Topic: Metropolitan King County Council
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March 21, 2013 at 2:40 PM
King County, reaching one of the biggest deals of its kind, has agreed to buy development rights on a 43,000-acre forest stretching from Enumclaw to Greenwater along the White River.
County Executive Dow Constantine announced the $11.1 million deal with Hancock Timber Resources Group at a news conference Thursday, saying it will expand the county’s “green wall against sprawl.”
The deal, approved Thursday by the Hancock board of directors, is subject to approval by the Metropolitan King County Council. Councilmembers Larry Phillips and Reagan Dunn, chair and vice chair respectively of the council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, declared their support for the agreement.
Constantine said the forest is the largest block of privately owned land in the county that isn’t already protected from development. It would continue to be operated as a working forest, with the public allowed to use the land for recreation.
The biggest deal of this type was King County’s 2004 purchase of development rights on Hancock’s 89,000-acre Snoqualmie tree farm.
March 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM
The Metropolitan King County Council approved a court settlement Monday which will make public defenders county employees.
Since 1970, King County has contracted public defense services with private agencies. It’s unclear how many of the 350 employees of The Defender Association, Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons, Associated Counsel for the Accused and Northwest Defenders Association, will continue as county employees in representing nearly 30,000 criminal defendants.
The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed in 2006 against the county by Kevin Dolan, a public defender at the Associated Counsel for the Accused.
Dolan, who has worked in public defense for three decades, said he filed the lawsuit on behalf of employees of the four defender groups that sought enrollment in the county’s retirement system. In 2011, in response to Dolan’s lawsuit, the state Supreme Court ordered King County to allow the contracted public-defense employees to enroll in the county’s Public Employees Retirement System.
Dave Chapman, who heads the county’s Office of Public Defense, said their are discussions to create two separate county-run public defense agencies will be created. The need for two agencies, currently referred to as Public Defense 1 and Public Defense 2, is to handle “conflict cases,” Chapman added.
The council will start hearing arguments on what the new public defense structure will look like this week, one longtime public defender said.
Chapman, whose agency divides the nearly $40 million per year the county spends on public defense among the four public defense firms, said the county and Dolan reached the settlement earlier this year.
“With this settlement we acknowledge the ruling of the state Supreme Court –- that for some time public defenders in King County have been County employees for the purpose of retirement benefits,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a news release. “We must now move forward to implement the consequences of the court’s decision in a way that remains client-centered, free from political influence, and cost-effective for the public.”
The proposal will be submitted to Pierce County Superior Court Judge John Hickman for approval, Chapman said.
Chapman said the county estimates transition costs will be around $3.3 million — which will pay for a new case-management system, vehicles for employees, information technology services and facilities.
The settlement also includes $31 million in retroactive Public Employees Retirement System contributions dating to 1978, and recognition of public defense employees as county employees with full benefits on July 1, 2013, the day after current contracts with the nonprofits expire, according to King County.
“Public defenders are a key element of our criminal justice system and these employees deserve comparable benefits to their peers,” Councilmember Reagan Dunn said in a news release. “This settlement will protect King County taxpayers from costly litigation and put an end to this long drawn out case.”
January 30, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Mayor Mike McGinn and Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn this morning announced a campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking, the second such public-awareness effort announced this month.
McGinn and Dunn were joined at a news conference by representatives from Clear Channel Outdoor, which donated $94,000 in advertising space, and Clear Channel Entertainment+Media, which donated $88,000 of air time for public service announcements.
“Hundreds of people, many of them underage, are trafficked in our region each year for sex, manual labor, domestic labor and more,” McGinn said. “This is not something from history, or something that only happens in other countries – this is reality for many people in our community. We hope this campaign will help build awareness and connect victims to resources and assistance.”
Clear Channel Outdoor has donated billboards in English, Vietnamese and Korean. The ads will feature examples of human trafficking and direct victims to the national human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Earlier this month, King County’s launched a campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, which includes posting ads in six languages on 200 Metro buses.
December 5, 2012 at 6:00 PM
The leaders of King County’s four public defense agencies today sent a letter to Metropolitan King County Council President Larry Gossett and Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who heads the council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee, to voice opposition to a county plan that would dissolve the independent agencies and make public defenders county employees.
Last week, David Chapman, who heads the King County Office of Public Defense, announced that nearly 400 employees of the four agencies — The Defender Association, Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons, Associated Counsel for the Accused and Northwest Defenders Association — could potentially become King County employees by July 1. Chapman’s office assigns cases to the four firms, dividing the nearly $40 million per year the county spends on public defense.
