Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘non-profits’ Category

Politiwidgets lets you embed data on U.S. officeholders

by Matt Rosenberg October 3rd, 2011

Whether you write online about public affairs or are just doing some due diligence on an officeholder, Politiwidgets is a government transparency toolset worth exploring. Developed by technologists at the non-profit Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C., Politiwidgets let you embed easy-to-read graphics of performance and contextual data on members of the U.S. Congress and Senate into online articles, blog posts or social media entries. The data are all drawn from first-rate cited sources, to which links are provided.

Widgets can be customized to different sizes/Poliwidgets

At Politiwidgets, each member of Congress or the Senate has their own page with a range of data in several categories. Here are the Politiwidgets main pages of all Washington state U.S. Representatives and Senators. The first feature is their “business card” which includes contact information, plus a link to their Web site and social media accounts. Getting into the data, you can see how many bills a legislator has sponsored versus how many of those have been enacted, and how those figures compare to the average for legislators in their chamber. You can also review and compare the records of legislators on how many earmarks – appropriations which are directed to specific recipients – they have have won approval of, again versus the average for legislators in their chamber.

Other legislator data at Politiwidgets includes voting records, campaign contributions, top contributors, interest group ratings, top U.S. government contractors in their district, and district map.

I’ll demo Poliwidgets by showing the most recent full-year earmarks data for each member of the Washington state delegation. U.S. Rep. Jamie Herrera (R-3) isn’t included because she was just elected last November, and there’s no data reported for her yet in that category at Politiwidgets. I’ve used the earmarks widget for U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-9) (above) to show a different size option than those below and to illustrate that with a bit of elementary code you can embed the widgets neatly in text, and add a caption.

The Sunlight Foundation invites active bloggers on public policy and politics who’ve used Politiwidgets to share their feedback in an online survey.

Seattle eyes transfer of troubled Indian services properties to non-profit

by Matt Rosenberg September 26th, 2011

SUMMARY: A public development authority formed by the City of Seattle in 1972 called the Seattle Indian Services Commission, which has been the subject of several critical city and state audits in recent years, now appears unable to continue to service the $6 million bond debt for its two adjacent properties on 12th Ave. S. in the International District, or to repair an estimated $2.5 million in water damages to one of the buildings, built in 1995. The commission’s primary tenant and sole source of debt service revenue is the non-profit Seattle Indian Health Board, and it says it intends to move out unless the Commission conveys title for the properties to the board, which has pledged to assume the debt and fix the water damage. The Commission has refused to approve this offer, so the city council has prepared an ordinance, to be discussed and possibly voted on in committee September 28, authorizing the City Attorney to seek permission in King County Superior Court to impose a trusteeship on the Indian Services Commission which would trigger a title transfer of the properties to the non-profit Indian Health Board. The resolution states this will allow for current services and programs to continue to be provided to Seattle’s Native American community. Sponsor of the resolution is City Council Member Nick Licata.

Seattle-based EarthCorps teaches stewardship to the world

by Administrator September 1st, 2011

Editor’s note: Public Data Ferret’s “mother blog” site Social Capital Review periodically profiles noteworthy nonprofits or community initiatives with ties to our base coverage area of Western Washington.

By Scott Patton

You already know that Washington’s extensive trail network serves tens of thousands of annual users. But you may not know that it’s also a training ground for 15,000 volunteers a year from all over the globe, who learn outdoor stewardship from the local non-profit EarthCorps, headquartered off Sand Point Way in Northeast Seattle next to Magnuson Park.

On a recent summer weekend, EarthCorps member and crew leader A.J. Velon was helping move rocks that weigh hundreds of pounds to build a turnpike on the Snoqualmie Lake Trail. The Snoqualmie Lake camp used by the crew is an eight mile hike from a fairly remote trail head. The crew of six included participants from Kazakhstan, Peru, and Fiji. The work starts everyday at 7:30 am and goes until 5:00 pm and consists of tasks ranging from repairing campsites, to repairing trails and building drainage structures. This goes on for 11 days.

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.

Shoreline native leads nonprofit transforming drug-wracked Guineau-Bissau, one student at a time

by Melissa Steffan August 12th, 2011

Editor’s note: Public Data Ferret’s “mother blog” site Social Capital Review periodically profiles noteworthy nonprofits or community initiatives with ties to our base coverage area of Western Washington.

One Seattle-based nonprofit with a big heart and a Christian mission is making a difference in one of Africa’s smallest countries.

Headed by Shoreline native and former Fresno Bee reporter Chris Collins, West African Vocational Schools reaches out to young people in Guinea Bissau, a poor country rife with political violence and drug cartels.

WAVS student in auto repair class/WAVS

WAVS is founded on the belief that outside aid alone will not overcome the widespread poverty and instability; instead, the organization believes that educated leaders must transform Guinea-Bissau from within, Collins said in a phone interview.

“WAVS … is really encouraging ethical practices, people who are dedicated to investing in their country,” he said. “The people who are graduating are instilled with skills to be successful, but also ideals to make them strong leaders in the country.”

WAVS runs a school in Canchungo, a city that serves as a regional hub for many other villages, where over 100 students learn important employability skills such as sewing, computer basics, English and auto mechanics.

Enumclaw finalizes $900,000 public-private funding package for new multi-use sports field

by Kyle Kim July 18th, 2011

SUMMARY: The city of Enumclaw passed an ordinance last week to accept a $300,000 state grant that completes a public-private funding package for a $900,000 project at the Enumclaw Expo Center complex, where a poorly-draining and deteriorated natural turf football field at Pete’s Pool will be replaced with a multi-purpose artificial turf surface. The Recreation and Conservation Office of Washington State awarded the grant conditioned on a double-match amount being raised from other sources. Your Enumclaw Area Stadium (YEAS), the non-profit group in charge of fundraising for the project, has secured the necessary matching funds for the RCO grant, city public works director Chris Searcy said. Slightly more than half, or $325,000 of the $600,000 match required for the RCO grant came via previous grants from the National Football League and King County. The remaining $275,000 of the double-match funding comes from cash donations ($175,000) and in-kind donations of labor, construction equipment and materials ($100,000) Searcy said. The majority of the project’s construction started July 6 and is expected to be finished by August.

Shoreline awards neighborhood matching grant for Sunset Park pARTy

by Andrew Taylor June 29th, 2011

SUMMARY: The Shoreline, Wash. City Council this week approved a mini-grant of $3,942 to the Richmond Highlands Neighborhood Association for a community art project and public event at Sunset School Park. The school has been closed since 2007 and has been vandalized. Combined with complementary funds raised by the association, there will be more than $11,000 to pay for early-phase services and materials to improve the park, including a community artist to lead a September 10 “pARTy at Sunset” community celebration. The event will result in a mural, or fence collage project to boost the property’s public appeal through a five-year period including the school’s demolition. More extensive redevelopment of the site into an open green space and park is expected, under citywide and site-specific parks master plans.