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October 03, 2011
King County Executive Dow Constantine has unveiled his $5.3 billion proposed 2012 budget for the county, and highlighted a range of efficiencies he said his administration had achieved. The county council will review, possibly amend, and adopt the budget by November 21. There's a way to have your say on the budget. If you live, work or go to school in King County, you're invited to take an online survey by October 16 that will help the county shape its budget priorities. More at Social Capital Review, the mother site of Public Data Ferret.
September 29, 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. 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. More at Public Data Ferret.
September 28, 2011
After holding a public hearing on the controversial topic of regional tolling, The City of Renton Monday night Sept. 26 approved a resolution opposing Initiative 1125, which would restrict highway tolling. Washington voters will decide it in November. Renton, a growing suburban city at Seattle's southern border, is at the junction of a multi-billion-dollar proposed tolling project that would connect Interstate 405 with State Route 167 and add tolled express lanes to both, as part of a broader toll-centric plan to unsnarl traffic and fund highway fixes in the Seattle region and elsewhere in the state. Initiative sponsor Tim Eyman sharply disagreed with the vote by the Renton council. Meanwhile, a new Survey USA poll reported today by KING5-TV in Seattle showed more than twice as many voters for I-1125 as against, but a crucial margin still undecided. More at Public Data Ferret.
September 27, 2011
On the heels of a mid-July state report that a University of Washington professor took a contract fee from a state agency for work he never delivered, and following another 2011 case which sparked a criminal prosecution against an alleged embezzler in the University's Medical Center, comes an additional indication Sept. 26 of ethical troubles at the state's flagship institution of higher learning. According to a Washington State Auditor's Office whistleblower investigation report just released, a professor in the UW Medical Center's Pediatrics Division of Neo-nataology appears to have violated state ethics law by using her position to get a job for her unqualified daughter as a research scientist and engineer assistant. The professor's name, released by the auditor's office in response to a media inquiry, is Sandra Juul Ledbetter and her daughter's name is Kelly Ledbetter.
September 26, 2011
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. More at Public Data Ferret.
September 21, 2011
Working with U.S. and African colleagues, researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute For Health Metrics and Evaluation, in Seattle, integrated data from several dozen qualifiying health surveys in malaria-prone Sub-Saharan Africa and found that the use of Insecticide-Treated Nets helped actually reduce parasitemia and death in young children to a significantly greater degree than previously estimated in clinical trials. Their research, recently published in a peer-reviewed “open access” (online, free) medical journal and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, concludes that the use of the treated nets should be continued and expanded in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the bulk of the world’s one million annual deaths from the parasitic disease of malaria occur. More at Public Data Ferret.
September 17, 2011
With his signature on a state health department disciplinary document, a former nursing assistant at a group home operated in Shoreline by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services admitted he sexually abused a developmentally-delayed 57-year-old female patient in his care, and agreed to surrender his license for 10 years for unprofessional conduct. More at Public Data Ferret.
September 14, 2011
Attorneys for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a legal complaint Sept. 8 in U.S. District Court in Seattle against Richard A. Finger, 32, of Bellevue, Wash. for defrauding investors in the Kirkland, Wash. securities trading firm he ran of about $4 million over a seven-month period in 2011, through a high-volume, high-risk trading scheme. SEC attorneys allege in the complaint that Finger’s investors, mainly family and friends, lost $1.9 million due to his “improper trading” and that he took another $2.1 million in commissions to help fund a lavish lifestyle – while falsifying account balances, underreporting commissions, and forging documentation to a suspicious trading partner. Federal criminal charges of wire fraud were also filed against Finger, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Finger’s attorneys say in a statement issued to Public Data Ferret that he’s admitted deceiving customers, apologized to them and will reimburse them as best he can. More at Public Data Ferret.
September 13, 2011
U.S. adults made only slight progress quitting smoking between 2005 and 2010, and are not on track to meet the nation’s formal 2020 goal of only 12 percent of adults smoking, according to a new report released by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control. Almost one in five still meet the definition of “current smoker,” down only 1.6 percent over the last five full calendar years. U.S. adult smoking prevalence rates varied by age, income, race and geography, with California and Utah showing the lowest percentages. Washington state was in the second lowest cohort. Because smoking poses annual medical and productivity costs of nearly $200 billion in the U.S., and because quitting has slowed, the CDC report urges consideration of stronger deterrents including higher tobacco taxes, wider smoke-free policies for public places and workplaces, broader restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, expanded media campaigns, and better access to affordable and effective smoking cessation programs.
More at Public Data Ferret, the news knowledge base project I founded, which focuses on synopsizing and archiving by jurisdiction and topic recent high-news value public documents and data. It is supported not only by my own work but also that of student interns, a wide range of allies in the community, and the board of its parent non-profit, called Public Eye Northwest.
September 12, 2011
"According to a report by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Inspector General, a voluntary climate change initiative of the U.S. National Park Service called Climate Friendly Parks is mainly window dressing because it has no consistent accountability and performance measures, and suffers from poor data inputs at the front end. With tough new greenhouse gas reduction goals coming for the U.S. government under an executive order, the initiative might be best consolidated with a broader, and mandatory type of environmental protection program that the parks service and each other federal agency will have to develop and implement, in their own way, to meet those goals." More at Public Data Ferret.