The proposal for the county to hire the public defenders stems from a lawsuit filed in 2006 against the county by Kevin Dolan, a public defender at the Associated Council for the Accused. Dolan said he filed the lawsuit on behalf of employees of the four defender groups who sought enrollment in the county’s retirement system. Since the 1960s, King County has contracted public defense services from the non-profit firms.
A top leader in one public defense agency said a work group of lawyers, community members and other stakeholders should be created to evaluate King County’s public defense system.
“The implication of the Executive’s proposal are sweeping and require a public discussion, accurate assessment of the costs of various options and a fair consideration of different possible approaches going foward,” the letter read.
In an interview last week, Chapman told The Times that it isn’t clear how much it will cost the county to create its own public defense system.
Most of the state’s large counties, including Pierce, Skagit, Whatcom, Spokane and Yakima, have in-house public-defense firms along with separate prosecutor’s offices.
Chapman said the idea of making public defense services part of King County’s legal services has been reviewed numerous times. But, the startup costs of creating a new branch of county government was always deemed too expensive.
October 15, 2012 at 3:50 PM
The Seattle City Council and Metropolitan King County Council this afternoon approved an agreement to use up to $200 million in public funds to help build a basketball and hockey arena in Sodo that would return the Sonics to town.
The agreement with investor and Seattle native Chris Hansen means Hansen can now begin shopping for a National Basketball Association team, and begin an environmental review of the site that will determine what mitigation is needed for traffic and other concerns.
The county council unanimously approved the revised Memorandum of Understanding, and the city council shortly after approved it 7-2.
City Council member Tim Burgess said the councils had strengthened the agreement sent to them by Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine by requiring a full state environmental review that includes an analysis of alternate sites, creating a transortation fund to protect freight mobility in Sodo and an economic impact study.
“The steps we’re taking will ensure transportation corridors remains open and accessible,” Burgess said.
County Councilman Joe McDermott said the signing of the MOU sets off a review process that will require further public comment and council approval.
“The MOU makes it abundantly clear there will be no final decision until after an environmental review,” McDermott said.
October 13, 2012 at 9:35 AM
Weather: In a word: Wet. Showers are likely throughout the day and don’t expect the clouds to dissipate much. Tonight and Sunday will be pretty much the same. The National Weather Service forecast.
Traffic: Traffic map and cams.
Saving the seawall: Seattle voters will be asked Nov. 6 to approve a $290 million bond measure to replace the waterfront seawall, which has badly eroded over the years by marine borers and tides. The 30-year bond measure would cost $59 per year for the owner of a median-valued, $360,000 home. The measure requires 60 percent approval to pass.
Arena lawsuit: The union representing about 3,000 longshoremen plan to sue Seattle and King County over a proposal to build a new sports arena near Port of Seattle shipping terminals, saying the project will threaten freight movement to port facilities and jeopardizes jobs. The Seattle City Council and Metropolitan King County Council are scheduled to vote Monday on a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the terms under which the city and county will contribute public money to the arena construction.
Baumgartner attacks Cantwell: Michael Baumgartner on Friday used the only debate of this year’s U.S. Senate race to hammer incumbent Maria Cantwell for supporting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Republican and former diplomat said Cantwell has “consistently been in support of poorly planned wars that are bankrupting this country and putting a tremendous, tremendous strain on our troops.” Cantwell said she voted for tax increases on the wealthy to fund the wars and has pushed President Obama to withdraw troops faster than he has proposed.
Most-read stories this morning on seattletimes.com:
July 19, 2012 at 3:46 PM
The Seattle City Council and the Metropolitan King County Council are holding a joint hearing to take public testimony on the proposal to build a $490 million sports and entertainment venue with $200 million in public financing.
The hearing began at 5:30 p.m. in Seattle City Council Chambers, 600 Fourth Avenue, Seattle. Around 500 people were in the audience, including those in an overflow room. 132 participants signed up to voice their opinion about the arena proposal and Councilmember Tim Burgess promised all would get a chance to speak.
July 6, 2012 at 11:08 AM
King County Executive Dow Constantine this morning announced the appointment of 30-year legal veteran David Chapman to head the Office of Public Defense.
Over the course of his career, Chapman, 56, has worked as a deputy prosecutor, public defender, pro-tem judge, and most recently, as a private attorney, according to a news release issued by the executive. A 1981 graduate of the Seattle University School of Law, Chapman lives on Vashon Island and has worked in the criminal justice system in both King and Pierce counties, the news release says. He was selected following a national search.
Chapman’s appointment is subject to approval by the Metropolitan King County Council. He is to begin his director position on July 30.
The Office of Public Defense, a division within the county’s Department of Community and Health Services, provides legal representation to indigent defendants facing criminal charges.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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