About CaseyJaywork

Freelance Seattle journalist & writing tutor. @CaseyJaywork

No injuries, no arrests as SPD investigating another Central District gun battle — UPDATE

(Images: Casey Jaywork)

Seattle Police are investigating another chaotic gunfight in the Central District after reports of shots fired Wednesday afternoon. SPD says the incident stemmed from a car collision.

The shots rang out in quick succession at the corner of 26th S. and S. Washington in the Central District, a father huddled in his car, his toddler daughter in the backseat.

About 2:23 PM, a black Ford sedan crashed into a white Chevy SUV. About nine shots were fired into the driver’s window SUV; neither the father nor daughter inside the SUV were hurt. The assailants fled on foot, according Adele Botha, a nearby resident. Continue reading

Ethiopian restaurateur organizes East African business association from 12th to MLK


Tsedalu (left), Messeret Habeti, and Messeret Ferede (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Messeret Habeti, co-owner of the Ethiopian restaurant Assimba at MLK and Cherry, wants to build an east African business association bringing together restaurants, shops, and more from 12th Ave to MLK. After a 2013 e coli scare made “Ethiopian” synonymous with “unsafe” in the ears of some, she told CHS, business slumped. By banding together, Habeti hopes to emulate the success of immigrant businesses in the International District.

“That’s why I want to create the… business association,” she said. “If we have association, no one will be interrogated” or bullied by government or media. She said she has talked to dozens of local businesses, and hopes have a formal association established by June. “I’ve been just walking around with all the information, explaining [to local business owners] why we need this, why now,” she said. “I have explain that this is the time that we need to be gathering together.”

“If you are formally associated,” said her husband and business partner Messeret Ferede, “we have one voice. That is the plan, to benefit for ourself by being together all at the same time.” Continue reading

Howard Schultz, Chief O’Toole host Central District forum on racism and policing


(Image: Casey Jaywork via )

Thursday afternoon, the 23rd and Jackson Starbucks was packed with people wall-to-wall: many of color, some white, lots of green-apron baristas, lots of navy-blue Seattle cops. And Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole were there, too, for a community forum on police and race.

“We all know that there are very serious problems going on in America today around racism, racial tension,” Schultz told the crowd. He said that with his company “heartbroken” over the tension between black communities and police, Starbucks has decided to use “our stores and our scale to elevate a national conversation” on the topic. Stay tuned, he added, for a big, related announcement sometime next week. There’s no word on if the 23rd and Jackson event’s “Coffee with a Cop” branding will stick.

UPDATE 3/17/2015: That “big, related announcement” has been made. With a new “Race Together” campaign, Starbucks reportedly “wants its baristas to talk about race in America.” It hasn’t necessarily got off to a great start.

Cops, baristas, and residents came together — via a couple cordless microphones and a YWCA facilitator — for an extended open discussion on the precise nature and potential solutions of the problems highlighted by the #BlackLivesMatter protests, which have rocked Seattle over the past half year.

Some pointed toward the economic context of crime. As one speaker put it: “When people steal and snatch iPhones and stuff like that, it’s usually to sell it to go get money to eat or whatever it may be. And so I think [we need to] focus on the economic opportunities [of young people]… When a person owns a business, they have a different relationship with the police.” Continue reading

With a pledge to be more than the anti-Sawant, longtime Central District resident Banks wants to lead new District 3


(Image: Avi Loud via Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle)

The pitch: Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle chief executive officer Pamela Banks presents herself as a homegrown, handshaking alternative to city council District 3 incumbent Kshama Sawant. Where Sawant grandstands, she’ll coordinate; where Sawant lambastes, she’ll collaborate. The fourth candidate to register in District 3, Banks describes herself as a progressive technician who can fine-tune the gears of city machinery, and she says her three decades working for the city and three years at the helm of the Urban League make her the candidate who can get things done.

And she’ll return phone calls.

“In order to be an effective city council person in a district system, you have to be accessible,” Banks told CHS.

“Accessible” is not a word she’d use to describe Sawant, who Banks says was the only council member she wasn’t able to meet with as CEO of the Urban League, a historic black advocacy group. Banks isn’t alone: The Stranger’s Anna Minard wrote back in November about Sawant’s two-week wait time for interviews. CHS has also had trouble getting in touch with Sawant’s camp in the past.

