August 2022

A Road Map for the Fall

Seattle News

Hannah Krieg
Today the council will vote on hiring bonuses for cops. An organizer, TK, from Every Day March called into public comment to accuse the council of lying to Black organizers about their commitment to police accountability and reform during the summer of 2020.

Yesterday the Seattle City Council voted to pass the SPD hiring incentive legislation 6 to 3, with CMs Morales, Mosqueda, and Sawant voting against it. You can see CM Morales’s remarks about why she didn’t support this bill here:

Councilmember Tammy J. Morales
We have a LOT of challenges in this city that cannot be solved with a badge and a gun: inadequate housing options, homelessness, limited behavioral health services.

That’s why I voted no on hiring incentives for SPD yesterday. It passed @SeattleCouncil 6-3. Remarks below:

1/10 https://t.co/AtkCR6oq5f

I-135, Seattle’s social housing initiative, has turned in more signatures and is now aiming to be on the ballot in February 2023, pending signature verification.
The Seattle Times reported that in Q2, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office filed 1,708 cases, an increase of 124% from the same quarter last year.
At Wednesday’s Finance and Housing committee meeting, CMs received the city’s revenue update, and it’s not looking great for 2023 and 2024. The August forecast for 2022 comes in at $1,745,610,000. whereas the August forecast for 2023 is $1,519,120,000 and the August forecast for 2024 is $1,557,310,000. It’s worth noting those forecasts for 2023 and 2024 are the baseline forecasts, not the pessimistic ones.
Erica C. Barnett
Seattle Councilmember @CMTMosqueda has proposed using some JumpStart payroll tax revenues to once again pay for general-fund services in light of the city’s ongoing budget shortfall; funding would come from excess/higher-than-anticipated JS revenues. /1

CM Mosqueda has proposed using some of the JumpStart tax revenues to continue paying for general fund services in 2023 and 2024 to help fill the revenue vs. expenditure gap. The Mayor is also pulling together a progressive revenue task force to look for potential new sources of revenue for the city (think more in the 2025 range for when this could kick in). This news sets the stage for the upcoming budget season.

Looking forward….

The City of Seattle goes on its two week summer break starting on Monday, August 22. Unless something mind-blowing happens during that time, I’m not planning another edition of the newsletter until after Labor Day. But fear not, Budget Season will be upon us before we know it.
Upcoming Dates of Note:
9/13 9:30am: Seattle Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, where there will be a Q&A with OPA Director nominee Gino Betts
9/20 2pm: potential final Council confirmation vote of Gino Betts as OPA Director
9/25 11am: People Power Washington’s General Meeting; come if you want to hear me talk about budgets (and honestly, who doesn’t want to hear that?)
9/27: Mayor Harrell transmits Seattle’s proposed 2023 budget; Executive Constantine transmits King County’s proposed 2023-2024 budget
10/21: Ballots for the General Election are mailed out to WA voters
11/8: Election Day!
11/22: potential final Council vote for Seattle’s 2023 budget

Recent Headlines

WA state delays watchdog reports on prisons, concerning advocates | Crosscut

TV News Is Ignoring the Eviction Crisis - by Adam Johnson

Local Leaders Announce New Coalition to Address Behavioral Health Crisis - The Stranger

A New Agency Seeks to Hold Washington’s Killer Cops Accountable - The Stranger

A Road Map for the Fall Read More »

