A PhD candidate at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business who also teaches undergraduate business courses at UW Bothell was charged in mid-March with the felony offense of commercial sexual abuse of a minor. The case developed from an in-depth, two-day online exchange between a Seattle Police vice unit 44-year-old male detective impersonating a 15-year-old female prostitute and a 32-year-old Ukrainian citizen teaching “financial policy and planning” to UW-Bothell undergrads. According to King County Superior Court records, it included agreement on sexual acts and price, delivery of a female vice cop impersonating the bait to a University District block near the teacher’s apartment, plus payment by the teacher to a driver who was also an undercover cop, as other police watched from stake-out locations nearby. The sting culminated in a bust immediately thereafter.
Collaboration in Civic Spheres
Archive for the ‘Counties’ Category
by Matt Rosenberg April 12th, 2013
by Matt Rosenberg March 1st, 2013
In its year-end 2012 Performance Report, presented Thursday at the monthly Sound Transit board meeting in Seattle, ST’s Citizen Oversight Panel took the regional transit agency to task for poor operating cost controls and questionable resource allocation choices, while revenues are 30 percent lower than expected. The COP says in its report that with the Great Recession having smacked down projected ST 2 revenues by nearly a third, Sound Transit needs to clamp down on growth in day-to-day costs such as a planned 9 percent bump in transit operations spending in 2013, and what has been an ongoing five percent average growth rate for agency operating costs. That includes overhead and a particular sore point, security.
by Matt Rosenberg February 5th, 2013
A woman run over by a bus in West Seattle. A man who had already won a large settlement for police excessive force but whose attorney was denied key records in the process. A woman attacked and injured by a neighbor’s two pit bulls, about which she had already made complaints. Three different people injured by the same King County bus that rounded a bend on Interstate 5 and smacked into stalled traffic, at 30 miles per hour. These are a few of the 13 “tort,” or negligence lawsuits King County settled before trial with claimants for $100,000 or more in the fourth quarter of 2012, for a total of $10,535,500. The information comes in a new report to the King County Council from Jennifer Hillis, Director of the Office of Risk Management, Department of Executive Services.
The last quarter results bring to $15,785,500 the total of $100,000-plus tort claim settlements by the county in 2012, compared to $23.1 million in 2011 and $10.3 million in 2010, according to earlier county records reported on by Public Data Ferret. The percentage of dollars paid out in such settlements that stemmed from errors attributed to King County Metro transit employees was almost 73 percent in 2012 versus 27 percent in 2011 and 64 percent in 2010.
by Matt Rosenberg February 1st, 2013
Washington could increasingly bear the costs of suing itself, having to pay for suits by state-funded public employees such as county superior court judges aggrieved at budget cuts imposed by county officials who may themselves then turn around and sue the state in response. That was the warning from the state’s Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Moran in Olympia this week to lawmakers on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. (See TVW video below).
Moran said a current lawsuit against Grays Harbor County commissioners by the county’s superior court judges has so far cost the state $340,000 for outside counsel it is legally required to provide to the judges, who are state employees and have no funds of their own to sue. Moran, who was accompanied by new Attorney General Bob Ferguson, told the subcommittee the AG’s office will need another $600,000 to pay for the judges’ outside counsel in the 2013-15 state budget, although a settlement may occur before a scheduled trial this June.
Moran added that a similar standoff between superior court judges and county commissioners is looming in Cowlitz County, and that given similar county court funding problems across the state, such lawsuits at state expense could grow. “I would be astounded if the two counties didn’t become three” and then more, Moran told the subcommittee this week. County courts in many instances across the state are badly overcrowded and run-down.
The county has already spent another roughly $200,000 of its own to date with attorney Thomas Fitzpatrick and his partner, former State Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge of West Seattle, to defend itself against the judges and to in turn sue the state – claiming that it has been the real culprit by shirking its responsibility to adequately fund county court facilities. Beyond paying for the judges to sue the county, the state is also bearing additional costs for its own defense by the AG’s Office in the third-party action by the county board. The case is Grays Harbor Superior Court Judges v. Grays Harbor v. State of Washington.
