What’s news in the Northwest today:
SEATTLE — A new poll shows that 64 percent of Washington voters are likely to support a temporary sales tax increase to mitigate cuts to education and social services. The Seattle Times reports that the Elway Research sampling found 43 percent of respondents were “certainly willing” and 21 percent were “probably willing” to back a tax hike proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire. The governor wants the Legislature to place a ballot measure before voters, asking for a temporary, half-cent sales tax increase. The Elway Poll of 408 voters was taken Nov. 21-22.The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points. Lawmakers are gathering in Olympia today for the start of a special session to deal with a projected $1.4 billion deficit.
Banned players settle with gay softball group
SEATTLE — A gay softball organization has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to three players who were disqualified from its 2008 Gay Softball World Series in the Seattle area because of their perceived heterosexuality. And as part of the settlement announced today, their team will get its second-place trophy back. Stephen Apilado, Laron Charles and John Russ, sued the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, claiming they had been discriminated against. Rumors had persisted that their San Francisco-based team was stacked with straight ringers, so others filed a protest. The men had to answer personal questions in a room full of strangers and were told their claims of bisexuality weren’t good enough. The organization says bisexual players are welcome and it regrets the impact the protest hearing had on the men.
Chancellor’s home vandalized in protest of UO president’s ouster
EUGENE, Ore. — A group of eight to 10 people protesting the imminent ouster of the president of the University of Oregon fired eggs at the home of the chancellor of the state university system and spray-painted the words “The Hat” on the driveway. That was a reference to the fedora that University President Richard Lariviere sports. The hat has become the symbol of anger at the apparent plans of the Board of Higher Education to act against Lariviere this afternoon. Chancellor George Pernsteiner and his family were at the official residence known as Treetops during the egging at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, The Register-Guard reported. The family dog awoke Pernsteiner, but he wasn’t aware of the egging until later, the chancellor told the newspaper. He said he found an envelope outside and gave it to the university’s Department of Public Safety, unopened. Lariviere has said he’s being targeted because of a “difference of opinion about the future of the UO.” Gov. John Kitzhaber said he and the board lost confidence in Lariviere because he has disregarded their directions by giving raises to some employees and by lobbying for the UO to be governed and funded independently of the other universities.
Powerful PNNL microscopes need ‘quiet room’
RICHLAND, Wash. — A laboratory at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland is designed for microscopes so powerful they’ll be able to look at individual atoms. To do that, they have to be absolutely still — no vibrations, no sound. That’s why a new wing of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory is called the “quiet wing.” The Tri-City Herald reports it was built at a cost of about $7 million. Workers are installing five special research microscopes in the quiet room. They should start operating as soon as March. The microscopes are so sensitive some metal doors have to be replaced with wooden doors because the motion of the metal was detected as electromagnetic interference.
Monroe reptile zoo seeks agriculture zoning
MONROE, Wash. — A reptile zoo on Highway 2 near Monroe would like a new home for its two-headed turtle, 18-foot anaconda and other animals. But the expansion is planned for land zoned for farming, and farmers say reptiles aren’t the kind of animals they raise. The Daily Herald reports the county Agricultural Advisory Board opposes the rezone requested by the Washington Serpentarium. Board Vice Chairman Mark Craven says reptiles aren’t livestock. “Reptile Man” Scott Petersen and his landlord still hope to win a favorable zoning decision from the county council. The reptile zoo draws about 40,000 visitors a year. The planned expansion would draw four times as many visitors.
Idaho meth home law meets with mixed success
TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A 2005 Idaho law meant to publicize homes where methamphetamine had been manufactured and encourage owners to clean them up has met with, at best, mixed results. Dozens of homes remain on the list years after their clandestine labs were discovered. The Twin Falls Times-News reports renters sometimes are only told after they sign the lease that the home was once used as a site to manufacture the illegal stimulant. Twin Falls resident Monica Shaff says her landlord told her to keep the kids away from a shed where the drug was manufactured. She’s since moved out. Chemicals associated with methamphetamine are hazardous and can make such a property dangerous to live in. Recently, President Obama signed a $12.5 million spending package to help states clean up meth labs.
$184K seized from ex-Griz QB in marijuana probe
HELENA, Mont. — Federal agents seized more than $184,000 from bank accounts associated with a former University of Montana quarterback and his medical marijuana and automotive detailing businesses. The recently returned inventories filed with the U.S. District Court show that agents seized $92,600 in cash, $91,425 in cashiers’ checks, two necklaces and a pair of earrings. The seizures from at least nine accounts and a safety deposit box associated with Jason Washington are part of a yearlong marijuana trafficking investigation by federal authorities. No charges have been filed and Washington did not return calls for comment today from his medical marijuana business, Big Sky Health, or 406 Motoring Automotive Specialists in Missoula. Washington started five games for the Grizzlies in 2005 before being injured. He was kicked off the team in 2007.