King County Council | KNKX

King County Council

King County Council Member Girmay Zahilay speaks at Franklin High School in Seattle in February 2020.
Courtesy of King County

The King County Council is spending $2 million for gun violence prevention. The recently approved money creates a grant program and comes from a larger $94 million pool of funds for COVID-19 relief measures. 

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.

Kyle Fox / KNKX

This is part two of a conversation KNKX had with Claudia Balducci, chair of the King County Council. Listen to part one, which focuses on housing and homelessness.

In November, voters approved a change to the King County charter. The sheriff would be appointed, not elected. Under the change, the county executive will appoint the sheriff, and the King County Council will confirm the appointment.

Claudia Balducci during a Zoom meeting.
Office of Councilmember Claudia Balducci

Communities in western Washington have grappled with how to address homelessness for decades. And Claudia Balducci, chair of the King County Council, says local governments, like the one she's part of, must “start and lead with the humanity of trying to help people who are suffering.”

King County Council Member Girmay Zahilay speaks at Franklin High School in Seattle in February 2020.
Courtesy of King County

It has been an intense first year in office for King County Council Member Girmay Zahilay.

"I think I would describe it the same way everyone would describe their year," Zahilay told KNKX in an interview. "And that is: madness."

Xuyen Le, Tommy Le's aunt, speaks while Sunny Le, Tommy's father, listens in the background during a news conference Sept. 2, 2020, at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service in South Seattle.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

An outside investigator presented the King County Council with a scathing review of the sheriff’s department on Wednesday, centered on its handling of the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Tommy Le.

Le was killed three years ago by sheriff’s Deputy Cesar Molina, who was responding to a report of a disturbance in Burien. Initial reports said Le wielded a knife in the incident, but the review concluded all he had on him was a ballpoint pen.

One of the courtrooms in the King County Children and Family Justice Center.
Paula Wissel / KNKX

Just like adults, teens who are arrested are read their Miranda rights. But advocates for reform say the teenage brain isn’t developed enough to really absorb the meaning of “the right to remain silent” and “anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law.”

The Seattle City Council and King County Council are considering ordinances that would provide more protections for juveniles when it comes to the Miranda warning. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

In King County, a one-third decline in sales tax revenue has resulted in a $12 million cut to a King County fund that pays for mental and behavioral health services. The Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) funds rely solely 0.1 percent of sales tax in King County. The levy was approved by voters.

news that informs graphic
Adrian Florez / KNKX

King County leaders are beginning to narrow their options for how to spend more than $300 million for education over the next 15 years.

knkx photo

A King County audit has concluded the sheriff's office is not doing enough to safeguard its sophisticated tools from being lost, stolen or falling into disrepair. These tools include firearms, bomb-detecting robots, night vision goggles and even helicopters.

Siri Erickson-Brown on flooded Snoqualmie River November, 2015.  Of the hundreds of special taxing districts in Washington, many were set up to deal with flooding on rural lands.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

In King County, there are 100 special taxing districts, not including school districts. The special purpose districts, as they're called, operate independent of local governments, even deciding when and how to conduct elections. The King County Council is looking at possible ways to exert more oversight over them.

The King County Council is frustrated that some teens are still being put in solitary confinement a year and a half after the council passed an ordinance banning the practice in local jails. At a briefing, council members vented their frustration to the staff of King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The King County Council passed an ordinance 6-3 on Monday night, placing a six-month moratorium on building new or expanding existing fossil-fuel facilities. Tacoma passed a similar ordinance in 2017, aimed at its port (pictured above).
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

King County joins a group of Pacific Northwest communities that are stopping new fossil fuel projects before they start.

The County Council passed an ordinance 6-3 on Monday night, placing a six-month moratorium on building new or expanding existing fossil-fuel facilities in unincorporated King County.

Minot Air Force Base

If you own a gun in unincorporated King County, you could soon face a fine if it isn't properly stored away. The King County Council is considering a law requiring safe storage of firearms. Seattle has passed a similar law.

