Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for July, 2011

U.S. report: Worst human trafficking in Africa, Middle East

by Kyle Kim July 18th, 2011

SUMMARY: A Public Data Ferret interactive mapped data project below shows the full country-by-country assessments in the U.S. Department of State’s recently-released 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report. Of 184 counties evaluated in the report, the State Department ranked 23 in the “Tier 3″ or worst category. Countries with a Tier 3 ranking are governments who do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards of human trafficking prevention and are not making significant efforts to do so. Roughly 70 percent of the Tier 3 countries are located in Northern Africa and the Middle East. The State Department identified 33,113 victims of human trafficking in 2010, a third less than the amount reported the previous year. However, since human trafficking crimes are underreported, the numbers provided by the department may not reflect the full extent of actual occurrences.

The U.S. State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report globally assessed forced labor, sex slavery, forced conscription of child soldiers and related concerns. (View complete list of human trafficking categories). Public Data Ferret created an interactive map below with information for each ranked country (view spreadsheet of compiled data). Countries are ranked in one of four categories.

Tier 1: Countries whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act minimum standards.

Tier 2: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

Tier 2 watch list: Countries where trafficking is significant or significantly increasing and governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making serious efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

Tier 3: Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

Special cases: the worst three countries – Somalia, Sierra Leone and Haiti, each of which has been subject to either extreme natural disaster or severe conflict. (Details here in a recent Public Data Ferret synopsis).

DATA MAP INSTRUCTIONS: Red indicates Tier 3 countries and special cases; Yellow is Tier 2; and Green are Tier 1. Use the navigation arrows and zoom in or zoom out (plus or minus signs) as desired, and click on any country. A pop-up box will confirm the country’s name and ranking, and provide a link to the section of the State Department 2011 report detailing human trafficking findings for that nation.

RELATED: U.S. State Department 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report, Public Data Ferret, June 14, 2010.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.



Enumclaw finalizes $900,000 public-private funding package for new multi-use sports field

by Kyle Kim July 18th, 2011

SUMMARY: The city of Enumclaw passed an ordinance last week to accept a $300,000 state grant that completes a public-private funding package for a $900,000 project at the Enumclaw Expo Center complex, where a poorly-draining and deteriorated natural turf football field at Pete’s Pool will be replaced with a multi-purpose artificial turf surface. The Recreation and Conservation Office of Washington State awarded the grant conditioned on a double-match amount being raised from other sources. Your Enumclaw Area Stadium (YEAS), the non-profit group in charge of fundraising for the project, has secured the necessary matching funds for the RCO grant, city public works director Chris Searcy said. Slightly more than half, or $325,000 of the $600,000 match required for the RCO grant came via previous grants from the National Football League and King County. The remaining $275,000 of the double-match funding comes from cash donations ($175,000) and in-kind donations of labor, construction equipment and materials ($100,000) Searcy said. The majority of the project’s construction started July 6 and is expected to be finished by August.

EEOC Seattle office charges Fred Meyer with overlooking sex harassment

by Melissa Steffan July 14th, 2011

SUMMARY: The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Seattle Field Office has charged Fred Meyer Stores, Inc., with failing to address blatant sexual harassment of female employees by a customer at one of its stores in a Portland suburb who over a two-month period in 2009 grabbed the breasts of three female employees; touched the buttocks and tried to pull onto his lap another worker; and groped the knee and rubbed against the body of a third. According to the EEOC’s July 12 complaint, Fred Meyer “subjected … female employees to a sexually hostile work environment” at the Oak Grove store in Milwaukie, Ore., in 2009. Failure to correct instances of sexual harassment on the basis of gender in the workplace constitutes unlawful employment practices, violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The case will be heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon and will seek monetary reparations for damages to the employees. Company spokesperson Melinda Merrill said Fred Meyer stores is examining the complaint and will soon file a response with the EEOC.

U.S. Ninth Circuit: Kent teacher not responsible for student’s sexual misconduct

by Melissa Steffan July 13th, 2011

SUMMARY: The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has found a Kent School District teacher to be not responsible for one developmentally disabled student’s sexual misconduct during the school day. Madhuri Patel, the mother of a developmentally disabled high school student, identified as A.H., alleged that Francine Wilhelm, a Kentridge High School special education teacher, failed to adequately supervise A.H. during trips to the bathroom, where she had multiple sexual encounters. Patel alleged that Wilhelm deprived A.H. of her right to bodily integrity, a federally protected due process right under the Fourteenth Amendment. However, the Court ruled against Patel, stating, “The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause generally does not require government actors to protect individuals from third parties.” The case could still proceed based on negligence claims, in the state’s court system.

