West Seattle politics 1312 results

Handling homelessness: Mayor speaks Tuesday; HPAC talks RV ‘safe lot’ Wednesday

9:59 PM: Two events of note over the next two nights:

JUST ANNOUNCED – MAYOR’S SPEECH ON HOMELESSNESS: Mayor Ed Murray‘s office just announced that he’ll speak live to the city Tuesday night at 7:30 pm via Seattle Channel (cable 21, or seattlechannel.org), with an update on what’s been done since he declared homelessness an emergency two months ago. He’ll be speaking from Mary’s Place Family Center in North Seattle, which is a shelter for women and families that opened last summer in a City-owned building.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT – DEPUTY MAYOR AT HPAC: Related to the emergency, the mayor announced last week that he would open two “safe lots” for people living in RVs and other vehicles, one of them in Highland Park, a paved lot adjacent to the former unauthorized encampment at West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW. The community council for that area, the Highland Park Action Committee, meets Wednesday night, and says city reps who are confirmed so far include Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim and District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold. The meeting’s at 7 at the Highland Park Improvement Club (12th SW/SW Holden).

10:53 PM P.S. Just published on SPD Blotter, a roundup of cases the department cites as proof it’s “committed to addressing criminal behavior associated with car campers.” No West Seattle cases are mentioned, but several were in SODO.

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‘Youth Voice, Youth Choice’: Participatory budgeting, round 1, with West Seattle gathering

January 25, 2016 8:10 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

Youth around the city have the chance to decide how $700,000 of the city budget will be spent, via the Participatory Budgeting Initiative, and the next step will include seven gatherings, one in West Seattle. The city’s announcement:

Youth Voice, Youth Choice, the City’s new Participatory Budgeting (PB) Initiative for youth, kicks off this week with the first of seven idea assemblies to be held across the city. This is the first stage of the program which gives youth the opportunity to decide how to spend $700,000 of the City’s budget.

The idea assemblies are where the public can brainstorm ideas for projects they would like to see in their communities. Anyone can attend and participate. The dates and times are:
· January 28 from 4 – 6 p.m. at Meridian Center for Health
· February 3 from 3 – 5 p.m. at UW Ethnic Cultural Center, Unity Room
· February 4 from 4 – 6 p.m. at Greenwood Library
· February 9 from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. at Douglass Truth Library
· February 10 from 4 – 6 p.m. at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center
· February 18 from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. at New Holly Gathering Hall
· February 23 from 5 – 7 p.m. at Seattle Center Armory, Loft Room #2

Once the public assemblies are completed, the next stage involves youth volunteers who will turn the ideas into concrete proposals with help from Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and City staff. Seattle youth will then get to vote for the projects they would like to see implemented. Once the projects are decided, City staff and local agencies will implement the projects.

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process where community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. This initiative began here last July when Seattle Mayor Murray and former Councilmember Nick Licata announced the launch of a citywide youth PB process. Youth Voice, Youth Choice is managed by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) with the goal of empowering youth to make decisions on how to spend a portion of the budget.

Need more info? The city’s youth engagement strategic adviser Rahwa Habte is at 206-615-2008.

VIDEO & AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: How the City Council changed the RV ‘safe lot’ order

(UPDATED with meeting video and documents showing what was approved/changed)

(Click above to see Seattle Channel video of this afternoon’s relatively brief meeting)

3:37 PM: Happening now at City Hall – the special meeting of the City Council to consider Mayor Murray‘s emergency order setting up, among other things, two “safe lots” for people living in their RVs and other vehicles – one of them on the paved area adjacent to what for years was an unsanctioned encampment at West Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way SW in HP. As District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold told the Delridge District Council last night, she and her colleagues have the opportunity to amend the order as they consider it. We’ll be updating live as we monitor it via Seattle Channel.

They’re beginning with public comment; one of the first speakers is an advocate who says she is concerned about the city’s current schedule of “sweeps” at unauthorized encampments – “there’s real harm done to real people” – and says that the schedule does not reflect what councilmembers heard at their briefing about those sweeps back on Tuesday. Another speaker, an Interbay businessperson, says he’s concerned about the RV lots creating an inhospitable atmosphere both for those living in them or those near them. A third speaker is advocating for the city to “stop the (encampment) sweeps. The fourth and final person who signed up to speak says she’s a Magnolia resident concerned about crime that she and her neighbors believe is related to unauthorized encampments.

3:48 PM: Council President Bruce Harrell is saying the council has four options – do nothing, accept the mayor’s order, reject it, or modify it. After asking city staffers for some background, he also notes the council has the authority to revoke an order like this if they don’t feel it’s accomplishing its goal. Right after that, Councilmember Herbold proposes amendments. “The amendments broadly fall into two categories,” she says, adding that they include “reporting-back requirements” regarding demographics of those served, impacts on nearby communities, and what the city will do after the “safe lots” end – “we’ll still have RV camping, and what will the city do then?” And she’s asking to make sure that the lots are not just for “one particular part of the city” but that outreach is done all over the city. (Much of what she’s listed are points that came up at last night’s meeting in Delridge.) Herbold also says her questions include what she’s heard from “(her) community” about whether the Highland Park lot is truly suitable, particularly because of its lack of nearby services.

