SPOG

Two Calls to Action and Two Possible Timelines for Upcoming SPOG Negotiations

Happy rainy Thursday! First up, a few opportunities for action.

In WA state: ESSB5226, which would end debt-based license suspension, has a hearing in the House on Monday. Because it needs an amendment to truly end debt-based license suspension, submitting written testimony or testifying live are highly recommended, but you can also sign in to note your support. Sample scripts for comments are available for your use here, but you’ll need to scroll down until you reach the ESSB5226 section on that page.

In Seattle: The Seattle Public Safety and Human Resources committee meets on Tuesday 3/23 at 9:30am to discuss whether they will cut $5.4m from the SPD’s 2021 budget. The Seattle City Council agreed unanimously to cut this money last December (via Resolution 31962) to effectively pay for the SPD’s overspending in 2020 using SPD’s 2021 budget. But now the CMs are wavering on this commitment.

Where would this $5.4m go? The CMs decided last year it would go to participatory budgeting. The reality is, participatory budgeting is expensive, and Seattle’s process could use the extra funds to pay the people serving on its steering committee and various workgroups. These are people who are often not paid a commiserate amount for their time and labor, instead being expected to work for free or a pittance. The goal is to pay them a reasonable fee for their work,while maintaining as much money as possible to allocate to different public safety projects.

You can contact your CMs to encourage them to stand firm on their commitment from last year to hold the SPD accountable for its spending. All the information you’ll need to email, call, or give public comment is available here.


In election news, we have two new mayoral candidates in Seattle.

Bruce Harrell served for many years on the Seattle City Council as well as serving as interim Mayor for less than a week back in 2017. He failed to call for then-Mayor Ed Murray to step down on serial child rape allegations and in fact defended him for months, unlike the majority of his colleagues in public service, which doesn’t exactly build confidence in his ability to lead an entire city.

Jessyn Farrell served in the WA state legislature for four years and previously ran for Mayor in 2017, coming in fourth place in the primary. She seems to have a similar stance on public safety to current Mayor Jenny Durkan and is positioning herself as a kind of outsider.


There have been conflicting reports of when the City of Seattle’s contract negotiations with SPOG are likely to begin. At the CPC meeting yesterday morning, the Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said the next round of bargaining will probably start sometime next year after this year’s elections. He went on to say that sometime in early January we’re going to inaugurate a brand new mayor, and the city will be negotiating a new contract and just starting to set parameters for that new contract.

However, the Mayor’s office does not agree with this assessment. They say that once the LPRC has set the parameters of negotiations, the City will begin bargaining with SPOG, and that they expect this to occur “well before November.”

In practice, this means we have two different possible timelines the SPOG negotiations might take. Holmes’s assessment is based on historical precedent, but there is additional urgency this year that might add pressure to speed up the timeline of the negotiations.


Finally, Washington State is making national news for the progressive decisions coming out of its Supreme Court. This article explains the recent decisions wiping the state’s existing drug possession law off the books entirely and forbidding mandatory sentencing of life without parole to offenders under age 21, both of which have sweeping ramifications to the criminal justice system here in Washington State. It’s worth a read to greater understand how much influence the courts, and specifically judge appointments, wield in which laws are allowed and how they are enforced.

Thank you for reading, and I’m wishing you all a Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day and a Happy Nowruz!

Two Calls to Action and Two Possible Timelines for Upcoming SPOG Negotiations Read More »

Time Sensitive: The state legislature is in session and it’s time to make our voices heard.

There’s a lot of news this time, so thank you in advance for bearing with me. If you’ve been looking for a chance to get more involved, this is the email to read!


First of all, the Washington state legislative session has officially begun and will run through mid-March. You can find out a lot more information about police accountability and criminal justice reform bills being discussed at the People Power Washington website. This website helps you look up your legislators, informs you about the various issues, and will have a daily action you can take to make your voice heard in Olympia during this crucial legislative session. I expect to be referencing it here frequently, and you might want to go ahead and bookmark it for your own reference.

Because this is the state legislative session, you can be a resident of anywhere in the state of Washington to take these actions. You do not need to reside in Seattle specifically, and in fact, it’s important that the legislature hear from voices outside Seattle as well.


This Thursday morning, January 14 at 8am, there will be Committee Hearing where you can support SB5134, a bill that, among other things, removes police accountability for serious misconduct from the collective bargaining process. You can read more about it here. This bill could have a huge positive impact on our ability here in Seattle to obtain an actual functioning police accountability system, as well as provide better accountability throughout the state, so its importance cannot be overstated. I strongly encourage you to consider supporting this bill.

