Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘disclosure’ Category

Port of Seattle porn probe prompts painter’s exit

by Matt Rosenberg March 25th, 2013

Internal reports obtained by Public Data Ferret through a public records request reveal a Port of Seattle sign painter and Snohomish County resident named David John Swensen resigned from his job after confessing to viewing pornography on workplace computers. A Port of Seattle Police investigation found “numerous pornographic images” on one computer used at work by Swensen, plus “several pornographic photos” on another. A third computer placed into evidence in the investigation had on it a special application that could have been used to sweep it clean, according to Port police reports. Port documents show Swensen also admitted to accessing child pornography “by accident” on work hardware, but none was found in the police review and no criminal charges were filed.

Washington state’s “sunshine committee” battles doctors, hospitals, insurers on medical malpractice data disclosure

by Matt Rosenberg February 7th, 2013

The Washington state legislature’s “Sunshine Committee” is advocating for House Bill 1299 to open up data on settled medical malpractice claims but public hospitals, doctors and insurers are voicing strong opposition. A preview of the looming battle came earlier this week in testimony to the House Government Operations and Elections Committee; TVW video is below. The bone of contention is 1299’s provision to remove from current state law an exemption to the Open Public Records Act which bars disclosure of information on “the identity of a claimant, health care provider, health care provider, health care facility, insuring entity or self-insurer” in settled medical malpractice claims. Such information could be important to consumers and the media, and increase pressure for improved standards of care where needed – but opponents are warning of privacy issues and potential conflicts with federal law.

Metro’s share of King County’s big tort payouts spikes in Q3

by Matt Rosenberg November 8th, 2012

King County Metro Transit was responsible for 71 percent of third quarter 2012 large negligence claim settlements paid by the county, according to a newly issued report. Metro’s share of those payouts is up from 50 percent for the first two quarters of the year, and just more than one-quarter of the total last year. A county ordinance requires quarterly online disclosure of large tort settlements, but that hasn’t happened and there’s no related public database. The data, when issued, can be found through a somewhat obscure county information portal including links to legislation and reports.

As it does every quarter of the year, King County this summer settled a series of what it classifies as major negligence, or tort, claims – those of $100,000 or more. The county is self-insured and pays all claims from a special fund of its own, except those over $7.5 million, for which it has outside insurance. County tort payouts in the third quarter of this year totaled more than $1.4 million dollars. Exactly $1 million or 71 percent of that amount stemmed from mishaps involving the county’s Metro bus system, according to a new Q1 through Q3 2012 tort payouts report to the King County Council from Jennifer Hills, the Director of the Office of Risk Management. The 71 percent share for Metro of the county’s large negligence claim payouts in Q3 compares to 50 percent for Metro in the first two quarters of the year combined; versus just more than one quarter of the county total for Metro in 2011; and nearly two-thirds in 2010, as we reported earlier this year.

Seattle bill would restrict employer use of criminal histories

by Matt Rosenberg September 19th, 2012

A proposed City of Seattle bill being championed by Councilmember Bruce Harrell would restrict the right of Seattle employers to factor in to their hiring decisions a job applicant’s past arrests, convictions or pending criminal criminal charges. Under Council Bill 117583, which is scheduled for discussion today in the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee meeting chaired by Harrell, employers would be required to:


  • wait until after extending a job offer to check an applicant’s criminal history;
  • avoid refusing to hire, or avoid firing an employee because of a past criminal conviction or pending criminal charge – unless there’s a “direct relationship” between the crime and the job’s duties;
  • and assess “direct relationship” on factors including reasonable foreseeability of harm or misconduct, seriousness of past crime(s), length of time elapsed since the crime(s), and the applicant’s conduct and rehabilitation since then.

  • According to a city staff fiscal note which summarizes the bill and answers several questions about its implications, Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights would implement the legislation. This would include public education directed to employers and job applicants, and could also involve investigating and trying to settle complaints brought by job applicants against Seattle employers. The fiscal note says it’s not clear whether the bill would require additional hiring at OCR; that the agency “will need to assess their ability to continue to absorb this body of work with existing staff and resources.”

    King County’s big tort claims: $37.3M in last 2.5 years

    by Matt Rosenberg August 29th, 2012

    Court verdicts or settlements of $100,000 or more in government negligence claims against King County from January 2010 through June 2012 have totaled $37.3 million and 40 percent of that has resulted from actions by transit employees at King County Metro, according to records obtained by Public Data Ferret. The large tort claim payouts by King County more than doubled from 2010 to 2011 but so far are occurring at a slower pace this year. In 2010, total large tort claims (over $100,000) were $10.3 million and $6.65 million or 64 percent were due to King County Metro transit operations. In 2011, large tort claims were $23.1 million and $6.32 million or 27 percent were tied to Metro transit. In 2012 through June, King County has paid out $3.85 million in negligence claims of $100,000 or more, with $1.92 million or 50 percent involving Metro transit.

    U.S. audit accents broad problems at VA’s Puget Sound hospitals

    by Matt Rosenberg April 13th, 2012

    A new oversight report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General (OIG) identifies problems with sedation safety, colorectal cancer screening, sanitation, medication management, coordination of care, quality assurance and patient satisfaction at the VA’s Puget Sound Health Care System-Seattle, for vets who’ve served in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The audit covers a look into quality of care at just the system’s hospital complex on Columbian Way in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, and the VA Hospital at American Lakes in Lakewood, Wash., near Tacoma – but not its additional seven Western Washington clinics, confirmed a VA OIG official in Washington, D.C. VA Puget Sound Seattle calls itself “the primary referral site for the VA’s Northwest Region” serving 80,000 veterans in several states. Care is provided in collaboration with physicians of the University of Washington’s UW Medicine unit.

    Woodinville teacher forced out for faking signatures on students’ special ed plans

    by Matt Rosenberg April 9th, 2012

    An agreed order recently posted online by the Washington state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction discloses that the Northshore School District – which operates 33 schools primarily in Kenmore, Bothell and Woodinville – successfully sought the resignation of teacher Diane Friddle for forging required signatures of other individuals on documents connected with the custom-tailored “individualized education programs” or IEPs, for at least six special education students from 2008 to 2011. She taught at East Ridge Elementary School, 22150 N.E. 156th Place in Woodinville. The agreed order says she admitted to district officials that she manufactured the signatures of others on the student IEPs. Northshore School District Communications Director Leanna Albrecht said Friddle faked signatures of district staff and parents on the IEP signatures pages, showing who attended meetings related to the student IEPs. “It was a serious breach of professional ethics and we responded accordingly,” Albrecht added. Efforts to contact Friddle through a family member were not successful.

    Friddle’s most current registered voter address is in Edmonds, and she is 43 years old. A public database of information from OSPI and provided by the Spokane Spokesman-Review reveals Friddle earned $71,988 in base salary and bonuses for the 2010-2011 school year, and received insurance benefits valued at $9,963, for total pay and benefits of $81,951 (screen shot).