President Obama signs Washington emergency declaration for wildfires

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the State of Washington to supplement state and local response efforts in the area affected by wildfires beginning on July 9, 2014, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Chelan and Okanogan and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

Michael J. Hall has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal response operations in the affected area.

Continue reading President Obama signs Washington emergency declaration for wildfires

“Swift and Certain” punishment model shines in Hoquiam City Jail

The Hoquiam City Jail is doing well, and after being closed for almost 10 years it could become a showcase for the State Department of Corrections. About 2 years ago, their “Swift and Certain” punishment model needed a jail for quick arrests and convictions of parole violators, instead of lengthy jail and court times. “From the street level, anecdotally I can that I think it works. I think it’s holding people accountable in a way that wasn’t working with the duration it took to get probation violators through the court system.” Police Chief Jeff Myers reported to the city council last night, “now they are proposing to extend the contract, which expires this year, out to 2017 and give us a maximum per diam of $85 per day per inmate.”
The city jail was closed for almost 10 years before Myers was able to re-open it part-time in 2012. Later that year partnering with the DOC, he said the contract saves ratepayers. “The citizens of Hoquiam receive a fulltime functioning city jail for about .20 cents on the dollar because of this DOC contract.” For that Myers thanked Hoquiam Senator Jim Hargrove “Senator Hargrove was the main sponsor, he continues to ‘kick’ the DOC when they need to be ‘kicked’ and make sure things move forward, he’s a big proponent of this.” The “Swift and Certain” model received national attention earlier this year when President Barack Obama announced he wants to expand on similar programs.

DEA National Drug Take-Back day collects nearly 16 tons from Pacific Northwest

Americans nationwide showed their support for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day program by dropping off more prescription pills than ever.

After seven previous Take Back Days spread over almost four years, 780,158 pounds (390 tons) of pills were brought to the 6,072 collection sites that DEA and its 4,423 state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners set up on April 26 so the public could discard unwanted, unused and expired prescription drugs from medicine cabinets, bedside tables, and kitchen drawers. When added to that collected at previous DEA-coordinated Take-Back events, 4.1 million pounds (2,123 tons) of prescription medications have been removed from circulation.

Residents of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska turned in 31,738 pounds (15.9 tons) of prescription medications. This number is the second highest for the Pacific Northwest. Washington and Idaho both had record high collections.

Hoquiam police report record turnout for DEA Drug Take Back Day
Hoquiam police report record turnout for DEA Drug Take Back Day

The following are the results broken down by state:

· Washington – 89 collection sites which resulted in 16,677 pounds (8.3 tons) removed
from circulation.

· Idaho – 26 collection sites which resulted in 4,788 (2.4 tons) removed from
circulation.

· Oregon – 43 collection sites which resulted in 7,729 pounds (3.9 tons) removed from
circulation.

· Alaska – 31 collection sites which resulted in 2,544 pounds (1.3 tons) removed from
circulation.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, secure, and environmentally responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and trafficking of medications. This is important because the non-medical use of controlled substance (CS) medications is at an all-time high, with 6.8 million Americans reporting having abused prescription drugs in 2012, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) released in 2013. That same study revealed more than 54 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet.

The DEA’s Take-Back events are a significant piece of the Obama administration’s strategy for preventing prescription drug abuse and trafficking, which also includes education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; enhancing and encouraging the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs in all the states; and increased enforcement to address doctor shopping and pill mills.

Take-Back Days are presently needed because the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as originally written did not provide a way for patients, caregivers, and pet owners to dispose of such CS medications as painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants like ADHD drugs. People were flushing their old meds down the toilet or throwing them in the trash.

DEA launched its first Take-Back event in September 2010, after which the President signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amended the CSA to allow people, including residents of long term care facilities, to regularly, conveniently, and safely dispose of their CS medications by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. DEA is in the process of finalizing regulations to implement the Act, publishing on December 21, 2012, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Disposal of Controlled Substances (available on our website – www.dea.gov) that presented possible disposal options.

Hoquiam native performs for U.S. President Barack Obama in Belgium

Hoquiam native Kim Lively recently performed for President Barack Obama in Belgium. The singer with the SHAPE International Band tells us the White House asked for her by name to sing the Belgian and US national anthems for Obama, King Filip and Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo during a ceremony at the Flanders Field American Cemetery in Waregem to honor US servicemen who gave their lives in Belgium during World War I.

Kim Lively said this morning "It was one of the greatest honors of my life, performing for the President today."
Kim Lively said this morning “It was one of the greatest honors of my life, performing for the President today.”

 

Lively said from Belgium this morning “I’ve been involved with grave site Memorial Day ceremonies here, honoring American veterans buried in Belgian cemeteries.” She said she is often asked to sing in different languages, adding “The U.S. Embassy to Belgium was involved with these ceremonies, and had heard me sing the Belgian national anthem in both Flemish and French (two of Belgium’s official languages). So when it came time to finalize the protocols for this event, my name came up.”

She said today, they asked her to sing the first half of the anthem in Flemish, and the second half in French. adding “It was one of the greatest honors of my life, performing for the President today.”

