day : 29/01/2009 13 results

Seattle Public Schools closure vote, as it happened (video added)

(12:42 am note: Video clips have been added to the coverage below, at the spots relevant to when they were shot. Also: Here’s the official district news release)

8:34 PM UPDATE: It’s all over – including the shouting. Just small groups talking, hugging in the hallway (video clip above, added 8:47). Topline to everything below: The closure plan passes largely as-is, with Cooper Elementary‘s program to close, Cooper’s building to become the new home of Pathfinder K-8, the once-closed building that has housed Pathfinder for more than a decade – Genesee Hill – to be shuttered. All this takes effect as of the next school year, and planning/transitioning/communicating is to begin immediately.

8:02 PM UPDATE: Bass has said she wishes there were more time, to work out a better plan. The final vote is getting closer. Bass says after this, she wants to speak with anyone and everyone about the assignment plan. She says it’s leadership to stand alone sometimes. She says she wanted to give money to Pathfinder over Sealth (and other things), but “it wasn’t popular.” Final closure vote (with no changes to buildings/programs that were to be changed/closed): 2 no 5 yes. Most of the crowd is leaving and heading out into the hallway, chanting – there was some yelling here in the main room too. Police are hovering. People are shouting hey hey, ho ho, school board members have got to go. You will be able to see that part on the TV newscasts – we’re staying put in case something actually happens in here informationally. (Added 9:15 pm – our clip from the departure of most of the crowd members, before those last pieces of the proposal were voted on)

The voting isn’t over yet – there are policy votes that have to be made in order to facilitate the main motion. There are people in the audience in here saying “Honor the 2006 Board member to the SBOC” (photo added above); now cheering in the hallway. Police and security have not all left the main area here. The chanting in the foyer has moved on to “these closures are racist.” The first of the accompanying motions has passed. Now, the motion that merges what will be the former Cooper reference area into the Sanislo reference area. (“Sanislo is full!” came a shout from the audience, which is true.) Motion passes. Meeting over.

7:51 PM UPDATE: Now, to the final vote on the official plan, which, for West Seattle, now remains: Cooper Elementary program closes (autism programs stay in the building), Pathfinder K-8 moves into Cooper’s building, Genesee Hill building closes. West Seattle APP elementary students would be reassigned to Thurgood Marshall, where approximately half the current APP elementary population will move (the other half remaining at Lowell). The board members are now making their final statements, Chow first, “now is the time” for action; must deal with “brutal facts.” Crowd now shouting. Chow is shouting to some degree, too, particularly the phrase “25-million-dollar deficit.” It’s clear she will vote yes. Sundquist has just made a speech, saying he too isn’t happy about Cooper, but that it’s time to finally move on with getting Pathfinder into another building. (here’s the clip – with heckling throughout)

Now Mary Bass is crying – she says she tried not to lose her composure.

7:41 PM UPDATE: Final amendment of the night before the final vote – Maier proposes granting “priority assignment” to students who, because of the eventual vote, will not be able to attend their current schools next year. By the way, if you’re having trouble keeping score, so far the “final recommendations” have not been altered – the only amendments that have passed affect some of the side effects of the potential eventual vote. And again, Martin-Morris and Bass vote no on this. It’s been a 5-2 split on everything.

7:32 PM UPDATE: Martin-Morris reads his amendment to keep Genesee Hill open and cancel closing Cooper. He says “it’s the right thing to do” and says closing it sends the wrong message: (video added 10:19 pm)

Mary Bass seconds. Sundquist says he won’t support it. Amendment fails, again only with Martin-Morris and Bass voting yes. Sundquist now reading his “reassign Cooper” amendment. “TO WORSE SCHOOLS!” shouted from the audience; Sundquist is called “a patronizing S.O.B.” Audience unruly again. People yelling, “Racist!” DeBell trying to quiet them down. Carr says the decision about Cooper was “the hardest” one to make but thinks Sundquist’s amendment will at least keep some of the students together. Vote on the amendment: everyone yes except Martin-Morris and Bass.

7:24 PM UPDATE: Martin-Morris’s update that would break Summit (which otherwise is closing) into K-8 and 9-12 at other sites, is now being considered. Summit families yell “We don’t want it!” It almost went without a second, then Bass seconded it. Martin-Morris’s update to cancel the Cooper program closure will be next (technically it would cancel the Genesee Hill building closure, which then would keep Pathfinder there, and Cooper in its building). By the way, besides us, several others are covering this meeting live via Twitter – and among them. DeBell says he has been sorely frustrated by his inability to “find Summit a home.” From the audience: “Find us a home.” DeBell says Summit is “caring” and has been “pushed out to the edge of the district” but “some of the tough facts we are facing in the district right now fall heavily on Summit K-12 .. the K-12 model is very difficult to fit into a building unless it is a secondary school, and we have very few (of those) now.” He also says the transportation costs are challenging. Summit vote: Martin-Morris and Bass are again the only yes votes, it fails.

