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.

Ways to Connect

Alfredo Arreguin paints a portrait of Frida Kahlo, who he says makes him think of his mother. Arreguin said his mother wanted to be an artist, but because she was a woman, was never taken seriously by the art world.
Kevin Cruff

When you call Alfredo Arreguin on the phone, you aren’t strangers for long.

Arreguin, 86, has built a reputation as a painter of bright, vibrant works – full of bold colors and animals and nature … big shots of warmth in what has, lately, felt like a cold world. His work is in two Smithsonian museums, and he’s been widely praised and awarded for his painting.

Artist Alfredo Arreguin, left, talks about his painting of former Washington state Supreme Court Justice Charles Z. Smith, standing in the middle with his wife, Eleanor Martinez Smith, and Justice Steven Gonzalez at the May 2014 unveiling of the portrait.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

When Steven González was first named to the Washington state Supreme Court, as an associate justice in 2011, he brought his family to the Temple of Justice – that large, sandstone building in Olympia where the court meets.

They were in a hallway looking at portraits of the previous justices – black-robed white men with serious expressions on their faces, staring out from the walls.

Washington Supreme Court Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis, left, reacts to applause after she was sworn in, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, in Olympia, Wash. Montoya-Lewis wrote the unanimous opinion calling for the Indian Child Welfare Act to be more broadly applied.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

More than a century ago, a Yakama Nation fisherman named Alec Towessnute was stopped while fishing near Prosser, and prosecuted for using a gaff hook, a traditional fishing method.

He cited his treaty rights, and the county court dismissed the charges. But the state Supreme Court, in 1916, reinstated them, ignoring the treaty and using racist, demeaning language.

Justice Steven Gonzalez listens to testimony, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, during a Washington Supreme Court hearing in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The state Supreme Court has a new leader.

Chief Justice Steven González was sworn in Monday as the court began its new term in Olympia. González, who is Latino, becomes the first chief justice of color in state history. He’s also the first Jewish chief justice.

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

Author's note: After the death of George Floyd, we had a series of conversations about race. This one, with state Rep. John Lovick, still sticks with me. Lovick's background — having grown up in the Jim Crow south, and a long career in law enforcement — provided a unique perspective on a moment when the nation was focused on the intersections of race and policing. I appreciated that he spoke from the heart. It's not easy to do that under the best of circumstances, let alone at such a painful time for so many people. And while there was pain in this conversation, I also heard hope. (This story originally aired June 4, 2020.)

The long-vacant Gault Middle School building in Tacoma.
Will James / KNKX

They briefly occupied an abandoned middle school, hoping to make it into housing. They dumped trash on the steps of Tacoma’s city hall, urging trash collection at encampments. And now a group pushing for better housing in the city says it plans something on Christmas Day, too.

Tacoma Housing Now protesters take over the intersection of South 15th Street and Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma on Tuesday.
Rebecca Parson

A housing advocacy group pitched a tent in the middle of a busy downtown Tacoma intersection on Tuesday, demanding the city take action on homelessness.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, bangs the gavel as she presides over the Washington Senate, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

Washington state's Employment Security Department has been hit hard during the pandemic. There was a dramatic increase in jobless claims when businesses were forced to shut down in the spring. And a crime ring used stolen identities to take hundreds of millions of dollars from the unemployment insurance program.

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Airlines have the go-ahead from federal regulators to start using the Boeing 737-MAX again. The plane, which is made in Renton, has been grounded nearly two years following a pair of deadly crashes.

Bartender Sam Schilke watches election results on television at a bar and grill Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Portland, Ore.
Paula Bronstein / The Associated Press

The predictions turned out to be true — that we would not know the result of the presidential contest on Election Night, and that there would be false claims in the meantime.

Last night, President Donald Trump incorrectly claimed victory, with no basis for doing so. At the time of his remarks from the East Room of the White House, neither candidate was close to the threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency.

To understand the national picture, we turn to a voice right here in the Northwest.

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.

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