Collaboration in Civic Spheres

WA bill would amp up science disclosure by enviro agencies

by February 21st, 2012

A “show your work” bill which earlier this month cleared the Washington State House of Representatives by a 97-0 vote and is now under consideration in the Senate’s Government Operations Committee would require Washington’s departments of ecology, and fish and wildlife, to disclose online an index of supporting peer-reviewed scientific literature for every major proposed rule, policy, guidelines or guidance document they are going to issue. ESHB 2335 was heard Monday in the Senate committee and is backed by interests including the Washington Retail Association, the American Chemistry Council, Schnitzer Steel and the Washington Small Agriculture Producer Coalition. Opponents include the Umatilla Tribe.

A senate bill report adds that the Department of Ecology supports the intent of the bill but not the bill itself because of the fiscal impact, which the most recent fiscal note on the bill estimates at $523,520 from 2012 through 2017. The bill report says the Department of Fish and Wildlife also supports the intent but is concerned about the measure’s scope, which it says could extend to the setting of fishing and hunting catch limits. The House sponsors of the legislation were Rep. Shelly Short (R-7th), Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33rd), and Rep. Larry Springer (D- 45th). For the bill to stay alive, it must be approved by the Senate committee by this coming Friday Feb. 24th. The last meeting of the committee now scheduled by then is for Feb. 23.

Bothell firm wins military contract extension worth up to $46M

by February 17th, 2012

Yesterday as the first stage of its $995 million purchase by Tokyo-based Fujifilm was successfully completed, Sonosite, Inc. of Bothell, Wash. was awarded a third-year contract extension worth up to $46,303,658 to supply the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and federal civilian agencies with ultrasound devices used near combat settings and in hospitals to detect injuries to war-fighters and other personnel. The company’s 2010 gross revenues were $275 million.

According to the company’s Vice-President of Governments Accounts and MSK Imaging, Ronald S. Dickson, the contract with the Philadelphia-based U.S. Defense Logistics Agency means Sonosite will continue to sell core products such as the M-Turbo and NanoMaxx portable ultrasound devices for use by field physicians in tents and medics in “far-forward” battle locations, as well as other ultrasound products for U.S. military and Veterans Administration hospitals. There are approximately 70 to 80 of the former globally and about 170 of the latter in the U.S.

UW study: low-dose CT scans for lung cancer too costly?

by February 15th, 2012

A new study from University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center experts in Seattle finds that the overall costs of detecting and treating lung cancer among heavy smokers through a potentially promising process involving screening with low-dose CT scans may currently be too costly to a nation struggling to control growing health care costs, even though some lives would be saved. They urge development of cost-effectiveness standards to guide further policy-making, and emphasize that costs can be cut if health care providers improve their diagnostic skills to more frequently sidestep “false positive” results of the scans.

Congressional Facebook Hackathon report maps legislative transparency solutions; now what will Congress do?

by February 13th, 2012

Imagine if instead of emailing or calling your U.S. Congressman or Senator with concerns about pending legislation, you could re-draft a portion of the bill text online, or endorse the revisions of another reader, knowing you’d be heard by decision-makers? In fact, there’s a very beta version of that called Madison, unveiled by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif) and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to harvest legislative text revisions from the public to privacy and transparency bills such as OPEN, PIPA, and earlier, the controversial SOPA or “Stop Online Piracy Act.” This open real-time bill markup tool is just one of the public tool concepts outlined in a recently-released report on the first Congressional Facebook Hackathon.

The bipartisan public-private forum was held in early December to explore how social media and technology can make the U.S. Congress more open, accessible and participatory to stakeholders. Below we’ll hit some highlights of the report. In addition to real-time public markup of legislation, they include an online Git repository of legislative text; crowd-sourced committee hearings; and a constituent casework tracking portal. Still unclear is what happens next, and to what extent the tools envisioned could be developed under common technical standards, and a similar look and feel for end-users, on a state-by-state basis.

Coal, gas will still power most electricity in 2035, unless…

by February 10th, 2012

Without a major shift in government policy such as extension of expiring renewable energy subsidies, or a carbon tax, coal will continue to be the predominant source for generating electricity used in the United States in 2035. This is according to the 2012 Energy Outlook – Early Release, from the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration. The report includes a data visualization reproduced below.

It shows that if policy continues on its current and expected future course – in the so-called “reference case” scenario – coal will account for 39 percent of U.S. net electricity generation in 2035 compared to 45 percent in 2010. (Net generation is the amount of power produced minus that used at the facility where it’s generated.) Natural gas would follow, accounting for 27 percent of U.S. net electricity generation in 2035, up from 24 percent in 2010. The percent of net electricity generation from renewable energy sources will rise from 10 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2035 in the EIA’s reference case scenario, with nuclear-sourced electricity declining from 20 to 18 percent of the generation mix over the same time span.

Source: Annual Energy Outlook 2012 - Early Release/U.S. Energy Information Administration

RELATED; Electricity Generation Overview, Annual Energy Outlook 2012 – Early Release

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

Seattle Community College teachers urge board to buy ethically; cut ties with Bank of America, Georgia Pacific

by February 9th, 2012

The meeting this afternoon of the Seattle Community College District Board of Trustees will be preceded by a study session in which officials will begin to publicly mull a request from the teachers union to adopt a socially-responsible purchasing policy and cut ties with two major SCCD vendors reviled by many Seattle progressives.

A local unit of the American Federation of Teachers which represents SCCD instructors is pressuring the board to adopt a “socially responsible purchasing policy” that among other things would sever current business ties with the Bank of America and the Georgia Pacific paper company owned by the prominent national conservative political funders the Koch brothers. The district operates three community colleges in Seattle – North, South, and Central, and a satellite program at the Seattle Vocational institute.

Seattle region U.S. Census office fires confessed sex abuser

by February 9th, 2012

A former employee of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services who worked as a nursing aide in a Shoreline, Wash. DSHS-staffed home for developmentally delayed adults and who admitted in a detailed confession to committing repeated sexual abuse of a patient in his care there, has been released from his position as an American Community Survey field interviewer at homes in north Seattle and north King County for the Seattle Region office of the U.S. Census Bureau.

The decision comes after a just concluded six-week internal review process by the Census Bureau. It was prompted by the detailed confession posted online at a state government Web hub, and made by former DSHS employee Bart Finkbiner, a resident of Shoreline, in a disciplinary proceeding last year with the Washington State Department of Health.

Earlier this week, Seattle Region Census Director Ralph J. Lee in a tersely-worded email provided notice that Finkbiner “no longer works for the U.S. Census Bureau….” The investigation came after a Seattle-area reader notified Public Data Ferret that Finkbiner was continuing to work at the Northwest regional Census Bureau office based in Seattle as a field representative visiting homes for the American Community Survey, despite his posted confession in an Agreed Order at the Washington State Department of Health’s disciplinary documents hub, to sexually abusing a DSHS client in his care.

U.S. out of Afghanistan, WA senate committee urges Obama

by February 6th, 2012

Fueled by a parade of proponents who testified at a public hearing in Olympia Friday, legislation is beginning to work its way toward a possible vote on the floor of the Washington State Senate that urges President Barack Obama and the Congress to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, and help the state accent domestic priorities instead. Senate Joint Memorial 8014, similar to a resolution, says the President and the U.S. House and Senate should end the war in Afghanistan and begin “dramatically shifting our national priorities” by focusing on job creation; more money for social programs, public services and crumbling transportation systems; and addressing climate change.