7:15 PM UPDATE: Vote on Mary Bass’s amendment for Central Cluster changes to the closure proposal is coming up. Sundquist says he will not support it. Martin-Morris says he will. DeBell says he will not. Shouts from the crowd. DeBell: “There is too much capacity in the Central Cluster.” Bass, Martin-Morris are the only yes votes; amendment fails. Boos from the crowd. This means among other things APP at Lowell will NOT be kept together – West Seattle APP students will be going to Thurgood Marshall (unless the final motion fails). The amendments failure triggers a Carr amendment regarding letting students who live in the Lowell walk zone to attend APP at Lowell. That amendment passes with all yes votes except Martin-Morris and Bass.

7:00 PM UPDATE: Now they are moving to the vote. Sundquist is reading motions. Then each member gets to read his/her amendment. Mary Bass reads hers first and is explaining at length why she proposed changes to the Central Cluster plan. If it goes the way that we’ve been told, each amendment will be voted on individually before a final vote – anything that is approved, becomes a change to the plan in the final vote. Now Cheryl Chow is recounting the history of the African American Academy, which is proposed for closure. “Unfortunately,” she says, “the program is and has been underenrolled .. and the school is not succeeding as all would want. Even if (it is closed),” she says, she believes the “Afrocentric” culture will continue in the building. Chow says the building will still be called the African American Academy unless the board votes to change it; much shouting ensues from the crowd. DeBell now says, please stop interrupting the meeting.


Fauntleroy Place sale followup: What Seattle Capital, BlueStar say


(October 2008 photo by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli)
We’ve now heard back from both Seattle Capital, which owns the Fauntleroy Place (Whole Foods project) site, and BlueStar, which has been its developer, so we have new information following up on today’s report that the project’s been sold – including how long the site is likely to stay idle, and what this all means for BlueStar’s other West Seattle projects – read on:Read More

Update: Smoke trouble at Poggie Tavern in The Junction

Photo by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli; also on the scene, WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand, who says fire crews have now traced the smoke (earlier report here) to an area around the electrical panel by the back door of Poggie Tavern (on the alley, as you can see in Christopher’s photo). They’re using a chainsaw to get close enough to put it out. As mentioned earlier, the fire units are taking up a lane on California between Alaska and Edmunds, meaning one lane remains, so avoid that block for now if you can. Also, City Light has turned off the Poggie’s power, so it’s closed for now; Patrick checked on neighboring businesses and they are NOT affected. ADDED 5:01 PM: Patrick reports that firefighters had to cut a hole in the roof too. He’ll be adding video of the chainsaw work that was required to try to reach the source of the smoke trouble. ADDED 6:14 PM: Fire investigators say preliminary indication is that an improperly discarded cigarette is to blame for what happened. The damage was confined largely to the rear facade; the tavern may be closed a few days, it’s estimated (we will check again tomorrow with any ownership/management reps we can find). Here’s our video from the scene:

ADDED 10:14 PM: Went by Poggie on the way back from school-district HQ … already reopened for business.

Alki Homestead fire aftermath: Prospective buyer “still interested”

That’s per Rebekah Denn in Devouring Seattle at – she mentioned this morning that chef Johnny Zhu had just taken a new job as executive chef at Monsoon East in Bellevue, and also noted our earlier report that he was believed to be the prospective buyer of the Alki Homestead. She updated at mid-afternoon after talking with him, writing: “He and Rose are indeed still interested in Alki Homestead, but the fire there has set their timeline back. They’re pursuing it — and looking for investors, btw — but it’s not a done deal.” (As we reported 1/19, owner Tom Lin believes it’ll take at least six months to fix and reopen the Homestead.)

Fire call in The Junction; traffic alert on Delridge

FIRE CALL: Address is 4719 California SW, which checks to Taqueria Guaymas but we’re hearing scanner traffic also discussing Husky Deli. En route to check it out. Traffic note – There’s only one lane open in that block of California, between Alaska and Edmunds. Avoid TFN. ADDED 4:12 PM: Apparently it’s a possible heater fire in Poggie Tavern, maybe on the roof. We’re checking on how, if, adjacent businesses are affected. (Just heard fire crews on the scanner say they’ve made it into the attic and can’t find signs of fire/smoke yet.) ADDED 4:19 PM: Poggie patrons tell co-publisher Patrick that it started with a smell of smoke detected in the tavern and in Guaymas – someone called the Fire Department, which continues to try to figure out where that’s coming from, but no one seems to have been evacuated, the businesses remain open.

