VIDEO: City Council votes to override mayor’s vetoes of budget bills including police cuts

3:07 PM: Just under way – Seattle City Councilmembers‘ special meeting on whether to override Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s veto of three bills they passed, including the “rebalancing” bill with cuts in departments including SPD. If they don’t get seven votes for an override, Council President Lorena González said on Monday, they have a “compromise” bill to consider. That and the previously passed/vetoed bills are all linked from the agenda. Watch via Seattle Channel above; we’ll be live-chronicling after the meeting-opening public-comment period.

3:10 PM: Councilmember González says the comment period will last 90 minutes.

3:47 PM: So far 32 people have spoken – 27 for overriding, 5 against.

4:47 PM: Comments are over. By our count, 78 speakers were pro-override, 9 against. They have three bills to consider. Before any of the votes, Councilmember Alex Pedersen speaks, saying he wants to explain all his upcoming votes. He says he wants to honor the commitment the council made to fund BIPOC organizations, and so he will vote to override the mayor’s veto of the third bill on the agenda, 119863. He says his problems with 119825, the first bill, include its move to gut the Navigation Team, so he will vote to sustain the veto, as well as the second bill, 119862. He concludes by saying that the police-union contract needs to be fixed as a key part of public-safety reform.

5:03 PM: Councilmember Tammy Morales speaks next, starting by reading “the names of the people killed by SPD in the last 10 years.” She says “creating a new system of community safety” is what the council’s action is about. “We’re trying to carry forward what was built by years of work” by BIPOC community members. She will vote to override.

Councilmember Andrew Lewis speaks next. “Government needs to work together,” he says. “Working together requires compromise.” Investing in the community is vital, though, so he says he’s going to vote to override all three bills. “I want to make a statement today about a pattern that’s potentially emerging – of negotiating by veto.” That’s “wearing” among other things, he says.

5:11 PM: Councilmember Lisa Herbold speaks now. “I don’t take this vote lightly. I took part in conversations about an alternative bill,” she says, but goes on to say that the proposed alternative “falls short. .. I’m concerned that the deal the council was offered backtracks on the objective of …. making reductions to the Seattle Police Department.” She says that what the council passed opens the door to bargaining. The mayor did not offer any reduction in the “specialty units” the council wanted to shrink, she says. “Of the 38 proposed reductions, there were 11 vacancies,” she says, which would mean 27 layoffs resulting from the 38 cuts the council wanted to see. They also wanted to see 32 patrol reductions and Harbold says there are 24 on a list with problematic backgrounds that could potentially be let go first. “The vast majority of these officers are in patrol positions.” She goes on to defend the salary cuts the original bill calls for in leadership salaries, saying it’s appropriate given the supervisors’ failings including lack of overtime-spending control. She goes on to say the compromise bill doesn’t allot enough money for the groups that are to work on community-safety planning – $1 million instead of $3 million – and that the mayor wanted to water down the upcoming “participatory budgeting” process. Finally, she says the mayor did not want to sufficiently change the way the Navigation Team works but they’re hopeful her budget for next year will.

5:25 PM: Councilmember Dan Strauss says he’ll vote to override ‘because this work is too important to stop.” That would appear to put the pro-override votes at the level needed. Strauss says the package isn’t perfect but its strong points outweigh its “imperfections.” Regarding SPD, he says they can both “stand .. behind their past decisions” and “look … forward to working together in the future.”

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is next. “Seattle is at the heart of a national conversation … to reimagine public safety,” she begins, saying that conversation is about the “right size and right scope” of police departments. She lists other cities that have reduced their police spending. “There is an ongoing call for action across this nation … we legislated knowing we’re building a path for a longer-term systemic change.” She said there’s also an “urgent need” to invest in Black and brown communities – “invest, listen, and respond.” She also acknowledges it’s clear the process needs to be “more inclusive,” as they head into the process of crafting the next budget (a process that’s about to start). “We are setting the stage for a more-inclusive conversation.” Also, “We want to make sure everyone is safe, no matter where they are, no matter the color of their skin.”

5:47 PM: Now Councilmember Kshama Sawant speaks, noting that she wasn’t sure at the start of the meeting which way the vote would go, and attributes “ferocious fight-back” from activists in leading to what looks to be an override vote. She says she’s still not happy with the cuts resulting in an “austerity budget,” nor is she happy with what she suggests were “back-room conversations” leading to the alternative bill (that’s apparently now dead).

