In brief: King County says office will open early to offer first same-sex marriage licenses
SEATTLE – King County Executive Dow Constantine will open the county Recorder’s Office in Seattle early – just after midnight – on Dec. 6 to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Constantine said he’ll be waiting to sign the first license, making King County the first jurisdiction in the nation to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, based on voter approval.
Voters in Washington, Maryland and Maine all approved gay marriage initiatives last week, but laws in Maryland and Maine will not take effect until January.
Once they have their license in hand, all couples in Washington still have to wait three days for a marriage ceremony.
State’s whooping cough epidemic easing
SEATTLE – State health officials said the whooping cough epidemic is slowing down but the disease has not left Washington.
Health Secretary Mary Selecky said Washington adults and teens should continue to update their immunity by getting booster shots so babies who are still building their immunity do not get exposed to the serious illness.
This year, Washington has seen the most cases of whooping cough in more than 70 years. More than 4,500 cases have been reported so far in 2012.
Some areas of the state are still seeing high numbers while others have slowed to pre-epidemic levels.
The number of people getting their booster shots has also increased this year.
Health officials said booster shots will stop the disease from spreading again as families gather for the holidays.
WWU administrator settles complaint
BELLINGHAM – A Western Washington University administrator will pay back $20,000 to the university plus a $5,000 fine in a settlement with the State Executive Ethics Board over his frequent travels.
University spokesman Paul Cocke said the settlement with Douglas Nord was approved Nov. 9 and likely won’t affect his employment.
The Bellingham Herald reported Nord remains as a professor of political science and international relations, making $81,900 a year. He has resigned as director of the university’s Center for International Studies, which paid $105,000.
The Ethics Board investigation found that from December 2007 through September 2010 Nord was gone from campus 272 out of 716 possible working days. Not all of the travel was related to his job.
Nord did not return a message seeking comment for this story.
Portland expands plastic bag ban
PORTLAND – The Portland City Council has voted to greatly expand its ban on plastic checkout bags.
The ordinance requires all retail establishments and food providers, including food carts, to use only recycled paper bags or reusable bags by October 2013. Stores greater than 10,000 square feet must follow the rule by March.
Mayor Sam Adams tweeted the news Thursday. The tweet was accompanied by a photo from the council meeting that showed Adams posing with activists dressed as plastic bag monsters.
Adams said the ordinance is necessary to keep plastic bags out of rivers and oceans and to prevent them from jamming the machinery at recycling centers.
The initial ban that took effect last year only covered the city’s largest grocery stores and pharmacies.