West Seattle, Washington
6:39 PM: Admiral Bird is among the West Seattle spots where people are gathered right now to watch the first Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump presidential debate. From TV to YouTube to Twitter, in the words of one anchor, this might just be the “biggest electronic event in history.” It’s scheduled to continue until 7:30 our time; if you missed this one and want to see rounds 2 and 3 – here’s the schedule – October 9th and 19th, with the one and only VP debate on October 4th.
7:41 PM: Debate’s over. Just in case you weren’t watching it, but were wondering.
(5:19 PM NOTE: The video window now has the mayor’s speech as archived by Seattle Channel.)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:03 PM: Click “play” above and you’ll see, via Seattle Channel, the live feed from City Hall downtown as the City Council begins its weekly full-council meeting by hosting Mayor Murray’s presentation of the city budget proposal for 2017-2018.
While listening, we’re going through the just-released budget documents and will add highlights to this story.
*$440 million budget proposed for 2017, $561 million for 2018
*Not many West Seattle specifics, but the Fauntleroy Boulevard project is in for $7 million in 2018, so it looks like that’s the year projected for construction
In his speech, the mayor also called out the Lander Street Overpass project in SODO, of interest to many here, as it gets closer to full funding. (An “online open house” continues this week.)
Next, public safety.
Here’s the Seattle Police Department breakout. Overall, the budget says SPD would “hire 72 new officers [35 in 2017, 37 in 2018] and hire 25 new 911 communication center staff” for the entire city.
*Southwest Precinct (West Seattle/South Park) mentions: The patrol budget actually drops a bit over the next two years (as do the other precinct budgets). The number of full-time equivalents at the SW Precinct stays the same, at 124.
Here’s the Seattle Fire Department breakout. Its primary challenge is to keep up with attrition: ” As in previous years, the proposed budget adds funding for 35 additional recruits, for a total of 60 new recruits in 2017. The additional recruits, once trained, will fill existing positions that have been vacated as a result of retirements or other attrition.”
Since we’re on a peninsula, this excerpt from the SFD budget is notable:
Another programmatic area in which the Fire Department is making improvements this year is water rescues. SFD owns two large fire boats and several smaller rescue boats that are used primarily for fighting marine fires. Responses to water rescues are limited given that the City has one fireboat crew and one technical rescue/dive team. To address this, SFD proposes piloting a Surface Water Rescue Program to provide a greater level of water rescue capability. The proposed Surface Water Rescue Program will train up to 40 firefighters as technician level rescue swimmers and deploy them city-wide, allowing them to respond more quickly to water rescues.
3 PM: The mayor’s speech has just ended. Some had wondered whether protesters would disrupt it, as had happened to the City Council last week, but many would-be attendees were kept out of the chambers. Councilmember Kshama Sawant made a motion at the meeting’s start to let more people in, but the motion did not pass.
Speaking of participation – we have now started reviewing the Department of Neighborhoods‘ budget breakout.
This includes components of the mayor’s plan to cut city support for Neighborhood District Councils, hailed in a city document just a few years ago as a “nationally significant model of grassroots democracy, being Seattle’s only advisory committees whose members are entirely selected at the grass roots, rather than appointed top-down by elected officials or City agencies.”
This is further addressed:
Expanding Outreach and Engagement
In 2016, through Executive Order 2016-06, the Mayor tasked DON with leading an effort to implement equitable outreach and engagement plans and practices across all City offices and departments. Also in 2016, DON added two positions that will now be made permanent: one to oversee the re-envisioning of DON’s Outreach and Engagement Division and lead Citywide response efforts, and another to work with other departments to coordinate and leverage opportunities for effective outreach and engagement efforts.
DON is also reallocating and deploying resources, including staff, within the department to prioritize the
application of the community outreach and engagement principles that reflect the Mayor’s vision of inclusive participation. This vision is articulated in Executive Order 2016-06 and the proposed resolution on equitable community involvement practices submitted to the City Council as part of the Mayor’s 2017-2018 Proposed Budget. As part of this effort, DON will reallocate nine Neighborhood District Coordinator positions to meet this scope of work and the department’s business needs.
