Paula Wissel | KNKX

Paula Wissel

Law & Justice Reporter

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.

Paula's most memorable moment at KNKX: “Interviewing NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr about his ability to put current events in historical context. It’s something I aspire to.”

Ways to Connect

Vistors to Seattle Center walk along the International Fountain on a Thursday afternoon. Vistors to Seattle Center on a Thursday afternoon.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Imagine all those sounds of summer you aren’t hearing right now. That’s what Seattle artist Robb Kunz did. Then he combined those noises that remind us of our pre-COVID existence with other sounds he's collected, creating an outdoor sound collage on a glass covered walkway at the Seattle Center. It will be up through the end of July.

Temple of Justice in Olympia
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

An innovative program that allows non-lawyers to be licensed to give limited legal advice has been touted as a national model. As reported by KNKX in 2016, it was created as a way to provide inexpensive legal help for people without a lot of money.

But now, with no official warning, the Washington Supreme Court has voted to kill the LLLT program, as it’s known.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

U.S. postal workers drove around the Seattle federal building in a car caravan Tuesday, their vehicles plastered with signs urging Congress to approve $75 billion in stimulus money to keep the U.S. Postal Service afloat.

The post office doesn’t receive tax dollars. As an independent agency operated by the government, it relies on revenue from business and advertising mailers, but that has plummeted. 

Messages in support of Black Lives Matter and defunding Seattle police cover the boarded up windows of the Seattle Police Department East Precinct in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP. Mayor Jenny Durkan has called for protesters to leave.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says “it’s time for people to go home” and leave the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or the CHOP. She says businesses and residents on Capitol Hill are suffering and the area needs to be restored and streets open. Durkan didn't specify when the city will take action.

Jeff Chiu / The Associated Press (file)

COVID-19 emergency funds distributed by the state of Washington in April included $3 million for the state’s Civil Legal Aid program. Now, an additional $2.3 million has been tentatively approved for the program.

In the initial round of funding, the civil legal aid was targeted at helping workers get the unemployment money they’re due and preventing renters from being unlawfully evicted.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Gig workers who deliver groceries and restaurant meals to homes in Seattle will be getting hazard pay. The Seattle City Council approved a bill that requires companies such as Instacart to pay workers an extra $2.50 per delivery during the coronavirus emergency.

Protesters have been gathering in Seattle daily since last weekend, to protest police brutality. During those demonstrations, police have been accused of using tear gas to clear crowds.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Seattle City Council grilled Police Chief Carmen Best on Wednesday afternoon over the conduct of officers during weeklong protests. Often late at night, police were dispersing crowds with tear gas and flash-bang grenades.


Critics said there appeared to be little effort to de-escalate the situation in ways that had been done in the past. Council member Lisa Herbold, who chairs the Seattle City Council Public Safety Committee, told Best she wanted answers.

The Seattle arts community gathered Tuesday for a peaceful march protesting police brutality and systemic racism, after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Members of the arts community in Seattle are joining in the protests against the killing of George Floyd. Hundreds gathered Tuesday near the Seattle Opera House.

As musicians, painters, actors and others chanted “Black Lives Matter,” cars and trucks drove by honking their support.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

Recently, a small group of janitors gathered outside a downtown Seattle high-rise around 10 p.m. Standing socially distant from each other, they lit candles to honor a member of their union, SEIU-6, who had died from COVID-19.


More than 15 out of 7,500 members of the union are sick with the virus. The janitors say it highlights the dangers they face on the job. They say while their work is essential, it isn’t being recognized as such.

Erin Hennessey / KNKX

Every year, recreational boaters are reminded to stay safe on the water, to wear life jackets and avoid using alcohol and drugs. This time around, the warnings include tips for avoiding coronavirus.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, cities and counties have worked to prevent the spread of the disease in crowded homeless shelters. King County already has moved 600 shelter residents into hotels and has set up isolation and quarantine sites for people who are ill or have been exposed to the virus.


The county’s latest effort is a temporary modular shelter constructed on a vacant lot in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood.

Teamsters Local 117

Taxi drivers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are upset with the Port of Seattle. They say the port indicated in March that the airport fees they pay would be waived during the COVID-19 crisis. But now, the drivers have received a letter notifying them that fees are only being deferred and will have to be paid back in January.

Tomo Nakayama

Most of the news about airports these days is about empty concourses and cancelled flights due to the coronavirus. But, 23 airports in North America are changing that up today by hosting a live on-line music festival. The JetStream Music Festival begins at 3 p.m. (PDT) on Facebook Live. It’s hosted out of Austin and features musicians who, during normal times, entertain passengers by busking at airports.

In this April 2, 2020 photo, a nurse at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle holds a medical face shield prior to the start of her shift in a triage tent outside the hospital's emergency department.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Have you ever felt like this is your moment, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really make a difference? Nursing student Liam Malpass says that’s what it feels like for him right now. He’s one of 45 graduate students in University of Washington's School of Nursing who are getting their clinical experience by working with King County Public Health during the fight against coronavirus.

