Officials hope for solutions beyond Seattle from King County Regional Homelessness Authority

It has been a caveat on nearly every major Seattle effort to combat homelessness. The problem, many contend, is regional. Wednesday, the City of Seattle and King County rolled out the plan to try to address the crisis at a higher level.

County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Jenny Durkan announced legislation Wednesday that will create a new regional authority overseeing “a unified response to homelessness.” Continue reading

For the first time in more than a decade, Gossett faces challenge to represent CD, Capitol Hill on King County Council

Girmay Zahilay, left, is set to challenge King County Council veteran Larry Gossett for the District 2 seat representing the Central District and Capitol Hill.

While much of CHS’s attention on Election 2019 has been focused on the race for the District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council, for the first time in more than a decade, a competitive race is shaping up for the District 2 seat on the King County Council as a young upstart flush with cash challenges a Washington civil rights icon first elected to the council in 1993.

Larry Gossett, former council chair and longtime incumbent, will have a competitor to remain on the council for the first time in 14 years with South Seattle lawyer and nonprofit leader Girmay Zahilay mounting a serious challenge.

The county needs to “target the equitable development of educational opportunities for all our kids, but with a particular focus on low-income and minority kids who are being left further and further behind,” Gossett said. Continue reading

King County moves ahead with plan to pay for your ballot stamps

(Image: King County)

In an effort to buttress sagging turnout — especially among populations most likely to be disenfranchised by voting barriers — the King County Council voted Monday to move forward with prepaid postage for 2018 elections in the county:

King County Elections Director Julie Wise cites two successful pilots conducted last year, the unwavering support of councilmembers and the overall community need for the approval of this request as proof that prepaid postage works and is supported by all as a means towards stronger voter participation.

“I am grateful to the Council for their unwavering support in giving me the tools I need to continue removing barriers for our voters,” said Director Wise. “Prepaid postage along with our ballot drop boxes makes it easy for everyone to exercise their civic right to vote.”

The postage decision joins the county’s ballot drop boxes added in 2016 to locations including Broadway in front of Seattle Central across from E Howell as part of a King County-wide effort to increase turnout. In 2011, Washington shifted to all-mail elections but the percentage of eligible voters participating in midterm elections fell below 40%.

The decision would make $381,000 available to fund the free postage for King County voters. Gov. Jay Inslee is considering an emergency request by Secretary of State Kim Wyman for $2 million to fund prepaid postage for mail-in ballots statewide this year.

Capitol Hill cat cafe credited with helping boost King County pet adoption

A sleepy moment inside Neko

King County says it has been able to boost its pet adoption rate to 92% thanks to partnerships with pet stores and a new trend of cat-focused businesses — including Capitol Hill’s Neko Cafe.

The adoption rate has risen from a sad 51% in 2003, the county reports.

“The latest milestone is the result of several strategies, including partnering with cafes and pet stores to make it easier to adopt cats, starting a new dog playgroup to help staff and volunteers better assess a dog’s behavior, revamping the volunteer program, and significantly increasing the number of pets that are licensed,” a King County announcement on the happy numbers reads. Continue reading

No New Youth Jail protesters shut down 12th Ave work site

With reporting by Alex Garland

Activists seeking a halt on construction of the new King County’s Children and Family Justice Center brought their protest to the work site Monday morning.

The construction site protest blocked work entrances at the 12th and Alder site and marked what organizers said was the beginning of a “People’s Moratorium on construction at the site.”

“We have fought this fight on many fronts -– in the courts, in county and city council chambers, in the press, and on the streets,” one activist said in a statement posted by a coalition opposing the new facility. “At every point, the county has refused to listen, so today, we’re stopping the construction with our bodies.”

The announcement did not describe the group’s plans for continuing to block the work site gates. Some protesters were chained together. Inside the fences, some work continued. Police were at the site and monitoring the situation with more units being dispatched in the area. Continue reading

King County votes for new oversight for construction-fueled 4Culture cash

The King County Council voted Monday to adopt “targeted oversight” of 4Culture, the county’s cash flush “cultural funding agency.”

“4Culture would still be responsible for the fiscal management of the agency such as approving contracts, large expenditures, grant awards, and adopting a budget prior to Council review,” an announcement from the council read Monday following the vote. “The legislation makes the Council responsible for approving 4Culture’s budget prior to the County transferring funds to 4Culture for the following year.”

