crisis center levy

Hunger Games in the King County budget?

It has been a very eventful week in local news, but unfortunately, I have sprained my hand and am unable to type at any length. So until it’s healed, I will be providing a list of links to help keep you informed of the latest developments.

Particular points of interest:

  • King County is facing a budget shortage that could result in cutting many crucial upstream programs including gun violence prevention, public health drug prevention and treatment programs, adult and juvenile jail diversion programs, youth programming and job training, public health disease tracking and prevention, and more. Part of this budget gap could be alleviated if the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services levy, which will be on the ballot in August, is increased from $0.10 per $1,000 of property value to $0.12. The King County Council is scheduled to vote on what level to include in the final ballot measure early next week.
  • The Washington State legislative session is over, and the legislature failed to pass a new drug law dealing with the Blake decision. The stop gap law expires in July, and there is talk of a special session happening before then to try to come to some kind of compromise. In the meantime, Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison, along with Seattle CMs Nelson and Pederson, have suggested a new drug law for Seattle, but CM Herbold has said she wants to wait to see what might come from a special session first.
  • This week the Urbanist published an article exposing yet more lies that were told around the abandonment of the East Precinct in the summer of 2020.

Resources & Commentary:

Our Full Polling Results on Community Safety Departments

Bail Reform: What to Know and Where to Go for More

“Real public safety problems”

Chicago Victory

The Law Won’t Save Us

Seattle:

“Please Stop on the Teams Chat”: New Records Expose Mayor Durkan’s Role and Others in Abandonment of East Precinct

Proposal to Make Public Drug Use a Misdemeanor Unlikely to Have Much Visible Impact

New public drug use, possession legislation proposed in Seattle

Central Staff memo on new legislation amending the crime of Obstructing a Public Officer to include obstruction of Seattle Fire Department (SFD) firefighters and other fire department personnel.

Annual financial disclosures for Seattle elected officials

The Battle for the Seattle City Council, Part 1: The Incumbents

The Battle for Seattle City Council, Part 2: D1 and D3 Free-for-All

The Battle for Seattle City Council, Part 3: D4 and D5 Scramble

Essential Workers Protest Harrell’s “Insulting” 1 Percent Pay Increase Offer

Here’s why the Lavender Rights Project, county officials, and Seattle’s mayor think this Capitol Hill apartment building is the right place to start a new approach to creating supportive housing and putting a real dent in the homelessness crisis

Edmonds Police Arrested Two Senior Seattle Cops for DUI

King County:

King County crisis center measure leads at first vote drop

King County voters approve crisis care centers levy

King County asking for community input on budget cuts after state’s failure to fix county’s broken tax system

Will Voter Approval of Crisis Centers Spur a More Ambitious Vets and Human Services Levy?

WA State Legislature:

Olympia Shatters Plan to Reboot Its War on Drugs

WA Legislature fails to pass new drug law; special session likely

No Clear Path Toward Criminalizing Drugs in Washington

How the implosion of WA’s drug possession law could spell disaster for addiction support services

Washington to invest more in 988 mental health crisis line

The bills that survived Washington’s 2023 legislative session

Washington Legislature unveils $69.2B two-year state budget

Hunger Games in the King County budget? Read More »

The Cycle of Police Violence Continues Unabated

National News

Front of mind is the recent video footage release of the Memphis police killing Tyre Nichols. 

I was particularly struck by something Courtney Milan, writer and lawyer, shared on Twitter:

“We’re threatened with random, stochastic crimes by faceless criminals to justify the senseless violence that is being dealt by officers of the state. It keeps happening, and we keep doing the same thing. It’s not just that we should defund the police and fund social services. It’s that funding social services—things that could house the unhoused, really treat addiction, etc etc—would remove the visible markets that are used to keep us in fear.

So many people have died in pain and the only thing that happened was that the backlash to people saying “we should not do this, let’s stop” meant that police got even more money.”

The cycle of police violence is very apparent, and it will continue unabated until enough people work together to stop it.

I will leave you with a quote from journalist Derecka Purnell in the Guardian:

“I immediately noticed that almost all of the reforms that liberals suggest will save Black lives were present in Tyre’s death. Diversity was not an issue: the five cops who killed him are all Black. The body cameras strapped to their chests did not deter their fists from delivering blow after blow. Memphis has about 2,000 cops, and if this were a “few bad apples” in the department issue, then maybe they all happened to be working on the same shift. Cops did not shoot Tyre; they opted for a less deadlier force: they beat him for three minutes, shocked him and pepper-sprayed him.