The Grays Harbor judges sued the county in December, 2011 in neighboring Thurston County Superior Court, after their county’s commissioners had made cumulative cuts to the court’s budget over 10 years totaling five percent. The final straw was a planned 8.3 percent cut of $59,020 for the court in 2012 from the 2011 budget of $704,838; plus additional cuts to the budget of the juvenile justice center, The Daily World reported. The judges wanted a promised third courtroom, more court administrative staff to handle a pressing caseload, and basic security. They got the latter after a violent incident in the courthouse last March when an armed intruder shot a deputy and stabbed a judge. Both survived.
As explained in a backgrounder from Ferguson’s Office, the AG would have been able to represent the judges without paying outside counsel to do, except that the AG’s first obligation in the case was to defend the state against the county board’s lawsuit stemming from the judges’ suit against the county. Representing both sides would have posed a conflict.
Parallels to landmark education funding decision
Moran suggested that in calling attention to basic funding problems for which the state holds ultimate responsibility, the Grays Harbor case is “McCleary-esque.” This refers to the landmark McCleary v. State of Washington suit in which the state’s Supreme Court agreed with claims the state isn’t adequately funding K-12 public education, and ordered the legislature to come up with billions more for that in coming years.
Cowlitz County dispute could add to state costs for court funding controversies
There is a March 1 deadline for resolving the situation in Cowlitz; if that does not occur the superior court judges expect to file suit, and have already been granted funding by the county board (whom they would sue) to hire Scott Missall, the same Seattle attorney now representing the Grays Harbor judges. The county board on January 29 approved a proposal in a January 9 letter from Missall to pay him $390 per hour and when needed, another attorney at $280 an hour for representing the judges in negotiations. If the judges file suit against the county and it like Grays Harbor County then sues the state, the AG’s office would again be forced to pay for outside counsel for the judges.
Lawmakers, AG’s office ponder fixes
In the backgrounder, the AG’s office says under current state law its “‘duty to sue’ could extend to prosecuting attorneys and any other ’state official’ wishing to sue the state, county, and any other official or party.” In the subcommittee hearing, Moran said policy options range from a potentially costly laissez-faire approach to giving the AG more say-so on what “suits it jumps into” on behalf of public employees. State Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a member of the subcommittee, responded that another option would for the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts, which oversees the county superior courts, to have to approve such suits by court employees, and bear the expense.
by Matt Rosenberg December 19th, 2012
Violating the terms of its own contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office for security services, the regional transit agency serving King, Snohomish and Pierce counties failed to secure documentation to assure the validity of more than $17 million in related charges which it has paid since mid-2008. The finding comes in a a just-released draft accountability audit of Sound Transit by Washington State that will be presented at a meeting this Thursday of ST’s Audit and Reporting Committee.
In August, a Sound Transit internal audit found that King County Metro over-billed ST for more than $700,000 in para-transit services in the ST Link Light Rail footprint in and around Seattle, mainly by charging based on passenger bookings made – rather than actual rides provided. ST sought a billing credit and corrective steps were taken. In late October, a blistering performance audit by the state zeroed in on Sound Transit’s Citizens Oversight Committee, highlighting a series of ethical lapses and apparent conflicts of interest.
by Matt Rosenberg November 4th, 2012
The longtime Executive Director of a state-funded non-profit emergency medical services and trauma care council in Western Washington over six years bilked the agency out of almost $400,000 by writing herself extra paychecks, plus “operations and planning” stipends, and other unauthorized payments and excessive reimbursements. So asserts Washington State auditor Brian Sonntag in a fraud investigation report released November 1. It details the actions of Anice J. Grant while she worked for the Northwest Region Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Care Council. The council is one of eight statewide which coordinate first response to accidents, and related public and professional education programs. Its members include representatives of emergency medical and trauma care providers in Kitsap, Mason, Jefferson and Clallam counties.
According to Sonntag’s report, the Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is now probing the case and it has also been forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. authorities have been notified because federal funds, passed through the Washington State Department of Health, helped fund the council. Though Grant is not named in the fraud investigation report, board meeting minutes and an interview with the council board chairman reveal her as the subject.
by Matt Rosenberg October 30th, 2012
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.
by Matt Rosenberg 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.
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.