Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘King County’ Category

Kenmore Would OK Study On Replacing County Police

by Matt Rosenberg February 8th, 2011

SUMMARY: The cost to the City of Kenmore, Wash. of contracting with the King County Sheriff’s Office for police services has risen 28.2 percent from $2.28 million in 2006 to $2.9 million in 2010. The Sheriff’s Kenmore precinct is being closed in a consolidation move but the sheriff’s office will still be able to provide police protection there. However, city officials want an expert review of current police service needs, costs and performance versus costs for comparable service from other providers who might replace the sheriff’s office. Options include a city police department or another contract service provider. Kenmore City Council members at their regular meeting on Monday Feb. 14 will discuss and are expected to vote upon an ordinance to approve a $40,000 consultant study to help determine whether the current arrangement is still considered adequate or should be fine-tuned to reduce costs, or whether some other alternative should be advanced.

BACKGROUND: Kenmore is a suburban city now of about 21,000 residents which incorporated in 1998. It borders the north shore of Lake Washington in King County, near Seattle. Police service is provided by the King County Sheriif’s office, not the city. Kenmore is in the sheriff’s office Precinct 2 which also includes Woodinville, North Bend, Sammamish, and Skykomish. The county provides Kenmore with one sergeant who serves as chief, nine patrol officers, one community storefront officer, one traffic officer and special services as needed, including canine unit, SWAT, marine patrol, bicycle patrol and major crime investigations. If the council approves the study by the police services consulting firm Matrix Consulting Group, a major assessment would be done contrasting current service, costs and satisfaction with alternative service models. Palo Alto-based Matrix was chosen from among six original firms which responded to request for qualifications to bid on the contract.

from Matrix Consulting Group Scope of Work document for City of Kenmore police services evaluation contract

KEY LINK: City of Kenmore proposed contract with Matrix Consulting Group, including Scope of Work attachment. To be considered and likely voted upon by city council at its public meeting, 2/14/11.

KEY FINDINGS:

  • Costs of police service to Kenmore from the King County Sheriff’s Police have risen 28.2 percent in the last four years.
  • The study’s first phase would profile current service including needs, staffing and costs; interview city officials and in focus groups, residents, for their perceptions of current service and costs and opportunities for improvement.
  • In Phase Two, the study would examine staffing and resources required under different new approaches to providing police service for the city. It would assess the costs including transition and start-up, of a new service model such as a city police department, versus the current arrangement. The study would detail any possible changes in legal organization and governance, and would evaluate “how should Kenmore transition to the new service delivery system? How long should it take? What are the key steps?”
  • If the contract is approved with the current scope of work, the city says it would be completed by late May or early June. The city council would then have to debate and formally adopt any new plans to change how police service is provided to the city. If any increase in local taxes is required as a result, it is likely a local ballot measure would have to be approved by voters.

Restaurant Food Safety Inspections: Bellevue 98005

by Matt Rosenberg February 7th, 2011

SUMMARY: Inspectors for the combined public health department serving King County and Seattle regularly conduct on-site assessments of food service establishments and their compliance with necessary food safety procedures. Results are online and searchable by name, address, city or zip code. The most recent inspections in zip code 98005 – north central Bellevue and environs – revealed that a number of establishments were not following proper food safety procedures to minimize the risk of food-borne infections.

Seattle Study: Gift Card Vouchers Don’t Help Cut Meth Use And High-Risk Sex Among Gay Men

by Matt Rosenberg February 1st, 2011

SUMMARY: A recently-published study by Seattle-based public health researchers of Seattle gay men who use meth and engage in high-risk sex found that compared to traditional intervention approaches such as referral to community resource providers, giving financial but strictly non-cash incentives to encourage smarter choices – a strategy known as “çontingency management” – generates no lasting improvement in outcomes and does not appear to hold promise as a stand-alone approach.

BACKGROUND: Methamphetamine use can be a factor in gay men acquiring HIV, the virus which can lead to AIDS. Meth is associated with high-risk sexual behaviors among gay men, including unprotected anal intercourse (UAI). A strategy known as contingency management (“CM”) has been drawing increased interest from public health experts as a way of potentially controlling and reducing meth use and UAI. CM involves providing positive material incentives to reward desired behavior.

