West Seattle Bridge Timeline and Concrete; Nurse Navigation Program; Pre-Basic Law Enforcement Training Program; SPD 2021 Year-End Crime Report; Update on PayUp Campaign; Celebrating Black History; Virtual Office Hours

West Seattle Bridge Timeline and Concrete

I have been concerned that the failure of concrete companies to fairly address the workers’ rights issues of Teamsters, Local 174, 300 striking concrete mixer drivers and concrete plant workers, and resolve the strike could eventually impact the timeline for re-opening the West Seattle Bridge.  The strike to demand that employers stop violating federal labor laws and offer fair wage, healthcare and retirement benefits has been going since December 3.

This week we received confirmation of this impending possible impact, specifically, the distressing news that if concrete is not available by February 20th, there will be a delay to the schedule for repairs to the West Seattle Bridge.

At this week’s West Seattle Bridge Community task force meeting I offered the following remarks:

The West Seattle Bridge is a critical lifeline not just for West Seattle residents and businesses, but for the entire region. Completing bridge repairs by mid-2022 as scheduled is our paramount responsibility.

 I don’t need to tell you how this closure has affected all of us, our access to the rest of the city, businesses cut off from customers and their workers, and traffic detours through communities on the southern portion of the peninsula, becoming more and more unbearable.

We know how, with the number of trucks using the lower-level bridge, when Terminal 5 re-opened last month, the urgency of moving other vehicle traffic back on to the West Seattle Bridge is even more urgent.

This bridge isn’t a new project.  It’s not something we’re expanding; it’s not part of a long-range plan. It’s been in use for about 40 years that must be fixed.  Our current transportation system is built around it. We, as a Community Task Force need to consider how we will work together to ensure that the City, transit agencies, state, and the private sector support the West Seattle Bridge being first in line for concrete when the strike ends.  It’s the biggest emergency project happening in the Pacific Northwest.

We are just 245 cubic yards – fewer than 30 truckloads – from the finish line. The amount of concrete needed for this project is much lower than for other major projects.

Thank you to Mayor Harrell for emphasizing the importance of opening the bridge as quickly as possible. Many thanks as well to County Executive Constantine and his Chief of Staff Shannon Braddock in working to help resolve the strike and we want to see this bridge repaired as soon as possible. Myself, my staff, and potentially my colleagues on the City Council are available to help advocate for prioritizing the West Seattle Bridge and are also here to share stories and impacts from my constituents to help you keep the concrete flowing.

Here is my statement in a press release developed by Mayor Harrell.

Here’s the most recent update on construction progress:

Here is the project schedule, which shows continuing post-tensioning work; specialized concrete is needed for this.

Here’s an image of where the concrete is needed inside the bridge for guiding and anchoring the blocks for the post-tensioning steel cables, that compress the concrete in the bridge structure to prevent cracking:

Nurse Navigation Program

On Tuesday, Mayor Harrell announced the launch of the consulting Nurse Navigation Program. I applaud Mayor Harrell for acting quickly on this Council budget action and the leadership of Chief Scoggins in implementing.

Consulting nurses are an incredible resource.  They answer the phone at all hours of the day to provide needed advice to first responders. The Seattle Fire Department has partnered with AMR to staff this program which will divert 8,000 to 10,000 low acuity calls annually.  This will help preserve our first responder resources to focus on addressing the 911 calls that only they can address.

Seattle joins five other states and Washington DC in integrating a consulting nurse navigation program.

Pre-Basic Law Enforcement Training Program

When Seattle hires new police officers, they go through a 720-hour “Basic Law Enforcement Academy Training.” This training is at the state academy run by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.  This training is standardized for recruits to departments all over the state.  There’s no training element specifically focused on building knowledge of the local Seattle community and what it means to work for the Seattle Police Department.

To address this gap in training and to work towards ensuring recruits that intend to work for SPD have the values and knowledge critical to working in Seattle, Chief Diaz has launched a new program to complement this training called the pre- Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) training program.

The first class, set to begin in May, will be for 30 days.  The focus of the program is 1) Community centered dialogue and learning 2) Wellness and professional development, and 3) Public Safety “360”. This training occurs before the state training, when newly hired officers generally have to wait before entering the state academy.

The purpose is to connect officers with the community, by taking them out of the classroom and into Seattle neighborhoods. They will be paired with Community Service Officers or members of the Collaborative Policing Bureau and gain experience in the community, as well as learning about brain development and the impact of childhood trauma, poverty, and addiction.

In addition, there is a focus on officer wellness, and the mental and physical well-being of officers, who are themselves exposed to trauma. In addition, it will include a focus on how the overall public safety system works in Seattle, and an understanding of the role we expect officers to play in a holistic model of public safety in Seattle.

I sponsored funding to begin development of this program in the 2021 supplemental budget, and $200,000 in additional funding for 2022.

I thank the Chief for his work on this innovative program.  While hiring officers, let’s make sure these candidates are the recruits we want for Seattle.

SPD 2021 Year-End Crime Report

Last week I noted the Seattle Police Department released its 2021 Year-End Crime Report, which shows an increase in crime during 2021 compared to 2020.  The report also compares 9-1-1 response times in 2021 as compared to other years.  Among the top Community-generated dispatched locations, Westwood Village has generated 473 calls in 2021, the 4th highest number of calls in the City.

I’ve invited SPD to present this report in the Public Safety and Human Services committee on February 22.  We will, in that meeting, also be hearing the year-end 2021 SPD staffing update.  In the full year of 2021, the department had a total of 81 new hires versus 170 separations for a net -89 officers.  The SPD hiring goal for 2022 is 125 officers, more hires that SPD has ever done in a single year.

Update on PayUp Campaign

On Tuesday, the PSHS committee heard an update from Council Central Staff on the development of the PayUp policy that Councilmember Lewis and I are cosponsoring.

I previously wrote updates about this policy development in July and September. Stakeholder conversations were paused while the Council tended to the 2022 budget. In the new year we resumed stakeholder conversations and have now held a dozen meetings.

Central Staff’s presentation on Tuesday updated the committee on policy changes since September. These changes include:

  • Refining the definitions of engaged time to acknowledge the differences between on-demand work and prescheduled work and define on-demand work as work that is expected to be performed within two hours of acceptance of a job.
  • Allowing for a grace period for the $5 minimum payment per offer.
  • Simplifying the requirement to provide information on contents of order.
  • Updated penalty amounts.

We are still receiving stakeholder feedback and are working towards introducing this legislation in March.

Celebrating Black History

This month, we celebrate and honor Black history in the U.S. and in Seattle. It is important to remember Black history as we continue to work on building an equitable city. You can learn more about the origins of Black History Month.

Seattle Municipal Archives has curated a digital collection on Black History Month in Seattle.

The Seattle Public Library has also compiled an online Special Collection of archives on Black Culture and History.

On February 17th, the Northwest African American Museum will also be hosting a conversation with the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture – Lonnie Bunch – to discuss the past, present, and future of Black history.

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday February 25, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours which will continue as virtual office hours until indicated otherwise. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, March 25, 2022
  • Friday, April 29, 2022
  • Friday, May 27, 2022
  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022
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