Ed Ronco | KNKX

Ed Ronco

All Things Considered Host

Ed Ronco came to KNKX in October 2013 as producer and reporter for KNKX’s Morning Edition. Ed started in public radio in 2009 at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska, where he covered everything from city government, to education, crime, science, the arts and more. Prior to public radio, Ed worked in newspapers, including four years at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, where he covered business, then politics and government.

Ed grew up in Wyandotte, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.

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Temple of Justice in Olympia
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This year, Washington voters have a say in who they'd like to see on the state Supreme Court. The two justices most recently appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee drew challengers in this election. Two incumbents are running unopposed.

Hugh Spitzer teaches state and federal constitutional law at the University of Washington. He also has the perspective of having run for a seat on the court in 1998. He spoke with KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco about who is on the court, why it matters, and how he thinks about this choice.

Donna Stath, who works in the Pierce County Auditor's office, helps voters drop off ballots at a drop box in Tacoma.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Donna Stath wears a blue mesh vest with the word “ELECTIONS” on it, as she stands next to a Pierce County ballot drop box. She’s helping voters as they drop off their ballots.

A car pulls up, a window rolls down, a hand reaches out with a burgundy and white envelope.

“Hello! Thank you!” Stath says, taking the envelope from the voter and putting it in a slot just a few inches away. Not a huge distance — the voter watches as Stath puts the ballot in the slot — but it keeps the cars moving.

This story originally aried on February 8, 2020. 

Four guys walk into a bar, and what happens next is definitely not a joke.

It started when my partner David and I went out with another couple. We saw a show and, afterward, went for a nightcap at a nearby establishment. We're not naming it here because it's not important where this happened, just that it happened.

What to do about the police? That's a question being asked across the country right now, as protesters push for reform and sweeping change. It's been an issue in Seattle, too, and not just since this summer.

Traffic passes in view of a massive Boeing airplane production plant Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in Everett, Wash. Boeing said Thursday that it will consolidate production of its two-aisle 787 jetliner in South Carolina.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Boeing has confirmed reports that the production of the flagship 787 airplane will be consolidated in South Carolina. The company says the move will help conserve cash during the pandemic, when demand for planes is low.

But Jon Ostrower, editor-in-chief of The Air Current, says the seeds of the move were planted long ago, back in 2008-09, when the 787 production was just getting off the ground.

A worker processes vote-by-mail ballots from August's primary election.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

We've seen birtherism in national campaigns — the practice of questioning a candidate’s qualifications for office by raising doubts about where they were born, or their citizenship. Then-citizen Donald Trump famously raised questions about Barack Obama's qualifications for the White House. As president, Trump is amplifying unfounded rumors about vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris.

But now birtherism has appeared at the local level. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins spoke to KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco about a story he reported about a candidate in Thurston County defending herself against a birther attack.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Wildfire smoke hanging over the region has made life for unsheltered people even more difficult. The air is very hazardous, but it can be hard to access shelter space, or even just spend some time inside.

That's why some seemed eager to believe a fake press release circulating online on Tuesday that said the Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle had opened its rooms to unsheltered people suffering from the smoke.

Seattle Times reporter Scott Greenstone followed the story. In this interview, he joins KNKX to provide some context and set the record straight.

Musician Rosemary Ponnekanti plays the double bass for Pakak, a walrus at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, in late July. Ponnekanti, who works for the communications team at the zoo, composed music that prompted musical responses from the walruses.
Courtesy of Point Defiance Zoo

Walruses have a huge vocabulary of sounds. They whistle, they grunt, and they can even sound like a steam train.

But, Rosemary Ponnekanti says, they also can sound musical. 

“They make bell-like sounds and they can use their flippers to make percussive noises,” said Ponnekanti, who works on the communications team at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma. “They also get this funny, guttural kind of (sound) — I can’t even do it myself because I don’t have the right equipment in my voice.” 

In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo, vote-by-mail ballots are shown in U.S. Postal service sorting trays the King County Elections headquarters in Renton.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

A postcard from the U.S. Postal Service appearing in mailboxes across the country is causing some confusion among voters in Washington state.

The USPS mailing urges people to request their mail-in ballot at least 15 days before Election Day. But in Washington state, ballots are automatically mailed to registered voters at least 18 days before the election.

Jon Holden, District 751 president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, speaks at a 2018 news conference.
Ted Warren/Associated Press

It’s Labor Day … in a year that feels uncertain for workers. The economic pain of the pandemic is being felt across industries. Washington state’s largest private employer — Boeing — is particularly hard-hit. The company was already dealing with a crisis surrounding its 737 MAX jet when the pandemic led to a big downturn in the aviation industry; thousands of layoffs have been announced.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, center, speaks as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, left, and Deputy Police Chief Adrian Diaz, right, look on during a news conference, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Four of the region’s largest police agencies will see big changes in the near future.

Seattle police officers form a line during a protest in downtown Seattle on May 30. Seattle Police Department has been criticized for use of force during Black Lives Matter protests in recent months.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX (file)

If a police officer behaves badly enough, that officer can lose the ability to work in law enforcement forever. Decertification prevents problematic officers from bouncing from department to department.

Mike Reicher, an investigative reporter with The Seattle Times, reviewed four years of data and found police are very rarely decertified in Washington state.

Heather Beaird was part of the effort to get a statue of George Washington, the founder of Centralia, (pictured above) commissioned. Washington was biracial and his father was enslaved. Beaird says that identity has influenced community conversations.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

Ever since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, demonstrations have followed in Washington state and around the country. Most of the coverage has focused on big cities. Now, we're going to hear from someone in Chehalis.

