A Time of Big Change for Seattle
As always, there’s a lot going on! Let’s dive right in.
Aligning with the conventional wisdom that more progressive votes tend to be in the later vote counts, the progressives on the ballot have benefited from a boost in numbers as we get closer to a complete ballot count. And in big news, Seattle City Attorney incumbent Pete Holmes conceded.
The numbers as of yesterday morning:
Seattle CC Position 8: CM Mosqueda has 59.39% of the vote.
Seattle CC Position 9: Nikkita Oliver has 40.16% and Sara Nelson has 39.5% of the vote.
Seattle City Attorney: Nicole Thomas-Kennedy has 36.35% and Ann Davison has 32.72% of the vote.
Seattle Mayor: Bruce Harrell has 34.05% and M. Lorena González has 32.1% of the vote.
King County Executive: Dow Constantine has 51.92% and Joe Nguyen has 32.53% of the vote.
Ballot Drop Update: Abolitionist Nikkita Oliver Now Leads Citywide City Council Race – Slog – The Stranger
King County Elections dropped about 60,000 ballots today, including about 30,000 from Seattle, leaving only a small number of votes left to count. The latest tally continues the leftward trend in last-minute returns, and should finally put to bed the perennial bullshit about a conservative backlash, at least with this primary. Let’s take a look:…
At this week’s Seattle Council Briefing, CM Morales said the Office of Civil Rights has created a new Community Investments division from which to run participatory budgeting. They now have a PB page on their website and they’ve posted to hire three new staff members for this division. CM Morales hopes the City begins doing participatory budgeting as a matter of course as a normal part of their budgeting season.
Also remember that next Tuesday, August 17 at 9:30am, the Finance and Housing committee will meet to vote on the supplemental budget, which will include some amendments related to SPD’s budget. There will be time at the beginning of the meeting to give public comment. I’ll write more about these amendments once they become available.
This week’s Public Safety committee meeting was a long one! The CMs voted legislation out of committee that will move the parking enforcement officers out of SPD and into SDOT. You may remember there was an open question as to whether they would be moved to SDOT or the new CSCC. The rank and file PEOs wanted to be moved to the CSCC, while the supervisors and the Mayor wanted them to be moved to SDOT. Apparently the supervisors and Mayor won this argument. This will receive a final vote by the Full Council next week.
HSD then gave a presentation on the recent RFP process for allocating the $12m in community safety capacity building. You can see the presentation here. CM Morales pointed out this is only one time funding and said she’s interested in working on developing more sustainable programming in this vein.
Finally the Q2 SPD Budgeting and Staffing report was given by Central Staff and two members of SPD. CM Herbold pressed SPD more than once on why they are spending money in areas the Council hasn’t yet authorized. SPD presented their budget proposal for spending the $15.3m in estimated salary savings for the year. Some of this proposal will probably show up in the previously mentioned supplemental budget amendments being discussed next week. One area of disagreement was about the CSOs; CMs seem interested in the idea of moving the CSOs from SPD into the CSCC, while SPD wants to retain the CSOs and credits the success of the unit to their relationship with the sworn officers.
SPD anticipates another 60 separations by the end of the year, meaning there would be 160 separations total in 2021. There are also 108 officers who aren’t currently deployable. They spent some time discussing the morale issue at SPD, with several CMs thanking the police officers who have stayed for their service. CP González asked some pointed questions about specific retention strategies currently being discussed, and expressed that the lack of SPD’s ability to retain their officers is a management problem and something the Executive’s office hasn’t spent enough time addressing. You can read more about her exchange with SPD’s Dr. Fisher here.
It also came out that the new automated time keeping system, originally meant to be rolled out in Q2, was placed “on hold” after Seattle IT determined it hadn’t been sufficiently tested. They are scheduled to have a kick-off “soon” to determine where they left off and establish a new timeline, which begs the question why they put it on hold in the first place instead of continuing to move forward. This new technology is not scoped for tracking off-duty work, although it could theoretically do so, something CM Herbold indicated interest in.
Other Seattle News
In yet another blow to the integrity of Seattle’s police accountability system, an OIG auditor resigned as investigations supervisor, making a formal ethics complaint to the City alleging that the OIG is failing to provide independent oversight of the OPA, as well as having a pattern of concealing the truth and avoiding public disclosure request requirements. The letter also references a personal relationship between Deputy IG Amy Tsai at the OIG and OPA Director Myerberg as the source for the OIG’s reluctance to push back against the OPA . This story was broken by Carolyn Bick in the South Seattle Emerald and is well worth the read. At this week’s Council Briefing, CM Herbold said she was going to consult with the Ethics and Elections Commission and Seattle HR as to how to review these concerns.
As Kevin Schofield writes, at yesterday’s consent decree hearing, Judge Robart “wasted little time in eviscerating” the CPC’s attorney Edgar Sargent, turning down the CPC’s request to have the Police Monitor become more involved in the SPOG contract negotiations and OPA investigations. Robart also “noted the big changes underway: elections for Mayor, City Attorney (“candidates from left and right”), City Council; collective bargaining underway; a police department budget “threatened with abolition and different levels of cuts”; and a Mayor who doesn’t want to tie the hands of the next mayor and thus is postponing significant decisions — including hiring a new permanent police chief.” It is a big time of change for Seattle, and November’s election will play a prominent role in deciding how things proceed.
Pete Holmes reported that SPMA negotiations are quite far along, with the parties in mediation over some issues, and that for SPOG negotiations, the Labor Relations Policy Committee is close to finalizing the bargaining parameters. It’s worth noting that even if the parameters are finalized soon, most of the SPOG negotiation will be presided over by a different Mayor and City Attorney.
ACLU Washington recently released a blog post analyzing Seattle’s consent decree and concluding that it doesn’t block Seattle from engaging in a divest and reinvest strategy. “An analysis of the original consent decree documents demonstrates there is no explicit prohibition on making significant changes to the SPD budget. The consent decree does not make any part of the budget untouchable nor does it mandate particular staffing or the existence of certain units and there is nothing in the Consent Decree to indicate that the units must be SPD units.” It doesn’t seem Judge Robart is in complete agreement with this; although he supports scaling up Health One and alternate 911 response, he also wants the City to continue to improve SPD, assumedly by investing its dollars into it.
Chief Diaz terminated the two SPD officers who were present at the DC insurrection on January 6. They are allowed to appeal this termination. The other four SPD officers who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally aren’t receiving any discipline.
SPOG is objecting to the new COVID vaccine mandate for city employees, saying the adoption date won’t allow sufficient time to bargain the impacts of it (for example, bargaining for payment for receiving the vaccine, getting paid time off for any vaccine side effects, etc.) SPOG further says this mandate might drive more officers to leave the department.
Meanwhile, in Washington State….
Melissa Santos recently published an investigation in Crosscut finding that at least 22 police officers in Washington state who have landed on the Brady list have still been able to secure employment in law enforcement at other departments. There is some disagreement whether new laws passed this year in the state legislature apply retroactively. The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, which licenses police officers, told Crosscut “it does not plan to go back in time to try to suspend or revoke officers’ certifications for past offenses. Commission spokesperson Megan Saunders wrote in an email that the state attorney general’s office has advised that the new law should not apply retroactively.”