People Still Don’t Want to Work for SPD

Seattle Public Safety Committee Meeting

Amy Sundberg
Good morning and welcome to Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting. Four are present (CM Mosqueda absent).
Yesterday morning Seattle had its last Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting before the summer break. The Mayor’s proposed new Director of the OPA, Gino Betts, was present for a drive-by introduction, and he will be back before the committee for a Q&A and committee vote on his appointment on September 13, which would potentially tee up the Full Council vote on his appointment for September 20, conveniently right before the madness of budget season is upon us. You can read his appointment packet here.
But the real interest of yesterday’s meeting was Greg Doss’s quarterly update on SPD’s staffing, finances, and call response times. Surprising nobody who has been paying attention, there have been 109 separations of sworn officers from SPD in the first six months of 2022, at odds with SPD’s previous projection that there would be 94 separations for the ENTIRE YEAR. Yes, you read that right. There have been 30 hires so far in the first six months of 2022, which doesn’t exactly put SPD on track for reaching their hiring projection of 125 for the year either.
These numbers mean there will be significantly more salary savings for 2022 than anticipated. However, SPD thinks they will burn through all this extra salary savings and might need even more money by the end of the year, primarily because of overtime spending, although also because of the costs of the hiring incentives bill the committee discussed at this meeting.
In a particular feisty moment, CM Lewis agreed that we don’t have the capacity to stand up alternative responses in the next few months because we should have taken the actions other cities took two years ago, a fairly safe political shot at now departed Mayor Durkan. The Council’s continued frustration at the lack of alternatives is palpable, although CM Herbold reported the joint workgroup on the subject between the Mayor’s Office and Central Staff has finally begun, and it sounds like the Mayor’s Office may be softening towards the idea of trying one or more alternative response pilots, an idea that has been memorialized in the latest consent decree filing.
As for the hiring incentives legislation being discussed, it was more of the same as has already been discussed this year, offering hiring bonuses for new recruits and lateral hires as well as providing money for more HR staff/support for SPD, more marketing, and the police chief search. It’s just now a slightly higher amount than previously discussed. One cannot help remembering CM Nelson’s comments earlier this year that it didn’t matter what the money was spent on as long as they did something, and this bill definitely feels more like a performative “Look! We’re doing something!” than a tangible, data-backed plan to actually improve public safety in Seattle. Indeed, rumors have been circulating that hiring bonuses or no, it could easily take ten years to return to pre-pandemic SPD staffing levels, meaning alternative plans are going to be needed to address public safety regardless of where on the defund spectrum any particular elected official may fall.
The legislation passed 4-1 with CM Mosqueda casting the only nay vote. In order to display “urgency,” the legislation will probably be voted on next week at Full Council on August 16 even though it would normally be delayed due to the split vote (otherwise the vote wouldn’t be until September because of the Summer Recess). You can read another account of the meeting here.

Other Seattle News

CE Bick
Tonight’s @SeaCPC Community Engagement Meeting in which incoming @SeattleOPA Dir. Gino Betts starts in a few minutes. I’ll be live-tweeting the meeting on this thread. 🧵
Last night the CPC held a “community conversation” with proposed Director of the OPA Gino Betts, which you can read about in more detail in the Twitter thread above. Why did I put community conversation in quotations? Because partway through the meeting, Felicia Cross, the Community Outreach Manager at the CPC, said the purpose of the meeting was actually to welcome Mr. Betts to Seattle as opposed to giving community a chance to ask him substantive questions, an assertion that showed a lack of respect for all the community members who took time from their busy schedules for what had been advertised as a conversation. To give a bit of flavor, earlier in the meeting, a retired SPD officer appeared to suggest the public needs to participate in training so as to avoid being harmed or killed by the police, and an impacted family member of someone killed by SPD was told the only way to get things done (read: possibly slightly improve things) was to agree to sit down with Betts at a later date, even though they had already clearly articulated the actions they wished to see. All in all, not the most successful meeting.
The contract for Seattle’s participatory budgeting project was finally signed last week, with a community vote on potential proposals projected for March-April of 2023.
There are two more community conversations about the new SPD police chief scheduled for this week:
Will Casey at The Stranger wrote an analysis of the Seattle City Attorney Office’s High Utilizer Initiative (HUI), finding more than half of the prolific offenders targeted by this program have a history of mental illness that means they are ineligible for misdemeanor prosecution. The initiative also replicates the criminal legal system’s racial disparities. Oops. Casey suggests a potential alternate course of action for the City Attorney’s Office:
On a systemic level, the City Attorney’s Office could use its influence within Seattle’s public safety debate to make the case that the city, the state, and the federal government needs to spend more money to build more supportive housing and to expand behavioral health services now.
Those investments would take time to change the daily conditions on Seattle’s streets, but they would also make clear for the public that the people who should be “held accountable” for our public safety crisis are the politicians at every level of government who have repeatedly defunded our social safety net since the Reagan administration.
Last week the Seattle Redistricting Commission did indeed agree on a final proposed map, which follows the proposal given by the Redistricting Justice for Washington coalition fairly closely. You can read more analysis on the new proposed map here and here. There will be two more public forums coming up to give feedback on the map.
Finally, Carolyn Bick published a retrospective of the last year of their work on problems with Seattle’s police accountability system, which is a great review and resource.

