Travel lawsuit, train crash among top 10 Washington stories
Washington taking the lead among states in legal battles against President Donald Trump’s travel ban was voted the state’s top news story of 2017 by Associated Press member editors and AP staff.
Other top news items of the past 12 months included the deadly Amtrak train derailment south of Tacoma, the death of Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell and the multiple radiation scares at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Here are 2017′s Top Washington stories:
1)Washington state sues over Trump travel ban
In late January Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued President Donald Trump over his temporary ban on immigration from certain countries with majority-Muslim populations, making Washington the first state to announce legal action over Trump’s controversial move that saw thousands of protesters flood the nation’s airports. Less than a week later a federal judge in Seattle imposed a nationwide hold on the ban. Trump’s travel restrictions were revised several times and multiple states sued before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month allowed a version to take effect as the challenges wind their way through the courts.
2) Seattle Mayor resigns following sex abuse allegations.
In September Seattle Mayor Ed Murray left office after a fifth man came forward to accuse him of sexual abuse decades ago. Before being elected mayor in 2013, Murray was a long-time state lawmaker who led the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state. As mayor he pushed to raise the city’s minimum hourly wage to $15. Before the allegations emerged Murray had been expected to easily win re-election. In November city voters chose former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan to lead Seattle. She became only the second female elected Seattle mayor.
3)Amtrak train derailment
An Amtrak passenger train travelling twice the speed limit sped into a curve and derailed, spilling rail cars onto Interstate 5 and killing three people. Experts say it’s possible the engineer was distracted just prior to the Dec. 18 crash south of Tacoma which also injured dozens. Attention also turned to technology that can automatically slow or stop a speeding train - known as positive train control - which was not operational for this line. Regulators have been pressing railroads for years to install such technology, and some have done so, but the deadline has been extended repeatedly at the industry’s request.
4)Amazon announces search for HQ2
Online retailing behemoth Amazon surprised many in early September when it announced it was looking for a second home to complement its Seattle headquarters. The company said it will spend more than $5 billion to build another center in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees. Dozens of cities rushed to submit bids to woo the tech giant and the move by Amazon sparked mixed emotions in its hometown, where civic and business leaders pledged to work more closely with the company while critics said its rapid growth had made Seattle too expensive and too crowded.
5)Everett, Tacoma and Washington state separately sue the makers of OxyContin and other opioids
Lawsuits against opioid makers piled up this year with the city of Everett leading the charge. Everett sued the drug manufacturer of OxyContin in January, blaming Purdue Pharma for an addiction crisis that has overwhelmed city resources and deepened its homelessness problem. Months later, the cities of Tacoma and Seattle and Washington state also separately sued to hold Purdue and other opioid makers accountable for an addiction crisis that has claimed thousands of lives. The governments hope to recoup costs of responding to drug addiction, including money spent on emergencies, criminal justice and social services. The latest suits accuse the companies of deliberately overstating the effectiveness of their prescription painkillers while misleading patients and doctors about the risks of addiction — in violation of Washington’s consumer protection laws.
6)Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dies
Grief-stricken Chris Cornell fans left flowers at memorials across Seattle in May for the musician whose forceful, somber songs helped cement the city’s place in rock history. Authorities say Cornell hanged himself in a Detroit hotel room May 18 following a Soundgarden concert. The band had reunited in 2010 after years on hiatus. KEXP, Seattle’s popular independent radio station, paid tribute to Cornell all day. The station played non-stop songs from Soundgarden, Cornell’s other bands and his solo work, as well as artists who covered Cornell’s material and those who were influenced by him. That night the city’s Space Needle went dark for an hour in tribute to Cornell.
7) Radiation scares/cleanup at Hanford
A tunnel containing radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Eastern Washington partially collapsed on May 9, forcing some 3,000 workers to shelter in place for several hours. Authorities said there were no injuries from the accident, but it underscored concerns about cleanup and aging infrastructure left over from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons at the sprawling site near Richland. Workers are engaged in a massive cleanup of the wastes, which is expected to take decades and cost more than $2 billion a year.
8) Kennewick Man buried
The ancient bones of the Kennewick Man were returned to the ground. More than 200 members of five Columbia Plateau tribes and bands gathered at an undisclosed location in February to lay the remains of the man they call the Ancient One to rest. Legislation signed by President Obama required the skeleton, believed to be about 8,400 years old, to be turned over to the coalition of tribes. Kennewick Man was found on the banks of the Columbia River in 1996 by two college students. The skeleton is among the oldest and most complete found in North America. The tribes had pushed for years to bury the skeleton, which some scientists initially believed was not Native American. Later study determined the bones were likely an ancestor of today’s Native Americans.
9)Massive women’s marches in Seattle, other Northwest cites
Across the Pacific Northwest, women’s marches and rallies on Jan. 21 in cities from Seattle to Spokane, as well as Portland, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho, drew tens of thousands of people. Demonstrators wore pink “pussyhats” and waved signs proclaiming: “You belong,” ″Love Trumps hate.” Seattle police and city officials did not provide a crowd estimate, but march organizers said in late afternoon that more than 150,000 people showed up. Some marchers said they were protesting Trump and his policies, while others wanted to promote unity or to fight racism, sexism and hate.
10)State panel recommends Gov. Jay Inslee reject a massive oil terminal along the Columbia River
A Washington state energy panel voted unanimously in late November to recommend that Gov. Jay Inslee reject a massive oil-by-rail terminal proposed along the Columbia River. The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council said developers had not met their burden to show that the proposed port of Vancouver site was acceptable. The Vancouver Energy terminal, a joint venture of Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos., would receive about 360,000 barrels of crude oil a day by trains at the port of Vancouver. Oil would temporarily be stored on site and then loaded onto tankers and ships bound for West Coast refineries. Inslee will make his final decision soon.