Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘King County’ Category

More self-dealing alleged at Seattle Indian Services Commission

by Matt Rosenberg November 9th, 2011

The troubled Seattle Indian Services Commission, already in the process of being stripped of ownership of its adjoining properties on 12th Ave. S. by the city in King County Superior Court, is now under fire in a newly-released state audit because former staffers reportedly diverted $73,943 for questionable purposes. This comes after previous state and city audits criticized the commission for awarding contracts to immediate family members of top staff, and for allowing a board member’s husband and son-in-law to also be appointed to the board.

King County hopes to revive mileage-based car insurance

by Matt Rosenberg October 27th, 2011

After a planned “pay as you drive” (PAYD) auto insurance pilot program using on-board devices to track mileage and facilitate rate discounts was announced with fanfare by King County in 2007, it quietly fizzled by mid-2011, as a related contract with Unigard Insurance’s Bellevue office was cancelled. But now the County is hoping to ramp up the experiment once more, perhaps lending impetus to stalled state legislation which would authorize insurers to offer a PAYD option to Washington motorists. With a $1.9 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration still in hand, King County is seeking proposals by November 3 from insurance companies to develop a PAYD product, also known as mileage based auto insurance (MBAI), that would be marketed to drivers as a way to save money, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and in urban regions such as Seattle, cut greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

MOVE maps digital stories on diet, smoking in King County

by Matt Rosenberg October 24th, 2011

Almost 70 digital stories on healthy diet, obesity prevention and smoking prevention from Seattle and King County residents are mapped online at a new web site called Mapping Our Voices For Equality (MOVE). Featured are digital personal narratives on healthy eating in challenging surroundings, teens learning healthy cooking, finding low-cost exercise opportunities, preventing smoking in shared public spaces, and related topics. The initiative stems from a program developed by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control (CDC).

An easy mapping interface at the site lets users scan the region, then click on locations and view digital stories and videos developed by community members with the assistance of local organizations including Sea Mar, Creative Narrations, Entre Hermanos, Puget SoundOff, International Community Health Services, the REACH Coalition and the government agency Public Health – Seattle and King County. Currently, 69 stories are mapped and more are coming according to organizers. (Stories are found on the map by clicking on large icons and small multi-colored dot clusters which reveal more icons; also, all are indexed at the site’s “stories” page.)

In the Kitchen of FEEST from Mapping Voices on Vimeo.

MOVE arises from a federally-funded campaign called Communities Putting Prevention To Work (CPPW) originated by the CDC which enlists grassroots resources to develop and spread messages counteracting obesity and smoking. Both are major health risks in lower-income neighborhoods. The MOVE site also includes resources for learning, action, and developing new stories.

In a statement, MOVE Project Manager Natasha Freidus said that through the Web site of mapped stories local residents “have become more involved in creating positive changes for their communities while learning new technologies.” Added Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, “MOVE provides a forum for voices from the community as well as a visually interesting way to capture the exciting changes that are happening in King County” around public health awareness and community engagement. The map has a customizable “changes” view that lets users explore the policy changes that have occurred in King County on healthy eating and fighting obesity and smoking as a result of CPPW’s work.

MOVE has scheduled three community forums this autumn to highlight involvement in obesity and smoking prevention awareness and action. Residents will present the MOVE story map and digital stories, along with their policy priorities, to panels of elected officials. The first of the three events is “International District on the MOVE” Friday October 28 at Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific-American Experience, 719 S. King Street, Seattle. It will include neighborhood tours, free entry to the “From Fields to Family” exhibit at 3 p.m. and a community forum at 4 p.m.

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Editor’s note: Public Data Ferret or its “mother blog” site Social Capital Review periodically cover community group or non-profit news. Contact matt(at)publiceyenorthwest(dot)org.


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Fast-food menu labels don’t cut calories in King County

by Matt Rosenberg October 7th, 2011

A new study by researchers from Public Health Seattle and King County, the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, just published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, finds that mandatory labeling of menus at major fast food franchise outlets in King County isn’t reducing actual caloric intake among children or significantly among adults. It’s at least the second such report on the regional public health impact – or lack of it – since a new King County law in January 2009 began requiring all restaurant chains with 15 or more locations to prominently display information for each regular menu selection on calories, saturated fat, carbohydrate and sodium content.

Weak job growth triggers frustration for Washington’s unemployed

by Kyle Kim September 22nd, 2011

When Tommy Lamoth lost her job in 2009, she didn’t envision a job hunt that would include eight months of collecting unemployment benefits, ping-ponging between temp jobs across Seattle, and still being unable to find work in her field after a year.

The 32-year-old Capitol Hill resident was one of millions of unemployed workers throughout the nation during a year when unemployment rates in the U.S. reached a height not seen in more than 25 years.

The latest unemployment figures for Washington show the state had a 9.3 percent rate for August 2011 – a marginal change from the 9.4 unemployment rate the year before. The Seattle metro region’s 8.9 percent unemployment rate last month was little better than the 9.1 percent rate last year.

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The state’s job growth of 46,600 seasonally-adjusted new jobs from August 2010 to 2011 comes in stark contrast against the 321,600 currently unemployed in Washington. Lamoth’s chronic unemployment has been a sobering reminder of the difficult realities many face.

