Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for December, 2011

A salmon story: Public Data Ferret on KUOW-FM, Seattle public radio

by December 31st, 2011

Dec. 30th KUOW-FM Seattle 94.9 public radio aired at 4:30 p.m. PST an interview segment with me discussing a recent story written for Public Eye Northwest‘s Public Data Ferret news knowledge base. The topic was a new comprehensive report by government researchers on some very serious troubles faced by adult coho salmon returning to spawn in the restored urban streams of the Seattle area.

Here’s the segment (mp3). My thanks to KUOW’s News Director Guy Nelson, who conducted and edited the interview.

Here’s the original story at Public Data Ferret.

Auburn’s new poet laureate strips away the varnish

by December 30th, 2011

The city of Auburn, Wash. sits 28 miles south of Seattle astride major highways, riven with burger joints, casinos, and the exhaust fumes of sixteen-wheel rigs. Yet here too in the long shadow of Tahoma are rushing rivers, broad pastures of livestock and horses, caring neighbors, a highly-regarded local symphony, and a community of artists and writers such as Richard Brugger who next Tuesday will be appointed Auburn’s first Poet Laureate by the Mayor Pete Lewis at a meeting of the city council.

Seattle cruise line’s ship hit with gastrointestinal illness again

by December 28th, 2011

For the second time since November, the MS Ryndam luxury cruise ship operated out of Tampa by Seattle-based Holland America Line has suffered an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness marked by vomiting and diarrhea, according to a report published by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP). On a December 11 to 18 cruise to ports in Mexico, Belize and Honduras, 69 passengers and six crew members became ill with the symptoms. Holland in response increased cleaning and disinfecting on board, collected stool samples from ill passengers and crew to submit to the CDC’s lab, provided regular reports to passengers and the CDC and prepared to implement a standard procedure to prevent debarking passengers from spreading illness. A CDC VSP environmental health officer and epidemiologist boarded the Ryndam on its return to port in Tampa to begin an assessment of the outbreak and its cause. UPDATE, January 3, 2011: The CDC reports, “Stool specimens were sent to the CDC lab for testing, which revealed that this outbreak was caused by Norovirus.”

In Seattle streams, six to ten out of ten adult coho salmon die before spawning

by December 27th, 2011

A final report published this month by a team of 17 Seattle, King County and U.S. government researchers in an open-access peer-reviewed science journal adds to evidence that metal filings from brake pads mixed into storm water run-off, and hydrocarbons from vehicle exhaust are what is responsible for the deaths under acute distress of anywhere from six to ten out of ten pre-spawning adult coho salmon returning each autumn to Seattle area urban streams where the salmon habitat has been restored. More research will be needed to definitively make the connection, but a host of other possible causes can safely be ruled out, the study says. The pre=spawning fatality syndrome has recurred over ten straight years and if it persists it is likely to mean the end of “sustainable natural production” of coho in Seattle area urban streams, the study says.

Tutorial: Using the Washington Achievement Data Explorer

by December 20th, 2011

You can easily compare state achievement test score results between school districts and between schools within a district, using the University of Washington-Bothell’s Washington Achievement Data Explorer (WADE) tool online. It was developed and is sponsored by UW-Bothell’s Center For Education Data and Research. You can also survey a broad range of student, district and school data, and see whether districts or schools are exceeding projected performance levels on achievement tests, based on percentage of low-income students. Let’s explore the Explorer. First, go to the WADE site. You’ll see a panel showing three ways to dig in.

Conviction for stalking on Aurora #358 bus route overturned

by December 19th, 2011

A state appeals court last week threw out the conviction of Akbar Mhea in Seattle Municipal Court and King County Superior Court for stalking 87-year-old Vera Galbreath of Seattle on an Aurora Avenue bus late at night and after both debarked at 80th Street. The court said although Mhea’s conduct was both “abnormal and threatening,” stalking didn’t occur because his actions comprised only one continuous episode of following and unwanted verbal contact, not repeated instances. However, an interview with the victim raises some questions.

More U.S. funds to Boeing-Seattle for Saudi air defense fixes

by December 16th, 2011

A $50 million Foreign Military Sales contract announced this week by the U.S. Department of Defense will bring to at least $277,292,000 the maximum value of U.S. government spending with the Seattle-based defense unit of Boeing Co. and subcontractors since 1997 for technical upgrades to the Royal Saudi Air Force’s fleet of five E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) jets. They are used by the Saudis to help to protect their U.S.-allied Kingdom from potential attacks by hostile neighbors in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

Admitted sex abuser was Census field rep in King County

by December 16th, 2011

For more than two years year after he began repeatedly sexually abusing a developmentally disabled woman he cared for as a nursing aide in a state-run assisted living facility in Shoreline – and for three months after public release of a Washington State Department of Health disciplinary document he signed confessing to the abuse – Shoreline resident Bart Finkbiner continued in a second, 20-hour-a-week job as field representative for the Seattle-region U.S. Census Bureau office, visiting an average of seven to eight homes per week in north Seattle and north King County to liaise with members of households which hadn’t responded to mail or phone prompts to complete the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Although there are no reports of any further misconduct by Finkbiner, the five-state Seattle Region U.S. Census division’s director Ralph J. Lee said that upon learning last weekend of Finkbiner’s signed confession to the state, he suspended Finkbiner with pay and ordered his work laptop, employee badge and other work materials removed from his work area, as an internal inquiry process unfolds.