Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Open Government’ Category

Unapproved Rate Hike Earns $50K State Fine For Insurer

by March 16th, 2011

SUMMARY: Washington’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner has fined a Philadelphia insurance company $50,000 for enacting unauthorized annual rate hikes of up to 12 percent in student accident and sickness plans and failing to include policy numbers on marketing brochures used by student and parent customers. The company, ACE American Insurance, has agreed to the fine in a consent order and also has returned to enrollees almost $200,000 in increased premiums, plus five percent annual interest for three years. As a condition of the consent order, if the company breaks any Washington laws in the next two years it will have to pay an additional (currently-suspended) fine of $50,000. Another factor in the disciplinary action, according to OIC’s staff atorney, is the company’s “checkered past” in Washington. Ace American has previously paid two five-figure fines to the state for other consumer violations and a series of smaller fines for failing to file required financial data.

CBO Director Stresses Rising Public Debt, Taxes, Spending

by March 14th, 2011

SUMMARY: In a public presentation and official blog post last week, U.S. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas W. Elmendorf warned of rising U.S. public debt. It hit $9 trillion or 62 percent of Gross Domestic Product at year-end 2010, and is projected by the CBO to rise to at least 77 percent of GDP by 2021, or nearly 100 percent if certain current tax breaks are extended, raising the risk of a national fiscal crisis. Elmendorf stated that the growing public debt, driven by deficit spending, necessitates hard decisions by Congress about federal budget and tax policies – in order to reverse course and stimulate income growth and investment while maximizing the benefits of federal spending. He stressed that eliminating waste and inefficiency will not be enough to get the nation’s fiscal house in order and accented the recommendations of the Presidentially-appointed National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, that Congress should cut spending on federal health care programs, defense, agriculture, and military and civil service retirement, while also ending selected federal tax breaks. He recommends Congress aim to settle on the needed fiscal reforms in the near-term – even if they are implemented more gradually – in order to help stabilize the economy.

French Slough Flood District Dealt No-Bid Projects To Its Own

by February 9th, 2011

SUMMARY: In a newly-issued report the Office Of The Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag has cited the French Slough Flood Control District In Snohomish County for violating state conflict-of-interest law and state law requiring competitive bidding on contracts. Two different companies partially owned by elected commissioners of the district received payments for work projects from the district, totaling more than $120,000 in one case and more than $20,000 in another case. The district did not meet state requirements to allow competitive bidding by different contractors on the projects.

Restaurant Food Safety Inspections: Bellevue 98005

by 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.