Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Economic Development’ Category

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.”

    Doing biz with Washington State too tricky, audit says

    by John Stang September 18th, 2012

    Getting permits and licenses from Washington’s government is nowhere as simple as it could be, according to a recent Washington State performance audit. A longtime state government goal has been to allow people and businesses who must comply with regulations to go to central Web sites to get all the information they need to meet their legal obligations under the law. That goal is still a long way away. “Doing business in Washington today means sifting through a complex maze of state and local laws and regulations. At the state level alone, someone wanting to open a small convenience store, with a gas pump for example, would have to get regulatory approval from up to a dozen different agencies, in addition to approvals from local jurisdictions. … The challenge is especially difficult for small businesses, usually lacking the resources that enable larger companies to hire attorneys and other specialists to help them comply. When businesses fail to fully comply with regulations, they face fines and penalties,” the audit report said.

    Now THAT’S Boring!

    by Matt Rosenberg September 18th, 2012

    From the Washington State Department of Transportation via Flickr comes this arresting image. Here’s WSDOT’s caption:

    “Workers stand in the shadow of what will become the world’s largest-diameter tunnel boring machine.

    Currently being assembled in Japan, the machine will dig the (State Route) 99 tunnel beneath downtown Seattle starting in summer 2013. Scheduled to open to traffic in late 2015, the tunnel will replace the central waterfront section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

    WSDOT’s record-breaking tunnel boring machine takesshape

    RELATED:

  • WSDOT’s SR 99 tunnel project page and document library.
  • WSDOT’s SR 99 “Preparing For Tunnel Construction” Flickr photo vault.
  • Public Data Ferret’s Washington State+Transportation archive.

  • Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

    Chrysler needn’t pay last $1.3 billion owed to U.S.

    by Matt Rosenberg September 18th, 2012

    The Congressional Research Service reports that the reformulated Chrysler Corporation cannot be required to pay the last $1.3 billion of $10.9 billion in loans received from the United States government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) starting in Fall, 2008 to help stabilize its financial fortunes. Titled “TARP Assistance For Chrysler: Restructuring and Repayment Issues,” the report released this month by the research arm of the U.S. Congress and Senate says that due to the vehicle manufacturer’s financial restructuring, “an approximate $1.3 billion shortfall remains” in payback – and that because “the U.S. Government has no remaining financial interest in New Chrysler,” the company “has no legal responsibility to make up this shortfall.”

    Washington State will push for expanded U.S. defense role

    by Matt Rosenberg September 12th, 2012

    If Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and the state’s Congressional delegation have anything to say about it, planned cutbacks in U.S. defense facilities and spending won’t get in the way of an expanded U.S. military role for the Evergreen State and military contractors who call it home. In a request for proposals issued on behalf of the Washington Military Alliance, the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) is seeking a contractor who for up to $300,000 will prepare a report detailing the hows and whys of Washington’s vital strategic defense role for the U.S. even as the nation continues its shift to a leaner and more focused military. The Alliance was created by Gov. Gregoire and the state’s federal legislators, and includes state and local officials, regional community groups supporting military installations, and economic development organizations. Using the report, it will “coordinate a unified message” to “effectively compete for a continued and expanded share of national defense spending,” according to the RFP document.

    The RFP elaborates that Washington is in a good position even as the military downsizes, because of an increasing emphasis by the U.S. Department of Defense on Asia-Pacific operations. One component of the state’s lobbying campaign will be to withstand the next round of military base closures and realignments. That process hasn’t yet begun. The broader defense downsizing strategy was further accented in January 2012, with the release by the DOD of the report Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership Priorities for 21st Century Defense.”

    “It’s critical Washington State is on the strongest possible position to demonstrate to federal policymakers that maintaining and expanding military missions in Washington State promotes national security and is a wise, cost effective, fiscal investment,” the RFP states.

    Public Data Ferret’s compendium of articles on Washington military contracts shows they have been awarded to a range of firms statewide for water filters, fuel, foreign base supplies, dam maintenance, medical and biomedical equipment, Saudi Air Force surveillance plane upgrades, firefighting equipment, drone support, food supplies, building an oceanographic research vessel, HVAC work, construction and facility project planning, and nuclear submarine improvements.

    As previously reported by Public Data Ferret, a September 2010 Washington Economic Development Commission report found that in fiscal 2009, U.S. military contract obligations in the state totaled $5.2 billion and, including indirect and induced impacts, military spending comprised seven percent of total state jobs and eight percent of labor income. Major Army, Navy and naval air facilities dot the Puget Sound landscape, and awards to Washington military contractors have been been steady, and varied in type.

    Public Data Ferret’s compendium of articles on Washington military contracts shows they have been awarded to a range of firms statewide for water filters, fuel, foreign base supplies, dam maintenance, medical and biomedical equipment, Saudi Air Force surveillance plane upgrades, firefighting equipment, drone support, food supplies, building an oceanographic research vessel, HVAC work, construction and facility project planning, and nuclear submarine improvements.

    The deadline for response to the RFP issued by OFM on behalf of the Washington Military Alliance is September 20th. A winning bidder is to be selected on September 25th, and work on the contract to begin by October 9th.


    Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

    Group says tourism brought $484.5M to Bellevue in 2011

    by Matt Rosenberg August 7th, 2012

    At a study session prior to last night’s Bellevue City Council council meeting, Visit Bellevue Washington presented findings detailing that 1,253,000 overnight and day-trip visitors brought more than $484 million in spending to the growing Eastside community last year, plus $44 million in local and state taxes revenues, and directly supported another $263.7 million in salaries from 7,634 tourism-related jobs.

    WSDOT survey: If there’s more freight delay, you will pay

    by Matt Rosenberg June 19th, 2012

    If traffic congestion on Washington’s interstate and state highways were to grow by a far-from-impossible 20 percent, 56 percent of freight-dependent businesses would pass the added costs on to consumers, more than a third would reroute or eat the costs, and one in ten would either shut down or relocate. The projected impact on freight-dependent businesses would result in a net one-time loss to Washington of 27,250 jobs, and a $3.3 billion decline in direct, indirect and induced economic output. All that is according to a new survey of more than 1,000 Washington freight-dependent employers, done for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) by Washington State University’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center and WSU’s Freight Policy Transportation Institute. A central piece of how the state defines traffic congestion is that it occurs when average speeds on interstates and state highways fall below 45 miles per hour.

    Whether highway congestion in Washington would actually rise by one-fifth at any point in coming years is hard to say, but as the economy recovers, the odds grow stronger. Gov. Chris Gregoire’s “Connecting Washington” task force report issued in January 2012 does forecast tripling of freight volume in the state by 2035, plus 28 percent population growth in the next decade, and 60 billion vehicle miles traveled in Washington by 2020 – up from 57.2 billion in 2010. The bulk of traffic congestion statewide occurs in Central Puget Sound and the theoretical drops in employment and economic output from a congestion spike would be greatest there as well, according to the new survey report from WSDOT and WSU. But that report emphasizes that many freight-dependent employers elsewhere in the state have a big stake in Puget Sound roadways snarls because they depend on the ports of Seattle and Tacoma for shipping of goods to their final destination.