Tag Archives: featured

For Marketplace: Stories on Seattle Growth

The view from Amazon’s HQ1 in Seattle is cranes, construction and luxury apartments

October 17, 2017

In a few years, the view around HQ1 has morphed from low-slung warehouses to tall, modern apartment buildings and cranes that poke out of construction sites around every bend.

Seattle increasing affordable housing through a bargain with private developers

September 25, 2017

These days, many buildings in Seattle are like crabs, molting their old shells and growing bigger. The soundtrack of demolition is everywhere: heavy machinery and falling rubble.

The city is trying to harness this growth to make housing more affordable in the long run and ensure middle- and low-income people can still afford to live in town, even as it grows. The plan, called the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, relies on an exchange between the city and private developers known as the “grand bargain.”

Seattle tries voucher system to reform campaign finance

February 21, 2017

The city of Seattle is trying out a campaign finance experiment in city elections using a system known as Democracy Vouchers to give money to candidates.

Seattle plans to use bond funding to pay for more affordable housing units

January 9, 2017

Rents in Seattle are rising at some of the fastest rates in the nation, according to data from Zillow, leaving many out in the cold. Now the city is using a new approach to fund affordable housing: issuing bonds. This time, instead of funding parking meters and police stations, the bond money will help provide shelter to people who need it.

For KUOW: Stories on the Washington State Convention Center expansion project

Convention center developers and community groups reach agreement

October 17, 2017

Seattle will get an additional $60 million in public benefits, including affordable housing and bike lanes, as part of the proposed expansion of the Washington State Convention Center. That’s more than the project’s developers had originally offered, and it’s the result of long negotiations.

Washington State Convention Center expansion still needs money and land

August 9, 2017

Groundbreaking for a new mega-project in Downtown Seattle is slipping further back. The expansion of the Washington State Convention Center is now months behind schedule, lacking money and land.

The convention center expansion project is so large – over two million square feet – it needs city-owned land, specifically, streets and alleys. But the city expects a fair exchange for the land. Developers have to show how the new buildings will benefit the public, otherwise, no city approval.

Winners and losers when Convention Center expands

June 13, 2017

The proposed expansion will cost $1.7 billion in tax dollars and stands to disrupt traffic throughout downtown. Proponents say Seattle will make more money with more conventions, but community groups are asking how the massive public investment can pay off for its neighbors, employees and the city as a whole — not just an influx of out-of-town conventioneers and the businesses they patronize.

If Airbnbs get taxed, should Seattle’s Convention Center get the money?

June 4, 2017

The Washington State Convention Center expansion project is short $200 million, so convention center leaders want to tax rental units like Airbnb to fill the gap. The thing is, the convention center already gets millions in tax dollars. Last year, it got $77 million in taxes from rooms in big hotels. When visitors stay there, the extra tax they pay can only be used by the convention center. That’s by law. And voters don’t get a say.

Still, the convention center says those taxes are not enough.

The biggest public works project Seattle won’t vote on: The expansion of the Washington State Convention Center

June 4, 2017

Is Seattle’s convention center really running out of space? It turns out, vacancy is part of the business.

Attendance numbers haven’t increased over twenty years of annual reports. Attendance hovers around the same point each year—about 400,000 people. Meanwhile, the space has more than doubled in size. Event bookers shared their calendars with me going back to 2012. I found on average, 40 percent of the days don’t have big conventions going on, especially during big swaths in the winter. Instead, smaller luncheons and auctions use the facility those days, as well as big conventions setting up and tearing down.

Reporting on wage theft prompts law changes

On April 13, 2017 Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 17-1021, which opened up wage theft violations and enforcement actions to the public. The information had previously been classified as a “trade secret” under an outdated law. The idea for the bill came from a story I did two years earlier for Rocky Mountain PBS News showing how the opaque law shielded unlawful employers from public view.

Full coverage from the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.

Colorado Losing Millions to Worker Misclassification

In these two stories I analyzed data on random audits conducted by the Division of Unemployment Insurance of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and used statistical methods to estimate the rate of misclassification and unpaid premiums to the state as a whole. The results were validated by two statisticians who are officers of the Colorado-Wyoming chapter of the American Statistical Association.

I found Colorado state lost an estimated $114 million to $124 million since 2011 and the rate of misclassified workers has more than doubled, from at least 6 percent of the work force to at least 13 percent, according to the analysis. The average amount of unpaid premiums has also nearly doubled from at least $69 to $124 per employee annually.

Taxpayers miss out on millions of dollars in unemployment payments

Denver luxury condo spurs claims of worker abuse

Delinquent mines series wins 2014 IRE award

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I’m very honored to be among the 2014 IRE award winners with my colleagues from NPR.

“Judges’ comments: “Delinquent Mines” used innovative data analysis to find that 2,700 American coal and mineral mining companies had failed to pay nearly $70 million in delinquent mine safety penalties for years or even decades. These mining companies operated more than 4,000 mines and while they were delinquent, committed 131,000 violations, exposing a loophole in federal regulation and enforcement that places miners at risk. The collaboration found human stories to illustrate the data, from anguished families whose relatives were killed in mining accidents to one billionaire owner whose mines had large unpaid fines. The stories led the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration to cite a major delinquent mining company for failure to pay its fines and then shut down the mine when the operator failed to meet a deadline for payment. The agency also said it was considering an “early warning system” for delinquent mines so that it could begin court action against them sooner.”

 

First-place winner of KCRW’s 24-hour Radio Race

“Karan Ireland thought she was well-informed, until she discovered a strange smell that changed her life.”

After a mad dash to find Karan and an all-nighter in an iHop, I was extremely honored to win the second annual Radio Race from KCRW’s Independent Producer Project with my story, “You should know what’s right next door.”

What’s this Radio Race you speak of? From the producers:

140 teams from all around the world took up our challenge to produce an artful and compelling 4-minute audio piece in one mad-dash, energy-drink-swigging 24 hour period. The result was an explosion of creative radio storytelling. Our KCRW judges narrowed down the pieces to a final 10. Then the final 3 were chosen by our esteemed panel of celebrity judges: Alix Spiegel of NPR, radio educator Rob Rosenthal, producer of the How Sound podcast, and Eleanor McDowall producer of the Short Cuts  podcast from BBC Radio 4.

Listen to the full UnFictional show here.

All Things Considered airs “Why Music Matters”

This segment was perhaps my favorite segment EVER On NPR, and that from a very long time listener. Big words, but I’m saying them. Bravo NPR. Truly spectacular segment.

— NPR.org commenter “William K” on the story, “Finding Hope, With The Cranberries’ Help”

I was honored that Weekend’s on All Things Considered picked up the series I produced for KEXP, and even surprised one interviewee with a phone call from his favorite artists. Find the stories at NPR.org.