4:08 PM: After a lot of trying to straighten out fine print, questions ensue. Councilmember Rob Johnson wonders what kind of a dent these two lots with a combined 50 spaces or so will make, when at least 800 people are believed to be living in their vehicles around the city, and will it affect the ability of religious and other institutions to host “car campers”? He is told it won’t affect that ability. They’ve just passed an amended resolution; we don’t have the documents yet but will add them when we get them. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, joining the meeting by phone, says it’s about knowing who the people are (in the lots/encampments), knowing that they’re safe, and knowing that neighbors are safe. And at 4:13 pm, the meeting’s adjourned.

4:37 PM: Updated – here’s the amended order – scroll to what’s in blue, to see what was added/changed:

You also can see it here as a PDF.

4:56 PM: Here’s the second document, an amended resolution. As with the one above, scroll through to see (in purple) what was added/changed:

And here it is as a PDF if you’d rather read it that way. Again, the lots are supposed to be operational in about a month, so we’ll have more followups about what’s planned, what’s expected, and other related issues/questions.

ADDED 7:30 PM: A statement received from Councilmember Herbold via e-mail:

“Last year in the One Night Count, volunteers found approximately 760 vehicles with people living inside them. I thank the Mayor for acting on the clear need to assist these people and, in doing so, addressing the impacts on people living without access to water, garbage, and bathroom facilities.

“Today, Council amended the Order before it took practical effect. If we hadn’t acted within 48 hours, it would have gone into effect without our changes. Firstly, it was important to explicitly ensure we are collecting demographics on the people served in the safe parking lots. As outreach workers attempt to find solutions to find permanent housing, it’s essential we track the barriers they face. We must also track perceived and actual impacts on communities and the City’s response to those impacts. Looking forward, we also need to hear from Executive departments how the City intends to address vehicle camping after the terms for these particular safe lots end. This was all addressed in the amendments adopted today.

“Secondly, we memorialized operational commitments that were not included in the original Order relating to site management, sanitation, electricity, and potable water, and defining a length of term for the individual lots (six months, with the option for a one-time six month renewal). In addition there is an expectation that these lots will not be reserved for vehicle residents from one particular set of neighborhoods, rather the City will do outreach to all neighborhoods where people are living in their vehicles. The amendments also require the Executive to justify site suitability and name the factors used to justify that selection.

“Moving forward, it’s important that the Seattle community serves their unhoused neighbors in a way that best meets their needs. Choosing a remote location with little access to grocery stores, transportation, social services, showers and laundry facilities simply because it’s the easiest choice helps no one.

“Further, these lots cannot be opened to simply serve people living in RVs in Magnolia. There are vehicle campers all over the city, including Delridge and South Park. If we are to continue this model I want to see the City use a race and social justice lens to fully analyze the properties available citywide and identify choices that are best for those whom we wish to serve, as well as the surrounding community.

“Lastly, I’d like to thank my fellow Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Debora Juarez, and Lorena González for working with me to develop amending language to the Mayor’s Order of Civil Emergency. I’m pleased with our vote today, and we intend to continue our efforts to find housing for people who need it most.”

The mayor also has issued a statement: ““Thanks to the Council for the quick approval of emergency order that will provide a safer, cleaner environment for some of those who are homeless. By organizing better sanitation and centralizing the delivery of human services for those in need, we will work to move them to permanent housing as quickly as possible. While these aren’t long-term solutions, they do allow us to respond to more of the impacts of unpermitted parking and tents in neighborhoods around the city.”

The price of politics: Former council candidate’s signature shortfall may lead to change in the law

One of the many twists and turns of the first-ever Seattle City Council District 1 race was the case of the signature-gathering candidate who fell just short of making it onto the ballot. Instead of paying the $1,200 fee to get onto the ballot, Amanda Kay Helmick, you’ll recall, decided to circulate petitions to get 1,200 signatures. We accompanied her to King County Elections HQ the day she turned them in (photo at right). When all were counted – and recounted – she was nine names short. It was an all-or-nothing situation – $1,200 or 1,200 names – period. So her seven-month campaign ended. But she vowed to fight for a better process. And now a bill has been introduced in the State Legislature … House Bill 2477, with sponsors including our area’s state Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon and Eileen Cody. If a candidate gathered at least 95 percent of the required number of valid signatures, s/he would have two weeks to cover the shortfall either with signatures or a dollar in lieu of each missing name. After a hearing Tuesday in the House Committee on State Government, that same committee is scheduled to consider the bill in executive session tomorrow.

ELECTION 2016: Joe McDermott running for Congress

Joe McDermott has made his decision: He’s in the race to succeed Jim McDermott.

