Notes from yesterday’s Council meeting

The council churned through a bunch of bills yesterday. Here’s what happened.


As they had promised earlier, both Council members Herbold and Sawant made last-minute additions to this week’s Introduction and Referral Calendar in response to the police response to the past week’s protests:

  • a bill introduced by Herbold that prohibits police officers from covering their badge number with a “mourning badge” band;
  • a bill introduced by Sawant that bans police officers from using choke-holds;
  • a bill introduced by Sawant that bans the ownership, purchase, rent, storage, or use of crowd control weapons.

The three bills will likely be voted on next Monday.

The Council postponed for another week a bill that would require TNC and food-delivery companies to pay their “gig workers” premium pay for trips in Seattle during the COVID emergency. Council member Lewis, a co-sponsor of the bill, has not responded to SCC Insight’s request for comment on the status of the bill.

The council unanimously passed a 12-year extension to the University District Business Improvement Area. A controversial amendment that would have shortened the term to 10 years and that would require the BIA’s program manager position to be put out to bid next year failed by a 3-6 vote (and set the precedent of Council members Pedersen and Sawant being on the same side of a failed vote).

The Council passed a resolution suspending their regular committee meetings for a month so as to hold a special budget session — only one week after getting out from under the Governor’s emergency order prohibiting most Council actions.

The Council also passed a resolution condemning the use of military force in jurisdictions to respond to the ongoing demonstrations. The resolution, introduced by Council member Lewis, is intended to preempt President Trump’s use of the U.S. military to quell protests in cities. Most federal military units are prohibited from performing domestic law enforcement under the Posse Comitatus Act, though the Insurrection Act, which Trump has threatened to invoke, provides an exception if a jurisdiction assents. Now the City of Seattle is on record not assenting.

Council member Herbold circulated two letters for her colleagues’ signature:

  • one that had been initiated by other elected officials in the area and by yesterday afternoon had already been signed by four City Council members (the most that can sign a letter, other than in a public meeting, without violating the Open Public Meetings Act). The letter asked Mayor Durkan and SPD Chief Best to change their tactics in responding to the ongoing protests. It also pledges the Council members to work on five efforts in the coming weeks: 1) de-militarize the police, 2) further restrict use of excessive or deadly force by police, 3) increase accountability and transparency in police union contracts, 4) give subpoena and other investigative powers to independent oversight boards and 5) redirect police department funding to community-based alternatives. All nine Council members have now signed the letter.
  • one requesting that City Attorney Pete Holmes withdraw a legal challenge he filed to recent changes to King County’s inquest process. This afternoon, Holmes announced that he has withdrawn that lawsuit.


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