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124 Washington stores threatened by the Kroger and Albertsons merger

Nearly two years after proposing their $25 billion merger, Kroger and Albertsons have disclosed the locations of the 579 stores, including nearly 70 in the Seattle area, to be sold off if the deal is approved.

The list, released Tuesday, includes 124 Washington state locations of Kroger, which owns QFC and Fred Meyer, and Albertsons, which owns Safeway and Haggen. That would be nearly 40% of the two grocery retailers’ stores in the state. Safeway stores in Centralia and Chehalis were not on the list of locations to be sold off. 

The divested locations would be owned and operated by New Hampshire-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, which in theory would preserve competition in the dozens of local markets where Kroger and Albertsons now compete.

But from the start, that plan raised concerns that divested locations would end up being significantly changed or even shut down under C&S, despite assurances from Kroger and Albertsons.

Among the Washington locations to be divested: 13 QFC stores and three Safeway stores in Seattle; five QFC stores in Bellevue; two QFC stores and three Safeway stores in Tacoma; two Safeway stores and two QFC stores in Kirkland; and three QFC stores and one Safeway store in Redmond. No Fred Meyer locations appear to be on the list of divested stores.

A complete list can be found online.

Tuesday’s announcement appears to be an effort by Kroger and Albertsons to assuage concerns that a merger would result in higher prices for consumers.

It comes just weeks before a federal court in Oregon considers a government request to pause the merger while federal regulators scrutinize it for possible antitrust violations. But releasing the list is also likely to raise concerns among shoppers whose stores would be sold to C & S.

Critics of the merger, including regulators in Washington, Colorado and at the Federal Trade Commission, which have all sued to block the merger, claim C&S lacks the retail expertise or capacity to effectively operate the stores, which could ultimately result in closures.

Consumers’ first question will be, “is my neighborhood store going to remain open?” said Jeff Green, a retail analyst with Hoffman Strategy Group who follows the grocery sector. “Second is, what happens with prices?”

Kroger and Albertsons have said the merger will mean lower grocery prices in part because the merged company would have the scale to compete with giants like Walmart and Costco. The two grocery giants have also promised that no locations would be closed as a result of the merger.

A C&S spokesperson pushed back on suggestions that deal would harm workers, noting that C&S would be bringing on “hundreds of highly skilled grocery retail veterans” from Kroger and Albertsons and has ample business experience of its own.

Asked if it had ruled out store closures, the company didn’t offer an unequivocal no. It insisted its newly expanded capabilities that “will undoubtedly ensure that these stores continue to successfully serve their communities for many generations to come.”

Tuesday’s announcement was also being greeted with skepticism by some workers at stores on the divestiture list.

C&S has promised to honor existing union contracts for workers at divested stores. But some workers fear C&S will push for lower wages in future contracts with union officials representing workers.

They also worry that C&S may choose to close some locations, despite earlier assurances from Kroger and Albertsons that no locations would be closed as a result of the merger.

“Who knows if (C&S is) just feeling like, ‘Oh, well, these stores, they’re not making enough money, we’re going to close them all,’” said Brendan Gallagher, a meat cutter at the QFC store on Mercer Street near Seattle’s Space Needle.

“So then that’s like hundreds of people out of work, or having to go to different stores,” added Gallagher, who is a member of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 3000.

UFCW officials said that when they met with C&S in January to discuss the merger, C&S refused to affirm the earlier promise by Kroger and Albertsons that no locations would close as a result of the merger, said UFCW 3000 spokesperson Tom Geiger.

Kroger, Albertsons and C&S Wholesale had not responded Tuesday afternoon to questions about the divestiture list or related matters.

The proposed merger has been a flashpoint in Washington, which has an unusually large number of Kroger and Albertsons stores — around 329 in all, or around 10% of all Albertsons locations and 4% of all Kroger locations — and would also see the largest number of divested locations of any state.

On Jan. 15, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the first government lawsuit seeking to block the merger on grounds that it violated state antitrust laws and would result in higher grocery prices. On April 26, a King County Superior Court rejected efforts by Kroger and Albertsons to dismiss the suit, which is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 16.

