Fueled by growth in emerging economies led by China and India, global energy usage between 2010 and 2040 will jump 56 percent while carbon dioxide emissions from energy use will rise 46 percent, according to the “reference case” 2013 International Energy Outlook released in full today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Fossil fuels will continue to 2040 to provide almost four-fifths of global energy used, according to the outlook.
Collaboration in Civic Spheres
Archive for July, 2013
by Matt Rosenberg July 30th, 2013
by Matt Rosenberg July 25th, 2013
A Washington state appeals court in a ruling this week affirmed a King County judge’s 2011 dismissal of a suit by prominent environmental groups against the Puget Sound Regional Council transportation planning organization asserting it failed under state law to require adequate greenhouse gas reduction measures in its “Transportation 2040″ plan approved in May, 2010. The plan – covered here shortly after its release by our Public Data Ferret accountability reporting project and then in a Ferret KOMO-AM 1000 radio segment – said to address a more-than-one-third hike in population and a 51 percent boost in regional jobs by 2040 – that $189 billion more would be needed to get Seattle-region roads and transit fairly close to right by then. That would include $64 billion in new monies not yet secured, about half in taxes and fees, and half tolls.
Forty-two percent of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 came from transportation versus 26 percent nationally, according to the state’s inventory published last December. “T2040″ prescribed regional electronic tolling with higher charges at peak hours, and proposed some improvements to transit , biking and pedestrian infrastructure. It’s just a wish list from an advisory body with little real decision-making power but some important local and regional elected officials on its board. Political considerations still being calculated by state legislators are central. But tectonic shifts are underway in regional transportation policy, which may in the long run boost the green priorities sought by plaintiffs in the again-failed legal action.
by Matt Rosenberg July 22nd, 2013
A former vehicle parts buyer for the Washington Department of Natural Resources used his position to exchange special favors with suppliers and has agreed to pay a fine to a state oversight board of $7,500 for violating state ethics laws, according to an agreement he signed that was approved July 12. Longtime DNR employee Randy Sweet worked as a parts specialist for the state agency since 1991, in later years at the Tumwater compound just south of the Olympia Airport where he shared responsibilities for buying, billing and taking delivery of materials and parts used to keep running DNR’s boats, heavy equipment, cars and trucks. But during 2007 and 2008 he skirted purchasing guidelines meant to save taxpayer monies, to instead fatten the wallets of or to favor certain suppliers and was rewarded in return with cut rate deals on personal merchandise or other favors. This according to the findings of fact in the Washington Executive Ethics Board agreement, or “stipulation” document he signed to settle the case and which the board approved just 10 days ago.
A 2010 state audit which led to the ethics board probe noted two others at the facility were fired along with Sweet, one resigned, and eight more were reprimanded. The agency then said it put new safeguards in place. There were no criminal prosecutions. The ethics board is still investigating the role of two men above Sweet who may also face civil sanctions. The problems were first identified in a 2001 state audit.
King County DUI plea deal with Renton driver accents recent U.S. high court constraints on blood alcohol tests
by Matt Rosenberg July 16th, 2013
Because of an April U.S. Supreme Court ruling normally barring consideration of blood alcohol tests done without search warrants, says a King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office official, a 20-year-old Renton woman who ran into a man in a wheelchair at a crosswalk and who had levels of alcohol and marijuana in her blood that exceeded legal limits, got off last Friday with misdemeanor convictions and related sentences rather than facing the original felony charges. On July 12 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas finalized a plea deal between the county and attorneys for defendant Emily Sue Falkenstein resulting in her conviction on misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence and reckless endangerment rather than the original felony charges of vehicular assault and felony reckless endangerment. That’s directly because prosecutors were unable to use blood tests taken shortly afterward due to the April high court ruling in the case of Missouri v. McNeely, said Ian Goodhew, Deputy Chief of Staff to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
by Matt Rosenberg July 12th, 2013
A 55-year-old lawn service owner from Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood this week in King County Superior Court pled guilty to a felony sex offense and was sentenced to nearly a year in jail. After police noticed his online post in the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigslist seeking sex with a mother and daughter, a detective responded, posing as the father of a 13-year-old girl “who wants to experience sex with older men.” A series of email exchanges ensued in which the age of the fictitious girl was underscored and the suspect made clear that he understood that, and wanted have regular, oral and anal sex with her. A meet-up was arranged at the Edgewater Hotel, 2411 Alaskan Way on Seattle’s downtown waterfront.
by Matt Rosenberg July 11th, 2013
The King County Solid Waste Division is moving forward with plans to evaluate three potential sites for a new facility to replace the aging Algona Transfer Station. Residents of south King County Thursday night can learn more at a public meeting 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Auburn Senior Activity Center, where SWD officials will explain site selection criteria, and take comments and questions. A dark-horse candidate site previously rejected is now the county’s preferred choice, on West Valley Highway S. in Auburn. It has led to formation of resident group called “No North Auburn Dump.” Members are strenuously opposed and have taken to the Internet with a blog and Facebook page. They say another current alternative for which the county has already bought land in Algona next to the current site, is much more suitable.
by Matt Rosenberg July 9th, 2013
King County could do far better controlling public risk and related liability pay-outs in negligence cases, especially those related to Metro Transit and other transportation functions, according to a recent and wholly overlooked report from the King County Auditor’s Office. It accents “critical weaknesses” in current risk control strategies. These include baked-in lowballing of the real risk bill to county taxpayers due to ignoring workers compensation costs in taxpayer-funded tort liability settlements; and lack of an overall risk control system including thorough accident data tracking and related performance standards. Another shortcoming is insufficient driver safety training, the audit finds.
Outside of transportation, the audit says the county “will continue to face compliance and claims risks” because of its sub-par system for responding to public records requests, and that it must speed efforts to implement risk controls around incidences of excessive force by the King County Sheriff’s office, and cyber-secuirty vulnerabilities. Top officials say they’re implementing some changes already, and more are to come.
by Peggie Duggan July 3rd, 2013
In January of this year a month after the murder of 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut by a disturbed shooter using his mother’s weapons, President Obama issued 23 executive actions to address gun violence – including commissioning a report that would assess the state and availability of new gun safety technologies to limit unauthorized use. On June 17 came the assessment from the National Institute of Justice. “A Review of Gun Safety Technologies” says two different types of what some term “smart guns” – keyed to authorized users only – are coming to market this year and advance orders are already being taken for one, the Kodiak Intelligun.
But reactions to the report were mixed among Washington state law enforcement officials, legislators and gun rights supporters. Some saw potential benefits in improved safe storage and could foresee continuing progress in performance and acceptance. Others worried about reliability or said the emphasis instead should be on illegal possession, a more robust system of background checks, and more educational outreach to at-risk teens about added penalties for using a gun in a crime.