Those positions, which have provided city-staff support to the 13 district councils (two of which are in West Seattle – Southwest and Delridge), are still funded in the budget plan at a level similar to what’s budgeted now. Part of the “reallocation” is detailed in one budget line item:
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will fund positions in DON for outreach and engagement. Two existing Neighborhood District Coordinator positions will be reallocated to Strategic Advisor 1 positions. These positions will work closely with SDOT and the Office of Economic Development on improving outreach and engagement to neighborhoods and communities affected by large-scale infrastructure improvement projects.
4:19 PM: This mass e-mail from Neighborhoods director Kathy Nyland has more detail on the “reallocation.”
5:19 PM: The archived Seattle Channel video of the mayor’s speech has now replaced what had been the “live” video window above. Also – if you missed it in earlier stories – Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s explanation of how the budget process goes from here, with specific dates, is in her newest online update.
Before we get to what’s happening in West Seattle today/tonight – a reminder that the city-budget process moves out into the public arena starting this afternoon. At 2 pm, the City Council’s regular weekly full-council meeting starts with Mayor Murray’s budget speech. And that’s when his plan will go public – not just a long list of dollar amounts, but also a road map to what he’s proposing to do regarding a variety of issues and projects. For example, as noted in our coverage of last Wednesday’s Delridge District Council meeting, the budget is where he would have to officially execute his proposal to cut off city support for district councils.
What the mayor delivers today will have City Council-led changes by the time it goes to a final vote on November 21st. And this will be the first budget process since the City Council was changed to seven district reps and two at-large, so that’s a new dynamic in the mix. Our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold included a timeline of the process in her latest online update – see it here. The first major public hearing – “an opportunity to request that Councilmembers sponsor changes (or not make changes) to the Mayor’s proposed budget,” as Herbold explains it – is next week, 5:30 pm Wednesday, October 5th, at City Hall. Her timeline explains other key points for commenting. (Her e-mail address is email@example.com.)
You can watch the mayor’s budget speech today at 2 pm via Seattle Channel, online or cable channel 21. We’ll be covering it for the local specifics, of course, so check here for those.
6:42 PM: If you know of an open-to-the-public viewing party for the first presidential debate tomorrow, we’d love to hear about it – we’ve been asked multiple times today! Bar, restaurant, political group, whomever/wherever, as long as it’s in West Seattle, White Center, or South Park. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below – thank you.
9:40 PM: Here’s what we have so far:
Admiral Bird (California/Admiral)
The Skylark (3803 Delridge Way SW), pre-trivia
House party in North Admiral that is also a campaign fundraiser for Secretary of State candidate Tina Podlodowski and Lands Commissioner candidate Hilary Franz, suggested donation $100/person – if interested, e-mail email@example.com for details/RSVP
9:57 PM: Another one just in:
Parliament Tavern (4210 SW Admiral Way): “We’ll have the two parties represented on the big screen, but the REAL party falls smack during happy hour, which will carry through the end of the debate! $4 draft micros! $4 wells! $2.50 Rainier’s and PBR tallboys!”
ADDED MONDAY MORNING: OutWest Bar (California/Brandon) too.
Anyplace else? We’ll keep adding whatever comes in. (The debate is set for 6-7:30 pm Monday, our time, by the way.)
(Seattle Channel video of today’s meeting. “Secure scheduling” starts at 51:22)
3:59 PM: “Heck, yeah!” exclaimed City Councilmember Lisa Herbold during the roll call less than an hour ago that brought unanimous approval to her “secure scheduling” bill for large companies’ employees.
She’s been working on it in a unique manner for almost seven months, with open “stakeholder” discussions during meetings of the committee she chairs, Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, & Arts, and with the partnership of the council’s other West Seattleite, at-large Councilmember Lorena González.
