The panel of drug-policy leaders tasked with evaluating the effects of I-75, the 2003 initiative making possession of marijuana the lowest law-enforcement priority for Seattle police, issued its final report this week.
The good news: Marijuana arrests dropped by 40 percent, and resources (an estimated $70,000 after the first year according to the report) were transferred to fighting more serious crimes.
The annoying news: Arrests of white males for pot went from 75 to 50 between 2003 and now. Arrests of black males went from 94 to 76. So, arrests of white males, fewer to begin with, dropped more dramatically, 33 percent, while arrests of black males dropped about 19 percent. JOSH FEIT
In the first week of 2008, Seattle police are already investigating two high-profile murders. Just after 7:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve, Shannon Harps—a campaign organizer for the Sierra Club—was stabbed in the entryway of her Capitol Hill condo. Neighbors heard Harps's screams and rushed to her aid, but she died at Harborview later that night.
SPD has released a sketch of a "person of interest" in the case, which matches the description—six feet tall, 40s or 50s, beard— of a man seen fleeing the scene. But police still have no suspects in the case.
Four days after Harps's murder, 17-year-old Allen Joplin was shot and killed at a "back to school" party held at Studio One-Sixteen on the 100 block of Elliott Avenue West. Joplin, a former Cleveland High School student, was at Studio One-Sixteen with his girlfriend when two unidentified men crashed the party. Joplin exchanged words with the men and was shot. Seattle police homicide and gang units are investigating and, again, have not identified any suspects. JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE
Seattle Housing Authority director Tom Tierney responded to reports of faulty hot-water systems and possible lead contamination in heating water at the NewHolly development last week ["Lead Pipe," Erica C. Barnett, Jan 3], sending a letter assuring all NewHolly residents that their water "does not contain high levels of lead, and is well within acceptable standards."
However, Tierney was not able to explain to homeowners and renters why the NewHolly homeowners association was not given the report that initially disclosed elevated lead levels in one of SHA's rental units at NewHolly when it requested it more than a year ago. "I want to assure you that we did not intentionally withhold" the report, which also revealed that hot-water pipes were leaking into NewHolly's walls and causing water damage, Tierney's letter says.
SHA spokeswoman Virginia Felton adds, "we were operating under the assumption that [residents] had [the letter]." Although SHA believes the water is safe, the agency will hire a contractor to retest the water at NewHolly, because "there's a lot of concern about this among our residents." ERICA C. BARNETT