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Topic: king county
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January 20, 2014 at 6:08 AM
As The Seattle Times’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day editorial suggests, this is a time to reflect on how far King County has come toward accomplishing the civil rights legend’s dream of a fair and just society — and how much farther we have to go.
Two must-reads that inspired our board’s view are King County’s Equity and Social Justice Annual Reports in 2012 and 2013. Both are a punch to the gut. They represent public health officials’ courageous effort to lay bare a simple fact: Race and place are directly linked to opportunities for better health, higher incomes and longer lives. (more…)
January 14, 2014 at 6:08 AM
Tuesday’s editorial in The Seattle Times focuses on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s report linking tobacco use to health risks. Please read it and help raise awareness about this public health crisis. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in King County and Washington state. And we can do something about it.
It doesn’t matter that about 88 percent of King County residents don’t use tobacco. We still have to worry about the 12 percent who do. They are the targets of the tobacco industry’s robust marketing campaigns. Low-income people are more likely to take up the habit, as are minorities and the less educated.
Nearly 4,800 kids take up smoking every year and 244,000 more minors are exposed to second-hand smoke at home. In Washington state, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports 7,600 people die every year from tobacco use; about 124,000 under the age of 18 will die prematurely from smoking. Click on this link to see more disturbing statistics, including estimates that annual health care costs in Washington caused by smoking has reached nearly $2 billion.
December 11, 2013 at 9:00 AM
Data can track how people these days are likely to die in King County. We now also know some of the leading causes of death are more prevalent in some parts of the region than others.
King County public health officials should be commended for mounting an ambitious effort to leverage data, dollars and services to produce healthier communities.
Earlier this month, the county convened more than 100 advocates and experts from the health, human service and community development sectors at a hotel in SeaTac. Their goal? To raise awareness of the challenge before them and to discuss a common path forward.
Just glance at the county maps below (from the presentation slides shown at the forum), and the health disparities between north and south King County become startlingly clear. (Note: The red areas signify where death rates are highest; blue signifies where the rates are lowest. Darker shades represent the best and worst outcomes.)
Seattle-King County Public Health Director David Fleming and King County Department of Community and Health Services Director Adrienne Quinn are leading the county’s efforts to do something about addressing these (often preventable) health disparities. Their message is common sense. Now is the time for advocates to break down silos and start forming new partnerships. Government can’t solve every problem or fund every solution, but it can collaborate with the private sector more effectively and direct investments into local communities that “have the most to gain.”
Closing the gaps means connecting public health with community development. It means taking steps to change environment and human behavior (see the chart below). It also underscores the need for affordable housing to be strategically located near jobs, health service providers, fresh food, transit, parks, libraries, schools and other amenities that are common characteristics of healthier, more affluent communities. (more…)
December 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM
King County officials are weaving their way through some gnarly political traffic.
Should they cut Metro transit routes despite growing ridership? Or convince voters to raise taxes and car tab fees? If the Legislature doesn’t pass a transportation package that lets them do this, will they have to resort to an old law that allows them to go it alone, but raise less revenue?
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom outlines the region’s pending bus funding crisis in this news side story. Here’s one of the big reasons folks are so wary of inching toward 10 percent sales tax per $100 spent by consumers:
According to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), the poorest fifth of Washington state households pay 17 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the richest fifth pay less than 7 percent. Those are statewide averages, so the disparity grows in urban Puget Sound, where transit sales taxes are higher.
“(In) a state that is already clearly the most regressive in the nation, amazingly you’d have localities where it is more regressive,” said Matt Gardner, ITEP executive director.
“In fairness, there aren’t a lot of other choices available to lawmakers in Washington,” said Gardner.
Lawmakers appear no closer to a transportation deal, so it’s understandable why officials are antsy to get something before voters in 2014. Cuts are slated to begin next summer. By the time the next legislative session begins in January, the political waters may be too charged for lawmakers to vote on increasing taxes and fees. And even if the state legislature does pass a transportation package that includes local options for counties, a possible referendum may delay implementation of the law till after the November 2014 elections — a less-than-ideal scenario for transit planners.
So let’s get a sense of what readers think about the county’s Plan A and Plan B. Click below the jump to vote in our poll. As first reported in Lindblom’s story, here is The Seattle Times’ description of those two options: (more…)
October 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Voters have a chance with the Nov. 5 ballot, containing many races for local government, to send a message that things are going well or need some adjustment.
Since the summer, Seattle Times editorial board members have been interviewing candidates and campaigns for statewide and local initiatives. We have started to publish our recommendations to voters and will continue in the coming days. Ballots are expected to be mailed around Oct. 17.
If you have questions about King County Elections, call 206-296-VOTE or go to kingcounty.gov/elections.
If you have questions about Snohomish County Elections, call 425-388-3444 or go to the Snohomish County Election division website.
