González

Seattle Council Votes to Give SPD Special Treatment in the Budget

Are you ready to talk more about the budget?

 

Amy Sundberg
Okay, we’re starting part 2 of this budget meeting. Should get into some interesting stuff later this afternoon.
During a multi-hour meeting yesterday that was at turns deeply dull and gut-churningly suspenseful, Seattle council members discussed amendments to the balancing package for Seattle’s 2022 budget.
The Council voted to fund the expansion of the CSOs within SPD, although with slightly less money due to expectations that it will take time to hire more CSOs. There were also three amendments on the table to restore different levels of SPD funding that were in the Mayor’s proposed budget but reduced by the balancing package. Both of CM Pedersen’s amendments in this vein were handily defeated. CM Lewis wished to add back $2.7m in order to use SPD’s estimates of hiring and attrition rather than Central Staff’s. While it is rather neat that Central Staff’s estimates for attrition and hiring equal out, it seems everyone is agreement these estimates tend to be off-base in any case. It also seems likely SPD’s estimate for hiring is on the high side and that their attrition estimate is on the low side (it doesn’t seem to take into account the probable increased attrition due to officers who choose not to get vaccinated for COVID-19, for example). Lewis’s amendment as it stood was narrowly defeated, but it’s possible he’ll walk on a new amendment on Monday that includes a proviso on these funds, which may gain him the extra needed vote.
A source of surprising controversy was CP González’s amendment that would have abrogated unfilled 101 positions from SPD. In what Kevin Schofield characterized as “an inflammatory press release,” Chief Diaz accused the Council of voting to eliminate 101 officers, which is simply not accurate. The amendment would have removed 101 of the 134 open and unfillable officer positions currently in SPD. This doesn’t affect in any way the 125 positions for which SPD is planning to aggressively hire in 2022. In fact, given their hiring pipeline, SPD will be unable to fill any of those funded yet unfilled positions until 2024 at the very earliest. And if they were suddenly able to hire more than anticipated, there would have been 33 funded and unfilled positions maintained, just in case.
Instead, CMs Herbold, Juarez, Lewis, Pedersen and Strauss chose to vote against this amendment. CM Herbold specifically called out her concern that this amendment would send the message that the right number of officers in SPD is 1256. She said this in spite of the fact that the SPD can’t possibly hire enough for that number to be higher within the next few years. Further, there is no general consensus as to what the right number of officers actually is or will be in the future, especially if dragging alternate response programs finally get resourced, stood up, or scaled up. It seems reasonable to expect the number of police officers in any given department will need to be revisited on a regular basis regardless. It’s also worth noting that no other city department is allowed to maintain such a large number of funded but unfillable positions from year to year in the budget.
For a council eager to prove—contrary to Diaz’s claims—that it is not at war with the police department, the optics of González’s amendment seemed too daunting. Instead, the council opted to rubber-stamp SPD’s budgetary sleight-of-hand, ostensibly as a peace offering to the department. SPD will enter 2022 with a larger budget and more positions than it can likely fill. The vote represents a dramatic reversal for a council that, one year ago, expressed its interest in redistributing a portion of police department’s budget to build a more diversified public safety network. The decision also underscored that SPD now has the upper hand in the messaging battle.
You have one more chance to make your voice heard about Seattle budget matters. The Council will have their last budget committee meeting on Monday morning after the usual Council Briefing, and they plan to vote on the final budget balancing package at Monday afternoon’s meeting at 2pm. There will be public comment at the afternoon meeting, and as always, you can also call and/or email your CMs to give them budget feedback.

Crosscut Opinion is no more

Katie Wilson
Well, the cat is out of the bag. @Crosscut Opinion shuts down at the end of this month. Among other things, that means no more writing from yours truly. Needless to say, I have some opinions about this! Hope to share soon. https://t.co/7WojwGTyrZ
The local media landscape has been rocked by the announcement that Crosscut will no longer be running its opinion section, one of the few alternatives to the Seattle Times in the region. Doug Trumm wrote an in-depth analysis of the current state of local media coverage that is worth your time.
This is doubtless not the last time you will see concern over local media, which has been struggling across the country for decades. We know that media plays a crucial role in democracy, both in helping the electorate remain informed on current affairs and in acting as a check to hold government officials and bodies accountable. In a marketplace in which only one large print publication has survived and in which there are no progressive local TV outlets, it is perhaps even easier to see the impact of local media on the framing and content of the civic conversation.

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Seattle Council Votes to Give SPD Special Treatment in the Budget Read More »

SPD Budget Talks Are Back on the Menu

Yes, yes, we all want to talk about the primary results, but first let’s look at some local news that’s getting less coverage, shall we?

