18 things CHS heard at Rep. Jayapal and Seattle March for Our Lives town hall

What would you say to Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old arrested for the murder of 17 students last month in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School?

“I wish you had the chance to get the help you needed and to understand why this is not okay. I’m really sorry that it had to come to this and I feel sadness and anger and pity for you,” said Lucas Illa, Lakeside High School junior and Seattle March for Our Lives organizer.

March For Our Lives – Seattle

The movement to end gun violence has spread from Parkland Florida to Washington. Ahead of the Seattle March for Our Lives protest march next Saturday, March 24, Illa and six other activists from high schools across Seattle hosted a town hall meeting at Garfield High School to discuss the national student-led demand for gun-access policy reform.

U.S. Representative from Washington’s 7th congressional district Pramila Jayapal joined the activists to address questions from online and a live audience Saturday morning at Garfield High School’s Quincy Jones Auditorium.

“Our prime responsibility is to take care of each other. It’s not to money or greed so let’s make sure we incorporate love and generosity through non-violence,” Jayapal told the young march leaders Saturday.

Here are 18 more things CHS heard at the March for our Lives town hall: Continue reading

With eye toward 2019 reopening, officials break ground on $54M overhaul of Volunteer Park’s Seattle Asian Art Museum

A ceremonial lifting of paving stones where construction will add an accessibility enhancements as part of the $54 million overhaul of the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park

Leaders of the Seattle Asian Art Museum renovation project commemorated the official start of construction with a ground breaking ceremony Tuesday afternoon. Parks and Recreation officials gave remarks and encouraged the community to continue their support of the $54 million renovation.

The prospect of neglecting the museum’s need for upgrades “would have been terrible and it would have been terrible for Capitol Hill,” said capital campaign co-chair Mimi Gardner Gates who greeted the audience. “Great cities are great because citizens step forward and make a difference.”

Seattle Art Museum is just is just $3 million shy of their $33 million commitment to the project and encouraging community support to reach the total.

The audience of about 50 bristled in the windy weather, gathered beneath a canopy to hear speeches from capital campaign co-chairs Gates and Gursharan Sidhu.

Superintendent of construction Jeremy Jones stood in the audience as the lineup symbolically broke ground with crowbars painted gold. It took seven people to lift two courtyard stones with golden levers for the audience in Volunteer Park. Continue reading

Four ways Washington is making it easier to vote: automatic registration, Election Day registration, pre-registration for 16 & 17-year-olds, and a state Voting Rights Act

In the last days of the 2018 Washington legislative session, four bills aimed at reforming Washington’s voting policies and practices were delivered to Governor Jay Inslee, expected to be signed into law this week. In these days when it can feel like democracy is under full attack, the new laws should help the state put its ballot decisions in front of more voters.

“I think it’s fundamental to democracy that we have broad participation in elections,” said 43rd District Sen. Jamie Pedersen.

Pedersen co-sponsored the Voting Rights Act Senate Bill 6002, a state-level version of the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which details the government’s responsibilities to voter equality, and Senate Bill 6021 for increased voter registration periods.

Two more House Bills: 2595 for Automatic Voter Registration by state-run agencies and 1513 for pre-registering students to vote are co-sponsored by 43rd District Rep. Nicole Macri and expected to be enacted into law.

The bills were drafted by lawmakers to remove barriers to voter participation and increase registration for communities that experience limits to accessing their voting rights. Continue reading

Defiant Ruckus growing as Capitol Hill’s non-Ike’s pot shop

Ruckus Recreational on E Republican at 15th expanded their tiny grass shop into the joint next door in January but no one on the staff remembers which day exactly. With the square footage of a van, the original low profile boutique could easily be overlooked.

“That space didn’t allow us to expand our product line,” said Ruckus owner Sam Burke, yet sales at Ruckus are only getting higher. The company grossed $261,000 in December 2017 and has grown 13.3% annually since opening two years ago, according to industry tracker Top Shelf Data.

Compared to Uncle Ike’s, the Goliath weed stronghold with a location across the street, one at 23rd and Union, and another in the works on E Olive Way, Ruckus was also an easy target for thieves. After five separate smash and grab break-ins, Burke increased security measures of the newly expanded shop.

The store opens every day at 8 AM to a sleepy stream of regulars who point to what they want with little deliberation.

“It’s just like getting up and going to buy a pack of cigarettes,” says Ruckus product buyer, Bill Eddy. Continue reading

Partnership puts Capitol Hill community center space to work as new Miller Annex Preschool

(Image: Michelle MacKinnon/CHS)

With funds and guidelines for raising early education competency and readiness for Seattle kids in-hand, the Seattle Preschool Program and Department of Education and Early Learning have teamed up with Seattle Parks to renovate a portion of the Miller Community Center and contract a high-quality provider to operate a preschool inside.

City representatives and Launch preschool officials welcomed a small handful of parents with their soon to be preschoolers on Tuesday for a short ribbon-cutting ceremony at Miller Annex Preschool. Launch, a Seattle nonprofit provider of before and after school programs, won the two-year proposal bid for the space in 2017. Continue reading

Here’s what will happen during ’14 to 15 months’ of Seattle Asian Art Museum construction

On March 13th, a ceremony will mark the start of more than a year of construction to overhaul and expand the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. The construction fences are already up. Neighbors and park lovers with questions about how the construction will impact the public space and surrounding neighborhood met with officials Thursday night.