On Feb. 26, the Federal Trade Commission filed its own lawsuit seeking to the block the merger, citing similar concerns.

For all the consternation that resulted from Tuesday’s list, it may be moot.

On Aug. 26, the FTC will ask a federal court in Oregon to temporarily halt the merger, though a preliminary injunction, until the federal regulator can complete a full review of the merger.

Some experts think that if the court grants the injunction, Kroger and Albertsons might abandon the deal rather than wait for the FTC’s review, which starts this month and could last many months.

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©2024 The Seattle Times. Visit seattletimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Pacific Northwest data center boom could imperil power supply within five years

PORTLAND — The Pacific Northwest's power grid could be pushed beyond its limits in just five years by the staggering electricity demands of the booming data center industry, regional power planners recently reported.

A forecast by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council highlights a looming conflict between an increasingly digital world and utilities' capacity to meet surging power demand. The forecast cautioned that data centers could consume as much as 4,000 average megawatts of electricity by 2029 — enough to power the entire city of Seattle five times over.

In that scenario, the region would need to find more sources of power to avoid a shortfall. Otherwise, the Northwest will struggle to keep lights on while also phasing out fossil fuels and meeting environmental mandates to protect salmon, according to a council report presented Tuesday in Portland.

"It's big and it's uncertain," said Jennifer Light, the council's director of power planning. "But we're kind of prepared to think through strategies on how to figure this out."

Data centers, the backbone of the modern internet, are warehouses of humming servers that store information relied upon by nearly every online user, and are becoming increasingly important as use of artificial intelligence grows. The International Energy Agency predicts data center power demand worldwide will double by 2026, in large part due to AI.

The data center industry has particularly boomed in Washington and Oregon, which offer cheap hydroelectric power for an industry that requires steady, round-the-clock power. Washington's data centers began popping up in the mid-2000s, when tech companies began building massive warehouses in Central Washington's agricultural counties with the help of tax incentives designed to bring tech jobs to rural areas.

Data centers draw vast amounts of power to cool computer servers that run continuously to feed the demand for search, video streaming and audio.

Created after the Northwest Power Act of 1980, the council is an interstate agency charged with developing a power plan for Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of Montana. The Northwest is rich in hydropower from a network of dams in the Columbia Basin that bring ample electricity to the region but threaten salmon populations on which Indigenous groups depend.

The council ran a series of scenarios to test how the region's power grid would react to growth of data centers. In scenarios based on low-end and average growth in the data center industry, coupled with plans to bring more renewable energy online and increase energy efficiency, the region would have enough power to meet the needs of data centers by 2029.

One reason the region can accommodate possible growth: Some coal plants owned by Pacific Northwest utilities have been converted to use natural gas, instead of being retired entirely. That gave the region more power-generating capacity. It's not clear how that might affect Washington down the road, when a mandate to phase out fossil fuels by 2045 takes full effect.

But if the high-end data center prediction becomes a reality, the region faces serious risks.

That level of power demand from data centers would require "an unprecedented level of coordination and pace of development to overcome bottlenecks" in transmission and distribution of power, according to a council report.

It wouldn't mean widespread blackouts, although outages are a possibility, the council reports. But such a significant shortfall in power could trigger emergency measures, such as frequent purchases of expensive power from other markets or statewide conservation requirements.

It wouldn't be impossible to accommodate the growth of data centers, Light said. But it would require more power and more transmission lines, both costly and time-consuming efforts.

The region has brought online some solar and wind power, but those sources are weather-dependent and intermittent. And the added renewables haven't been able to keep pace with the climbing power demands, according to a recent report from the Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee, which represents public and private utilities serving millions of customers.

The demands of data centers only exacerbate the need for electricity as the region weans its vehicles, appliances and industries off oil and natural gas. The need for reliable power also becomes more important as extreme weather events become more common.

Meanwhile, past forecasts have underestimated the surge in data center power use, Light said.

