Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘disclosure’ Category

Report: improve data on USDA food facility inspections

by Matt Rosenberg December 13th, 2011

Instead of just providing opaque aggregated data as at present, the U.S. Department of Agriculture should closely consider beefed-up public disclosure which names names and provides facility-specific outcomes of food safety inspections, sampling, testing, and enforcement actions for processing sites like slaughterhouses and warehouses, and at retail stores, according to a report from a committee of the U.S. government’s National Research Council released December 2. The report – by the council’s Committee on a Study of Food Safety and Other Consequences of Publishing Establishment-Specific Data – takes the form of a 116-page book viewable in full online, and a short summary.

State ethics sanctions for four DSHS workers

by Matt Rosenberg November 22nd, 2011

The Washington State Executive Ethics Board has finalized disciplinary sanctions in four cases involving employees of the state’s Department of Health and Social Services who broke state law by conducting private business at work, or in one case, by using their official state employee and agency status in a political TV ad without a necessary disclaimer. At its meeting last Friday the board signed four so-called “stipulation” documents – essentially settlements in place of civil court proceedings – which had already been signed by the employees, setting fine amounts or taking other steps.

UW Dental School should ban free samples, prof urges

by Matt Rosenberg October 28th, 2011

Dental schools including that of the University of Washington should seriously consider banning free drug and product samples due to ethical, medical, consumer and educational considerations, says UW Professor of Dentistry Philippe Hujoel after completing a study just published in The Journal of Dental Education. The study found that a group of UW dental students appeared to suffer compromised medical judgement as a result of being exposed to free samples of a high-priced “sensitizing” toothpaste.

Results of Seattle Police watchdog agency’s 2010 excessive force probes: 120 allegations, but no smoking guns found

by Matt Rosenberg August 19th, 2011

According to information obtained by Public Data Ferret from the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability, OPA in 2010 completed 77 investigations into use of force complaints against SPD personnel, including 120 related allegations, and none of the cases or allegations resulted in a finding of “sustained,” meaning supported by a preponderance of evidence. Investigations of some high profile cases in 2010 such as the SPD shooting of the late John T. Williams, and the resulting determination of excessive force, weren’t resolved until 2011, and so are not included in the 2010 findings.

Overall, reported cases involving allegations of unnecessary force, or other force-related complaints such as failure to report use of force, are a tiny fraction of all police activity. SPD officials disclosed that department personnel had a total of 454,564 public contacts in 2010, including almost 200,000 dispatched calls, more than 140,000 “on view” interactions in communities, more than 90,000 traffic stops, and 22,883 arrests.

In response to an information request by Public Data Ferret on excessive force cases and allegations for which investigations were completed in 2010, the findings provided by OPA’s Civilian Director Kathryn Olsen were:

  • In 73 of the 120 allegations, police were exonerated (a preponderance of evidence suggests the conduct alleged did occur, but it was determined to be justified, lawful and proper);
  • 31 of the 120 allegations were unfounded (evidence suggests the alleged act did not occur as reported, or the report was false);
  • seven allegations were administratively exonerated or administratively unfounded (complaint is significantly flawed, i.e. recanted by complainant, wrong employee identified);
  • one was administratively inactivated (investigation can’t proceed due to insufficient information or another pending investigation);
  • one went to mediation (complainant and officer agree to resolution by credentialed third-party mediator);
  • two earned supervisory interventions (there may have been a violation of policy, but it wasn’t willful, and/or didn’t amount to misconduct);
  • five were classified as not sustained (allegation of misconduct is neither proved nor disproved by a preponderance of the evidence).

These results dovetail with data on the previous year of 2009, when 105 investigations into excessive use of force by Seattle Police, including 318 specific allegations, were completed, and no allegations were sustained.

Downtown Seattle design firm wins $15 million Navy contract

by Matt Rosenberg July 11th, 2011

SUMMARY: The downtown Seattle firm Makers Architecture and Urban Design has won a $15 million contract from the San Diego-based Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest to provide “project planning documents, plans, studies, geo-spatial information and service, global positioning system services and other services” at Navy and Marine Corps locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The unit  is one of 10 naval facilities engineering commands which contracts with vendors who deliver housing, piers, airfields, and hospitals at Navy and Marine Corps sites; plus services such as transportation, maintenance, utilities and energy, facilities management and base operations.

City Auditor: Seattle legal and liability claims total nearly $75 million over four years

by Melissa Steffan July 1st, 2011

SUMMARY: A recent City of Seattle Auditor’s report found that over a four-year period, from 2007 to 2010, the City of Seattle spent nearly $30 million to settle lawsuits filed against it. This accounts for 39 percent of the total $74,767,406 spent by the City of Seattle to cover legal judgments and financial claims against it during that time. The annual total continues to trend downward from a recent high in 2008. The auditor’s report recommended several strategies including stronger leadership and employee involvement, a focus on root causes of financial risk, and regular collection and analysis of data.