5:59 PM: González says she will vote to override the vetoes. Police reform “is the needed course of action,” she says, “… not the ongoing status quo.” She echoes what several others have said – “the modest actions the council took over the summer” represent just a start. “Not everyone in our community is safe. We cannot look away from this … if we truly believe that Black lives matter … I want to be able to tell my daughter, who I’m holding in my arms, that I did the right thing.” She says the compromise bill was the result of a month of talks, so the process “illuminate(d) and quqntif(ied) how far apart we are from the mayor.” But talking with the mayor is not about “capitulation,” she insisted. “It’s time for us to move past this back-and-forth and get to work … that is what we were elected to do.” Her message is clearly for observers and critics too, and she warns that the next process ahead will “be hard … we will be asked to make difficult decisions.” She hopes it will not find them, in three months, again dealing with a veto.

6:13 PM: Voting time. 119825 (the main “rebalancing” bill): 7-2, veto overridden (Pedersen and Councilmember Debora Juarez were, as expected. the “no” votes). … On 119862, 9-0, veto overridden … On 119863, an “interfund” loan to allocate $14 million to organizations working on alternative public-safety, Herbold first speaks to the importance of the investment and says she hopes the mayor will take action to allocate the money. The vote – 9-0, overridden. The meeting adjourns at 6:24. So what does all this mean? Stand by for reaction. As always, we’ll substitute the archived video above when it’s available.

8:42 PM: We’ve received a post-vote statement from Councilmember Herbold. Most of it is basically what she said during the meeting, but the last paragraph is of note:

“I maintain my optimism that Council and the Mayor can turn the page on this and forge a path forward together in 2021 budget discussions. I, and the City of Seattle, are indebted to the tens of thousands of people who have participated in this discussion by writing, calling, providing comment, and marching day after day. This is the beginning of the conversation and the investment of $3 million by this Council to begin a participatory budget process, which was upheld today, will ensure a true community process that redefines public safety. I will work to ensure that process centers Black and Brown communities who have been, and continue to be, most affected by our current system. To the business community who is asking to also be at the table, Participatory Budgeting is designed for everyone to participate, including you.”

Meantime, we’ve substituted the archived video of the hearing atop this story.

ADDED WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: SPD’s official statement, just in via email:

Early yesterday evening, Seattle City Council Members voted to override the Mayor’s veto of their 2020 Budget Rebalancing legislation.

 The Seattle Police Department is still determining the implications of this action and the appropriate response. However, it is the SPD’s intent to keep the Department as whole as possible. In 2020, and as we move into 2021 budget discussions, our primary commitment is to build trust and maintain public safety.

Chief Diaz is working closely with the Mayor’s office to assess next steps.

The SPD is aware these decisions can create long-lasting impacts, and remains committed to equitably serving all of Seattle.

44 Replies to "VIDEO: City Council votes to override mayor's vetoes of budget bills including police cuts"

  • DefundNow September 22, 2020 (6:04 pm)

    So happy that Lisa and the other Council members stood up to the Mayor. It’s a mere 1% reduction in the police force, hardly earth-shattering and more reforms are needed. But it’s a start, and she followed up on her commitments. Well done.

    • JW September 22, 2020 (7:59 pm)

      Revisionist history.  Lisa Herbold was elected on her vocal support of increasing SPD.   She shares some traits with Mitch McConnel.

  • AJ September 22, 2020 (6:24 pm)

    How many names did CM Morales read? Probably sounds like a lot until you consider the MILLIONS of interactions between SPD and the public over the same period of time. even if you just go by incident numbers, that’s nearly 500,000 per year…

    • smh September 22, 2020 (6:32 pm)

      AJ – So what’s the number of unarmed civilians that it’s OK for the police to kill?

      • Jort September 22, 2020 (8:28 pm)

        Well, see, if they just talk to more people, the percentage won’t seem as bad! See! Cop logic. Super good.

  • JP September 22, 2020 (6:26 pm)

    Wonderful news and a huge relief! Thanks to CM Herbold and all of the activists who have been working for this for so long. 

    • TonyG September 23, 2020 (11:24 am)

      Fantastic news JP. Have you not noticed this city is in rapid decline, graffiti all over the place, drinking and drug taking in public parks that I paid for as a taxpayer (Junction Plaza), the busiest bridge in the state shut down due to negligence all while building a street car that nobody uses with cost overruns in the millions. Seattle had the potential to be a truly great international city but we are stymied by an inept City Council with zero business acumen or any ability to make sensible rational decisions. Defunding the police department will make the city less safe for all citizens and continue the downward spiral for Seattle. 

    • Medium September 24, 2020 (1:10 am)

      And all the felons replied, “amen.”

  • AMD September 22, 2020 (6:37 pm)

    So glad to hear this!

