Here’s a quick rundown on what happened today.
There was a lengthy discussion of the city’s federal legislative agenda at the Council Briefing this morning; I’m going to write that up separately. Here’s everything else.
Council member Sawant plugged her organization’s (the Resist Trump Coalition) Inauguration Day weekend protests.
The next Planning, Land Use and Zoning committee meeting will be Thursday, January 19th. The proposed University District rezone will be considered.
Council member Juarez noted that the city will be issuing its RFP for Key Arena upgrade and/or redevelopment this Wednesday; proposals will be due April 12th.
Council member Gonzalez noted Judge Robart’s ruling on the proposed police accountability legislation issued last Friday, which effectively greenlighted the City Council to move legislation forward. She is working with her committee’s members, the Mayor’s Office and the Community Police Commission (CPC) to craft the bill she wants to introduce. Gonzalez said that she was “eager to start that public process.”
The Washington State Legislature began its session this morning, and beginning on January 23rd the Council will be getting regular weekly updates on items on the city’s legislative agenda. Top of mind for Gonzalez is paid family leave, where there are expected to be two competing bills from the Republicans and Democrats. The Democratic-sponsored bill is likely to focus on 26 weeks of paid family leave, while the Republicans won’t be so generous. In addition, the Republican version may have “pre-emption” provisions that prevent county or city jurisdictions from making their own policy. She is tracking this closely with the Office of Intergovernmental Relations (OIR).
As expected, this afternoon in the Full Council meeting the Council confirmed appointments to the Seattle Municipal Court for Anita Crawford-Willis and Adam Eisenberg. It also approved the sale of the old Fire Station 39 property to LIHI for redevelopment into a multi-use building with affordable housing and four preschool classrooms.
Finally: Council member Sawant took swipes at two of her colleagues this morning: Council members Burgess and Gonzalez. For Burgess, her issues was that the January 18tNh meeting of his Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee was cancelled, pushing out her bill to limit the city’s dealings with Wells Fargo Bank out to February. It’s strange that she is in so much of a rush to get it pushed through, given that its main provisions wouldn’t take effect until 2018. After announcing that her own Energy and Environment Committee meeting is cancelled this week, she offered to run the bill through her committee instead of Burgess’s if his was too busy to take it up. Burgess committed to schedule the bill for his committee in February.
It was much more surprising to see Sawant pick a fight with Gonzalez, since they see eye-to-eye on many issues and have generally supported each other. Her beef was related to the release this past weekend of a longer video of the police shooting of Che Taylor last year that showed the officers waiting a long time before providing medical aid to Taylor. Sawant claimed that the Council has had “little to no role” in holding SPD responsible for the shooting, and further accused Gonzalez of holding no agenda items on the topic in her committee (which oversees SPD). She proposed that the Council should have a public discussion with the NAACP and the Not This Time Coalition participating — and once again she offered to do it in her committee if Gonzalez was unwilling or unable.
Gonzalez responded by reminding Sawant that she did, in fact, hold a meeting, and that Sawant didn’t attend because “it may not have been organized the way Council Member Sawant wanted.” She reminded her colleagues that King County is still conducting the inquest and that Che Taylor’s family is being represented; she is kept informed on how that inquest is proceeding, but has been told repeatedly that while the inquest is still underway it would be “imprudent” to have a public conversation regarding the evidence being considered in that investigation. That said, she noted that she had watched the newly-released video and found it “disturbing.” Gonzalez said that she is following up with SPD and the OPA as to why over seven minutes passed before aid was provided, when the standard is that officers are required to provide aid as soon as the scene is secure.
Sawant took issue with the notion that the Council should not hold an open discussion until after the inquest is completed.