Interview with Council member Morales: on protests, police, oppression, and sweeps

Editor’s note: last Friday morning I was asked by the Council’s communications staff whether I wanted to speak with Council member Tammy Morales about her proposed legislation restricting the removal of homeless encampments, because in the aftermath of last Wednesday’s committee hearing she felt that there was more that needed to be said. I agreed to speak with her, and the interview was scheduled for midday today (Sunday). Obviously a lot has transpired between then and now, and after thanking her for still doing the interview in the midst of so much else happening, I gave her the option to …

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The legislative logjam has broken

By nearly all measures, the first month of the new City Council was quiet. Sure, there were a couple of controversial but legally meaningless resolutions, and Council member Sawant has pushed through some carryover legislation from last year. But a lot of committee meetings got cancelled, and few new bills were introduced. It now appears that was the quiet before the storm — and the storm just made landfall.

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Latest SPD “stops and detentions” report shows jump in Terry stops, but gives little explanation

Last week the Seattle Police Department published its annual report on stops and detentions, with numbers for 2018. It begins by noting that Terry stops are up substantially over 2017 numbers — but then it provides another 25 pages of text, tables and charts that offer little help in understanding why. In fact, SPD itself admits in the report that they don’t know what the increase means: SPD conducted 18.5% more Terry stops in 2018 than in 2017. However, statistical trend analysis shows that this increase appears to be an anomaly. Our analysis next year will indicate whether a pattern …

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The “prolific offenders” report: a close read

Two weeks ago, a consortium of business district and neighborhood advocacy groups released a report entitled “System Failure: report on prolific offenders in Seattle’s criminal justice system.” The report, authored by Scott Lindsay, a former public safety advisor to Mayor Murray and 2017 candidate for City Attorney, identifies 100 individuals who “cycle through the criminal justice system with littleĀ  impact on their behavior, repeatedly returning to Seattle’s streets to commit more crimes.” Heavy on findings but light on recommendations, the report paints a dire picture of the state of the criminal justice system in Seattle and King County, and the …

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Understanding the Fair Chance Housing ordinance

Last week the Seattle City Council passed the Fair Chance Housing ordinance, which prohibits most Seattle landlords from using criminal background to deny housing to prospective tenants. Yesterday morning, Mayor Ed Murray signed the bill into law. The bill was not without controversy, and it’s worth understanding the rationale behind it as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments.

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