Banks said while she briefly met Sawant face-to-face at two different public events, they’ve yet to have a conversation. “I don’t know her, I don’t know how different we are,” she said. But while she may not know her competition, she does feel that she knows her district. “I’ve lived here [in the CD] for 20+ years, I’ve lived in Seattle for 37 years,” she said. “I have a different frame because I live here and I’ve been embedded in this community.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill King County — Larry Gossett on #blacklivesmatter protests, nuts-and-bolts leadership

From Gossett's Facebook page -- February 11th: "It was an honor to once again spend some time with Congressman John Lewis, a “Living Legend” in America’s struggle to end segregation and create the “Beloved Community” of Dr. King. "

From Gossett’s Facebook page — February 11th: “It was an honor to once again spend some time with Congressman John Lewis, a “Living Legend” in America’s struggle to end segregation and create the “Beloved Community” of Dr. King. “


Larry Gossett

Black Power revolutionary, political prisoner, elected official: Larry Gossett, the King County Council representative for central and southeast Seattle including Capitol Hill, has been a man of many faces. But to his council colleague Kathy Lambert, a Republican who represents folks east of Lake Sammamish, political descriptors are trumped by personal ones.

“He is a man of integrity, dedication, kindness,” she told CHS. “He is a man that brings the perspective of his race and the needs of his community very clearly before us. He is a wonderful human being.” Lambert described how Gossett had looked out for her after she was injured in a traffic accident a few years ago. “I was so impressed with the lengths that he would go to to help me, [to ensure that] I was safe, because I couldn’t walk. You know, he was just — kind,” she said.

These days, Gossett is in the business of making buses run on time and sewer lines pump smoothly. “Anytime anybody in [Capitol Hill or the Central District] flushes their toilets, it impacts county policy,” he said.

The emphasis on nuts-and-bolts infrastructure contrasts against Gossett’s radical roots. The councilor first made a name for himself as a Black Power activist in the late 1960s, after becoming radicalized during a stint as a volunteer in Harlem. When administrators at Franklin High School suspended two black students (either for fighting, according to the Seattle Times, or for having Afro haircuts, according to HistoryLink.org), Gossett and others occupied the principal’s office in protest. As a result, he soon found himself in the county lockup — the same building in which, a quarter century later, he would become a member of the King County Council — where he and other activists started organizing black and white prisoners.

“It seemed that jail directors should have been glad of that, but it scared them to death,” Gossett told HistoryLink. “They were going to county commissioners saying: ‘You got to get these Negroes out of jail!’” Continue reading

Barking dogs over developers: Why so many district candidates are City Hall newbies

Someday, all of this can be yours, candidate (Image: Seattle.gov)

Someday, all of this can be yours, candidate (Image: Seattle.gov)

In 2015, Seattle will hold the first non-citywide City Council election in more than a century, with seven of the nine seats on the council elected by district. 36 candidates are currently filed with the city clerk’s office, and nearly a third of the incumbents have already declined to run for reelection. So with the old guard seemingly stepping aside and the young Turks charging in, CHS asked various players in the city government: How will this change things?

Mike McGinn

Former mayor Mike McGinn — some old blood you probably remember

Best case scenario: the district system will make money less decisive in city politics. When all nine seats were elected at-large, former mayor Mike McGinn told CHS, little people didn’t stand a chance.

“Under the old system,” said McGinn, “the mayor and the city council all relied on the same traditional sources of political support, the big donors and the large endorsing organizations.”

With the smaller scale of district elections lowering campaigns’ price tag, dollar-spouting lobbyists could be less essential to candidates — and therefore less influential on those elected.

“Redistricting… created a new kind of accountability [to local communities],” candidate Jon Grant told CHS, “and new kind of platform for grassroots candidates to actually have a shot at challenging incumbents who are bankrolled by moneyed interests like developers.”

There also seems to be a growing force of potential big-time leaders focused on small-time problems.

“I think you’re gonna hear more about dogs barking, more about traffic congestion, more about, maybe [about] a crack house or something,” said retiring councilor Nick Licata. “I think the influence of developers will go down… because they’re probably the most active business constituent in the city.” Continue reading

As 12th Ave justice center moves forward, juvenile court judge calls for racial reform

Juvenile court judge Susan Craighead.

