Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for February, 2011

Excess Postal Space Worth $26 Million In Seattle District

by February 28th, 2011

SUMMARY: A recently-issued audit by the Inspector General’s office of the United States Postal Service finds that in the Seattle District, covering Washington and Idaho, mail volume has dropped 22 percent in the last five years and more than 800,000 excess square feet of facility space should be disposed of, saving $26 million over the next 10 years. The USPS Western Area, of which the Seattle District is part, could similarly save $173 million over 10 years. The audit also found that the USPS needs to improve its real estate management system to better identify and dispose of excess property, partly by tracking how long space is underused or vacant, what its condition is, and by marketing it to tenants including other federal agencies.

Supreme Court Affirms Kitsap Child Rape Conviction, Overturning Appeals Court Reversal

by February 25th, 2011

SUMMARY: The Washington State Supreme Court has reversed a state appeals court which last year threw out a conviction against Arthur C. Russell, convicted in trial court in August, 2008 for first degree rape of a child, a stepdaughter, when the family lived in Bremerton and he worked for The U.S. Navy. The appeals court had held that the conviction was invalid because the jury was not given “limiting instructions” on how it could and could not consider evidence of other alleged acts of sexual abuse by Russell against the stepdaughter in locations outside Washington state including Hawaii, Florida and Indiana. Such evidence is allowed to establish motive and intent, but not character. The Supreme Court overruled the appeals court and affirmed the trial court’s conviction and sentence, stating that because there was no request for “limiting instructions” on the additional evidence, none were required to be given by the trial court.

Know Your Government: WA Energy Facility Site Council

by February 24th, 2011

WHO, WHAT, WHY: The Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council was created by the legislature in 1970 to consolidate state agency reviews of proposals for new or expanded energy facilities, needed for deciding whether or not they will get official permits for construction and operation. The council issues or denies energy facility permits with authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under federal clean water and air laws. The council’s portfolio includes proposals for large natural gas and oil pipelines, larger electric plants, and new oil refineries. Alternative energy projects involving proposals for wind, solar, tidal, biomass or geothermal power facilities may opt for Council review of their plans. (Hydro-electric power facilities in Washington state are not regulated by the council; they are overseen by a separate federal agency called the Bonneville Power Agency.) The Council’s chairperson is appointed by the Governor, and the five members represent the Washington state departments of Commerce, Ecology, Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources, and the Utilities and Transportation Commission.

CURRENT WORK HIGHLIGHTS: The council has one proposal currently for which approval is being sought: the Whistling Ridge Energy Project, of up to 50 wind turbines on 1,152 acres of forested land on Saddleback Mountain in Skamania County.

Four more facilities it oversees are already licensed, permitted and operating. They are:

New UW Report Maps Challenges For Charter Schools

by February 23rd, 2011

SUMMARY: The final report was recently issued in a four-year study by University of Washington education scholars on charter schools in the U.S. It finds charters typically provide a strong emphasis on college preparation and high academic expectations for all students, including those at risk. But classroom practices and teacher compensation strategies are not as innovative as anticipated, and teachers from diverse professional backgrounds have not been attracted to charter schools to the degree expected. Because charter schools tend to be smaller and less formally structured, they also also face pronounced challenges in finances, the condition of their facilities, recruitment and retention of teachers and principals, and in labor-management relations. The final report in the UW study asserts that due in part to forceful public expectations about how public schools should look and operate, “valuable opportunities for charter schools remain locked behind closed doors.”

King County Is Hiring

by February 22nd, 2011

SUMMARY: King County, Wash. provides an online jobs data bank and an online job application tool for its open positions. At this writing, the county is accepting applications for 41 different jobs, ranging in pay from $18.37 to $23.28 per hour for an administrative specialist to do Chinese translations, all the way up to $119,000 to $151,000 per year for a new road services director in the county’s transportation department. Positions are open for registered nurses, a dentist, an accountant, interpreters, transit engineers, a court administrator, software developers, and in animal control, human resources, business and finance, communications, community corrections, veterinary medicine, purchasing, licensing, industrial maintenance, and more.

KEY LINK: King County Jobs – Job Openings With King County, Washington Government, King County Human Resources Division.


  • The King County job openings data bank provides continuously updated online job listings and allows candidates to submit applications online once they have registered for a free account. Make sure to first read Application Tips and Instructions For New Applicants.
  • The online county job listings have six columns and by clicking on the small arrow in the left margin of the appropriate column you can re-arrange the jobs by salary (lowest to highest); closing date (from most current, going forward); alphabetically by job category, department or title; or by whether the job is open to all applicants or only current county employees.
  • To get a full job description, click on the hyperlinked blue text in the “Job Title” column. (Note: Some jobs labelled on the main page chart as open to all applicants actually state a preference, in the job description, for county employees and members of specified labor unions. But many do not.)
  • Each job description includes recommended qualifications, and in the upper-right-hand corner, a link labelled Apply. After clicking on Apply, you will be guided to open a free online account if you haven’t already. Then you can fill out and submit the online application for the job.
  • A decision will take four weeks to several months. Using your account, you can log in and click on Application Status for more information.

King County Jobs online data bank


You can also sign up to receive King County job notifications by e-mail, in selected categories.

The Public Sector Jobs resource page provided by the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs provides links to a wide range of government jobs pages, in Central Puget Sound, the Western U.S. and nationally.

Seattle Chronic Nuisance Property Report: 2010

by February 15th, 2011

SUMMARY: The first annual report on the City of Seattle’s nuisance property ordinance and its enforcement program will be presented by the police and law departments to a city council committee tomorrow. Although a formal nuisance declaration can compel change, the mere possibility of it can also curtail problem behavior. And, focusing on nuisances which are prosecutable crimes – and in some instances pursuing criminal charges against habitual offenders at a property – can sometimes solve problems more quickly than building a case for an official nuisance declaration. Improvements to consider to the process include provisions for a criminal penalty for continuing to operate a nuisance property, and developing means to ensure new owners are aware of an official nuisance declaration if it has already been applied to their property.