Friday, April 20, 2012

Ganging up on gangs

 There are approximately 651 active gang members and their associates in Tacoma, according the 2011 City of Tacoma Gang Assessment published this week. The report also found 140 active criminal street gangs in King County comprised of approximately 10,000 members.

Out of the eight major neighborhoods in Tacoma, five seem to be the hotbeds for gang activity:
  • South Tacoma
  • South End
  • Eastside
  • Central
  • New Tacoma
Rep. Connie Ladenburg

With these astounding numbers coupled with the fact that middle schools are where many children are recruited for gangs, we’re left asking ourselves, “What can we do?”

Reps. Connie Ladenburg and Luis Moscoso sponsored legislation during the 2012 session aimed at helping find solutions to this ever-growing problem.

House Bill 2535, sponsored by Rep. Ladenburg, encourages the establishment of juvenile gang courts to help young gang members stay out of jail and turn their lives around. This legislation takes effect June 7th, 2012.
Rep. Luis Moscoso

House Bill 2432, sponsored by Rep. Moscoso, sought to create the Criminal Street Gang Prevention and Intervention Grant Program Account to reduce gang violence. While his legislation did not pass this year, Moscoso secured $250,000 in the operating budget to get the ball rolling.

To read about the 2011 Gang Assessment, click here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

House Democrats continue to find ways to streamline government

Rep. Sharon Wylie
Why does everything always have to be so darn complicated?

Well, things just got a lot simpler thanks to House bill 2452, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Wylie from Vancouver, which consolidates the state’s procurement process of goods and services and allows state agencies to be more open and transparent.

Stipulations in this new law enable the state’s Department of Enterprise Services to streamline their purchasing practices.

DES announced yesterday they are reducing their standard product list from 60,000 items down to about 3,600. DES is also increasing the availability of environmentally, locally-made products, such as Georgia-Pacific paper manufactured in Camas, WA.

According to an article in the Olympian, the director of Enterprise Services said “the new procurement law brings all state laws and rules for more than $1 billion in state purchases into a single place, allowing standardization of practices.”

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Employment numbers for March are here!

According to Employment Security, there were 3,300 jobs added by Washington employers last month, following 18 months of job growth out of the past 19!

Industry sectors with job growth in March include:

Source: Employment Security Department

Out of all of Washington’s industry sectors, only education and health services reported job losses of 1,600 and 1,500 jobs respectively.

Other numbers worth mentioning:
  • 289,400 people were unemployed and currently looking for a job in March, down from 365,000 in February 2010.
  • Unemployment benefits were paid to 189,467 people last month, which is way down from more than 350,000 in January 2010.

Are you or someone you know looking for a job? Go here to find the location of the WorkSource office nearest you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reps. Hasegawa and Hudgins host a telephone town hall!

Rep. Zack Hudgins
Attention constituents of the 11th Legislative District!

What are you doing tomorrow night around 6 o’clock in the evening? Answering the phone, of course - Reps. Bob Hasegawa and Zack Hudgins will be hosting a live telephone town hall!

Around 6 o’clock, thousands of phones in the 11th LD will be ringing. When you pick up you’ll hear a recorded message inviting you to stay on the line and join the event. By doing so, you’ll have the opportunity to speak with Reps. Hasegawa and Hudgins.

To ask the representatives the questions that matter most to you, simply press *3 while you're listening to the call.
Rep. Bob Hasegawa
Constituents who do not receive a phone call may participate in the telephone town hall simply by calling 1-877-229-8493 and entering the ID code (PIN) number 18646 when prompted.

Journalists and other interested parties can dial into the town hall from a landline or cell. For that information call 360-786-7811.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Darneille, Jinkins host tele-town hall

Rep. Jeannie Darneille
Reps. Jeannie Darneille and Laurie Jinkins – both from the 27th Legislative District in Tacoma – will host a telephone town hall 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, April 18. They look forward to a live conversation with their constituents about the issues that matter most to the district and the state.

