Politically bombarded in its attempt to address protest demands with the start of a process to defund the Seattle Police Department, the Seattle City Council is now facing new criticism from the Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County organization.
The situation emerges in the midst of the confusing swirl of priorities from Seattle’s response to the summer’s protests and how public officials mix and match their use of “community” when it comes to policy and politics.
Also on display is the power of Black Lives Matter as a movement and its power for the organizations like the nonprofit that first formed here in 2018 and took the BLM name as it has fought for its versions of the cause.
The nonprofit is calling for a formal ethics investigation of the council’s actions related to the protests this summer including “potential pressure exerted on City employees and members of the public,” whether the council was “informed about safety issues around those protests,” and how the council was “influenced in recent budget and policing proposals.”
Its letter (PDF) to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission calls for an immediate investigation over a dozen points including “whether members of the City Council did question African American or other people or color employed within the City of Seattle about SPD response and actions towards protesters around the East Precinct” during CHOP. Continue reading →
Kshama Sawant’s January inauguration for her third term on the Seattle City Council was also the launch of a new “Tax Amazon” movement in Seattle. It may have also violated city ordinances and state laws.
Monday, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission charged Sawant with ethics violations for using her office to promote a potential ballot measure.
Sawant has made a revived “Tax Amazon” movement a key component of her third term at City Hall. Sawant’s office says her plan for a Seattle tax on large companies would would raise between $200 million and $500 million annually for homelessness services and housing.
The campaign has a web site registered to Calvin Priest, a Socialist Alternative employee and Sawant’s husband, and has held a string of organizing meetings. At their January 25th meeting, the group passed a resolution establishing its intent to put a voter initiative on the November 2020 ballot to impose a new head tax on large companies in Seattle. The campaign is also gathering names on a petition opposing a preemption clause in HB 2907, the bill currently pending in the state legislature that would authorize King County to impose a payroll tax. The Tax Amazon campaign is also fundraising, soliciting donations on its web site. Continue reading →
The race for the District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council had enough twists and turns that we are still tying up some of the loose ends. One story that needs an ending: an ethics complaint involving the pro-business challenger’s $500 a month campaign office inside a former gas station on a neighborhood pot entrepreneur’s E Union property.
Earlier this month, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission announced it had dismissed the complaint over the Egan Orion campaign’s failure to disclose the owed rent in its campaign finance reporting.
“The Committee reported more than $95,000 in contributions and more than $55,000 in expenditures and debts on the post-Primary C4,” SEEC executive director Wayne Barrett wrote in his decision (PDF). “The 21-Day pre-General C4 included more than $180,000 in contributions, and more than $150,000 in expenditures and obligations which leads me to conclude that the failure to report two $500 obligations was an inadvertent and minor violations of the Elections Code.”
Additionally, Barrett said that the $500 a month rent met market value requirements: Continue reading →
Mayor Murray and his SDOT director check out a new Pronto bike before the system’s launch (Image: SDOT)
Leave it to Seattle to have a political scandal involving a bike share.
Seattle Department of Transportation director Scott Kubly has admitted that he failed to obtain permission before working with his former employer on Seattle’s bike share system.
Kubly has agreed to a $10,000 fine for participating in a matter in which his prior employer had a financial interest and failure to file a disclosure about that participation. Half of the fine will be suspended as long as no new violations occur, according to the settlement agreement.
The problem isn’t that he hid previous work connections from the public. His experience helping to launch bike share systems in Washington D.C. and Chicago as well as his six-month stint as President of Alta Bicycle Share from January through June of 2014 were publicly lauded when he was hired to become SDOT Director in July 2014. Since Puget Sound Bike Share was set to launch a system in Seattle months after Kubly was hired, his bike share experience seemed like a good thing for the city. However, city ethics rules state that city employees are not to do business with a previous employer for a year after their employment ends without first obtaining a waiver. That did not happen. Kubly admitted this violation and agreed to be fined.
Kubly joined SDOT in 2014 with a reputation as “a transportation visionary” with “a proven track record in Chicago and Washington, D.C. of advancing innovative solutions that address the full range of transportation needs of residents and businesses.” In March, the City Council approved the city’s takeover of the Pronto bike share system which was mired in debt and insolvent after its launch under the nonprofit Puget Sound Bike Share.