Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for September, 2011

City will remove race-based graffiti at Seattle Parks boating facility

by Matt Rosenberg September 29th, 2011

Only last month, after 12 years and a $3 million public-private fundraising effort, the George Corkery Family Boating Center re-opened at the City of Seattle’s Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center at Stan Sayres Memorial Park along Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood. Our fellow Seattle Times news partner The Rainier Valley Post reported on the milestone. It’s a great, community-driven improvement to a government-owned site that’s a hub for aquatic recreation in boating-mad Seattle and a focal point every summer for the iconic hydro races of SeaFair.

It’s now unfortunately also the site of some ugly graffiti which blames “white people” for a U.S. “terror-hate” campaign in Iraq.

In a reference to the U.S.-led war in Iraq which began in 2003, graffiti over the men’s room urinals adjacent to the just-upgraded facility proclaims in blue magic marker, “terror-hate by White People in Iraq.”

Told of the graffiti, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson Dewey Potter said it would be removed. She stated, “hate crimes come first. We’ll take care of this as soon as possible.”

UPDATE, 9:41 a.m.: Potter emailed to say that a work order has been sent and the department will get the graffiti “removed immediately.”

Race-based graffiti in men's room of Seattle parks department boating facility in Mount Baker neighborhood/Matt Rosenberg

City of Renton passes resolution against I-1125, but voter survey shows majority support

by Matt Rosenberg September 27th, 2011

After holding a public hearing on the controversial topic of regional tolling, The City of Renton last night approved a resolution opposing Initiative 1125, which would restrict highway tolling. Washington voters will decide it in November. Renton, a growing suburban city at Seattle’s southern border, is at the junction of a multi-billion-dollar proposed tolling project that would connect Interstate 405 with State Route 167 and add tolled express lanes to both, as part of a broader toll-centric plan to unsnarl traffic and fund highway fixes in the Seattle region and elsewhere in the state. Initiative sponsor Tim Eyman sharply disagreed with the vote by the Renton council. Meanwhile, a new Survey USA poll reported today by KING5-TV in Seattle showed more than twice as many voters for I-1125 as against, but a crucial margin still undecided.

Whistleblower report: UW prof got job for unqualified daughter

by Matt Rosenberg September 27th, 2011

On the heels of a mid-July state report that a University of Washington professor took a contract fee from a state agency for work he never delivered, and following another 2011 case which sparked a criminal prosecution against an alleged embezzler in the University’s Medical Center, comes an additional indication Sept. 26 of ethical troubles at the state’s flagship institution of higher learning. According to a Washington State Auditor’s Office whistleblower investigation report just released, a professor in the UW Medical Center’s Pediatrics Division of Neo-nataology appears to have violated state ethics law by using her position to get a job for her unqualified daughter as a research scientist and engineer assistant. The professor’s name, released by the auditor’s office in response to a media inquiry, is Sandra Juul Ledbetter and her daughter’s name is Kelly Ledbetter.

Seattle eyes transfer of troubled Indian services properties to non-profit

by Matt Rosenberg September 26th, 2011

SUMMARY: A public development authority formed by the City of Seattle in 1972 called the Seattle Indian Services Commission, which has been the subject of several critical city and state audits in recent years, now appears unable to continue to service the $6 million bond debt for its two adjacent properties on 12th Ave. S. in the International District, or to repair an estimated $2.5 million in water damages to one of the buildings, built in 1995. The commission’s primary tenant and sole source of debt service revenue is the non-profit Seattle Indian Health Board, and it says it intends to move out unless the Commission conveys title for the properties to the board, which has pledged to assume the debt and fix the water damage. The Commission has refused to approve this offer, so the city council has prepared an ordinance, to be discussed and possibly voted on in committee September 28, authorizing the City Attorney to seek permission in King County Superior Court to impose a trusteeship on the Indian Services Commission which would trigger a title transfer of the properties to the non-profit Indian Health Board. The resolution states this will allow for current services and programs to continue to be provided to Seattle’s Native American community. Sponsor of the resolution is City Council Member Nick Licata.

Weak job growth triggers frustration for Washington’s unemployed

by Kyle Kim September 22nd, 2011

When Tommy Lamoth lost her job in 2009, she didn’t envision a job hunt that would include eight months of collecting unemployment benefits, ping-ponging between temp jobs across Seattle, and still being unable to find work in her field after a year.

