Win?

What Caused Lakewood Blast?

A series of explosions at a Pierce Transit center on South Tacoma Way yesterday afternoon is being investigated this morning. Compressed natural gas at fueling pumps ignited somehow, and it spread to storage units on site.  No one was injured.

The blast and fireball prompted some evacuations around the site, according to the News Tribune's Stacia Glenn:

“Upon arrival, firefighters saw lots of fire (and) had to get back at least 300 feet,” said West Pierce Fire & Rescue spokeswoman Hallie McCurdy. “It was incredibly hot, and they could tell the fire was under a lot of pressure.”

It took about one hour for firefighters to douse the blaze. Investigators with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are on site, trying to piece together what happened. Many Pierce Transit buses housed there were deployed during evening rush hour at the time.


Goodloe-Johnson May Lose Her Job

A clearer picture is emerging of how long Seattle School District officials knew of problems with a program now at the heart of a scandal that may cause Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and others their jobs.  School board members will meet today to decide her fate, a decision expected to be announced tomorrow, according to the Seattlepi.com's Levi Pulkkinen. 

A state auditor's investigation shows the district has paid out up to $1.8 million to contractors who either did no work or performed jobs that could have been handled by staff.  A small business contract program continued to operate without proper oversight, follow-up or reporting out of its practices. 

Pulkkinen reports the school board was not informed about potential problems with the Small Business Development Program for years:  

According to e-mail and internal documents released by the district, the board was not provided a chastising 2009 report centering on a contracting program run by a disgraced district employee who has since disappeared.

Silas Potter, Jr., cannot be located. Though some of his duties were taken away, he continued to oversee contract awards through June last year. The school board's follow up investigation, performed by investigator Patty Eakes, revealed what one member called a "culture" problem where employees felt fearful of speaking out about their concerns with the program.   

Challenge Period Opens on Tanker Decision

The Herald of Everett's Michelle Dunlop reports the clock is ticking on Boeing's European rival, EADS, for the lucrative Air Force tanker work to challenge the award:

The defense contractor has 10 days from today, when it was briefed by defense officials on the award, to file a protest with government auditors. "Our objective has always been that the U.S. war fighter receive the most capable tanker, following a fair and transparent competition. That remains our position today," the EADS spokesman said Monday.

The contract is worth more than $30 billion, and will create or maintain thousands of jobs.  EADS is the parent company of Airbus.