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Columbian Newspaper

School where boy shot teacher reopens with added security
Author: BEN FINLEY and DENISE LAVOIE, BEN FINLEY and DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — The Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old boy shot his teacher reopened Monday with stepped-up security and a new administrator, as nervous parents and students expressed optimism about a return to the classroom.

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NATO chief urges Seoul to send military support to Ukraine
Author: KIM TONG-HYUNG, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday called for South Korea to provide direct military support to Ukraine, saying Kyiv is in urgent need of weapons to fight off the prolonged Russian invasion.

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Video adds to questions about police shooting of a double amputee holding a knife
Author: Connor Sheets, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — As they do every week during football season, the Lowe family gathered Sunday morning to watch the NFL games on two big flat screens in the South Los Angeles home of the family matriarch.

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Port of Olympia director who was put on leave files tort claim against his employer
Author: Rolf Boone, The Olympian

OLYMPIA — The Port of Olympia director who secured the Swire Coca-Cola bottling agreement — one of the largest real estate deals in the port’s history — and then was put on leave days later has responded with a tort claim against his employer.

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Palmer: How to safely use payment apps
Author: KIMBERLY PALMER, NerdWallet

As a frequent PayPal user, I wasn’t surprised to see a payment request on the app pop up. But when I read it, I knew something was wrong.

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Property owners battle federal bureaucracy to restore access to homes near South Fork of Walla Walla River
Author: Sheila Hagar, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

WALLA WALLA — John Ehart wants nothing more than to be able to get to his family cabin.

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Sammamish couple charged with manslaughter in toddler’s fentanyl death
Author: Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — A Sammamish couple who allegedly left fentanyl pills on a nightstand within reach of their toddler were arrested Friday, six months after their daughter died from an overdose, according to King County prosecutors.

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The Chronicle - Centralia

Dead Horses Discovered in Okanogan County Likely Starved to Death, Documents Say

The five dead horses found on an Okanogan County woman's rural property likely starved to death and the emaciated surviving horse was eating snow for water, according to court documents.

Jennyfer L. Taylor, 40, was arrested last week on suspicion of five counts of first-degree animal cruelty.

Taylor's neighbors reported the animal abuse Jan. 18, documents say. They told a deputy at least five horses died and there was one left, which they referred to as "Ghost," at Taylor's property, 27 Bench Road, outside Oroville. The horse had no water or food, according to one of the neighbors.

Because of difficulty accessing the land, deputies arrived at Taylor's property Jan. 20 on an ATV, court records say. Taylor was not home.

Deputies found three stables, each with a dead horse inside. One of the dead horses was buried under snow because the makeshift stable's roof collapsed, documents say.

They discovered another dead horse near the horse's pen. Dogs on the property as well as coyotes were eating the dead horses, the neighbor said.

Deputies said they did not see water or food for "Ghost" other than a small square of alfalfa, according to documents. They said Ghost was eating snow for water.

The neighbor told the sheriff's office Taylor was rarely on the property. A deputy wrote that limited tracks in the snow leading to the property could corroborate the statement.

A deputy called Taylor who became "defensive and angry" when she learned the sheriff's office and her neighbor accessed her property, documents say. The deputy wrote Taylor's attitude changed and she asked what would happen next when the deputy told her they were investigating allegations of animal abuse and cruelty.

During a search of the property Jan. 22, authorities again found no water or food on the property. They found five dead horses instead of the initial four dead that were reported. The last stall with the collapsed roof had two dead horses instead of one.

The veterinarian determined the dead horses were emaciated and likely starved to death, documents say. The living horse was also emaciated.

Documents indicate Taylor denied intentionally hurting her horses and claimed she was feeding them.

N.O. Paws Left Behind Rescue, an animal shelter in Oroville, took the surviving horse into its facility, according to a sheriff's office's Facebook post.

Taylor is scheduled for an arraignment Feb. 6.

Inslee Wants Washington to Borrow $4B to Build Housing and Shelter; How Would That Work?

OLYMPIA — It's the centerpiece of Gov. Jay Inslee's 2023-25 budget proposal: a plan to borrow $4 billion to fund an aggressive push to build affordable housing and shelters in Washington.

A few weeks into the 2023 legislative session, it's not clear whether Inslee's proposal will get the necessary support from lawmakers to pass. In its current form, the unprecedented effort to address homelessness and the dearth of affordable housing would also need approval from Washington voters.