About the Public Data Ferret project

BACKGROUND:

  • According to the Court’s ruling, A.H. is a former Kentridge High School student who is classified as “mildly mentally retarded” and has difficulty determining how to behave in social situations. After a 2006 investigation revealed A.H. was being coerced by three of her peers, the school placed A.H. on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which included enrollment in a self-contained classroom led by Francine Wilhelm. The IEP included a “no contact” order between A.H. and other students, as well as complete adult supervision of A.H. throughout the school day, especially during passing periods, lunch, and bathroom times. In 2007, Wilhelm began to allow A.H. to go to the bathroom unsupervised.
  • According to the court document, Wilhelm said she believed she was allowing A.H. to grow toward independence. Patel filed suit against Wilhelm and the school district in 2007 when Wilhelm interfered with a potential sexual encounter between A.H. and Matt, and both students admitted to having sex in the bathroom at least five times. Patel pressed not only state and tort law claims, but also a federal civil rights claim. A district court dismissed Patel’s federal claim, finding that Wilhelm had not deprived A.H. of her federal rights. Patel appealed the ruling, and her federal claim forms the basis of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

KEY LINK: Madhuri Patel v. Kent School District, United States Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit, July 11, 2011

KEY FINDINGS:

  • The United States Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit ruled that Francine Wilhelm, a special education teacher at Kentridge High School, did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment due process rights of A.H., a minor and “mildly mentally retarded” student enrolled in Wilhelm’s classes during 2006 and 2007.
  • In the federal case, Madhuri Patel, A.H.’s mother, alleged that Wilhelm failed to uphold A.H.’s Constitutional due process rights to bodily integrity. According to the ruling, the sole issue at hand for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was to determine whether Wilhelm had deprived the student of these federally protected Fourteenth Amendment rights.
  • The Court of Appeals affirmed the district judge’s ruling, stating that Patel’s federal claim “fails as a matter of law,” because it failed to “show that (1) the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and (2) the conduct deprived the plaintiff of a federal constitutional or statutory right.”
  • As legal precedent for its decision, the Court of Appeals cited Cf. DeShaney v. Winnebago Cnty. Dep’t of Social Services. However, Patel argued that her case could be distinguished from DeShaney on the basis of the school’s “custody” of A.H. during the day. The Court found no such evidence for custody and declined to distinguish the two cases.
  • The DeShaney ruling found that the state is not responsible to protect individuals from third-party actors. Two exceptions to this rule, the “special relationship” exception or the “state-created danger” exception, do not apply to the facts of Patel’s case, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled.
  • The Court found that Wilhelm did not knowingly place A.H. in immediate danger. As a result, Patel’s claim against the teacher failed to bear the burden of proof against her. “At worst, Wilhelm committed a lapse in judgment by allowing A.H. to quickly use the next-door bathroom on her own. Whether these circumstances rose to the level of negligence is a question that will be resolved by a jury in Washington state court,” the Court stated.
  • Although her federal civil rights case has failed, some of Madhuri Patel’s claims against KSD and Wilhelm may still be viable under state law.

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Foreign lottery fixation leads to license revocation for Yakima optometrist

by Andrew Taylor July 13th, 2011

SUMMARY: Yakima-based practitioner Gary Martinkus was found by the Washington State Department of Health’s Board of Optometry to be unfit to practice and to be posing a risk to patients after he involved them and office staff in buying money orders or loaning money to spend in foreign lottery scams. The Board also found Martinkus was becoming negligent in caring for patients and harassing them at home or work. Martinkus’ license was suspended July 5, and he has 20 days to initiate an administrative appeal.

In Burien case, Supreme Court eases burden of proof for childcare license revocation

by Melissa Steffan July 12th, 2011

SUMMARY: In a ruling last week involving license revocation of a former Burien, Wash. in-home childcare provider whose son and management were thought to pose a risk to children, the Washington Supreme Court found that the burden of proof is lower than for revocation of other professional licenses. In Kathleen Hardee v. State of Washington Department of Health and Social Services (DSHS), the Court ruled that DSHS must only prove its decision to revoke a childcare license was based on “a preponderance of the evidence.” This standard satisfies constitutional due process, the Court ruled. Hardee, the petitioner in the case, argued that DSHS should bear the burden of proof based on “clear and convincing evidence,” a higher legal standard as set out by the Court’s ruling in a previous decision, Ongom v. Department of Health (2006). In handing down this opinion, however, the Court overruled its previous decision in Ongom.

