Notes from today’s Council meetings

The post-MHA lull is over; things are getting busy again.

Council member Sawant announced that her committee meeting tomorrow afternoon will include a report from HSD’s interim Director Jason Johnson and head of homeless services Tiffany Washington on the department’s 2018 homeless services investments and results.

On a related note, Council member Bagshaw announced that this Friday the Select Committee on Homelessness and Housing Affordability will meet to continue deliberating on the appointment of Jason Johnson as permanent Director of HSD.

Council member Gonzalez noted this morning that last week her office was briefed by SPD on the status of the Community Service Officer (CSO) program. In last fall’s budget, the Council added funding in order to reintroduce the program. As required with that funding, SPD is expected to deliver its plan for the program by the end of this week. Gonzalez said, “I think the program is one that many of you will be pleased with.” She intends to hold a hearing on the plan in her committee in early May.

Gonzalez also announced that there will be a special meeting of her committee on April 18th, with two big items on the agenda:

  • The Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy implementation and evaluation plan. The committee will consider amendments to the plan (as submitted by the Mayor) as a consensus package, though Council members may ask to have individual items pulled from that package to be considered separately. Gonzalez said that she hopes to move the amended plan out of committee at next week’s meeting so that the full Council can vote on it on April 22nd.
  • Nine appointments to the Community Police Commission (CPC). The CPC has a critical role as the voice of citizens in the police reform and accountability process, and has taken that role seriously as the city and the court have debated the recent SPOG contract.

Council member Mosqueda announced that her committee also meets next Thursday the 18th. On its agenda:

  • a review of the plan for the Fort Lawton affordable housing project;
  • the Office of Housing anual report;
  • a resolution on creating a “respectful workforce” within the city’s legislative branch that she has been circulating to her colleagues over the past two weeks. Mosqueda said that there are three components to the resolution: expectation on elected officials; expectations of City Council staff and others working in the legislative branch; and expectations of the public (i.e. protecting legislative branch employees from “the vitriol out there.”)
  • a continuation of the conversation around enforcement of sick and safe leave policy within the Seattle Public Schools system.




  1. I’m trying to put my finger on the vague bother I am experiencing around Mosqueda’s “respectful workforce” resolution. Given her recent experience with a disrespectful staffer, is that the genesis of this? Because when it comes to disrespectful legislative staff, that was notable and received coverage.

    And/or is this about the semi-regular chaos in chambers during meetings? That vitriol can be contained by Council much more effectively managing the constuent experience in that room to not include being shouted down or called a murderer during your testimony, etc.

    But it’s the language “protecting legislative branch employees from ‘the vitriol out there'” that really intrigues me. One goes into service to the public, with its warts and all, hopefully knowing one will be the subject of “vitriol” from time to time, and maybe even often. It’s part of the gig. No one deserves to be outright abused — but I am trying to imagine my dear departed Irish grandmother in Mayor Daley’s office asking for a resolution telling the people of Chicago to be nice to her. Highly unlikely. It’s a little odd to have the Council laying out its “expectations of the public” when the public’s expectations of them are what really counts, and why they are there to pass resolutions in the first place. And a case could be made based on poll numbers that maybe more focus on our expectations of them is warranted. The phrase “tone deaf” keeps occuring to me, just a bit.

    Would be great to know what the intent here is — and, of course, the language. I’m obviously having trouble processing it and knowing more about it might help. Thank you.

    1. I already have a request in to Mosqueda’s office for a copy of the draft resolution. I was told that it’s going through legal review at the moment but they will get me a copy when that’s done.

    1. I have the draft resolution now. Here’s what it says: “In interactions with Council constituents, members of the Legislative Department should be treated with respect and should not be subject to inappropriate or offensive language. The Council is also committed to protecting Legislative Department employees from unlawful harassment by members of the public.”

      There are other sections too, which I will write up in full later tonight, but that’s the relevant part to the issue of “vitriol out there.”

      By the way this is a resolution, not an ordinance; they are not proposing to impose any new penalties on people who violate the Council’s expectations as expressed in the resolution.

      1. It is still constitutionally vague, suggestive of prior restraint, etc.

        I am all for civility; however, who defines, “treated with respect”, “inappropriate”, or “offensive”? How does “inappropriate” not become merely ideas that the Council disagrees with?

        1. It’s also a resolution, which is not legally binding. In answer to your question, the courts ultimately define how these terms are reconciled with 1st Amendment protections.

          1. So why have the Council spending limited hearing time (and staff time) on something that is non-binding and unenforceable, at best, and will cost more in legal fees, at worst, for another smack down by a Washington Court? Aren’t there potholes that need to be filled, and bike lanes that need to be finished?

          2. First, it won’t get challenged in court — there’s no point since it’s not legally binding.
            Second, you might as well ask why elected officials give political speeches and hold rallies and press conferences. It’s what they do to try to show leadership on issues and organize support for their positions.
            Third, they often use resolutions to communicate the Council’s intent on an issue that may take months or years to deliver on, yet people are demanding attention to today.

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