A study recently published by researchers at Seattle-based Harborview Medical Center and the University of Washington in Seattle, compared the preventive effects of referrals to community resources (counseling, etc.) versus the provision of vouchers for prepaid gift cards for goods and services among gay men 18 and older over a 12-week intervention period and 12 weeks afterward. Results were assessed every six weeks. Participants were gay men (some HIV-negative, some HIV-positive) who reported that in the month prior to screening for the study they had anal sex at least once and used meth at least twice. During and after intervention, self-reported data was collected on incidence of UAI, and urine tests for meth were administered three times weekly to subjects. A voucher worth $2.50 was given for the first meth-free test, and increased by $1.25 for each consecutive clean test, up to $10 per clean test. Additional bonuses were provided for consecutive clean tests. The maximum voucher value possible to receive was $476.25.

KEY LINK: “Contingency Management To Reduce Methamphetamine Use And Sexual Risk Among Men Who Have Sex With Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” 12/20/10, BMC Public Health, Timothy W. Menza (Harborview Medical Center – Seattle), et al

KEY FINDINGS:

(Note: The authors use the term “non-concordant UAI” to refer to unprotected anal intercourse. The authors also refer to the four six-week periods of the study as ärms, or sub-sections.)

  • During the 12-week intervention period, non-concordant UAI declined significantly in both study groups, those receiving CM incentives and those getting more traditional community/counseling treatment. But by the end of the post-intervention period in Week 24, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in the percentage of members who continued to engage in non-concordant UAI.
  • CM group and control group members were comparably likely to test positive for meth during the 12-week intervention period. In the 12-week follow-up period after the interventions ended, the CM group members were somewhat more likely to test positive for meth and were significantly likely to report weekly or more frequent use of meth.

  • The study’s authors concluded, “ünfortunately, our findings related to CM are discouraging…..” Using CM is “very unlikely to be effective as a stand-alone intervention among MSM (men who have sex with men).” Results suggest CM may have potential to alter behavior during the intervention period but its effect fades significantly once the intervention ends.

New Study: Taco Time Test Reveals King County Mandate On Fast Food Menu Labeling Doesn’t Cut Calories

by Matt Rosenberg January 25th, 2011

SUMMARY: Public health concerns about obesity have prompted requirements by some governments that restaurants, especially fast food chains, disclose calorie and other nutritional information at the point of purchase, to help compel healthier consumer choices. But a newly-published study by Duke National University Of Singapore Graduate Medical School and King County public health researchers finds that based on field testing at Taco Time outlets in King County and in non-King County control locations, that King County’s mandatory menu labeling requirements for large fast food chains so far does not demonstrate the intended effect of lowering the number of fast-food transactions and the average amount of calories per transaction. The latter was found to have actually risen slightly in the King County Taco Time locations from before any enforcement to the final stage of implementation with indoor and drive-through signage.

South Kirkland Transit-Oriented Mixed-Use Project Advancing; But Fate Still Uncertain

by Andrew Hart January 18th, 2011

SUMMARY: The cities of Kirkland and Bellevue have approved an agreement outlining principles to guide the development of the South Kirkland Park and Ride into a regional transit, commercial and housing hub intended to boost transit usage and model the benefits of transit-oriented development. Following upcoming public hearings and final amendments to the development plan, a $6.25 million federal grant could be released and would help cover some of the costs of adding 250 new parking spaces to the current 600 spaces which are at capacity now. 200 housing multifamily housing units are also planned, and 12,500 square feet of commercial space. If private and perhaps non-profit investors can partner on the housing, then the expanded parking component of the development plan can be fully funded; otherwise, not. Demand for commuter parking at the transit hub is likely to increase as tolling begins this spring on the nearby State Route 520 bridge, and then reconstruction of the bridge follows.