Ahead of the official groundbreaking ceremony, representatives for the SAAM renovation project invited the community to Miller Community Center Thursday night for a construction presentation. Superintendents from the construction company BN Builders presented their build-out plan alongside the museum’s chief operating officer and a Volunteer Park projects manager.

The Seattle-based company BN Builders’s winning construction bid of $31.9 million includes conservation of park trees, subterranean wiring and new walking paths. Lingering questions about the project took the meeting over schedule by almost an hour. Continue reading

East Precinct introduces new leader at community crime meeting

Capt. Bryan Grenon (Image: Michelle MacKinnon/CHS)

With a recent run of 10 new leaders in 15 years, a change at the top of the Seattle Police Department’s precinct covering Capitol Hill and the Central District shouldn’t come as a major surprise. The 11th in 18 years is now taking over.

Capt. Bryan Grenon, a veteran officer and colonel in the Washington Army National Guard from Tacoma, joined the Seattle Police Department in 1992 and will now command the officers of the East Precinct.

“I just wanted to be a police officer,” he told CHS Thursday night after his introduction in the new role at a community crime meeting. He had one more stop to make before heading home after the meeting: the East Precinct where he told third-watch officers that he’s the commander now.

At the end of his first full day as Precinct Captain, Grenon arrived ten minutes early for the February meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council. For a half hour, he and East Precinct Operations Lieutenant Paul Leung responded to concerns about school shootings and talk safety measures. “If we got a threat of a school shooting, we’re going to err on the side of caution and we’re going to make that arrest if we have probable cause,” Grenon said in one reply to the concerns voiced by community members Thursday night. Continue reading

17 things CHS heard at the Seattle Housing Gap meeting

(Image: CHS)

The Progressive Revenue Task Force charged with finding new source of funding to help address Seattle’s homelessness crisis is weeks away from releasing its recommendations and an important bottom line element: how much money can the task force dig up? Will it be enough? Earlier this week, Seattle City Council member Teresa Mosqueda gathered housing and homelessness experts and the Housing For All Coalition to move ahead on next steps to putting the money to work creating affordable housing in Seattle as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“It’s worth reminding ourselves that this is not a crisis because we don’t know what do do, it’s a manmade crisis of our own because we never invested the resources from the very start,” Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, said Tuesday night during the “Seattle Housing Gap” panel at City Hall.

Headed by City Council member Lorena González, the revenue task force is on a legislated deadline: if it doesn’t deliver recommendations in March, the council will begin the process of imposing an employee head tax opposed by many of Seattle’s business communities.

Tuesday’s discussion was less about alternative sources of funding and more about the environment we’ve created for developing housing in Seattle. Here are some of the things CHS saw and heard during the panel:

  • How about some scary math to start? To build the apartment units required, the city and county would need an estimated $5.1 billion to permanently shelter the more than 30,000 individuals in the region in need, many of whom have extra needs in addiction recovery and mental health in addition to homelessness.
  • 6,300 homeless unsheltered individuals were counted within Seattle City limits during a one-night count last year.
  • Adding to her statements at a town hall last weekend that “we should not be selling city-owned land into the speculative real-estate market,” Rep. Nicole Macri talked about rezoning public land for development and progressive tax reform. Macri also has legislation in the House aimed at prohibiting income discrimination and protecting vulnerable groups who are not yet homeless.
  • “If you look at Seattle metro, more than 46.8% of renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent,” Macri said.
  • Macri’s House Bill 2578 would allow counties to bond against state sales tax revenue to finance their own infrastructure.
  • Katie Wilson of the Housing for all Coalition talked demographics: “Population is growing in high and low-income brackets, while affordable housing for those with incomes in the middle are being hollowed out — sorry this is so depressing,” Wilson said only ten minutes into the meeting. Continue reading

43rd District Dems draw big crowd for town hall updates on progress in Olympia

Rep. Chopp, Sen. Pedersen, and Rep. Macri

Constituents of Seattle’s 43rd District packed every pew in Harvard Ave’s First Baptist Church and half the choir-lofts for a town hall meeting on Saturday.

“This is the biggest crowd in our history, let’s say a thousand people,” said Speaker of the House Frank Chopp.

Sen. Jamie Pedersen and Rep. Nicole Macri joined Chopp to discuss the most recent legislative session outcomes in Olympia. Moderator Maxima Patashnik shared questions on carbon tax, education and gun violence protection among the chief concerns from the crowd. Armed with good news and plenty of reasons for the bad, the Democratic lawmakers addressed state gun violence protection measures first. Continue reading

‘This is the time’ — Group raising funds to form LGBTQ+ credit union

Banks can fly Pride flags but a group trying to create a new credit union traditional banks are not meeting the special financial needs of LGBTQ+ customers (Image: CHS)

LGBTQ+ activists Andrew Tasakos and Philip Endicott are heading into pioneering territory just days away from their first major fundraiser to create a credit union they will call Equality Financial. Tasakos and Endicott started their effort to build a financial center serving LGBTQ+ communities four years ago.

Their next move begins Friday, February 16th with a “Party for Equality” fundraiser. The rallying cry of the movement is “Equality for All.” “You don’t have to be a gay, you just need to believe in equality to be a member,” Tasakos says.

“I’ve been very fortunate to live in a region that does not discriminate, but 37% of our community live in the South,” he said. “If we can teach our community to tithe back to ourselves, and teach each other, then we can have a safety net in this country.”

Community organizer and financial advisor Noemi Chaparro agrees. “It’s time that we show-up and stand-up, and create a physical manifestation of this portion of society,” she said. Continue reading