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Federal Way’s top 10 news stories of 2013
The year 2013 was another remarkable one for Federal Way. From fatal shootings that shocked the community, to the city moving forward on an ambitious project that many hope will revitalize the city’s economy, Federal Way saw it all in 2013.
Here are the top 10 stories from 2013, as compiled by The Mirror’s editorial staff:
1. Pinewood Village apartment shooting:
In one of the deadliest incidents in Federal Way history, 27-year-old Dennis Clark III fatally shot his girlfriend, Justine E. Baez, in her apartment at the Pinewood Village Apartments in April. Clark, attempting to flee the scene, was confronted by two men: Ceasar A. Valdovinos, 23 and 47-year-old Bradley Fischer. Clark fatally shot both men. He also killed 62-year-old Roland L. Scobee inside his apartment while attempting to call 911.
Federal Way Police Department officers then shot and killed Clark.
The incident left the community shaken, and seeking answers as to how this kind of violence erupted here in Federal Way.
2. The Performing Arts and Conference Center:
The city council’s deliberations over the Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC) covered most of 2013.
From March, when the council gave the go-ahead to spend approximately $355,000 on schematic designs by Lorax Partners, to late November, when the council voted to move ahead with the land-use permit application process, the proposed project has been a conversation piece for both the council and community throughout the entire year.
With an estimated price tag of $32 million, which makes it the most expensive project the city has ever undertaken, the PACC looks like it will continue to be a point of debate going forward in 2014, especially as the dissenting votes on the council have increased in recent months.
3. Maloney vs. Priest
In an odd episode that seemed to signal the beginning of the end for outgoing Mayor Skip Priest, Council member Kelly Maloney filed a complaint against Priest in May.
The complaint stemmed from a conversation that Maloney and Priest had that month, in which Priest is said to have used his “direct mode” with Maloney, which included swearing and raising his voice towards her.
An external investigation found no wrongdoing on Priest’s part, although there was some criticism regarding the investigation itself and the manner in which it was conducted.
4. Priest caught recovering signs
The outgoing Mayor found himself in another odd situation in early October, when it was revealed that he had been caught attempting to recover his campaign signs from the city’s “sign jail” in late September.
Surveillance footage showed the Mayor recovering the signs from the “sign jail” late at night.
Priest said he received an invoice for the campaign signs Sept. 24 and wrote a check for $120 that same day. The city issued Priest a receipt at 11:06 a.m. Sept. 25. Priest provided copies of the receipt and check, but did not have a copy of the invoice.
Federal Way Police Department chief Brian Wilson asked the Washington State Patrol to step in and investigate. According to the Washington State Attorney General’s office, an investigation into Priest’s actions is still open.
5. Ferrell elected Mayor
Jim Ferrell, a King County prosecutor and longtime member of the Federal Way City Council, will be taking the top spot in city government in 2014, unseating Mayor Skip Priest in the November election. Ferrell took the mayorship with 55.2 percent of the vote, winning in a rematch against Priest. Both men ran for Mayor in 2010, the first year Federal Way had a “strong mayor” form of government.
6. School district grading system
Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) administrators and board members got an earful after the school year started. With the district’s third grading system in four years under what’s known as Standards Based Grading (SBG), students and parents came out of the woodwork to express displeasure at the system once the school year began.
According to many, the new iteration of SBG implemented this year allowed for an unusual skewing of grades, which many felt was unfair. After the uproar, the board and district agreed to make changes mid-school year within the framework of SBG, and will continue to work on improvements moving forward into 2014.
7. Global Learning Initiative
The district was also under fire late in the year over it’s “Global Learning Initiative” (GLI), a bold plan initiated by Superintendent Rob Neu and administrators to make FWPS a global district, complete with foreign exchange programs that would bring international students to Federal Way, and send Federal Way students overseas.
The initial parts of the GLI included a number of lengthy trips by Neu and others abroad, including places like China, South Korea and parts of Europe. In information that the district provided, the costs of these trips ranged from $4,000-$33,000, causing some to question the validity of spending those amounts of money while the district struggles in so many other areas.
8. Tony Moore arrested
It was on the way to one of those trips abroad that then-FWPS board president Tony Moore was arrested by authorities at Sea-Tac Airport in September.
Moore, accused of stealing $150,000 in truck tires from a tire wholesaler in Portland, OR, was held in jail from Sept. 17-20, when he was able to post $50,000 in bail. Moore has denied the allegations, and retains his seat on the FWPS Board of Directors, although he did lose his position as board president after this situation came to light.
The case is still ongoing and Moore could face a jury trial.
9. FWPD officer in hot water
Former FWPD officer Ashley Crispin made national headlines in June, when an altercation he had with Kirkland resident Megan Graham came to light.
In that incident, Crispin alleged that Graham, during the course of their interaction, was uncooperative and aggressive. In response, Crispin used force to complete Graham’s arrest, leaving Graham with a severely blackened eye. An internal investigation by the FWPD concluded that his use of force was justified.
Crispin’s troubles weren’t over, however, when he was forced to resign later that month, after it was uncovered that he had allegedly been contacting women he met during his duties as an officer, and sending them nude to semi-nude pictures of himself through text messaging and other means.
10. Girl fights for right to keep pet goats
12-year-old Ava Anissipour and her family made headlines in July when they found themselves at City Hall, fighting to change city code regard livestock animals. Anissipour had been able to keep her first goat as a service/companion animal, but the addition of a second goat to the household violated the city’s code regarding “large livestock animals,” which require they be kept on a larger piece of property than the Anissipour residence.
Many came out in support of Anissipour while others were critical of the issue, saying Federal Way neighborhoods are not a place for animals like goats. The story came to an end in October, when the council voted against moving forward in the code revision process that would have allowed Anissipour to keep the second animal.