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

A sign on the Central Saloon in Pioneer Square in June sums up what Seattle businesses are feeling.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle is working overtime to bring its downtown back. The loss of tourists and office workers the past year and a half left the area struggling. The city is pouring $9 million into the revitalization of downtown, which includes the retail core as well as Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square.

The affordable apartments being built by the Chief Seattle Club in Pioneer Square are expected to open in October.
Paula Wissel / KNKX

One of the main ways affordable housing gets built in this country is through federal tax credits. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which was passed by Congress as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, has been responsible for nearly 90 percent of federally funded low-income housing built in the past three decades. Now, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell wants to double the amount of money going to the tax credit program to the tune of $30 billion.

Shauna Sowersby / KNKX

Another sign that things are returning to normal: More libraries are reopening. The majority of The Seattle Public Library branches were back to nearly pre-pandemic operations as of Tuesday, including the Central Library.

The sun shines above the Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma with the distinctive hot shop cone of the Museum of Glass in the background.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

Fifty-one arts and cultural organizations in Tacoma are getting a boost to their budgets this year thanks to a voter-approved sales tax fund. Passed in 2018, the arts and culture tax amounts to one cent on every $10 spent in the city. This year, $4 million is being distributed to organizations large and small. 

A crowd gathers to celebrate the opening of the new pavilion in Occidental Park on Wednesday.
James Sido / Downtown Seattle Association

With the backdrop of live classical music, a crowd gathered in Occidental Park in Pioneer Square in Seattle Wednesday to celebrate something new in the historic neighborhood: a 90-foot timber-and-glass pavilion. Designed by Olson Kundig architects, it anchors one end of the public plaza.


orca card
Paula Wissel / KNKX

Restaurants are having a hard time finding workers. Seattle is trying to help out by providing free transit to 2,000 people willing to take the jobs in certain parts of the city.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks at a news conference in Seattle in 2019.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

A national debt collection agency will have to return $475,000 to Washington consumers. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson successfully sued the Machol & Johannes agency for violation of Washington's Consumer Protection Act and state debt collection laws.

An apartment complex in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood, built in part with city of Seattle funds, will house low-income community college students.
Paula Wissel / KNKX

Some community college students struggle to pay for a place to live. It’s especially difficult because they’re often excluded from federally subsidized housing. Cities, including Seattle and Tacoma, have come up with some solutions for college students facing homelessness.

UW Medicine pharmacist Meredith Holmes with addiction treatment drug buprenorphine.
UW Medicine

University of Washington School of Medicine research shows a drug to treat opioid addiction isn’t being used as effectively as it could be. 


Caleb Banta-Green, addictions specialist at the school and author of the study, looked at around 25,000 buprenorphine prescriptions in Washington between 2014 and 2017. He found that, on average, patients only stayed on the medication for 84 days. But he said long-term use of the addiction treatment medication, longer than six months, is necessary for patients to stay in recovery.

Gov. Jay Inslee signs a dozen police accountability measures into law Tuesday at the Eastside Community Center in Tacoma.
Kari Plog / KNKX

If you’re arrested in this country, you have the right to remain silent. Beginning next year in Washington state, you’ll also have the right to have a video and audio recording of what you say to police.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

The year 2020 was deadly in more ways than one. In addition to coronavirus deaths, the murder rate spiked. And there’s no indication things are getting better. King County, for example, is on pace to set another deadly record for gun violence in 2021. And the victims are overwhelmingly young people of color.


Children and their mom walk through a park in Seattle on Feb. 26, 2018.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

As expected, the King County Council has put a levy focused on children and families on the August primary ballot.

The Best Starts for Kids $800 million levy is a renewal of a measure first passed in 2015. It would cost the owner of a median-priced home in Seattle about $114 a year.

People take part in a rally against hate and the rising violence against Asians living in the U.S., at Columbus Park in the Chinatown section of the Manhattan borough of New York, on Sunday, March 21, 2021.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / The Associated Press

The King County Council will soon consider setting up a Hate Crimes Task Force. It would include a new four-person unit in the King County Sheriff’s Office dedicated to investigating hate crimes and two deputy prosecutors working full time on hate and bias crimes.

