Recall backers call for hearing as Sawant admits Tax Amazon ethics violation

Councilmember Kshama Sawant has admitted violating city elections and ethics code and will pay a penalty of $3,515.74 — double the amount of city funds her office spent promoting the Tax Amazon ballot initiative.

Organizers for the Recall Sawant campaign say the admission and fine is a major win for their campaign and are calling for a public hearing.

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission is scheduled to vote on approving the negotiated settlement at a Monday special meeting.

In the agreement, Sawant admits wrongdoing in her office’s efforts to champion a Tax Amazon initiative that supporters said would be taken to the ballot if the city council did not act to create a new tax on large companies in the city. The Seattle City Council passed the $200 million JumpStart tax on big businesses in July.

The settlement says Sawant’s office created posters supporting the initiative, promoted Tax Amazon on her official city website, and spent around $1,700 of city money promoting the initiative with advertising and messaging. Continue reading

Missing texts from Mayor Durkan, Chief Best, and Fire Chief Scoggins cloud CHOP investigations

Durkan addressing a crowd of protesters in May 2020 as Fire Chief Scoggins looks on

Who ordered the abandonment of the East Precinct? If the answer is in the text messages of Mayor Jenny Durkan, former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, or Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, we may never know.

Texts from the three key Seattle leaders from the critical weeks last June around the formation of the Capitol Hill protest zone and the decision for Seattle Police to pull out of the East Precinct have gone missing city officials and lawyers suing the city say, the Seattle Times reports:

The Fire Department didn’t immediately comment Friday evening. The Police Department didn’t provide a reason Best’s messages are gone. Best retired in September and now appears on television as a law enforcement analyst. “SPD turned over all requested phones to the City Attorney’s Office,” the department said in a statement. “SPD understands that the vendor hired by the City Attorney’s Office to retrieve data advised that it was unable to retrieve Chief Best’s text messages for a period of time. While SPD understands that the City Attorney’s Office has been in communication with Chief Best on this point, SPD is not able to comment substantively on matters relating to pending litigation.”

The Times says Durkan’s chief of staff said the mayor’s missing texts were an “unknown technology issue” and the city “hired a consultant to conduct forensic work on Durkan’s phones, but the consultant has yet to write an analysis on what happened.” A log from the city’s service provider was used to recreate some of the mayor’s text records but not all, the mayor’s office says. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Why Seattle Police’s temporary East Precinct security fence is probably pretty permanent

The East Precinct’s cement wall is gone but the new “temporary” security fence that replaced it doesn’t seem likely to ever come down.

Thursday night after the final cement blocks making up the large barrier wall in place around the building were removed from 12th and Pine, police say a small group of “black-clad protesters” caused “significant damage” by smashing a dumpster into the facility’s parking garage door.

A 34-year-old Renton woman was arrested.

Thursday’s incident comes after Seattle Police finally responded to months of community complaints and crews this week removed the large cement barrier wall SPD installed around the facility last August as anti-police protests continued after a summer of massive Black Lives Matter demonstrations and rallies in the city including the CHOP occupied protest camp.

Incidents like it, SPD says, are the reason the building will remain clad in a tall security fence the department has described as temporary.

Bolted to the building, the fence means, while the sidewalks and street in front of the facility are finally clear, the East Precinct itself has been made a center of protest and the building’s connection to the neighborhood has most likely permanently changed. Continue reading

Black ownership amid a wave of redevelopment, Jackson’s Catfish Corner and Simply Soulful are coming to 23rd and Jackson

Terrell Jackson and Catfish Corner are back in the CD

(Image: Patricia K Apartments)

Catfish and soul food lovers in the Central District have good reason to celebrate. The legendary Catfish Corner is coming back to the neighborhood, and Simply Soulful is moving from their Madison Valley location to the Jackson Apartments. The return of Black-owned businesses to the 23rd and Jackson corridor is a welcome sight to a district that lost many minority-owned businesses due to development, rising rent costs, and gentrification.

Housed in the Community House Mental Health Agency’s Patricia K Apartments development at 2212 S. Jackson St., Catfish Corner—now dubbed Jackson’s Catfish Corner—will keep the same menu that made the family business a favorite, including items like catfish, hush puppies, and their famous tartar sauce.

Owner Terrell Jackson — grandson of original Catfish Corner founders Woodrow and Rosemary Jackson — can’t wait for the customers to see the new digs. “It’s a dream come true for me,” he said. “[the new location] will go with the family name. The Jacksons on Jackson.” Continue reading

After more shootings and gunfire, mayoral candidate proposes new ‘Seattle Office of Violence Prevention’

Gunfire rang out near the Central District’s Garfield High School Thursday night in the area where a man was sent to the hospital last week after being shot in the stomach in the parking lot of Ezell’s. There were no reported injuries in the late night bout of gunplay.

