The City Council met for the first time after their summer recess.
I hope everyone had a pleasant long weekend! I know I appreciated having a little time off from Seattle City Council meetings, and hopefully we’re now all refreshed and ready to launch into the next few months of important meetings.
To catch us up, Mayor Durkan vetoed three bills relating to the 2020 revised budget on Friday, August 28. The Council has thirty days from that date to respond. The mayor’s particular objections to the legislation in question included all of the money earmarked for community investment in public safety (including $3m for research, $4m for gun violence prevention, and $10m to begin scaling up community orgs); the defunding of the Navigation team; the reduction of 100 police officers by the end of the year; and the decrease in pay for the command staff.
New Police Chief Diaz unveiled a plan to redeploy 100 police officers to patrol by the middle of September. He hopes this change will result in faster response times to 911 calls, better engagement with community, and less overtime expenditure. It’s possible this change could also result in increased retirements from older officers who don’t wish to return to patrol positions, but that has yet to be seen.
This morning the City Council came back from summer recess and held their usual Council Briefing.
Council President Gonzalez said that her office has been in communication with the Mayor’s office over the break trying to find a compromise regarding the revised 2020 budget, but that so far, such a compromise hasn’t been reached. She anticipates that the soonest the Council will take action is on September 21st, which is slightly less than two weeks from now. The last day they can act is September 24th. The Council will need to begin work on the new 2021 budget around the end of September as well.
The big question is what compromise the Council might be able to reach with the Mayor. Most of the CMs seem inclined to make a deal if at all possible. The City Council passes the budget but cannot force the Mayor to make expenditures, so everything will work much more smoothly if everyone is on the same page. It does sound like the investments in community organizations, research, and gun violence prevention are still a priority for at least some CMs, which is reassuring as these investments are important for being able to move forward with moving resources upstream and scaling up key organizations.
There will be a a Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting this Friday at 9:30am. CM Herbold is hoping there will a presentation on the Puget Sound Emergency Alert project. The CPC, OIG, and OPA will also be presenting on their reports about the use of crowd control weapons, about which you can refresh your memories here. CM Herbold also talked about the issues with SPD overtime, which apparently have been a problem for some years. The city auditor made some recommendations on how to fix this problem back in 2016, but there are still several recommendations pending, including a new IT system that Chief Diaz says is now projected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.
The Seattle federal police monitor has resigned, and Dr. Antonio Oftelie has been appointed in his stead. You can read some of his thoughts about public safety and police reform here and here.
As always, thanks for reading!