"Until we fix our housing crisis, thousands of people will remain homeless," Inslee told a joint session of the Legislature on Jan. 10. "And we need a fix that provides a level of speed and scale beyond anything we've done in the past."

Here's how state officials say it would work.

 

Borrowing money

States, including Washington, routinely borrow money to pay for big projects, like a new bridge, or a new building on a university campus.

The idea is to borrow money to make a major, long-term purchase and then pay it off over time. It's a bit like buying a house by getting a mortgage.

Inslee's proposal would treat homelessness and the housing crisis as the big purchase, borrowing the $4 billion over six years to build housing and shelters.

The state would sell general obligation bonds to raise the $4 billion. It would pay that money back in increments over a longer period of time.

 

Move requires voter OK

Before Washington could borrow that money, though, Washington voters would have to approve the idea, allowing the state to borrow more than the debt limit set in the state constitution.

In basic terms, the proposal would let the state borrow and spend a large amount of money for housing separate from money borrowed for other capital projects.

"The capital budget does not have a lot of excess capacity, and it was simply a non-starter to think about slashing billions from the things currently funded like K-12 schools and our new forensic hospital," said Jaime Smith, executive director of communications for Inslee, in an email to The Seattle Times.

"The reason to go to the people is so that it doesn't count against the regular, conventional debt limit," David Schumacher, director of the Office of Financial Management, told lawmakers in a committee hearing. "That in no way means that it is any less backed by the state of Washington than any other debt."

Washington has high credit ratings, which helps the state get lower interest rates on any debt it takes on.

Some lawmakers have expressed worry that borrowing so much so quickly could hurt those ratings, which could make it more expensive for the state to borrow money because its interest rates are higher.

Misha Werschkul, executive director of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, said the proposal is "a move away from the more incremental approach" Washington has taken to building affordable housing and addressing homelessness in the past.

"It's a real step up of the level of investment that Washington state has been able to make in housing and homelessness in recent years," Werschkul said. An "upfront investment" enabled by borrowing could save money in the long term, she said.

 

Where the money would go

Inslee has proposed sending the money to build thousands of housing units and shelters for unhoused people. The $4 billion figure was based on the estimated need for housing in the state, according to his office.

"The idea was really a result of the math," Smith said.

Washington has about 25,000 people experiencing homelessness, and $4 billion "would allow us to build about that many units through a combination of supportive shelter, supportive temporary and permanent housing, and affordable housing," Smith said.

Legislators could change how much money the state would borrow, over what time frame, and how the money would be spent — and whether it would still need to go to voters.

Senate Democratic Leader Andy Billig, of Spokane, said it may make sense to  spend money on housing within the existing capital budget, which "takes away the uncertainty of having to wait until there's a vote in November."

But the constitution, according to the governor's office, says the election on this type of referendum could be held at the next general election in November, or in a special election on a date specified by lawmakers.and interest rates in the future by borrowing so much so quickly.

Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, voiced doubts that even the $4 billion would be sufficient to build the amount of housing and shelter the proposal calls for.

"We need to make it so that there's affordable housing for everyone in Washington state that is sufficient and affordable," Billig said. "And we need to take some pretty dramatic steps to make that happen. I really appreciate that the governor came forward with this proposal, which is sort of a new idea. In terms of whether we go with this exact proposal or not, I'm not sure."

 

Cities, states look to borrow

Many cities issue bonds to build affordable housing, said Garth Rieman, director of housing advocacy and strategic initiatives at the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

State and local governments already issue housing bonds, which differ from the general obligation bonds Inslee is seeking. Those housing bonds, authorized by the U.S. tax code, are capped by state population. The interest is tax exempt, and they can be used to build affordable rental housing or help first-time homebuyers.

While uncommon, it's not unheard of for state governments to issue general obligation bonds for housing, Rieman said. That could be increasing as housing continues to be unaffordable in many areas of the country.

"Some states are realizing, you know, all of our existing tools don't really give us enough money to address the problem the way we want to," Rieman said. "So they're looking for other tools to help."

Portland Business News

Wagner Logistics adds Portland to its nationwide footprint
Author: Brian Kaberline
The company is adding more than 82,000 square feet of dedicated distribution space in Portland.

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