  • Blbl September 22, 2020 (6:50 pm)

    Fantastic!  Keep going. It’s small, but a good start. 

  • Sandi Kessler September 22, 2020 (7:17 pm)

    As the Seattle City Council attempts to cure 400 years of sins, Seattle is dying a slow and painful death. Downtown business are moving out or going bankrupt. Citizens and tourists do not want to visit Seattle because of the dangerous climate. History books will have each Council member’s name in bold print for the changes they forced upon us without listening to our voices!

    • Jort September 22, 2020 (8:29 pm)

      You guys have been talking this line about “Seattle is dying” for a really, really, really reallllllly long time and it’s still not dead! This stuff plays on Fox News, which is a garbage fantasy land of bull crap, but here in Seattle, things aren’t “dying.” This is such a tired, sad line to keep repeating, especially because it’s obviously and completely FALSE.

      • 1994 September 22, 2020 (9:10 pm)

        Have you visited the downtown  core recently? I was there Sunday and was sad to see so many businesses closed, or boarded up. 

        • AMD September 23, 2020 (1:30 am)

          So, there’s a pandemic going on….  When all the people downtown started working from home there weren’t enough workers downtown to support many of the local eateries.  And more shopping shifted online.  And America is still a hotbed for COVID in the world, so tourism is WAY down due to travel restrictions and other factors (cruises bring in a lot of tourists and that industry is almost at a standstill because of COVID).  So yeah, if anyone else in the thread was unaware, there is a pandemic and downtown has looked like that since March, when everyone started working from home.  Sorry that doesn’t fit your narrative, but that’s reality.

      • Wsres September 22, 2020 (9:40 pm)

        I think it is dying. We haven’t gone out to downtown for 2 years now because of the addicts and mentally ill that have taken over at night. We have seen men masturbating in the open near bus stops, have seen businesses close due to unsafe environment, the Pioneer Square Starbucks is one of the scariest places I have visited and won’t visit again… This was all before any protests and the CHOP or ChAZ started. This is not what Seattle was like 7 years ago. I felt safe walking anywhere in my city at night then. Now, I would not attempt it.  I am happy to be stuck on accidental island, but even our little island has problems in the Junction.

        • Jay September 23, 2020 (7:48 am)

          I’ve been working in pioneer square for the past 5 years and frequent the two Starbucks there. While there are homeless people there I’ve never seen anything close to what you’ve described… Unless there’s a game going on. With how infrequently you visit downtown you may be confusing the homeless with sports fans.

      • Sad day September 22, 2020 (10:29 pm)

        They have botched the homeless crisis. The city is a mess and you think they csn develop solutions that will work? I don’t buy it meanwhile businesses will leave with no protection. 

      • l September 23, 2020 (9:29 am)

        Seattle is definitely headed downhill.    There is a feeling of lawlessness that pervades the city and that is getting worse by the day.

    • Spike September 22, 2020 (8:49 pm)

      Why are you convinced the voices agreeing with you outnumber the voices that don’t? I reached out to Councilperson Herbold last night asking her to vote to overrule the Mayor’s veto and it seems to me she is listening to my voice. I assume she heard the same from many of the other people she represents, far more than  than share your opinion. Many of the comments here are from your fellow citizens who, like me, are very happy with this outcome.

      I’m constantly baffled by the “Seattle is dying” crowd’s calls to recall the council or governor. Is it so hard to imagine that in Seattle, one of the most liberal cities in the country, a majority of us like it when our political representatives pursue progressive policies?

  • The Westerner September 22, 2020 (7:19 pm)

    Thank you Lisa Herbold for standing tough and representing the will of the people you represent. 

    • l September 23, 2020 (9:34 am)

      What makes you think that she is representing the will of the people?   What evidence do you have of that?  Lisa’s email count (which I do not believe)?  This plan will have a major impact on public safety, so why is the Council pushing it through so quickly with very little debate and little information on the details?   Why not put this “plan” to a citywide vote?

      • Spike September 23, 2020 (6:01 pm)

        What makes you think she isn’t representing the will of the people? I wrote her asking her to vote to override the veto, as I know many others did. Did you write asking her not to? As mentioned in the article there was an open comment session at the meeting in which 87 people spoke, and 78 of those supported the override. What evidence do you have that she is not representing the will of the majority of her constituents other than the fact that you disagree with her decision?

  • GAM September 22, 2020 (7:21 pm)

    Are there any groups organizing to form a City of West Seattle?   Maybe annex White Center in the process.  

