UPDATE: City Council continues considering police-budget cuts

(Click to watch live via Seattle Channel)

10:07 AM: The City Council has reconvened as the Select Budget Committee, with proposed SPD cuts first on the agenda, right after public comment, which has just begun. Here’s the agenda, with documents.

10:32 AM: Public comment (with all but the last of two dozen-plus speakers voicing support for “defunding”) is over. Budget chair Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is now addressing the turmoil over the issue. She’s followed by council president Councilmember Lorena González. Both take issue with the mayor’s contention that the council is taking action without a plan. “The simple fact is that the mayor does not like our plan,” she declared. “It’s easier to be critical of other people’s plans than to be creative with your own.” She extends an “open public invitation” to the mayor and chief to collaborate. Both stress that a larger process/conversation begins with next year’s budget process, launching in a matter of weeks. Councilmember Kshama Sawant then spoke to say her colleagues need to do more; Councilmember Debora Juarez suggested the speeches be held until the specific items are considered.

10:58 AM: And with that, they’re on to the actual proposals. They can’t vote on what’s under agenda item #1, they’re told, before next week. First item is one co-sponsored by Councilmember Lisa Herbold that would break individual precincts back into individual SPD budget items, as they used to be before SPD combined them into one “patrol operations” item. This among other things could be a pre-emptive strike against an individual precinct closure such as the chief’s mention weeks ago that budget cuts could lead to closing the Southwest Precinct.

11:53 AM: Voting has begun. We won’t be able to monitor because we are moving on to the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting at noon, but will catch up later – and you can still tune in via the stream above.

2:20 PM: Checking back on the council, they’ve reconvened after a break; they’re on Amendment 45 (again, here’s the agenda).

4:53 PM: The meeting is wrapping up. No final votes yet – the council meets again as the Select Budget Committee at 10 am Monday. (added) What’s advanced so far does not amount to a 50 percent cut, but it does include some major changes, including cutting police-brass salaries and ending the Navigation Team.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT NOTE: Media briefing announced for 10 am Thursday: “Council President M. Lorena González and Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Tammy J. Morales will hold a press conference on Thursday at City Hall to clarify with the public the Council’s plan for meaningful community investments this year to improve public safety for everyone, especially Black, brown and Indigenous communities in Seattle.”

46 Replies to "UPDATE: City Council continues considering police-budget cuts"

  • Eric1 August 5, 2020 (11:22 am)

    Perhaps it is just me but I keep thinking the City Clowncil is smarter than people give them credit for.  I think everybody agrees we need more social services and outreach that would replace some of the jobs that the police/courts do now.  If so, we should be having a vote to fund such services in Seattle (i.e. put our money where your mouth is).   However, what I see here is the public falling for a Clowncil ploy to take 50% of one of the city’s largest budgets and move it to social services (I disagree with the funding move, not the need for social services).  This defunding ploy will work no matter what:  If the so called “plan” works, great.  But if it doesn’t (and I don’t think it will), crime will go through the roof and the citizens won’t be able to undo the funding switch. And guess what? The citizens of Seattle will then vote for yet another tax to fund another essential service that other cities provide using general funds.  Just like we already pay extra taxes for people to actually answer 911 calls and send an actual ambulance with actual paramedics. We would have to vote to add actual police to the 911 services: You know, a tax so police actually come by if you dial 911 for police services.  Next step for the Clowncil: figure out a way to steal 50% of the fire department’s budget to transfer to social services projects run by cousins/aunts/campaign donors who weren’t paid off by this round of funding. 

    • Rodlee August 6, 2020 (7:00 am)

      I agree there are priority adjustments needed, however I am concerned over the government by intimidation. It reminds me of Chicago gang tactics…pay for protection or we burn your business.  Let’s allow a public vote and some democracy.