It and neighboring Centralia are predominately white, but in the weeks following Floyd’s death, the communities saw demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

A worker in a purple shirt and mask sits in the foreground working with ballots. Another one, also wearing a mask, sits at a table far behind the first.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washingtonians are voting the same way they have for about a decade — by mailing in their ballots or putting them into drop boxes. But the people on the other end of that process have been working very differently.

Processing ballots now requires physical distancing among election workers, and fewer people in some of the secure spaces where ballots are scanned and tabulated.

The port of entry to Point Roberts, a tan building with a flagpole out front.
J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

The border between the United States and Canada remains closed to all but essential travel. The closure went into effect in mid-March and it has been repeatedly extended as the pandemic grows, particularly in the U.S.

It’s caused a lot of difficulty for the people who live and work along the 5,525-mile border. But perhaps no community in the United States is in the situation of Point Roberts, Washington.

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson moves out of dry dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, in April 2020.
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ethan J. Soto / U.S. Navy

Two people were fired and 13 others disciplined after a 10-month investigation into sexual harassment and toxic workplace culture at the Navy’s huge shipyard in Bremerton.

Portrait courtesy of Christian Sebastian Parker / Composite by Parker Miles Blohm

As a country, the United States has had previous moments where race has come to the forefront of our national dialogue, and where protests have called for change.

Politico Magazine recently published takes from a handful of experts about whether this current moment of racial reckoning is any different than those previous. They included an essay from Christopher Sebastian Parker, professor of political science at the University of Washington. 

Pierce County is losing ground against COVID-19. That’s the word from Dr. Anthony Chen, director of health for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

In a blog post, Chen said the county will pause its plans to advance in the state’s four-phase reopening plan. He said the move to Phase 2 also brought an increase in cases.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has issued recommendations on transparency when police use deadly force.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

The public, and state lawmakers, should have easy access to data about the police use of deadly force.

So says Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who released a report today outlining reforms and calling for more transparency in information surrounding incidents where police discharge their firearms or are involved in incidents that result in death or serious injury.

No crowds this year for Canada Day in Victoria, B.C., because of the pandemic. But virtual celebrations will be held.
Jordan Rockerbie / Flickr Creative Commons

July 1 is Canada Day, when the country celebrates its formation in 1867. In any given year you can find celebrations across Canada, including in Victoria, B.C., where tens of thosuands of people come to the Inner Harbour District for festivals, fireworks, and the living flag — a huge crowd in white and red T-shirts directed into the pattern of Canada’s red-and-white maple leaf flag.

Not this year, though.

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest across the country in mail-in voting — which is how Washington state voters have cast ballots universally for nearly a decade.

Washington's Secretary of State Kim Wyman often is called upon by those elsewhere to explain how the process works. She's also a Republican, and leaders of her party — including President Donald Trump — have expressed skepticism about the idea of voting by mail. (She says she'd like to convince him otherwise.)

U. S. Army Lt. Col. Shoshannah Lane, center, commander of the 46th Aviation Support Battalion, kisses her daughter Lilly, 1, as they attend a change of command ceremony, Monday, April 3, 2017, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

The top general at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is asking for new recruits.

Lt. Gen. Randy George is part of a three-day Armywide push to enlist 10,000 people, after COVID-19 restrictions slowed recruitment all spring.

LaNesha DeBardelaben (far left), executive director of the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle, talks with attendees of Juneteenth events last year.
Courtesy of LaNesha DeBardelaben

It’s Juneteenth.

The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general reached Galveston, Texas, and freed the last remaining enslaved people in the Confederacy. That was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and just about two months after the end of the Civil War.

Mailed-in ballots await counting at the Pierce County election office in Tacoma, ahead of Washington state's March 2020 presidential primary.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic during an election year has renewed a nationwide conversation about mail-in voting.

From left, Justice Mary I. Yu, Chief Justice Debra Stephens, and Justice G. Helen Whitener
Washington Supreme Court

The state Supreme Court issued a letter earlier this month calling on the legal profession, themselves included, to do the hard work of addressing systemic racism.

From left, Justice Mary I. Yu, Chief Justice Debra Stephens, and Justice G. Helen Whitener
Washington Supreme Court

The state Supreme Court issued a letter earlier this month calling on the legal profession, themselves included, to do the hard work of addressing systemic racism. 

House Speaker Pro-tem Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, presides over the Washington House, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

State Rep. John Lovick spent more than 30 years in uniform with the Washington State Patrol. He was the Snohomish County sheriff and then the county executive. He's also Black, and he grew up in Louisiana in the 1950s and 60s.

And he’s been watching and listening to the chants and the voices and the protests we've seen in Washington state and around the country over the last several days. 

He told KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco that he still believes that America’s soul can be redeemed. Hear an extended version of their conversation, below.

Seattle Central College president Sheila Edwards Lange leads a tour of the college's buildings on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. Seattle Central is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Last week, as protests began to unfold following the death of George Floyd, the president of Seattle Central College sent out a tweet.

House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., speaks as Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, appear before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.
Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press

President Donald Trump's threat to deploy the U.S. military to quell unrest here in the United States drew swift reaction and deep concern from local, state and federal leaders.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat who represents Washington's 9th congressional district, is calling for Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to appear before the House Armed Services Committee, which he chairs. Smith talked with KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco. 

Wikimedia Commons

One size does not fit all. That's the message from the mayors of Sumner and Bonney Lake, neighboring communities in eastern Pierce County with a combined population of about 31,000 people. They wrote a joint letter to Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month asking for a little more leeway in the state's phased reopening plan, especially for small businesses in their communities.