Under the telephone town hall format, thousands of constituents will receive automatically generated telephone calls to their homes in the 27th Legislative District just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. The constituents may ask questions for Reps. Darneille and Jinkins to answer by pressing *3 on their phones during the call, and they may listen to the live conversation to hear questions from others and answers.
Rep. Laurie Jinkins

Constituents who do not receive a phone call may participate in the meeting simply by calling 1-877-229-8493 and entering the ID code (PIN) number 18646 when prompted.

The Good News, the Bad News, and the Good News

The good news?  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington ranks 8th in the nation in worker pay.  The average salary/wage earned by a working Washingtonian is $50,280.  That’s great; it’s money that supports families, keeps local businesses profitable, and helps to make Washington state, even during an economic slowdown, one of the best places on earth to live.

The bad news is, Washington’s terrific average pay is cold comfort for the 288,000 unemployed people in our state.  True, employment is on the rise, and true, respected economists are saying that Washington is poised to lead the nation’s recovery from this recession.  But you can’t feed a family with statistics.  That requires a job.

Back to the good news:  While the drama in Olympia was playing out around negotiations on an operating budget, Democrats managed to craft and pass bipartisan transportation and capital budgets that will, among other things, create and sustain tens of thousands of good jobs for out-of-work men and women, particularly in Washington’s hard-hit construction industry.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

The WSP is hiring!

With funding provided by the Legislature, the Washington State Patrol will be facilitating State Patrol Academy classes this coming October. What great timing – the WSP is currently hiring to fill 60 vacancies left by this year’s retirees.

There are many career options for troopers including: aviation, bomb squad, K-9, detectives, homeland security, drug recognition expert, executive protection and capitol security, and SWAT - just to name a few!

Do you think you have what it takes to serve with the honorable and brave men and women of the WSP? Are you a person of integrity with great judgment and a tremendous sense of honesty?

Any person interested must pass the written test and a fitness test, including sit-ups, push-ups, and a mile run in a specified amount of time.

Anyone between the ages of 19 and 60 is encouraged to apply. Testing will occur at Camp Murray April 28th through May 1st.

For more information, click here and watch the videos below:

To read this post in Spanish, click here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

19th District legislators to hold tele-town hall meeting

Tomorrow night residents of the 19th Legislative District will have the chance to ask their legislative members questions without leaving their homes.

On the evening of Tuesday, April 17th, Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview, Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, and Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, will take part in a telephone town hall meeting.  Residents of the district will receive a phone call at or around 6 p.m., asking if they would like to participate in the live event.  Those who do will have the chance to join thousands of their fellow constituents in directly asking the members questions or sharing concerns they have for the 19th District and the state.

Constituents who do not receive a phone call may participate in the meeting simply by calling 1-877-229-8493 and entering the ID code (PIN) number 18646 when prompted.

It’s all about the kids

Providing the best education possible is a necessary step in preparing our children for the future. But a top-notch education isn’t the only thing children require to become successful adults. The final budget passed by the Legislature addresses these concerns.

Apple Health for Kids provides healthcare coverage for over 500,000 Washington children. There are still many more children in our state who are eligible for the program – but they just don’t know it! This year, the Legislature provided $1 million to aid Apple Health for Kids in getting the word out, connecting thousands of more children across the state with the care they need to grow-up healthy.

State Food Assistance helps parents put food on the table for approximately 12,500 Washington children. This year, the Legislature continued funding the program, with no additional cuts – none! How can we possibly expect our children to thrive academically when they are running on empty?

Finding affordable, quality childcare is an issue troubling many Washington families, inhibiting parents’ ability to stay at work and provide for their children. The Working Connections Child Care program was not only spared from any further cuts, but the Legislature actually reversed the cuts made last year! This means more parents can stay at work, knowing their children are safe and supervised.

Children are the future of Washington and we need to make sure they have the skills and support they require to thrive in the years ahead.