Seattle Budget Season News:
This week the Seattle City Council has been meeting to be briefed upon the Mayor’s proposed 2022 budget. Here is the live tweet thread and slide deck for the general budget overview held on Wednesday morning, as well as the proposed budget in total:
Good morning, and welcome to this season’s first select budget committee meeting! There are budget meetings all day today, tomorrow, and Friday.
And here is the live tweet thread for Thursday afternoon’s briefing on Community Safety and Community Led Investments and the Seattle Police Department.
Good afternoon, and welcome to Seattle’s select budget committer, where we’ll be hearing presentations on community safety and community-led investments and the Seattle Police Department.
We’re beginning to see a few points of contention emerging in regards to the budget. One of them is about alternate emergency response: while SPD and the NICJR report supposedly agreed on 12% of 911 calls that don’t require a response from law enforcement, the only additional emergency response funded in the proposed budget, Triage One, is designed to answer a fraction of those calls. Chris Fisher from SPD says he wishes to do risk assessment for every type of call, including the 28 call types upon which there was agreement. When pressed, he said it might be possible to expedite the process for those 28. Meanwhile, there’s no movement whatsoever on the information provided by NICJR that 49% of calls don’t require law enforcement involvement and an even larger percentage still don’t require law enforcement to lead the response. The Mayor’s office is also pushing for any alternative emergency response to consist of city employees, which is different from the Cahoots and Star models that have been so heavily discussed.
There is also the question of the Community Safety Officers. The proposed budget adds another unit of CSOs, and there is disagreement as to where they should be housed: within SPD itself or within the new CSCC. There are labor issues involved here, as well as resistance from within SPD itself, which doesn’t want to relinquish its control over the CSOs. There was a suggestion of possibly even adding more CSOs, but both where they would be housed and current lack of data as to how much time they save sworn officers make that proposal uncertain.
The SPD presentation didn’t make clear how much salary savings was anticipated in 2022 (when asked, Director Socchi said $18-19m) or where it was all being spent, so that information should be forthcoming. CM Herbold also discovered an unintentional error, with $4m of funding for community safety hubs being overlooked, but Director Noble said they could probably fill that funding gap.
There was also an allusion to the possibility of Ann Davison winning the City Attorney race, with CM Lewis suggesting the Council make a pre-filing diversion program for young adults a permanent fixture of the City Attorney’s Office.
Meanwhile, certain CMs expressed their disappointment in the Mayor’s use of the JumpStart funds:
Mosqueda said “it was disheartening to see the mayor’s proposed budget not only use those funds in ways that do not align 100% with what the JumpStart investment was for, but then to also propose legislation” that essentially allows future mayors to use JumpStart funds however they’d like.
Another issue with this decision appears to be the hope that the one-time federal relief dollars would be additive in terms of investments in affordable housing etc instead of merely hitting the original JumpStart spending goals.
Aside from the regular business of calling, emailing, and meeting with your CMs, the next chance to get involved with the 2022 budget will be the week of October 11. The first public hearing about the 2022 proposed budget will be on Tuesday, October 12 starting at 5:30pm, to be followed by three days of budget meetings on October 13-15, which will also have short public comment periods each day at 9:30am.
WA State Redistricting
The public hearings related to Washington State’s once-a-decade redistricting effort are coming up next week. Opportunity to give public comment on redistricting regarding STATE legislative maps will be on Tuesday, October 5 from 7-10pm, and opportunity to give public comment on redistricting regarding proposed Congressional maps will be on Saturday, October 9 from 10am-1pm. You can read more about what’s at stake during this redistricting process here.
Right now there are four proposed maps drawn by commissioners, two of whom are Democrat (Sims and Walkinshaw) and two of whom are Republican (Fain and Graves). Unfortunately there are some problems with the Republican maps, namely:
- greater deviation in district population
- both split Hispanic/Latino communities in the Yakima Valley
- neither honored the Chehalis Tribe’s request to remain split between the 19th and the 20th
- Fain’s map splits Spokane Valley into 3 LDs in spite of community asking to remain in 1 LD
- Fain’s map in particular further divided many majority-POC cities
- the Democrats’ maps reduced city splits while one Republican map increased these significantly and the other increased these by a small amount
Why are these maps important? Because they will determine the political future of Washington State on both the state and national levels. Please consider providing public testimony or submitting written comments. At least three commissioners must agree on a final plan by November 15, or the decision moves to the state Supreme Court.
Other Seattle News
SPD released a letter today from Chief Diaz to SPD employees, telling them that Monday, October 4 is the last day for them to get their second Pfizer or Moderna shot in order to be fully vaccinated by the vaccine mandate deadline. He says, “At the moment – we have to assume we have hundreds of unvaccinated individuals based on the information submitted.” HUNDREDS.
District 3 of Seattle will be voting on whether to recall CM Sawant during a special election on December 7. The election will cost around $300k of City funds to administer.
In Seattle’s mayoral race, both candidates have raised a large amount of money. One of Harrell’s largest PACs is financed by large real estate interests, while one of González’s largest is financed by labor. The two candidates attended a debate on homelessness sponsored by the Seattle Times on Wednesday, with Bruce Harrell making what can only be characterized as a callous gaffe, saying, “We shouldn’t have to look at the human suffering of other people, and that’s my attitude going in, that I will bring into the mayor’s office: We don’t have to see it, and we’re going to lead with love, and we will make sure that people can enjoy their parks and have a quality of life that they deserve.”