If you would like to lobby on behalf of SB5134, you have three options. (You have these three options for each bill being discussed this session.) If you can, it is best to sign-in to note your position AND submit written testimony or testify live. If you’re short on time, signing in to note your position is incredibly quick.

Sign-in to note position (this is the quickest and easiest option, simply requiring you to register and say you support this bill)

Submit Written Testimony (in addition to expressing your support, you can also provide a written statement about why you support this bill)

Testify Live During Hearing (you can sign up to give live testimony over Zoom about why this bill is important to you)

A script to help you draft written or live testimony will be available on the People Power Washington website as the Daily Action on Wednesday. You’ll need to complete these actions (including signing up for live testimony) by 7am on Thursday.

You might also consider supporting SB5055, also being discussed on Thursday, which is specifically concerned with arbitration reform.


ACLU is having their Lobby Week on January 25-29; you can sign up for it here. The ACLU will be organizing meetings with your lawmakers to discuss your legislative priorities, and you can participate from the comfort of your own home instead of making the trek to Olympia.

In Seattle news, during yesterday’s Council Briefing many of the CMs spoke out condemning the violence in DC last week and calling for Mike Solan, President of SPOG, to resign after he falsely accused BLM of being involved in the insurrection in DC last week. In fact, Mayor Durkan and all CMs except for CM Juarez have called for this. As President of SPOG, Mike Solan would play a large role in negotiating the new police union contract this year, so his removal could potentially have real impact on the outcomes of those negotiations. However, so far he has remained adamant that he will not resign.

CP González also said the office of intergovernmental relations will begin attending council briefings next week to report on the state lobbying agenda so we can expect regular reports on the state legislature session from that source. Because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Council Briefing and full Council meeting will meet on Tuesday next week.

Meanwhile, the CPC released an official statement about both the potential involvement of SPD officers in last week’s violent insurrection in the nation’s capitol and Mike Solan’s comments on those events:

As you can see, the CPC is taking action in regard to these matters to the full extent of its abilities. I strongly encourage you to attend the next CPC meeting at 9am on Wednesday, January 20 to show your support for their actions, your condemnation of the attempted coup last week, and your commitment to holding those involved, including any SPD officers, accountable. I will do my best to provide the Zoom link next week for any of you who wish to attend. It will also broadcast live on the CPC’s Facebook page.


The latest Public Safety & Human Services Committee meeting was held this morning.

They spent the bulk of the meeting discussing their legislation regarding SPD’s use of less lethal weapons. The original bill, passed over the summer, has never gone into effect as Judge Robart (who oversees the consent decree) passed a restraining order on it. He said that he wanted recommendations from the three oversight bodies in Seattle (OPA, OIG, and CPC) about use of these less-lethal weapons. The discussion this morning started with a draft bill that contained all the consensus items between these three bodies and then began conversation about decision making for those weapons and circumstances about which there is not consensus. In general (and not surprisingly) the CPC’s recommendations are stricter and more protective than the OPA and OIG’s.

The CMs are in a tricky situation here. Judge Robart seems to believe the original ordinance as passed is too broad, so the CMs need to try to find a compromise that results in legislation about these weapons that is still strong while allowing enough leeway that Judge Robart won’t block it. If Judge Robart doesn’t approve the new legislation, the Council cannot simply overrule his verdict so they are heavily incentivized to try to find a compromise they think he will approve. At the same time, they are obviously torn about weakening the original legislation.

CM Lewis signaled one possible compromise: that the Council very carefully tightens decision points and narrowly tailors exceptions to the weapons ban, walking a fine line to make the legislation less broad so Judge Robart approves it while still strongly regulating and minimizing any use of such weapons. One of the big sticking points is the use of tear gas, which some CMS want banned completely while others are looking for these narrow points of compromise. They will continue to discuss this legislation, and specifically how far to go with the tear gas ban, at the next Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday, January 26 at 9:30am, with the hope of voting a bill out of committee to send to Judge Robart for review. You will be able to give public comment at the beginning of this meeting.


To wrap up a few last bits of news:

  • The decision in CM Sawant’s recall case has been delayed. I don’t know when we expect a decision: maybe February?
  • There haven’t been any further announcements about Seattle 2021 mayoral and council candidates, probably because nobody wants to compete with the current news cycle. Given the report that more violence related to the Inauguration is anticipated in the coming week, announcements of candidacy will probably be delayed until after next week.
  • BLM Seattle-King County has alleged that federal law enforcement was involved in inappropriate actions regarding the Seattle protests this past summer. Specifically they allege that FBI agents might have provided inaccurate information about “outside actors” in order to incite violence during the protests.

