The council took twenty minutes this afternoon to pass a fairly toothless resolution on cooperating with Cuba on COVID response. Also, details of a flurry of committee meetings late this week into next week.
This afternoon, the Council passed a resolution urging the federal government to work with Cuba on COVID response, given Cuba’s medical expertise (and its better track record fighting the virus than our own). The resolution was amended twice before passage: once to remove space for Mayor Durkan to sign it; and once to add an additional request that the Biden administration reverse the Trump administration’s last-minute reslisting of Cuba on it list of known state sponsors of terror. The final vote on the resolution was 8-1, with Councilmember Pedersen the only “no” vote; Pedersen said that he voted no because he is not an expert on international relations, and repeated a comment he made early last year that he hopes the Council will do fewer of this kind of resolution.
Council member Juarez gave a lengthy update this morning on the state of Sound Transit, wearing her “board member” hat. She said that given recent revelations of much higher costs for prospective projects as well as tighter tax revenues, Sound Transit is beginning the process of a “program re-alignment.” Any project already in construction will be spared, but projects in earlier stages might see changes or cuts. The realignment process kicks off with a “board workshop” this Thursday.
Council member Lewis has circulated to his Council colleagues a report from the CoLEAD program on the “JustCare” program to offer hotelling and wraparound services to chronically homeless individuals who congregate at five well-known locations downtown. The report provides detailed breakdown on the outcomes for 193 individuals reached by the program, as well as demographics and other information related to their issues and needs.
Council member Herbold noted this morning that she is following up with SPD Interim Chief Adrian Diaz regarding an incident over the weekend where an officer refused to wear a mask in a local hospital. While SPD has said that they and the OPA are investigating the incident, Herbold said that she is urging Diaz to work the problem through the chain of command instead to get a speedier correction than a long OPA investigation — especially since OPA has a huge backlog of cases from last summer. Herbold pointed out that last summer former PD Chief Carmen Best already issued a directive to all officers to follow public health directives on COVID.
This morning Council President Gonzalez let it be known that her office is accepting applications for appointment to fill an open position on the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. She said that she would be posting a link to the application shortly.
Gonzalez also mentioned that the regional homeless authority governing board will be meeting on Thursday and will make one more attempt to amend its bylaws. As of this writing, the meeting agenda and proposed bylaws changes have not yet been posted on the agency’s web site.
This morning several Councilmembers gave previews of the agendas for their upcoming committee meetings:
- Councilmember Lewis’s Homelessness Strategies and Investments Committee meeting on January 27: a vote on his bill loosening restrictions on construction of permanent supportive housing. Lewis said that there were no appeals filed of the city’s “determination of nonsignificance” of the land use code changes in the bill.
- Councilmember Morales’ Community Economic Development Committee meeting this Friday: several appointments, plus a presentation on the new Arts Public Development Authority.
- Councilmember Mosqueda’s Finance and Housing Committee meeting this Friday: Mosqueda’s new bill requiring $4/hour hazard pay for grocery workers; and an update on the Yesler Terrace affordable housing development project.
- Councilmember Sawant’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee meeting on January 26: Sawant’s bill (not yet introduced) to extend the Mayor’s eviction moratorium to the end of the year; and a discussion of legislation to guarantee a tenant’s right to counsel in eviction proceedings.
- Councilmember Strauss’s Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee meeting on January 27: a vote on proposed changes to the construction and energy code discussed in his committee last week; and a contract rezone application.
- Councilmember Herbold’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee on January 26: a presentation on how the $3 million the Council budgeted for the Seattle Community Safety Initiative is being contracted.
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