TRAFFIC ALERT: Thanks to Bogie for texting to warn “people heading home” about a precariously positioned tree on Delridge near Dawson (map), “looks like a car may have hit it” … We’ll be checking that out too.

2 notes from West Seattle High School: Play tonight, 5/31 run

OPENING NIGHT: Thanks to those who’ve e-mailed us to say tonight’s opening night for the three-night run of West Seattle High School‘s student-directed plays “Reverse Transcription” and “No Exit,” 7:30 pm tonight, Friday, and Saturday in the WSHS Theater (tickets $5 at the door).

5/31 RUN – AND MORE? Checking the WSHS website, we noticed something that’s interesting for more than 1 reason:

Save the Date! WSHS PTSA 5K Fun Run/Walk on May 31, 2009

This fun community event will be held in partnership with the City of Seattle and their “Summer Streets” (car-free) day on Alki. Mark your calendars, tell your family and friends, and get ready for a healthy start to summer at Seattle’s most beautiful park, West Seattle’s own Alki Beach. Watch Westside Notes and this website [WSHS site] for more information about how to sign up!

First we’d heard of a date being set for a Car-Free Day this year (here’s our coverage of last September’s Alki Car-Free Day). Will be pursuing more information from the city; we had noted that a “Summer Streets” briefing was on the agenda for the February 12th Parks Board meeting. Meantime, discovered something ELSE – till February 6, you can take this online survey to tell the city what you thought of the 2008 Car-Free Days. THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE: The mayor’s office confirms there is a “Celebrate Seattle Streets” event in West Seattle on May 31st. More details to come.

Welcoming a new WSB sponsor: Snap Fitness

Today we’re welcoming one of our newest sponsors: Snap Fitness, which recently opened in Jefferson Square. Owners Jim Flynn and MJ Benavente (left) – who live in Gatewood – say there’s lots of gyms out there you could join, but they think Snap is the best because of their philosophy that exercise should complement your health. MJ says her background in medicine taught her one thing – fitness is preventive medicine. She says a regular exercise routine is a proactive way to keep yourself in good health. That’s why she and Jim say that Snap Fitness has a numbers of ways to help you stay fit no matter how busy you are. Snap is a no-contract club, offering 24/7 access to the equipment. Snap also believes in reaching out to its members before they get to the gym. Free fitness assessments with a personal trainer are part of your membership package, along with online tips about keeping up good nutrition habits to go along with your workout. Also, Jim says you can get up to speed fast: Snap has trainers who can show you easy routines that you can do on day one. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, and your West Seattle Snap membership lets you use any Snap Fitness center in the US. (Here’s where to look up its other locations.) Not only do Jim and MJ live in West Seattle, they also are members of the West Seattle Junction Association, they’ve volunteered for Community Harvest of Southwest Seattle, and they belong to the Seattle Audubon Society. Snap Fitness is in lower Jefferson Square (map), online at, or you can call 206-299-1597. Thanks to Snap Fitness for joining the WSB sponsor team; see the full lineup here, same place to find information on becoming part of it.

Seattle school-closure vote tonight: District says it’ll be on TV

If you can’t make it to Seattle Public Schools HQ for tonight’s special school board meeting to vote on the closures/changes plans (and the amendments announced yesterday), district spokesperson Patti Spencer just confirmed it WILL be live on cable channel 26 (no live online stream, though; archived video is posted here later). Live broadcasts are not always availabe for meetings held outside the regular first/third Wednesday framework, so we checked. This meeting will NOT include public comment – the board will consider the amendments, then the plan (whether amended or not) and associated policy changes that would be required for certain proposals to be allowed. The meeting starts at 6 pm; we’ll be posting updates live from district HQ (covering the entire plan, not just the WS aspects, since WS families are involved in other elements such as the APP split too).

