West Seattle Bridge Update; Budget Request from the Regional Homelessness Authority; Sexual Assault Investigations; Seattle Police Management Association Contract Agreement; OPA Director Position Search: Public Forum for Finalists June 8; Southwest Precinct Community-Police Dialogue, June 9; PayUp Passes Unanimously, First in Nation; Shootings Across the Nation

West Seattle Bridge Update

As noted last week, the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force will be meeting on June 9th. SDOT has indicated they will provide an update on the timeline at that meeting.

With the completion of structural concrete pours last week, work has proceeded on the next steps in the post-tensioning process.

Ducts are being installed inside the bridge. The ducts act as a protective casing for the post-tensioning cables and will span the length of the bridge. About 11,000 feet of ducts will be installed inside the bridge. Cables will be threaded through the ducts and the openings in the new concrete structures.

Budget Request from the Regional Homelessness Authority

On Friday, I joined my colleagues on Governing Committee of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) in a vote that authorizes the KCRHA to transmit a proposed 2023 budget of $227M to the County Executive and Mayor Harrell.  You can review the KCRHA’s budget proposal for 2023 in detail here, and watch the Governing Committee discussion and vote here.

My colleagues also approved a motion, put forward by Councilmember Lewis and myself, that:

  • Acknowledges that new or increased funding will need to be identified, or the proposal will need to be reduced; and
  • Requests that future budget proposals include specific plans for revenue as well as expenditures.

The KCRHA must negotiate a more equitable funding plan for future budgets, and this motion makes that point.  KCRHA’s $170M budget in 2022 comes largely from the City of Seattle, which provided $115M or 68% of the total, with the balance from King County.  Of course, Seattle residents also pay the taxes that fund King County’s portion of the budget.  The other 38 cities in King County currently provide $0 to the KCRHA, despite their residents receiving services from it.

I appreciate Marc Dones, KCRHA’s Executive Director, making it clear that this funding plan is not sustainable.  Not just other King County cities, but also the state and federal governments have an important role to play in speeding funds to cities like Seattle, which require an infusion of funds to acquire and build affordable housing and reduce the harm to people living unsheltered.  The city is doing and will continue to do its part in providing funding for homelessness and affordable housing.  Other jurisdictions must follow our example.

I also appreciate that among the proposed budget is an additional $5M for safe parking lots of vehicle and RV residents, a longtime priority of mine.

Next, the County Executive and Mayor Harrell will separately consider the KCRHA proposal and put forward their own proposed budgets this fall.  The City Council will have the opportunity to make changes to that proposal during our fall budget cycle.

Sexual Assault Investigations

This week the Seattle Times and KUOW reported a reduction in police investigations of cases of sexual assault of adults. In 2020, 2021, and 2022 SPD’s data shows only about a third of cases are being assigned for investigation. State Law provides specific rights to children who are victims of sexual assault, and these cases must be prioritized.

At an April meeting of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, of which I am a member, Chief Diaz transparently shared data, that shows that only approximately 1/3 of sexual assault cases are routed and assigned. A demographic breakdown of those cases shows that cases in all age ranges are being routed and assigned, although certain cases where the victim is a child are a larger proportion.  I appreciate SPD’s willingness to share this data.

Victim Advocate Services Denied

In a follow up to this week’s Seattle Times/KUOW story, KIRO reports, Staffing shortages take toll on sexual assault unit at Seattle Police Department, and that SPD promises that victim advocates will still reach out to all victims:

“The email (from SPD) says victim advocates will still reach out to all victims.”

This statement is inconsistent with what my office has learned – survivors only receive an advocate’s help when the case is assigned for investigation; and that approximately two-thirds of cases are not assigned for investigation, again according to SPD’s own data.

A report from the Human Services Department (HSD) that I requested and received last week about HSD victim advocacy services, demonstrates that survivors only receive outreach from an advocate when their case is assigned to an investigation – not when the report is first taken. Therefore, when cases aren’t assigned, survivors are doubly impacted…they receive no investigation of their case and no advocacy services.

