Video & as-it-happened coverage: Mayor McGinn’s Town Hall at SW Teen Life Center

After a community resource fair and youth performance, the mayor has just taken the microphone. We’ll be updating live.

6:41 PM: “We’re starting to see things turn around in the city, economically,” he begins, adding that he believes the city has recovered “more than half” the 35,000 jobs believed to have been lost in recent years. Current Seattle unemployment is estimated at 6.5 percent, he says, while noting that’s “still historically high.” He recalls a time when the “biggest challenge” was to manage growth – and then things went downhill. He says he’s “worked hard to have a city government responsive to people and their needs.” (If that sounds a little like campaigning … we should note, his first term ends next year, though we don’t believe he’s announced whether he plans to run for a second one.) He runs through some of the budget-cutting measures he says have been taken by the city in the past few years, including a quick allusion to community-center cuts – which have affected the facility in which this event is being held; it was a full-fledged community center, and now it is a teen center, also co-housing a Neighborhood Service Center. “We have to focus on good, sustainable economic growth that everybody can share,” he summarizes – “… and focus on our strengths.”


6:48 PM: Now he’s moving right into Q/A. 1st up, people who identify themselves as being from Stand Up America, who are challenging the mayor on his salary, which they say is $170,000, “$10,000 more than the governor.” In response, he acknowledges, “I do make a good salary, and I work pretty hard … and you all will decide if I’m worthy of doing this job again.” He notes that he makes an annual charity donation from his salary “and will keep doing that.” He adds that “I love this job, I’d do it for free.” Emcee Pete Spalding then pitches semi-humorously that the mayor might consider making that donation to the West Seattle Food Bank (he’s on its board).

Question #2, also from a Stand Up America member, is a statement with concerns about judicial integrity, and a declaration that “we have a criminal judicial system.” The questioner asks if the mayor will protect the Constitution; he says, he took an oath to do so, and he will.

Question #3, is a concern from someone about parking along 40th SW on the east side of The Junction. The mayor asks if he is expressing concern about traffic brought by new development, and the attendee says yes. The mayor is referring the question to a city traffic engineer who is here, to talk with the man about neighborhood traffic-calming options. He also reminisces about problems that were addressed on his street in Greenwood, and says he wishes there was more money in the budget for traffic calming.

Question #4, from a man who says that “the federal government has taken over our police department” and begins talking about Seattle Police Chief Diaz, and wondering why the mayor hired him. “The federal government has NOT taken over our police department,” the mayor begins, and very quickly recaps the recent agreement with the feds. Then he goes on to recap the hiring process, as requested by the attendee, mentioning that Diaz was one of two remaining finalists after a third review. “What I noticed about the chief was, he was not a self-promoter, but he was always getting promoted,” he observes, and talks about how the chief is a self-effacing person committed “to change … to treatment of individuals,” as well as Chief Diaz’s response to various incidents that have occurred since, including the John Williams shooting.

Question #5, is from Cindi Barker, an east Morgan Junction resident, who says she was blindsided by a flyer distributed last week regarding a bike lane that is scheduled to go in – previously unannounced – on SW Morgan, removing 45 parking spaces. She says it’s counter to policies in the Morgan neighborhood plan, and “why is it being done without public input?” The mayor apologizes that he doesn’t have specifics about this project. He then gets general: “How do we allocate street right of way … as more people ride bicycles, ride buses … If there are a lot of community concerns about it, then we’ll go out and talk to the community about it.”

Question #6, is from someone who says he has a public-safety concern. He begins asking about the Puget Creek Watershed and kiln dust in the area, and whether a push to daylight the creek might lead to trouble. “Is the city willing to take leadership in righting a historic wrong?” The mayor then admits he’s not familiar with Puget Creek. Discussion will ensue later.

Question #7 is from Mat McBride, chair of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council, talking about the proposal for a Delridge boulevard. The mayor says he was briefed on what appears to be the forthcoming rechannelization (which is not a boulevardization project). “What would you want to see different?” he asks McBride. “Wider sidewalks, lighting, turn it from a street project into a community project,” he says. The mayor talks about timing and is told that the work on Delridge – currently scheduled work – is set for next year. “It’s intriguing to me, and I don’t know what we should do next,” says the mayor, then concluding that SDOT, Delridge leaders, and mayoral staffers should have a meeting. Spalding then elaborates that all the current plans end at Andover; an SDOT staffer says there ARE some plans for low-cost improvements past Andover.

Marshall Foster from DPD speaks up and says they’ve been “talking about the Delridge corridor” and thinking maybe there’s some money to help out the business nodes along the road. “We don’t have the resources … to do the planning work right now,” he cautions, but says it’s “tentatively” on a “work plan” for next year.

