Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Seattle’ Category

Seattle region scores poorly on HIV risk behaviors

by Matt Rosenberg November 16th, 2011

The Seattle area is tied for first among 21 major U.S. metro regions in casual and unprotected anal intercourse between men who have sex with men, or MSM, and that is “the sexual behavior that carries the highest risk” among this group for HIV – the virus which can lead to AIDS. These findings come in a new report by the National HIV Behavorial Surveillance System published October 28 in a prominent medical journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review. Seattle respondents in the national survey of MSM also reported a higher and often pace-setting prevalence of certain types of drug and alcohol use compared to their counterparts in other regions.

For self-reported use of amyl nitrate and marijuana, Seattle respondents in the study ranked first nationally, on a percentage basis. They tied for first place in self-reported use of both methamphetamine and binge drinking; and tied for second place in use of Ecstasy and cocaine. Use of alcohol and drugs, particularly meth, have been correlated by health experts with unprotected anal intercourse between casual male partners that increases risk of HIV.

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.

City will remove race-based graffiti at Seattle Parks boating facility

by Matt Rosenberg September 29th, 2011

Only last month, after 12 years and a $3 million public-private fundraising effort, the George Corkery Family Boating Center re-opened at the City of Seattle’s Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center at Stan Sayres Memorial Park along Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood. Our fellow Seattle Times news partner The Rainier Valley Post reported on the milestone. It’s a great, community-driven improvement to a government-owned site that’s a hub for aquatic recreation in boating-mad Seattle and a focal point every summer for the iconic hydro races of SeaFair.

It’s now unfortunately also the site of some ugly graffiti which blames “white people” for a U.S. “terror-hate” campaign in Iraq.

In a reference to the U.S.-led war in Iraq which began in 2003, graffiti over the men’s room urinals adjacent to the just-upgraded facility proclaims in blue magic marker, “terror-hate by White People in Iraq.”

Told of the graffiti, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson Dewey Potter said it would be removed. She stated, “hate crimes come first. We’ll take care of this as soon as possible.”

UPDATE, 9:41 a.m.: Potter emailed to say that a work order has been sent and the department will get the graffiti “removed immediately.”

Race-based graffiti in men's room of Seattle parks department boating facility in Mount Baker neighborhood/Matt Rosenberg

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.

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.

Public Data Ferret Economy archive

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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Seattle Police memo: body cameras easier said than done, now

by Matt Rosenberg September 7th, 2011

SUMMARY: In a report to be presented Sept. 8 to a Seattle City Council committee, Seattle Police say they haven’t begun to test four body-mounted cameras on police officers as directed but that the SPD training unit has done preliminary testing of one camera. Police verified that today. The cameras would record images and sound of police interactions with the public. Police say that in the one-camera test to date, serious problems are evident with the usefulness of the video footage if officers are moving. Police also stress in their report advice from city lawyers on the need to change state law to allow audio recording of citizens without their express consent. That’s not allowed currently. Police note community concerns are another issue, reporting that various stakeholders say citizens should be asked for their consent to recordings regardless of what state law says. Field testing is planned for body cameras on motorcycle traffic officers, with prior consent of citizens required before recording. Funding of a wide-scale Seattle Police body camera pilot program also poses major challenges, police say. A sought-after federal grant has failed to materialize due to U.S. budget constraints. Additionally, the police officers labor union would have to approve widespread use of body cameras, in a new contract now being negotiated.

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.