What’s up with the SPD’s latest budget request?

We found out more at Tuesday’s Finance and Housing committee meeting. As you may remember, last week an SPD memo outlining how the department would like to use an anticipated $15m in salary savings in 2021 was released. So far, the Mayor has transmitted one piece of legislation that would authorize the spending of some of this salary savings for SPD hiring bonuses ($15k for lateral transfers and $7500 for recruits) and asks the council to remove their provisos so SPD could also spend salary savings on separation fees and other expenses. In order to enact the rest of the spending plan laid out in the memo, other pieces of legislation (that don’t yet exist) would need to be passed as well.
The Council has a choice here. They can choose to do some of this legislative work through the mid-year supplemental budget that they are working on right now in the Finance and Housing committee. They could do it with separate legislation through the Public Safety and Human Services department; there is a plan to transit a bill from the Executive’s Office in late August that would address allowing SPD to accept this year’s grants, which could also act as a vehicle for enacting some of this spending, for example. Or they could do a combination of both.
CM Herbold signaled her desire to pass some elements through the supplemental budget, which is likely to be faster. In particular, she said she’d like to place a down payment on the $2m for the Regional Peacemakers Collaborative, provide funding for the purchase of the protocol system needed by CSCC dispatch system (to be used by Triage One), provide funding to fill existing positions for CSOs and crime prevention coordinators, and make some technology investments. She also is interested in amendments that would provide money for more evidence locker storage, money for public disclosure request handling, and possibly funding for a community-based crisis response program pilot focused on Lake City. Most of these funding requests are the same as those in CM Herbold’s failed bill from earlier this spring. She is also interested in removing two provisos, one related to SPD Harbor Patrol spending and one related to SPD out-of-order layoffs, which the Council now knows aren’t possible to enact.
To reiterate, the SPD is proposing spending only about 10% of the year’s salary savings on community safety reinvestments. Central Staff cautioned the Council more than once that they may need to take a proactive step in telling SPD they cannot use funds for certain things if they disagree with any proposed spending areas. CM Mosqueda brought up the City’s severe shortage of human services personnel and asked whether there had been any comparable proposals brought forth to also provide incentive pay for those positions. The answer, of course, was no.
There will be more policy details discussed at the next Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, which will be next Tuesday, August 10. Then the CMs will dive back into the supplemental budget and proposed amendments at the next Finance and Housing committee meeting on Tuesday, August 17, where they will have a possible committee vote. Because of the summer recess, the supplemental budget will not be voted on by Full Council until Tuesday, September 7. All of these meetings will give opportunity for public comment.

Other Seattle News

Good morning and welcome to Seattle’s Council Briefing! Also… it’s August already? 😮
At Monday’s Council Briefing, CM Strauss complained about the Executive’s Office holding up funding that has been allocated to stand up more homelessness resources. CM Herbold is introducing a bill that will transfer the parking enforcement officers out of SPD into the Community Safety and Communications Center.
The next consent decree status conference is coming up on Tuesday, August 10 in the afternoon. The CPC has won the right to speak at the meeting. Also coming up tomorrow is the hearing with Chief Diaz for the two SPD officers against whom OPA sustained findings for their participation in the DC insurrection on January 6.
People Power WA - Police Accountability
There has been a dangerous and false narrative circulating that the defund the police movement is responsible for an uptick in community violence. This ignores several key facts.
UPDATED THREAD. You’re going to hear a lot about how cops need more resources because “crime is surging” in the next few months. It’s propaganda, and here’s how you can respond:

Primary Results

Turnout was low for this election, not surprising given it’s an odd year primary. Not all the votes have been counted yet, but we have a fairly clear picture of several of the races at this point.
Competing for Seattle mayor will most likely be Bruce Harrell and M. Lorena González. Be on the lookout for sexism that will likely come to play during that campaign. For Seattle City Council Seat 8, CM Mosqueda has a healthy lead over all competitors. For Seattle City Council Seat 9, it looks like a race between Sara Nelson and Nikkita Oliver. And the City Attorney’s race is still in a dead heat between the three candidates; we’ll have to wait until more votes are counted to learn the final results of that one.
In King County, Dow Constantine has a solid lead over challenger Joe Nguyen. For King County Council, it’s possible incumbent Republican Kathy Lambert could be unseated in the General by challenger Sarah Perry, while incumbent Republicans Pete Von Reichbauer and Reagan Dunn held healthy majorities in their races.
Finally, if you need a mood booster, check out these optimistic election predictions over at Crosscut and get some rest before we dig into more campaigning work this fall.

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SPD Budget Talks Are Back on the Menu Read More »