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Wednesday morning's headlines

Suzzallo Library.jpg
Students at the University of Washington's Red Square in front of Suzzallo Library . Will the state's Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program weather enrollment hikes and demand? The state legislature is looking at potential fixes.

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Monroe Prison Employees Faced Previous Assault
  • State Tuition Program Heading Toward Trouble?
  • Pierce County Takes Stand Against All-Mail Vote

Report: Evidence Prison Guard May Have Fought Back

Investigations into the death of Officer Jayme Biendl at the Monroe Correctional Center chapel Saturday night reveal evidence of a physical struggle. The Herald of Everett reports a physical examination of the prime suspect showed signs he'd been involved in violence. The Herald of Everett reports:

Inmate Byron Scherf had blood droplets on his clothing, “bite marks on the tips of his fingers” and what appeared to be scratch marks on one of his buttocks, according to documents filed in court Tuesday. He also had “visible blood on his hands and marks across the palms of both hands” consistent with somebody using a ligature to strangle a victim, the search warrant said.

In addition to the attack Saturday, KOMO News reports there have been other recent assaults on female employees at Monroe:

Months before Biendl was killed at the prison, two other female workers were assaulted at the jail, according to Monroe prison superintendent Scott Franke.

KOMO reports no staffing changes were made after those attacks, and that a co-worker of Biendl's says employees talk about themselves as 'bait waiting to be attacked' by inmates.


Fixes for Tuition Savings Program?

Washington’s guaranteed tuition savings program could be in trouble, threatened by rising tuition at state universities.  The GET program allows parents to save for their children’s college education by purchasing tuition credits years in advance.  The problem is, when tuition goes up rapidly, it outstrips the price of those credits, and leaves the state with a potential shortfall.

The Seattle Times' Katherine Long reports lawmakers are considering fixes, including raising the cost to parents or paying out smaller benefits in the future:

State officials are quick to note that families holding GET units today would not be shortchanged, even if there's a shortfall or if a new GET program were introduced.

A proposal this year would raise tuition by 11 % at the UW and WSU, while the GET program anticipated tuition rising by just 7 %.  


Pierce County to Vote-by-Mail Advocates: Buzz Off

As the last Washington county with some poll voting, Pierce County is showing its defiance to a move by Secretary of State Sam Reed and others to make the state all vote-by-mail. The News Tribune's Kris Sherman reports the county council thumbed its collective nose at the idea Tuesday, voting 6-1 in favor of its current system:

"If the Legislature would butt out of our business," the county would take care of it's own issues, said (Puyallup Republican councilwoman Joyce McDonald).

The resolution notes poll voting "is a time-honored tradition."  Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who oversees elections, and Executive Pat McCarthy both back the all-mail proposal. Last fall, 29,000 county voters went to polling stations, while more than 240,00 voted by mail.