Businesses are only covered if they have 500+ employees (and 40 locations for full-service restaurants)
14 days advance notice for schedules
Written good-faith estimate of hours at time of hire
10 hours right to rest between closing and opening shifts (similarly to overtime, this can be voluntarily waived for time and a half wages for the time less than 10 hours)
Predictability pay of one hour of wages only for non-employee requested schedule additions
Half time pay for involuntary reduction in scheduled work hours and on-call shifts
Access to additional hours for existing employees before outside recruitment and hiring
Exceptions for diversity and seasonal hiring
Read the legislation here. Its provisions will take effect July 1st of next year.
10:38 PM: We’ve added the Seattle Channel video of this afternoon’s meeting, which ended about 10 minutes after this vote, because of an unrelated protest.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
With 54 days until Election Day, our area’s largest political organization, the 34th District Democrats, endorsed State Sen. Pramila Jayapal tonight in her run for the 7th Congressional District.
While the endorsement vote was the night’s marquee event, along with the “mini-forum” with Jayapal and opponent State Rep. Brady Piñero Walkinshaw that preceded it, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s appearance made some headlines, so we’ll recap that first:
CITY COUNCILMEMBER LISA HERBOLD: First thing – the East Duwamish Greenspace tree-cutting investigation, which has now been under way for almost six months.
With less than two months until Election Day, the 34th District Democrats are due to decide tomorrow night (Wednesday, September 14th) who they will endorse in the 7th Congressional District race, since the candidate they endorsed in the primary, County Council president Joe McDermott, did not make it into the top two. Before the vote, they’ll have a mini-forum with the candidates who did – State Sen. Pramila Jayapal and State Rep. Brady Piñero Walkinshaw. While the endorsement vote is only open to members, the meeting is open to everyone – 7 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California SW). See the full agenda here.
While overall voter turnout wasn’t so great, there were some positive numbers associated with this month’s primary election – including the number of voters using the new permanent ballot dropbox by the High Point Library. A King County Council committee got a briefing from KC Elections today on how the new dropboxes – this was one of 19 in the county – did; here’s the resulting news release:
…Nearly 36 percent of voters (more than 160,000 voters) cast their primary ballots via drop boxes. This is a substantial increase compared to the 2015 general election, in which 26 percent of ballots were returned via drop boxes. This year, over 100,000 primary ballots were returned to drop boxes on Election Day, 20,000 more than any previous Election Day total….
…In December 2015, the King County Council passed a motion asking King County Elections to develop a plan to improve access and convenience of ballot drop-off locations throughout King County. A primary aim of the motion was to lower barriers to voting. The Elections Division’s plan, which was approved by the Council on May 2nd, 2016, adds 33 additional ballot drop-off locations in King County for a total of 43 locations.
For the August primary election, a total of 29 ballot drop box locations were ready for voters. The remaining locations will be open in time for this fall’s general election. Once the plan is completed later this year, more than 90 percent of King County residents will live within three miles of a ballot drop box.
Among the most used new locations are the Lake City Library, University of Washington – Schmitz Hall, and High Point Library drop boxes, all located in areas that scored highest in the evaluation for key equity demographic characteristics. Scores were based on an Equity and Social Justice metric that considered a combination of diversity, household income, and English proficiency. Strong return rates at these locations signal progress for King County’s ongoing efforts to lower barriers to voting and strengthen the ability for all citizens to exercise the right to vote.
We followed up to get the West Seattle-specific numbers: 5,548 ballots were turned in via the High Point drop box for this year’s primary. King County Elections spokesperson Nancy Standifer tells WSB more than 4,300 of them were dropped off on Election Day (August 2nd). While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison given that ballot vans only were sent over for a few days and limited hours each election, we asked for those numbers: August of 2015, 1,725 ballots at the West Seattle Stadium dropoff van; August of 2016 (two days) at the HP Library dropbox, 4,912 ballots.
Just in from City Hall – while it’s not West Seattle-specific, it deals with a citywide challenge, so we thought you might be interested. Mayor Murray has just filled the announced-last-April cabinet-level position of “director of homelessness.” The news release:
Mayor Ed Murray today announced that George Scarola will serve as the City’s first ever cabinet-level director of homelessness. Scarola will be responsible for leading the City’s homelessness efforts across departments, providing oversight and evaluation of outcomes, strategic guidance, and leading community engagement.
