Lots of interesting Seattle news to end your week!
First of all, this afternoon the Court ruled that the Jumpstart payroll tax is constitutionally permissible. You can read more about the case here. This is important because whether you care about green transit projects, more affordable housing and shelter for the homeless, making Seattle a more equitable city, etc., it all costs money. Seattle can make more of these investments when it’s able to pursue more progressive revenue options. This particular ruling is likely to be appealed, but it’s an important step forward.
Meanwhile, it looked like City Hall might not be held accountable for the Mayor’s missing texts (not to mention the missing texts of former Chief Best, Chief Scoggins, and several members of SPD command staff). Happily The Seattle Times has decided to sue the city of Seattle,“alleging that the city of Seattle mishandled requests from reporters for officials’ text messages during a tumultuous period last summer when police abandoned the East Precinct and used tear gas on protesters.” Even more damning, “some of The Seattle Times’ requests for the mayor’s texts were submitted before her phone settings were changed to retain messages, meaning they were deleted while the requests were pending.” This should be an interesting case to follow.
In good news, the Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force released their recommendations for how to spend $30m in funding for BIPOC communities. They divided the money into four equal pots: one for small business support, one for education, one for a lease to purchase home owner program and a generational wealth and apprenticeship pipeline program, and one for health issues including money for food access and environmental justice, culturally responsive health care, and workforce development of healthcare providers of color. An implementation plan is currently in the works, and we should see associated legislation transmitted to the Council in late June or early July.
More good news: an RFP has been released in Seattle for the acquisition of land and property to respond to the displacement of BIPOC communities and build community wealth. This is the $30m from the Strategic Investment Fund (funded by the sale of the Mercer Megablock) that activists fought to reinstate in the 2021 city budget. You can find out more information about the RFP process and how to apply at the city website. Mayor Durkan also announced she plans to allocate another $100m to BIPOC communities in her 2022 proposed budget.
Paul Kiefer of Publicola looks at an interesting option regarding Seattle’s consent decree: the city is allowed to propose a revision to the consent decree.
In order to propose a revision to the consent decree, the mayor and the council would need to agree about the goals and details of the change. Some simpler changes, like replacing out-of-date and ineffective technology used to flag officers who are more likely to use excessive force, would only require the city to identify better software; others, like adjusting the consent decree to require a large-scale civilian crisis response program, would require lengthier debates and pilot programs to produce a workable proposal for the court and DOJ.
In the article, CM Herbold goes on the record saying she would support changing the consent decree but would like the CPC and community groups who had originally advocated for the consent decree to be the ones deciding how it should be changed. However, there are limits to how much the consent decree could be changed in this fashion, and meanwhile, we have a Monitor who “believes that he can’t dictate the terms the city agrees to in its next contract with SPOG,” leaving some obstacles to compliance with the decree firmly in place
This year we have several interesting races on the county level here in King County. County Executive Dow Constantine has his first credible challenger for a long time in state Senator Joe Nguyen, who is running to his left. Several of the county council members are also being challenged this year. These council members will have some influence on how the King County Sheriff job changes next year, as well as the ability to provide more support to OLEO, King County’s oversight body. You can check out the most promising bids and the money that has been raised so far in these races.
Hope you have a great weekend!