HSD reports that they are poised to launch a pilot with SPD to begin to refer unassigned adult sexual assault cases to the Victim Support Team.

Patrol Officers Not Taking All Reports

Assignment of SPD patrol officers to take reports of sexual assault from survivors should certainly be a priority, even with a police force with 300 plus fewer officers in service over the last two years. Chief Diaz said as much in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee on May 26 when he explained why the patrol division has increased as a percentage of all officers while investigative units have decreased as a percentage of all officers.  He said:

“If we don’t have an officer to respond to sexual assault, we’re never going to have the follow up to be able to investigate it.”

I have been aware that a shortage of investigations unit detectives has created a situation where SPD is prioritizing the assignment of detectives to youth sexual assault cases as required by the law, but I was shocked to learn that “Seattle police are failing to take rape and other sexual assault reports in a timely way — or sometimes, even at all — from victims seeking treatment from Harborview Medical Center.”

Why is it, that in the first quarter of 2022, SPD has deployed officers to 23,000 hours of overtime for events staffing, much of it exclusively for traffic enforcement, of which I believe Parking Enforcement Officers should be doing? I think that Chief Diaz should prioritize deploying officers to overtime work to fulfill high-priority public safety incidents, such as collecting reports of sexual assault from survivors and other sexual assaults, not directing traffic.

Cases Not Assigned to Detectives

Further, SPD detectives investigating cases of sexual assault should also be a priority for SPD.

Yet, the Seattle Times/KUOW article reports that a 5-detective unit, that was historically 10 detectives, “struggle to make a dent in large child abuse and sexual assault caseloads, the department has also drafted them to work security and traffic control at sporting events.”

The City Charter gives authority over deployment decisions to the Chief, and Council is not able to intervene. But we can and must insist on additional transparency into how officers are deployed.

In order to determine whether overtime hours assigned to staffing events could be assigned instead to detectives doing sexual assault investigations, I have requested from SPD the breakdown of 23,000 overtime hours for staffing events according to officers in patrol vs those working in investigative units.

Advocates have also proposed that because so many cases are not routed to investigators, sexual assault victims may not be having trauma-informed interactions when they are able to report sexual assault. I have been advocating that SPD include a requirement for all patrol officers to take a Criminal Justice Training Center two-hour online training in trauma-informed interviewing techniques focused on working with survivors of sexual assault, and led by sexual assault investigation experts.  SPD is considering my request.

At a time when sexual assault cases are on the rise, we must examine how the gaps in the pathway for survivors of sexual assault to find justice are occurring at multiple points – getting their reports taken by patrol officers, getting the cases that are reported assigned to detectives to investigate, getting advocacy services to survivors, getting investigated cases referred for prosecution, and a backlog of cases referred for prosecution waiting to be heard in court as well. And we must not only ask how, but why, and demand answers to what it will take to fill the gaps across the entire pathway.

Seattle Police Management Association Contract Agreement

On Monday, June 6 the Council will hear a briefing about the Seattle Police Management Association Collective Bargaining Agreement. It has been introduced and is available here. A summary is here.

There are two labor unions that represent Seattle police officers: the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA), and the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG). SPOG represents officers and sergeants; SPMA represents captains and lieutenants and has fewer members.

SMC 4.04.120 requires the City Council to hold a public hearing “on the effectiveness of the City’s police accountability system and should be held at least 90 days before the City begins collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG) or the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA)” at least 180 days before negotiations begin. It further states:

“The City of Seattle will consider in good faith whether and how to carry forward the interests expressed at the public hearing. Those suggested changes that are legally required to be bargained with the SPOG, SPMA, or their successor labor organizations will be considered by the City, in good faith, for inclusion in negotiations but the views expressed in the public hearing will not dictate the city’s position during bargaining.”

