Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for October, 2012

Washington juvenile arrest rates highest in rural counties

by October 30th, 2012

Overall 2011 juvenile arrest rates in Washington state were highest in rural counties while the state’s most populous and urbanized county, King, was among those with the lowest rates.

The data come from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and is processed by the state’s Statistical Analysis Center. The Center’s Crime Stats Online data hub provides the public with access to the information, which is used in the Office of Financial Management’s annual Washington State Criminal Justice Data Book.

Following are several maps retrieved from the Crime Stats Online data hub, showing juvenile arrest rates by Washington County in 2011, for various types of crimes.

Leading in juvenile arrests per 1,000 population aged 18-39 last year were Adams, Asotin, Benton, Cowlitz, Clark, Douglas, Franklin, Okanagan, Skagit and Walla Walla counties. The rates are calculated according to the metric preferred by law enforcement, which is the number of arrests of juveniles (under 18 years old) for every member of the general population in the same jurisdiction who is between 18 and 39 years old. Here’s that first map, and then four more.

Irrigation lubricates the farm economy, but challenges ahead

by October 29th, 2012

Irrigation in agriculture packs a big economic punch. Although the almost 57 million acres of irrigated farmlands in the U.S. represent just 7.5 percent of all crop- and pasturelands in the nation, that good wet earth nonetheless accounts for a full 40 percent of the value of U.S. agricultural production and is on average more than three times more productive in dollar terms than dry croplands, according to a report issued last month by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report, “Water Conservation in Irrigrated Agriculture: Trends and Challenges in the Face of Emerging Demands,” also notes that almost three-quarters of U.S. irrigated agriculture in is 17 Western states. The report warns that competing demands for water will mount from requirements for in-stream flows to protect water-borne species; from Native American water rights; and from an expanding energy sector. One response will need to be increased water conservation in irrigated agriculture through improvements to equipment and management practices, the report says.

Washington State ranks 10th nationally in irrigated acres of farmland. Twelve states together account for more than three-quarters of U.S. irrigated acres of harvested cropland, pasture and other lands. Among those 12 are Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, which together account for 15.8 percent of U.S. irrigated acres. Three data visualizations from the USDA report follow.

U.S. irrigated acres grew from 48.8 million in 1982 to 56.5 million by 2007. Total irrigated acres grew most sharply in that time in the Northern Plains, and Delta regions, and have declined in the Pacific region.

Western U.S. crops most requiring irrigation are rice, vegetables, orchard fruits, peanuts, and sugar beets. A very small percentage of wheat croplands in Western states are irrigated.

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.

Mapping Washington state unemployment by county

by October 29th, 2012

The Washington State Employment Security Department provides an online map of unemployment rates by county that’s updated monthly. September unemployment in Washington was highest in Lewis, Grays Harbor and Ferry Counties and lowest in Douglas, Whitman, Chelan and Walla Walla counties. The lowest rates for September ranged from 6.2 percent to 6.6, and the highest at or near 12 percent. Eight counties in southwest and northeast Washington had double-digit unemployment last month. Here’s the department’s map of the September 2012 unemployment data, by county.

September, 2012 unemployment data by county/Washington Employment Security Department

Check the department’s latest monthly map of unemployment by counties, and access additional reports including county economic profiles, here.

The profiles show that the four counties with lowest September unemployment had economies most reliant, variously, on agriculture, tourism and leisure (Douglas and Chelan); retail, manufacturing, healthcare, tourism and agriculture (Walla Walla); and export-related manufacturing, technical educational services, and agriculture (Whitman).

The three with the highest September unemployment tended to have been reliant on resource extraction in past decades, and to have populations with markedly lower rates compared to the state average, for high school graduation and higher education degrees.

Public Data Ferret’s Washington State+Data Visualization archive

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.

Global vehicle penetration, sliced three different ways

by October 28th, 2012

Data visualizations derived from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators show that while North America far outpaces other major global regions in vehicles per 1,000 people, that gap compared to the developing world is declining. And perhaps more revealing: several developing global regions have more vehicles per kilometers of roadway than North America. Surface transportation of course is just one sector of the energy economy. Growing global energy demands in coming decades for surface transportation, plus other consumer, commercial and institutional uses, and manufacturing, accent the bracing challenge of developing competitively-priced green energy on a vast scale in order to limit climate change.

The World Bank has posted a wide array of World Development Indicators to Google Public Data Explorer, so that users can easily build their own charts, graphs and visualizations. Picking just three among dozens of data depictions across different World Development Indicators, let’s look at global vehicle penetration, by global region, and measured three different ways. The first is passenger vehicles per 1,000 people (not including two-wheelers). North America has almost 2.5 times more than the next closest competitor, but has been declining in recent years; while on the rise are the Europe/Central Asia region, Latin America/Caribbean, and East Asia/Pacific. This chart will likely look quite different in 2020, and even more so in 2030, as the gap between North America and the rest of the world continues to narrow.

Adding in buses and freight vehicles, this next graph looks at motor vehicles per 1,000 people. The gap between North America and other continents is even wider.

