February 16, 2024

Trump, Trump Org. ordered to pay $350 million in damages to NY State,
Bars him from running businesses in N.Y. for 3 years!

Donald Trump.
Credit: Steven Hirsch, Poll via Getty Images via NBC News.

Judge fines Donald Trump more than $350 million, bars him from running businesses in N.Y. for three years

The former president denied any wrongdoing, calling the case “a fraud on me.”

Excerpt from NBC News:

The judge who presided over a civil business fraud trial against Donald Trump on Friday ordered the former president, his sons, business associates and company to pay over $350 million in damages and temporarily limited their ability to do business in New York.

Judge Arthur Engoron ordered the former president and the Trump Organization to pay over $354 million in damages, and bars Trump “from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation or other legal entity in New York for a period of three years.”

He also continued “the appointment of an Independent Monitor” and ordered “the installation of an Independent Director of Compliance” for the company.

During the trial, Trump and executives at his company, including his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, attempted to blame exaggerated financial statements that were the heart of the AG’s case on the accountants who compiled them. Engoron disagreed.

“There is overwhelming evidence from both interested and non-interested witnesses, corroborated by documentary evidence, that the buck for being truthful in the supporting data valuations stopped with the Trump Organization, not the accountants,” he wrote. 

The judge also cited the lack of remorse by Trump and his executives after the fraud was discovered as showing the need for a monitor.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological. They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again. This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin. Defendants did not commit murder or arson. They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways,” Engoron wrote.

“Defendants’ refusal to admit error — indeed, to continue it, according to the Independent Monitor — constrains this Court to conclude that they will engage in it going forward unless judicially restrained,” he added.


February 16, 2024

‘Forever chemicals’ found in some Thurston well-water –
Get your own well water tested!

Tumwater falls and the former Olympia Brewing plant, which closed its doors in 2003. The beer built its reputation on the region’s artesian springs, using the tagline “It’s the Water.” But in the past several years, some water sources in the area have been found to be contaminated with PFAS, once-common chemicals that don’t easily break down, can travel long distances from their source, and have been shown to cause negative health effects. Credit: Andy Engelson for Crosscut, via The JOLT News.

‘Forever chemicals’ in Washington’s well water could make you sick

These are linked to ailments from high cholesterol to cancer are in our clearest aquifers — but steep costs pose cleanup challenges.

Excerpt from The JOLT News:

Recently, tests have revealed that several wells in Tumwater are contaminated with PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

These are a class of water-resistant human-made chemicals used in a wide variety of products from rain jackets to Teflon pans to firefighting foam. These so-called “forever chemicals” don’t break down easily in the environment and have been found to have negative health impacts that include higher cholesterol, decreased immune response, thyroid disease and increased risks of kidney and testicular cancer.

It’s a nationwide problem – a U.S. Geological Survey report in 2023 estimated that nearly half of the nation’s drinking water may contain PFAS. Even some Washington state water systems with a reputation for high-quality water aren’t immune.

“I’ve been spoiled,” said Paul Grant, a resident of the Lazy Acres neighborhood in Tumwater, which is served by Thurston PUD, noting his water has always “tasted great.” In 2021, tests revealed that two wells serving 94 households in the community were over the state’s acceptable levels for PFAS. “I’m definitely concerned,” Grant said, noting that he temporarily switched to bottled water and is talking to his landlord about installing a filtration system.

According to the latest data from the Washington State Department of Health, 30 public water utility sites across the state currently contain PFAS over the state action level, which requires utilities to create plans to remove or treat the source if possible.The state regulates five PFAS chemicals, and the two most common, PFOA and PFOS, are limited to 10 parts per trillion and 15 parts per trillion respectively – equivalent to less than a drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Barry Rogowski, toxics cleanup manager for the Washington State Department of Ecology, said the challenge of addressing PFAS contamination statewide is equal to the scale of widespread solvent contamination from dry-cleaning shops and industrial sites in the 1990s. “This is as significant as anything that we’ve seen in the last 30 years,” Rogowski said. “The problem with PFAS is they travel very rapidly, and in great distance in groundwater – much more so than some other compounds like gasoline or solvents.” PFAS chemicals were used extensively because they’re so slippery and water-repellent – properties that made them great for Gore-Tex jackets but unfortunately also make them widespread and difficult to clean up.


