Seattle’s State of the City 2017: $55M homelessness levy, soda tax for schools, Trump immigration push-back

At Northgate’s Idris Mosque Tuesday morning, Mayor Ed Murray gave his 2017 State of the City address, announcing plans to increase investments to further address homelessness and education disparities, and to continue to support immigrants and refugees in Seattle. Included in the speech were plans to activate a city emergency system usually reserved for bad weather and protests to provide more resources for helping the area’s homeless, a proposal for a $55 million property levy to fund homelessness services, and the floating of a possible Seattle soda tax to help fund schools. Video and the full text of Murray’s speech is below.

For Seattle, the biggest news of the speech will likely be the homeless levy proposal. The plan will go to city voters this August to ask them to approve an increase in the commercial and residential property tax of around $13 per month for the median household, according to the mayor’s office. Murray said that a coalition including entrepreneur Nick Hanauer, Downtown Emergency Services Center executive director Daniel Malone, and City Council members Debora Juarez and Sally Bagshaw will lead an advisory group to create the funding package for the proposal.

The mayor also announced a new offensive to push back on Trump administration immigration policies. Murray said the city will send Freedom of Information Act requests to multiple federal departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, in response to President Donald Trump’s actions affecting immigrants and refugees. Murray is seeking to determine potential enforcement actions the federal government may take against Seattle and other sanctuary cities and details about changes to travel and immigration policy.

“We believe that the rule of law is on our side,” Murray said, adding that Seattle will take legal action if the federal departments do not provide timely responses.

Murray’s State of the City announcements:

Murray said he also plans to meet with other regional mayors to about remaining safe sanctuary cities.

“Remaining open to all is a fundamental value of the city,” Murray said. “Seattle is a great city because of immigrants and refugees.” Continue reading

If it has the cash, Seattle Public Schools wants to buy Lowell Elementary S Path

Still closed

Still closed

Seattle Public Schools is preparing a proposal that would allow the district to purchase and presumably close the “S Path,” the winding, odd little stretch of City of Seattle right of way that connects Federal and 11th Ave E that has been fenced off since the start of the Lowell Elementary school year over concerns about drug use and homeless camping.

The path may be short — but the route to the planned purchase will be a long one. And neighbors who miss their shortcut through the block might be happy to know that, at least for the short term while any proposal makes its way through City Hall, the path would likely have to be reopened and the fences that have blocked it off in recent months, removed. Continue reading

City of Seattle seeks candidates for Community Involvement Commission

cic_800x350If you have “three to six” hours per month you can give toward helping “advise and guide our City departments to assess, improve, and develop authentic and thorough outreach and engagement to all residents,” the city’s newly forming Community Involvement Commission needs you:

The Community Involvement Commission will advise the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and other City departments on coordinated, Citywide outreach and engagement activities. Its goals are to:

  1. Provide advice on priorities, policies, and strategies related to equitable civic engagement and public participation in City decision-making processes. This includes the review of initiatives, strategies and proposals brought forward by the City, as well as ones identified by the Commission.

  2. Provide feedback on the development of City departments’ community involvement plans with a focus on implementing more equitable engagement strategies and identifying new ways to increase civic participation in City processes.

  3. Develop and periodically amend bylaws and a work plan that enable the Commission to organize itself, perform its work, and advance program and policy proposals consistent with its mission.

You have until March 1st to apply to be part of the first ever set of 16 volunteers for the commission.

“Don’t miss this opportunity to represent your community, your civic interest, and your neighborhood in telling the City how it can do a better job of reaching and engaging all community members in the City’s actions and decisions.” You can read more about the search for commission members here.

In November, CHS reported on Seattle’s plan to shift to the new commission in a bid to increase participation of underrepresented groups with local government.

In quest for diversity, Seattle now has a Community Involvement Commission

From Melrose to 19th, Capitol Hill Chamber launches campaign to create $1.6 million Business Improvement Area

The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is ready to start its campaign to build a $1.6 million a year program to help fill empty store fronts, attract visitors, expand street cleaning, improve public safety, advocate for affordable housing and improved service from City Hall, and make local attractions like Cal Anderson Park more inviting. Now the nonprofit just needs 390, or 60%, of some 650 commercial property owners to sign on to its plan to expand the neighborhood’s Business Improvement Area across Broadway, 12th Ave, 15th Ave E, 19th Ave E, Melrose, Olive/Denny, and Pike/Pine. If it can hit that threshold, all commercial properties in the BIA will be required to pay into the program.

“It’s gonna be a lot of groundwork,” director Sierra Hansen told CHS about the expansion campaign. Starting with Wednesday night’s announcement of the campaign’s launch, the chamber this week is delivering petitions to the 650 property owners within the proposed new BIA boundary. “I’m a very stubborn person,” Hansen said.

She is also already half way there. Continue reading

Plan for civilian oversight part of Seattle Police reform legislation

John T. Williams

The 2010 shooting of JT Williams was one of several flashpoint moments in the push for SPD reform.

Seattle’s long-awaited plan for creating civilian oversight of its police force moved forward Wednesday as Mayor Ed Murray handed off his office’s proposals for police accountability legislation.

“Good policing ultimately depends on civilian leadership,” the mayor said Wednesday.

