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Compassion Seattle is No More

Notes from the Emerald City
Compassion Seattle is No More
By Amy Sundberg • Issue #29 • View online

It’s hard to believe it’s already September. Let’s catch up on the happenings of the last few weeks, shall we?
Election News
Perhaps the biggest news of the past few weeks involves Seattle’s charter amendment Compassion Seattle. First a judge said the charter amendment couldn’t be on the November ballot, saying it went beyond the scope of the initiative process. Then the amendment’s backers said they wouldn’t appeal this decision. Then they changed their minds and did appeal after all. And finally, the appeals court denied that motion as well. That’s all, folks. The Compassion Seattle charter amendment will officially NOT be on the ballot in November.
Also not on November’s ballot: the Sawant recall decision. The deadline for the campaign to turn in their signatures to make that ballot has passed. This most likely means a special, low turn-out election in the winter, which the proponents of the recall doubtless hope will help the recall pass.
In Seattle mayoral election news, the CPC canceled their planned mayoral candidate debate on public safety because Bruce Harrell declined to participate. This decision fails to build confidence in his ability to take police accountability seriously. Bruce Harrell also held a press conference at Green Lake last week, during which he said he’d implement many key parts of the Compassion Seattle plan if he is elected Mayor, including spending 12% of the city’s General Fund on homelessness (at only 1% more than current spending, this is certainly not enough), building 2000 shelter beds within one year, and keeping parks, sidewalks, etc clear of encampments, aka implementing sweeps:
“I just think that there has to be consequences for that kind of action,” Harrell said, referring to people who don’t accept the services or shelter they’re offered, “because many people—and I’m very close to the world of people struggling with drug and alcohol treatment, people that have challenges—many of them are in denial. Many of them do not know what they need. They just do not.”
But wait, there’s more! It came out that Bellevue school board candidate Faye Yang believes that race is linked to IQ scores, touting the debunked racist pseudoscience preached in The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. Since this information was revealed, Faye Yang has said she no longer believes this to be true, but the fact that she’s just had this realization about these racist ideas doesn’t fill one with confidence.
Washington state is also undergoing its redistricting process, which could have large ramifications on elections going forward. The commissioners expect to have their suggested maps completed by the end of September, and there will be two public meetings (Oct 5 and Oct 9) where the public will have a chance to give feedback on the proposal.
Seattle News
The scandal involving the Mayor Durkan’s texts being deleted from her phone continues, with The Seattle Times reporting that when the Mayor’s office attributed the loss of the texts to “an unknown technology issue,” they’d actually known for months why the texts were gone. Durkan’s chief of staff also appears to be involved in keeping the public in the dark about these missing texts. City Attorney Pete Holmes has said, “Someone changed the mayor’s settings from retain to delete — that is a deliberate act.”
The city employees who blew the whistle on the missing texts sued Seattle on Friday, The two employees left their jobs earlier this year. Between this lawsuit and the one filed by the Seattle Times, the new City Attorney will be kept busy cleaning up Mayor Durkan’s mess–all on the taxpayers’ dime, of course.
Mayor Durkan has instituted a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all city employees by October 18, which has set off a brouhaha with unions, including SPOG. Any city employees who do not comply could face termination, and SPOG is saying this mandate could drive a further exodus of SPD officers. At the same time, SPD has been experiencing a spike in COVID-19 infections of officers, with 29 officers testing positive during the first three weeks of August. It is unknown what percentage of SPD officers are already vaccinated at this time.
In OPA news, the officer who shot Terry Carver last year is serving a 20-day detention for failing to properly follow de-escalation practices but is not being held accountable for killing Carver. Paul Kiefer’s article on the case documents a track record of bad decision-making for the police officer in question. In addition, Director Myerberg highlighted an ongoing pattern with SPD officers killing people carrying knives; however no SPD policy changes in this area have been implemented, even though Terry Carver was killed more than a year ago, in May 2020. For more analysis of the OPA’s decision on this case, you can read the following Twitter thread:
Phil
So why is SPD investigating itself? Because SPD got the state legislature to exempt SPD from that provision so long as they are under the consent decree. The decree was supposed to be a sword to reform SPD but has been turned into a shield to protect SPD.
Finally, no Seattle City Council meeting this week, although a few committees are meeting. We’ll be back to the normal schedule starting next week, with budget season kicking off on Monday, September 27.
King County News
King County’s OLEO (the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight) concluded their investigation of the 2019 shooting of Anthony Chilchott, during which two officers shot Mr. Chilchott; one was subsequently fired, but the other one is still serving as a deputy in the department. The report criticized the Sheriff’s office for failing to learn from several past similar shootings, such as that of 17-year-old Mi'Chance Dunlap-Gittens in 2017, and provided a long list of policy and training recommendations.
An editorial in the South Seattle Emerald by Angélica Cházaro and Anita Khandelwal recommends that both King County and the City of Seattle adopt two new pieces of legislation to address racial disparities in law enforcement’s treatment of Black and Indigenous people. One piece of potential legislation would de-prioritize any traffic stops where the driver does not pose an imminent danger of physical harm to others, and the other would ban consent searches. Many people don’t know their rights around consent searches, ie that they’re allowed to say no, and BIPOC people in particular may feel further pressure to comply in order to keep themselves safe. You can write to your King County council member and your Seattle council members to support the introduction of this legislation.
Recent Headlines
King County’s rise in gun violence doesn’t have an easy explanation | Crosscut
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Amy Sundberg

This newsletter covers Seattle politics and policy with a particular focus on police accountability and criminal legal reform, while also referencing relevant news in Washington State and beyond.

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