BACKGROUND: According to the ruling, Kathleen Hardee operated a home childcare facility for more than 20 years. At the time of the initial license revocation it was located in a home on Marine View Drive in Burien, Wash., according to p. “Initial Order – 2″ of this court document. Public records list Hardee as still residing at that address. DSHS became concerned with the presence of Hardee’s teenage son in the house after he was convicted of harassment and fourth degree assault. The concern was not pursued because Hardee’s son moved out of the house, though he returned in 2003 under the conditions of a safety plan. Hardee’s childcare license was revoked in 2006 after Hardee’s son was charged with sexual assault and molestation of a child, who did not attend Hardee’s daycare.

Hardee petitioned the initial revocation of her license in 2006. Though an administrative law judge originally reinstated her license, a review judge, the superior court, and the Court of Appeals all affirmed the DSHS decision to revoke Hardee’s license. In 2010, Hardee appealed her case to the State of Washington Supreme Court.

KEY LINK: Kathleen Hardee v. State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services, State of Washington Supreme Court, July 7

KEY FINDINGS:

  • In Hardee v. DSHS, the State of Washington Supreme Court ruled that DSHS must justify its decision to revoke a home childcare license through only a majority of the evidence presented at a hearing.
  • In terms of legal burden of proof, this “preponderance of the evidence” standard is lower than “clear and convincing evidence.” According to the Court’s decision, Hardee’s defense argued that constitutional due process requires the higher standard.
  • According to the Supreme Court’s opinion, DSHS presented findings against Hardee that proved she knowingly violated the terms of her home childcare license. Continued investigation after the 2006 charges against Hardee’s son revealed Hardee also failed to report and complete mandatory background checks for other people living in her home and had even continued to provide in-home childcare after her license was revoked. One review judge even “concluded that Hardee lacked the personal characteristics necessary to provide child care.”
  • The Supreme Court stated that DSHS evidence proving Hardee violated the 2003 safety agreement, including parent testimonies affirming Hardee’s son’s unsupervised access to children, was substantial enough to satisfy the burden of proof. The Court also affirmed the review judge’s opinion that Hardee was unfit to provide childcare, based upon her actions with her son and other individuals in her home. This evidence was enough to satisfy the “preponderance of evidence” standard, the Court ruled.
  • The DSHS statute governing Hardee’s hearing “provides that, at an administrative hearing, the administrative law judge shall uphold the Department’s decision to revoke a home child care license if a preponderance of the evidence supports the decision” (RCW 43.215.300(2)). However, at her administrative hearing, Hardee challenged this statute and asked that a “clear and convincing evidence” burden of proof be placed upon the Department.
  • Hardee challenged the statute on the basis of two previous rulings, Bang D. Nguyen v. Dep’t of Health Med. Quality Assurance Comm’n and Ongom v. Department of Health. However, the Court distinguished Hardee from Ngyuen; in that case, the revoked license was that of a medical professional, not a home childcare provider.
  • In Ongom, the Court ruled that due process required clear and substantial evidence to justify revoking a nursing assistant’s license. In Hardee, however, the Supreme Court overruled Ongom, calling the previous ruling “both incorrect and harmful.” The Ongom ruling was overturned because its standard would have required DSHS “to satisfy a quasicriminal standard of proof before revoking its endorsement of a child care facility – even when a preponderance of the evidence indicates that the children in the facility were exposed to potential sexual abuse,” according to the Court’s opinion.
  • Downtown Seattle design firm wins $15 million Navy contract

    by Matt Rosenberg July 11th, 2011

    SUMMARY: The downtown Seattle firm Makers Architecture and Urban Design has won a $15 million contract from the San Diego-based Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest to provide “project planning documents, plans, studies, geo-spatial information and service, global positioning system services and other services” at Navy and Marine Corps locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The unit  is one of 10 naval facilities engineering commands which contracts with vendors who deliver housing, piers, airfields, and hospitals at Navy and Marine Corps sites; plus services such as transportation, maintenance, utilities and energy, facilities management and base operations.

    U.S. report accents human trafficking “special cases” in Somalia, Haiti, Ivory Coast

    by Andrew Taylor July 10th, 2011

    SUMMARY: The U.S. State Department’s report last week on global human trafficking includes portraits of “special cases” Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, and Somalia – impoverished nations on the verge of lawlessness, without government infrastructure to effectively prevent the practice.  These countries have also experienced recent hardships such as natural disasters and civil wars which have led to increased human trafficking. Human trafficking doesn’t always mean people are taken out of the country. In these special cases, some victims are forced into servitude within their own countries.