Even Tuesday's presentation highlighted two dramatically different scenarios. The council said that neither scenario was necessarily more likely, but that it hoped to plan for a range of possibilities.

The lower scenario drew on past trends in the region and public announcements about data centers opening, said Tomás Morrissey, the council's senior power analyst.

The higher scenario aligns more closely with descriptions from public and private utilities, the entities fielding requests from data centers seeking to site in the Northwest. (The forecasts also captured potential growth in microchip manufacturing, but almost all the growth is predicted to come from data centers.)

How the region will accommodate such significant growth is something that energy planners will have to address in the coming years.

"I think it's weighing fairly heavily" on utilities, Morrissey said. "It's a question we're gonna have to grapple with a lot in the next power plan."

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     (c)2024 The Seattle Times

     Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com

     Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Hilary Franz's Department of Natural Resources work prioritized political gain, some staffers say

As Hilary Franz campaigns for a seat in Congress, she points to her nearly eight years as state public lands commissioner, boasting of "epic" progress on improving forest health and preventing wildfires.

In a recent campaign fundraising plea, she touted "a proven track record" of "groundbreaking" wins at the Department of Natural Resources, which manages nearly 6 million acres of forests, beaches and other public lands.

But some who have worked under Franz tell another story about her leadership.

Fifteen current and former DNR employees described in interviews with The Seattle Times how Franz aggressively used the agency to burnish her image to run for higher office — first for governor and now for Congress — in ways that some say blurred lines governing the use of public resources for political purposes.

The current and former employees, including women and men who have worked as senior aides and managers, said they were pressured to organize official events driven by Franz's campaign needs and to help her secure political endorsements.

Her chief of staff, Carlo Davis, brought up Franz's plans to run for higher office with candidates for jobs at the agency and encouraged subordinates to attend her fundraisers, according to interviews and an email obtained by The Times.

A former DNR communications director got a severance payout conditioned on her signing a nondisparagement agreement, after pushing back, she said, on what she saw as inappropriate politics-oriented requests.

Franz defends her leadership and denies breaking any rules or managing DNR out of concern for her electoral ambitions. "Everything I have done coming in was about lifting up the work of this agency," she said.

The picture of a politician using their position to build a résumé for higher office is not unique. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, for example, has bragged about his dozens of lawsuits against former President Donald Trump's administration as he runs for governor.

However, the array of state workers coming forward to object to Franz's management is unusual in Olympia, where the risk of professional consequences for speaking out against powerful officials usually keeps people quiet.

Most of the current and former DNR employees spoke on the condition of anonymity due to fears of retaliation because they still work in government or at political jobs. Some agreed to be quoted by name, including one current DNR manager.

"I cannot in good faith know what I know and let it slide," said Carlos Lugo, external affairs manager for DNR's environmental justice office. "I am disgusted by what is going on."

A former senior DNR communications staffer, who has worked with other elected officials, said: "I am not someone who views politics as dirty. I think the desire to win a higher office can be a great thing when elected officials are motivated to do good work and earn credit for it."

But Franz, the person said, presided over an office "where it was made clear that good public policy was a secondary concern to her political aspirations."

A current DNR staffer said the situation worsened in early 2023 as Franz geared up to run for governor, describing a "blurring of the lines between what we are doing as state employees and taxpayer-funded campaign acolytes."

Franz rejected such characterizations and defended her record in a recent interview, saying she's been careful to follow state ethics laws, and insisted on training for her staff to do the same.

"I think if you look at my record and how I've operated and my investment, massive investment in policy, and setting big goals ... I think it speaks for itself," she said.

Since she took office, Franz noted DNR's budget has grown by nearly 60%, and she pointed to a slew of accomplishments, including $500 million that she worked to convince the Legislature to earmark to combat and prevent wildfires.

Joe Smillie, a DNR spokesperson, said in an email that the allegations made by Franz's critics should be taken "with a grain of salt."

Smillie, who has worked at the agency for a decade, said Franz worked to make DNR more responsive to community feedback, sometimes over internal objections.

