Notes from today’s Council meetings

It’s going to be a short update today; there were no votes on the Council’s agenda for this afternoon.  Still, there are a handful of interesting nuggets from this morning’s meeting…

Councilmember Mosqueda announced the agenda for her Finance and Housing committee meeting this Friday. It will include:

  • Mosqueda’s bill ending the “hazard pay” mandate for grocery workers;
  • Another bill from Mosqueda requiring all revenues from the “Jump Start” payroll tax to be deposited into a new fund and restricting the uses of that fund;
  • an ordinance authorizing the acquisition of two properties in South Park for affordable housing developments;
  • a bill extending the Multifamily Tax Exemption program deadlines due to COVID.

Councilmember Sawant also announced that her next committee meeting will be on July 15th, and the agenda will include:

  • discussion of two bills: one requiring landlords to provide six months’ advance notice for rent increases, and one requiring landlords to pay relocation expenses for “economic evictions” (i.e. a rent increase of more than 10% that forces a tenant out). Sawant said that she expects to bring both bill up for votes in the following committee meeting on July 27;
  • four appointments to the Green New Deal Oversight Board;
  • a continuation of her committee’s discussion on rent control.

 

Councilmember Pedersen has circulated a letter for his colleagues’ signature in support of a $20 million grant application by SDOT to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s RAISE funding program, for improvements to East Marginal Way.

Council President Gonzalez announced this morning that the city’s HR Director, Bobby Humes, is leaving at the end of July to become the HR Director for the Washington State Investment Board.

This morning Councilmember Sawant noted that her bill decriminalizing psychedelic drugs has not yet been listed for introduction, having been held up by council President Gonzalez’s office while they figure out which Council committee it should go through. The leading candidate is Councilmember Herbold’s Public Safety and Human Services committee, but things are more complicated than they seem. The last two weeks of August and the last two weeks of December the Council is in recess. And the entire months of October and November are dedicated to the 2022 budget process. That leaves very few committee meetings left to hear the bill, and the Council’s (and Herbold’s) legislative agenda have already largely filled those up. If Herbold can’t find space to hear it, Sawant has offered to run the bill through her committee; but under the Council’s current rules that would mean that only the members of Sawant’s committee (Sawant, Morales, Juarez, Lewis and Pedersen) would be able to introduce amendments and vote on the bill until it came up for final approval in front of the full Council. It’s not clear that Herbold and Gonzalez (who is also a member of Herbold’s committee) want to give up that level of control on a decriminalization bill.


Finally, Council President Gonzalez provided an update on what the state and city re-opening means for the Council’s meetings. She said that under the Governor’s most recent proclamations, they are still permitted to hold their meetings virtually, and so she has decided to continue doing so until some point later this year “You can expect the status quo to continue,” Gonzalez said.


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5 comments

  1. Good news from the Council President on remote meetings. Certainly best for accessibility and inclusion, not to mention safety.

    1. I would disagree. It gives a false impression of improved accessibility, because the current system hides the fact that none of the Council members are listening. They’re all off doing other things. In fact, I wold suggest just the opposite: the Councilmembers are farther removed from Seattle residents now than they ever have been. They are all reading from scripts and tuned out much of the time during official meetings. Plus, there are no visitor logs for the public to know who they are actually meeting with behind the scenes. I used to be able to talk to a Councilmember before or after a meeting in Council chambers; now I have to go through official channels for every quick question, and most of the time they insist on written questions submitted in advance of deciding whether they will even talk to me.

      When Council meetings go back to face-to-face, the Councilmembers can’t read from scripts all the time, and they have to face each other and the public, things are likely to be very different.

  2. Kevin;
    Well I meant accessibility for those who normally can’t commit hours to a 2 PM public comment opportunity or who don’t feel comfortable being in a traditional council environment. Remote testimony is a key feature.
    I am all for visitor logs and don’t like how the Council treats you.
    Thoughtfully;
    JOE

    1. I hear you, but again, they have increased accessibility for what is effectively a sham “public comment” session — it’s easier for you to get your two minutes, but no one is listening. It’s also easier for advocacy groups to mobilize to overwhelm it, as we see regularly.

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