Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s what happened at this morning’s Council Briefing and this afternoon’s full City Council meeting.

Look for separate posts later tonight on the other two meetings that happened today: the Select Committee on Homelessness and Housing this morning, and Select Committee on City-wide MHA this afternoon.

Council member Sawant announced that her committee meeting this Friday will focus on two agenda items. First, they will take up the situation at Halcyon, a mobile-home park in Bitter Lake where the residents are facing eviction. According to Sawant, when the owner of the property died, U.S. Bank took possession of the property as trustee and is looking to sell it to a developer. Residents would be forced to pay to move their homes to another park, or if their homes can no longer be moved because of their age, to pay to have them demolished in place. In either case, that could be a devastating expense — and possible loss — for the residents of this senior community. Sawant said that she and her staff are applying the learnings from their efforts to save the Showbox theater to this property as well, through zoning laws: currently it is planned for upzoning as part of the city-wide MHA legislation, but she wants to amend the draft legislation to have it excluded. Sawant is rallying her followers to attend the Friday hearing.

Second, the committee will begin consideration of the appointment of Jason Johnson as Director of the Human Services Department. Johnson has been serving as interim Director since last spring. Sawant informed her colleagues that she has heard concerns from union members and other stakeholders about the process the Mayor used to select Johnson, i.e. that they were not consulted. She said that she has also heard concerns about Johnson himself, though she would not provide details of those concerns saying that she preferred to let service providers and employees speak for themselves. Council President Harrell pushed back on Sawant, saying that his expectation of the process was that community outreach is done by the Council during the confirmation process, not “pre-appointment.”  Council member Bagshaw came to Johnson’s defense, saying that she had worked with him for years, and committed to attending Sawant’s committee hearing.  Of note: in a public comment session later this morning, Compass Housing Alliance CEO Janet Pope noted that she had personally discussed with Mayor Durkan the appointment of Johnson as the permanent Director of HSD.

This morning, Council member Herbold brought up a recent Seattle Times article revealing that the city and the police officers’ union delayed the release of the arbitrator’s ruling on Officer Adley Shepherd until after the City Council voted on the new SPOG contract. She said that she expect Council member Gonzalez, who heads the Council’s public safety committee, will look into it when she returns from vacation, but she hopes they get to the bottom of it.

Council member Mosqueda announced this morning that her Thursday morning committee meeting will include a report from Seattle City Light’s new CEO Debra Smith, including a report on the department’s investigation of sexual harassment/intimidation in the workplace.

This afternoon, the Council unanimously approved a resolution stating its support for Seattle Public Schools Propositions 1 and 2, which are levy renewals for capital and operations expenses. Before the vote, Council members Herbold and Johnson addresses a concern raised in a Seattle Times editorial that the operations levy would raise twice the amount allowed under state law as part of a delicate balance to ensure that richer communities in Washington don’t end up with substantially better school systems than poorer ones. Herbold and Johnson noted that the Seattle School District intends to go back to the state Legislature this year (their legislative session began today) to ask for the limit to be raised, and that other school districts across the state were planning to follow suit. The school district can thread the needle by passing voter propositions for larger amounts, but only assessing the amount allowed under state law.