"This all was definitely a culture change from prior Commissioners. And not everyone at the agency may agree with it. That's fair. But what isn't fair — and also isn't true — is folks making a huge leap and claiming that therefore there is something inappropriate in how the agency is run," Smillie wrote.

The behind-the-scenes battle over Franz's reputation has spilled into the heated primary in the 6th Congressional District, where she's competing with state Sens. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, and Drew MacEwen, R-Shelton.

Some former DNR employees have detailed their concerns about Franz to groups considering endorsements in the race. Meanwhile, the two unions representing DNR employees recently snubbed their boss and endorsed Randall.

The Washington Public Employees Association, which represents 750 DNR employees, including wildland firefighters, "made the mistake" of endorsing Franz previously, its president said in an interview, citing concerns over worker morale and safety.

Elected as lands commissioner in 2016, Franz had publicly weighed running for governor in 2020, but like other Democrats stood aside once Gov. Jay Inslee decided to run for a third term.

Last May, after Inslee said he would not seek a fourth term, Franz announced she'd run for governor this year. Trailing in polls and fundraising, she dropped her gubernatorial bid in November and switched to running for Congress after incumbent U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, surprised many by announcing his retirement. Kilmer endorsed Franz to succeed him.

Franz blamed the criticisms circulating about her on a "very ugly" primary election contest. She said one former DNR employee told her of receiving a text message from a "burner" phone asking them to share any "bad stuff" about her.

But several of the current and former employees first reached out to The Times last year before Franz's congressional race, when she was preparing to run for governor. The Times did not connect with any of the current or former DNR employees through the campaigns of Franz's opponents.

 

"All about Hilary"

One night in April, Lugo got a personal call from Franz, asking him for help with the endorsement of the Pierce County Democrats.

Lugo, who volunteered for the Democratic group's endorsement committee, said he told his boss he was recusing himself from making a recommendation in the race because he works at DNR. Franz had never called him about his official work at the agency, he said.

Franz, he said, urged him to stay involved in the endorsement and brought up a letter of recommendation she'd signed for him when he applied in 2022 to fill a vacancy on the Tacoma City Council. "She badgered me," he said.

Franz, in the interview, denied that she meant to pressure Lugo, saying she'd been trying to get in touch with others with questions about the endorsement process.

The Pierce County Democrats endorsed Randall.

Lugo says he had already been troubled by what he'd seen at DNR since starting there in late 2021, including being asked to create official events around Franz's campaign schedule.

In fall 2022, Lugo recalled, Davis walked around DNR's offices in Olympia with a notebook, collecting personal email and phone contact information from employees.

A couple of weeks later, Davis sent out an email from his personal account to the personal email addresses of Lugo and more than a dozen other Franz aides, encouraging them to attend and possibly host a table at the "Do Epic Awards," an annual political fundraiser at the Seattle Convention Center. He called it "a great opportunity for us to show our support."

Another former employee recalled an assistant to Davis making similar asks for personal contacts before another private Franz fundraiser.

Davis said DNR is an emergency response agency, so it's "standard practice" to get personal contacts for employees to reach them at any hour. "We are cognizant of ethics rules and careful to keep state resources and campaign activities separate," he said in an emailed statement.

State law forbids using government resources — directly or indirectly — to aid a political campaign. Public employees are free to participate in politics on their own time. However, Washington state's Executive Ethics Board has advised managers in public agencies to "avoid campaigning among their subordinate employees."

"It's best if public officials are not in any way soliciting the support of a vote or financially from those who work for them in government," said John Pelissero, director of government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. "It puts them in a very uncomfortable position."

There has been no formal ethics finding against Franz. In 2021, the state Executive Ethics Board investigated and dismissed as unfounded a complaint alleging that she had broken state law by paying Davis too much and directed state resources toward her 2020 reelection campaign.

Davis and Franz admitted to one misstep involving Bobbi Cussins, DNR's former communications director, who was asked to resign in May 2021.

In exchange for getting paid about 2  1/2  months of severance pay and benefits, Cussins agreed to not make any public statements or write anything "disparaging or damaging" to the reputation of "DNR and its management," according to a termination agreement written by Davis and reviewed by The Times.

