First things first, the big vote of the day: the revised 2020 budget passed today with a vote of 7-1. CM Sawant voted against the bill and CM Juarez wasn’t in attendance.
Resolution 31962 was also passed, stating the Council’s intent to organize a new Department of Public Safety and laying out a road map and timeline of their future actions in this regard. Unfortunately Legistar doesn’t yet have a copy of this resolution available for our perusal, so I’ll take a more in-depth look at it later this week. Another resolution passed affirming the rights of members of the press, legal observers, and medical personnel covering the protests against police brutality.
With these votes the Council chose to take a middle road that is a bit more progressive than that advocated by Mayor Durkan, while disappointing both those advocating for an immediate 50% defund of the SPD and those who want more police. In particular, they ensured community organizations and the community research process have funding to begin their work right away, which is a big win. The Council has clearly stated their intentions to continue the process of defunding and creating a new vision of public safety during the fall budget process and beyond.
How this revised budget will play out remains to be seen, given the previously discussed obstacles of SPOG negotiations and consent decree requirements, as well as Mayor Durkan’s and Chief Best’s resistance. I agree with Council President Gonzalez, who stated that this process will get harder before it gets easier. We will have to watch to see if the Council’s commitment to change wavers in the face of so many obstacles. But this summer budget process was a first step in a positive direction.
Additional amendments on the passed budget bill discussed today:
There was a long conversation about the amendment reducing the salaries of the command staff at the SPD. The amendment that passed reduces Chief Best’s salary to $275k instead of the lowest pay band as the previous amendment passed stated, but maintains the other salary cuts.
CM Sawant’s Amendment 52 version 3, the one prohibiting SPD from spending money supporting the prosecution of protesters in the George Floyd protests, didn’t receive a second to be voted upon so it’s now dead.
Amendment 56 pertains to CM Strauss’s reporting provisos, which Central Staff determined didn’t work as passed, so this is an alternate bill trying to get those reports. CM Pedersen added 56a, which asks for an additional report on how budget reductions will impact police deployment and response times. CP Gonzalez stated concern about how this amendment is worded as a leading question and that its resulting reports might become politicized, but it did pass 5/0 with Strauss, Gonzalez, and Sawant abstaining.
Amendment 57, creating two new civilian positions in the 911 call center to replace the two remaining sworn officers working there, passed 5/1 with two abstentions.
Amendment 58 imposes a proviso for funding on community service officers to make sure this funding is retained this year. It passed 8/0.
Amendments 59 and 60 were walked on in full council, provisos to HSD regarding the $4m and $10m marked for community investment, in response to some legal issues with the original amendments. They passed unanimously 8/0.
Other News of Note:
The August update of the budget forecast was released today, and it is worse than anticipated. Seattle’s economic recovery is no longer predicted to follow a fast V-shape, and Seattle’s revenues for 2020 will fall short an additional $26m. Recovery is not nw expected until 2023 and 2024.
The judge signed an updated injunction in the case brought against the City of Seattle by the ACLU/BLM-King County. The evidentiary hearing that was scheduled to take place later this month has been canceled as a result. This new injunction states the following:
- SPD can’t use chemical irritants or projectiles to re-route a protest unless necessary to prevent an imminent act of harm or as a response to a specific act of violence or property destruction.
- The SPD must provide a warning of usage of these and provide enough time, space, and opportunity for people to leave.
- The SPD may not target journalists, legal observers, or medics.
- The SPD may not indiscriminately deploy chemical agents or projectiles into a crowd.
- Declaring a protest to be a riot or unlawful assembly does not preclude the SPD from following this injunction’s requirements.
SPOG issued a demand to the city of Seattle to bargain today over out of order layoffs based on officer history of complaints.
Further legislation related to the SPD will be voted on this Wednesday afternoon at a special Council meeting, where they will also vote on the vetoed COVID Relief Bill. I’ll be back to discuss the results of this meeting.