This week in Council chambers: Sawant in the spotlight

With the Presidents’ Day holiday on Monday, things are a bit shifted this week. But there are still several interesting things afoot in Council chambers – several involving Council member Kshama Sawant.

Council member Kshama Sawant
Council member Kshama Sawant

Monday’s usual Council Briefing and full Council meeting have been moved to Tuesday, and Tuesday’s usual committee meetings are now scheduled for Friday.

At Tuesday morning’s Council Briefing, there will be three presentations:

  1. Another weekly update from the Office of Intergovernmental Relations (OIR) on the ongoing state legislative session. This should be an interesting discussion, as by several reports the GOP’s surprise firing of Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson has thrown Olympia into a deep pit of partisan despair that bodes poorly for getting anything else done this session. But the deadline for bills to be passed out of their house of origin has passed, so there will be no new legislation this session, and it’s simply a matter of tracking those bills that are still alive.
  2. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) will present on Seattle’s action plan for zero youth detention, as per the Council’s directive.
  3. There will be a discussion — heated, I’m sure — on the community impacts of the 23rd Avenue construction project, involving several city staff, a representative of Main Street Alliance and NAACP, and several local business owners. Council member Sawant has become vocal about this issue, so expect fireworks.

At the full Council meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Council will vote to approve lifting the restrictions on $2.6 million of emergency funding for addressing the homeless crisis. All nine Council members attended the committee hearing last week and voted to pass it out of committee, so expect it to pass unanimously, but don’t be surprised if there is some speechifying first since several Council members have ongoing concerns. Council member Sawant will almost certainly sound off about the ongoing “sweeps” of unauthorized homeless encampments, and will probably plug her petition to revisit releasing $10 million of the city’s “rainy day fund” for more emergency homeless funding.

Also at the afternoon Council meeting, Mayor Ed Murray will deliver his annual State of the City address.

The Introduction and Referral Calendar contains one interesting item among a long list of routine appointments and zoning applications: a resolution introduced by Council member Sawant “urging the authorities in the Mexican federal government and the State of Guerrero to release Nestora Salgado, and requesting that the U.S. State Department increase its efforts to secure her release in its diplomatic discussions with Mexico.” This resolution would go directly to the full Council next Monday, rather than through a committee hearing, and it will be interesting to see how the other Council members respond.

The Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods & Finance Committee will meet Wednesday and hear two reports on departments’ work under the city’s Racial and Social Justice Initiative: from the Office of Housing, and from the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. The Education, Equity & Governance Committee will hear a similar report Wednesday afternoon from the Department of Information Technology.

Wednesday evening at 6pm the Energy and Environment Committee will hold a special meeting to continue their vetting of Larry Weis, the Mayor’s appointment for CEO of Seattle City Light.  Part 1 didn’t go smoothly, so expect more tense exchanges.

Thursday morning, the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries & Waterfront Committee meets, and on Friday the Planning, Land Use & Zoning Committee and the Sustainability and Transportation Committee meet. Their agendas have not been published yet.