Locals gather in support of each other at an ant-hate rally on Aug. 5. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Schaechter

Locals gather in support of each other at an ant-hate rally on Aug. 5. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Schaechter

The Roundup: White supremacy, teacher salaries and a homemade bomb

• Over 100 people rallied outside the Crossroads Bellevue shopping center on Aug. 5 to protest the presence of white supremacist fliers that emerged around the city back in July.

Back on July 29, posters promoting white supremacist ideology through a Nazi slogan “blood and soil” were posted around Bellevue. Several local residents quickly tore down the posters, but it was still unsettling to the community, as the protesters at the Aug. 5 rally told it.

The rally was planned by a Bellevue resident and member of the Anti-Defamation League, Rebecca Schaechter, through a Facebook page. Numerous local public figures and elected officials attended including Bellevue school board president My-Linh Thai, state Sen. Patty Kuderer, acting Bellevue police chief Patrick Arpin, and Bellevue deputy mayor Lynne Robinson.

“At one point, I asked my daughter, ‘Doesn’t it feel good that we’re taking these down?’ and she said ‘Yeah, it feels good, but I’m really sad that I have to do this,’” said a local mother from an immigrant background at the Aug. 5 protest. “That made me feel horrible because I did think that growing up, things would get better and my kids wouldn’t have to deal with the racism or certain things that I dealt with.”

Schaechter, the organizer of the event, said that the community turnout to the rally exceeded her expectations. “It definitely grew bigger than I thought, I was thrilled…It was a wonderful experience and I think we accomplished our goal, which was to let people know in the neighborhood that immigrants are welcome in Bellevue. Diversity is welcome in Bellevue and this is who we are.” – Bellevue Reporter

• While Kent public school teachers are hoping to increase their salaries in ongoing negotiations with the Kent School District, the two sides have yet to reach a deal.

Teachers’ union representatives and district officials went through eight hours of bargaining talks on Aug. 9, but came to no satisfactory agreement. More talks will be planned, but a mediator has been requested, which will slow down the scheduling process. And if a deal isn’t reached before the first day of school on Aug. 30, a teacher strike might occur in the state’s fifth-largest school district.

“It’s a reality, but it’s not one I’m willing to concede to yet,” Christie Padilla, president of the Kent Education Association (KEA), said of the prospects of a strike. “There are a number of options that we have before we get to a strike. Nobody wants to strike. I don’t want to strike. There’s a number of things that we can try to do before we get to that place, but I think our members are angry enough to certainly consider that option.”

Kent teachers want more than the district’s offer of a 3.1 percent cost-of-living increase adjustment to teacher salaries, but the district hasn’t budged on their original proposed pay bump, union leaders said. “Negotiations did not go as well as we had hoped,” Padilla said on Aug. 10 by email. “Needless to say, the KEA Bargaining Team is extremely disappointed on behalf of our teachers, students, parents and community.”

The state Legislature recently approved substantial funding to meet the 2012 McCleary Supreme Court ruling mandating that lawmakers allocate more money for public education. As such, the Kent School District is just one of many districts across the state renegotiating teacher salaries.

KEA members contend that money from the state intended for teacher salaries is being used by administrators to cover financial shortfalls. Union officials also contend that teachers are leaving the Kent School District due to the increasing cost of living and the lack of responsive pay increases.– Kent Reporter

• Vashon Island residents Karl Haflinger and Stewart Putnam competed in the 2018 Pacific Cup sailing race between San Francisco and Hawaii and claimed first place in their division.

“We were ecstatic, really,” Haflinger said of their win. “It was just so great.”

Haflinger, who owns Sea State, a commercial fishing consultancy, has lived with his wife Mary Nerini on Vashon for roughly 21 years, while Putnam is a born-and-raised islander — Vashon High School class of 1985 . Both are lifelong sailors. (The men sailed on Halflinger’s 35-foot sloop “Shearwater” along with three other crew members in the race.)

The Pacific Cup is one of three major trans-Pacific sailing races from the West Coast of North America to Hawaii, and took place back in early July. Competitors in the race cover a little more than 2,000 miles of open ocean The race has been finished in anywhere from a record-breaking six days to a more leisurely 19. Race organizers say that average completion time, in the absence of extreme conditions, is about 10 to 14 days. (Of course, all of those estimates are subject to extreme weather which could snarl initially charted courses.) Halfinger and Putnam finished the race in 11 days, three hours and 29 minutes.

Logistics for the race included preparing meals that could be frozen for the crew of five for 10 days, and on-deck watches that were limited to four hours at a time. “We actually finished with some meals still in the cooler,” Haflinger said. “We managed to catch a tuna and a mahi-mahi along the way.”

Aside from their win, Haflinger’s best — and worst — memories of the experience come from his time spent keeping watch at night. “When the moon and the stars were out, it was magical,” he explained. “We’re moving fast, you could see squalls all around but not coming at us … just incredible. But when it wasn’t clear and the moon wasn’t up, there was no light, and then a squall would slam into us … that was the worst.” – Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber

• Details are emerging about a case involving Joshua Brooks, a 38-year-old Federal Way resident, who was charged with possession of an incendiary device after a vehicle exploded in the city on a residential street on June. 5

Officers responding to the scene contacted Brooks, the owner of the Toyota 4Runner that exploded, and placed a restraining order on him. Police eventually concluded that Brooks had been manufacturing homemade explosives due to the presence of substances in his room at his house such as Triacetone Triperoxide. Other common ingredients for homemade explosives, including acetone and acid, were also found in common areas his home and in another car on the property. (These ingredients can be found in many easily accessible products such as nail polish.) Besides the explosive ingredients, 11 guns were found in various locations on the property.

In a written report to the police, Brooks’ mother stated that Brooks had a history of depression and addiction to prescribed medication. She also wrote that he had previously alluded to wanting to commit suicide. Brooks’ father added that he liked shooting guns and mixing chemicals to produce explosive reactions. – Federal Way Mirror

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