June 28, 2011
I've been using Intersect since last summer to tell stories, personal and professional. It's a Web and social media start-up company with offices located in the McKinstry Innovation Center south of downtown Seattle where the SoDo district begins to meet the Georgetown neighborhood, home to a piquant farmers market and some serious outdoor sculpture. Using an embed tool the site offers users, here's a map - at bottom - of my Intersect stories. Once you open an account and add some stories, you can use easy navigation tools to pull up your map and then if you want, zoom in to, say, a continent, and get embed code of your mapped and linked stories for just that swath. Or your whole map of stories, as I've done below.
If you're exploring someone's story map on Intersect, or your own, approximate stabs at geography lead to incredibly specific geographic drill-downs. Follow prompts - by clicking on "six stories at this intersection," or "84 stories at this intersection" etc. - then double-click on a story photo icon to survey a contributor's stories mapped literally at neighborhood street level. Single-click on a given story photo icon to enter the story. Make sure to use the navigation arrows to explore a contributor's full map of stories across the globe.
A simple place and time search tool on the main page is another handy tool. Seattle, June 2011? Here's what you get. London 2010? Texas 2010? Once signed up and signed in (it's free) - the situational zeitgeist has some collective oomph. Play around a bit and you'll see.
Intersect's story-mapping is really an intuitive and engaging use of graphic tools to accent blogged and micro-blogged content and photography, with a potentially big crowd-sourcing function layered in as well. Themed story collections are another prominent feature, one well-suited to use by news organizations and others, as Intersect founder and feature writing Pulitzer Prize-winner Peter Rinearson shows in a recent piece at Neiman Reports, published by the Neiman Foundation For Journalism at Harvard University.
A compendium of commonly adopted keywords for searching major story lines would be a welcome addition, given the current, generally sui generis subject-tagging protocol; special, promoted story themes aside.
Intersect is still figuring out how it will become financially sustainable. In the meantime, consider whether it would be a useful tool for your storytelling or that an employer, non-profit organization, or friend you know.
(Disclosure: I am not now and have never been compensated by Intersect, nor do I have any ownership stake. Just a user; fan; and a friend of Mr. Rinearson. My son is an unpaid intern there this summer).
May 27, 2011
November 03, 2010
My portrait of Black Panther Seattle chapter founder Aaron Dixon appeared in Washington Law and Politics in the June/July issue of 2002. Here's the just-scanned version. The files are pdf so you'll need Adobe Reader.
May 02, 2010
After beginning my current job as Director of Countywide Community Forums (CCF) in January 2010, I founded a blog meant to reflect the broader world of the work in which CCF is engaged; public engagement and collaboration in public spheres. Social Capital Review has featured writing by DeAnna Martin, Pamela Kilborn-Miller, Carrie Shaw and myself. As part of my work, I've also founded an independent initiative to help champion citizen engagement in open government, called Public Data Ferret. It's a database searchable by topic and jurisdictions, composed of neutral, blogged synopses of important public documents, and tutorials on user-friendly government databases. More background is available on the Ferret "About" page and the instructions/participation page. Shortly after Public Data Ferret's launch, I began a regular weekly live segment on the "Nine To Noon Show" on KOMO 1000 AM, Seattle, highlighting the latest work at the site. That lasted until "Nine To Noon" was cancelled in September, 2010. The Ferret project continues, however.
The Ferret radio segments to date follow, each in the form of a blog article with an audio link and a full transcript, as well as a link to the original Ferret write-up.
I was also privileged to discuss Public Data Ferret, and Countywide Community Forums recently with other guests in a broader conversation titled "Technology And Civic Engagement" on one of Seattle's public radio stations, KUOW-FM. In addition, one of our recent Ferret scoops got a write-up in the Seattle P-I.com. And we've recruited University of Washington communication grad Andrew Hart as Contributing Editor to Public Data Ferret.
(Last updated 9/26/10)
March 31, 2010
From Social Capital Review: "Civic Intelligence At Open Government West." An excerpt:
Liberating public data and packaging it in useful ways is a must, but savvy advocates and enablers of transparency also heard today at the Open Government West conference in Seattle City Hall that intermediaries are essential too, for "last mile" delivery to community collaborators. Bill Schrier, Chief Technology Officer for The City of Seattle, said governments "must deputize the private sector, non-profits and academics to distribute data" and help drive public engagement around solutions. Bill raises an important point. And while the open government "deputies" include developers of some mighty practical mobile, location-based apps built off government data sets, and developers of online whiteboard tools to collect suggestions for governments, there's a danger of being too government-centric about open government.
Here's the full article.
MATT'S OTHER BLOG
Social Capital Review: King County Seeks Budget Views In Online Survey
Public Data Ferret: City Will Remove Race-Based Graffiti From Boating Center
Public Data Ferret: Renton Passes Resolution Against I-1125, But New Poll Shows Voter Support
Public Data Ferret: State Reports UW Prof Got Job For Unqualified Daughter
Public Data Ferret: Seattle Eyes Transfer Of Troubled Indian Services Properties To Non-Profit
Public Data Ferret: UW Study Accents "Net Benefits" In African Malaria Fight
Public Data Ferret: State Finds DSHS Worker Sexually Abused Vulnerable Patient
Public Data Ferret: Bellevue man charged with securities fraud
Public Data Ferret: U.S. Adult Smoking Won't Fade Away
Public Data Ferret: Interior OIG report raps park service climate initiative
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