SPD swings back at #DefendtheDefund; and more state bills to support!

HSD moves forward in awarding the $12m to scale up public safety capacity; SPD in "staffing crisis"; Nikkita Oliver announces SCC run; news about participatory budgeting/research projects

We have a lot to cover today, so let’s dive right in, shall we?


First up, state legislature news.

HB1054, a Tactics Bill for Limiting Deadly Force, has a public hearing tomorrow, March 11th, and you can weigh in!

SB5051, the decertification bill to increase police accountability, also has a public hearing tomorrow.

  • You can sign in to register your support. (This takes less than a minute.)

  • You can submit written comments in support of the bill.

  • You can sign up to testify live at the hearing tomorrow.


    You can read my livetweets of this week’s Seattle Council Briefing below. Of particular note, CM Herbold said the consent decree monitor and the DoJ have reviewed the less lethal weapon draft bill passed out of the Public Safety committee, and they have questions. She will meet with them sometime this week along with counsel and CP González.

    At this week’s Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, the committee discussed HSD’s spending plan for awarding the $12m in community safety capacity building and voted to lift the proviso on these funds. This legislation will move forward to a full Council vote next Monday. The RFP applications are now available and are due April 9 by noon; the resulting contracts will be in effect from 7/1/21-12/31/22.

    The SPD also presented at this meeting, declaring they are in a staffing crisis and that the instability of the 2021 budget is causing general instability in the department. This is SPD’s attempt to retain the $5.4m the Council has been talking about cutting from this year’s SPD budget, an issue you might remember from the #DefundtheDefend hashtag.

    The SPD had a much increased rate of attrition in 2020. As Kevin Schofield points out, attrition “steadily rose from 2011 through 2019. 2011 was when the DOJ investigation into biased policing by SPD began, and the Consent Decree was signed in 2012.” The SPD would like to use the $5.4m to mitigate their high attrition rates through further investments in civilian hiring, technology upgrades and solutions, officer wellness, lateral hires, separation and family leave pay. If the money is cut from the budget, it would be added to the amount currently allocated to the participatory budgeting process.

    At present, the Council seems more sympathetic to the SPD’s case than they have often been in the past nine months. This legislation is likely to receive a committee vote at their next meeting on Tuesday, March 23 at 9:30am before moving to a full Council vote. If you would like to see this cut go through, now is the time to contact your CMs, and you can also make public comment at the March 23 meeting.


In election news, Nikkita Oliver has announced their candidacy for position 9 of the Seattle City Council (the seat being vacated by CP González). They are a community organizer, lawyer, and activist who came in third in Seattle’s 2017 mayoral race. They have been a key player in the movement to defund the SPD by 50%.


There has been some reporting on the Black Brilliance Research Project’s final report and presentation. It is both striking and illuminating what a different tone the article in The South Seattle Emerald (a Black-led publication) takes compared to other articles on the same topic. I am going to quote that article extensively, and I suggest both supporting The South Seattle Emerald and going to read the entire piece:

But despite the setback, BBRP moved forward to complete its critical work. Glaze and Severe said that misleading news reporting on the BBRP and subsequent City Councilmembers’ decisions to create additional requirements in response to that reporting slowed down the research progress.

“We had a couple of examples where there were a few reporters who have put out stories talking about the report that we put together and have said things like ‘it doesn’t contain details,’ or ‘it’s too vague or not detailed enough.’ Meanwhile, it’s like are you kidding me? We have produced something that is orders of magnitude more detailed than is typically required of literally any research consultant who has ever done research for the City,” said Glaze.

Glaze and Severe also said that they faced double standards which Black people and People of Color often face in professional settings. “As a Person of Color, as a Black person, I’m very used to what happens when people move the goalpost. They’ll say, ‘Alright, you just have to do this and you’re good.’ And so you not only do that, but you go a little bit farther above and beyond, so you’re definitely good, and then they’ll move the goalpost again,” said Glaze. Glaze and Severe say this repeated addition of new requirements caused a lot of frustration for the research team. “Honestly, the goalpost was moved no less than four times in the beginning,” said Severe.

Severe said that these added obstacles were also a result of the political context of the research project. “The project was very politicized from the beginning,” said Severe, “coming out of the uprising in defence of Black lives and a call for defunding the police, having folks in the streets.”

It sounds like CM Morales isn’t sure the participatory budgeting process will hit the projected timeline, but in an article at SCC Insight she said, “We might be pushing it to actually get money out the door in the fall, but I still have faith that we’ll be able to get money out the door before the end of the year.” The above article also lists details about the participatory budgeting process that still need to be decided. We should receive further updates on the participatory budgeting process at CM Morales’s next committee meeting on March 16.


In a last few tidbits of news, Mayor Durkan’s office has asked the state auditor to expand the scope of its audit of the contract between Seattle’s legislative department and the Freedom Project for their $3M research project. CP González mentions the Mayor’s office has itself engaged in no-bid contract processes, which makes her office’s letter smack of hypocrisy. CP González also had this to say:

González, who is running for mayor (Durkan will not seek reelection), called the letter a “distraction” from the issues Durkan could be addressing in the final months of her term. “I’m just confused about why the Durkan administration is spending time, energy, and resources on this letter… instead of on the real problems facing the city in the remainder of her term,” González said. “This audit was already happening, and it’s going to go through its natural course, and I don’t understand how this letter helps advance our city.”

Meanwhile, Seattle’s Director of Labor Relations, Jana Sangy, has announced she is leaving in June. Apparently the city doesn’t anticipate this affecting the timeline for the upcoming SPOG contract negotiations. However, this resignation could indicate problems:

But Peter Nguyen, who represented the Labor Relations unit during the last round of bargaining with SPOG in 2018, thinks that Sangy’s departure ahead of one of her unit’s most crucial performances is a sign of a struggling unit. “The resignation of the city’s Labor Relations Director is troubling,” said Nguyen. “There is not a very deep well of stability to fall back on during this transition to yet another interim director. It begs the question why this mayor has had such difficulty retaining solid talent in such a critical role.”


And with that, I’ll leave you to enjoy this lovely sunny Wednesday afternoon!