For questions about Washington state elections, go to the Secretary of State election website.
Here are our recommendations for selected races in King and Snohomish counties and for ballot measures.
- City of Seattle endorsements
- King County endorsements
- City of Bellevue endorsements
- Snohomish County endorsements
- State ballot measures and advisory vote endorsements
- State races
City of Seattle:
The two candidates for Seattle mayor are both die-hard progressives. They identify many of the same challenges ahead as the city reaches back to economic vitality. They even share some policy platforms. But the choice becomes clear on their widely different approaches to governing. State Sen. Ed Murray offers a return of pragmatic, effective leadership to City Hall.
July 29, 2013 at 6:00 AM
I recently wrote this column about my efforts to live car-free in Seattle. I argued for preserving and expanding the Metro bus network. With the August 6 primary just one week away, this is the time for us all to think about voting for leaders who understand our transportation system’s funding woes.
If you want a better understanding of where the money comes from and why Metro has reached the point of possibly cutting service by 17 percent, go to this King County Metro link. Fares increased 80 percent between 2008 and 2011. Metro’s revenue comes mostly from collecting sales taxes, which have fluctuated since the recession began. Hence the need for local option taxing authority — an argument outlined in this May 13 op-ed by King County Executive Dow Constantine. (more…)
May 29, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Forty-five bucks, a backpack and a Twitter account.
That’s all it took for Mark Horvath — more widely known in the Twitter-verse as @hardlynormal — to find his calling as an advocate for the homeless. His story reinforces my belief in that old cliche: one person truly can make a difference, especially when the medium is the Internet and the messenger is a former television marketing guru.
I heard Horvath speak Tuesday night at a Social Media Club of Seattle event in South Lake Union. He doesn’t sugar-coat his own struggles. Horvath says his passion comes from experience. He has found himself living among the homeless. Though he could get a desk job these days, the Los Angeles native prefers traveling the country and using his social media prowess to raise awareness about the key ingredients to ending homelessness: housing, jobs and health services.
The way Horvath tells it, he was once a skeptic of Twitter. But he began to see it as a tool for gathering donations and giving the homeless a megaphone to share their stories. His tweets have proven so effective that Ford Motor Company has sponsored his cross-country drives to collect stories from homeless people. Hanes has donated 2 million pairs of socks (which is how he often breaks the ice with the subjects of his interviews). He created InvisiblePeople.tv, as a place to post videos of the people he encounters. Seeing and hearing them speak is powerful and adds some nuance to a common notion of homelessness as an issue that only afflicts veterans, alcoholics and drug addicts.
Since arriving in the Emerald City a few days ago, he’s already put a human face on Seattle’s homeless epidemic. In the videos below, meet Laura, a mother of two living out of a tent, and Sabrina, a Spokane native who now lives under a bridge.
So what happens now? Horvath is a one-man machine, but he emphasizes everyone has the ability to listen to the homeless.
“We’re either maintaining homelessness, or ending homelessness,” he says. Clearly he’d prefer the latter, which means giving short-term things like food may not always be the best solution.
Horvath encourages us to help homeless people access resources. (Here’s a link to King County’s list of phone numbers and organizations.) He insists they are not “service-resistant,” but they are accustomed to roadblocks and need “tangible social interaction.”
March 12, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Poll: Should the Legislature give King County more authority to tax residents to fix roads, transit shortfall?
A coalition of citizens and civic leaders gathered in Seattle Monday to ask state lawmakers to fix existing roads — and give cities and counties the authority to pay for their own transportation needs through local taxes and higher fees.
Here’s a news report from Joe Fryer of KING-TV, a Seattle Times news partner.
A couple other quick points made at the press conference:
- King County Executive Dow Constantine says maintenance is falling behind on more than 1,500 miles of roads in unincorporated areas and 5,500 miles within King County’s 39 cities and towns — home to 30 percent of the state’s population, 40 percent of its jobs, and half of its payroll. “If King County is not authorized to fund the needed investments in our roads and transit, the economic effects will be felt statewide,” he said in prepared remarks.
- Taxpayers passed a temporary, two-year Congestion Reduction Charge. Without this or any additional revenue, King County will have to cut transit services by 17 percent in 2014.
- Options for local governments to raise revenue could include increasing gas taxes (locally, not statewide), increasing car tab fees, and bringing back the unpopular motor vehicle excise tax (MVET).
Our editorial board has argued for a cautious approach to passing a transportation package this session. We’ll have more to say about the details of the plan in the coming weeks as lawmakers debate the revenue issue and present a transportation budget.
For now, let’s see what you have to say. Take our poll or submit your own answer to the question below:
Update 11:05 a.m.: Added information about the maintenance backlog in King County. In addition to the 5,500 miles of roads within the county’s cities, an additional 1,500 miles of roads in unincorporated parts of the county also need to be preserved.