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Sawant wants City Council to reject Durkan pick to lead Seattle’s homelessness response

With reporting from SCC Insight

As promised — and if the snow doesn’t cancel the afternoon session — Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant will be formally introducing a resolution on Monday to send back Mayor Jenny Durkan’s nomination of Jason Johnson as Director of the Human Services Department.

The resolution says two things:

  1. It declares that the Council will not take action on an HSD Director nomination — Johnson or otherwise — until the Mayor’s Office completes “a formal search process that comports with the goals and priorities of the City’s Race and social Justice Initiative.” Johnson has served as interim Director of HSD since last May, and the Mayor has said that she nominated him to serve as permanent Director based upon his performance in that role, rather than conduct a formal search.
  2. It lays down requirements for the search committee that the Mayor should convene, including representatives from non-profit human services providers, individuals experiencing homelessness, other clients of HSD, and HSD employees. While it certainly makes sense to gather input from all of these stakeholders as part of the appointment process (and Durkan has been cagey about the extent to which she has done so), it’s questionable whether human-services providers under contract to HSD should have a formal role in choosing the new head of that agency as it would raise issues as to whether the new Director would feel beholden to those providers.

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Last week Durkan sent a letter to Sawant accusing her of unreasonably refusing to move Johnson’s appointment forward in her committee. Sawant certainly seems in no hurry: her resolution will be referred to her committee, which doesn’t meet again until February 12 — and then the resolution would need to go to the full Council the following Monday, February 18, for final approval.

The action will follow Sawant’s committee session held at Capitol Hill’s Miller Community Center last month in which city staffers from the Human Services Department, community members, and activists spoke out against the appointment. Opponents claim the mayor’s office “made the decision independently and without input from community members, particularly those who would be most affected by the work of the Human Services Department,” the South Seattle Emerald reports.

The department has a budget of over $200 million including $80 million dedicated to homelessness services.

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14 thoughts on “Sawant wants City Council to reject Durkan pick to lead Seattle’s homelessness response” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. So the SA is not concerned about getting people into housing when they are homeless? Is that because they don’t respect the vote that homeless individuals are allowed to have?
    I see no reason why delaying an appointment of a much needed city staff member should be delayed.

    • I see no reason either. It seems that the Mayor has given alot of thought to Jason Johnson’s qualification for the job. She is the Executive of the city, and it is her perfect right to appoint someone to an important position, without going through a long, drawn-out “Seattle process.”

      Sawant is just obstructing for the sake of obstructing.

  2. This post should be correctly titled “The Socialist Alternative Executive Committee in New York wants Seattle City Council to reject Durkan pick to lead Seattle’s homelessness response”, with a subheading “Sawant to formally introduce Socialist Alternative’s resolution”.

  3. Is this not a main problem with Seattle’s homeless response? A hodgepodge of contracts, and little accountability? Why let the contractors in on the decision?

    I feel the apparatus of the State of Sawant.

    • Yes, it is.

      So giving contractors’ veto power over the staff that determine their funding is a terrible idea.

      Particularly for SHARE, which has a long history of failing to perform (or even cooperate on basic contractual requirements like data entry and fiscal oversight). It’s taken years to move toward a small bit of accountability and this would strip it away at the last minute.

  4. Woo hoo “TakeBackSeattle2019”,

    You should change your silly moniker to “Rip Van Winkle”!

    For over a hundred years, every genuine socialist party — such as Socialist Alternative — and every genuine socialist fighter — such as Kshama Sawant — have placed every public position we win, completely under dual accountability.

    So, Kshama is proudly and gladly accountable to both Socialist Alternative and her fellow-worker voters.

    Is simultaneously “walking and chewing gum” too much for you?

    Mayor Durkan and the corporate councilmembers are accountable to the capitalist class, to Wall Street, to Bezos and other billionaire brigands.

    As you saw with their shameful and cowardly repeal of the Amazon Hours Tax, Bezos says “Jump” and they say “How high?”!

    Kshama is accountable not to those specimens but to her party and her class.

    Do you comprehend the distinction, or is such a feat completely beyond your ken?

  5. I’ve been enlightened by your pseudo intellectual claptrap….

    You’re an !*$@# head :) See, I learned from you that it is totally OK to insult people if you follow it with a smiley face.

    I’m superior and smug and you’re a misguided &%#@$ :)

    Thanks for showing me the light comrade.