It was a tough day to be back at work. Here’s what the Council said and did.
This morning’s Council Briefing started out with a round of comments from the Council members on the weekend’s events. Rather than selectively quote them, I encourage you to watch their remarks — in particular Council President Gonzalez and Council member Herbold.
Council member Herbold, who chairs the Council’s public safety committee, spoke both this morning and this afternoon about her critique of the police response to protests over the weekend, as well as her efforts to organize a committee meeting on Wednesday in which the Council can receive an “after-event report” from SPD. The meeting will be Wednesday at noon, and all nine Council members will be invited to join in. It will begin with a public hearing, and include:
- a presentation from the Office of Police Accountability, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Community Police Commission on the structure of the police accountability system and the process of investigations;
- a panel of community members;
- an opportunity to ask SPD Chief Carmen Best questions.
Herbold said that she wanted to make sure that it is a positive event, focused on continuous improvement of the reforms.
Council members Morales and Lewis both commented on last week’s five and a half hour meeting on Morales’s bill that would codify restrictions on homeless encampment removals. They said that they are taking up Deputy Mayor Fong’s offer to schedule a follow-up conversation to discuss changes that could be made. Morales, echoing comments she made to me in an interview over the weekend, said that the real issue is that there isn’t enough shelter space, but that they also need to discuss how to support the Navigation Team in making referrals that are more appropriate and are accepted more often.
Council member Mosqueda, the budget chair, announced that she expected to receive a supplemental budget proposal from the Mayor’s Office on June 9, and that she is working with Council President Gonzalez to schedule budget deliberations over the next month in a similar manner (but likely shorter) to the Council’s fall budget process. Gonzalez said that she is interpreting this as a formal request for a summer budget session, and that as with the fall budget process she expects to suspend other legislative actions, with few exceptions, while the budget session is underway. Gonzalez expects to provide more information later this week on what legislation can be considered during the budget session.
Council member Pedersen, who chairs the Council’s transportation committee, said this morning that he continues to support the renewal of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District on the November ballot, and that if renewed then dollars can be used to invest in transportation infrastructure projects while the city waits for the restart of the public transit system post-COVID.
In a similar vein, Gonzalez announced that last week the Puget Sound Regional Council executive board met and at her urging approved the flexible use of $3.3 million in funds already granted to the city, so that it can be used for emerging needs related to the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.
Council member Strauss announced that he is scheduling a meeting of the Land Use committee for June 24. He is discussing with Gonzalez options for advancing two pending bills: his “child care near you” bill allowing for child care facilities in residential areas of the city, and a land use omnibus bill. With the Governor’s prohibition on Council actions lifted, the Council can now move forward on these and other bills; however, the summer budget process may push deliberations out into July.
Council member Juarez, who sits on the Sound Transit board, felt the need to respond to a critique that had been aired of the city related to Saturday evening’s curfew: that with the shutdown of the transit system, peaceful protesters who wanted to obey the curfew found it impossible to make their way out of downtown. Juarez clarified that Sound Transit independently decided to close the Westlake light-rail station; that was not the city’s decision. Of course, one could still argue that it was a failure of communication and coordination by the city.
Council member Lewis announced that he is holding his bill requiring premium pay for certain gig workers for an additional week so more work can be done on it. He and co-sponsor Herbold are working on a substitute version incorporating several changes, and they encouraged their colleagues to share any additional amendments that might be proposed so that they can consider incorporating them into the substitute as well.
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