The Latest on Participatory Budgeting
Police Contract Bargaining and Accountability
Carolyn Bick has released the second part of her investigative series on OLEO and the experiences of its former Director Jacobs, the middle section of which will be of particular interest to those of you following the obstructions inherent with including accountability provisions as working conditions at the police contract bargaining table. Similar to what has happened in Seattle with the OPA, OLEO was granted oversight authority that it then had to bargain for, essentially maintaining the appearance of accountability without the power to provide actual accountability. I am going to quote extensively from the relevant section:
Much of the Guild’s alleged initial treatment of Jacobs appears to have stemmed, at least in part, from Jacobs attempting to bargain with the KCPOG for the oversight rights voters had already afforded OLEO in 2015 via ballot measure. Jacobs said that she had to work with Bob Railton, KCOLR’s deputy director and labor negotiator, who Jacobs said constantly made her feel as though she was a troublemaker and a nuisance and who routinely talked down to her in a sexist and demeaning manner.This collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was not finalized and signed until April 2020. Its language has made it retroactive from Jan. 1, 2017, but it will expire in December of this year. It was necessary for OLEO to bargain for the rights voters had already afforded the oversight entity, because state law requires bargaining for anything considered “mandatory,” including wages, hours, and working conditions. OLEO’s oversight duties fall into this category.“The Office of Labor Relations bargainer’s main concern was getting a bargain and not going to arbitration. That did not align with OLEO’s interest of having the voters’ will brought to fruition with the implementation of independent investigations conducted by OLEO,” Jacobs wrote in her email. “There was constant pressure on me to compromise, and some of it was manipulative and, to my mind, unethical.”Topaz said that Jacobs’ recollection of the dynamic at the bargaining table tracks with what he remembers. Topaz worked as a labor negotiator with the KCOLR from 2014–2020 and was briefly assigned to help negotiate the CBA. Topaz said that from his point of view, for the period of time he worked to help bargain the contract, OLEO was little more than “a political thing that the [King] County Council did that they never really gave the support and authority needed to be successful.“They created something, gave it limited resources and limited authority, and then expected it to produce something that I am assuming would have given them cover for people to complain about,” Topaz said.“I don’t think [the Council] really backed [Jacobs] up very well to get done what she needed to,” Topaz continued. “Honestly, I think they have more or less set up anybody who would be in that role [of OLEO director] for failure.”
Other News of Note
The MLK Labor Council held a Seattle mayoral forum last night, ushering us into election debate season, and it seems like there were at least a few illuminating (and entertaining) moments, including a rapid-fire Yes/No round in which Bruce Harrell felt the need to quibble with the definition of “sweeps”.
Live tweeting here @MLKLabor mayoral forum starting now. It’s also on Facebook live. But that won’t have my color commentary so I recommend you stay here
In the end CP González won the labor group’s endorsement.
Meanwhile, Crosscut reported on the SPD’s court-mandated (because of the consent decree) early intervention system, designed to predict bad behavior among police officers. “Despite near-universal acknowledgment of its failings, the system remains, largely because a federal judge has not given the green light to ditch it.”
A new system is currently under development, one that focuses on recognizing and addressing past trauma in an attempt to prevent future misconduct rooted in that trauma, which sounds interesting. However, because of the consent decree mandate for the prior ineffective system, both systems will have to run concurrently, meaning both will need to be funded and money will be wasted.
Thank you for your continued support, and I hope you enjoy the end of the week!