Two weeks ago, after Congressmember McDermott announced he wasn’t running again, County Councilmember McDermott said he was thinking about it and would decide soon. This morning, he’s made the announcement via news release:

Third-generation resident of West Seattle, Chair of the King County Council and strong progressive Joe McDermott announced today his bid for Congress to represent Washington’s seventh congressional district (WA-07), which includes most of Seattle, Vashon Island, Burien, Normandy Park, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway and Edmonds.

McDermott, who has the most experience of any candidate running for Congress, also announced his “Repeal Citizens United” pledge rejecting any dark money independent expenditure spending on his behalf.

“As the son of schoolteachers, I am running for Congress to ensure that middle class Washingtonians continue to have a strong voice in Washington, D.C. and that’s why overturning Citizens United and preventing dark money from destroying our politics will be my priority from my first day in office – so we can finally achieve the progressive results our families need.”

McDermott also pledged to make cracking down on gun violence a top priority. As Chair of the Seattle King County Board of Health, McDermott has led efforts to classify gun violence as a public health crisis – resulting in a program that has saved lives and has become a model for both state and federal governments.

“For too long, politicians in Washington DC have kowtowed to the National Rifle Association. It is past time that we pass tough background checks, ban military style assault weapons plaguing our communities and once and for all hold gun manufacturers liable for the over thirty thousand deaths they cause in our country every year,” said McDermott.

McDermott has served on the King County Council for the last five years and from 2001 through 2010, McDermott represented the 34th Legislative District in the Washington State Legislature.

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West Seattle’s Joe McDermott chosen to chair King County Council

January 19, 2016 5:25 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

Joe McDermott, who’s represented West Seattle and vicinity – from White Center to Vashon – in the King County Council since 2010, is now its chair. He spent a decade in the state Legislature before joining the council, to which he was re-elected without opposition last fall. Here’s the full news release. He hasn’t yet announced, though, if he’s still considering running to succeed the area’s “other” McDermott (U.S. House Rep. Jim).

34th District Democrats: Looking ahead to the elections, and looking into the heart of a regional emergency

January 17, 2016 5:58 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Most of what happened at the first 2016 meeting of our area’s largest political organization, the 34th District Democrats, involved two topics: This year’s elections, and the city/county-declared homelessness emergency.

First, the elections:

Marcee Stone-Vekich, starting her fourth year as chair, noted that U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott‘s decision not to run for re-election caught her by surprise. “And I’m hoping another fellow named McDermott may run for that seat” – referring to County Councilmember Joe – a statement that drew applause.

Joe McDermott is usually at the 34th DDs’ meetings but missed this one due to illness and as of this writing has not announced whether he’ll run or not; in November, he won re-election to the County Council, unopposed. Other candidates in other races were in attendance, though:

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ELECTION 2016: Online voter registration deadline tomorrow for February 9 vote on Seattle Public Schools levies

January 10, 2016 6:11 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle politics

Another election is now less than a month away: The February 9 vote for two Seattle Public Schools levies. Proposition 1, the Operations Levy, would bring in more than three-quarters of a billion dollars over three years; you can read the details here. Proposition 2 is the six-year Buildings, Technology and Academics Capital Levy (BTA), raising more than $475 million for projects in the district including these in West Seattle, as we reported in November:

*$6.7 million for EC Hughes upgrades to enable it to reopen as a 550-student elementary school (to which, the district has said, it will move the Roxhill Elementary program)
*5.4 million for Gatewood Elementary, most of that for HVAC, also some $ for cladding work
*1.8 million for athletic-field lights at Southwest Athletic Complex (ID’d in the documents as Chief Sealth IHS, which is across the street)
*$1.5 million for the roof at West Seattle HS
*94,000 for doors at Sanislo Elementary

Both are replacements for expiring levies, though at higher sums. If you’re not registered to vote, tomorrow’s the deadline to register online, with a later deadline for signing up in person – details on the King County Elections website. Ballots will go in the mail January 20th.

ELECTION 2016: Brendan Kolding running again for State House

West Seattleite Brendan Kolding, who challenged 34th District Position 2 State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon in 2014, says he’s running for the State House again. This time, he says he’s seeking the Position 1 seat long held by Rep. Eileen Cody. Kolding, a 33-year-old Democrat and father of three, says education is his top priority. From his announcement:

It is unacceptable that the State continues to be in violation of its Constitutional obligation to fully fund public K-12 education. The Supreme Court has made it clear that education funding is priority number one within the operating budget, and there is more than enough money to meet the additional four to five billion dollars that is needed. Once education is fully funded, then tough decisions will have to be made regarding cuts to other entities that fall within the operating budget. If the citizens of Washington are willing to accept more taxes to augment the budget, then funding can be restored to the non-education entities, but withholding resources from education until new funding sources can be identified is completely untenable.”