Cussins said she agreed to the terms even though she viewed the nondisparagement clause as unenforceable at a public agency. "It was all about Hilary. You can't come out and say anything negative," she said.

Franz said she didn't know about the agreement at the time. Davis acknowledged it was "an unnecessary measure, in hindsight."

As an at-will employee, Cussins could be let go for almost any reason. But she says the demand for her resignation followed her pushing back on Davis about using agency staff to prepare talking points for events she viewed as overly political. "I wouldn't let my staff do what seemed to be campaign work on state time," she said.

Davis said any suggestion that politics factored into Cussins termination was "categorically false."

Two other former senior DNR managers agreed to be named for this story, saying Franz brushed off agency expert advice in favor of political stakeholders.

"I am not foolish about the niceties of politics. But with this commissioner, it was very apparent to us from the beginning that her intention was to run for governor, and that shaped how she ran the agency," said David Palazzi, former planning program manager at DNR, who worked under four public lands commissioners before retiring in 2021. "We didn't sign up to promote someone's political career."

Kristin Swenddal, DNR's former aquatics division manager who started at DNR in the 1990s, and several current and former employees said in hiring Davis, Franz found a politically minded chief of staff with a similar mission.

Swenddal recalled meeting Davis after he was hired, telling him she was excited to work with him to publicize the work of the agency. His response, she recalled: "'The only thing I have been hired to do is to get her name in the paper or in front of a camera.' ... He was absolutely not there to do any work for the agency. It was, 'How can I showcase Hilary?' "

Davis worked as a senior adviser to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray before being hired as DNR's communications director in 2017. He was promoted to chief of staff in 2020 and is paid a $204,000 salary. He's one of several DNR executives who make more than Franz, whose $167,000 salary as an elected official is set by a citizen commission.

Davis dismisses such complaints as coming from people put off by Franz's bold leadership of DNR, which he said had previously been overlooked and underfunded in state government.

"We've launched transformational initiatives on wildfire and forest health, housing, aquatic restoration, rural economic development, carbon storage and forestland conservation, urban forestry — the list goes on. People can criticize our approach, but they can't dispute our success," he wrote in an email.

Current and former employees said that during multiple job interviews Davis brought up Franz's plans to run for governor — which some interpreted as an expectation to help her get elected.

Davis said he raised the subject so prospective aides, who serve at the commissioner's pleasure, would know she might not stay in the position.

 

Endorsement battles

Franz has led the 6th District race in early fundraising, having raised more than $820,000 to Randall's $530,000, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports, which cover totals as of the end of March. MacEwen has raised about $50,000.

The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 2 primary, regardless of party, will advance to the November general election. Democrats have held the congressional seat, which represents much of Tacoma and the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas, since 1965.

With that primary approaching, the fight over votes and Franz's reputation has found its way to some groups looking at endorsements in the race.

Earlier this year, some former agency employees told the progressive group Indivisible Tacoma that Franz is "an excellent public speaker" but said when there was "a conflict between what was in the public interest and political expediency, she opted for the latter," according to a summary of their complaints. Indivisible Tacoma endorsed Randall.

The unions representing DNR's unionized workers also recently weighed in against Franz and endorsed Randall.

Amanda Hacker, the president of the Washington Public Employees Association, said Franz had not adequately dealt with their concerns over wildland firefighter safety.

"She is on point when she talks. Her actions just don't meet her narrative," Hacker said, noting the union doesn't usually endorse in congressional races.

Franz attributes the union discontent to hard decisions she had to make during the peak of the COVID pandemic, including enforcing the state's vaccination mandate.

As a woman holding a major elected office, Franz said she's served as a role model and has had younger women and girls shadow her on the job.

"The number of women who have come to me and said, 'It's good to see you in a commanding role of a state agency but also in a very male-dominated field,' ... is huge," she said.