“Homelessness is a national epidemic, leaving cities like Seattle stepping in to fill the large gaps left behind by state and federal agencies,” said Mayor Murray, “We have made unprecedented investments in homelessness prevention and services. Because of the growing scope of work around homelessness, Seattle needs a proven manager to ensure we are achieving our desired outcomes. I have known George for many years, working alongside him in Seattle and Olympia, and know him as a unifying leader that excels at creating successful results through community engagement.”
Scarola is an experienced public affairs and community relations manager having led advocacy organizations in Seattle and Olympia for over 25 years.
A tumultuous City Council meeting this afternoon (Seattle Channel video added above) included a passionate packed house at City Hall opposing the proposed Seattle Police North Precinct project, currently proposed at $149 million, $61 million over a previous estimate (page 10, here), nicknamed “The Bunker” by those who want it scrapped. The council didn’t kill it, but didn’t give it final approval, either. Earlier in the day, this and other recent overbudget and/or behind-schedule projects led our area’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold and one a colleague to propose a new oversight committee. Here’s their announcement:
Councilmembers Rob Johnson and Lisa Herbold called for creation of a special Council committee to oversee City-funded capital projects following recent capital expenditures that exceeded initial budgets, including the North Precinct Police Station, the downtown waterfront Seawall, and the New Customer Information System which handles billing issues at the City’s utility departments.
Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park) said, “It’s been frustrating when large projects go millions over budget, or are years behind schedule – such as Fire Station #32 in the West Seattle Junction. In creating this committee, Councilmembers can more closely monitor large projects, so we’re not faced with no-win options when presented with updates late in the process.”
The Council Capital Projects Oversight Committee would share characteristics with capital oversight best practices, such as the Sound Transit Capital Committee oversight process, which creates a series of systematic check-ins as projects progress, both through planning and construction. The Council committee’s oversight work would establish a baseline level of transparency to help ensure City capital projects remain on budget and the public remains informed along the way.
Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4, Northeast Seattle) said, “‘Transparency’ should be the name of the game as we develop our capital facilities. As Sound Transit develops their projects, staff seeks Board authorization at eight points throughout the process, including for preliminary engineering, final design, and baseline budget, which includes total project costs and construction. As a Seattle City Councilmember, I expect the public to hold me accountable for delivering our capital projects on time and within budget, but we need the tools necessary for proper oversight. If City facilities are projected to run over-budget, the Council should have plenty of lead time to develop alternatives or contingencies.”
The Council receives annual reports on all City capital investments, but they can be of limited utility because of the volume of information provided. A Council Capital Projects Oversight Committee would likely identify characteristics of projects they wanted to review, including large projects or projects that are at least 10% over initial budgets.
Councilmembers will work with their colleagues to develop oversight committee legislation for introduction at a later date.
Herbold’s comment refers to the new West Seattle fire station that, as we first reported last fall, is running more than 9 years behind the original schedule. Construction of the new Fire Station 32 in The Junction finally began with demolition four months ago; the original estimate, with the 2003 fire levy that funded it, was for a 2007 completion – now, it’ll be 2017.
If you are a renter – or own rental property – you’ll want to know about new rules passed by the City Council today. They were sponsored by our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. Read the related documents; here’s the announcement:
Council unanimously adopted comprehensive tenant protection legislation today. Currently it is illegal to discriminate against a prospective renter whose primary source of income is a Section 8 voucher. The legislation adopted today expands that legal protection to include people who receive alternate sources of income such as a pension, Social Security, unemployment, child support or any other governmental or non-profit subsidy. It also creates a new First- come, First-served screening process that will seek to help address discrimination in housing across all protected classes.
According to the Seattle’s Renting Crisis Report from the Washington Community Action Network, “48% of individuals who pay for rent with Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security retirement income said that discrimination prevents them from having successful rental applications.”
Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park), the legislation’s sponsor said, “When the Seattle Office for Civil Rights conducted secret shopper fair housing testing relating to applicants who applied for housing using Section 8 vouchers, 63% of applicants were shown different treatment, which is already illegal. Today we’re expanding those protections, and I expect this new law will have positive impacts for renters.”
The legislation adopted today is aimed at making the housing application process more objective as a tool to mitigate unconscious bias and ensure the city investments in addressing our affordable housing crisis and homeless crisis are effective.
The source of income discrimination proposal was developed following recommendations from the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda task force. Council further amended the proposal to provide further protections:
After the third day of primary-election vote-counting, King County Council chair Joe McDermott of West Seattle has conceded in the race for second place in the 7th Congressional District. State Rep. Brady Piñero Walkinshaw of Capitol Hill widened his lead over McDermott, though both remained far behind State Sen. Pramila Jayapal of Columbia City.
Pramila Jayapal 68,337 41.31%
Brady Piñero Walkinshaw 35,134 21.24%
Joe McDermott 32,556 19.68%
McDermott was in second place on Election Night, but was 1,000+ votes behind by last night, and the margin doubled today. His statement included:
…I remain confident and hopeful that real work can be done on the important issues we’ve led on during this race – campaign finance reform including overturning Citizens United, and tackling the public health epidemic that is gun violence in our country. I remain just as passionate about these issues moving forward as I was in 2008 when passing statewide campaign finance reform, in 2013 when we declared gun violence a public health crisis in King County, and over the past seven months of this hard fought campaign. …
McDermott has three more years in his second full term on the King County Council, representing the 8th District, which stretches from West Seattle to Burien and Tukwila, and to Vashon and Maury Islands.
Today’s updated vote count is in from the 7th Congressional District (which includes parts of King and Snohomish Counties). The top two candidates will advance to the November general election; while West Seattle’s Joe McDermott was in second place on election night, this is his second day in third place:
Pramila Jayapal 55,001 40.02%
Brady Piñero Walkinshaw 29,334 21.34%
Joe McDermott 28,112 20.45%
King County has released its second ballot count of the primary. The headline is in the race for second place in the U.S. House 7th District primary, to see who will advance to the November general election against Pramila Jayapal. Last night, West Seattleite Joe McDermott was in second, Brady Piñero Walkinshaw in third; tonight, it’s the other way round.
Jayapal 44,540 39.06%
Walkinshaw 24,285 21.29%
McDermott 23,798 20.87%
Most of the district is in King County, with a small slice of Snohomish County, so the official results are on the Secretary of State‘s website. Hundreds of thousands of ballots are still out, and the results won’t be certified until August 16th.
FIRST REPORT, 8:16 PM: From the Election Night vote count – just the first count, but the only one we’ll get tonight.
Congress District 7 – Pramila Jayapal leads with 38%, and the race to see who also goes into the general is close – Joe McDermott 21.5%, Brady Piñero Walkinshaw 20.9%. (All three are Democrats. See below for our side note on this race.)
Seattle Housing Levy – winning, 68% yes to 32% no.
Seattle Initiative 123 (elevated waterfront park) – 81% no, 19% yes
All the King County results are here.
Statewide results are here. Among the key primary races (note that these may change tonight depending on what various counties’ tallying policies are, and we’ll continue to update them):
Governor (updated 11:13 pm) – Democrat incumbent Jay Inslee 48.6%, Republican Bill Bryant 38.1%
Lt. Governor (updated 11:13 pm) – the leaders so far are Republican Marty McClendon at 20.3% and Democrat Cyrus Habib at 19.6%.