In fact, Memphis police department boasts that they have met all of the features of Campaign Zero’s #8CantWait campaign, which includes a requirement for officers to intervene when other officers are using excessive force and a requirement to de-escalate encounters with civilians. The department has been under a consent decree for decades. MPD hired its first Black woman police chief in 2021 and holds Black History Knowledge bowls and basketball programs to “build trust” and relationships with local teenagers.”

Other relevant articles:

Seattle News

The officer who killed Jaahnavi Kundala, a graduate student who was in a crosswalk when hit by his SUV, has been identified as one Kevin Austin Dave. The watchdog group DivestSPD was the first to release this name, which was later corroborated by SPD. There are still many unknowns outstanding about this incident, including how fast Dave was driving and whether he stopped after hitting Kundala.

My colleague at People Power Washington, Dr. Shannon Cheng, appeared on Hacks & Wonks this week to discuss the SPOG contract: why it’s important, bargaining challenges past and present, and what to look for in the next contract.

Carolyn Bick at the South Seattle Emerald has uncovered evidence suggesting former Mayor Durkan and her office were interfering in Seattle’s police accountability process by trying to either delay or prevent the OPA from investigating then-Chief of Police Carmen Best for her role in handling the 2020 protests.

Will Casey, who has been doing an excellent job covering the “Criminal Justice” beat at The Stranger, has unfortunately left the paper. While I look forward to the work of his replacement, whoever that may be, this is another loss for local news coverage in the Puget Sound area. While the importance of media coverage is widely understood, journalists often receive relatively low pay and work long hours, making it difficult to retain them and provide quality local news coverage. Consider this your regular reminder to contribute to local publications the South Seattle Emerald and Publicola if you are able.

Election News

We’ve made it to February, and there’s so much election news!

CM Morales has announced she will be seeking re-election in Seattle’s District 2. She is only the second Seattle CM to decide to run again, and now we’re waiting for CM Strauss to have a complete picture of which seats are open.

In District 1, Maren Costa has announced her candidacy, meaning there are now three declared candidates. District 3 has five announced candidates thus far, and in District 4, in addition to early announcer Matthew Mitnick we now have Kenneth Wilson, who ran against Teresa Mosqueda for a city-wide seat last year, and urbanist Ron Davis, who comes into the race with a slate of endorsements and after publishing several op-eds over the last few months.

Meanwhile, in the King County Council races, Assistant Attorney General Sarah Reyneveld has declared her candidacy for District 4, and there are rumors CM Mosqueda is considering a run for the District 8 spot. If she were to be elected to the King County Council, the two years remaining in her Seattle City Council term would be served by someone appointed by the Council, a body that will be largely reshaped by the elections this November.

The King County Council voted to put the new crisis center levy on the ballot, and residents will vote on this initiative this April (April 25, to be precise). This property tax levy would go into effect in 2024, and over a nine year period it could raise as much as $1.25b to fund the construction of five much-needed walk-in crisis centers that would be open twenty-four hours.

And don’t forget Initiative 135 for social housing! The ballots have been mailed, and the deadline for voting is February 14.

WA State Legislature News

HB 1579 to establish an independent prosecutor had its first hearing in the House on Tuesday, and HB 1513 regarding traffic stops had its first hearing in the House on Monday. HB 1024 regarding minimum wage for prison labor had a hearing in the Appropriations Committee on Monday afternoon. HB 1045, the basic income bill, was referred to Appropriations. SB 5383 regarding jaywalking still hasn’t had its first committee hearing. 

HB 1087 to end solitary confinement has a hearing in the Appropriations Committee tomorrow afternoon. You can sign in PRO here or find a script to email the committee members here.

As for a new bill to address the Blake decision on drug possession, while a bill has been introduced by Senator Dhingra based on the recommendations of SURSAC that would decriminalize most “personal amounts” of drugs, she has said she doesn’t have the votes to pass it. Instead what is likely to pass is a bill re-criminalizing drug possession but encouraging diversion programs.

Recent Headlines

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