Kolding is a member of the Holy Rosary School Commission and says he sees private schools as complementary to public schools:

“Private schools save the taxpayers over $800 million annually. If we can make these schools more accessible to the families who are interested in enrolling their children in them, the funding and class size requirements of McCleary will be easier to attain. It’s a win-win. For that reason, I am proposing legislation that will incentivize donations that support private schools.”

Kolding is a former substitute teacher who is now a sergeant in the Seattle Police Policy Unit. He also volunteers as a youth-basketball coach. The position he’s running for will be on the August 2nd ballot.

2016 ELECTIONS: County Councilmember Joe McDermott considering running to succeed Jim McDermott in Congress

(January 2012 photo of Rep. Jim McDermott and Councilmember Joe McDermott, by Dina Lydia)
You’ve probably heard by now that Seattle’s U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott has decided not to run for re-election, after almost 30 years. Might his successor be from West Seattle? King County Councilmember Joe McDermott (no relation) confirms he is thinking about it. In response to inquiries including ours, he e-mailed this:

“I have enormous respect for Jim McDermott, Whether it was tackling the HIV/AIDS crisis or Congressman McDermott’s long-term advocacy for health care reform, he has been a true champion for progressive causes. I was honored to receive a call from him yesterday so I could express my appreciation personally.

“Since his announcement, I have received dozens of calls from constituents and local and national leaders encouraging me to seek this office. I will not take this decision lightly and will be discussing it with my husband and family over the next few days.

“Seattle is the greatest city in the world. My regional experience, progressive values and proven ability to work across the aisle position me to advance the issues important to our city and tackle the obstructionism and dysfunction that have sadly become the hallmarks of Congress.

“My focus will remain tackling homelessness, ensuring an efficient transit system, and addressing the growing income inequality that threatens our middle class.”

Joe McDermott is a 48-year-old third-generation resident of West Seattle, where he lives with husband Michael. He spent 10 years in the State House and Senate before moving in 2010 to the King County Council, to which he was re-elected last November, unopposed.

IN THE RACE SO FAR: North Seattle State Rep. Brady Walkinshaw is already running, having announced four weeks before Jim McDermott went public with his decision.

VIDEO: West Seattle and South Park’s new City Councilmember Lisa Herbold promises to ensure people aren’t ‘left behind’

(UPDATED TUESDAY AFTERNOON with text of Councilmember Herbold’s speech)

3:43 PM: We’re at Seattle City Hall, where a hour and a half of oaths of office and speeches by the nine members of the City Council and their subsequent short business meeting have just concluded. Above, District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold was the first to take the oath, administered by former City Councilmember Nick Licata, for whom she worked for more than a decade and a half; her daughter, grandchildren, and husband joined her for the occasion, as shown in our video above; below, her subsequent four-minute speech, in which she vowed to ensure no one is “left behind”:

We’ll replace our phone video with better-quality versions of the clips, and more details, including key points of what was said by her new colleagues – including Councilmember Lorena González, a West Seattleite elected to citywide Position 9 – when we’re back at HQ a bit later.

5:01 PM: Here’s the archived Seattle Channel video of the entire event, all nine councilmembers (by district/position number, so Herbold was first, González last):

ADDED 7:38 PM: Photos – Councilmember Herbold’s mom Donna fastening the official city pin on her daughter:

Her grandchildren Jamaya and Jamil and husband Bob with her at the post-ceremony photo op:

And outside the post-meeting reception at the Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall, her entire group, also including daughter Megan at right:

In her speech, Councilmember Herbold spoke of income inequality, and the stark effect of housing unaffordability – the declining percentage of Seattle workers who are able to live in the city. Those who help make our region’s prosperity happen should have the chance to prosper too, she declared. She vowed “to pass laws to ensure that those who benefit most from the prosperity also invest in a fair deal for our city.” That includes impact fees and protection for renters “from some of the excesses of a very hot housing market,” she said. And on another money-related note, she thanked volunteers for helping her win “despite being outspent three to one.”

ADDED 8:05 PM: Councilmember González had been sworn in back in November, since her position was to succeed temporary appointee John Okamoto, so this was a second ceremony. City Clerk Monica Martinez Simmons led her through the oath, and partner Cameron was at her side:

You can see her speech at 1 hour, 10 minutes into the Seattle Channel clip above. “It’s my most sincere wish, hope, and resolution that this group of determined people will … put our heads together to solve Seattle’s most pressing issues” – gender and income inequality, homelessness, lack of affordable housing, “much more. … We must make this city a better place to live, work, and play. … We must be a voice for those so often forced into the shadows, only to be silenced. We must make this city the progressive beacon of our nation – where unfettered opportunity and shared prosperity for the working class, communities of color, immigrants, and refugees is the rule, not the exception.” 2015 was a year of change, she noted, but 2016 must be “a year of action.”