ADDED 9:36 PM: Again, the statewide races will change; the ones that are King County-only won’t. The link in each statewide race will take you to the most-recent results; we’ll be checking at least every half-hour until the early morning. Here are a few more, starting with two races without incumbents:
State Superintendent of Public Instruction (updated 11:13 pm) – Erin Jones 22.8%, Chris Reykdal 20.6%
State Commissioner of Public Lands (updated 11:13 pm) – Steve McLaughlin (R) 39.1%, Hilary Franz (D) 20.8%
And this one does have an incumbent:
Secretary of State (updated 11:13 pm) – Kim Wyman* (R) 48.5%, Tina Podlodowski (D) 45.7%
ADDED 11:17 PM: Only one election night party in West Seattle – Joe McDermott, at Alki Huddle. We stopped by after cutting our Night Out coverage a bit short to stop at the event. He was juggling a variety of interview requests, including ours – we talked with him briefly on video outside the bar:
A small section of the 7th District is in Snohomish County. The final results won’t be certified until two weeks from tonight; we’ll watch this race daily until it’s settled.
Thanks to Ken Gollersrud at the High Point Library for the photo reminding us all that West Seattle’s new permanent King County Elections dropbox awaits your ballot – cutoff time for your primary vote is tomorrow (Tuesday, August 2nd) at 8 pm. You can mail it, too, but that’ll cost you a stamp; using the dropbox is free.
You also will narrow the fields for the 7th Congressional District seat, as well as U.S. Senate, Governor, Lt. Governor, and other statewide offices, plus races for State Supreme Court and King County Superior Court, and one 34th District State House seat.
The dropbox is just north of the library, along SW Raymond east of 35th SW [map].
Story, photos, and video by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
Though cleanups preceding Monday night’s Find It, Fix It Community Walk in Westwood/Roxhill left less of the area’s rawest problems to be “found,” it wasn’t all pre-sanitized.
The top photo is from a peek into an overgrown lot just off Trenton, northeast of Westwood Village, passed by the 120=plus walkers between official stops; the previous stop had been nearby, at a spot where a resident took the microphone and talked about a “recycling” bin that seemed to be a dumping magnet.
Another unofficial stop was a home on 24th with signs meant to catch the procession’s eyes – asking for speed bumps and police reform.
The department heads in whose purview those lay – SDOT’s Scott Kubly and SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole – both stopped for a look, though not a chat, so far as we saw.
A few minutes earlier, we talked to the people in the yard, who said that regarding the speed bumps, their street is a popular cut-through, and somebody who zoomed through recently not only almost took out young siblings, but actually, they say, flipped off the kids before continuing on their way.
Also unplanned: A question about long-promised improvements that hadn’t materialized along Barton, after an SDOT employee promised some community-requested improvements are on the way to the crossing by the RapidRide stop and Longfellow Creek,
But let’s get back to how it all started. Community members and city staffers gathered in and around Longfellow Creek P-Patch, east of Chief Sealth International High School, awaiting Mayor Ed Murray:
Once he arrived, it was showtime: Read More
We counted at least 130 people at the start of West Seattle’s second Find It, Fix It Community Walk. It wrapped up in Roxhill Park just after 8 pm. While it was certainly planned, it wasn’t staged, and there were some raw moments, including resident Ami standing at the bottom of a problem-plagued stairway at 22nd and Henderson, playing a video by a former neighbor (see it here) who moved away, saying she couldn’t take the threats and trouble any more but begging the mayor to help those still there.
Lots of photos and video – and the commitments we heard – to come, in our second report.
On Saturday, Mayor Ed Murray walked in the West Seattle Grand Parade. Tomorrow night, the mayor will be back in West Seattle for this area’s second Find It, Fix It Community Walk – the first one was last October in Delridge (WSB coverage here). The route is already planned, after several weeks of community discussions – as previewed here last week – but that doesn’t mean everything is scripted, so come along and join not only the mayor but some of his department heads, and see where the conversation goes. The walk starts at 6:30 pm from Longfellow Creek P-Patch on SW Thistle east of Chief Sealth International High School and will proceed through Westwood, to end at Roxhill Park:
You can arrive at the P-Patch as early as 6 pm for pre-walk refreshments and mingling.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“Light rail is coming to West Seattle.”