Fauntleroy Place update: Project’s being sold

fplaceastside.jpgThanks to Robert for the link – Times reports Fauntleroy Place project is being sold. May explain why BlueStar hadn’t been returning our phone calls/e-mails (though a rep replied Tuesday he’d call Wednesday, and didn’t). Will add any additional details we find; we have a call out to Seattle Capital (described as one of the current co-owners, though county records still list Fauntleroy Place LLC, with BlueStar‘s address, as site owner). As we reported Tuesday, Whole Foods reiterated its commitment to the West Seattle project (but of course that didn’t necessarily imply the developer would remain the same). ADDED 12:51 PM: King County online records show 8 liens related to the property filed in the past month and a half, with parties including construction and engineering firms. Details of the liens are not available online, just the names and dates. ADDED 1:12 PM: For document-reading fans, here’s a copy of the 10-page lease agreement filed last March, between Whole Foods and Fauntleroy Place LLC. ADDED 1:46 PM: Here’s a document that shows FP transferred the Deed of Trust and other key interests to Seattle Capital last June. 3:49 PM UPDATE: Have just heard back both from Seattle Capital via e-mail and BlueStar by phone, writing a separate update, will post the link in this report when it’s done.

West Seattle Crime Watch followup: Burglar’s plea, sentence

January 29, 2009 11:08 am
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 |   Crime | West Seattle news

Last November, alerted by a hovering helicopter, we reported on the search for, and arrest of, a man who had broken into a Lincoln Park-area home — where a woman and her two children were asleep — shortly after trying to break into the Colman Pool complex in the park. He turned out to be 41-year-old Richard Lovejoy, a registered sex offender (for rape convictions; photo at left was from his page on the sex-offender-search website) from Arbor Heights who also had been convicted previously of burglary, harassment, and drug possession. After covering the original court action in the case in November (WSB report here), we hadn’t followed up till now — and discovered that Lovejoy pleaded guilty to 1 count of burglary (the second was dropped) on December 31st and was sentenced last Friday. Court documents confirm that Lovejoy was sent immediately to prison to begin a sentence of 5 years, 3 months (the lower end of the “standard range” for the crime, 63 to 84 months, per court documents).

Police arrest man for trying to pimp teens at West Seattle motel

Thanks to Trick for pointing out this Times article about prostitution-related arrests in West Seattle earlier this month. Here’s additional information we’ve found on the case: We checked the jail register, and the 33-year-old man arrested for trying to pimp two 15-year-old girls at Seattle West Inn and Suites in the Triangle (West Seattle’s only motel, aka the former Travelodge), Toda M. Robinson, is still behind bars, with bail set at $100,000. We also downloaded the court documents for more details; he is charged with two counts of promoting sexual abuse of a minor, and the documents note that Robinson has an “extensive criminal history” including “at least six crimes of violence.” (The state court-system search engine has 110 results for his name, dating back to 1991, when he would have been as young as the two girls involved in this case.) The court documents say police arranged the location for the sting, booking a room at the motel after answering a CL ad, and made the arrests after Robinson dropped the girls off – they tracked him down in the parking lot of the 35th/Avalon KFC with a 16-year-old girl in the car, which was described as emanating “a strong odor of marijuana.” One of the girls told police that he usually gets half their money and has at least 3 other teenagers and 10 adult prostitutes working for him.

If you’re still not ready for digital TV, here’s West Seattle help

So far it’s not looking too likely that Congress will go ahead with suggestions to push back the “digital TV transition” date currently set for Feb. 17th. If you still need help sorting out whether you’re ready for that transition, West Seattle help is available – check out this list of locations and times. (Left side of that page has answers to frequently asked questions, too.)

West Seattle Garden Tour: Sponsorship search sprouts

January 29, 2009 7:06 am
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 |   Gardening | West Seattle news


It’s that thrilling time of winter – halfway between last summer’s big events and NEXT summer’s big events. And it’s never too soon to start planning the latter – in fact, it’s sponsor-search time for the West Seattle Garden Tour (photo above is from one of last year’s stops), coming up July 19:

We are actively seeking sponsors for this year’s tour, which will be the 15th Annual Tour, featuring Ciscoe Morris as the guest lecturer. The success of the tour is dependent upon the financial aid and in-kind donations from all of the sponsors, and we hope to make the 15th Annual Tour the most successful yet.

Begun in 1995 as a fundraising event for ArtsWest, the West Seattle Garden Tour has evolved into an annual fundraising event for a variety of non-profit and educational organizations in West Seattle and surrounding communities. The 2008 edition of the West Seattle Garden Tour was one of our most successful, attracting more than 650 tour-goers as well as raising $21,000 for ArtsWest and our specially selected beneficiaries, Multifaith Works, Ethel Dupar Fragrant Garden, Lighthouse for the Blind, Seattle Chinese Garden, and Elisabeth C. Miller Library University of Washington Botanic Gardens.

This year we are offering a variety of levels of sponsorship ranging from $50 to $2500 (event sponsor), details for each of the sponsorship levels can be found on the WSGT website (see those details here).

We hope to secure our major sponsors by March 10, 2009.

The “sponsorship commitment form” can be found here.