Juvenile court judge Susan Craighead.

Justice isn’t color-blind, at least in King County.

According to a special report published last month, black youth in KC are roughly six times more likely than white youth to face a judge in juvenile court. And while the number of youth referred to juvenile court has been falling for years, the bulk of that benefit has gone to whites.

Speaking on behalf of the more than fifty judges on her bench, she says, Judge Susan Craighead is calling for a series of “listening sessions” with key players in the juvenile justice system. This includes representatives of government institutions which are “upstream” of the court—police, schools, and child welfare services — but also the families and communities most impacted by juvenile courts.

“We feel like we need all hands on deck to try to figure out what more can we do with this problem,” Craighead told CHS. Continue reading

Rise of the renter? Tenants Union director Jon Grant makes bid for Seattle City Council

City Council candidate Jon Grant (Image: Casey Jaywork)

City Council candidate Jon Grant (Image: Casey Jaywork)

Housing: after food, air and water, a safe place to lay your head may be the most basic of human needs. But with the fastest-growing rents in the country and a ballooning homeless population, Seattle is becoming home to fewer and fewer homes for the poor and working class.

Jon Grant aims to change that. Campaigning for city council on a three-plank platform of affordable housing, police reform, and public campaign financing, the executive director of the WA Tenants Union presents himself as a scrappy underdog taking on the city’s complacent status quo.

“It would be one thing if the incumbents were do-nothing,” Grant told CHS shortly after declaring his candidacy. “[But] they’re actively aiding and abetting developers in getting out of paying into affordable housing.” Continue reading

Swedish to group opposing expansion: ‘Cease and desist’

Lawyers for the Swedish healthcare group have sent an “IMMEDIATE CEASE AND DESIST WARNING” to Washington Community Action Network (WA CAN), CHS has learned over the group’s efforts to fight the expansion of the Cherry Hill campus.

Swedish's 'Cease and desist' letter to WA CAN

Swedish’s ‘Cease and desist’ letter to WA CAN

On January 27th, three WA CAN organizers approached people in the waiting areas of Swedish’s Cherry Hill campus, handing out copies of both Swedish’s own charity care application and a WA CAN brochure about Swedish’s handling of medical debt. When a representative of Swedish’s management spotted them, he escorted the organizers out. The next day, the left-leaning community organizing group received a hand delivered letter from Swedish’s lawyers, which read in part:

you shall immediately cease and desist all activities on the Swedish Medical Center Cherry Hill Campus…[including] handing out any form of communication to hospital staff, patients or visitors, and speaking to any hospital staff, patients or visitors on any subject.

WA CAN organizer Xochitl Maykovich told CHS that WA CAN has been unsuccessfully trying to take its concerns (outlined in this white paper) to Swedish CEO Tony Armada for months. “In the interim,” she said, “we decided that people need to know about charity care, and so we gave patients in the waiting room…charity care applications…[And] we put a few on the ER [waiting area] table…We were very polite, and the people that I talked to, they were like, ‘Oh wow, thanks.'” Continue reading

How do we reform the SPD?

Saturday will bring yet another protest against the Seattle Police Department to Capitol Hill. The promises of change at City Hall continue. CHS asked city and community leaders: what, if anything, has been accomplished in reforming policing in Seattle so far? And what still needs to happen to clean up the SPD?

Since a Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation found Seattle police to be brutal and possibly biased, city leaders have promised a new and improved department. But SPD’s martial response to #BlackLivesMatter protests over the past half-year, and recently-surfaced videos showing officers pepper spraying a local high school teacher and detaining a pedestrian (both black, both times apparently without provocation), have stoked public skepticism toward these promises.

Behind this, negotiations are underway in what has become a nearly perpetual tussle over the city’s contract with the powerful Seattle Police Officer’s Guild. The Stranger reported this week on what it could learn about the status of the talks and the likelihood that recommendations from the city’s Community Police Commission will be included in the deal.

“Reform and cultural change is not an option. It’s an absolute must,” said City Council president and former cop Tim Burgess. Continue reading