Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Seattle inches closer toward rental housing licensing

by April 11th, 2012

The City of Seattle continued today to advance toward implementing a rental housing licensing and inspection program that officials say would be aimed at especially at chronically negligent landlords and tenants who may well be afraid to use the city’s existing complaint-based enforcement process for rental quarters languishing in poor condition. At a meeting of the council’s Housing, Human Servies, Health and Culture Committee, council central staff member Michael Jenkins presented a draft outline of the program being configured by the city’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD). In its current draft form, the plan would require owners of rental housing units to go through a registration and inspection process designed to ensure code violations are repaired, or face a revocation of registration, plus possible fines and a prohibition on re-renting the unit to any new tenant until repairs are made. Problems with plumbing, heating, electrical wiring and conditions of building materials are among the most common issues. The city council in coming months will work to finalize the program and estimate ongoing costs, to be integrated into the city budget for 2013 and coming years.

Woodinville teacher forced out for faking signatures on students’ special ed plans

by April 9th, 2012

An agreed order recently posted online by the Washington state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction discloses that the Northshore School District – which operates 33 schools primarily in Kenmore, Bothell and Woodinville – successfully sought the resignation of teacher Diane Friddle for forging required signatures of other individuals on documents connected with the custom-tailored “individualized education programs” or IEPs, for at least six special education students from 2008 to 2011. She taught at East Ridge Elementary School, 22150 N.E. 156th Place in Woodinville. The agreed order says she admitted to district officials that she manufactured the signatures of others on the student IEPs. Northshore School District Communications Director Leanna Albrecht said Friddle faked signatures of district staff and parents on the IEP signatures pages, showing who attended meetings related to the student IEPs. “It was a serious breach of professional ethics and we responded accordingly,” Albrecht added. Efforts to contact Friddle through a family member were not successful.

Friddle’s most current registered voter address is in Edmonds, and she is 43 years old. A public database of information from OSPI and provided by the Spokane Spokesman-Review reveals Friddle earned $71,988 in base salary and bonuses for the 2010-2011 school year, and received insurance benefits valued at $9,963, for total pay and benefits of $81,951 (screen shot).

$44M more in military dough announced for WA firms

by April 8th, 2012

According to a recent announcement from the U.S. Department of Defense, two Washington employers can expect a total of up to $44 million more in military contract revenues in coming months. First, the Tacoma division of the French-born international conglomerate Universal Sodexo was awarded a one-year contract extension worth up to $36 million by the Philadelphia-based U.S. Defense Logistics Agency last week. As a result Universal Sodexo Tacoma will continue serving as prime vendor for operations, maintenance and repair for major branches of the U.S. military in South Korea, including the Army, Air Force, Marines, and civilian federal agencies. Sodexo provides building supplies and non-munitions equipment to 85 U.S. military bases in South Korea from a central 24,000 square foot warehouse, emphasizing just-in-time delivery and inventory control, according to a video at this Sodexo page.

UW’s curious cold case: track team loses $12K cash

by April 4th, 2012

A previously undisclosed University of Washington internal audit dated April 2011 and records of a related UW Police investigation, both recently obtained by Public Data Ferret using the Washington state Public Records Act, detail the theft of almost $12,000 in UW-dispensed cash not needed for near-term usage, from the locked file cabinet drawer of an assistant coach to the UW track team. The university to date has not solved the crime – which police and athletic staff indicated was either an inside job or had an inside connection.

Washington ranks in the middle nationally on executions

by April 3rd, 2012

According to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington is ranked twenty-fourth among U.S. states in the number of inmates it executed during the years 1930-2010, at 52. However, very few prisoners have received the death penalty in recent years; Washington has executed only five inmates during the years 1977-2010, 22nd of 50 in that time. Texas ranked first, having executed 761 inmates since 1930, and 464 between 1977 and 2010. Data on all 50 states is immediately below, in our visualization based on the BJS report.

