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.
Collaboration in Civic Spheres
Archive for February, 2011
by Matt Rosenberg February 28th, 2011
by Matt Rosenberg 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.
by Matt Rosenberg February 24th, 2011
SUMMARY: Dangerous chemicals are being or could be released from Boeing’s Renton Plant into the soil and groundwater, potentially affecting water quality in Lake Washington and the Cedar River and posing “ä threat and/or potential threat to human health and the environment,” according to a proposed Agreed Order between the Washington Department of Ecology and Boeing. The order was released earlier this month and is likely to be signed after public comment ends March 9. Boeing makes no admissions of fact in agreeing to the draft or final order. A series of interim cleanups have already occurred. According to an Ecology project manager the earlier cleanups addressed much of the soil contamination and some groundwater contamination but the latter still exceeds the most stringent state standards, resulting in the need for the new cleanup plan for which Boeing would pay. The chemicals which are being released or have the potential to be released into the soil and water from the Boeing Renton plant include benzene, toluene, xylenes, methyl ethyl ketone, vinyl chloride, chloroform, acetone, napthalene, tributyl phosphate, arsenic, zinc, mercury, cadmium, chromium, lead, copper, PCBs and cyanides.
by Matt Rosenberg 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:
by Matt Rosenberg 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.”
by Matt Rosenberg 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.
HOW TO USE THE SITE:
- 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.
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.
by Matt Rosenberg February 17th, 2011
SUMMARY: A consultant team’s study for the City of Woodinville reports that the cost of redeveloping the city’s Old Woodinville Schoolhouse property, which dates to 1909 and served as city hall from 1993 to 2001, would range from $4 million to $5.5 million and that annual rents could reach $189,804. Calculations directly based on the study show that minus operating costs, best-case net annual income would equal $171,739 and return on investment would take 23 to 32 years – not including any interest paid on funds which might need to be borrowed to help pay for construction. Tenants could include a restaurant, wine-tasting room, retail stores and other uses. The difficult economy and slow commercial property market add risk to any redevelopment plan. Another option is demolishing the building, if King County landmark officials can be persuaded redevelopment doesn’t pencil out. Another strategy is to sell or lease the property as-is, to a private for-profit or non-profit entity which would then redevelop it and market it to tenants. Public meetings on the site’s future and the current study are coming in March and a decision by the City Council is expected this summer.
by Matt Rosenberg 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.