Two Council committees held this hearing in September 2019 jointly with the Community Police Commission. The arrival of COVID delayed the commencement of negotiations.

SMC 4.04.120 established a Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC) consisting of the City Council’s Labor Committee and the Mayor’s appointees, and notes “no binding oral or written agreements shall be entered into with the bargaining representative(s) of employees of the City relative to substantive changes in City policy toward wages, hours, or working conditions without the participation of the Director of Labor Relations or his designee, the concurrence of the Labor Relations Policy Committee, and approval by a majority of the City Council.”

The five Councilmembers (a majority of the Council) that serve on the Select Labor Committee serve on the LRPC.

In November 2020 former Mayor Durkan and I announced newly expanded roles for accountability partners in bargaining police contracts for negotiations with SPMA and SPOG. For the first time, a community representative from the Community Police Commission has had a role in the bargaining process. The Inspector General and the Office of Police Accountability Director also serve as bargaining advisors.

In addition, Council staff was included in negotiations. Previously, there was no formal City Council staff representation in previous contract negotiations with SPOG and SPMA, and only Mayor’s Office, Seattle Police Department, and Labor Relations representatives were at the table with the unions.

The agreement is on the agenda for the City Council meeting on Tuesday.

OPA Director Position Search: Public Forum for Finalists June 8

Here is a late breaking announcement from the executive re: a public forum on the finalists for OPA Director that they asked to be shared:

As part of the Mayor’s selection process, finalists for the Director, Office of Police Accountability will participate in a virtual public forum on Wednesday, June 8th at 6:30PM.  The public forum will be recorded, streamed live, and televised by Seattle Channel. The Public Forum is an opportunity for the community to meet the OPA Director finalists.

The City has conducted a national recruitment for the Director, Office of Police Accountability.  The selection committee, which included current Community Police Commissioners, community members and representatives from Council, the Seattle Police Department and the Mayor’s Office reviewed applications of qualified applicants, conducted an interview, reviewed responses to the written exam and identified four finalists.

Scheduled to participate in the forum (in alphabetical order) will be:

  • Eddie Aubrey, Civilian Manager for the Office of Professional Accountability, Richmond, CA
  • Gino Betts, Assistant State Attorney at the Community Justice Center within the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Chicago, IL
  • Ginale Harris, Program Director, Felton Institute, San Francisco, CA and former Oakland Police Commissioner, Oakland, CA
  • Valiza Nash, Supervising Investigator (Special Victims), Civilian Office of Police Accountability, Chicago, IL

The public is encouraged to suggest questions for the candidates prior to the event.  Questions can be submitted anonymously through the following link 12:00PM (noon) on Tuesday, June 7th.

Upon the Mayor’s nomination for the Director, Office of Police Accountability a full background check as required by Ordinance 125315 will be conducted.  It is anticipated that the nominee will be announced in early July.

Southwest Precinct Community-Police Dialogue, June 9

As noted earlier, Seattle University will be hosting a series of community-police dialogues in each police precinct. The purpose of the dialogues will be to provide an overview of the findings from the 2021 Seattle Public Safety Survey and to give community members and police personnel the opportunity to engage in dialogue that is precinct-specific.

The first one of three for the Southwest Precinct (West Seattle and South Park) will be on Thursday, June 9, from 5:30 to 7:30, via Zoom video conferencing. You can sign up here.

The dialogues are open to all who live and/or work in Seattle.

Seattle University collaborates with the Seattle Police Department to conduct the annual public safety survey as part of the Micro-Community Policing Plans.

PayUp Passes Unanimously; First in Nation

As you might have seen in my newsletter last week, my committee voted to pass CB 120294 out of committee after adopting several amendments. You can see that write-up here. During this week’s Full Council meeting the Council voted unanimously in favor of CB 120294.