Follow the red and blue lines closely with your mouse, to see data on all 50 states.
Source: The Bureau of Justice Statistics

According to a 2008 report by the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute on the costs involved in capital-eligible cases in Maryland, cases in which the death penalty was not sought cost on average over $1.1 million. Cases in which the death penalty was unsuccessfully sought cost on average $1.8 million, while cases in which the death penalty was successfully sought cost an average of $3 million.

A bill to abolish the death penalty in Washington, SB 5456, was introduced last year in the state legislature and reintroduced this year, but failed to advance.

Internationally, the death penalty is still very common, according to a recent report from Amnesty International summarized in The Guardian. Amnesty estimates that China alone executes thousands yearly, although exact statistics are difficult to find. China, North Korea, Yemen, Iran and the United States conduct the greatest number of executions. The United States remains the only G8 nation with a death penalty. In total, according to Amnesty, 139 countries still retain a death penalty and last year, at least 676 executions were carried out by nations other than China, roughly half of which were conducted in Iran.

Public Data Ferret’s Data Visualization archive

Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the Seattle-based 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News; Donate.

Woodinville to OK local wine, beer sales at city park concerts

by April 2nd, 2012

Come this summer in Woodinville, it won’t just be wineries such as Chateau St. Michele reaping the fiscal harvest of concert crowds drawn by the unbeatable combination of smooth Syrah and samba, or Cabernet and cool jazz. The Woodinville City Council is set to give final approval Tuesday night to a resolution green-lighting beverage sales by local wineries and breweries at the city’s revamped summer concert series in its landmark Wilmot Gateway Park. Through it runs the Sammamish River Trail which is used by bikers, joggers and walkers and connects to the Burke-Gilman trail.

UW, WA researchers: tobacco-prevention ROI more than 5-1

by March 30th, 2012

Washington state has gotten a good bang for its buck on tobacco-prevention spending, at a rate of more than five dollars in benefits for every dollar spent, according to a recent analysis published in the American Journal of Public Health by a team including researchers from the University of Washington and the Washington state Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. Tobacco control efforts in Washington state consist of three key approaches: price hikes (through tax increases on tobacco products); policies (such as enforcement of an indoor public smoking ban, and now a spread of local measures banning smoking in government-controlled outdoor properties); and programs (such as prevention education, particularly aimed at children and teens).

At least $5.73 saved for every dollar spent
The state spent almost $259.7 million on all forms of tobacco prevention from 2000 through 2009 and the researchers say they conservatively calculate the savings at $1.5 billion, for a return-on-investment (ROI) ratio of $5.73 saved for every dollar spent. The $1.5 billion in savings came in the form of almost 36,000 hospitalizations avoided for diseases found in peer-reviewed scientific literature to be significantly linked to smoking, such as heart disease, strokes, respiratory disease and cancer.

Report: county auditors, treasurers group scammed for $73K

by March 28th, 2012

A fraud report just issued by the Washington State Auditor’s office says the former financial operations manager of the Washington Association of County Officials (WACO) embezzled more than $73,000 from the group by writing checks to herself and doctoring records, but was under no real oversight to begin with. WACO documents and public records show that the former finance manager’s name is Robin A. Chase, 44, of Olympia. Thurston County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Thompson told Public Data Ferret he will have an announcement this Friday March 30 on whether criminal charges will be filed against Chase. The case was referred to that office in December for consideration of first degree theft and forgery charges. Thompson said he’d been waiting for the auditor’s report to be issued before deciding what to do.

(UPDATE, 4/3/12: In Thurston County Superior Court documents filed today, Robin Ann Chase is charged with with first degree theft, a Class B felony. The charging papers say she waived her Miranda rights and provided a taped admission to Olympia Police she diverted 59 WACO checks totaling $73,086 into her personal account at a credit union. Also according to the documents, Chase “said she stole the money because she was going through chemotherapy for her cancer, because she was on prescription painkillers, and because there was significant stress going on in her family.” Arraignment is April 17 at 10 a.m.)