February 15, 2024

Yelm Community Schools levy continues to fail as votes are tallied!

Ballots being checked against their envelopes
Ballots being checked against their envelopes
Credit: Sage Hamilton via The JOLT News.

Yelm Community Schools levy continues to fail

Unofficial Results
February 13, 2024 Special Election
Thurston County, WA
Yelm Community Schools Proposition No. 1


TOTAL VOTE %
Yes 2,433 46.98%
No 2,746 53.02%
Total Votes Cast 5,179

Click here


February 15, 2024

Thurston County’s January home sales did something unusual –
Reflects a market that favors neither the buyer or seller!

Interviewed at a currently listed Olympia residence in the McAllister Park neighborhood on Feb. 6, 2024 Van Dorm Realty broker Alley Savin offers her thoughts on the January housing sales numbers for Thurston County. Credit: Steve Bloom, The Olympian.

Thurston County home sales did something in January that they struggled to do in 2023

Excerpt from The Olympian [accessible text via yahoo!]:

Thurston County home sales rose for the first time in months in January, climbing 8.5% last month from the same period a year ago, according to new data released by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

And that sales increase can be attributed to lower mortgage interest rates, said Van Dorm Realty broker Alley Savin, who has worked in residential real estate for 11 years.

“People are trying to take advantage of the dip we’ve had the last four months,” she said.

The average rate on a 30-year-mortgage hit 8% in October, but since then has fallen to around 6.6%, according to Freddie Mac data.

======

Although sales climbed last month, the rest of the county’s housing market looked awfully familiar in January: median price was right around $500,000 and inventory remains stubbornly low, still below two months, the data show.

A market that doesn’t favor either the buyer or seller is thought to have between four and six months of inventory. Right now it favors the seller, and if interest rates continue to dip, Savin said the market could heat up and become competitive again for prospective buyers.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but when rates rose, the competition for homes went away, which meant that negotiations between seller and buyer returned, Savin said.

They negotiated the purchase price, closing costs and whether the seller would pay for repairs, she said. If the market heats up again, those incentives typically go away, Savin said.


February 14, 2024

Valentine’s Day in Thurston County –
Things to do – Romance is in the air!

French pastries and espresso.
Credit: Left Bank Pastry, Olympia.

Six Romantic Things to Do in the Olympia Region

From Experience Olympia and Beyond:

The only thing left is a little inspiration to kickstart your romantic getaway to the Olympia region. Do date-night a little different or enjoy a classic romance that will create timeless memories; whatever catches you and your partner’s fancy! If you’re searching for something special, keep scrolling for some adventures in the Olympia region that will be sure to light the spark and have you returning year-after-year!

What’s Your Craving?

Imagine the aroma of warm bread directly from the bakery oven or sipping an award-winning coffee roasted locally in the Pacific Northwest. Picture feasting on the freshest seafood around straight from the tidal estuaries of the South Puget or grabbing seasonal produce at the Farmer’s Market or a sandwich to go for a picnic by the lake.

We have something to satisfy everyone’s appetite and it’s all here in Olympia. Find the best restaurants in the region including Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm, Rainier, Tenino, Grand Mound, Rochester, and Bucoda with a wide variety of locally sourced, hand-crafted, culinary experiences that will leave you wanting more.From fine dining to food trucks, sweet treats to seafood, cold brews to breweries — our culinary artists and a substantial international cuisine scene are ready to amaze you.


February 13, 2024

All but one school levy is passing in Thurston County – Yelm’s!

Supporters for the North Thurston Public Schools’ February levy gather at the busy intersection of Martin Way East and College St SE in Lacey, Wa. on Saturday, Feb. 10 as a reminder to passing motorists of the Tuesday voting deadline. Credit: Steve Bloom, The Olympian.