Councilmembers González and Herbold are two of the five women who make this a female-majority Seattle City Council for the first time in almost two decades. That, and the new makeup of the council – seven district representatives, two at-large, when all members had previously been at large for a century – are part of what the official news release trumpets. That and key points of other councilmembers’ speeches, ahead:

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WHAT’S AHEAD IN 2016: Lisa Herbold officially becomes West Seattle and South Park’s City Councilmember; ceremony on Monday

Another look ahead, now that it’s a brand-new year:

Two months after the election, and one month after recount results were finalized, Lisa Herbold officially becomes the first Seattle City Councilmember for District 1 (West Seattle and South Park) on Monday. As our screengrab at left shows, her official city webpage is already up (though not yet linked from the council’s index page, which we wouldn’t expect before Monday, anyway).

The oath-of-office ceremony for Herbold and other councilmembers is scheduled to start off the afternoon session, and is expected to draw a full house, so early arrival is advised (well before the official 2 pm start). Herbold told us in our post-election interview (published here December 7th) that she has chosen outgoing Councilmember Nick Licata, for whom she has worked more than a decade and a half, to administer her oath. The ceremony’s published order is numerical by district, so she’s up first.

On Monday, the council – with four new members and five returnees, albeit in different roles given the new seven-district-and-two-at-large makeup – also will finalize committee chairs/members. According to the mid-December announcement, Herbold is expected to chair the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee, whose first meeting of 2016 is at 9:30 am January 12. During the campaign, she said she was interested in chairing what will now be the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee; that role instead is slated for new District 4 (Northeast Seattle) Councilmember Rob Johnson, with its former chair Councilmember Mike O’Brien as vice chair, but Herbold is listed as the committee’s third member. She is also expected to be vice chair of the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Finance Committee, and alternate member of the Sustainability and Transportation Committee. (Each committee has a chair, vice chair, member, and alternate, though any councilmember can show up at a committee meeting to participate.)

BACKSTORY: In case you’re new, or otherwise just tuning in, Herbold, a Highland Park resident, won election by a hand-recount-verified 39-vote margin over Shannon Braddock in the general election, following a nine-candidate primary (with five prospective candidates dropping out before the primary, and one falling just short of the number of petition signatures required to make the ballot in lieu of a $1200 fee). She’ll be one of two West Seattleites on the council, along with Lorena González, elected to at-large (citywide) Position 9.

CONTACTING YOUR NEW COUNCILMEMBER: As seen on Herbold’s webpage, her e-mail address is lisa.herbold@seattle.gov, her office phone number 206-684-8803.

P.S. If you’d like to hear from her in person and/or ask a question, Herbold is also scheduled to be at next Wednesday’s Southwest District Council meeting, 6:30 pm (January 6th) at the Sisson Building/Senior Center, California/Oregon.

ELECTION 2016: Republican governor candidate Bill Bryant ends his Port Commission career with Rotary Club of West Seattle speech

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Before Bill Bryant becomes a full-time candidate for governor, he had one last thing on his to-do list as a two-term Seattle Port Commissioner: A speech to the Rotary Club of West Seattle.

That speech today at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) brought him full circle, Bryant said, because he announced his Port Commission run at nearby Jack Block Park in 2006.

His run for governor, by contrast, was announced online. And here’s our video of what he told the Rotary Club today:

Bryant delivered more of a valedictory for his 8 years on the commission than a speech looking ahead to what he would hope to do as governor. He said he ran on a platform that eventually spanned four key points:

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Read the ruling: Judge says city has the right to tax guns/bullets

The two documents above (and here) comprise a county judge’s ruling today that the city is within its rights to tax guns and ammunition, despite what opponents argued three months ago. Here’s how the city announced today’s court decision:

The City of Seattle has the legal authority to enact a $25 per firearm tax on retailers to mitigate the costs of gun violence, King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson ruled Tuesday.

“The tax imposed by the Ordinance under the City’s constitutional and legislative authority to impose taxes, which is separate from its regulatory authority under its police power, is not preempted by RCW 9.41.290,” Judge Robinson ruled, dashing the NRA’s attempt to overturn the law.

Her ruling aligns with the position argued by the City that “The Ordinance does not limit any person’s right to purchase, sell, acquire, transfer, discharge, or transport firearms or ammunition.”

“I’m gratified by Judge Robinson’s thorough analysis, and congratulate our team of attorneys who argued the case before her last Friday,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said Tuesday. “The NRA needs to butt out of Seattle’s efforts to enact sensible gun safety legislation.”

“The Court got the law absolutely right,” said William Abrams of Steptoe & Johnson, who led the litigation team and appeared for the City pro bono. “Seattle’s right to fund research and education on gun violence was upheld. This time the NRA was unsuccessful in trying to block research on gun violence. The real winners are the citizens of Seattle, whose government can move forward to fund important research on this public health epidemic that affects everyone.”