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     (c)2024 The Seattle Times

     Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com

     Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Washington attorney general candidate faces blowback for 'leave of absence' claim

OLYMPIA — State Sen. Manka Dhingra, a Democrat from Redmond who is running for state attorney general, first faced questions earlier this summer for claiming in campaign materials that she was still working for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

The controversy took another turn in recent days, when Dhingra's campaign updated her website to say that she is on a leave of absence from the job.

But the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office says that's not the case, and that Dhingra hasn't worked there since 2021.

Dhingra maintains that she is on leave.

"The arrangement has always been that when I am not running for an election, a competitive election, I go back to work," Dhingra said.

"I think they have to figure out internally what's going on," Dhingra said. "And then let me know, because I've asked."

Contacted by The Seattle Times on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the prosecuting attorney's office referred to emails HR exchanged with Dhingra in June stating that she was not on leave.

In Washington's Aug. 6 primary, Dhingra will face fellow Democrat Nick Brown and Republican Pete Serrano. They are all running for the state's top law enforcement job and to replace longtime Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has mounted a bid for governor.

Dhingra, the chair of the Senate's policy committee on law and justice, has touted her law enforcement background on the campaign trail.

According to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Dhingra worked there from May 2000 to August 2017, and again for several months each in 2019 and 2021.

In an email on June 20, the office's director of human resources, Heidi Parkington-Thal, asked Dhingra to correct her campaign materials, according to emails provided by the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office through a public records request.

Brandi Kruse, host of the politics podcast unDivided, first reported on the discrepancy in June.

"It came to our attention through a news reporter that you are stating you are a current senior deputy prosecuting attorney with the (office) rather than a former senior deputy," Parkington-Thal wrote.

Dhingra replied that King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion told her she was "on a leave of absence" and considers her a current employee.

Parkington-Thal responded the next day that she spoke to Manion, who did "not recall this conversation." Manion took office as the elected King County Prosecuting Attorney in early 2023, taking over from Dan Satterberg.

Parkington-Thal reiterated the point in another email a few days later, telling Dhingra that their HR and payroll records "do not reflect that you have been on leave at any time since your resignation email dated Oct. 1, 2021."

"We understand you may have had a conversation with Dan Satterberg while he was still the Prosecutor which led you to believe that you were on leave after your resignation, but Leesa does not recollect being part of such a conversation, or having such a conversation with you after she was elected," Parkington-Thal wrote. "Please know that our office does not currently consider you to be on leave."

Dhingra then emailed back, forwarding an exchange from October 2021 between her, Manion and Satterberg. Dhingra had written to them to say it was her last day for 2021 and that she looked forward to "incorporating" staff ideas on improving the justice system in 2022.

Satterberg replied "It is always good to welcome you back home after session and our office is a better place because of you. The offer remains in place for 2022, of course." Manion then wrote, "Agreed! Thank you, Manka. It is awesome to have you as a colleague and as a lawmaker."

Dhingra's campaign website was updated July 6 to say that she was on a leave of absence from the prosecutor job, according to a campaign spokesperson.

The website also says she has been endorsed by both Manion and Satterberg.

In a statement provided by Dhingra's campaign, Satterberg said he supported her for attorney general "because of her experience and dedication."

"I expect she would be welcomed back to the office if and when she makes her availability known," he said.

In 2023 and 2022, Dhingra reported no income from the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, according to state financial affairs disclosure reports. In 2021, she reported income of less than $29,999 from working there.

In a statement, her Democratic opponent, Brown, said the state's next attorney general "must uphold the highest standards of honesty and transparency."

"That's why it's been so troubling to see that Sen. Dhingra continues to claim to be serving as a prosecutor with the King County Prosecutor's Office, even though she hasn't held the position in years," he said. "The Prosecutor's Office has made it clear that she is not an employee nor on a leave of absence and asked her to set the record straight weeks ago."

Her Republican opponent, Pete Serrano, said Dhingra wants voters to avoid looking at her as a legislator who he says "hamstrung" the police on pursuits of suspects and softened the state's drug possession laws.

