Equitable Communities Initiative

Lots of Seattle news for your Friday evening

In Seattle

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

Election News

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!

Recent Headlines

Lots of Seattle news for your Friday evening Read More »

Police Reform Bills Passed by the WA Legislature this Session

I am back from vacation and wow, do we have a lot to catch up on.

First, I’d like to share an insight from The Stranger reporter Charles Mudede:
There are two ways of dealing with policing at this point in American history. One way is to deeply defund the institution (which is an internal solution), and the other is decriminalization (which is an external solution). The former, to me at least, seems to be, politically speaking, a long shot. However, the latter, which basically gives the police less to do in our world, has serious political potential, as exemplified by the legalization of pot.
And now onto the news!

 

Washington State Legislature News

Where did the end of this year’s session leave us?
To address the Blake decision, the legislature passed bill ESB 5476 re-criminalizing low-level drug possession by making it a misdemeanor and requiring local jurisdictions to provide treatment options for drug users; people who violate the new law are to be directed to “assessment, treatment, or other services” for the first two violations; after the second violation, a violator can be referred for prosecution and, potentially, a fine or jail. The bill has a two-year expiration date, which is potentially good news for those dissatisfied with the re-criminalization of simple drug possession.
Here is a list of police reform bills the legislature passed:
  • HB 1054 regulating police tactics
  • HB 1267 establishing a new Office of Independent Investigations that will investigate all police uses of deadly force in WA
  • HB 1310 setting new standards for police use of force
  • SB 5051 the decertification bill
  • SB 5055 the arbitration bill that collects arbitration data and reforms the process
  • SB 5066 the duty to intervene
  • SB 5259 collection of data on police uses of deadly force
Relatedly, a bill banning open carry of firearms at public demonstrations and at the state Capitol passed, as did a bill requiring judges to re-sentence anyone facing life in prison under Washington’s three-strikes law if one of their “strikes” was a second-degree robbery charge.
Bills that didn’t pass included one reforming collective bargaining for law enforcement to not cover accountability; removing qualified immunity to make it easier for police officers to be sued for misconduct; and the recently-introduced bill limiting police traffic stops.

Seattle News

This morning’s Seattle Council Briefing was nice and short.

 

CM Morales announced she was unable to reschedule the Community Economic Development committee meeting, which she had postponed due to the verdict coming in on the Chauvin trial, and that it will therefore meet at its next scheduled time on May 18. As the participatory budgeting process was slated to be discussed at this meeting, this means a further delay in its discussion and eventual implementation. This inability to reschedule may reflect a lack of urgency and prioritization for this project.

 

CM Juarez reported on the status of the Equitable Communities Initiative recommendations for the expenditure of their $30m. They will be putting together a spending plan with the hope of the proviso on those funds being lifted by the Council by July.

 
At last week’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, the committee heard a presentation on “Reimagining Public Safety,” which covered updates on unit transfers and the Seattle University Public Safety Survey among other topics. They also heard a report on Q1 SPD Budget and Staffing, which showed Q1 overtime was down compared to 2019 and 2020 and there were 58 separations of sworn officers during the quarter versus 30 hires during the same period. Salary savings from attrition may reach as high as $13m in 2021. You can also take a look at a slew of SPD exit interviews since last summer.

Election News

 

Seattle’s candidates for the 2021 elections have filed their financial disclosures, leading to several pieces including this one comparing the finances of several mayoral candidates. In the Sawant recall campaign, the judge has set the signature collection deadline for October 19; the recall campaign must collect a little over 10,000 signatures from District 3 residents by this date.
State Senator Joe Nguyen has announced he is running for King County executive, challenging Dow Constantine, who is running for his fourth term in the position. You can read more about it here and here.

Other News of Note

 

Compassion Seattle has a plan for a tent-free city. Does it hold up? | Crosscut

Police Reform Bills Passed by the WA Legislature this Session Read More »