Sawant vs. Orion on police accountability: ‘Public safety problems are not because we don’t have enough police, it’s because of inequality’

It was a busy 24 hours for police accountability in Seattle.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a ruling clarifying that the city still needs to correct issues in its police accountability system. These problems led Robart to rule earlier this year that the Seattle Police Department had fallen partly out of compliance with a 2012 federal consent decree mandating that the city address allegations of bias in policing and the use of excessive force.

Robart also ruled Tuesday that, in finding ways to mend flaws in the SPD’s internal investigations of officer misconduct, Seattle may consult outside advisers.

And on Wednesday, an internal SPD inquiry found that an officer acted reasonably when he shot and killed a man armed with a handgun after a traffic stop last year, a shooting that has drawn deep scrutiny.

So Wednesday’s night’s police accountability forum at Centilia Cultural Center in Beacon Hill with candidates from many of the Seattle City Council races, was timely to say the least. And this time, both Kshama Sawant and Egan Orion were there. Continue reading

Di$trict 3: Amazon pumps over $1M into Seattle elections — What it means for District 3

Sphere of influence (Image: Amazon)

Remember that time when we reported that independent spending from Political Action Committees had soared to unprecedented heights? That was a week ago.

Campaign finance has become even more, um, unprecedented this week with the announcement Tuesday that Amazon is pouring an additional $1.05 million into CASE, the political arm of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, right when ballots are sent to voters this week.

That brings the local corporation’s spending on this year’s local elections to $1.45 million, more than any other union or Political Action Committee.

With $241,257 already spent on his behalf by CASE (mostly on mail and canvassing), D3 candidate Egan Orion is its largest beneficiary.

To give you a sense of the magnitude of this week’s contribution: Amazon’s total contribution to the PAC now adds up to more than the combined $1.27 million City Council candidates opposed by the PAC have raised. That group includes incumbent Kshama Sawant in D3, who has raised the most of any council candidate — $387,730.

“The money CASE has raised is from local companies who care about the future of this city,” Markham McIntyre, executive director of CASE, said in a statement. “The status quo isn’t working: we have a dysfunctional, toxic environment at City Council, and employers, including our city’s largest private employer, want a return to good government.”

The contribution brings CASE’s total spending power for this election up to $2.68 million, of which it has spent $1.3 million.

In a statement, Orion called the influx of PAC money in city politics this year “completely out of scale with the grassroots campaign myself and many others are trying to run and is proving to be a distraction from the real issues.”  Continue reading

D3 candidates to square off on police accountability

Last week, how the candidates for District 3’s seat on the Seattle City Council look at policing and accountability was put on stage in front of the police officer union. One candidate participated and said he wanted to “stabilize” the city’s police force and address concerns of reduced ranks and sinking morale. The other boycotted the event, saying she would stand with activists in the fight for accountability.

This week, in a forum hosted by a wide array of Seattle community organizations including Seattle’s Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute, El Centro de la Raza, and the GSBA, both Egan Orion and Kshama Sawant are expected to attend and have their say on legislating policing in the city in a Wednesday night forum: Continue reading

43rd District Democrats make move to Capitol Hill

Fresh off making “history” with the group’s endorsement choice in the Seattle District 3 race for City Council, the 43rd District Democrats are bringing their monthly meetings to Capitol Hill:

We’re MOVING! Our next general meeting will be on Tuesday, October 15 at 7pm at Seattle Central College.

Enter through the main doors of the college, go to the left, and we’re just down the hall — room BE 1110.

Be sure to RSVP going on our facebook event page! https://www.facebook.com/events/274492786568352/

In recent years, the influential political group has gathered in the University District for its meetings and endorsement sessions. Tuesday’s meeting will include two new resolutions — one a “Rent Control Resolution” and another “End Sex Work Arrests Resolution.”

The group meets every third Tuesday.

The 43rd was also busy in the neighborhood over the weekend canvassing for D3 Socialist Alternative incumbent Kshama Sawant in her race against challenger Egan Orion.

It’s not every election year you’ll find the Democratic-focused group working to get out the vote for someone outside the party.

In September, the 43rd voted to endorse Sawant, the first ever endorsement of a non-Democrat by the 43rd District group.

Ballots are slated to be mailed out Wednesday for the November 5th General Election. Thursday, the drop boxes open. You can find all of CHS’s Election 2019 coverage here.

 

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At public safety candidates forum, Orion makes call to ‘stabilize’ force, Sawant makes statement by passing on Seattle Police Officer Guild event

(Image: @brandikruse)

In mid-May, just six weeks after announcing his bid for the Seattle City Council, Egan Orion moderated a panel on summer safety for the now-defunct Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. A big topic of discussion that day was the understaffing of the Seattle Police Department.

SPD East Precinct commander Capt. Bryan Grenon noted at the meeting that the department was down several officers on all watches and that in his 28 years on the force, they’ve never had officers to spare.

So Orion came into Wednesday’s candidate forum hosted by the Seattle Police Officers Guild to prove his mettle on one of the biggest issues plaguing the city and the district. And what was the first issue he brought up in his opening statement?

