Jul 28, 2014

Bellevue Stories With the Biggest Impact in 2012

What were some of the stories that made the biggest impact in 2012? Here's the year in review.

What were some of the stories that made the biggest impact in 2012? In no particular order, here's 2012 in review.

Bellevue Wolverines Win their Fifth Straight Football Title

The Bellevue Wolverines defeated Eastside Catholic in the 3A state championship game Friday night, becoming the first team in the state to win a fifth straight title.

The feat gained the Wolverines and coach Butch Goncharoff national attention, with several national polls putting the Bellevue team in the number one spot in the nation after the 35-3 blowout.

Washington Legalizes Gay Marriage

Same sex couples can now be recognized legally, after voters approved Referendum 74, which affirmed the Washington law signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year that allows same sex couples to marry. Foes of the law had gathered enough signatures to put it to a vote.

Many long-time gay and lesbian couples didn't waste time, getting marriage licenses on the first day they were issued, and getting married on Dec. 9, three days after the the required waiting period.

Neil Hoyt of Bellevue, who married his partner of 23-years, Donald Glenn Jenny, said it was good to have their relationship officially recognized.

“After 23 years of being ‘just roommates’ according to the law, our relationship will be considered worthy by the state.  It will be exciting to be legal, finally, with the only man I’ve ever loved,” he said.

Bellevue Gets Two Walmarts

The city with no Walmart became the city with two Walmarts in 2012, after the opening of a Walmart Neighborhood Market at Kelsey Creek shopping center and another one at the Market Place at Factoria. The two retail locations had remained shuttered for many years -- a closed KMart at Kelsey Creek and a closed Mervyn's at Factoria. Some shoppers were excited about the new stores, but others remained skeptical of the big box retailer coming to Bellevue.

Seattle Attorney Arrested in Connection with Bellevue Massage Therapist Rape

Several massage therapists identified Seattle attorney Danford Grant in a series of rapes this year, including an attack of a Bellevue massage therapist and the rape of a Shoreline massage therapist at her home.

Grant was arrested after a massage therapist in Seattle reported a sexual assault by a customer, and Seattle police arrested him after other employees at the massage therapy center tried to detain him.

That incident came less than a month after an Aug. 28 attack, in which a Bellevue massage therapist told police she was sexually assaulted at knifepoint, Bellevue police reported. 

Grant is a longtime attorney who has practiced in the Seattle area, including getting a master of laws degree from the University of Washington in 1996 an focusing on employment litigation in the Seattle City Attorney's Office from 1996 to 2000, according to his Linked In profile. Grant became one of the named shareholders of Bailey Grant Onsager earlier this year, according to the law firm's website.

Bellevue Resident Rob McKenna Loses Gubernatorial Race to Jay Inslee

Bellevue resident and state attorney general Rob McKenna was thought to be the Washington State Republican Party's best chance in a long time to wrest the governor's seat away from the Democrats. McKenna had held a state-wide office for 8 years and was endorsed by most major newspapers in the state.

Still, who gave up his Congressional seat to run for governor. McKenna likely wasn't helped by campaign missteps, including a questionable Twitter posting by a young campaign staffer, implying that Asians in the United States should "Shut up and speak English," and McKenna's own gaffe caught on camera, dismissively telling a critic to "Get a job." 

Bellevue Mom Killed in Seattle Shooting Rampage

Gloria Koch Leonidas was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Bellevue woman was killed in a Seattle shooting spree that started in Seattle's Cafe Racer that took the lives of five victims. Leonidas, a mother of two, was a decisive person who didn't hesitate to do the right thing, her husband Tom Leonidas  told reporters

The shooter Ian Stawicki, who had fled Cafe Racer in Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood after shooting patrons, came upon her in a parking lot near Seattle's Town Hall, which is in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood. Stawicki attacked her, and witnesses said that Leonidas fought back.

Leonidas was remembered as a leader and volunteer, and was active in her daughters' school and on the boards of Evergreen Healthcare Foundation and the  Illuminating Engineering Society of Puget Sound, an association of lighting professionals.

Bellevue Police Caught Behaving Badly, Kicked out of Seahawks Game

Two Bellevue police officers were disciplined and kicked off demoted from the bomb squad after a Bellevue Police's Office of Professional Standards investigation of the reported unruly behavior of off-duty officers at a Seattle Seahawks game on Sept. 16.

According to the Bellevue Police Department's investigation, Cpl. Dion Robertson, a 22-year veteran and Officer Andy Hanke, a 7-year-veteran, and an unidentified city of Bellevue utilities department employee  reportedly taunted an on-duty Seattle police officer outside the stadium after she asked the utilities department employee to pick up a cup that one of them dropped.

But the boorish behavior didn't stop there, according to the reports. After the three arrived at the game, they behaved in unruly fashion,  including a confrontation with a fan at the game, resulting in the officers being thrown out of the game for their behavior.

The fan said that one of the group, two male officers, a female officer and another woman, who is now identified as the utilties department employee, warned him not to get pulled over in Bellevue. 

Details in the investigation outline the situation in detail, and Police Chief Linda Pillo said the department had some "fence-mending" to do with the community and with the Seattle Police Department.

"I share your concern about the reported actions of these officers. These incidents have been embarrassing and disheartening," she said.

Washington Legalizes Pot

Washington residents can now smoke a bowl at home, after the passage of Initiative 502. While the November passage of I-502 made personal-use amounts of marijuana legal in the state,  it didn't change federal law -- a fact the Western District U.S. Attorney's office was quick to point out -- which means the law conflicts with the federal law.

However, pot smoking is still not allowed in public and the public cannot grow it or buy it legally yet, though those regulations will be finalized and people in this state in time will be able to purchase weed.

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