Weekly Reader

Friday, September 27, 2019

Economic Development
US Contractors remain optimistic on the economy according to a recent survey and say the commercial construction sector remains strong. The finding shows that contractors are optimistic about revenues, profits and continued robust workloads despite persistent challenges in finding skilled labor. Click here for the story.

Monthly Unemployment rates released. Washington’s economy gained 2,300 jobs in August, unemployment rate at 4.6%. The U-6 unemployment rate for the 4-quarters ending Q2 of 2019 was 7.8%. Click here for more information. Wahkiakum – 1,303 employed with 6.3% unemployment – Cowlitz – 44,021 employed with 6.8 % unemployed.

Transportation
Here is an interested editorial piece about ethics in the transportation sector. How do ethics come into play on the design of road construction for all users? According to Bill Schultheiss, P.E. “planners and designers are constantly making trade-offs based on space, funding, politics, data, existing conditions…and values. In almost every one of those decisions, there is an ethical issue that is just as important as a technical one – and yet we rarely ask ourselves about the former. Vision Zero policies and programs are really bringing this home to more and more practitioners – because, with a policy goal of zero deaths and serious injuries, each decision is literally a matter of life and death”. Click here for the full piece.

The CWCOG Board of Directors and the Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO) Board have independently approved the 2020 Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP). The RTIP identifies and prioritizes federally funded transportation projects to be included in the state Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The RTIP includes projects in the Longview/Kelso/Rainier Metropolitan Planning Area (MPO) and Cowlitz County and is approved by the CWCOG Board of Directors as well as the projects in the other four counties included in the RTPO as approved by the RTPO Board. Click here for access to the interactive map that includes all of the projects in the RTIP.

Community Development / Other
Commerce is seeking written comments to help develop rules implementing Washington’s clean electricity law, the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA). Comment deadlines and subjects are listed below. All comments should be submitted by email to CETA@commerce.wa.gov. Click here for more information.

Here is an article on the challenges of housing costs in rural America.

Here is an article regarding the dramatic increase in non-teaching staff in public schools. A few thoughts from the article follow – “what explains the huge increase in non-teaching staff? Several things come to mind…The increase in special education students is a good place to start. How about red tape?… Someone must do the reporting which enables accountability. But there’s another reason that shouldn’t be overlooked: behavior in the schools.”

The 2020 Census will use a powerful new privacy protection system known as “differential privacy,” designed specifically for the digital age. The Census Bureau is transitioning to this new, state-of-the-art privacy protection system to keep pace with emerging threats in today’s digital world. In this new video, the Census Bureau teamed up with MinutePhysics to explain how the 2020 Census will use this system to protect privacy. Click here for the video. It is about 12 minutes but I found it very interesting.

The attached document titled Ecology Testimony was forwarded to me and I thought it might be of interest. It is the testimony of Maia Bellon, Director, Washington State Department of Ecology regarding the Clean Water Act changes proposed by the administration. On page 3 of the document she includes narrative on the Millennium Bulk Terminal Project.

Up-coming events and activities

  • Wahkiakum County Regional Information Forum, Tuesday October 8, 8:00 am
  • CWCOG Medical Rate Stabilization / Kaiser Plan Performance Review, Thursday, October 10, 3 pm, let me know if you have interest in this event
  • Oregon Metropolitan Planning Organization Council, Grants Pass Oregon
  • Washington Cities Insurance Authority, Membership Meeting, October 18, 8:30 am

Bonus thought for this week:
“Optimists win in the long-run because their miscalculation of how long it will take or how likely it is to succeed motivates them to give it a try.
If you knew how hard it would be and how long it would take in the beginning then you might not try in the first place.
You can’t guarantee success, but you can guarantee failure: never try.”

James Clear, JamesClear.com