Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Open Government’ Category

Sound Transit Didn’t Validate $17M in Security Charges

by December 19th, 2012

Violating the terms of its own contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office for security services, the regional transit agency serving King, Snohomish and Pierce counties failed to secure documentation to assure the validity of more than $17 million in related charges which it has paid since mid-2008. The finding comes in a a just-released draft accountability audit of Sound Transit by Washington State that will be presented at a meeting this Thursday of ST’s Audit and Reporting Committee.

In August, a Sound Transit internal audit found that King County Metro over-billed ST for more than $700,000 in para-transit services in the ST Link Light Rail footprint in and around Seattle, mainly by charging based on passenger bookings made – rather than actual rides provided. ST sought a billing credit and corrective steps were taken. In late October, a blistering performance audit by the state zeroed in on Sound Transit’s Citizens Oversight Committee, highlighting a series of ethical lapses and apparent conflicts of interest.

Metro’s share of King County’s big tort payouts spikes in Q3

by November 8th, 2012

King County Metro Transit was responsible for 71 percent of third quarter 2012 large negligence claim settlements paid by the county, according to a newly issued report. Metro’s share of those payouts is up from 50 percent for the first two quarters of the year, and just more than one-quarter of the total last year. A county ordinance requires quarterly online disclosure of large tort settlements, but that hasn’t happened and there’s no related public database. The data, when issued, can be found through a somewhat obscure county information portal including links to legislation and reports.

As it does every quarter of the year, King County this summer settled a series of what it classifies as major negligence, or tort, claims – those of $100,000 or more. The county is self-insured and pays all claims from a special fund of its own, except those over $7.5 million, for which it has outside insurance. County tort payouts in the third quarter of this year totaled more than $1.4 million dollars. Exactly $1 million or 71 percent of that amount stemmed from mishaps involving the county’s Metro bus system, according to a new Q1 through Q3 2012 tort payouts report to the King County Council from Jennifer Hills, the Director of the Office of Risk Management. The 71 percent share for Metro of the county’s large negligence claim payouts in Q3 compares to 50 percent for Metro in the first two quarters of the year combined; versus just more than one quarter of the county total for Metro in 2011; and nearly two-thirds in 2010, as we reported earlier this year.

Puget Sound Partnership looks in mirror, not pleased

by October 15th, 2012

State audits have critiqued the Puget Sound Partnership for lax management, and a federal watchdog group tied it to alleged ethical missteps by a powerful Washington Congressman. But in a newly-released bi-annual “State of the Sound” assessment, the organization appears to giving itself a bracing dose of “tough love.” A summary memo on the new report from the state agency spearheading efforts to restore the health of Puget Sound says that on six key indicators of success, progress toward 2020 goals isn’t occurring. Progress is mixed on another five, evident on two, and unclear on another eight because goals haven’t been set or data isn’t yet available. The trouble spots are marine water quality, cleanliness of swimming beaches, growth of eelgrass, and stock of Chinook salmon, herring and Orca whales. The memo was released quietly and online late last week by the Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination board as part of a document packet for its October 18 meeting in Shelton, Mason County. The full report was to be posted online later today at the partnership’s web site.

Government ethics podcast: “Dark Money and Big Data”

by October 14th, 2012

From the Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC radio in New York comes an exploration of “Dark Money and Big Data,” or concerns about undisclosed campaign contributions funneled through so-called “social welfare” tax-exempt 501c4 non-profits. Guests are Bradley Smith, the Chairman and Co-Founder of the Center for Competitive Politics; Adam Rappaport, the Chief Counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; and Kim Barker, a reporter for ProPublica. Here’s the podcast.

Public Data Ferret’s Washington State+Ethics archive

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Federal Way R.N. surrenders license in wake of rape charge

by September 20th, 2012

In an order made public today by the Washington State Department of Health, a former registered nurse named Konstantin V. Kurkov who worked in the emergency room of St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way has agreed to permanently surrender his license, following criminal charges of second degree rape of a patient, and administrative proceedings alleging unprofessional conduct.

Kurkov, now 24, and registered to vote at an address on 146th Avenue E. in the town of Graham in Pierce County, settled the criminal charges earlier by entering a so-called Alford Plea to a lesser charge of second degree assault. An Alford Plea indicates no admission of guilt but acknowledging the evidence was substantial. He was sentenced on that charge to 90 days home detention earlier this month by King County Superior Court Judge Mike Heavey, but had already served 95 days in jail, so was released. The sentence also included a $1,000 fine, 12 months probation and a requirement Kurkov get a professional evaluation for sexual deviancy and follow the recommendations.

In the meantime, the surrender of his registered nursing license to DOH’s Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission also means he will never be able to hold any kind of health care license in Washington State for the rest of his life. In March, 2011, just 14 months after being granted his state R.N. license, Kurkov sexually abused a female patient by inappropriately probing her genital area after she came in to the ER for back pain. She initially believed he was a doctor based on his words and actions at the time.

Further details of the DOH allegations and a link to the original criminal charges were reported by Public Data Ferret in late April, 2011, shortly after the state’s inquiry was made public.

Public Data Ferret’s Ethics+Health Care archive