The proposal is now in the hands of Seattle City Council member Lorena González who chairs the council’s Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans committee. It would create and strengthen three separate bodies to oversee the Seattle Police Department:

  • Creation of the Office of Inspector General, a fully independent office, external of SPD. This office will have jurisdiction over all SPD policies, procedures, and operations with subpoena power to compel cooperation with investigations. The office will have auditing power of OPA investigations and will be charged with evaluating outcomes, investigating patterns of misconduct, reviewing major incidents, and reviewing all aspects of the disciplinary system. Continue reading

City of Seattle wants feedback on rules for clearing homeless camps

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A plan that is part humanitarian, part legal rear end covering is moving forward to formalize how the City of Seattle responds to homeless encampments in public areas where camping is not allowed.

This week, the mayor’s office released proposals for the clean-up rules and is asking for public comment:

In 2016, Mayor Murray formed a Task Force on Unsanctioned Encampment Cleanup Protocols to make recommendations on changing the encampment removal rules. In October 2016, he announced the Bridging the Gap to Pathways Home plan. This plan increases short-term support to people living without homes while longer-term strategies are reorganized. A part of the Bridging the Gap plan is rewriting the rules for removing encampments. Compared to the existing rules, the new rules:

  • Identify specific criteria for prioritizing the removal of encampments.
  • Require the offer of a shelter alternative in order to remove many encampments.
  • Require the City to deliver materials it stores from encampments to their owners. Continue reading

Second night of Seattle immigration order protests ends up on Capitol Hill

More than 1,000 marchers arrived on Capitol Hill and filed onto the well-lit Bobby Morris sports field next to Cal Anderson Sunday night following a massive immigration rights rally downtown in a second night of protest against President Trump’s executive order. Meanwhile, efforts at City Hall and in Olympia including a lawsuit brought by the state against a lawsuit in federal court today against the president, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and “high-ranking Trump Administration officials” will do battle with the administration’s anti-immigration maneuvering.

In front of a crowd unofficially estimated at more than 3,000 people Sunday night in Westlake Park, Lt. Gov Cyrus Habib joined officials Governor Jay Inslee, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and Mayor Ed Murray in criticizing the Trump order that attempted to bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days.

“Nobody loves this country like the people who leave everything behind to earn their place in this country,” said Habib whose parents immigrated to the United States from Iran.

Habib called Trump’s executive order an “executive dis-order.” Continue reading

Seven candidates file for Seattle City Council Position 8 race

No incumbent and Seattle’s new Democracy Voucher program has drawn seven candidates to the race for the at-large City Council Position 8 so far.

In November, Jon Grant, former director of the Tenants Union, announced his bid for the seat left open by longtime council member Tim Burgess’s impending retirement. Since then notable others have decided to vie for the job. Among them are Mac McGregor, a gender, diversity, and sex educator, activist, speaker, and coach, Teresa Mosqueda, political director for the Washington State Labor Council, and Sheley Secrest, local NAACP vice president.

10660100_10204351737221066_5828433409770086078_nMac McGregor
McGregor served on the Seattle LGBTQ Commission from 2011 to 2016. As The Gender Sensei, McGregor offers classes on self-defense, martial arts, and Tai-chi wellness. He is also a professional life coach, personal trainer, motivational speaker, and educates and trains groups on diversity and sensitivity, according to his website.

The Beacon Hill resident moved to Seattle from the Bible Belt in 2008.

“Even though there’re so many things we do right in Seattle, and we’re a progressive city in so many ways, we can do better,” McGregor told CHS. Continue reading

‘We will fight’ — Seattle leaders respond to Trump’s immigration order

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Facebook emoji were flying as González, Chief O’Toole, Mayor Murray, and others spoke in an address from City Hall’s steps broadcast to an audience of around 1,000 on Facebook

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-1-58-16-pm screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-1-50-54-pmNobody punched a Nazi but Seattle City Council member and the daughter of a family of immigrants Lorena González vowed Wednesday to help lead her city to push back on President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

“We will fight,” González said Wednesday afternoon on the steps of Seattle’s City Hall.

Earlier in the day, Trump unleashed the new executive order setting the groundwork for his pet Mexican border wall project and for cutting federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities, his latest blast in a first week in office marked by preliminary attacks on undocumented immigrants, civil rights, women’s health, the Affordable Care Act, and the environment.

Mayor Ed Murray Wednesday called the order the “darkest day of immigration history in America” since the Japanese internment during World War II.

“The executive orders are counter to our constitution and a threat to this city’s values,” Murray said. Continue reading

Sawant wants to strengthen Seattle’s laws against warrantless surveillance

One of the ATF cameras installed along 23rd Ave. (Photo: CHS)

One of the ATF cameras installed along 23rd Ave. (Photo: CHS)

With renewed concerns about the reach of the federal government’s surveillance, the chair of Seattle City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee wants to strengthen the city’s laws when it comes to warrantless cameras on City of Seattle property and assets like Seattle City Light’s utility poles.

“At least I think that the members of the public agree that Seattle must stand up to any kind of big brother idea, and also I would like for the city to protect its residents without having any real expectations for cooperation from federal agencies,” District 3 representative and committee chair Kshama Sawant said.

“I don’t think we should expect that in normal circumstances, certainly, we should not expect that from a Trump administration.” Continue reading