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Morning Wire: Q&A w/Sara Nelson, New lead reporter position, Wildfire season

This may be the calm before the storm.

Thursday is the last published day on the US Supreme Court calendar to release opinions from its current term (though they have a few more weeks for orders). It’s a term that saw a meaningful challenge to the ACA last November. It was a case many in the media thought could not be overturned, based on the line of questioning from the justices. But for that to happen, Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh both will need to break from the 6-3 conservative majority to craft a majority opinion with the three more liberal justices. That seems a tough reach. 

Anyone who tells you they know what’s coming should probably not be listened to, including me. But, for what it’s worth, I’d offer this is not a binary moment. The range of options which I think may be on the table for the justices to land a majority on is wide. Like the first NFIB case, expect the unexpected. You can read my break down of the Texas case from 2019 here, or my incorrect prediction of the 2012 NFIB case (and subsequent explanation of Roberts’ creative opinion here). 

With help from Ian Portmann

1. Heading back to the stadium 

Now that it’s June, the Mariners sit 4 games out of the Wild Card game. They’re close enough to hold one’s interest – and heart – for another few months if they can stay around .500 ball. And, it turns out folks are coming back to the park

Starting next week, the Mariners can host about 30,000 attendees at the stadium. I’d say go while you can. These are good summer days. But, with the new India variant from COVID set to crowd out all other variants in Washington State, the fall could be a bit trickier. This 1.6171 variant is able to mitigate some of the vaccine efficacy. Current IHME projections remain low through summer, though they project combined spikes in flu and COVID in the winter that will test hospital capacity.

All that to say there is some concern about crowd size of fall sports like college and NFL football. So, if you’re wanting to take in a professional game, the Mariners homestand starts on the 14th (or the Seawolves, or the Sounders, or the Reign.)

2. Sara Nelson, Seattle City Council 

It’s been 12 years since a small business owner served on the Seattle City Council, says Sara Nelson. She’s the co-founder of Fremont Brewing, with a current payroll of 70 employees. She’s running for a city-wide seat on the Council, against Brianna Thomas, Nikkita Oliver and two others. In this wide ranging interview, she touches on housing, policing and culture, among other topics. But she says her focus, if elected, will be on economic recovery. 

“My top priority is economic recovery. Because of the business closures, for me it’s about jobs… Crisis does breed opportunity and we have a chance for a major political reset in this town and it starts by electing candidates who will be accountable for delivering measurable results.”

3. ICYMI: Horrors reported in British Columbia

In Vancouver, BC, a former counsel to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls alleges in a tweet thread that native girls in foster care as young as 9 have been forced to have IUDs inserted as contraception. He says this is to deal with the “statutory rape” they are alleged to suffer rather than move them to a safer environment. 

Also in BC, ground penetrating radar found the remains of 215 unidentified children in mass graves outside a “residential school.” In Alberta, more than 800 native children at “residential schools” died over years of mistreatment – about 2% of all the kids ever to go through those Alberta institutions. 

4. Hiring our next gov & political reporter 

We have bid adieu to Michael Goldberg, our intrepid lead reporter here at the Wire, as he goes off to the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC. Like Sara Gentzler before Michael, who went on to cover the capital for McClatchy, we’re proud of the work our reporters have done here at the Wire and where we have seen them off to as a result.

Now we’re hiring for our next lead reporter. With others on our team, like Ian Portmann who has some great stories this week, you’ll be part of changing the nature of civic journalism in Washington State. We’re entrepreneurially-minded, and working to create smarter conversations about our politics, policies and personalities of Washington State. If you are mission-driven and focused on a smarter, more civil politics, we’d love to hear from you. 

5. Over 400 wildfires this year, so far 

According to Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, Washington State has already had 400 wildfires this year. The CPL website shows 8 small fires currently in Washington State, with two fires totaling 9,000 acres in Oregon near the border with Asotin County.  

The largest fire in state history was the Cold Springs Canyon fire just last year over Labor Day at 410,000 acres burned. The second and third largest fires were in 2015 and 2014, respectively. So far, much of the state is considered a moderate to low risk for fires as it’s early in the season still. The 7-day prediction tool used by the NW Interagency Coordination Center shows a below normal level of risk. But, in Arizona and New Mexico today, almost 200,000 acres are burning, perhaps underscoring a long-term narrative of climate refugees likely moving to Washington State from the SW.

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