Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Zachariah Bryan's Profile

Email: zachariah (dot) bryan (at) gmail (com) com
Zachariah Bryan recently graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a degree in English, creative writing concentration. While there, he interned at the Seattle Mayor's Office under the administration of Mayor Michael McGinn, lobbied in Olympia for higher education, did campaign work with the League of Education Voters, and was assistant news editor for the award-winning student newspaper, The Falcon. While assistant news editor, he covered student senate, lectures, school policy, and the state of financial aid.

Currently he is an editorial intern and freelance writer for Crosscut.com, where he has written on issues of education, homelessness, and politics. In addition, he started the "Seattle Weekender," a column collecting fun things to do for the weekend in the Puget Sound area.

Zachariah Bryan's Recent Posts

Cuba smackdown of rights testifier to U.S. Senate backfires

June 30th, 2012

Earlier this month in Cuba, peaceful political dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, or “Antunez,” was jailed, beaten and pepper sprayed. This took place just three days after he testified to a U.S. Senate subcommittee about the Cuban government’s repression of citizens’ free speech rights. Though for thousands of Cuban citizens such harassment has long been common, acts of repression in Cuba burgeoned last year, according to the Cuba section of a recent global human rights report from the U.S. Department of State. In 2011, The Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation counted a total of 4,123 short-term detentions, a 99 percent increase over 2010, according to the State Department report. This year’s pace is even higher, with documented political arrests in Cuba at more than 2,400 since January; 1,158 in March alone, according to testimony of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) at the subcommittee hearing earlier this month. Read the rest of this entry »

Pacific County public hospital district trying to stay afloat

June 4th, 2012

On the rural coast of Washington in Pacific County, a small but vital critical-care, taxpayer-funded hospital has new interim leadership trying to dig its way out of financial problems that threaten its survival, including a four-fold increase in operating losses from 2007 through 2011. Ocean Beach Hospital in Ilwaco, Wash. is run by Pacific County Public Hospital District No. 3, which was founded in 1995 and also operates a clinic in Ilwaco and another in nearby Naselle.

The district is one of dozens of relatively obscure public bodies in the state which use taxpayer funds to run hospitals, water and irrigation systems, public power utilities, and cemeteries. For the year-round population of the regional tourist mecca known as the Long Beach Peninsula – which includes the town of Long Beach, the fishing port of Ilwaco to its south, and neighboring communities – the district provides emergency and medical care, as well as surgery, and lab and radiology services. The district is overseen by a five-member, elected board of directors. It is managed by executive staff and employs about 170.

Public hospital district is bailing water from its fiscal boat
An accountability report released May 21 by Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag revealed that the hospital district ended calendar year 2011 about $2 million in debt, and ran at an operating loss of $2.5 million while struggling to collect monies owed. Hospital sources note the facility currently lacks a staff chief surgeon and chief financial officer. Its CEO resigned earlier this year, and an interim leader stepped in. As of March 31, 2012 the district – which in 2011 had operating expenditures of $23,803,700 and operating revenues of $21,256,355 – saw its reserves dwindle to just $91,500. At that same milepost just two months ago, the district owed $2,131,171 to creditors. Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle NGOs echo concerns of USAID Haiti audit

May 23rd, 2012

A program aimed at improving watersheds and water quality in Haiti and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development hasn’t made inroads against major environmental risks and could be facing potentially expensive setbacks, according to an audit by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Discussing the audit’s concerns, representatives of two NGOs in the Seattle region which track Haiti respectively accented ongoing cholera risk from unsafe water; and the need for a deeper level of personal investment from citizens to augment external aid for environmental and public health problems. But underlying these challenges is a staggering unemployment rate which defies easy answers.

Haiti’s troubled environment is compounded by a weak government and wanting infrastructure resulting in part from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Trash pick-up, environmental regulation, and water systems are especially problematic. Haiti’s watersheds have been long in decline due to decades of unchecked logging and charcoal demand, leaving the island with an estimated two percent forestation today, according to the audit. This boosts susceptibility to tropical storms and hurricanes which can bring flash floods to communities from eroded watersheds, taking lives and damaging property.

USAID in response launched a partnership with Chemonics International Inc. named the Watershed Initiative for National Natural Environmental Resources program (WINNER). It has $128 million in authorized funding and is designed to reduce environmental and economic vulnerability by rehabilitating watersheds and reducing flood risk along rivers. It also aims to train farmers in agricultural practices. Haiti produces less than half the food it consumes. Read the rest of this entry »

Ex-Marine, and ex-Seattle news exec warn U.S. Senate against overly broad disclosure shields

March 21st, 2012

In a recent testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee, a retired Marine and a national proponent of government transparency with long and deep ties to Seattle, ratcheted up concerns about a recent military attempt to censor from the public eye information on drinking water and public health risks. Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger (Ret.), who believes his daughter died of leukemia as a result of contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in 1985, was disappointed that the U.S. Marine Corps decided to remove from an official study, information regarding locations of water sources in the area. It has been the latest in a series of hurdles he has had to overcome in the case. Read the rest of this entry »