Watching your data?
Confidential data, such as social security numbers and private medical information, remained on the hard drives of computers that the state was preparing to sell as surplus, a Washington State Auditor's Office's report said Wednesday. The audit found confidential information on 109 computer hard drives — 9 percent out of 1,215 inspected over a six-week period. Those badly scrubbed computers belonged to the state's departments of Ecology, Health, Labor and Industries plus Social and Health Services. DSHS, Parks and Transportation, plus the state Senate, did not even have computer-scrubbing procedures in place. Meanwhile, nine departments plus the Senate did not follow the best available practices in scrubbing their computers. The state agencies immediately responded to tackling the shortcomings and cleaning the computers set for sale, the report said. — J.S.
Democrats now have a candidate who may be competitive in a key state Senate in South King County. The new candidate is Shari Song, president of the Washington chapter of the Korean American Coalition and a candidate last year for the King County Council. Publicola sees her candidacy as a sign that Democrats have snapped out of their "nonchalance" about recruiting good candidates and taking back control of the Senate. Republican candidate Mark Miloscia, a proven vote-getter in the Federal Way-based 31st District as a Democratic state representative before switching parties for this campaign, has been running for a month. One big problem for the Democrats' hopes of Senate control: The best they can do here is prevent a loss of a seat; incumbent Democrat Tracey Eide chose not to seek re-election. — J.C.
No more state news councils
The Washington News Council announced late Wednesday that it is shutting down on May 31. The nonprofit organization, which offered a valuable forum for people or groups to complain about their treatment in the media, had been looking for a replacement for retiring President John Hamer. But the announcement said the board of directors had decided to shut down. Hamer called the council's 15 years "a great run." Its complaint process seemed to produce valuable information and an open forum, whether or not you agreed with the results. In recent years, Hamer has promoted a clever campaign urging voluntary adoption of a TAO of Journalism code, promising to be Transparent, Accountable and Open. Although state news councils have sprung up in a number of spots in the United States to encourage media responsibility, sometimes with strong media support, this was the last statewide one. But, as Hamer notes, there are many around the world, even at the national level. — J.C.
Gates Foundation protest
Protesters are asking the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to get out of an investment in the GEO Group, a private company that operates the immigration detention center. Hunger strikers have been protesting conditions there. Local protesters, a national Latino group, Presente.org, and others assembled about 100 protesters at the foundation Thursday to present a petition. A protest spokesperson said members of the group were invited in to talk. William Winters, a participant in the discussion, said the representatives promised to pass the concerns to Gates trustees. "I am pleased that we got their attention," he said. The Foundation press office didn't immediately respond to an email and a phone call seeking comment. Before the protest, a SLOG story zinged the foundation before ending with a note urging disinvestment. Talking to the SLOG reporter, a Gates spokesperson emphasized the small size of the $2.2 million investment in GEO as part of a $36 billion portfolio. — J.C. (Disclosure: Crosscut receives some of its funding from the Gates Foundation.)
Sir Mix-A-Lot mixes with symphony
Benaroya Hall, an institution for classical music, will have new sounds emerging: Famed '90s rap artist, Sir Mix-A-Lot, will perform with the Seattle Symphony. MyNorthwest.com reports that London-based musician Gabriel Prokofiev has written an orchestral arrangement of "Posse on Broadway" — where the Seattle-area artist raps about Seattle. Mix-A-Lot tells MyNorthwest.com, "Never done this before, so it's either going to be really, really horrible, or really great. Not in between." The Seattle Symphony commissioned Prokofiev's piece, which will be performed June 6; the program will also include a new composition inspired by Ray Charles. — H.W.
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