Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s what the Council members got up to today.

This afternoon, the Council voted to ratify several pieces of legislation, including:

  • Changes to the spending plan for the Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Other than one last-minute amendment, the Council passed it as approved in committee three weeks ago. That amendment struck a controversial provision which would have allowed SDOT to contract with a private bus company to augment Metro service on select lines. As I wrote previously, the city would like to contract with Metro for more service, but Metro is capacity-constrained: all of its buses are in service during the day, and it is having trouble hiring more drivers. However, labor activists are concerned that the city might contract with a non-union shop, and transportation activists are concerned that this would be a “foot in the door” for further privatization of Metro. Bowing to pressure, the authorization to contract with a private bus service was taken out of the bill, and it subsequently passed unanimously.
  • A package of updates to the Democracy Voucher program. Here’s my previous writeup of the changes.
  • Authorization for SDOT to switch to a new “pay by plate” system for on-street parking.
  • Five appointments to the Freight Advisory Board. In a somewhat unusual move, Council member Sawant voted against three of the five nominees, stating a concern that business representatives have a disproportionate influence and that those three are “beholden to the freight interests of their companies.” Sawant said she would rather see truck drivers appointed, since they have more knowledge of the city streets. Sawant also voted against their appointments in committee last week for the same reasons — even though two of the three said that they regularly drive trucks for their companies.
  • A resolution introduced this afternoon by Council member Gonzalez, “affirming the human right to family unity” and expressing opposition to the Trump administration’s policy of separating and/or detaining migrant families seeking asylum at the US/Mexico border.  The resolution also puts the force of the Council behind Mayor Durkan’s February executive order directing city employees to refer information requests from ICE to the Mayor’s legal counsel, and it encourages Seattle residents to “financially support legal aid, resiliency, and rapid-response focused organizations” working to help families separated and detained in SeaTac. Finally, it encourages Seattle residents to support the congressional Keep Families Together Act (S. 3036/H.R. 6135) and commits the Council to sending a letter to Seattle’s congressional delegation pledging its support as well.

Tomorrow afternoon’s Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renters’ Rights Committee will tackle:

  • the work plan for the Seattle Renters Commission;
  • a report on the proposed expansion of the LEAD program to the north part of the city;
  • An overview of the 2018 “Point in Time” count of homeless people. (here’s my post on the report)
  • A report from the Human Services Department on the results of their work on the homeless response during the first quarter of 2018.

The lights will be dark in Council Chambers next week; with the awkwardly-timed midweek Independence Day holiday it looks like all the Council’s meetings will be cancelled. Some Council members are scheduling extra committee meetings for the end of July to make up for it.

Council member Mosqueda noted that her next committee meeting will be July 19th, at which she plans to deal with amendments to her proposed “domestic workers’ bill of rights.” If they get through all the amendments, they may also vote the bill out of committee. If not, they will take it up again at a special meeting on July 26th.

Mosqueda also explained her thinking on the Seattle City Light strategic plan. The big issue is, of course, the six-year rate path; the draft plan has some significant rate increases programmed in to account for declining power usage in Seattle. Mosqueda is drafting a resolution calling for a new task force to work with SCL’s rate review panel and community partners to come up with a new rate planning process.

Council member Gonzalez explained that on Wednesday morning her committee will be interviewing, but not voting on, a nominee for the Community Police Commission. A large suite of CPC appointments will be considered and voted on in her committee on July 11th, but Wednesday’s one nominee is unavailable that day.