Paula Wissel / knkx

King County now has a permanent Immigrant and Refugee Commission. King County Executive Dow Constantine joined hundreds of immigrants and refugees in a signing ceremony Tuesday morning at a community hall in Seattle’s Columbia City to celebrate.

King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht
Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

(This story clarified at 12:54 pm, January 29, 2017, to reflect what less-lethal training King County Sheriff deputies have received and remarks made by the Director of Law Enforcement Oversight, Deborah Jacobs, regarding implicit-bias training.)

Soon, all King County patrol deputies will have gone through violence de-escalation training. The King County Sheriff’s Office says non-patrol officers will also be trained. It’s part of a broader initiative to promote anti-biased policing in the department.

Lui Kit Wong / AP File Photo/The News Tribune

Officials hope changes they have unveiled to the White River will help control flooding.

The King Flood Control District marked the completion of a big levee project this week in the city of Pacific. They hope to save nearby property by letting the river spread out a little.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

Are you willing to pay an extra $30  in sales tax a year to help support museums, theaters and other cultural institutions? That’s the question King County voters are being asked in the form of Proposition 1, Sales Tax for Cultural Access Program.

Seattle Aquarium Photo

Voters in King County will get to decide if they want to raise the sales tax to fund arts and cultural programs. The Metropolitan King County Council voted 7-2 to put the measure on the August 1 primary ballot.

Ned Ahrens / King County Wastewater Treatment Division

The breakdown last month of Seattle’s wastewater treatment plant has poured hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated stormwater and raw sewage into Puget Sound. Repairs alone will cost an estimated $25 million. And it’s expected to take till the end of April to get the West Point Treatment Plant back to normal. Until then, the broken wastewater facility will be violating its permit and polluting Puget Sound.


What caused the catastrophic failure of Seattle’s main wastewater treatment plant and how can the public be sure it won’t happen again?

King County Council members took emergency action Monday to ensure there’s a fully independent investigation.  

More Than Stormy Weather

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The King County Council has picked real estate developer and former lawmaker Dino Rossi to fill the senate seat in the 45th Legislative District.  The seat was left vacant after the death of Andy Hill. Hill, a Republican from Redmond, died of cancer on October 31.

Lis Ferla / Flickr

Earlier this year, a crying, naked newborn baby was found in a trash compactor in Everett, about less than half a mile away from a fire station. Now two King County Council Members are pushing for a public information campaign to let people know about the state’s 'Safe Haven' law

Tent cities would be allowed to stay longer on land in King County under a proposal before the King County Council.

Under current law, the homeless encampments are required to move every three months. A King County ordinance would extend that to four months.

AP Photo

King County Council members are proceeding with the unwelcome task of eliminating bus service. Metro already has a plan, but council members have the final say on how to parcel out the cuts in the most logical and equitable way. 

King County Metro Transit's Facebook Page

King County is through waiting on Olympia.

The county is moving forward with its own measure to avoid major service cuts to Metro Transit, King County Executive Dow Constantine said on Tuesday.

“We waited and we waited, and now time is up,” Constantine said. “We are out of time for a statewide bill that includes a local transportation solution. It is time to move forward.”

As it stands now, it's not against the law to answer nature's call in public in the unincorporated areas of King County.

King County Council member Kathy Lambert wants to change that with a proposed ordinance.

King County’s sheriff says he’s concerned that people in immigrant communities are afraid to call the police for fear of getting deported. That’s why he’s supporting a measure to limit the county’s cooperation with federal detention requests. 

The main way that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, finds people who are here illegally is through the criminal justice system. Local jails are now required to turn over fingerprint data to the FBI, which shares it with ICE. 

Jonathan Caves / Flickr

King County needs to hit the reset button on how it deals with the use of force by its sheriff’s deputies, according to an independent report presented to County Council members.

Kyle Fox / KNKX

The King County Sheriff’s Department does a poor job of investigating police misconduct complaints. That’s the conclusion of an outside audit of the department. This comes five years after the county pledged to implement improvements in the troubled law enforcement agency.