Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here are some “notables” from today’s Council Briefing and Full Council meeting.

The Council approved a resolution assigning Council members to various state, regional and city commissions. Some of the highlights:

  • Council members Bagshaw, Juarez and Mosqueda will serve on the King County Board of Health — but not Council member Sawant. This continues the weird split in responsibilities with Mosqueda covering public health and Sawant overseeing the Department of Human Services.
  • Council member Johnson continues to serve on the Sound Transit board as he did last year, even though Council member O’Brien chairs the Council’s transportation committee. O’Brien’s consolation prize: his seat on the Move Seattle Oversight Committee. He and Herbold also sit on the King County Regional Transit Committee.
  • Bagshaw picks up some budget and finance related committees that Tim Burgess held last year, including the Board of Administration for the City Employees’ Retirement System.
  • Council members Gonzalez and Johnson get seats on the Families and Education Levy Oversight Committee, another big pot of money.

The Council also passed a resolution supporting Seattle’s inclusion in a joint US/Canada/Mexico bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. However, several Council members expressed reservations about the business practices of FIFA (which has had repeated corruption scandals in recent years) and an amendment was made to the resolution to emphasize equity, social justice and workers’ rights. Mayor Durkan issued a press release hailing the Council’s support for the World Cup bid.

Council member Herbold has sent a letter to Mayor Durkan laying out an agenda for evaluating the city government’s response to sexual harassment. First, she questions the current 180-day statute of limitations on filing a claim, where other jurisdictions have a much longer period; she also notes that there is a bill in front of the state legislature that would eliminate the stature of limitations for felony sex crimes.  She also requests that the Office of Civil Right conduct a survey of the practices used to investigate sexual harassment claims by the HR groups of all city departments, along with a survey of HR directors and an Employee Climate Survey.

The second meeting of the Progressive Revenue Task Force will be held this Thursday from 9-11am, in room 4901 of Seattle Municipal Tower. Council member Gonzalez will chair the meeting, and the agenda will include discussions of the needs as well as the available progressive revenue sources. Gonzalez also noted that two new members of the task force have been added from the small business community (leaving the large businesses that are most likely to bear the brunt of the tax still underrepresented).

Gonzalez also passed on a message from Office of Emergency Management Director Barb Graff, encouraging people to sign up for Alert Seattle. Graff notes that the subscription rate is very low.

Council member O’Brien noted that his Sustainability and Transportation Committee will be meeting on Friday, and will begin a review of the city’s policy for evaluating street vacation requests. His goal is to pass a revised policy by the end of March.

Council member Juarez announced that her Civic Development, Public Assets and Native Communities Committee meets on Wednesday afternoon and will continue its deliberations on the proposed expansion of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. She plans to hold votes on both pieces of legislation: the land use code changes, and the lease and operating agreement.

Council member Mosqueda’s Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee meets Thursday afternoon, and will hear presentations from Seattle City Light and the Office of Labor Standards.

Council member Bagshaw recapped last week’s public hearing on the proposed affordable housing development project at Ft. Lawton. She praised the community support for the project. She also acknowledged the many calls for increasing the number of units of affordable housing in the project, but said that the existing plan was the result of a difficult balance with the neighborhood and she wanted to move it forward as-is. She said that part of her justification was a clear message from the US Army, the current owner of the property, that if the city didn’t issue its final EIS by March 31, it would rescind its offer to give it to the city and sell it to private interests. Council member Sawant, a vocal proponent of adding additional housing units, cast doubt on whether the Army would follow through on that threat.

Council member Sawant also introduced this morning a resolution opposing a new liquefied natural gas processing plant in Tacoma. she hopes to bring the resolution to a vote of the full Council next Monday.