All posts by Kevin Schofield

Kevin Schofield is a freelance writer and the founder of Seattle City Council Insight, a web site providing independent news and analysis of the Seattle City Council. After graduating from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts degree, he worked for Microsoft Corporation for 26 years. That culminated in a term as Chief Operations Officer for Microsoft Research, the division of the company focused on advancing the state of the art in computing. Upon leaving Microsoft in 2014 he decided to embrace his love of writing. Kevin volunteers at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, where he also serves on the Board of Directors. He is also Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. Beyond writing, his personal passions are his twin daughters, photography, cooking, and playing the guitar. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

NCIS briefing Tuesday afternoon: don’t forget to bring popcorn

Tuesday afternoon, in a joint meeting of two committees, the Council will get briefed by representatives of Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, the newly-formed Department of IT, and an outside consultant on the NCIS billing and customer service IT system that is very late and very over budget. And going by the published materials they have submitted in advance, they have drastically misread the situation and it’s going to be a bloodbath. Continue reading NCIS briefing Tuesday afternoon: don’t forget to bring popcorn

News roundup: yeah, more arena coverage…

Good morning!  Bertha has dug 148 feet under the Viaduct. But hey, who’s counting…

Everyone is still writing about Monday’s Council vote to reject a street vacation for the SOD Arena, including The Inquisitr, Bleacher Report, Sportsnet, Crosscut, MyNorthwest, KING5, NWProgressive, Emerald City Swagger, Tacoma News-Tribune, and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.  Also, ABC/ESPN reports that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has joined the conversation.

The Stranger and West Seattle Blog cover the Council’s approval Monday of the 2016 Housing Levy.

Seattle Times reports that the Swedish Cherry Hill campus master plan is headed to the full Council for a vote on Monday.

Who owes SPD a lot of money?

This is a followup to last week’s briefing on SPD’s overtime audit. In a side note, it was pointed out that SPD bills event organizers after the fact for police services, but has poor follow-through on collecting on those bill. Council member Burgess had asked SPD for a list of the organizations with the biggest outstanding bills, and noted that it was interesting to see who owes SPD money — and particularly how many federal government agencies made the list.

Burgess’s office gave me a copy of the list, and it is indeed interesting.

Continue reading Who owes SPD a lot of money?

It was a bad day for political discourse in Seattle.

There is an old saying: it is better to stay silent and let others assume you are a fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

As The C is for Crank and Seattlish report, the five female members of the Seattle City Council have been the target of disrespectful, misogynistic verbal abuse through emails and social media since their vote yesterday to deny the street vacation for the proposed SODO Arena.

I get it: some people are angry and frustrated. At our most emotional times our thoughts often betray us. And angry and frustrated people have poor control of how they express themselves.

You are free to think whatever you want. In this country you are free to vote, in secret, based upon what you think.  You are also free to say a great many things without fear of government restraint or retaliation. But actions, including speech, have consequences. If you speak out in public, you will be held accountable by your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your fellow citizens for what you say. They will listen; they will judge you. They may rally to your side, or they may ostracize you. They will consider whether your words and deeds make our city a better place or a worse place.

Having diversity in viewpoints, both among our citizens and our elected officials, is a Good Thing. It makes for better decisions, better laws, and better government. Ideas must be challenged in order to prove them worthy. People in power must also be challenged, because power corrupts. Governments must be transparent so we can know the facts about what people in power are doing, and use those facts as weapons to bring down the unjust. That is our political process.

Our political process is NOT resorting to hurling baseless insults, or racist or sexist epithets. It is not making accusations in the absence of evidence. It is not lashing out at public officials. Making it these things only serves to destroy it.

Representative forms of government are not democracies. We don’t elect City Council members so that they can poll the voters on every issue and then vote the majority opinion. Why? Because most of the issues they wrestle with are complex, nuanced, and have long histories. All 650,000 citizens of Seattle have not read the MOU between Chris Hansen and the City of Seattle, let alone the entire Environmental Impact Study on the SODO Arena. We elected nine people we thought would do a decent job of reading the relevant documents, discussing the pertinent issues, and making good decisions, and good laws, that are in our best interests.

Being a City Council member is hard work. And it’s controversial work. Their decisions NEVER make everyone happy. Their votes impact hundreds of thousands of people’s lives — and they have to try to sleep at night carrying that load.  We can disagree with them. We must hold them accountable, and we must vote them out of office when they fail to meet our standard.

But at the same time, we must respect the office they hold, the work they do, and the decisions we empowered them to make. And we must respect them for doing the job.

It is NOT OK to verbally abuse elected officials. It is NOT OK to threaten them. It is NOT OK to wish them ill will.  If you do these things, then we, your family, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens will see you for who you are and hold you accountable for your acts. Because we need the best government we can get, and we only need to look to the current national political scene to see what happens when we lower the standard of our political discourse.

Think whatever you want. Vote your beliefs and your conscience. But if you choose to participate in our political conversation, aim high.  Because in the end we get the government we deserve.