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Topic: king county

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January 20, 2014 at 6:08 AM

What will it take to fulfill MLK’s dream, create equality in King County?

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.

Source: 2013 King County Equity and Social Justice Report

Source: 2013 King County Equity and Social Justice Report

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.


0 Comments | Topics: equity, justice, king county

January 14, 2014 at 6:08 AM

5 charts about smoking in King County that will surprise you

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry holds a copy of the 387 page report of the Advisory Committe to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service on the relationship of smoking to health Jan. 11, 1964. He spoke at a Washington news conference at which the study was released. It termed smoking a health hazard calling for corrective action. (AP Photo)

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry holds a copy of the 387-page report of the Advisory Committe to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service on the relationship of smoking to health Jan. 11, 1964. He spoke at a Washington news conference at which the study was released. It termed smoking a health hazard calling for corrective action. (AP Photo)

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.

Here are five charts from a 2012 King County Public Health Data Watch report that prove why further action is necessary to stamp out persistent tobacco use:


0 Comments | Topics: king county, smoking, surgeon general

December 11, 2013 at 9:00 AM

A disturbing look at where, how people likely to die in King County

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.)

Source: King County Public Health

Source: King County Public Health

Source: King County Public Health

Source: King County Public Health

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.


0 Comments | Topics: disparities, king county, public health

December 2, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Poll: How should King County fund Metro public transit?

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?

Photo by Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times

Photo by Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times

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:


0 Comments | Topics: king county, legislature, metro

October 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Seattle Times editorial board’s recommendations for Nov. 5 election

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

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

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:

Seattle Mayor

State Sen. Ed Murray 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.

Read editorial endorsement –>


0 Comments | More in List | Topics: 2013 elections, ballot, ed murray

July 29, 2013 at 6:00 AM

How Seattle mayoral candidates would fix Metro funding crisis

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.

The new Rapid Ride bus route heading down 3rd Ave. in downtown Seattle sharing the road with other buses. (STEVE RINGMAN/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

The new Rapid Ride bus route heading down 3rd Ave. in downtown Seattle sharing the road with other buses. (STEVE RINGMAN/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

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.


0 Comments | Topics: king county, metro, politics

May 29, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Video: Mark Horvath uses social media savvy to humanize Seattle’s homeless

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…


0 Comments | Topics: awareness, causes, homeless

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…


0 Comments | More in Polls | Topics: dow constantine, king county, transit