State Audit Critiques Seattle Port’s Property Management, Cargo Crane Oversight, And Under-reported Pilferage

by Matt Rosenberg January 14th, 2011

SUMMARY: A State of Washington performance audit found the Port of Seattle: failed to sufficiently report to the state, as required by law, 41 instances of pilferage valued at $107,000; failed to monitor actual usage of its cargo cranes and related lease fees by lessees; and failed to monitor required maintenance of the cranes by lessees as specified in contracts; and sold a property for $4.1 million less than market value due to an accounting error. The audit also finds that The Port, lacking a risk assessment, paid $5.5 million for a property which was not ultimately used for a planned development project; allowed wide variances – of 20 to 70 percent – in lease rates for similar properties, with no explanation; and does not widely market its salable properties to get best bid competition. The audit found The Port also fails to obtain timely appraisals on many of its leased properties which would allow it to charge higher, market-rate lease fees.

Three of the Port of Seattle's 18 cargo cranes, seen from lower West Seattle Bridge, 12/3/10 - photo by Matt Rosenberg, Public Data Ferret

BACKGROUND: This state-led performance audit of the Port of Seattle was done under the authority of voter-approved Initiative 900. A previous state performance audit of The Port in 2006-2007 examined The Port’s construction project management, at Sea-Tac Airport. This audit examines the Port’s real estate management practices and other program areas.

KEY LINK: Port of Seattle: Real Estate Management And Selected Programs, Washington State Auditor’s Office, 12/13/10

KEY FINDINGS:

  • Between January 2006 and March 2009, various divisions of the Port of Seattle reported to Port Police 41 cases of property losses totalling $107,000 in value but that information was not also conveyed to Port executive management, internal auditors or – as required by state law – the state auditor. The losses included numerous items that went permanently missing while on Port property, including computers, copper wire, aluminum window frames, a pressure washer, drills, a projector, steel cables., copper pipes, handguns, blank security badges and digital cameras.
  • The Port leases its 18 cranes to private shipping operators, who use the cranes to handle cargo containers at Port terminal facilities. But contrary to recommended best practices, the Port does not seek to verify reported usage hours of the cranes by the customers/tenants, upon which lease payments by the operators to the Port are based. As a result, there is no protection against the possibility of under-reporting of crane usage hours and underpayments.
  • Crane lease agreements also require the tenants to pay for and perform regularly scheduled maintenance of the cranes and for The Port to inspect the cranes to verify the work has been done, and done properly. But no inspections of the cranes by The Port occurred in 2008 and only one in 2009.
  • The Port does not review crane maintenance records unless a mechanical problem arises, potentially putting crane durability and worker safety at risk.
  • Of the Port’s four major property transactions since 2004, two were well handled, under the current (new) administration and two (under the old administration) were not.
  • The Port in 2004 sold its Terminal 106E property for $4.1 million less than fair market value due, ultimately, to an accounting error – and also failed to market the property competitively to seek alternative (and better) bids from prospective buyers.
  • In April 2005, using an intermediary which was paid to $402,000 to hide The Port’s identity as a potential buyer, The Port bought for $5.5 million the 3.4-acre Tsubota Steel property without fully assessing or documenting the considerable risks, liabilities and costs of ongoing ownership of the property, which was slated for a larger development project including adjoining acreage, but which never materialized.
  • The State Auditor’s Office reviewed 21 of 244 leases overseen by The Port’s Seaport Real Estate Division and found that in some instances The Port’s property lease rates have been set at below fair market value and lacked documented justification. Rates for similar properties leased out by The Port to tenants have sometimes varied by between 20 percent and 70 percent, with no explanation.
  • The Port too often does not widely market its salable properties to promote competition. Lack of appraisals were also a concern for auditors. The Port’s Seaport division manages 45 leases but obtained only seven related property value appraisals from 2001 through 2009. Those appraisals indicated significant growth in market-value lease rates, from 14$ to $25 per square foot between 2001 and 2006, to between $28.50 to $32.50 per square foot in 2008 to 2009. This illustrates the need for “current market information specific to individual properties” leased by The Port, according to the state performance audit. Without that, “The Port is at risk of inconsistent rental lease rates that are less than fair market value.”