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Wednesday morning's headlines

Ted S. Warren
A man votes in at a Tacoma polling location last November. Pierce County's polling places are to be eliminated under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Chris Gregoire. It moves the state to vote-by-mail only.

Making headlines this morning around the Northwest:

  • Where's Spring? Snow Falls in Lowlands, Mountains
  • Farewell to State's Last Polling Places
  • Seattle Settlement Over Domestic Violence Cases

Hey, it's April 6th!

Brrr. It's chilly at sea level, and if you live in the Cascade or Olympic foothills there's a good chance you've seen some snow flakes fall, as Snohomish County has this morning. Mountain passes are getting a new dumping of snow, as April marches on.

A "winter storm" warning is in effect for the Cascades and Olympics, issued by the National Weather Service in Seattle. Ten to 20 inches of snow are forecast through late morning today; an avalanche warning has been issued. Stevens Pass has been shut twice this past week due to avalanches over the roadway. It is open for traffic this morning.

KIRO-TV meterologist Sam Argier reports our early April temps so far are way below average:

Seattle's forecast high is at 47 degrees (Wednesday), nearly 10 degrees below average for early April.


Pierce County Polling Places to Go Away

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation moving Washington to a 100% vote-by-mail state.  The last remaining polling places are in Pierce County, which preserved the option as other counties moved to all-mail voting. A little more than 10% of all votes cast last November were made in person at the polls.

The News Tribune's Katie Schmidt reports the move is welcome news to Pierce County elections officials, who maintained the two services.  It's not supported by some on the Pierce County Council chair Roger Bush, who said in a statement that he:

...thought it was hypocritical of Democratic state legislators preach free choice and then take it away because Pierce County decided to keep a system they didn’t like.

Pierce County was alone among the state's 39 counties to hold onto polling places as a voting option. The new law overrides a 2005 measure that allowed counties to choose. Bill sponsor Sam Hunt, (D-Olympia) told the Trib the law gives the state a uniform system. The move was backed by Sec. of State Sam Reed.


Questions About Handling Domestic Violence by SPD

The Seattle Police Department will pay $32,000 to settle a lawsuit over its handling of domestic violence cases.  The Seattle Times' Steve Miletich reports the lawsuit charged SPD with keeping information from defense attorneys that could help exonerate alleged abusers. 

Under the settlement, completed March 22, the department did not make an admission of liability and said it was making the payment solely for the "purpose of compromising a disputed claim." Kimberly Mills, spokeswoman for the City Attorney's Office, said Tuesday the city wanted to "resolve the issue as quickly and economically as possible."

According to the suit, citizen volunteers in a victim assistance program were instructed not to write anything down that revealed if the domestic violence victim was intoxicated, on medication or refused services.  In the settlement, Seattle Police did not admit wrongdoing, but agreed to rewrite the manual for citizen volunteers. 

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