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2012: Tolls, politics and police in the news | Year In Review

An artist’s rendering shows light rail trains crossing I-90 - Courtesy photo
An artist’s rendering shows light rail trains crossing I-90
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Bellevue started 2012 by finding itself in a new congressional district and ended the year with a fatal shooting at a popular downtown restaurant and lounge.

In between it fought over light rail, saw tolls go into effect on SR 520, welcomed a new school superintendent of the Bellevue School District and a new president at Bellevue College.

Here’s a quick look at the year that was.

January

Bellevue joined south Seattle in a new 9th Congressional District, grouping it with Mercer Island and Newcastle with Renton, Seatac, Tukwila, Federal Way and Northeast Tacoma. It became the first district in the state of Washington to feature a population with a majority of non-white residents.

Superintendent Amalia Cudeiro of the Bellevue school district resigned from her position weeks after taking medical leave to be with her mother, a cancer patient in California. Dr. Tim Mills was selected from a pool of 20 applicants to replace her, and was sworn in this July. Mills enters a three year contract with the district and will receive a salary of $237,000.

Drivers on I-90 saw increased traffic soon after tolls went into effect on SR 520, as commuters explored alternative routes. Eastbound traffic on I-90 increased by 20 percent in January alone, adding four minutes of travel time.

February

NBA arena discussions come to Bellevue after the city’s downtown association announces its interest. Business leaders had been quietly pursuing an NHL/NBA arena for over a year, entertaining property locations at Auto Row and along Bel-Red.

A visit by President Obama brought out protestors to the Westin Bellevue. Many complained about the expensive fundraisers hosted throughout the region, including lunch and entertainment at the Westin, which carried a price tag of $1,000.

March

Republican candidate Mitt Romney visited Bellevue, rallying a crowd of thousands at Highland Community Center.

A Kittitas County Superior Court Judge ruled against Kemper Freeman and others in a lawsuit seeking to stop the East Link light rail project. The ruling confirmed the legality of extending rail across the I-90 center lanes to serve Mercer Island, Bellevue and the city of Redmond, rejecting the argument that it violates the state’s 18th Amendment.

April

Bellevue resident and former Boeing employee, James W. Schumacher, is charged with murdering his wife with a hatchet in mid-March.

 

Dr. Tim Mills

More than 100 former employees and union representatives protested outside Bellevue’s T-Mobile headquarters following the company’s decision to close seven call centers nationally. Many believed that the closures preceded openings overseas in Honduras and the Philippines.

Bellevue resident, Richard A. Finger, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for defrauding investors of $7 million. Among those defrauded, were friends and family members.

May

Bellevue police arrest six for massage parlor fraud after a seven-month investigation.

Bellevue’s Spring district gets approval to begin breaking ground in 2013.

June

Walmart opens a store in Bellevue’s Kelsey Creek Center, and is later joined by a 76,000 square foot store in Factoria. Both are expected to employ about 220 people.

Gloria Koch Leonidas, 52, a Bellevue resident, was killed in a Seattle shooting spree that took four other lives. The killer, Ian L. Stawicki, was seen arguing with Leonidas shortly before shooting her in the head and driving away in her vehicle. When police located the gunman later that day, he killed himself.

Washington’s privatization of liquor sales goes into effect across the state. Bellevue store owners later report competition from retail giants and a faulty transition by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

July

Building a Better Bellevue and Friends of Enatai file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, claiming that the city’s light rail plan violates federal environmental law and a law meant to protect parks and historic sites. The suit came just days after the Bellevue City Council moved to study cost-saving concepts.

August

After a delay of four years, Kemper Development Company moves forward on an expansion of Lincoln Square. Two more towers are planned for Lincoln Square. The project will demolish existing buildings to make way for a residential tower with office space, and a 120-room hotel.

 

 

Walmart opened its first Bellevue store in June in the Kelsey Creek Center.

A second Walmart followed in November at the Market Place at Factoria.

 

September

Rowdy off-duty Bellevue police officers prompt an internal investigation after they cause a scene at a Seattle Seahawks game. Two officers were disciplined and one exonerated following the investigation.

November

Bellevue-raised Cyrus Habib is elected representative of the 48th district, alongside incumbent Ross Hunter. He becomes the first Iranian American elected to the Legislature.

Bellevue College names David Rule its new president. He becomes the fifth president in the college’s 50-year legacy.

Bellevue City Council members express frustration after hearing of plans to consider the city as a site for a light-rail maintenance yard.

BevMo, a California-based company, opens the state’s second big liquor chain in Bellevue. It follows Total Wine & More, a 30,000-square-foot facility.

December

Patrick Bannon is named president of the Bellevue Downtown Association after Leslie Lloyd steps down to take a position in Leavenworth.

A shooting at Bellevue’s Munchbar leaves one man dead, and another injured at a club packed with 600 people celebrating a Seattle Seahawks victory. Players from the team were confirmed present at the Munchbar when shots were fired, though none were hurt. Bellevue police identify 19-year-old Ja’mari Alexander Alan Jones as a suspect. Jones previously pled guilty to manslaughter in the death of Seattle street musician Ed McMichael and remains at large.

 

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