The shots fired incident was the latest in a spring series of gun violence across the city, the Central District, and Capitol Hill.

In the increasingly crowded race for Seattle mayor, candidate Jessyn Farrell’s campaign is making a focus on gun violence a center of her effort to draw voters.

This week, Farrell released her plan to address gun violence with a focus on community spending in a bid to make the issue a key factor in the race. Continue reading

Seattle ‘Mobile Vaccination Teams’ to target young adults at breweries, outdoor dining areas, parks, and beaches

A Sounders fan gets poked (Image: Seattle Fire)

To speed the process of getting the city’s young adults inoculated against COVID-19, the Seattle Fire Department will begin deploying its mobile vaccination teams to neighborhood breweries, outdoor dining areas, business districts, parks, and beaches.

Officials call the new mobile vaccination strategy “an effort to meet Seattle residents and workers where they are and increase vaccination rates, with a focus on younger Seattleites.”

The Mobile Vaccination Teams will begin their tour of duty to reach the 16 to 30 crowd Friday in the University District and will be partnering with Big Time Brewery & Alehouse and Sweet Alchemy Ice Creamery to offer discounts to clinic patients. More deployments and deals will follow. Continue reading

‘I am with the people’ — Sawant sets out to complete the big three: $15 minimum wage, Tax Amazon, and, now, rent control in Seattle

(Image: CHS)

A poster from 2019 — ready for a re-run in 2021

In October of 2013, CHS was there as an upstart challenger squared off with incumbent Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin in a debate on rent control held at Seattle Central that would set the tone for the major political upset that would remove the veteran lawmaker from office a few weeks later.

That win built on causes like the $15 minimum wage, a tax on big business, and controlling rents came at the start of Kshama Sawant’s political career in the city.

“We’ve done $15 an hour and taxing big business. We haven’t done rent control,” Sawant told CHS Wednesday.

“Between 2013 and 2019, there was a huge shift in broad consciousness… Now, in post-pandemic, it is even greater. People’s eyes are opening,” the now longest serving member on the council said.

Eight years later as she faces the ultimate political fight to keep her place on the council, Sawant says it is time to complete her initial goals in the city, announcing in a rally at 22nd and Union a renewed push of her bid to prepare Seattle with rent control legislation that would slow and sometimes prohibit yearly increases in rent by tying a cap to inflation and pressure lawmakers in Olympia to lift the state ban that forbids it. Continue reading

Seattle sorts out plan for increased vehicle license fees: pedestrian improvements, bridge maintenance, and bicycle safety upgrades

A Seattle City Council committee voted unanimously Wednesday to earmark money from a new increase in the vehicle license fee for pedestrian improvements, bridge maintenance, and bicycle safety upgrades.

The doubling of the vehicle license fee from $20 to $40, passed by the council during the budget process in November, is expected to raise $3.6 million this year and then about $7.2 million annually after that.

The new revenue this year would fund $1.125 million in safety improvements as part of the city’s Vision Zero goal of ending traffic deaths. Another $1.025 million would go toward sidewalk maintenance; $850,000 for bridge rehab; $350,000 for bicycle lanes and other transportation upkeep; and $250,000 to “plan for a future transportation system that addresses our values and goals for equity, safety, and sustainability,” according to the council. Continue reading

With Paneer Burgers and Masala Fries, Bombay Burger now open on Capitol Hill

(Image: Bombay Burger)

A classic beef burger ended up on the menu but the rest of Bombay Burger’s offerings are straight out of Maharashtra.

The new Capitol Hill burger joint is now open along E Madison at 15th Ave in the space of a former pho shop.

CHS talked with Seattle Indian restaurant veteran Amardeep Singh about his latest project earlier this year pairing classic Indian dishes with the American sandwich format.

The result is a menu full of options far beyond the sacred cow including a Bombay Chicken Burger, a Paneer Burger, or a Aloo Tikki Burger with a “grilled potato patty, onion, tomato, lettuce, spices, mayo, cheese, ketchup and chutney.” Continue reading

For second year, the Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival moves online

The F*ck F*scism short film collection is part of this year’s Translations festival (Image: F*ck F*scism)

With plans coming together for a safe, in-person Pride celebration on Capitol Hill later this summer, another neighborhood celebration of LGBTQ+ culture will mark its second year as a virtual event.

Hopefully by 2022, we can gather in theaters again but the 2021 edition of the Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival from Capitol Hill cinema nonprofit Three Dollar Bill will begin Thursday on phones, laptops, and home theaters near you: Continue reading