That’s how King County Executive and Sound Transit board chair Dow Constantine opened his speech to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon – his second pitch in the area in less than 24 hours for the transit megameasure known as ST3. He proclaimed it even more jubilantly in his first one, talking to the 34th District Democrats Wednesday night, as you can see and hear in our video:
Shortly after Constantine’s speech, the 34th DDs endorsed ST3 (as reported here earlier). His appearance before the Chamber – which did not involve an endorsement vote – was longer, and more educational; Constantine called it the “transit planner” or “nerd” version of the speech, rather than the “campaign” or “stemwinder” version.
The vote is still three-plus months away; ballots for the August primary hadn’t even arrived yet as he stood before the two local groups talking about ST3, which won’t be decided until November. But with an 11-digit price tag, this is no ordinary ballot measure. And supporters are pulling out the stops to avoid what happened with Sound Transit 2, a defeat, rewrite, and revote.
One day after Mayor Ed Murray announced that he plans to cut city support for neighborhood-district councils and come up with a different way of “engaging” neighborhoods, reaction continues to churn. As one of our followups, we asked our area’s City Councilmember Lisa Herbold for comment. Her reply ties into the other big mayoral announcement made two hours later – that the city will keep the Myers Way Parcels – which also cut short what was expected to be a longer process of discussion and decisionmaking.
The fact that this announcement came on the same day as the Myers Way announcement was interesting. The Myers Way decision is evidence that when Councilmembers, geographically-based neighborhood groups, and citywide issue-based groups all work collaboratively and effectively, we can potentially address items on our shared agenda. We have about 70 Boards and Commissions that are not geographically-based and are either subject matter based or demographically based – they are all appointments made by the Mayor and Council. We have 13 geographically-based, self-selected councils. Surely we have room for both.
One person writing to the Council said, when you look around your holiday dinner table and realize that you have the same people at the table every year, you don’t disinvite them, you invite more people. I like that analogy. The 2009 audit (attached) had numerous recommendations that had they been implemented any time up to now would have us in a very different conversation. I don’t believe that there is anything inherently undemocratic in a District Council system and that – in addition to identifying and implementing brand new methods of engagement – the improvements to our current system in diversity and representation could have instead been addressed by:
a. creating new expectations/metrics for outreach, membership, and involvement
b. city support to District Councils so that they can meet these new articulated expectations
c. consequences for failure to meet these expectations
Whether City Councilmembers plan to challenge the mayor’s plan remains to be seen; it will include legislation for them to consider, regarding formally cutting off city support for district councils (which are NOT the same as City Council districts, as explained in our story from yesterday, nor are they neighborhood-level community councils). The Myers Way Parcels work mentioned by Councilmember Herbold had included groups such as the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, White Center Community Development Association, Highland Park Action Committee, Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, TreePAC, and others.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
34TH ENDORSES ST3: The group voted to endorse the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, shortly after the chair of the Sound Transit board, County Executive Dow Constantine, got up and told the 34th DDs that he never thought he’d be standing before the group and able to say, “Light rail is coming to West Seattle.” He gave a short, raucous speech – including his note as a UW alum that light rail would mean a ride to Husky Stadium – urging the group to give it their support. Constantine is scheduled to talk about ST3 at this afternoon’s lunch meeting of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and we’ll include his 34th DDs speech in that report.
MAYOR MURRAY: We recorded his entire appearance on video:
He started by saying he wants to keep his speech short, so he can answer more questions. But first – “the events of last week – in Minnesota, in Louisiana, in Dallas. … This is a pivotal moment in our history as a country. The unfinished business of racism is once again at the forefront of our discussion, and it’s a good thing if we are able to engage in that discussion.” He recapped local communities with whom he spoke in the past week – both “communities of color” and the “police community,” both experiencing pain and fear. He talked about his plans to change the Office of Police Accountability and auditor positions, which recently made citywide headlines. But, he warned, “We did not get here overnight and we are not going to get out of this overnight.” And he warned that this all must be dealt with in the context of the other issues with which police deal, including domestic violence and sexual assault. And the fact “there are bad police officers, the same way there are bad politicians.”
Next, he acknowledges “the growing homelessness crisis in this country,” and says other cities are dealing with it too, not just Seattle.