In a Seattle summer marred by random gunfire, the City Council unanimously approved, and Mayor Ed Murray signed, the ordinance that, come January, will levy a $25 tax on businesses for each firearm sold at retail within City limits to provide a sustained local revenue source for research and prevention programs. In addition, the City will impose a 2-cent tax for every round of .22 caliber ammunition sold and a 5-cent tax for every other round of ammunition sold. A companion ordinance mandates that lost or stolen firearms be reported to the Seattle Police Department.

Of the ruling, the ordinance’s sponsor, Councilmember Tim Burgess, said, “We established the gun violence tax as a legitimate and appropriate way to raise revenue for gun safety research and prevention programs. The NRA and its allies always oppose these common sense steps to shine light on the gun violence epidemic. They have blocked funding for basic gun safety research at the federal level for decades. But in Seattle it is different. Judge Robinson saw through the NRA’s distorted efforts to put gun industry profits ahead of public safety.”

Welcoming the ruling, Mayor Murray said, “Guns now kill more people in the United States than automobiles. Our community will not stand by as so many in our city, particularly young people of color, continue to pay the highest price for inaction on gun violence at the national and state level. For too long, we have had insufficient research and data on gun violence in Seattle to help guide our response. We will now have critical funding to advance our work on gun violence research and prevention.”

Go here to read what the city passed.

See which committee your new Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold will lead

It’s not final until after the first of the year, but the Seattle City Council has just announced the tentative plan for which councilmember will head which committee next year. That includes the choice of District 1 City Councilmember-elect Lisa Herbold as chair of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee. Here’s the full announcement, which includes some committee-name changes (note Sustainability and Transportation, for example – it’s currently just Transportation):

Seattle City Council announced its tentative plan for committee assignments today, in preparation for work in 2016. Each Councilmember is responsible for chairing a Council committee and managing legislation related to the committee’s focus. Councilmembers also serve as a vice-chair on one committee and as a member on another. Councilmembers can also sponsor legislation on other committees under certain conditions. Committee assignments are made official at the first Full Council meeting of the year, on Monday January 4, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. Councilmembers will also elect their 2016-17 Council President at the meeting. Committee assignments last for two years.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw will chair the Human Services and Public Health Committee. Councilmember Bagshaw will oversee Council’s work on issues relating to services provided by the Human Services Department, including programs that meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in our community. The committee will also consider matters involving public health and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to community-based services.

Councilmember Tim Burgess will chair the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee. As chair of this committee, Councilmember Burgess will focus on issues relating to housing—investing and promoting the development and preservation of affordable housing, and building strong neighborhoods through outreach and engagement. Councilmember Burgess will also chair the Budget committee, overseeing the review of the Mayor’s proposed budget.

Councilmember Lorena González will chair the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee. As chair, Councilmember González will consider policies to address gender equity and help improve the lives of Seattle’s immigrant and refugee residents. The committee will also focus on fostering safe communities, improving police accountability, crime prevention, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, and fire and medical services.

Councilmember Bruce Harrell will chair the Education, Equity and Governance Committee. As chair, Councilmember Harrell will focus on issues relating to public schools and improving student success rates, intergovernmental relations, technology, ethics and elections, prisoner reentry and equity issues for underserved communities.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold will chair the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee. Councilmember Herbold’s committee will manage issues relating to labor standards, civil rights, Seattle Public Utilities, and economic development. The committee will also manage issues relating to arts and culture in Seattle, which includes nightlife issues.

Councilmember Rob Johnson will chair the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee. As chair of this committee, Councilmember Johnson will take up issues involving City zoning, planning, major institutions, quasi-judicial decisions, community development, and land use regulations.

Councilmember Debora Juarez will chair the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee. As chair, Councilmember Juarez will focus on issues relating to City parks, community centers, and public grounds, including the Seattle Center. Her committee will also manage legislation relating to the Seattle Public Library system. Councilmember Juarez will also chair the Central Waterfront committee.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien will chair the Sustainability and Transportation Committee. Councilmember O’Brien’s committee will handle matters pertaining to city-wide and regional transportation policy and planning. These issues range from pedestrian and bicycle programs, traffic control and parking policies, and overseeing the City’s coordination with regional and state departments of transportation. The committee will also have a shared-focus on Seattle’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant will chair the Energy and Environment Committee. Councilmember Sawant’s committee will handle policies relating to Seattle’s energy usage, as well as issues relating to alternative energy sources, air pollution regulation, energy utility rates, and Seattle City Light finances. In addition, Councilmember Sawant will take up matters that relate to climate and environmental protections, conservation programs, and green infrastructure.

During the campaign, Herbold had said she was interested in chairing the Land Use Committee.

See the full list of committee memberships here.

Return of the dropbox(es)? King County Council promises more

When King County went to all-mail voting seven years ago, it was hailed as a way to make voting easier, bound to increase participation. That hasn’t turned out to be the case, especially this year – countywide, 75 percent of registered voters sat out the August primary, 60 percent didn’t vote in November.