Question #8, Tony Fragada from the Alki Community Council, who first thanks the mayor for the city’s response to Alki mudslide issues. He then brings up Greener Skies, the planned flight-path changes, and concerns about aircraft noise over Alki, and how it will be affected: “Moving the noise from one area of Seattle to the other is a concern.” Fragada says there’s a meeting with the FAA next week. The mayor says Alki isn’t the first to express that concern. He says the city perhaps should “really get engaged” since “there are a lot of potential winners and losers” in the change and promises to “start developing a city response for this.”

Question #9 is from a woman who identifies herself as a youth counselor. She expresses concern about recent shootings in the city and wonders about the mayor’s stance on mental-health issues. He asks her to explain more about why she asked that. She explains her young clients’ background, many dealing with depression and suicide, “and they don’t have a lot of their needs met.” The mayor acknowledges the particular challenges of immigrant youth, which the questioner had mentioned, and then talks about the city’s commitment to school-based clinics, as well as a recently launched pilot program “around job training for immigrant youth.” But, he then says, “The gun violence issue is recently challenging,” while noting it involves more adults than youth. He mentions Safe Communities and upcoming outreach, “particularly involving intervening with youth. … That’s the long-term solution. In the short term, we need everyone to help us out on this. Somebody knows who’s heading out with a gun. Somebody knows who’s in trouble. We need somebody to share that information.”

Question #10 is from Shirley, who says she doesn’t understand the SW Alaska rechannelization for RapidRide and why a car-travel lane was taken away. The mayor mentions that driving has dropped 7 percent over a 10-year period and “people are choosing different modes … We really aren’t in much of a position to create new roadway capacity in the city of Seattle. … So we have to figure out how to reallocate the road space we have, to be the most efficient possible.” He then goes on to say they have to figure out how to get more people into downtown with the space we have, because “more and more people want to use the bus … one bus carries a lot of people … it’s an efficient way to get out of town … it saves money … that’s how people need to get to and from their jobs.” Shirley says you can’t ask young families with kids to live without cars. “Most people in the city need to drive, and in many different circumstances,” the mayor acknowledges. “It’s not an either-or situation.” “Then don’t take away parking!” protests Shirley. The mayor continues, “We have to balance … and the balance is going to be different on different roads in different places.”

Question #11 is from Susan Ruppert of the Genesee Schmitz Neighborhood Council. She’s asking about the Genesee Hill campus and vandalism/crime issues there. “The neighborhood has been as on top of that as possible … we also have a community garden on the property, that we felt would encourage people to use the space … In the school district’s wisdom, they decided to fence off most of the access to the school.” (We covered the controversy over this – will add a link when we can.) She says that they are at wit’s end, not making any progress. The mayor is referring Susan to Sol Villarreal; the mayor says they’ll try to “track down this problem” and wonders aloud if the police department is aware of the stuation. SW Precinct commander Capt. Steve Paulsen says he thinks his department can find a way to “make this work for the neighborhood” and work with the district to find a solution that also doesn’t compromise safety.

Question #12 (7:28 pm) is from Dick Hurley, who asks the mayor about the city’s consideration of “shot spotters” (previously reported here) to find out where and when gunshots have been fired. The mayor says he has asked SPD to analyze Shot Spotter and come back with a recommendation. Dick says he “heard somebody mention a large price tag” but “believe me, there isn’t an officer (on SPD) that isn’t worth three times that price tag.” The mayor goes on to explain the technology. “It’s not a panacea, it’s another tool, but it’s a potentially helpful one,” he concludes.

Question #13 is from a man who says he’s lived in Seattle so long that he remembers when the roads were paved in bricks. He says the roads made now tend to deteriorate quickly, and asks for more asphalt. He asks the mayor to put together a committee to study building roads to stay together for the long term. The mayor notes that right now they’re not even keeping up on arterial major maintenance, and “doing almost nothing” on residential roads. He goes into some related issues including his proposal to raise the parking tax for more work, and the City Council countering with a tax just for the Mercer fix. “So we have a basic financing problem.” But, he says, whenever extra money comes up/in, he tries to put it into spot maintenance. “We can analyze what we do, but without the funds to (do something bigger),” there’s not much point, he concludes. However: “I’m going to keep working on that, because it matters.”

Question #14 is from a woman who brings up the almost-complete Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project. “My concern is that they are considering it complete without good striping” among other things, she says. “What we have right now is a confusing mess as you come off the freeway and are now going to have to be merging into lanes .. there’s not good striping, old stripes are showing, there are grooves dug out … My concern is that it’s dangerous and that the job is (not complete). Will SDOT be considering revising the speed limit on the Spokane St. Viaduct? It’s been at 35 for years but most people do 45 to 50.” The mayor throws the question to a city traffic engineer, who says they are “looking at some tools” to fix the striping problem – maybe one with “raised bumps built into the stripe.” Expensive, he says, but it lasts up to 12 years, and he says they are going to start using it. Raised pavement markers might also help, he says. As for the speed limit – he says it’s a “chicken and egg thing,” because if you raise the speed limit, then people feel comfortable driving above the new limit. “We want to be very careful about applying the tool of raising speed limits.”