The 32-year-old Capitol Hill resident was one of millions of unemployed workers throughout the nation during a year when unemployment rates in the U.S. reached a height not seen in more than 25 years.

The latest unemployment figures for Washington show the state had a 9.3 percent rate for August 2011 – a marginal change from the 9.4 unemployment rate the year before. The Seattle metro region’s 8.9 percent unemployment rate last month was little better than the 9.1 percent rate last year.

Public Data Ferret Economy archive

The state’s job growth of 46,600 seasonally-adjusted new jobs from August 2010 to 2011 comes in stark contrast against the 321,600 currently unemployed in Washington. Lamoth’s chronic unemployment has been a sobering reminder of the difficult realities many face.

“It makes me feel like a total loser,” Lamoth said. “It definitely takes a toll on your self-esteem when you’ve gone so long without working.” Despite having earned a bachelor’s degree and later enrolling at Columbia University ’s film and creative writing program, Lamoth has only been able to find work in temporary clerical positions.

Having previous experience as a midwife’s assistant, she has also kept her eyes open for opportunities in the field but has been able to find openings. Lamoth isn’t alone in her inability to find work in the state.

Unemployment rates ballooned in all 39 Washington counties since 2007 with jobs in construction and finance activities being the hardest hit, according to the 2010 Washington State Labor Market and Economic Report

Data from the Washington State Employment Security Department show half of the state had unemployment rates at least double since 2007, including the state’s three largest labor markets – King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties – which make up over half of the state’s job force with roughly 1.9 million workers.


Washington’s unemployment rate has consistently ranked in the middle nationally. Other states have fared worse during the Great Recession, such as California, Michigan and Nevada – with unemployment rates that reached over 12 percent in 2010. However, certain counties in Washington experience worse.

The northeastern and southwestern areas of Washington have consistently experienced the highest unemployment rates in the state since 2000: Ferry County currently tops the state’s highest annual unemployment rate at 14.7, percent with Pend Oreille, Clark and Wahkiakum Counties all tying for second at 13.7 percent. Whitman County held the lowest unemployment rate for 2010 at 6.1 percent.

The counties have been hit particularly hard due to the lack of economic investment and large labor shares in industries that were affected most – like manufacturing, mining and timber industries, according to state Employment Security Department economists.

Washington state unemployment rates by county, 2007 to 2010.
But where jobs in certain industries have been significantly shed, others are expected to grow.

Jobs in education, health services and business are projected to increase significantly by 2018 for Washington, according to state labor reports.

However, the job growth may not be fast enough, or in the right industry, for Lamoth. She said the lack of opportunities in her field can get frustrating. She has sent roughly 480 resumes since last September, mainly for writing and editing positions in Seattle, a profession that has continually shrunk its work force and is projected to further decline.

Lamoth has been considering looking for work outside the Seattle area despite being limited to public transportation. She said she takes things a day at a time. “There are days that I’m too depressed to look for work,” Lamoth said. “But I’m not ready to give up.”

FOR VISUALIZATIONS:
Data set: Washington unemployment rates by county, 2000 to 2010.
Date set: Comprehensive state labor market data, 2009


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New UW study assesses “net benefits” in African malaria fight

by Matt Rosenberg September 21st, 2011

SUMMARY: Working with U.S. and African colleagues, researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute For Health Metrics and Evaluation, in Seattle, integrated data from several dozen qualifiying health surveys in malaria-prone Sub-Saharan Africa and found that the use of Insecticide-Treated Nets helped actually reduce parasitemia and death in young children to a significantly greater degree than previously estimated in clinical trials. Their research, recently published in a peer-reviewed “open access” (online, free) medical journal and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, concludes that the use of the treated nets should be continued and expanded in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the bulk of the world’s one million annual deaths from the parasitic disease of malaria occur.

Mercer Island Council might sock adults with civil fines for covert teen drinking

by Matt Rosenberg September 19th, 2011

The Mercer Island City Council Monday night will consider whether to approve the drafting of an ordinance that could levy civil fines on adults responsible for premises where underage alcohol consumption has occurred, even if the drinking occurred without their knowledge. The ordinance would be intended to fill a hole in state law, which punishes adults who knowingly permit drinking on their premises by individuals less than 21 years of age, but gives them an “out” if they claim ignorance.