  • West Seattle Hipster August 5, 2020 (11:24 am)

    How are public speakers chosen?  It seems like at every meeting the speakers are pro-defund, but with over 150k against defunding, it would appear the general public should be better represented.  

    • Curious August 5, 2020 (12:18 pm)

      I wonder where that 150k number came from. I haven’t seen much data with specific numbers. But still…I think based on the seattle metro population 150K is about .05% . Let’s put that number in perspective – even though it seems like a lot of people aren’t supporting defunding with the way it was initially worded. 

      • CH August 5, 2020 (4:41 pm)

        I’m no mathematician, but wouldn’t that be 300 million people in the Seattle metro area?

        • uncle loco August 5, 2020 (5:11 pm)

          LOL CH, I knew this place was getting too crowded.

        • WSMom August 5, 2020 (5:13 pm)

          300 million? No.  You are not a mathematician. 

          • CH August 5, 2020 (6:25 pm)

            That’s what I said… I’m no mathematician.  BUT,  .05% = .0005, and .0005 x 300 million = 150K.  Didn’t know I was supposed to show my work…

          • WildBlue August 5, 2020 (8:24 pm)

            CH is correct.  (hint, cent, as in percent)  Hope those that got it wrong don’t work in finance.  Also, the 2020 estimated population of Seattle is 761,100, so 19.7% signed at StopDefunding.com.  Of course, not all Seattle residents knew about the StopDefunding.com petition, and one or two signatures are more likely to represent a whole household of all ages counted in the population total.

      • Sixbuck August 5, 2020 (7:19 pm)

        You must be using that new math. My old math puts 150k people at around 20% of Seattle’s population (metro area is irrelevant here). 😷

      • MW August 5, 2020 (8:59 pm)

        Lol Curious!You must think Seattle’s  metro population is 3 million?   Guess again. 150,000 is about 1/5th of  Seattle’s population.  

    • AMD August 5, 2020 (12:44 pm)

      The city of Seattle has almost 750,000 residents so if only 150,000 are against, statistically it makes sense there would be a higher number of speakers who are for.  It is also possible that one point of view may be over-represented in some spaces (online comment boards, for example) and under-represented in others.

      • Cogburn August 5, 2020 (6:45 pm)

        Far more than 150k are against defund, The Seattle Police Officers Guild petition to stop the defund is THE only instrument opposing it as the media will barely run any opposition to it, the council seven will take input (aka demands) from protesters who now come to their homes for night time chats; their voicemails ae full and they don’t respond to email. They just say there is no opposition. Seattle is being railroaded by one socialist council member and her bullied colleagues. Shame on Seattle 

      • MB August 5, 2020 (7:29 pm)

        I believe this 150k number is something pulled out of thin air. I haven’t received a survey, and I definitely live within the city limits. It’s not counting my opinion.I’ll caution everyone to think analytically. Even if a number is thrown out, absent a vote (which is, unfortunately, the best imperfect way to gauge population sentiment), do not assume that this is full for/against. Remember, the folk that aren’t on message boards are as diverse as the ones on.

        • Mrsb August 5, 2020 (9:50 pm)

          It wasn’t a survey, it’s an online petition, you actually have to go online to sign, but there have been many links posted.

        • WTF August 5, 2020 (10:08 pm)

          OK MB – here you go! stopdefunding.com/

      • Sam August 5, 2020 (10:04 pm)

        Nationally, most people, black and white, do not support police funding cuts, according to the latest Gallup poll.

    • Gwen August 5, 2020 (1:23 pm)

      You literally just sign up and they put you in an order. They don’t ask what your position is, so there’s no real way that they are turning anybody away for their opinions.