Question #15 is from Westwood resident Denise, who says she’s lived across the street from an abandoned house for three years, and has been in touch with the city repeatedly, but “nothing has happened.” She goes on to say that someone there had been arrested and then adds a problem with the mortgage foreclosure crisis, wondering if the city banks with Bank of America. The mayor replies, “Great question …” and refers her problem with the abandoned house to DPD, then trying to explain the city’s position on banking. “We have to bank with a large bank,” he explains. He goes on to say he supports the proposal for a state bank (discussed at a 34th District Democrats meeting earlier this year).

Question #16 (7:48 pm) is from a woman who wants clarification on the mayor’s “educational role,” wondering how he works with the district and what he thinks about the return to neighborhood schools, especially in high-poverty areas. He says education has been a priority for him, and talks about the Families and Education Levy, saying its “investments” are targeted where they’re most needed. He also mentions the city’s campaign last school year to encourage attendance improvement.

Question #17 is from Highland Park resident Deanie Schwarz, asking about the city’s bicycle plan not extending to Westcrest Park and its pedestrian improvements. He says he’s not familiar with its status.

Question #18 is from another Highland Park resident asking about a bike lane on Highland Park Way. He says he was injured in a collision with a bike on the sidewalk. The mayor asks how he’s doing, then points out it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk.

Question #19 is from Admiral resident Diane Vincent, asking about the inequity of public access to computers during the library closure. She says she was trying to find a community center where she could use the computers during the library outage – then discovered that some of the centers, including Delridge and SW, had their computer centers closed this week. Why did the city website have incorrect information about that? she asked, adding, why would the centers not open the labs while the library computers were inaccessible. “You are absolutely right, and we should coordinate that, and be talking across departments,” he says. The mayor says he will check with Parks supt. Christopher Williams tomorrow to see if this can be fixed.

7:59 PM – the meeting is wrapping up. We’ll be adding photos, video, and a few more notes, when back at HQ a bit later* (actually, look for it in the morning).

ADDED WEDNESDAY MORNING: First, unedited video starting with the introduction of the mayor:

Next, photos from the community resource fair (in which WSB was honored to participate too).

K-5 STEM at Boren principal Dr. Shannon McKinney was there:

Dot Beard and Richard Miller from the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council, which resumes meetings in September:

More resource-fair photos will be added in the hours ahead. Citizen activists also circulated – here’s Dr. Ron Sterling, a Lowman Beach resident who is opposed to the planned sewer-overflow-control facility in that area and the changes it will make to the neighborhood:

He didn’t take the mike with a question for the mayor, but his concerns are detailed on this website.

7 Replies to "Video & as-it-happened coverage: Mayor McGinn's Town Hall at SW Teen Life Center"

  • Jim August 28, 2012 (8:15 pm)

    Thanks for the running updates!

  • Diane August 28, 2012 (10:04 pm)

    great to be able to come home to the recap of first part of the town hall that I missed
    much appreciation to the Mayor and team for positive response to my questions, and taking immediate action to get the computer labs open this week
    I was late because the Paid Sick/Safe Leave meeting at High Point was at same time, and had big turnout of business owners with tons of questions; ch4 was also there

  • WTF August 28, 2012 (10:30 pm)


  • I Love Alki August 28, 2012 (11:21 pm)

    I for one can’t wait to vote McGinn OUT – his “handling” (or better yet mishandling) the reforms of the SPD are atrocious. He just reappointed Kathryn Olson who has been “overseeing” the SPD for the last several years (during the SPD’s worst human rights violations). McGinn hasn’t heeded Seattle’s Collective Voice in this regard and countless other facets during his entire term.

    Thanks for the coverage WSB!

  • homedk August 28, 2012 (11:35 pm)

    As one of the folks staffing a community booth near the back of the room, I had a good view of this event. One observation: I noticed that several of the people who asked questions did not even listen to the Mayor’s response to them; they immediately began talking with others at the meeting, as though their primary purpose in asking the question was designed to provoke the Mayor & generate visibility for themselves. Events like these are what we make of them… I wish people would use them as an opportunity to build more understanding (regardless of one’s political leanings). It’s perfectly fine to articulate ones views, but and a good next step is being respectful & learning how to listen.

  • visitor August 29, 2012 (2:21 pm)

    meh. Such a weak mayor, he’s lost control of some of his departments. City council committees step in to fill the void.

  • LiquidCourageisSad August 29, 2012 (8:38 pm)

    somebody showed up absolutely reeking of booze. Don’t know for sure who it was because i didn’t want to look, but dang he/she REEKED. Grossed me out.

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