Recent Headlines

Recent criminal justice news and commentary 8.8.22

CE Bick
INBOX: From @kcexec Dow Constantine’s office, a media statement regarding a person who died in custody. This statement says that the person’s death was announced this week and that King County jail staff are investigating this death — which, again, occurred under KC jail’s watch. https://t.co/Mc252xfdSi
Mistaken detention of Black Seattle driver prompts lawsuit | The Seattle Times

People Still Don’t Want to Work for SPD Read More »

Seattle’s Accountability Bodies Continue to Struggle; also, MAPS!

Seattle News

Amy Sundberg
Welcome to this morning’s Seattle Public Safety committee meeting. I’ll be tweeting some highlights as it goes. First is a violence prevention presentation from King County Public Health.
At last week’s Seattle Public Safety committee meeting, there was a presentation on violence prevention from King County Public Health as well as presentations on the mid-year reports from Seattle’s three police oversight bodies: the Community Police Commission (CPC), the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). You can find links to the CPC, OPA, and OIG reports here. The OIG announced they will be changing how they deal with reviewing “contact logs,” an issue recently reported on by Carolyn Bick.
While the accountability reports were all relatively upbeat in tone, it is impossible to ignore that at least two of the three agencies are struggling due to staff shortages. The CPC has had trouble getting quorum for their meetings in recent months, while the OPA is moving to using abbreviated DCMs for unsustained cases for the months of June through October of this year because they are so understaffed. The new proposed Director of the OPA, Gino Betts, will appear before the Public Safety committee next week on August 9th.
In related news, Real Change and The South Seattle Emerald published an editorial calling for heightened police accountability and transparency in Seattle. Following up in Real Change, Guy Oron wrote more about the poor publicity surrounding the OPA Director public forum in June and how it appears that lack of publicity was intentional. Full disclosure, my own tweets and the statement of People Power Washington, of which I am the Co-Chair of the Seattle committee, appear in this article. Meanwhile, Carolyn Bick tweeted about the OIG auditor investigation report (if you recall, this was regarding the auditor who appeared to be certifying OPA reports without actually looking at the related documentation). In the above linked thread, they break down the report and discuss its many findings, showing that all three accountability agencies appear to be struggling.
The Seattle Redistricting Map retreat is taking place today from 5-9pm, after the commissioners all recently released proposed maps. If they can agree on a map today, then the first public forum feedback meeting will be held on August 9 from 12-2pm (Zoom link here), to be followed by two additional public forums TBA. The Seattle district maps only get redrawn once a decade so this is an important opportunity to weigh in to prioritize people and communities, especially traditionally underrepresented communities. One way you can get involved is by supporting the Redistricting Justice For Washington Coalition and their vision for what they’d like to see in the new Seattle map. Individuals can sign onto their petition here and you can also send an email in support of the coalition’s map to the commissioners by using this template. The final map will be approved and filed in November.
Finally, in a divided decision, the Washington State Public Employee Relations Commission reversed a decision that allowed the University of Washington to have unarmed responders patrol their dorms instead of armed campus police. This means armed campus police will be returning to the dorms. This decision also has troubling implications for the struggle to divert from police armed response to civilian unarmed response elsewhere, including in the City of Seattle.

Washington State News

Today is primary day! As the results roll in tonight and in following days, expect to be inundated with analysis and November election predictions.
Kevin Schofield wrote about the Crime in Washington 2021 Annual Report in The South Seattle Emerald and gives some good examples of how data can be manipulated with misleading graphics and can be subjected to weak analysis. One interesting fact he gleaned from the report:
The statewide aggregate arrest data shows clear, ongoing racial disparities. Less so for white people: Statewide, about 78% of the population is white, and in most categories of arrests, the percentage of white people is near that figure (excepting extortion, bribery, and liquor law violations). But for Black persons, only 4.3% of the state population, the disparity continues to be large: 33% of arrests for robbery; 22.5% of prostitution arrests; 21% of aggravated assaults; 20.9% of arrests for intimidation; and 15.9% of weapons law violations.

Recent Headlines

Seattle mayor orders plan for stalled sexual assault investigations as advocates demand deadline | The Seattle Times

Seattle Turns Cops Into Abortion Protectors - The Stranger

Seattle’s Accountability Bodies Continue to Struggle; also, MAPS! Read More »