Follow us:


Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

Category: Public Records
February 4, 2015 at 2:49 PM

Explore this: Vaccine exemption rates for every Washington school

UPDATE, FEB. 17, 2015: State Department of Health officials say that more than 300 schools in the state have failed to report immunization exemption rates 2013-2014 school year as required by law. That’s far fewer than in 2011-2012, when up to a third of the 2,648 Washington schools didn’t report. The database below is based…


Comments | More in Government Data, Public Records

January 22, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Washington near top for safe driving — and for the most driving laws

Click to enlarge A new report from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety ranks Washington as one of the 10 safest states for drivers. The group identified 15 laws that contribute to basic highway safety, and based its rankings solely on the number of these laws that have been enacted by each state. These 15 laws pertain to…


Comments | More in Public Records | Topics: motor vehicles, safety

November 19, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Some local hospitals not quickly screening all newborns

Swedish/First Hill in Seattle (Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)

Swedish Medical Center on First Hill (Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)


Unless you’re a parent or medical professional, you may not know that all newborn babies in Washington and across the country have their blood screened to detect rare diseases.

The timing of blood screenings is critically important because newborns afflicted with certain rare disorders can fall sick within just a few days of leaving the hospital.  Early detection through these screenings saves 12,000 babies each year in the United States from death or irreversible harm.

Unfortunately, nine hospitals in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties did not screen all newborn babies for dangerous genetic disorders within an acceptable window of time, according to a new investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Comments | More in Public Records, Reports | Topics: health care, hospitals

December 21, 2012 at 7:50 AM

Who’s packing heat in Washington?

To conservatives, gun ownership is a matter of self-reliance and self-defense.  To liberals, handguns mean one thing — violence.

Conservatives believe that gun ownership is an absolute right, enshrined in the Constitution. Liberals counter that today’s easy access to guns has nothing to do with the “well regulated militia” protected by the Second Amendment.

Conservatives fear that liberals will use any means possible to legislate guns away from them.  Liberals feel that conservatives will fight even the most common-sense restrictions on handguns.

There is seemingly no common ground between the two sides. And like many divisive issues, this one falls along partisan lines — pro-gun Republicans and anti-gun Democrats.  This is confirmed by national survey data on gun ownership.  It’s a classic red state/blue state wedge issue, much like gay marriage.


Comments | More in Government Data, Public Records | Topics: guns, Washington State

November 27, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Seattle’s top dog names for 2012

Lucy, a pit bull-boxer mix, was born and raised in Seattle — and she has the city’s top name, too. (Photo: Alvin Mangosing)

Shout “Lucy!” in a crowded Seattle dog park and risk being stampeded.

Yes, Lucy is far and away the No. 1 moniker for our canine pals here in Seattle.  Analysis of the city’s dog license database reveals that one out of every 83 dogs in town answers to Lucy.

It’s not just here.  Lucy is also among the top names nationwide, according to  In fact, if you compare the names that are most popular in the U.S. with those that are most popular in Seattle, you see a lot of overlap. There is, however, one big exception.  Rocky is the fourth most-popular handle for male pups nationally, but somehow it’s just never caught on here.  Rocky only ranks 33rd in Seattle.

Like everywhere else in the country, human names for dogs are “in” and the old classics are “out.” For example, Seattle has 540 licensed pooches called Lucy, but only 45 named Rex, five going by Rover and — can you believe it? — just two lonely Fidos.  I hope those two have found each other and are commiserating in a doggie daycare somewhere.


Comments | More in Public Records | Topics: animals, Dogs, Pets

October 26, 2012 at 6:00 AM

For Halloween, Washington’s spookiest statistics

Lake View Cemetery, Seattle (photo by Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons)

Halloween’s just around the corner, so in that spirit, here are some of the state’s spookiest statistics…

Washington is home to 101 cemeteries and crematoriums with paid employees, according to the U.S. Economic Census, and 664 people work in this field statewide.

Does the “death care” industry sound appealing to you?  If so, consider a career in embalming. The average embalmer in Washington earns $42,244, according to the state’s Employment Security Department. Could you call that a living wage? Regardless, it’s not easy work to get; the state says the job market for embalmers in Washington is, uh, grim.

The employment outlook for embalmers would surely improve if so many of us weren’t choosing cremation.  In fact, Washington is the No. 2 state for cremations, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.  We cremated 71 percent of our dead here in 2010; the national average is only 41 percent.  Nevada tops the rankings (73 percent) while Mississippi is on the other end of the cremation spectrum (14 percent).


Comments | More in Public Records | Topics: Halloween, vital statistics

October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Great city parks don’t come cheap

Ready for its close-up: the renewed Denny Park (photo by Gene Balk/The Seattle Times)

In The Seattle Times, Lynda Mapes reports on the transformation of once-seedy Denny Park into a clean and welcoming green space in the city’s urban core.  Just a few years ago, Seattle’s oldest park was the kind of place you’d go out of your way to avoid. Not anymore. Denny Park has been granted a new lease on life, buoyed by its location in the heart of the burgeoning South Lake Union neighborhood.

An urban park, after all, is nothing without lots of people nearby to make use of it, and for many years the area around Denny Park was an overlooked part of town.  But the recent growth there has been dramatic.  The number of people living within a 1,500-foot radius of the park has more than doubled since 2000 to about 3,500, according to demographics data provider AGS. And with the arrival of Amazon’s headquarters, biotech firms, and other employers, the daytime population now stands at more than 9,000 in that same radius of Denny Park.


Comments | More in Demographics, Public Records | Topics: Parks, Seattle, South Lake Union