However, the measurement of motor vehicles (no two-wheelers) per kilometer of built roads is quite different. Though the data set has a few gaps, it is fairly striking that in the one year so far in which data exists for the Middle East and North Africa (2008), it leads the pack. By this metric, North America ranks third among the major global regions used in the World Development Indicators, behind Middle East/North Africa, and Europe/Central Asia. Data for Latin America/Caribbean is limited to only 2004, so can’t really be factored in. East Asia and Pacific is sharply rising. Europe/Central Asia and South Asia are also rising, North America is declining.

As more road infrastructure is built in developing nations, motor vehicles per kilometer of roadway will likely continue to grow in the developing world. This in turn has a strong probability of increasing greenhouse gas emissions from the surface transportation sector, unless net-green alternative fuels can be produced and sold on a wide scale. North America of course, with its huge number of vehicles overall, faces a related environmental challenge.

Against a backdrop of strong global concern about climate change, the data suggest we can expect even more effort will be focused on developing affordable green vehicles powered by electricity or biofuels; and that scrutiny will intensify of how electricity is produced for transportation and other purposes. In the developing world especially, will coal continue to dominate, or will cleaner, greener alternative energy sources actually gain a substantial foothold?

RELATED: “Global Energy Use and Carbon Emissions, 2005-2035,” Public Data Ferret.

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.

Sound Transit watchdogs too much like lapdogs, says audit

by October 26th, 2012

A new performance audit by the State of Washington says the Citizen Oversight Panel of the three-county Seattle region agency Sound Transit suffers from poor ethics, a poor understanding of its mission, and could be also considerably more transparent online. The audit details problems due to lack of screening of COP members and poor oversight of themselves by Sound Transit’s overseers. This includes boosterism of Sound Transit by COP rather than scrutiny, plus overlapping relationships and ethically dubious backscratching between COP board members, non-profits and for-profits that were paid by Sound Transit, and the agency itself.

GAO report targets ineffective camouflage for U.S. soldiers

by October 25th, 2012

Camouflage uniforms that according to U.S. Army soldiers, “provided ineffective concealment in the Afghan environment” may point to the need for an Army-wide revamp of camo cover suited to different environments. And it could carry a price tag of as much as $4 billion over five years. A big part of the problem was failure to complete field testing and prioritize the needs of soldiers in the field. Meanwhile, the Marines got it right, developing effective camo based on extensive testing. The Navy smartly adopted the effective Marine camo, but the Air Force has also floundered on this front. Underlying it all, the services’ parent agency, the U.S. Department of Defense, has failed to meet a 2010 legislative directive to develop joint criteria for combat-ready camouflage. All this is according to a recent General Accounting Office report titled “DOD Should Improve Development of Camouflage Uniforms and Enhance Collaboration Among the Services.”

Port OKs challenge of feds on concessionaire labor rules

by October 24th, 2012

The Port of Seattle has decided it will revisit a 12-year-old legal setback that sharply limited its powers to micromanage the labor relations of its concessionaires. The Port approved at its October 23 business meeting a motion authorizing outside legal counsel to seek “to dissolve or modify” a 2000 federal court order and consent judgement that blocked a Port attempt to make a concessionaire hire workers from a particular Port-allied labor union. The agreement also permanently blocked any other Port actions interfering with the federally-protected rights of concessionaires “to assign work to their own employees.”

Under Port rules and a related labor agreement, the Port had required CityIce Cold Storage at Terminal 91 in Seattle to hire workers from International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) Local 19 for unloading of fish and seafood cargo, in place of the CityIce boats’ own crews or CityIce’s Teamsters-affiliated dockworkers. Judge Barbara Rothstein’s order was entered in the U.S. District Court of Washington’s Western District, in Seattle. It required the Port to pay $275,000 in legal fees to CityIce. It also re-estalished the concessionaire’s labor management rights; and has effectively blocked the Port not only from dictating who a concessionaire should hire, but also from requiring or even strongly recommending to concessionaires that they adopt a so-called “worker retention” policy.

Job security sought for concessions workers
That last part is a sticking point these days for the Port, as board commissioners have repeatedly said in public meetings over the last two years. The Port has detailed publicly that it wants concessionaires – companies who bid to win lease rights on Port property to do business – to commit upfront, perhaps as a condition of being awarded a concession, that they will take steps to try to hire suitable ex-workers of other Port concessionaires who ended their leases with the Port. The worker retention policy push is part of a broader Concessions Master Plan the Port is developing to govern its relations from 2015 to 2017 with concessionaires at its Sea-Tac Airport. There are more than 50 in-airport concessionaires at Sea-Tac and others on adjacent airport properties.

Washington State judges behaving badly – the database

by October 24th, 2012

The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct provides an easy-to-use online database of disciplinary cases involving judges behaving – or alleged to have been behaving – badly. You can slice and dice by geography, type of discipline administered, date, and more. Key is that each entry links to the actual case documents so that if warranted, social media users, bloggers, journalists, watchdogs and other stakeholders can link to or circulate them online. It should be noted up front that compared to the total volume of court proceedings in municipal, district, appeals and supreme courts in Washington state, and compared to the total number of judges on the bench in these courts, the overall number of sanctions is modest. Nonetheless they have added up over the years, and often involve serious lapses in, well, judgement; as well as violations of so-called judicial canons, or codes of conduct. Better we should have access to probe the details, than not. Let’s take a quick tour to see how the database works.