Is inconvenience the problem? West Seattle, for example, hasn’t had a permanent ballot dropbox – one where you could take your ballot any time, free – since this one:

That’s our photo of the Delridge Neighborhood Service Center ballot drop in 2009, months before it was removed. Now, either you drop your ballot in the postal mail, with a stamp, or you wait for the county’s dropoff van to come by for three of the last four days before the voting deadline.

That might change as soon as next year. Today, the County Council approved “a motion requesting the development of a plan that will expand access while ensuring geographic equity and convenience for voters,” according to a news release from County Councilmember Rob Dembowski, who made the motion. Also quoted is County Elections Director-elect Julie Wise, saying, “Additional ballot drop box locations are a priority for my office and will be a great start in expanding access for the voters of King County.” The announcement notes that 39 dropboxes were authorized around the county at the time by-mail voting began, but budget cuts led to far fewer boxes (though that wasn’t the reason cited when we inquired in 2010), so county councilmembers are seeking a plan for more, and they want it to include:

1. A proposed number of additional drop-off locations to ensure geographic equity;
2. Proposed sites for the drop-off locations;
3. Estimated costs; and
4. An implementation timeline.

B. The plan should include an analysis of the feasibility and desirability of using all public library locations in King County, including Seattle Public Libraries and the King County Library System, as a means to ensure geographic equity and convenience for voters.

C. The plan should include an option for deployment of the expanded drop boxes for the November 2016 general election.

The plan is due to the council by next April. Documents from today’s council meeting note that the county provided 25 dropboxes this year, and only 13 were fixed; the other 12 were the temporary, just-before-election vans, including the ones deployed to West Seattle and White Center (which also used to have a fixed dropbox, at its main county library branch).

ELECTION FINALLY FINAL: You can now call her Seattle District 1 City Councilmember-elect Lisa Herbold

(WSB photo: Lisa Herbold, during our interview with her on Sunday night)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The recount is officially over, and Lisa Herbold has won the election to become the first-ever Seattle City Councilmember representing District 1 (West Seattle and South Park).

Hours before King County Elections made the announcement this afternoon, we sat down to talk with now-Councilmember-elect Herbold, who as a result of the required-recount election has a weeks-shorter transition time than she would have had otherwise.

Since she has worked at City Hall for more than a decade and a half, as an assistant to retiring Councilmember Nick Licata, that’ll be less of a challenge for her than it might have been for someone else.

Licata will administer the oath of office to her during the January 4th ceremonies that will also install three other newly elected councilmembers. That’s just one symbol of what she calls the “circularity” of what has happened; another came Sunday afternoon, before our evening conversation, when she joined the Women’s Political Caucus in honoring “heroines of the campaign” – hers was treasurer Jeanne Legault. And, she explained, she received that same award 18 years ago for her work on Licata’s campaign.

Now, the campaigning is over, and it’s on with preparation to serve West Seattle and South Park in a historic role – the area’s first-ever district councilmember.

Our first question:

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ELECTION UPDATE: Counting’s done in the recount, and it looks like final-final result will be Councilmember-Elect Herbold

9:54 AM: King County Elections confirms this morning that the actual counting has concluded in the by-hand recount of the first-ever Seattle City Council District 1 race. “The tallying portion of the recount is done, but there is still additional reconciliation work to do,” KCE’s Kim van Ekstrom tells WSB. By multiple accounts, the “tallying” left Lisa Herbold on top; you’ll recall that she had a 39-vote lead over Shannon Braddock when the official results were certified a week and a half ago. That was a close-enough margin for a mandatory recount by hand, and the vote counting started, and finished, yesterday. Publicola reports that Braddock already has called Herbold to congratulate her. KC Elections says the final certification is still scheduled for Monday, and promises an update on that later today. (WSB photo from Herbold’s Election Night party)

10:28 AM: From KCE via e-mail: “An official announcement on the outcome of the recount will be made on Monday, Dec. 7 by 2:30 p.m. following the Canvass Board meeting at 1:00 p.m.”

‘I’m beyond optimistic’: Leslie Harris now your official Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors rep for West Seattle & South Park

(WSB video: Harris’s post-oath speech)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Four weeks after her landslide win, Leslie Harris has just officially taken office as the new Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors rep for District 6 – West Seattle and South Park.

At district headquarters, with husband Michael Harris and recent Chief Sealth International High School graduate daughter Monica Harris looking on, Harris was administered the oath of office by retired Washington State Supreme Court Justice Faith Ireland [video].

“She’s a mentor,” Harris explained in a phone interview with WSB this morning.

Mentoring is a priority for Harris, as she mentioned in her victory speech at last month’s 34th District Democrats meeting. Asked to elaborate in our conversation today, she explained, “My hope is that we can work with community members, with organized labor, with parents, and with business, to hook up middle- and high-school students with someone who will help them achieve their goals, that’ll be there to support them, answer questions, coach them … and that’s especially important with (students) who don’t have extensive families and aren’t able to access parts of the system that other privileged people take for granted.”