All but one school levy passing in Thurston County after first vote tallies Tuesday night

Excerpt from The Olympian:

Voters in every Thurston County school district weighed in on at least one funding measure in a special election held Tuesday, and initial results show most are passing. Just one property tax levy in Yelm is struggling to hit the mark.

As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, tallies showed 54% or 2,105 voters in Thurston County voting against Yelm Community School’s Educational Programs and Operations levy. The district also covers part of Pierce County, and 437 voters there — 59.9% — voted no.

Yelm’s levy covers 13% of its annual operating budget, according to the district website. Based on a maximum state collection rate of $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, the district planned to collect $15.5 million in 2025.

All Thurston County districts asked voters to approve Educational Programs and Operations replacement levies.


February 13, 2024

Yelm Prairie Line Trail to span Nisqually River into Pierce County!

The Yelm Prairie Line Trail will be the only one in the state crossing the Nisqually River, making the project both more challenging and of greater regional significance.
Photo credit: Thomas O’Keefe,
City of Yelm
  • Editor’s note: The Yelm City Council received an progress report from Public Works Director Cody Colt on February 6, 2024.
  • The Yelm Prairie Line Trail is soon to be completed to the Nisqually River Bridge.
  • The bridge is being transformed to allow pedestrians and emergency vehicles to cross.

Yelm Prairie Line Trail on Track to Span Nisqually River into Pierce County

Excerpt from the City of Yelm:

Most grant proposals are lucky to include two or three letters of support. But when the City of Yelm, in collaboration with ForeverGreen Trails, applied for funding to extend the Yelm Prairie Line Regional Trail (YPLT) across the Nisqually River and into Pierce County, 23 other organizations, including nonprofits, community groups, county commissioners and other cities in both Pierce and Thurston Counties wrote to endorse the project.

It’s a reflection of the trail’s regional importance, which goes well beyond the cities of Yelm or Roy. The ultimate goal is to connect to a vast trail network that will allow users to travel across the state. “Eventually you’ll be able to get all the way to Eastern Washington from Teninoor Olympia, or even to the Willapa Hills Trail by Chehalis and out to the coast” says City of Yelm Community Development Director Grant Beck. “We’re the only link over the Nisqually River, so that has statewide significance.”

Historically, the Prairie Line railroad spanned from Kalama to downtown Tacoma. In 2000, the City of Yelm purchased a 4.8-mile section of the right-of-way extending from Yelm into Pierce County near the City of Roy. In 2009, Yelm developed a 1.3-mile portion of non-motorized trail that linked over 45 miles of trail network within Thurston County.

Getting the trail over the river is Phase II of the project, one that’s included in an updated version of the City of Yelm’s Parks and Recreation Plan, part of the overall Comprehensive Plan. “All of that work was centered in Yelm and Thurston County,” says Anne Wahrmund, a member of the Yelm Planning Commission and the vice-chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. “As we made more progress and started looking at moving the trail across the river, it became clear that we needed to coordinate with efforts going on in Pierce County.”


February 12, 2024

Abraham Lincoln’s 215th birthday recognized today – February 12th!

Lincoln Memorial. Credit: National Park Service.

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday to be Observed at the Lincoln Memorial\

Credit

February 11, 2024

Trump ordered to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million,
Will he have to pay N.Y. $300+ million, too? Stay tuned this week!

Credit: Biden-Harris HQ Tweet on X

Trump’s headlines last week show legal fess draining his campaign

  • Editor’s note: Trump was ordered Friday to pay E. Jean Carrroll $83.3 million.
  • Very soon he will get the fine in the NY fraud case, which could be more than $300 million.
  • Trump may be forced to sell-off assets to make the required payments.

+ NBC News: Republicans kill border bill in a sign of Trump’s strength and McConnell’s waning influence – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell encouraged GOP senators to pass an immigration and Ukraine aid deal. Just four of them supported it. In the end, even he voted no.

+ MSNBC: Trump insists crimes are politics and politics are criminal – The doublespeak to his followers after his presidential immunity claim was rejected is too dangerous to allow ourselves to become numb to it.

