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Wednesday morning's headlines

Ian Birk.jpg
Greg Gilbert
Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk, left, and his wife Camille Birk talk with Birk's attorney Ted Buck during the coroner's inquest jury verdict on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Seattle.

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • No Charges in Woodcarver Shooting
  • Vulcan hired to re-develop Bothell
  • Monroe Weighs Schools Consolidation
  • Seattle Fireworks Show Needs Cash - Again

Seattle Officer Won't be Charged in Williams Slaying; Could be Fired

The King County Prosecutor's Office has decided not to file criminal charges against the Seattle Police officer who shot and killed a Native American woodcarver last year. An official announcement is expected today from the Prosecutor's Office.

The decision comes after an inquest jury was split on whether officer Ian Birk was in imminent danger when he fatally shot John T. Williams last August. The homeless woodcarver was crossing a downtown street when he was spotted by Birk and ordered to drop the knife. Evidence presented at the inquest showed about four seconds elapsed between Birk's first command and when he fired.

Even though officer Birk reportedly won't face criminal charges, he could still be fired. Sources tell The Seattle Times that the police department's Firearms Review Board has reached a final decision that the shooting was not justified. That announcement is expected from Chief John Diaz today.


Bothell Hires Paul Allen's Vulcan to Develop Downtown

The real estate company that’s been re-shaping Seattle’s South Lake Union has been hired to help the town of Bothell do the same on the north end of Lake Washington. Paul Allen’s Vulcan Real Estate will re-develop Bothell’s city hall and one full block of real estate. The town’s mayor tells the Seattle Times they want to create a compact, walkable destination for people. Last year, Bothell hired Portland’s McMenamin’s chain to transform an old school in its downtown into a hotel and entertainment complex. 


Monroe Schools May Consolidate to Ease Budget Woes

The Monroe School District is considering consolidating several schools to save $2-million dollars. Enrollment has been dropping - this year by 50 students, which translates into a quarter-million dollar cut in state funding, according to The Herald of Everett. To make up for the loss, the district would fill under-populated schools and close down others.

Herald writer Alejandro Dominguez reports that the savings will come from not hiring some full-time staff, such as principals. Teacher's jobs would not be at risk, for now.

“The teachers will follow the students, but this could change (once) we see how many teachers are needed,” district spokeswoman Rosemary O'Neil said.

The 7,847- student Monroe district is also facing a budget deficit, like most districts in the state, due to funding cuts. The school board is scheduled to make a decision at its Feb. 28th meeting.


Seattle 4th of July Fireworks Show Needs $157K by March

The annual Fourth of July fireworks show on Seattle’s Lake Union is once again short  of funds. The huge show draws thousands of people to the hillsides surrounding the lake near downtown. Organizers say they still need 157-thousand dollars, according to the Seattle Times. That’s after securing Microsoft and Starbucks as primary sponsors. The show has been on shaky ground since losing its biggest sponsor when Washington Mutual Bank collapsed in 2008. Last year, it was saved at the last minute with hundreds of small donations. The group One Reel has two weeks to raise the remaining funds and has set up a website for taking donations.