Boxes of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Budapest, Hungary, on April 13, 2021.
Szilard Koszticsak / MTI via AP

The Washington Department of Health is immediately pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following reports of blood clots.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

The decades-long battle over the missing link on the popular Burke-Gilman Trail will drag on even longer. Because of the City of Seattle’s loss in several recent court cases, the completion of a stretch of the trail in the Ballard neighborhood likely won’t happen next year as planned. 

That survey you got in your email or via text might be a scam.
Jenny Kane / The Associated Press file

Scammers are always looking for opportunities. Lately, they’ve been targeting people who’ve been vaccinated against COVID.

Tens of thousands of women in Washington who have vaginal mesh implants will qualify for some restitution. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has reached an $8.8 million settlement with Boston Scientific, one of the makers of the devices. This follows similar agreements struck with other manufacturers in the past few years, including Johnson & Johnson.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has issued an emergency order preventing companies from using your credit score to increase your home and auto insurance.
Richard Drew / The Associated Press file

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has issued an emergency order preventing companies from using your credit score to increase your home and auto insurance. The order will remain in place for three years after the pandemic is declared over.

Misinfo Day 2019 at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus.
UW Center for an Informed Public

As you scroll through your social media feed, how often do you stop and think, “Is that really true?” It’s a question students in middle and high school are being asked to ponder this week as part of Misinfo Day.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

There’s an election going on in King County that lets you vote with a few clicks on your phone or tablet. It’s the second year the King Conservation District is relying on mobile voting. Last year, it was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to try it, and the number of people casting votes doubled in what is usually a very obscure election.

Customer Kyung Kim, right, and her daughter Alexa Oh, 9, are handed their purchased baked goods through an open door by cashier Donna Te as they maintain social distance and wear masks Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Workers at supermarkets in unincorporated King County will begin receiving hazard pay in a couple of weeks. The King County Council voted Tuesday to require large grocery stores to pay an extra $4 an hour to employees.

The facade of the building that housed the Fenix Cafe in Seattle's Pioneer Square crumbled following an earthquake Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2001, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

Twenty years ago Sunday, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit the Puget Sound region. If you went through the Nisqually quake, you probably have a story to go with it.

In this March 11, 2020, photo, a laboratory technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, in Lake Success, N.Y.
John Minchillo / The Associated Press file

The coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa has now been discovered in King County. It’s the first time the variant, which is more contagious, has been identified in Washington. 

Tonya Isabell speaks June 18, 2020, during a vigil for her cousin Charleena Lyles, pictured at right.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Washington State Court of Appeals says a lawsuit filed by the family of a Seattle woman shot to death by police can go forward. On June 18, 2017, Charleena Lyles was killed in her home by two police officers who said she had lunged at them with a knife.

Gavels and law books are shown in the office of California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George at his office in San Francisco, Calif., in July 2010.
Jeff Chiu / The Associated Press file

Hundreds of students, professors and deans at Washington law schools say recent graduates should be granted "diploma privilege" -- meaning they wouldn't have to take the bar exam to become members of the bar. The privilege was granted to students at Washington law schools last year, but the state Supreme Court has decided not to extend it for the winter exam this month.

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Early in the pandemic, King County worked to limit the number of people in jail as a way of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. To help meet that goal, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg pledged to limit case filings to the serious felonies. Now, the prosecutor has increased filings for a broader array of crimes. He says the growing backlog left him with no choice. 

Some domestic violence survivors say they face abuse in the courts, even long after they’ve severed ties with their partner. A new Washington law, which took effect Jan. 1, seeks to stop what’s known as “abusive litigation.”

The Associated Press

The demand for COVID vaccines is great - but the rollout here in Washington is slow going. It's been a month since the first shipment of vaccines arrived, and the state has only used a quarter of its doses.

U.S. Air Force Veteran Robert Aucoin, 78, gets his temperature checked prior to receiving his COVID-19 vaccine at the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Mass., on Dec. 29, 2020.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican via AP, Pool

Washington veterans homes are giving COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff in the Puget Sound region this week, at facilities in Orting and Port Orchard. But David Puente, deputy director of Washington’s Department of Veterans Affairs, said at state veterans homes in other parts of the state, not everyone chose to get the shot.

Famartin/Wikimedia Commons

Employee break rooms can be danger zones when it comes to the coronavirus. Public health officials warn that the nature of the space and our behavior when we go on break make the spread of the virus more likely in a break room.