    • Lispector August 5, 2020 (2:57 pm)

      You watched it, bud, and WSB said it best:all but the last of two dozen-plus speakers voicing support for “defunding…”You can repost all you want about support on stopping the defunding movement, but it doesn’t make it true. The majority of Seattle citizens are tired of the abuse at the hands of the police. You certainly haven’t joined us at any protests, but you either didn’t watch any footage either or you don’t care about civilians being blinded by rubber bullets and the constant use of tear gas. #blacklivesmatter 

  • EN August 5, 2020 (12:19 pm)


  • Kadoo August 5, 2020 (1:01 pm)

    You get there early, stand in line, and sign in if you want to speak. You need to be prepared because you don’t get long to speak. All sides speak and in random order. 

    • WSB August 5, 2020 (2:14 pm)

      Currently though, the meetings are all online. Comment “signup” is opened 2 hours before the meeting starts, and the process is detailed on the agenda cover page.

  • Chris K August 5, 2020 (1:08 pm)

    The City Council will do the right thing.  I’m planning my post-defund party!

  • wendell August 5, 2020 (1:11 pm)

    Maybe we can defund the City Council.

    • onion August 5, 2020 (8:37 pm)

      History will support Mayor Durkan and recklessness of our city council.

  • Cogburn August 5, 2020 (1:43 pm)

    Ok a little information; enough to scare me. I will only comment on one item, that being moving 911 call answer and response to the City’s Financial and Administration Services (FAS). Really FAS? I have worked in such public agencies in Seattle and have never, ever seen any sense of urgency or speed of business in any. This is the department that meets, then meets again before going to several committees and perhaps a consultant before any action is taken, usually for the future.  I really don’t think they have the mindset or allow immediate decision making with possible severe consequences for delay or error. 

    • WSB August 5, 2020 (1:50 pm)

      In discussion, there was some concern that such a move might actually not be possible because of the dispatchers’ job classification.

    • Bus August 5, 2020 (3:50 pm)

      I had a 911 dispatcher spend half the call arguing with me about what to call the stretch of 99 between the old viaduct and the WS bridge because I referred to it as SB 99 just S of the WS bridge exit and she thought it should still be referred to as the viaduct.  Meanwhile, there was a guy running into the road throwing himself at moving cars I was trying to report, but every time I said “well, whatever you call it there’s a guy–” she’d cut me off and say “we call that part of the road the viaduct”.  I think training issues can arise no matter which department is in charge (though it sounds like it may end up being moot).

  • Bradley August 5, 2020 (4:19 pm)

    I suggest that District 3 be defunded first as an experiment to see if this idea is truly viable. 

    • CH August 5, 2020 (7:35 pm)

      Great Idea, Bradley.  Unfortunately, the District 3 member seems to be the only one who is organized, and really knows what she is trying to do.  Here is a little bedtime reading… hope it doesn’t give you nightmares!      https://sccinsight.com/2019/01/07/sa-sawant/

  • Plf August 5, 2020 (5:26 pm)

    Crazy to make such a drastic plan with little planthe city leadership is moving way to fast making decisions on emotions versus data

  • Brian Feusagach August 5, 2020 (5:39 pm)

    Following Bradley’s thought – each council member should be asked, individually and on the record, that they are willing to take cuts in the police services that directly or indirectly impact their constituents. Those questions will likely end up with a NIMBY response for each and every council member.

    • Gwen August 5, 2020 (6:18 pm)

      So in other words, they’ll sound like a solid 75% of posters on the WSB?

  • Scrappy August 5, 2020 (6:48 pm)

    The City Council’s idea of changing police presence–eliminating the Navigation team–in homeless situations to a fully civilian resource scares me. As someone who has worked directly in these situations, I can attest to the fact that there is quite often a criminal element involved that requires a police presence. Not always, but often. There are a lot of folks that don’t want to accept the resources that the out-reach organizations offer, because their intent is to continue their means of sustaining their lifestyle, drug habit, and ‘freedom’ from the status quo. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of others, and by that I mean breaking in to your home, outbuildings, vehicles, etc. The CC would have you believe that these same people will accept resources now and change their ‘lifestyle’ with a fully civilian response. I would highly disagree. Another concern; if the homeless no longer need to move from wherever they’ve ‘set up camp,’ will the City still enforce the 72hr ordinance or will they selectively leave these folks alone, all the while enforcing it on the rest of the citizen’s of Seattle? Regardless if they move parking enforcement out of SPD, they will be left with the brunt of the enforcement problem.  There will still be an entity moving these people around. The CC doesn’t fully understand the situation, nor do I feel they made an attempt to talk to those who do.