Harris, a Highland Park resident, has been not just an SPS parent for years – before CSIHS, her daughter attended Pathfinder K-8 – but has also been an advocate and watchdog. “I feel like I’ve been in training, almost like an athlete, you know,” she laughed. And the past few weeks since the election have been even more intense.

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Planning begins for Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial, initiated by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

On this World AIDS Day, more from West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen about the start of planning for one of his city-budget priorities, a Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial:

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen today announced the City Council has dedicated $75,000 to initiate a planning process to create a Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial. Those funds would be directly matched by a community organization, which would take a leadership role in planning and proposing an appropriate memorial.

Nearly 4,000 Seattleites died in the first two decades of the AIDS epidemic, and a history of both the crisis and the community’s response has not been comprehensively collected, recorded or presented. Councilmember Rasmussen sponsored the memorial proposal after listening to advocates involved in the early days of the epidemic who felt that the history and the stories of the lives that were lost be chronicled.

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2015 ELECTION: Mapping the City Council District 1 vote

(Click image for zoomable view)
Though the City Council District 1 race isn’t officially settled yet, and won’t be until after the recount, now that the election is certified, precinct-by-precinct results are available, and that’s what you see in the map above. It was made by Ben Anderstone, a political consultant with Progressive Strategies NW, who granted our request for permission to republish it here. The tones are green for Shannon Braddock and red for Lisa Herbold, on a graded scale, so that the lightest of each is closest to the almost exactly 50-50 split that the election became on a raw numbers basis. In all, per the final results sheet from the county (page 45), 45 percent of the registered voters in District 1 – West Seattle and South Park – returned their ballots. That’s 27,757 ballots out of 60,991 registered voters; almost 10 percent of them – 2,714 of them did not include a vote in this particular race.

City Councilmember Lorena González takes office: West Seattleite makes history

(Seattle City Council photo, via Twitter)

Tonight, West Seattle resident Lorena González became the first Seattle City Councilmember to take the oath of office after the certification of the November election. As noted in the city announcement below, her election itself represented a long-overdue first:

Councilmember Lorena González received the Oath of Office, following certification of election results by King County Elections. Before her friends and colleagues and a packed-Council Chambers, González reflected on her election, plans for her forthcoming Council term, and shared what it means to be the first Latina/o to serve the Seattle City Council in a speech clocking-in at less than ten minutes.

(Added Wednesday: Seattle Channel video of ceremony and speech)
“Mayor Murray, Council President Burgess, friends and family, sisters and brothers, I stand before you today with sincere appreciation for the opportunity I have to represent our community in our state’s largest city as the first Latina sworn into the Seattle City Council.”

Citing her experience as a civil rights attorney and community advocate, González also acknowledged her service as legal counsel to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and as a partner at Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, representing workers in wage theft and anti-discrimination cases and representing victims of police misconduct as formative experiences. She also recognized and thanked her parents for “…(believing) the American dream was achievable.”

Born and raised in Washington’s lower Yakima Valley to a Spanish-speaking migrant farmworker family, González – who earned her first paycheck at the age of 8 – reminded the audience “…I don’t have the background of a typical politician. Mine is a lived experience rooted in the reality of overcoming poverty and injustice. I am living proof that access to opportunity, coupled with hard work, is a recipe for success. I graduated high school in the face of overwhelming odds. I worked in a food plant, a bank, a retail store, a fast food chain, a day care, and a hotel.”

González conjured memories of picking cherries as a child, spending as many as three hours a day before the start of the school day, and “Often in an environment where I was sprayed with pesticides, or working without access to a bathroom or water…. it’s these formative moments and experiences that inspired me to want to be an advocate, a champion, for those people who I see myself in — even to this day — and especially for those who haven’t had a strong voice in government. They live in the shadows, and I did too – until I saw a path and climbed my way out.“

González went on to outline her intentions to draw on her extensive experience standing up for progressive values and the underrepresented to her work serving the people of Seattle as one of two at-large (citywide) representatives.

In her final moments in Chambers, González turned her attention to future Council colleagues. “My word is my deed,” said González. “I have dedicated my life’s work to defending workers’ rights and will continue this fight – in the name of wage theft on behalf of a cook, or defending men and women against retribution in all its forms. I’ll continue my quest to stand up for dignity in the workplace, and in my work here at city hall on behalf of workers…I will not back down from tackling tough issues or seeking solutions that build a stronger community.”

Born and raised in Central Washington in a Spanish-speaking migrant farmworker family, Councilmember González relied on need-based grants and scholarships to attend community college and later Washington State University. She moved to Seattle in 2002 to attend Seattle University Law School. González has served on various local, regional and national non-profit boards, including OneAmerica, OneAmerica Votes, National Council of La Raza, Northwest Area Foundation, and Washington State Association for Justice.

Councilmember González won the Position 9 race with 78 percent of the vote. If you’re downtown or able to get there, Councilmember González is having an open house in her new office at City Hall tomorrow morning, 9:30 am-11:30 am

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