CHS reported here on the so-called accountability measures some on the council have pushed for as 4Culture’s funding from the county’s lodging tax and “1% for art” program has grown.

Monday’s vote set off a stream of press releases from the council’s communications office as vying factions sought to make it clear that the vote was not unanimous:

Due to the “super majority” vote for the plan, it is unlikely King County Executive Dow Constantine to can veto the new oversight legislation, KUOW reports.

 

Protestors against Children and Family Justice Center block 4th Ave

A group of protesters targeting King County Executive Dow Constantine and the under construction 12th Ave Children and Family Justice Center blocked the street outside the county administrative building at 4th and James Friday morning.

Seven demonstrators including members of the Ending the Prison Industrial Complex activist group were locked together in a “moving blockade” with a large group of protesters also on the sidewalk and others waving flags to help block the street. Continue reading

With program growing by the millions, King County Council plans 4Culture ‘accountability measures’

You’ll find 4Culture at the core of many arts events and activities that CHS has covered over the years. It usually goes something like this, somewhere near the end of the story: “Funding for the event comes from King County’s 4Culture…” — sometimes the sentence continues with other funding sources. Often, it does not. Now, a public cry for help from a group of arts and 4Culture advocates has raised concerns about the future of King County’s “cultural funding agency.” Officials say the concern about a newly proposed ordinance is overblown.

Here’s the gist from the advocate site, advocate4culture.org:

The proposed ordinance allows council members
  • To veto the 4Culture budget, which determines funding for arts, heritage, preservation, and public arts
  • To hire and fire the 4Culture Executive Director
  • To nominate and directly appoint the majority of 4Culture board members without consultation
4Culture strives to distribute funds in the most strategic, meritorious, and equitable way possible, while acknowledging that improvements can always be made. The dismantling of 4Culture is not the best path toward progress, nor is it in the best interest of King County’s cultural and artistic health. We understand that 4Culture has always welcomed the chance to work with the King County Council to address its concerns. But this work must be undertaken with a shared understanding and appreciation of the effectiveness and efficiency that has defined 4Culture’s legacy over the past 15 years.

You can read the proposed ordinance here.

King County Council member Dave Upthegrove, one of six on the council listed as sponsors of the legislation, tried to address the concerns in a social media post: Continue reading

‘We need to act as cities’ — what Seattle can do about gun violence

In the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting in Texas, local politicians are joining the national chorus of voices — yet again — calling for substantive measures to address America’s gun violence problem. Seattle’s likely mayor-elect and former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan called for municipal-level action on the issue in a statement made on Monday: “With no leadership from this Congress or our legislature, we need to act as cities,” she said.

But what does Seattle leadership on preventing gun violence look like? Local advocates for gun control and evidence-based approaches to reducing gun violence have a few ideas.

“There are a lot of things that can be done at the local level,” said Renee Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “It’s really important that municipalities and counties are dedicated to investing resources into ensuring that the laws we know are effective are implemented.” Continue reading

Mayor calls for ‘second look’ at plan for new King County Youth Justice Center

Maybe taking the protest to Mayor Ed Murray’s North Capitol Hill neighborhood really did make a difference. When it comes to a proposed new youth jail at 12th and Alder, the mayor is now woke:

I have learned that since the passage of the County-wide levy in 2012, a consensus has grown among juvenile justice experts that incarceration is harmful and counterproductive. Incarceration decreases the chances of high school completion, increases risk of recidivism, and is associated with worse physical and mental health outcomes for youth. Due to the racial disproportionately that exists in the youth detention center, these injuries are concentrated in the Black community.

The Stranger broke the news Monday on a letter from Murray to King County officials calling for a “second look” at the controversial 12th Ave project.

“While I recognize that an immediate transition to zero youth incarceration is unrealistic, I have some concerns about the current plans for the detention facility given our joint goals of working toward zero detention,” Murray writes. “The landscape of research on best practices and intervention strategies points to mounting evidence against incarcerating young people that was not known at the time this facility was being planned. This new evidence, the continued decline of incarcerated youth in our community, and the need for considering public concerns all point toward reexamining aspects of this facility.” Continue reading