+ MSNBC’s Deadline White House: Historic, landmark decision’: Judge Michael Luttig reacts to Trump immunity ruling

+ Daily Kos: GOP voters out of step with Americans on Trump immunity, new poll shows

+ Newsweek: Liz Cheney Shares Warning About Donald Trump Witnesses

+ CNN: Judge affirms $83.3 million verdict against Donald Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation case – Trump has been ordered to pay

+ Salon: Trump could face “draconian remedy” if CFO’s possible perjury deal goes through

+ Raw Story: Jan. 6 tweet could doom Trump in Supreme Court — and in Jack Smith’s case

+ CNN: Fact check: Trump lies that Jan. 6 was ‘an insurrection caused by Nancy Pelosi’

+ MSNBC Deadline White House: ‘Culture of punishment’: Witnesses fear threats of violence for cooperating in Trump investigations

+ Morning Joe: Steve Rattner: Biden leads Trump in fundraising, legal fees drain Trump campaign

+ The Washington Post: Putin interview with Tucker Carlson shows Kremlin outreach to Trump’s GOP

+ MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes: Maddow: Trump claim ‘outrighted mocked’ by court in immunity rejection

+ The Atlantic: Trump’s ‘Knock on the Door’ – The former president and his aides are formulating plans to deport millions of migrants.

+ The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein: Trump told NRA Friday his mass deportation program would begin “within moments” of taking office. To do at scale would likely require 150-200k law enforcement officers, including a private army of red state ntl guard he’d deploy into blue states.

+ MSNBC’s Jen Psaki: The cannibalization of the GOP

It has been a news week for the record books. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said he felt “like the guy standing in the middle of the field in a thunderstorm, holding up the metal stick.” An evocative image, yes, and one that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about the modern GOP. Lankford dared to negotiate one of the more conservative border bills in history to address an issue his party has been screaming about for years. As a thank-you for his efforts, he was censured by the Republican Party in Oklahoma and threatened with destruction by a prominent MAGA radio host. And Lankford is not the only Republican leader the right wing threatened to devour this week. Republican National Committee chair Ronna Romney McDaniel has spent years catering to Donald Trump’s needs. She’s endured years of attacks, spent hundreds of thousands of donor dollars on Trump’s legal troubles, faced multiple subpoenas and even stopped publicly using her maiden name in deference to the de facto party leader. In return, she is being publicly ousted as the leader of the RNC. Typically, politicians succeed by expanding their support base. In contrast, Trump sends his MAGA wolves after anyone who dares compromise, work with the other party, or deviate from the guidance of the dear leader. In Trump’s view, everyone is replaceable. Loyalty trumps intelligence, experience or efficiency. And he could care less if he burns the Republican Party to the ground as a result.

February 10, 2024

County examines inclusiveness of ‘Point in Time Homeless Census’

Several homeless individuals struggle to stay warm.
Photo by JM Simpson, January 13, 2024 via The JOLT News
.

County commissioners look at accuracy, inclusiveness of ‘Point in Time Homeless Census’

The census is crucial for assessing the extent of homelessness in the community.

Preliminary report expected to be published mid-March

Excerpt from The JOLT News:

The Thurston Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) agenda-setting meeting on Tuesday, February 6, was marked by discussions surrounding the annual Point in Time Homeless Census and the Right of Way initiative.

Thurston’s Homeless Prevention Coordinator Keylee Marineau said the census was conducted at the end of January, commending the various initiatives of county staff and volunteers.

Along with the census, essential services, such as free vaccinations for flu and COVID-19, haircuts, and foot and wound care, were also provided.

Marineau explained that the census is crucial for assessing the extent of homelessness in the community.

======

Marineau clarified that every county must conduct an annual count, but challenges exist in accurately capturing homeless populations, especially in South County areas where centralized gathering places are scarce.

Marineau also acknowledged the limitations in identifying individuals who may not self-identify as homeless or may not fit the Department of Housing and Urban Development definition.


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