The legislation to raise the standard for when police can chase suspects was a House bill that Dhingra voted in favor of in 2021; legislators partially rolled back the policy in 2023 and again through an initiative brought forth by a petition supported by Washington voters this year.

After the state Supreme Court found the state's felony drug possession statute was unconstitutional in 2021, Dhingra sponsored legislation classifying it as a misdemeanor. Legislators raised possession to a gross misdemeanor in 2023.

"I think the general notion when someone says, 'I am a deputy prosecutor' is the notion that the individual is going to go hard on crime," Serrano said, "But again, when you look at what she's done on the Senate floor, she's really been focused on social justice policies that really impede actual justice."

Dhingra has raised about $972,000 in campaign contributions, according to campaign finance records. Brown has raised the most out of the AG candidates, with about $1.28 million, while Serrano has raised the least, with about $193,000.

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     (c)2024 The Seattle Times

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     Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Man shot security guard outside Pierce County sporting goods store 'execution style,' charges say

An 18-year-old man is accused of shooting a security guard during an attempted robbery outside a sporting goods store in Fife over the weekend.

Dayvion Joseph George, 18, was charged with second-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery.

A plea of not guilty was entered on George's behalf at his arraignment on Monday. Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Philip Thornton set his bail at $600,000.

Charging details

Fife police officers were dispatched to "reports of a shooting with victims" at the Sportco store on the 4600 block of 20th Street East at 4:21 p.m. Sunday. Officers were told a shoplifting had just occurred, and two security guards attempted to detain two men. One of the security guards was shot, according to charging documents.

The security guard was shot in his left arm, and fire personnel drove him to the hospital. A search for the suspects began.

Officers were told that security attempted to detain the two men after they passed the checkout area with store merchandise that was not paid for. A security guard got on the ground and was fighting with one of the men.

The other man, later identified as George, turned around and allegedly produced a gun "in what appeared to be an execution style attempt" and fired one round at the security guard while standing over him, prosecutors wrote.

The other security guard pulled out his own firearm and fired back, documents show. The men ran off and allegedly were firing back.

Milton police found George and detained him in the 5400 block of 23rd Street East. He had called his mother, and the officer asked him if he was OK. George allegedly told the officer to, "politely [explicit] off." The phone line was still open, and the officer heard George's father yelling at him to "leave him out of the report."

Stolen magazines and ammunition were recovered during a K-9 search for evidence along the path that George took after allegedly running from the store. Officers also recovered stolen clothing and bullets from on the ground near Sportco.

The second man was still on the run Tuesday, documents show.

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     (c)2024 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

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Man dies after tide sucks him through pipe between Puget Sound and lagoon at Pierce County park

A man escaping the heat Monday evening at Tacoma's Titlow Beach was apparently sucked into a culvert that leads to a lagoon at Titlow Park and Lodge. He later died at an area hospital, according to Tacoma police and fire departments.

The incident began around 7:45 p.m. when the 68-year-old man was on a personal flotation device in Puget Sound, according to Tacoma police spokesperson detective William Muse. At some point, according to a companion's report, the man got off the device and was standing in chest-high water. Shortly thereafter, he disappeared under the water, possibly in a whirlpool.

A culvert that runs underneath railroad tracks and a walking trail transfers tidal water between Puget Sound and the Titlow lagoon. When the tide comes in or rises, water flows into the lagoon. At low tide, the lagoon drains back into the Sound.

Monday's high tide at the Tacoma Narrows occurred at 9:13 p.m., according to NOAA. Titlow Beach is located at the western end of 6th Avenue and at the south end of the Narrows.

Tacoma Fire Department spokesperson Chelsea Shepard said her department received the call as a person trapped in a confined space. When crews arrived on scene, they quickly located the victim in the lagoon.

The man had a pulse, Shepard said, and was transported to a hospital where he died.

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     (c)2024 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

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In loving memory of Larry Eugene Thompson: Dec. 29, 1956 - May 31, 2024

With profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, son, brother and friend. 