“It makes me feel like a total loser,” Lamoth said. “It definitely takes a toll on your self-esteem when you’ve gone so long without working.” Despite having earned a bachelor’s degree and later enrolling at Columbia University ’s film and creative writing program, Lamoth has only been able to find work in temporary clerical positions.

Having previous experience as a midwife’s assistant, she has also kept her eyes open for opportunities in the field but has been able to find openings. Lamoth isn’t alone in her inability to find work in the state.

Unemployment rates ballooned in all 39 Washington counties since 2007 with jobs in construction and finance activities being the hardest hit, according to the 2010 Washington State Labor Market and Economic Report

Data from the Washington State Employment Security Department show half of the state had unemployment rates at least double since 2007, including the state’s three largest labor markets – King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties – which make up over half of the state’s job force with roughly 1.9 million workers.


Washington’s unemployment rate has consistently ranked in the middle nationally. Other states have fared worse during the Great Recession, such as California, Michigan and Nevada – with unemployment rates that reached over 12 percent in 2010. However, certain counties in Washington experience worse.

The northeastern and southwestern areas of Washington have consistently experienced the highest unemployment rates in the state since 2000: Ferry County currently tops the state’s highest annual unemployment rate at 14.7, percent with Pend Oreille, Clark and Wahkiakum Counties all tying for second at 13.7 percent. Whitman County held the lowest unemployment rate for 2010 at 6.1 percent.

The counties have been hit particularly hard due to the lack of economic investment and large labor shares in industries that were affected most – like manufacturing, mining and timber industries, according to state Employment Security Department economists.

Washington state unemployment rates by county, 2007 to 2010.
But where jobs in certain industries have been significantly shed, others are expected to grow.

Jobs in education, health services and business are projected to increase significantly by 2018 for Washington, according to state labor reports.

However, the job growth may not be fast enough, or in the right industry, for Lamoth. She said the lack of opportunities in her field can get frustrating. She has sent roughly 480 resumes since last September, mainly for writing and editing positions in Seattle, a profession that has continually shrunk its work force and is projected to further decline.

Lamoth has been considering looking for work outside the Seattle area despite being limited to public transportation. She said she takes things a day at a time. “There are days that I’m too depressed to look for work,” Lamoth said. “But I’m not ready to give up.”

FOR VISUALIZATIONS:
Data set: Washington unemployment rates by county, 2000 to 2010.
Date set: Comprehensive state labor market data, 2009


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State worker sexually abused vulnerable patient at Shoreline facility

by Matt Rosenberg September 16th, 2011

With his signature on a state health department disciplinary document, a former nursing assistant at a group home operated in Shoreline by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services admitted he sexually abused a developmentally-delayed 57-year-old female patient in his care, and agreed to surrender his license for 10 years for unprofessional conduct.

According to the “Stipulated Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Agreed Order” that he recently signed, Bart Finkbiner, of Shoreline, from about November 2009 until late January 2010 “sexually abused Patient A on multiple occasions” without consent, including vaginal and anal intercourse, and forcing her to perform oral sex on him. The order states that a strong administrative penalty is justified because of the vulnerability of the victim and because the sexual contact was non-consensual.

According to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, Finkbiner worked at Densmore House in Shoreline. The address was 18814 Densmore Ave. N., according to a police report. The site was operated by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, which also employed Finkbiner. The Agreed Order describes it as “a semi-private, residential living environment for developmentally-delayed and/or mentally ill individuals.” DSHS records appear to indicate it is no longer in operation.

DSHS in December 2010 issued a finding against Finkbiner of abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, and an agency spokesperson said he resigned effective June 25, 2011. In a related but separate proceeding, the Washington State Department of Health – which oversees health care workers – filed administrative charges of unprofessional conduct against Finkbiner in early August of 2011, leading to the Agreed Order signed by Finkbiner and dated August 30, in which he surrendered his nursing assistant license for 10 years. The health department posted the document online and announced the action against Finkbiner on Sept. 13.

According to Deputy Chief of Staff Ian Goodhew, the King County Prosecutor’s Office is still reviewing the case but it may be difficult to charge and try Finkbiner for rape because his signed agreed order with the health department, technically termed “an adopted admission,” is by itself not enough to support a legal claim of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and in addition the developmentally-delayed victim, who reported the case to the department, gave inconsistent statements in later interviews about which days sexual contact occurred, and which acts on which days. No other witnesses were located, Goodhew added.

In response to a reporter’s message left at his Shoreline residence, Finkbiner left a message that he was “very depressed” about the case, that he “didn’t want this to be drawn out” and that he does “not want to work with this population” any more – a reference to developmentally challenged and/or mentally ill individuals.

Finkbiner’s year of birth is listed as 1955 in state records online.

UPDATE, 10:36 a.m.: In a phone interview this morning, Finkbiner denied committing the acts described in the health department Agreed Order he signed. He added that he signed the document because he could not afford an attorney and did not want co-workers to have to be involved in an attempt by him to contest the charges at the health department level. Finkbiner declined to answer further questions.

OTHER RECENT CASES WE’VE REPORTED:

Everett-based counselor loses license for sex with patient

Foreign lottery fixation leads to license revocation for Yakima optometrist

State: nurse at Auburn facility took patients’ opiates, worked under influence

State: patient abandoned by home nursing aide, found on floor

Federal Way hospital nurse charged with rape of patient

Matt Rosenberg is founder and editor of Public Data Ferret, a project of the non-profit Public Eye Northwest.


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