Folks at The Seattle Times are expecting the worst, possibly late next month when the Seattle Times Co. board holds its regular meeting. The locally controlled, dominant, yet money-losing paper has been entangled in a legal dispute over its desire to end or revise the joint operating agreement (JOA) with the Hearst-owned Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Times Managing Editor David Boardman has been meeting with the more than 300 news staffers to discuss the possibility of layoffs if the paper, as expected, loses more than $12 million this year. First to go would likely be nine so-called interns. They are lesser experienced journalists who are promised a job for only three years but who do a great deal of important work and are indistinguishable, in print, from full-fledged reporters. They have been advised to refresh their résumés, some of which aren't all that out of date. The paper had hired a number of interns and even some more experienced journalists as recently as a few months ago, leading some to wonder who at Frank Blethen's paper is scanning the horizon. Vets say morale hasn't been this bad since the strike of 2000–01. CHUCK TAYLOR AND PHILIP DAWDY
Environmentalists might have celebrated prematurely over last month's defeat of powerful highway booster and state Sen. Jim Horn, R–Mercer Island. Horn, 74, a retired Boeing executive, might end up on the Washington State Transportation Commission or on the King County Council. In either role, he could make life difficult for greens with his tough advocacy for new highway capacity and his opposition to rail transit. If Republican Dino Rossi holds on as governor, he might be able to appoint up to five members of the seven-member commission that directs the state Department of Transportation, and road-loving Republicans are hoping Horn would be among them. There is also the possibility that Horn could serve the remainder of the term of King County Council member and state Attorney General–elect Rob McKenna, thereby having a big hand in shaping any regional transportation-funding package. Horn is noncommittal about either role. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.
It was a good week for deadbeat-dad detectives. With the help of federal authorities, the state snared two former professional athletes who owed more than $176,000 in child-support payments. On Dec. 6, officials announced that former Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Warren was arrested in Virginia on a U.S. warrant obtained by the Washington State Division of Child Support. Warren allegedly defaulted on $137,000 in payments and interest to his ex-wife, Monique Mulloy, and their two daughters. A Seahawk record-setting rusher from 1990 to 1997, Warren made $3 million his final year here. The state alleges he was almost two years behind on $5,000 monthly support. Warren will soon appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle to face what are now federal felony charges, just as former Seattle Sonics player Vernon Maxwell did Dec. 10. He earned $6.6 million from 1995 to 2002 in Seattle and most notably with the Houston Rockets, yet Maxwell hasn't been paying the $986 monthly support for his 1-year-old child here, according to charges. He owed about $39,000 and was in jail in Florida on a felony charge for failure to pay $160,000 in child support for his teenage son there. What's that you're muttering? Something about role models? RICK ANDERSON