Writings and observations

This looks good, if they can sustain it – always the difficulty.

A group of former reporters for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (journalists not at the online version) have launched a site called InvestigateWest, aimed at offering investigative reporting, with a “focus on stories involving the environment, health and social justice.” We’ll be checking in regularly on it.

From its launch press release:

Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) to conduct journalism for the public trust, InvestigateWest last week became a founding member of the nonprofit Investigative News Network aligning more than 25 investigative news organizations. Funding strategies, news distribution and administrative costs could be pooled among partners like the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and newer ventures such as the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in Madison.

InvestigateWest has received a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, in-kind contributions from major firms, including the K&L Gates law firm and Point B Solutions Group in Seattle, and donations from individual donors, and is actively fundraising from individuals and foundations. Our journalists are already reporting a number of stories for which we are developing media partnerships and seeking funding. Those interested in making a tax-deductible donation can send donations to InvestigateWest at 600 N. 36th St., Suite 316, Seattle, WA, 98103.

It’s hoping for a budget of around $1.3 million; according to the P-I, about $3,000 has come in so far. The intent is to run a major investigation out each month, but the site also has a couple of blogs going for more frequent output.

In theory at least, the web should be a great place for investigative reporting. Even many overtly political sites have done some fine investigative work, leveraging not only electronic newsgathering and fast delivery but also the mass of information that audiences know, but in the past wouldn’t have been able or willing to contribute. If it works, it cold be one of the answers people in journalism have been looking for.

Share on Facebook


Does long-term involvement in serious mental health cases make much difference? Intuitively, you might think so, but intuition is often wrong in such cases. Turns out this time that’s the way it is.

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy has released a study about whether ongoing intensity of mental health services helps much, and concludes that it does:

“The findings presented here are not meant to establish the effectiveness of mental health services. Since this analysis does not include adults with similar characteristics who received no public mental health services, we cannot compare outcomes relative to untreated individuals.” But with that caveat: “This analysis does indicate that long-term engagement and retention of public mental health consumers may be an important measure for differentiating outcomes. In addition, these results show a significant level of criminal convictions and subsequent hospitalizations for the study cohort. The public costs of serving individuals in these settings should be considered when monitoring and tracking outcomes for public mental health consumers.”

Beyond that, the report has some fascinating background about mental health cases in Washington generally.

The sheer numbers were interesting: In 2008, more than 118,000 people (86,000 of them adults) were in the state public mental health system. Only about 2,200 of them were in the state psychiatric hospitals. The study tracked a specific “cohort” of patients, all receiving mental health services in January 2004. That number: 38,668.

Share on Facebook


Jeff Kropf

Recall cover sheet

Put aside the lies about the personal relationship (the biggest single Portland story of the year so far), and how would Portlanders assess the term – so far – of Mayor Sam Adams? You’d have to call it something of a mixed bag. The soccer/baseball initiative, one of his major efforts, has turned into a messy and unpredictable slog. The push on the Columbia River bridge has moved a little faster. A variety of smaller individual proposals have move forward. A mixed bag, maybe, but containing enough positive elements that Adams would get a pass, if not high marks, from most Portlanders. He’s done the job.

There remains that Beau Breedlove thing, though. It does have ongoing significance in Adams’ ability to use his office to push things, or to leverage the city, such as the recent downtown mass transit kickoff attended, apparently, by every higher-level Oregon elected official with an excuse to be there except Adams, who conveniently was on vacation at the moment. (Hiking, no less.)

Today the pieces get put into context with the filing of an Adams recall petition by the Committee to Recall Sam Adams, Jasun Wurster, chief petitioner. Grounds: “We, the citizens of Portland, Oregon, hereby hold Sam Adams accountable for lying to us so that, as Adams explained, he could be elected Mayor of the City of Portland in 2008. Sam Adams is no longer effective in representing Portland as mayor. He has lost the trust of the public and other elected officials essential to the financial support of the City of Portland.” It concludes, “Now being fully informed about Sam Adams, the citizens of Portland demand an opportunity to our democratically provided right to recall. This recall provides voters the ability to make an informed choice on who we shall entrust with the management of the City’s budget, our future economic growth and reputation as one of the nation’s most progressive communities.”

Petition circulation is slated to start tomorrow.

The problem is, now that the world (or as much of it as cares) knows a great deal more about the relationship between Adams and Breedlove, the question becomes: What difference does it make? An attorney general’s investigation found no official malfeasance, and only questions (but no useful evidence) of private wrongdoing.

Back in January, there was a stretch when civic fury at Adams boiled over. It seems less heated now. The guess here is that Wurster will have a tough challenge getting the 32,183 valid signatures he needs by October 5.

Share on Facebook


air trip

Lewis & Clark by air/airjourney

This would be a great trip for pilots of small planes . . . a flight along the path of the Lewis and Clark expedition, by the company Airjourney.

Yes, yes: Flying would hardly be any sort of equal to what they did.

And there’d be the stops in Lewiston, McMinnville, Astoria and Portland.

Writer James Fallows (hat tip for the pointer) suggests, “Perhaps it is a stretch to claim, as AirJourney does in promos like what’s shown below, that this is a deeply historical commemoration. But I flew much of this route in a small plane nine years ago (start in Minnesota, then down to Nebraska, then west) and to this day recall many vivid scenes, which I also described in my book Free Flight.”

Share on Facebook


Fort Townsend

Fort Townsend, midday on the 4th/Stapilus

The roads north to the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas were packed with traffic on the 3rd. Around Gig Harbor it was awful; try to pull off into even one of the smaller community (Purdy, for instance) and even there you’d be likely to be stuck in your car in stop-n-go, for extended periods. The whole of the Northwest seemed on the move.

On the fourth, things seem to have settled down a bit. Port Townsend, a popular destination and a popular one on sunny summer days like this, was busy but not jammed. The boat-repairers at the shipyard were busy, and people were out and about. Still, the energy level seemed high. Higher than usual?

Wednesday night we sat on a deck overlooking Puget Sound, across to Whidbey Island, and saw something that seemed remarkable, and we were told was unusual for the area: A series of full-scale fireworks shows. Not on the 4th, you notice, but on the 3rd. These were in small communities (Langley, Freeland, maybe Port Ludlow), that delivered up substantial shows, pre-weekend. The speculation was that they did this so residents and others would be free to watch still other shows on the 4th.

We shall see. But if the shows of the 3rd were solid, we’re looking forward to those of the 4th.

Share on Facebook