    They are asking that a special independent Counsel be appointed to investigate this matter more fully. Their full letter and press release is shown in the above Twitter thread.


Thanks for your patience in catching up on all the news with me! I do hope you will consider supporting some of the many police accountability bills up before the state legislature this session and/or joining me in attending the CPC’s meeting next week.

Time Sensitive: The state legislature is in session and it’s time to make our voices heard. Read More »

The revised budget passed!

First things first, the big vote of the day: the revised 2020 budget passed today with a vote of 7-1. CM Sawant voted against the bill and CM Juarez wasn’t in attendance.

Resolution 31962 was also passed, stating the Council’s intent to organize a new Department of Public Safety and laying out a road map and timeline of their future actions in this regard. Unfortunately Legistar doesn’t yet have a copy of this resolution available for our perusal, so I’ll take a more in-depth look at it later this week. Another resolution passed affirming the rights of members of the press, legal observers, and medical personnel covering the protests against police brutality.

With these votes the Council chose to take a middle road that is a bit more progressive than that advocated by Mayor Durkan, while disappointing both those advocating for an immediate 50% defund of the SPD and those who want more police. In particular, they ensured community organizations and the community research process have funding to begin their work right away, which is a big win. The Council has clearly stated their intentions to continue the process of defunding and creating a new vision of public safety during the fall budget process and beyond.

How this revised budget will play out remains to be seen, given the previously discussed obstacles of SPOG negotiations and consent decree requirements, as well as Mayor Durkan’s and Chief Best’s resistance. I agree with Council President Gonzalez, who stated that this process will get harder before it gets easier. We will have to watch to see if the Council’s commitment to change wavers in the face of so many obstacles. But this summer budget process was a first step in a positive direction.

Additional amendments on the passed budget bill discussed today:

Twitter avatar for @amysundberg

Amy Sundberg @amysundberg
Council briefing in a few minutes here. Big day of meetings today!

There was a long conversation about the amendment reducing the salaries of the command staff at the SPD. The amendment that passed reduces Chief Best’s salary to $275k instead of the lowest pay band as the previous amendment passed stated, but maintains the other salary cuts.

CM Sawant’s Amendment 52 version 3, the one prohibiting SPD from spending money supporting the prosecution of protesters in the George Floyd protests, didn’t receive a second to be voted upon so it’s now dead.

Amendment 56 pertains to CM Strauss’s reporting provisos, which Central Staff determined didn’t work as passed, so this is an alternate bill trying to get those reports. CM Pedersen added 56a, which asks for an additional report on how budget reductions will impact police deployment and response times. CP Gonzalez stated concern about how this amendment is worded as a leading question and that its resulting reports might become politicized, but it did pass 5/0 with Strauss, Gonzalez, and Sawant abstaining.

Amendment 57, creating two new civilian positions in the 911 call center to replace the two remaining sworn officers working there, passed 5/1 with two abstentions.

Amendment 58 imposes a proviso for funding on community service officers to make sure this funding is retained this year. It passed 8/0.

Twitter avatar for @amysundberg

Amy Sundberg @amysundberg
New thread for the Full Council meeting. Public comment will last 60-75 minutes, I’m guessing till around 4pm.

Amendments 59 and 60 were walked on in full council, provisos to HSD regarding the $4m and $10m marked for community investment, in response to some legal issues with the original amendments. They passed unanimously 8/0.

Other News of Note:

The August update of the budget forecast was released today, and it is worse than anticipated. Seattle’s economic recovery is no longer predicted to follow a fast V-shape, and Seattle’s revenues for 2020 will fall short an additional $26m. Recovery is not nw expected until 2023 and 2024.

The judge signed an updated injunction in the case brought against the City of Seattle by the ACLU/BLM-King County. The evidentiary hearing that was scheduled to take place later this month has been canceled as a result. This new injunction states the following:

  1. SPD can’t use chemical irritants or projectiles to re-route a protest unless necessary to prevent an imminent act of harm or as a response to a specific act of violence or property destruction.
  1. The SPD must provide a warning of usage of these and provide enough time, space, and opportunity for people to leave.
  2. The SPD may not target journalists, legal observers, or medics.
  3. The SPD may not indiscriminately deploy chemical agents or projectiles into a crowd.
  4. Declaring a protest to be a riot or unlawful assembly does not preclude the SPD from following this injunction’s requirements.

SPOG issued a demand to the city of Seattle to bargain today over out of order layoffs based on officer history of complaints.

Further legislation related to the SPD will be voted on this Wednesday afternoon at a special Council meeting, where they will also vote on the vetoed COVID Relief Bill. I’ll be back to discuss the results of this meeting.

The revised budget passed! Read More »