Yes, yes, we’re going to talk about the election, but first, believe it or not, we still have two weeks left in Seattle’s budget season. This week, Budget Chair Mosqueda’s proposed balancing package will be presented to the public on Wednesday morning at 9am. There will be no public comment at this meeting, but there will be an entire public hearing later on Wednesday at 5:30pm. Sign ups for public comment start at 3:30pm. I will be live tweeting the morning presentation in case you want to take a peek at what’s in the new proposed budget so you can tailor your comments accordingly.
There will be another budget meeting on Friday starting at 9:30am to discuss the new proposed budget in more detail.
Also of note, the Council received an updated revenue forecast for Seattle, and it wasn’t a great one: the expected revenue dropped $20m from the last forecast. The Council will need to make up this difference in their balanced budget.
You can read more about CM Strauss’s proposal to increase funding for the Mobile Crisis Team to respond to mental health calls here. You can read a summary of some of the previous budget meetings here. And here is today’s Twitter thread of the Seattle Council Briefing:
Good morning, and welcome to Seattle’s Council Briefing. Presiding this morning is Council President Pro Tem Dan Strauss. He wishes CM Juarez either a happy early or belated birthday. And now we have the Grand Street Alley Vacation briefing, which I’m not going to tweet.
In Seattle, progressive Teresa Mosqueda was able to hold onto her Council seat, while Bruce Harrell won for Mayor, Sara Nelson won for Council Seat 9, and Ann Davison won for City Attorney. All three represent business interests and beat out their more progressive opponents.
So how is this going to affect police accountability in Seattle and what should we be looking for in upcoming months?
Next year the Mayor will need to appoint a new Chief of Police for SPD. One key decision will be whether to appoint Interim Chief Diaz or look for a candidate outside the department. Whoever is chosen as Chief will have a lot of influence on any potential changes within SPD. The Mayor will also play a large role in bargaining with SPOG, a process that is currently ongoing and that has huge impacts on police accountability. The Mayor is also the chief administrative officer of Seattle, and in the case of Mayor Durkan, we’ve seen how she used this role to act as a road block to certain policy changes and expenditures approved by the Council, while also failing to set a culture of accountability for her office and the offices beneath her.
As pertains to Bruce Harrell, he has spoken in favor of continued sweeps of the homeless, including punishment for those who refuse offers of shelter, and in favor of maintaining or possibly growing the police department. He seems to be a proponent of dashboards and studies. You might remember that he suggested having every SPD officer watch the murder of George Floyd and then sign a pledge. In good news, he supports continued investment in alternate response to crisis calls.
In very simple terms, with Sara Nelson taking a seat, the City Council will now be divided between 3 moderates and 6 progressives. (Obviously there is a lot more nuance involved here, with each council member having their own individual views and representing different district interests.) Most legislation needs to pass by a simple majority, meaning in some ways there won’t be much of a change. If CM Sawant loses her recall election next month, the Council would appoint someone to fill her seat.
However, budget legislation requires a ¾ majority, which the more progressive members no longer have. (Remember, this won’t apply to the current budget process, but it will come into play next year.) This new balance will affect what budget proposals are feasible. In addition, overturning a Mayor’s veto generally requires a 2/3 vote, meaning only a single more progressive CM would need to waiver to prevent an overturn. Another aspect to watch is the new assignments for committee chairs and Council President.
Ann Davison, who will be our new City Attorney, may cause the biggest change in the status quo. There is concern she will begin prosecuting more low-level misdemeanors and more aggressively criminalize poverty. She must defend the City against lawsuits, which includes lawsuits against the JumpStart tax and other legislation passed by Council, and we don’t know what her skill or interest level will be in defending these cases. The City Attorney also plays a role in the consent decree. It is unclear at this time what legislation and provisos the City Council may adopt before the end of the year to try to mandate a continuation of existing diversion programs within the City Attorney’s office, but we should know more on this front soon.
Meanwhile, Pierce County is not only struggling with their Sheriff Ed Troyer, who is now facing criminal charges, but the highest ranking Black women in the Sheriff Department’s history are now suing the county:
The highest-ranking Black women in Pierce County Sheriff’s Department history are suing the county, alleging decades of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Suit says the “top echelons” of the department “participated in and ignored” the behavior. https://t.co/3GkrIKGKJq
Right before the election, Mayor Durkan issued an emergency order authorizing hiring bonuses for police officers and 911 call dispatchers, with bonuses of up to $25k for experienced lateral hires and $10k for new recruits. These bonuses are both higher and cover more personnel than Mayor Durkan’s similar proposal in her 2022 budget, meaning the Council would need to find additional funding in next year’s budget to cover the difference. CM Sawant has proposed legislation to modify this order to cover hiring bonuses for only 911 call dispatchers and not police officers, and said CP González indicated to her this legislation would come to a vote on Monday, November 22, which is the same meeting at which the CMs will vote on the overall budget.
Meanwhile, Chief Diaz has reservations about the Council’s latest crowd control weapons ordinance as well as to certain of OIG’s recommendations based on their review of the 2020 protests. It looks like the Federal Monitor Dr. Oftelie is now getting drawn into the fray:
This saga continues today with a letter from Chief Diaz to consent decree monitor Dr. Antonio Oftelie doubling down on the chief’s criticisms of the crowd control weapons ordinance. https://t.co/67m5vw7GdE
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to replace the city’s police department with a new Department of Public Safety, an idea that supporters hoped would bring radical change to policing in the city where George Floyd’s death under an officer’s knee brought calls for racial justice.
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.
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.
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.