Passengers spread out as they wait at a screening area meant for hundreds at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Passenger volumes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were down 56 percent in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And officials with the Port of Seattle expect the numbers for April to show a 90 percent decline.

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle is among the hospitals in the UW Medicine system, which will likely start allowing elective surgeries again if COVID-19 modeling continues to show improvement.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Hospitals in Washington state are mapping out plans to once again offer elective surgeries. Gov. Jay Inslee, who halted the procedures as part of his emergency order, has indicated he may loosen restrictions if Thursday’s COVID-19 models show enough of an improvement.

The Very Rev. Steven L. Thomason, left, and the Right Rev. Gregory H. Rickel, bow to an empty sanctuary as they begin a live streamed Easter service at Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral Sunday, April 12, 2020, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

With crowds prohibited from gathering, churches and other religious institutions have had to connect virtually. This past weekend marked Easter Sunday, the holiest of Christian holidays. KNKX reporter Paula Wissel "attended" online services and brings us an audio postcard. The services include St. Brendan’s Spanish Mass in Bothell, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship in Kent, St. James Cathedral in Seattle and Our Savior Lutheran Church in Tacoma.

A King County Metro bus had no passengers during a ride through Seattle’ Pioneer Square neighborhood March 11. Elderly people are being advised not to use public transit amid the coronavirus pandemic. But some don’t have a choice.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

To avoid exposure to the new coronavirus, the elderly are encouraged to stay home. Many can turn to friends and family to bring them what they need. But for those who live alone without anyone around to help that can be challenging. That was one of the issues that came up during a telephone town hall organized by AARP Washington with public health officials.

Central Area Senior Center

Anyone over 60 is considered at high risk for the new coronavirus. As a result, a lot of community centers have cancelled activities for seniors. But, the Central Area Senior Center in Seattle, which primarily serves African Americans, is still offering meals and activities while working to keep members safe.

Protesters gather outside main gate of Ft. Lawton on March 15, 1970 after 78 were arrested.
The Associated Press

Fifty years ago, on March 8, 1970, Native American activists attempted a siege of Fort Lawton in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. Like the Indian activists who were occupying Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay at the time, the Seattle contingent was staking claim to land the federal government was going to surplus.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Free-floating car shares aren't quite dead in Seattle. Last year, LimePod and ReachNow announced they were leaving. Car2Go will be gone by the end of this month. But AAA Washington, undeterred by the other companies' failures in the city, is launching GIG Car Share in Seattle this spring.

Jose Luis Magana / The Associated Press

The City of Olympia could soon ban the retail sale of commercially bred puppies and kittens. It's aimed at preventing pet stores from selling animals from so-called puppy mills and kitten factories.

In this 2012 file photo, George Washington's signature is seen on the president’s personal copy of the Acts of the first Congress (1789). Immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens must meet a long list of requirements, including passing a civics test.
Alex Brandon / The Associated Press

The Trump administration wants to make it more difficult for immigrants to get the $725 naturalization fee waived when they are applying for U.S. citizenship. But, applicants can still get a waiver under the old system while legal issues are resolved in the courts. 

This Jan. 28, 2016 photo shows a solitary confinement cell known all as "the bing," at New York's Rikers Island jail.
Bebeto Matthews / The Associated Press

Washington is considering banning solitary confinement of young people in detention. King County already has done away with the practice.

A law being considered by the Legislature would prevent all counties from detaining people 18 and under in total isolation.

One of the glass works hidden in this year's Monkeyshines event.
Paula Wissel / KNKX

In Tacoma this time of year, under cover of darkness, people sneak around parks, playfields and public right-of-ways hiding glass works of art, called Monkeyshines, for anyone to find. Everyone involved in the project is sworn to secrecy. They say their mission is about spreading a little joy. I recently went along on a hiding expedition.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

A new youth detention center opens later this month in King County. Although activists opposed to a youth jail protested and fought it in court, construction went forward on what is now the Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center. In 2012, voters approved a $210 million levy to build the facility as a replacement for the current juvenile justice center.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Immigrant rights activists say fare enforcement officers on public transit can cause fear if people worry they're working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A flier is being distributed in King County in English, Spanish and Chinese that aims to lessen those fears.

Jueqian Fang / Seattle Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum in Seattle’s Volunteer Park will reopen its doors this weekend after being closed for three years for a $56 million renovation. There’s a new glass-walled section that overlooks the park and the way the museum collections are being displayed is completely different than in the past.

Kiichiro Sato / The Associated Press

A plan by an obscure special taxing district in King County to let voters cast ballots by mobile phone is facing push back. Among the critics is Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who worries the plan by King Conservation District to allow mobile voting in its Feb. 11 election will leave it vulnerable to attack.

In this Aug. 13, 2019, file photo a worker gets ready to pass out instructions on how to fill out the 2020 census during a town hall meeting in Lithonia, Ga.
John Amis / The Associated Press

As the U.S. Census gears up for the 2020 count, groups in Washington are training volunteers to make sure communities that are traditionally undercounted are included.

Washington state allocated $15 million to community-based groups to make sure everyone gets counted. Traditionally, immigrants and people of color are undercounted.