Notes from today’s Council meetings

Here’s what happened today in Council Chambers (zoom edition).

This afternoon the Council passed an ordinance creating additional options for enforcement of violations of civil emergency orders. Previously the only form of enforcement was to prosecute the violator for a criminal misdemeanor; now the person can be charged with a civil infraction instead, and there is also an option for a private right of action where appropriate. This bill was introduced in the context of the Mayor’s order capping the commission that a food-delivery company can charge a restaurant. Originally the Council intended to modify that order today to invoke the new civil infraction for enforcement, but at the 11th hour the Council withdrew the bill and announced that the Mayor would re-issue her order instead (logistically simplifying the process).

The Council also approved the rezone of property in the Rainier Beach area for an affordable housing development.

The Council has scheduled a special meeting for tomorrow at 1pm, in order to vote on an ordinance authorizing the City Attorney’s Office to provide legal representation to Council member Sawant in her defense against a recall petition. State law mandates that if the activities being challenged were performed with a good-faith expectation that they were part of the official’s duties, then the city is required to provide for legal representation. And there is precedent: former Council member Richard Conlin made the same request when he faced a recall, and the City Council approved it.

The bill was introduced today, but by law the Council may not approve an ordinance the same day it is introduced (with the exception of the weekly bill-paying ordinance). Thus the special meeting tomorrow: there is a hearing on the recall petition scheduled for Wednesday morning, and the City Attorney’s Office wants to have the arrangement in place before then.

In case you’re wondering, Mayor Durkan is paying her own legal expenses to defend against the recall petition filed against her.

This morning Council member Mosqueda, the Council’s budget and finance chair, announced that she expects to vote the controversial ordinance establishing a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers out of her committee on September 24th. Her committee takes up the legislation it its meeting tomorrow.

Mosqueda also announced that later this week she will circulate the annual “budget memo,” establishing the Council’s process and timeline for the upcoming 2021 budget development. That process starts with the Mayor transmitting her proposed budget to the Council on September 29th.

Council member Pedersen announced that he is scheduling a special meeting of his Transportation and Utilities Committee for Friday, September 25th, in order to finish up some business before committee meetings shut down again during the 2021 budget process.

Finally, this morning Council member Lewis thanked all the workers in Seattle who were required to work outside during the current unhealthy air conditions. He suggested that the city should treat air-quality days like snow days, given the workplace hazard on days like these.

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  1. Tomorrow’s agenda looks like they won’t be taking public comments at the 1PM special council meeting.

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