The Black Brilliance Project preliminary report is out.

This week in the state legislature: SB 5226, the bill concerning the suspension of licenses for traffic violations, has its committee hearing this week on February 4 at 10:30am. Current law tends to criminalize poverty: license suspension for failure to pay a minor traffic violation can lead to a spiral of compounding fines and even jail time and saddles poor drivers with a criminal record that adversely affects employment. This bill would end debt-based license suspension.

At this week’s Seattle Council Briefing, we had our now-standard briefing on the state legislative session and a presentation from the Black Brilliance Project and Central Staff about the Preliminary Research Report.

But first, President González brought up the serious equity concerns around the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. She is preparing a resolution on this issue to hopefully be voted upon next Monday, as well as a series of panels to facilitate problem solving around this issue. She’s also looking into emergency legislation that will improve communication with the community about vaccine availability and access.

In terms of state legislature updates relating to public safety, last week was a big week for firearm safety. 1267 and 1310 are up for executive session this week. The decertification bill was scheduled in the Ways and Means committee Monday afternoon in the Senate, along with the duty to intervene bill. (Not reported at the meeting, but SB5055 will also be in executive session the morning of Wednesday, February 3.)

If you want to read more about the Black Brilliance preliminary research report, you can see the Central Staff presentation slides, the Central Staff memo, and you can read the over one thousand page report itself. Don’t be discouraged, though, as the main body of the report is only around 85 pages, with the rest consisting of various appendices.

Presenting for the Black Brilliance Research project, Shaun Glaze highlighted the need for a comprehensive and multi-pronged approach, saying we’re only as safe and healthy as our most vulnerable. They discussed the following findings for increasing safety and health in Seattle:

  • Housing and Space: the need for more Black land ownership, spaces for specific communities and specific interventions, including thinking of communities left out of existing systems (for example, single mothers and those experiencing domestic violence)
  • Mental Health: the need for comprehensive wellness programs, especially Black-specific ones, and the need to radically shift how the systems function (for example, how many people without credentials can provide specific supports). Thinking about how to create hyper-local responses.
  • Youth: the need for expanding living wage jobs and access to child care. Addressing root causes of harms. Education around healthy relationships and mentorship.
  • Crisis and Wellness: the need to divest from harmful systems while providing hyper-local, culturally responsive, linguistically sensitive care.
  • Economic Development: the need for expanding digital literacy and hiring community members as consultants to do this work.

Legislation to lift the proviso on the participatory budgeting funds should be introduced to the Council sometime in March. The final research report is due February 19 and will be presented on February 26th at CM Morales’s committee meeting. In related news, Shaun Glaze also said their understanding is that the mayor’s task force may allocate some or all of their budget towards participatory budgeting, which would avoid pitting communities against each other and could be a great step forward in uniting various public safety initiatives.

Coming up next week is another Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting on Tuesday 2/9 at 9:30am. At that meeting I expect a continuation of the discussion about the potential less lethal weapon ordinance, as well as discussing the legislation to reduce the SPD’s 2021 budget to address their overspend of their 2020 budget. If you’d like to learn more about the less lethal weapon ordinance, Kevin Schofield did a deep dive and included a copy of the revised base bill that was under discussion last week.

Happy February!