Changes to District Council System
Drastic changes to the city’s District Council system are expected after Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an executive order earlier today. Murray says that the order will bring about greater equity to the city’s system for promoting public engagement among residents of Seattle’s neighborhoods.
“For immigrants and refugees, low-income residents, communities of color, renters, single parents, youth, people experiencing homelessness, LGBTQ, and more, the system today has become a barrier for many to become involved in the City’s decision-making process. Now is the time to recreate our outreach and engagement process to become more accessible and inclusive, and to account for the ways that people communicate and connect in the 21st century,” Murray said in a statement.
The District Council system, dating back to 1987, includes thirteen area-based councils whose membership includes local residents representing their neighborhood’s community council, business associations, and nonprofit organizations. In 2009, the City Auditor issued a strongly-worded report advocating for a reset of the District Council system, due in part to the low-level of diverse representation on the district councils.
In 2013, a demographic snapshot of District Council attendees showed that they tend to be 40 years of age or older, Caucasian, with the vast majority owning their homes. At least six District Councils had no reported people of color attending, and only three District Councils reported any African American attendees.
Murray’s executive order directs city departments to develop alternative community engagement plans, and will gradually dissolve the city’s ties to each of the thirteen district councils. District Councils may still exist, but Department of Neighborhoods’ resources that previously supported the district councils will be redirect to support all City departments in these efforts. Throughout the month of August, the Department of Neighborhoods will conduct civic engagement focus groups. By September 26, the department will also draft legislation for a new citywide community engagement framework and strategic plan, including a new Seattle Community Involvement Commission to be established by January 2017. The Department of Neighborhoods and Seattle IT are also directed to submit a digital engagement plan by March 1, 2017 to broaden public accessibility.
An FAQ on today’s announcement is available here.
Ballots Arriving Today
Voting for the August primaries will soon commence as ballots should be arriving in the mailboxes of voters across King County today. Voters should also have an easier time locating a drop box this go around as King County officials announced they will be quadrupling the number of drop boxes for November’s general election. The roll out of the new drop boxes begins July 14, when the county will place 29 new ones in various locations. There is still no definitive word on how many will be placed in the South Seattle area.
SPOG President Resigns
As first reported by Ansel Herz of the Stranger, Seattle Police Officer Guild President Ron Smith has resigned after since delated social media posts that were widely regarded as racially insensitive spring to light. Smith will be replaced by SPOG Vice President Kevin Stuckey.
Smith’s e-mail resignation read as follows:
Recently in the heat of the moment, as our brothers and sisters were under attack in Dallas I posted on the SPOG Facebook page something I intended to be supportive of our Dallas brothers and sisters as well as the outrage we all feel in the attacks on law enforcement across the country. What the post was meant to say is that it is disgusting that a small segment of society perpetuates violence toward law enforcement officers across this country. At no time was there any intent to apply blame to any organized group; only the small segment of society which has the propensity for violence toward law enforcement. We shall overcome meant just that; law enforcement will persevere and work through this time in history just as law enforcement did after 9-11 and how local law enforcement did after we lost 6-local law enforcement officers in a 6-week period in 2009, including Seattle Police Officer Tim Brenton. I regret that this post offended any one, as that was not the intent in any way.
I have poured my heart and soul into this organization for the past 16-years, whether it was as Guardian Editor, 2-terms as Position #3 on the SPOG Board, Secretary-Treasurer and in the last 27-months as your President. I have been made aware that I have let the membership down, something that I deeply regret. I have never quit anything in my life except chewing tobacco, however this is not about me; it’s about the membership. We are living in very difficult times in law enforcement history, and we don’t need any further distractions in moving down the reform road and in full compliance with the consent decree. With these things in mind, I am notifying you now that I will resign my position as President effective July 31, 2016. This will allow an adequate transition for Vice President Kevin Stuckey who will assume the rest of my term, which expires March 1, 2017.
It has been my pleasure to serve you. God Bless you all and be safe.
Featured image: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (Joe Mabel, Wikicommons)