    • Phillip Tavel September 23, 2020 (9:40 am)

      Unfortunately, West Seattle doesn’t have a sufficient tax base to support all of the services we would need to be a successful city on our own. We have to stay as District 1.

  • flimflam September 22, 2020 (7:26 pm)

    not a big shock…

  • joel September 22, 2020 (7:28 pm)

    funny how herbold says the police who are getting their pay cut deserve it as they didn’t control overtime etc……so does that mean herbold and the council deserve a pay cut too?….take a look around the city….looks like they haven’t been doing their jobs so how about herbold initiate a pay cut for the council?

  • Last person to leave turn out the lights. September 22, 2020 (8:29 pm)

    This is a sad day. Reason did not prevail, unrealistic ideology did. Police reform is necessary, but not at the expense of public safety. And you just handed Trump another four years. We’re idiots. 

    • Will September 22, 2020 (9:03 pm)

      Agreed. This is a disaster. Things will now get so much worse, and none of this was thought through in any way.Public safety took a huge hit tonight. Sad. 

  • 11epees September 22, 2020 (8:58 pm)

    What’s the plan for public safety & and helping the vulnerable, unhoused, unsafe? Our community, our parks?

  • Doug September 22, 2020 (10:01 pm)

    Lisa Herbold strikes again. For all of you applauding, good luck getting any police response when you need it.This is a sad day for this city. 

    • Concerned Seattleite September 22, 2020 (10:51 pm)

      I agree :(

    • Sad September 23, 2020 (7:30 am)

      I agree. Seattle used to be a great place to live. The City Council is not capable of fixing the entrenched problems. 

    • Mandrew September 24, 2020 (7:06 pm)

      I have needed a police response once in 14 years in High Point.  What I do need more frequently is opportunities for young people to get mentoring and skills for using their God-given talent to serve the community.  thank you.

  • Sandi Kessler September 22, 2020 (10:22 pm)

    For those of you that love these changes in Seattle and walk the streets in the city and see improvement and good change this is definitely your time. 

  • Sad day September 22, 2020 (10:23 pm)

    If city council cannot successfully manage the homeless crisis how in the heck do you think by defunding police will work and exoect them to develop programs that will work? Businesses are keaving, the city is in disarray. Unbelievable truly Unbelievable…..

  • CatLady September 22, 2020 (11:43 pm)

    I was genuinely shocked by this outcome. I fully expected the council to roll over & capitulate to Durkan’s demands. But they held strong! I’m very happy with this outcome. There’s so much more work to be done, but I’m thankful for all of the effort put forth by the protesters. This is a win for them ❤️

  • Darryll September 23, 2020 (12:46 am)

    The Seattle City Council seeks to destabilize society in order to add increasing burden and uncertainty onto the backs of the citizens they are supposed to serve. This is identical to Trump’s tactics, but on the local level. The goal is to ratchet up the disease in society to the point where nobody has any more time to fight or be involved.  Then they can finally drop the pretense of public service altogether and steal from the public openly without fear of consequences.Lisa Herbold will never get another vote from me. She completely lied about what she would do if elected, and she lies now about what her goals are.

  • anonwsea September 23, 2020 (9:46 am)

    While I do believe as a city we do need pre-prevention measure in place, the council has been throwing money at the homelessness issue for years and it has gotten worse not better. I have no faith in any supposed plans they try to put into action at this point because I don’t think they know how to implement and hold people accountable. I certainly don’t think it’s going to lead in any decrease of the thefts going on in my neighborhood of cars, catalytic converters, gas tanks, bikes, etc.. etc.. I also know that unfortunately I have to be wary anymore of even walking in my local park due to the increase in robberies and potential for violence. Unfortunately with the huge decreases in revenue this year and I suspect into next funding for everything in general is going to fall short. 

  • kj September 23, 2020 (11:41 am)

    What will happen to insurance rates now?

  • WSB September 23, 2020 (3:48 pm)

    Just added SPD’s official statement, above

  • Peter S. September 23, 2020 (8:35 pm)

    @AMD:  Sorry, my office is downtown and *YOUR* reality is somewhat skewed.  Yes, there are many businesses that are shuttered or severely scaled back due to COVID.  I dropped by my office in April to pick some items up and the area (8th/Pine) had an eerie ghost town feel.  However, that is very different  than still-functioning businesses having to lock their doors early and/or board up their windows due to protest violence and vandalism concerns.  I received multiple emails from my employer during the summer advising us to avoid the area, that had nothing to do with the pandemic.

  • Born here, never leaving September 24, 2020 (8:13 am)

    Removing police hurts Black communities, period.

Sorry, comment time is over.