This legislation is the first of several bills focused on labor standards protections for app-based workers. CB 120294 will do three things:

  1. Ensure app-based delivery workers are paid minimum wage plus expenses and tips
  2. Create more transparency in employment terms and how payments are split between workers and app-based companies
  3. Protect flexibility and transparency in employment issues for app-based workers

Councilmember Morales successfully proposed an amendment that noted the Council’s intention to consider future legislation regulating marketplace network companies (think Rover and TaskRabbit) – which were removed from the legislation before it was voted out of committee.

I am honored to have had the opportunity to work on this legislation which protects one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy.  More and more workers are turning to this type of work, whether full or part-time, without receiving the protections of basic labor standards.

There are still some app-based businesses that are concerned about this legislation.  Nevertheless, this is an expensive city to live and work in and if paying employees subminimum wage is the only way that businesses can sustain their model, then there should be some consideration about whether the business model really works. These same businesses are making record revenues:

Given this, how can paying workers a minimum wage be a threat to their business models?

There is significant support for this legislation including from Seattle Restaurant United, a coalition of more than 240 small restaurant owners and operators. The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, OneAmerica, Puget Sound Sage, Somali Community Services, Al Noor Islamic Community Center, El Centro de la Raza, Casa Latina, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Employment Law Project, SEIU 775, SEIU 6, the Transit Riders Union, and the Labor Standards Advisory Commission (LSAC).

I have heard from a few small businesses concerned about price increases. These businesses are protected from price increases. In April 2020, the former Mayor signed an Emergency Order that prevents app-based delivery companies from charging more than 15% of the purchase price of an order. The Council is working on drafting this policy as a Council Bill, and I look forward to supporting that legislation.

I will continue our work on additional legislation to cover issues such as restroom access for drivers, anti-discrimination, background checks, deactivation, and an advisory board. For more information on PayUp check out our website here which will be updated with new information as we continue through the process.

In closing, it has been a long road and an extensive year-long stakeholder engagement process that has led to the development and passage of CB 120294, and nation-leading protections for app-based workers. I appreciate my colleagues’ support for this legislation and most of all, for the advocacy of these workers, who until now, have not enjoyed the same protections as typical W2 employees.

Shootings Across the Nation

We have seen a recurrence of mass shootings across the nation recently, most prominently the racist killings in Buffalo, New York and the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Gun violence is a global scourge, with impacts uniquely felt in the United States because of our nation’s lax gun laws.

Today is Gun Violence Awareness Day and this weekend is Wear Orange Weekend, supporting a future free from gun violence. Wear Orange weekend has its origins in 2013, Hadiya Pendleton marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later she was shot and killed in a playground in Chicago; her friends commemorated her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.

Today I was honored to join the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, advocates, and elected officials to recognize National Gun Violence Awareness Day and to respond to mass shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, Laguna Woods, and now Tulsa.  We recognized our successes in the State Legislature in 2022, passing three major gun violence prevention bills into law: SB 5078 restricting access to magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, HB 1705 closes the deadly ghost gun loophole by restricting the manufacture, assembly, sale, transfer, purchase, possession, transport, and receipt of ghost guns—untraceable, unserialized firearms and unfinished receivers, and HB 1630 prohibiting open carry at local government meetings and restricting firearms at school board meetings and election-related offices and facilities. The State Legislature passed six Alliance for Gun Responsibility priority bills into law this year and provided more than $8M in funding for gun violence prevention programs.

Yet even as we recognized this victory, Attorney General Rob Ferguson responded to a question about today’s outrageous federal lawsuit filed by the Second Amendment Foundation, challenging Washington’s ban on large-capacity magazines for rifles and pistols.   He responded to say that he is undeterred in his resolve and confident that we will prevail.

The New York Times on Sunday noted how frequently mass shooters have obtained weapons legally:

This is the world young people are growing up in. Gun violence is now the number one cause of death for children and young people under 19.  Yesterday, a mother sent me the artwork that her 15-year-old, Toby English, made the day after the shooting in Uvalde. With the family’s permission I’ve included his images and words below:


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