The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Northwest Women's Law Center are appealing a federal judge's ruling that...

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The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Northwest Women’s Law Center are appealing a federal judge’s ruling that Washington pharmacies do not have to sell “morning-after” birth control pills if their pharmacists have moral objections.

A federal court judge in Tacoma issued an injunction last month preventing the state from enforcing a rule that pharmacies make the drug available.

The organizations appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week, saying the ruling misconstrues legal precedent, and they asked the judge to stay the injunction while the appeal is pending.

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Critics consider the pill tantamount to abortion, although it is different from the abortion pill RU-486 and has no effect on women who already are pregnant.


Council committee backs property deal

The City Council’s land-use committee Wednesday recommended selling property across the street from City Hall to Triad, a Seattle developer that wants to build a 40-story office and condo tower on the property. The tower would be part of a $350 million Civic Square project that includes a public plaza.

If approved by the full council Monday, Triad would pay $25 million to the city, minus the cost to design and build the plaza. The final payment to the city would be about $1.5 million.

Triad’s tower, which would occupy 45 percent of the block, includes retail in the lower stories, 22 stories of office space and 17 stories of 155 condos on top. Triad would contribute to operation and maintenance of the plaza.

The city-owned plaza, which would take up the other 55 percent, would include a separate shopping area that Triad would lease from the city. Cascading terraces and fountains would also be built on the plaza, which would be the largest public open space in downtown Seattle.

If approved, construction would begin in 2009 and end in 2011.


Council member ordered to pay fine

The state Public Disclosure Commission has ordered Metropolitan King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson to pay a $200 fine for tardy reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures.

In an order signed Monday by Executive Director Vicki Rippie, the PDC assessed a $500 penalty, but suspended $300 on condition that there be no other violations through the end of 2009.

The PDC found after a hearing that Ferguson’s 2005 and 2009 campaigns filed 13 reports that were between 22 and 475 days late. The reports were filed June 1, when Ferguson was considering filing as a candidate to succeed Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, who died May 24. Ferguson, D-Seattle, decided not to run.

Ferguson said Wednesday he won’t contest the PDC penalty. “It was my fault. I’m sorry. I’ve taken steps to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” he said.

He said in a PDC hearing Nov. 26 that he had hired Phil Lloyd, an experienced treasurer, to keep his campaign reports up to date.

Neah Bay, Clallam County

5 plead not guilty to whale charges

Five members of the Makah Tribe have pleaded not guilty to tribal charges of participating in an unauthorized whale hunt.

Frankie Gonzales, Wayne Johnson, Andrew Noel, Parker and William Secor Sr., all of Neah Bay, face trial Jan. 22 in Neah Bay. Conviction carries a maximum penalty of a year in tribal jail and a $5,000 fine.

They also are scheduled for trial March 18 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on charges of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. That violation carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.

The tribe has a treaty right to kill gray whales and did so in 1999. However, the tribe did not have a permit for the hunt on Sept. 8. A gray whale was harpooned, repeatedly shot and died slowly and sank off Neah Bay.


WASL alternative deadline nears

High-school seniors who haven’t passed the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) have until Friday to register to turn in a collection of evidence as an alternative that will allow them to graduate.

Their portfolio of work is due Feb. 15, to be graded by early May.

The collection would not be a portfolio of old class work but a compilation of new assignments that meet specific state guidelines.

Students must do an extensive amount of work at the same level of rigor, and the grading of the work is strict. The main difference is they have a lot more time to complete the work, under the guidance of a teacher.

Students, or their parents, must tell their school’s or school district’s testing coordinators by Friday that they want to submit a collection of evidence. School districts must inform the state by Saturday.

Seattle Times staff and news services

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