Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Seattle’ Category

Seattle wants takeover of mismanaged Indian commission

by September 25th, 2012

A Seattle City Council committee Wednesday will hold a public hearing and then likely approve for a full council vote soon afterward a resolution to take over the floundering Seattle Indian Services Commission. A city public development authority formed in 1972 to help facilitate delivery of social services to the city’s Native American population, the Commission has suffered a major meltdown in the last several years. Its Pearl Warren Building at 606 12th Ave. S. at the eastern edge of Seattle’s International District has $2.5 million in unmitigated water damage. Its main tenant, whose monthly rent is key to paying for those repairs and retiring $6.7 million in outstanding debt tied to bonds which got the structure and a neighboring facility built, is the non-profit Seattle Indian Health Board. The board occupies space in both the Warren building and the commission’s adjacent Leschi Center at 611 12th Ave. S., and had been threatening to move out unless it could take over the properties and fix the problem. But the pending resolution leaves open for now the exact specifics of future control. Meanwhile the city has spent upwards of $120,000 on emergency repairs and studies on solving the water infiltration problem; and the commission, which has no staff of its own at present, owes more than $75,000 in back rent.

Seattle bill would restrict employer use of criminal histories

by September 19th, 2012

A proposed City of Seattle bill being championed by Councilmember Bruce Harrell would restrict the right of Seattle employers to factor in to their hiring decisions a job applicant’s past arrests, convictions or pending criminal criminal charges. Under Council Bill 117583, which is scheduled for discussion today in the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee meeting chaired by Harrell, employers would be required to:

  • wait until after extending a job offer to check an applicant’s criminal history;
  • avoid refusing to hire, or avoid firing an employee because of a past criminal conviction or pending criminal charge – unless there’s a “direct relationship” between the crime and the job’s duties;
  • and assess “direct relationship” on factors including reasonable foreseeability of harm or misconduct, seriousness of past crime(s), length of time elapsed since the crime(s), and the applicant’s conduct and rehabilitation since then.

  • According to a city staff fiscal note which summarizes the bill and answers several questions about its implications, Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights would implement the legislation. This would include public education directed to employers and job applicants, and could also involve investigating and trying to settle complaints brought by job applicants against Seattle employers. The fiscal note says it’s not clear whether the bill would require additional hiring at OCR; that the agency “will need to assess their ability to continue to absorb this body of work with existing staff and resources.”

    Now THAT’S Boring!

    by September 18th, 2012

    From the Washington State Department of Transportation via Flickr comes this arresting image. Here’s WSDOT’s caption:

    “Workers stand in the shadow of what will become the world’s largest-diameter tunnel boring machine.

    Currently being assembled in Japan, the machine will dig the (State Route) 99 tunnel beneath downtown Seattle starting in summer 2013. Scheduled to open to traffic in late 2015, the tunnel will replace the central waterfront section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

    WSDOT’s record-breaking tunnel boring machine takesshape


  • WSDOT’s SR 99 tunnel project page and document library.
  • WSDOT’s SR 99 “Preparing For Tunnel Construction” Flickr photo vault.
  • Public Data Ferret’s Washington State+Transportation archive.

  • Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

    27 years of data: Seattle crime rate sharply declining

    by August 24th, 2012

    Annual rates of reported crime in Seattle have continued a steady and overall, sharp decline from 1985 through 2011, paralleling a trend seen in all other King County cities and nationwide, according to local police department data provided to Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. A spread sheet (Excel download) prepared for Public Data Ferret using the WASPC data, shows the overall per capita crime rate in Seattle (or reported crimes per 1,000 residents) went from 129.15 in 1985 to 58.06 in 2011. The spreadsheet also has annual per capita crime rate data for all other King County cities over the 27-year period.

    City to expand U District park, but overpaying for property?

    by August 5th, 2012

    Under an ordinance set for approval Monday August 6, the Seattle City Council would authorize the spending of $967,617 in 2008 city parks levy funds to expand the tiny pocket park called Christie Park in the University District. Once the city completes the acquisition of a neighboring house at 4257 9th Ave. N.E. that is currently rented to University of Washington students and demolishes the structure to double the size of the 5,000 square foot park, Seattle’s government will be poised to receive a $500,000 reimbursement via a Conservation Futures grant tentatively approved by King County, according to a city staff fiscal note on the project. But the house that the city would buy for $795,000 as part of the project, is assessed for 2012 taxes at a value of just $480,000 by King County and has an estimated market value of not more than $600,000, according to a variety of informal estimates from real estate sources.

    Perp’s appeal fails, in Capitol Hill hate crime at LGBT club

    by July 24th, 2012

    A ruling from a Washington State appeals court Monday upheld the conviction of a Seattle man for other charges related to an anti-gay hate crime for which he was also convicted, near a Capitol Hill LGBT nightclub. Muhamet M. Sumaj was convicted in 2011 of felony and malicious harassment of a female-to-male transsexual named A.M. and felony harassment of a security guard named Donald Tidd after Sumaj conveyed racially and sexually-tinged verbal abuse and death threats outside Neighbours, a club popular with LGBT patrons. King County prosecutors noted at the time that malicious harassment is the legal term used in the state’s “hate crime” law. Sumaj was sentenced by King County Judge Steven C. Gonzales in February 2011 to six months of Work Education Release, on a King County work crew. Sumaj’s attorney in early October 2011 filed an appeal with the state seeking to overturn the felony harassment convictions, arguing prosecutors failed to properly spell out in their case that he had made a “true threat,” and also asserting there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Sumaj on the second one, involving Tidd. King County filed a response and after deliberation Sumaj’s appeal was rejected July 23 by the Washington State Court of Appeals Division One.

    Report: most Seattle-King County taxi driver test-takers fail

    by July 9th, 2012

    There are more than 3,000 licensed taxi drivers driving 592 licensed taxicabs in Seattle and King County, but officials certainly aren’t passing out the required credentials like candy. Nearly two-thirds of all applicants to become taxi drivers who took a key written test last year for licensing, failed it, according to the recently released 2011 Taxicab Annual Report from the county’s Division of Records and Licensing Services. Only 37 percent of 681 taxicab driver test-takers last year passed. The passage rate by 2006 had plummeted to less than 40 percent from 60 percent in 1996, and has stayed below 40 percent since 2006.

    A driver is entitled to two tries; some of those failing last year were on their second attempt. The test has two parts. One assesses geographic and other knowledge of the region. The other regards setting fares, driver conduct and regulation, driver-passenger relations, oral and written comprehension of directions, vehicle safety requirements and emergency procedures. A passing grade is at least 80 percent correct on both parts of the written exam.