  • John Smith August 5, 2020 (8:22 pm)

    The Gallup website has an article (August 05, 2020) about a recent Gallup poll. The article is titled “Black Americans Want Police to Retain Local Presence: https://news.gallup.com/poll/316571/black-americans-police-retain-local-presence.aspx

  • Findlay August 5, 2020 (8:36 pm)

    I listened to much of this today.   I would have thought only a few years ago that the agenda would have been found on “The Onion”.  Instead, it was impressive to see the socialists reach a majority in implementing the gutting of the SPD.  When it came to the details, they had none.  Every amendment seemed to have many pitfalls in implementation which was also shouted down by Councilmember Sawant.  Lectures, grandstanding, and horrific characterizations of the Mayor’s office was the order of the day.  Anyone who listened to them would be left with no confidence in their abilities to pull of this grand plan to decriminalize the populace of Seattle.  I even enjoyed the quote that Ms Sawant read concerning a consitituents distrust of government.  There doesn’t seem to be any checks and balances on the Council now.  The closest they got to true dissent is when they ‘passed’ the amendment concerning disbanding the Navigation Teams.  Dissent on the Council is not tolerated now and many of the members are too weak to take on Sawant and the Council President.  It’s hard to believe that these are the best we have to lead this city through these difficult times.  Even Lisa Herbold admitted that many of their efforts concerning the Navigation Teams were failures.  And yet, we allow them to gut the SPD.  I’m scratching my head so much, that all my hair is gone!

  • Sandi August 5, 2020 (8:49 pm)

    I am grateful for the Police Officer who helped my son tonight on 520 when his tire had a blow out. He helped my son change the tire and made sure he was safe. I am glad he was there and had not been fired and defunded!

    • Educatormom August 5, 2020 (9:32 pm)

      Awesome to hear

    • Duffy August 5, 2020 (11:14 pm)

      Cool. Let’s applaud cops who help change tires. Next, let’s train them and weed out the bad ones so that they stop killing innocent black people. Does that work? NJNP.

      • Sandi Kessler August 6, 2020 (9:31 am)

        I guess my Thanking the Police Officer for helping my son when he was in a precarious and possibly dangerous situation is a political statement but I stand by my comment.

  • Ilasdad August 6, 2020 (8:41 am)

    I believe there is no quick fix to systematic racism and a knee jerk reaction by slashing the police budget by 50% doesn’t seem like the best place to start. Its disappointing that people are mostly taking sides on the extremes instead of looking for common ground. I’m mean really, can’t we keep all communities safe and not kill people while doing it? I don’t think that is an unrealistic or unattainable goal. I believe a more sensible direction would be to train police officers more while increasing hiring of qualified POC instead of having officers work overtime and a zero tolerance policy on any unnecessary violence might be better places to start. I’m quite sure there are areas that the budget could effectively be trimmed down in a way that the budget to be relocated to training and hiring POC to better represent our communities. 

  • Realistic August 6, 2020 (9:19 am)

    Duffy, Sandi was simply saying she appreciates the officer stopping and helping.  On that same topic though, years ago a black Seattle Police Officer was in street clothes in an unmarked police car at 1:15am.  He saw a disabled vehicle with 4 black males with it so he stopped to help.  They killed him.  Google it, the officer was Antonio Terry. Thank you to all the men and women who dare to even be a police officer in today’s political climate.  How will Seattle ever attract well qualified applicants again?  Who would want to apply at Seattle Police?

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