End-of-year wrap-up and looking around the bend

I’ve been winding down a bit for the holidays, but let’s do a round-up of the week, shall we?

On Monday, we had the last Seattle Council Briefing and City Council meeting of the year. The next ones won’t be until after the Winter Recess on January 4.

The Black Brilliance Project presented on their preliminary research. Their full report will be completed on December 21, aka Monday. So far they have five main areas they feel need more investment:

  1. Housing and physical spaces, especially Black-led, both residential and commercial
  2. Mental health networks that are culturally responsive and have a new and equitable payment structure
  3. Childcare and out-of-school time supports, especially for children facing/recovering from trauma
  4. Economic development/economic relief, especially because of the pandemic
  5. Alternatives to the 911 and crisis response system, staffed by community members

The goal is for this research to ultimately inform the participatory budgeting process happening next year, and some more details about that (and the associated steering committee) should be included in the report on the 21st.

Also on Monday, the Council voted to accept all the grants received, including the one from the Department of Homeland Security, after being assured by Director Noble that the money won’t be spent until any outstanding questions are answered. They also voted to approve the extra spending of the SPD in 2020, with the intention of cutting the SPD’s overtime budget by $5.4m in 2021 to make up the difference.

The Office for Civil Rights just announced the recipients of $1m worth of grants for investments in public safety, which are going to the Collective Power and Capacity Building Coalition (which includes Choose 180, Community Passageways, Collective Justice, and Creative Justice) and the Seattle branch of BUILD.

There was a minor kerfluffle this week when the CPC asked the SPD some substantive questions about their recent changes to their use-of-force and crowd-control policies, only to have SPD Assistant Chief Leslie Cordner back out of attending their meeting at the last moment, saying she couldn’t discuss the policies in depth with the CPC until after the OPA and OIG review them in January. Not exactly a move to inspire confidence or community trust. You can read more about the policy changes at SCC Insight, which the CPC feels have little overlap with the recommendations they made in August.

Looking ahead, the legislation we talked about last week to give the OPA and OIG subpoena powers has been voted out of committee and is slated to be on the introduction and referral calendar on January 4, which means a vote of full Council as early as January 11. There will probably also be continued discussion about creating a needs-based legal defense, with potential legislation on this possibly being introduced in the Public Safety and Human Resources committee. We can expect further developments in the participatory budgeting process and its associated steering committee, as well as hopefully some more transparency from the Mayor’s task force that will also be distributing funds in 2021.

Meanwhile, the Washington State legislative session will begin on January 11 and run for about nine weeks until mid-March. Police reform is one of the three top priorities of the session, and we can expect to see many bills introduced on the topic, so there will be a lot more to discuss in this vein come January. The SPOG contract negotiations here in Seattle are due to begin in the New Year as well, and while the details of those negotiations are private, the final outcome will have huge implications for public safety in Seattle for potentially years to come.

And we can expect the Mayor’s race to begin to heat up. The primary isn’t until August of next year, but with the incumbent not running for re-election, the field is wide open and we could see a large range of candidates declaring their intentions to run.

And with that, I’ll wish you a very happy weekend! If anything critical happens in the next few weeks I might send out a quick update, but I expect/hope things will be on the quiet side until we cross over into 2021. Please have a safe and happy holiday season and New Year, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your engagement and support.