“We’re losing police officers faster than we can hire them on the SPD,” Orion said. “Public safety is an essential part of our every day lives, of course.”

Kshama Sawant, Orion’s competitor and the most vocal Seattle Police critic on the current council, chose to make her statement by not attending Wednesday’s forum that included at least one candidate from all seven council seats up for election next month.

“Far too often, the conversation on police accountability has had to start at the grassroots level in the wake of tragic events, with the political establishment rushing to catch up, and the SPOG standing in opposition,” Sawant said in a statement. “I stand with the Movement for Black Lives, which has called for independently elected community oversight boards with full powers over police departments.” Continue reading

Di$trict 3: Independent expenditures now total more than $1M and favor Orion. Plus: Dale Chihuly, Scott Lindsay, Lyft and Seattle Fire Fighters join the fray

With ballots landing in mailboxes in just a couple of weeks and the November 5 General Election just a month away, campaigns for City Council are heating up — and so is the independent spending from Political Action Committees, which has soared to unprecedented heights.

For the final weeks of the run for the District 3 seat, CHS will keep you updated on the dollars with regular updates dedicated to looking at campaign finances. We’ll report where campaign money — whether from PACs or the candidates’ campaign coffers — comes from, and how it is spent.

With over $1 million raised in total and the two candidates headed to the general election with hundreds of thousands of dollars in their campaign coffers, the District 3 race keeps its top spot as the most expensive in the city. Incumbent Kshama Sawant has raised a total of $374,108; challenger Egan Orion tallied $296,728. 

Some notable recent Orion backers include the famed glass artist Dale Chihuly and his wife who donated $500 each, and Scott Lindsay, a former adviser to Ed Murray and father of the “Seattle is Dying” trope.  Continue reading

In debate over arts and culture in Seattle, District 3 candidates again paint ‘tax the corporations’ vs. ‘pro-business’ contrasts

Homelessness and housing. Gentrification and displacement. Transportation and the climate. Equity and minority rights. Crime and police accountability. Education and the city’s schools. The final weeks of the race for District 3’s seat on the Seattle City Council are filled with topical forums dedicated to specific problems — and opportunities — for the city.

There are so many issues for candidates to discuss ahead of next month’s general election arts, culture, and heritage programming could be easily overlooked. At a Monday night forum at Town Hall, incumbent Kshama Sawant and her challenger Egan Orion got to discuss their approaches to preserving and enhancing the arts community in District 3, a cultural hub for the city. Continue reading

Campaign for District 3 being managed from two different corners of the Central District

As the race for the District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council plays out, challenger Egan Orion’s campaign has picked an unusual headquarters as the organization tries to map out a course to victory in November.

Orion organizers have created a campaign office in the old gas station at 21st and Union where a big Egan Orion campaign mural has joined the streetscape next to Chucks Hop Shop CD and the new home of machine learning-powered — and roasted corn genius — El Costeño.

In a brief conversation on the sidewalk in front of the campaign office, Orion said the location is in the heart of his campaign territory and his home neighborhood and that he was proud to be part of activating the corner lot. Continue reading

Sawant and Orion trade blows on housing and homelessness in Real Change debate

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant repeatedly attacked her Seattle City Council member challenger Egan Orion on housing and homelessness in an online debate, accusing him of using the same tactics as people who are “peddling Republican talking points.”

“He believes that the solution to the housing affordability crisis is to build more market housing,” Sawant said at an online forum on Facebook Tuesday night. The Broadway Business Improvement Area administrator quickly responded that this isn’t what he believes.

The local rent control champion also claimed that he used questionable numbers on rent increases in the city to back up his argument, arguing that he was trying to “minimize the deep affordability crisis we are facing by quoting spurious statistics like rents only went up by 1% last year.” Continue reading

Three weeks before ballots drop, tensions rise as Sawant and Orion square off in Town Hall debate

“Please do not clap, do not cheer, and certainly do not boo.”

Such was the request from Seattle CityClub, the organizer of last night’s City Council candidate debate for District 3 at a packed Town Hall on First Hill.

It turned out an impossible ask, as supporters applauded and cheered when incumbent Kshama Sawant was welcomed to the stage, and fans of challenger Egan Orion seemingly tried to surpass the decibel levels just moments later.

Applause returned soon when Sawant hit the ground running when she called Orion a “poster child for big business” and took aim at the Amazon and Vulcan-backed Political Action Committees’ expenditures on Orion’s behalf, just moments after he made his first pitch.

Orion had said he would be equipped to serve in public office because he had served his “community” with his work at PrideFest and brought “a collaborative style of leadership” to the table.

“Unity and collaboration and coalitions with whom?” Sawant asked. “We know what corporations like Amazon and chamber of commerce are trying to do. They are trying to flip City Hall to the right.”

The comment set the tone for the rest of the debate — and potentially the rest of the campaign through November 5th — with jabs on both sides, either followed by applause or finger-snapping, one thing the organizers had not explicitly discouraged.  Continue reading