As I write this on Sunday morning, the political process in Seattle has gone completely off the rails. Last night there was another exchange of violence between protesters and the Seattle police, and for the first time several City Council members rushed to the scene to intervene, along with some other elected officials representing Seattle. There are multiple calls for Mayor Jenny Durkan to resign over the police response to the protest (though so far there have no public calls for Police Chief Carmen Best to resign), and the Mayor has responded with a statement all but vowing not to do so. Some Council members have signaled that they are very unhappy with last night’s police response and with the Mayor, and they expect to address that at Monday’s Council meetings — which could take the form of anything from a resolution with a sternly-worded rebuke aimed at the Mayor, to a move to remove her from office. We can also expect legislation to be introduced to limit SPD’s use of certain military-style tools such as tear gas, blast-balls, and pepper spray, and to de-fund the police. At this point it is unclear how any of those efforts will fare. In the meantime, SPOG President Mike Solan has published an “open letter” in which he voices his support and concern for SPD officers, and bizarrely defends the department’s use of tear gas in the past week.
Below is what is scheduled to happen this week, but at this point what will actually occur is anyone’s guess. It may be that in the next 24 hours everyone calms down, an uneasy peace settles over City Hall, and our elected officials get back to work addressing a pandemic, a budget crisis, over-policing, a broken bridge, a homelessness crisis, and structural racism. Or by midweek we could have a new Mayor and with that a major transition in power and policy underway. The Mayor is expected to release her proposed revisions to the 2020 budget on Tuesday in advance of a Budget Committee meeting on Wednesday, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the budget process will also get thrown into chaos this week — especially with calls to de-fund SPD.
Monday morning’s Council Briefing has no special presentations scheduled, but expect that there will be nine speeches addressing the events of the past week, and especially last night’s incident.
Monday afternoon’s full City Council meeting is scheduled to have votes on the following bills:
- a bill requiring TNC and food-delivery companies to pay “premium pay” to their gig workers (though the word on the street is that this bill still has many issues and may get pulled again);
- the renewal of the University District Business Improvement Area. However, the bill is being re-introduced this week on the Introduction and Referral Calendar, which means that it will most likely be delayed another week before the Council can vote on it.
- a resolution suspending most Council committee meetings from June 15 to July 17 in order that the Council can conduct a special 2020 budget session.
This week’s Introduction and Referral Calendar includes the following new bills:
- the reintroduction of the renewal of the University District BIA;
- an ordinance accepting a property transfer next to the Mount Baker light rail station for the purposes of transit-oriented development (including affordable housing);
- the resolution mentioned above setting up the one-month budget session starting June 15;
- a resolution “condemning the use of military force in jurisdictions such as the City of Seattle that have not requested and do not intend to request federal interventions.”
Expect other bills to be “walked on” to the IRC Monday afternoon; Council member Sawant has already indicated that she plans to do so, and other Council members may follow suit.
Tuesday morning, the Public Safety and Human Services Committee is scheduled to meet. On the agenda are presentations of the annual reports for the Office of Police Accountability and the Office of the Inspector General. UPDATE: the meeting has been cancelled at the request of the OPA and OIG so they can focus on their ongoing work to address complaints from the past week’s protests.
Tuesday the Mayor’s Office is expected to release its proposal for a revised 2020 budget given the expected revenue shortfall of between $210 and $300 million this year due to the COVID shutdown.
Wednesday afternoon, the Budget Committee is scheduled to meet. The agenda has not been released; we can expect that it will include a first presentation from the City Budget Office on the Mayor’s revised 2020 budget proposal.
Wednesday morning, the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee is scheduled to meet. However, last week committee chair Dan Strauss said that the next committee meeting would be on June 24. On the other hand, the budget session would derail that meeting until late July, so it may be that Strauss will decide to squeeze it in this week after all. The agenda would likely include Strauss’s “child care for all” bill, and a land use omnibus bill. UPDATED: the agenda has now been published; the above bills are not on the agenda, but a required public hearing will be held for an emergency bill passed in May that changed permitting procedures during the COVID shutdown.
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