Married to his soul mate for 43 years, Larry Eugene Thompson was a rock of love and support. Larry was a master craftsman who loved creating board games to play with the family and woodworking projects to enhance the home. His love for the great outdoors was contagious, and he captured countless memories made on his hiking trails. 

For 40 years, he dedicated his career to Thurmans and then Ferguson, leaving a lasting impact on those whose lives he touched. 

As we say goodbye for now to this extraordinary man, we take comfort in the memories we shared and celebrate a life well lived.

Larry is survived by his wife, Linda; sons, Kyle (Mari-Jo) and Ryan (Katie); mom, Marlene (Jerry) Futter; brothers, Dave (Tara) and Mike; and sister Cathy (Willie) Word.

He was preceded in death by his dad, Lloyd, and brother, Chris.

No services will be held at the request of Larry and Linda.

In loving memory of Ronald James: 1941-2024

Ronald Crowell James, of Olympia, Washington, was born in Chehalis, Washington, on July 6, 1941, to Ronald and Inez James. He passed away peacefully on June 20, 2024 at Woodland Estates in Chehalis. 

Ronald is preceded in death by his wife of 58 years, Wanda. He is survived by his son, Ron (Nicki) James Jr.; grandchildren, Logan (Jayln) James and Madeline (Trevor) Magnan; and two great-granddaughters, Willow and Marley, all of Chehalis. 

Ronald worked many years in the beer and wine industry. He loved golfing, boating and fishing in the Puget Sound, pheasant hunting, working in his yard and time with family and friends. There will be no formal services. The family will gather to celebrate his life privately at a later date.

In loving memory of Eilene Anderson: Feb. 20, 1944 - June 30, 2024

Eilene was born to Edwin and Hazel Keehn in Seattle, Washington. The family moved to Olympia, Washington, in 1946 after purchasing South Union Mercantile. Eilene spent the rest of her childhood growing up in that store, making many wonderful memories.

Eilene was loved by her family and friends and will be greatly missed. She is survived by her husband, Daniel Anderson; daughters, Cherri (Stacy) Crain and Tammie (Darrell) Schill; sons, Chris (Rhonda) Woodside and Shawn (Shannon) Anderson; 11 grandchildren: Danae, Alyssa, Joshua, Ema’Lee, Heather, Jordan, Carlie, Hailey, James, Julia, and Taylor; 17 great-grandchildren: Darren, Peyton, Caleb, Eden, Stevee, Nevaeh, Israel, Angeline, Roman, Bailey, Kaylee, Judah, Boden, Jack, Henry, Zahara and Travis; and two brothers, Louie Keehn and Wesley Pitman.

Eilene married Douglas Woodside on Dec. 23, 1962. They were married until his death in 1975. On May 27, 1988, she married Daniel Anderson, and they have lived in Rochester, Washington, for the last 30 years.

Eilene enjoyed sewing and making quilts for her children and grandchildren, taking walks, camping, gardening, canning and taking trips to Disneyland. She also loved being with her family, preserving heirlooms and sharing stories. Eilene was a long-time, active member of the Rochester Assembly of God and spent many hours in prayer, asking everyone she encountered how she could pray for them and what their needs were.

She is preceded in death by her first husband, Doug; father, Edwin Keehn; mother, Hazel Keehn; brothers Fred Keehn and Michael Keehn; and sister, Darlene Anderson.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7.

A celebration of life will be held at Napavine Assembly of God, 414 Second Ave. NE, Napavine, Washington, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 13, 2024, with a graveside following at Grand Mound Cemetery at 2 p.m. 6300 183rd Ave. SW Rochester, Washington. Viewing is available at Covenant Funeral Home, 1535 Mt. Brynion Road, Kelso, Washington, on Friday, July 12, from 1 to 4 p.m.

NYT Politics

At NATO Summit, U.S. and Allies Aim for Ukraine Commitments That Will Endure
Author: Edward Wong, Julian E. Barnes and Helene Cooper
The specter of a second Donald J. Trump presidency injects new urgency into the NATO summit this week. President Biden and other leaders agree Ukraine should have an “irreversible” path to membership.

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