Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Ethics troubles mount for state minority biz unit

by September 18th, 2012

In a civil case settlement agreement approved last Friday, the Washington Executive Ethics Board fined a former manager for the state Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises named Jean Wheat $2,500 for ethics missteps. OMWBE helps business get certified as owned by women or minorities in order to help them qualify for government contracts. According to the settlement, Wheat twice skated too close to violations of the state Ethics in Public Service Act. She sought contributions of shared medical leave from other workers in her office for her daughter, also a state worker, during the daughter’s difficult pregnancy. And without the knowledge of her co-workers she directed that an agency holiday gift basket for a family in need be directed to her son, and his wife and two children. As she was being investigated by the state, Wheat’s annual pay (not including benefits) rose from $63,864 in 2009 to $72,968 in 2011. She worked supervising management analysts and administrative and office staff, and held other managerial and IT positions at other times.

Doing biz with Washington State too tricky, audit says

by September 18th, 2012

Getting permits and licenses from Washington’s government is nowhere as simple as it could be, according to a recent Washington State performance audit. A longtime state government goal has been to allow people and businesses who must comply with regulations to go to central Web sites to get all the information they need to meet their legal obligations under the law. That goal is still a long way away. “Doing business in Washington today means sifting through a complex maze of state and local laws and regulations. At the state level alone, someone wanting to open a small convenience store, with a gas pump for example, would have to get regulatory approval from up to a dozen different agencies, in addition to approvals from local jurisdictions. … The challenge is especially difficult for small businesses, usually lacking the resources that enable larger companies to hire attorneys and other specialists to help them comply. When businesses fail to fully comply with regulations, they face fines and penalties,” the audit report said.

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

RELATED:

  • 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.

    Chrysler needn’t pay last $1.3 billion owed to U.S.

    by September 18th, 2012

    The Congressional Research Service reports that the reformulated Chrysler Corporation cannot be required to pay the last $1.3 billion of $10.9 billion in loans received from the United States government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) starting in Fall, 2008 to help stabilize its financial fortunes. Titled “TARP Assistance For Chrysler: Restructuring and Repayment Issues,” the report released this month by the research arm of the U.S. Congress and Senate says that due to the vehicle manufacturer’s financial restructuring, “an approximate $1.3 billion shortfall remains” in payback – and that because “the U.S. Government has no remaining financial interest in New Chrysler,” the company “has no legal responsibility to make up this shortfall.”

    Ex-State agency head to pay $12.5K fine for ethics goofs

    by September 17th, 2012

    A former U.S. Marshall and Clallam County Sheriff who was forced to resign as head of Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission has agreed to pay a $12,500 penalty in a civil case brought against him by the Washington State Executive Ethics Board, that was settled via final board approval last Friday. The stipulated facts, conclusions and order says that when (William Joseph) “Joe” Hawe ran the state commission from September 2010 until his resignation in mid-October of last year, he used his position as executive director to improperly benefit himself and others. According to the settlement, Hawe used commission facilities and staff to benefit a non-profit on whose board he served and to prepare materials he used in an outside teaching job. When deeply discounted tickets were made available for commission staff to attend a motivational seminar, he arranged for one to go to his son, who did not work at the commission. His son also attended a grant writing seminar with some commission staffers while others who wanted to attend were not allowed to go. (Public records show a Joseph Hawe, age 29, living at the same Olympia address as William Joseph Hawe, age 63.) The senior Hawe also directed commission staff to buy “motivational and inspirational wall art” from a company run by his sister.

    Reading gains, but achievement gaps for Highline Schools

    by September 14th, 2012

    Sixth-graders in the Highline School District in southwest King County fully closed the reading proficiency test score gap last year, catching up with the statewide performance average after years of lagging behind, according to the 2012 State Test Results and Teaching and Learning Review presented to the board earlier this week. The diverse urban district lies just south and southwest of Seattle, serving about 18,000 K-12 students in Boulevard Park, White Center, SeaTac, Burien, Normandy Park, and Des Moines.

    $95K fine eyed for oil spill safety risk at Richmond Beach

    by September 13th, 2012

    The Seattle-based Region 10 office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a proposed consent agreement and final order with California-based Paramount Petroleum Corporation including a $95,606 civil penalty for what the agency asserts is the company’s failure to provide federally-required protections against the risk of an oil spill from a 28 million gallon storage tank at its Richmond Beach facility on Puget Sound near the City of Shoreline. Paramount makes and markets asphalt and operates a number of refineries and related sites. As the Seattle Times has reported, at Richmond Beach is “an aging asphalt plant and oil tank farm” owned by a Washington state affiliate of Paramount, on property that has been proposed by the company for a controversial and large-scale mixed-use retail and housing development called Point Wells. That development remains mired in a legal dispute related to potential traffic impacts.

    Washington State will push for expanded U.S. defense role

    by September 12th, 2012

    If Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and the state’s Congressional delegation have anything to say about it, planned cutbacks in U.S. defense facilities and spending won’t get in the way of an expanded U.S. military role for the Evergreen State and military contractors who call it home. In a request for proposals issued on behalf of the Washington Military Alliance, the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) is seeking a contractor who for up to $300,000 will prepare a report detailing the hows and whys of Washington’s vital strategic defense role for the U.S. even as the nation continues its shift to a leaner and more focused military. The Alliance was created by Gov. Gregoire and the state’s federal legislators, and includes state and local officials, regional community groups supporting military installations, and economic development organizations. Using the report, it will “coordinate a unified message” to “effectively compete for a continued and expanded share of national defense spending,” according to the RFP document.

    The RFP elaborates that Washington is in a good position even as the military downsizes, because of an increasing emphasis by the U.S. Department of Defense on Asia-Pacific operations. One component of the state’s lobbying campaign will be to withstand the next round of military base closures and realignments. That process hasn’t yet begun. The broader defense downsizing strategy was further accented in January 2012, with the release by the DOD of the report Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership Priorities for 21st Century Defense.”

    “It’s critical Washington State is on the strongest possible position to demonstrate to federal policymakers that maintaining and expanding military missions in Washington State promotes national security and is a wise, cost effective, fiscal investment,” the RFP states.

    Public Data Ferret’s compendium of articles on Washington military contracts shows they have been awarded to a range of firms statewide for water filters, fuel, foreign base supplies, dam maintenance, medical and biomedical equipment, Saudi Air Force surveillance plane upgrades, firefighting equipment, drone support, food supplies, building an oceanographic research vessel, HVAC work, construction and facility project planning, and nuclear submarine improvements.

    As previously reported by Public Data Ferret, a September 2010 Washington Economic Development Commission report found that in fiscal 2009, U.S. military contract obligations in the state totaled $5.2 billion and, including indirect and induced impacts, military spending comprised seven percent of total state jobs and eight percent of labor income. Major Army, Navy and naval air facilities dot the Puget Sound landscape, and awards to Washington military contractors have been been steady, and varied in type.

    Public Data Ferret’s compendium of articles on Washington military contracts shows they have been awarded to a range of firms statewide for water filters, fuel, foreign base supplies, dam maintenance, medical and biomedical equipment, Saudi Air Force surveillance plane upgrades, firefighting equipment, drone support, food supplies, building an oceanographic research vessel, HVAC work, construction and facility project planning, and nuclear submarine improvements.

    The deadline for response to the RFP issued by OFM on behalf of the Washington Military Alliance is September 20th. A winning bidder is to be selected on September 25th, and work on the contract to begin by October 9th.


    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.