View the video here: http://www.deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/videozone_ENG/140326_anthems

President Obama Signs Emergency Declaration for Washington State

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the State of Washington to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from flooding and mudslides beginning on March 22, 2014, and continuing.

 

The President’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in Snohomish County.

 

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

 

Michael J. Hall has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal response operations in the affected area.

Senate votes to give Washington residents more affordable health-care choices

OLYMPIA… Calling it a relief to citizens who have found themselves without affordable catastrophic health insurance, Sen. Steve O’Ban today led a majority of the Senate in approving Senate Bill 6464. O’Ban, the west Pierce County Republican who sponsored the measure, said it represents hope for people who have lost their medical insurance due to Obamacare.

“I have received hundreds of e-mails, letters and online messages from those who’ve had their insurance policies canceled. In other cases, people in my district have had their deductibles and premiums double. These are real people who are now having a very difficult time finding insurance to cover their families,” said O’Ban, who represents the 28th Legislative District. “230,000 Washingtonians have had their health-care insurance plans canceled after implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and they’ve been unable to replace them.”

SB 6464 would allow Washington residents to buy catastrophic health-care plans in other states. Additionally, it would require the state insurance commissioner – for a period of one year – to approve plans that do not meet the requirements of Obamacare. Also, health carriers could continue offering certain individual or small-group health plans in the market outside of the health-care exchange, regardless of whether the plans meet the requirements of Obamacare.

O’Ban’s measure would bar the insurance commissioner from prohibiting the continuation of these plans – reversing an action taken to prevent residents from purchasing affordable care from other states (even though President Obama allowed states to obtain exemption waivers) – and allow out-of-state carriers to offer insurance products in Washington.

“People are being forced to choose between health care and paying their mortgage,” O’Ban added. “In our state, if you try to find a replacement catastrophic health-care insurance plan there is only one carrier in each county who offers one. That’s not choice, that’s the elimination of choice. With this bill, if you liked your health insurance, we’ll get it back for you.”

SB 6464 could be considered in the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Quinault Tribe challenges leadership, while leadership challenges U.S. President

QUINAULT, Wash. – The Quinault Indian Nation will vote on a recall of their President, Fawn Sharp and three other members of the tribal Business Committee next week. The tribe’s newspaper the Nugguam, states that “A petition to recall Sharp, along with Vice President Andrew Mail, Treasurer Larry Ralston and Secretary Latosha Underwood was signed by at least fifty (50) qualified voters and filed with the Quinault Business Committee.
Tribal members who have spearheaded the vote cite issues with money, land, and legal management of the nation. The special general council meeting will be held in the Taholah School gymnasium for “Enrolled Quinault Tribal Members Only” on Nov. 16 at 10 a.m. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m.
 
Meanwhile Sharp plans to challenge U.S. President Barack Obama (and his administration) to keep his promises to American Indian Nations at his 5th annual meeting with hundreds of tribal leaders from across the country on November 13 in Washington D.C.. A press release from President Sharp said she will call for an intergovernmental dialogue to back up his often stated commitment to strengthen nation-to-nation relations.

Cantwell to Attend First Senate Hearing on Tsunami Debris Response

Last November, Cantwell secured Senate Commerce Committee passage of an amendment that would identify the debris as a unique threat and require the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to develop an interagency action plan to help prepare our region for this potentially serious problem. On March 7th, Cantwell urged the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to step up programs to analyze the potential danger of tsunami debris. And on March 30th in Seattle, Cantwell and Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) called on President Obama to allocate emergency resources to mobilize National Science Foundation (NSF) research to help track and respond to tsunami debris. Expediting NSF grants would help coastal communities get more specific estimates of what might hit shores – and when.

Who: U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

David Kennedy, Assistant Administrator, National Ocean Service, NOAA

Rear Admiral Carl Thomas, Director of Response Policy, U.S. Coast Guard

When: Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. Eastern

Where: Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253, Washington, D.C.

**Reporters not able to attend the hearing in person may tune in via live webcast on the Senate Commerce Committee’s website. Refresh the Commerce Committee homepage 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time to automatically begin streaming the webcast.

Report Says Washington is in Store For More Rain, Floods, and Fires

Schemkes says it’s impossible to prove that any single event is related to climate change, but the patterns and trends are worth noting. The report says for Washington, a warmer climate brings the possibility of more frequent downpours, more severe heat waves and more acreage burned by wildfires.

The report is being released just as the Obama Administration is set to announce a new set of fuel efficiency standards. Right now, new cars need to reach 35 miles per gallon by 2016. Kristina Dumas, a field assistant with Environment Washington, says it’s time to look beyond that.

“What we’re trying to do right now is urge President Obama to pass new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks that would ensure the average new car can travel 60 miles on a gallon of gas by 2025. This would also save Washingtonians money at the pump and slash our oil consumption.”

Auto industry groups are saying the request for 60-miles-per-gallon vehicles is premature, when they’re still working to meet the current standard in the next five years. The conservation groups contend that the industry already has the technology to do it.

The report is online at www.environmentwashington.org. The climate statistics are from the University of Alabama-Huntsville and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.