A roundup of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
by Vee Hua 華婷婷
Mayor Bruce Harrell Reveals Proposed Mid-Biennial Budget Adjustments
On Sept. 26, Mayor Bruce Harrell revealed his 2023–2024 Proposed Mid-Biennial Budget Adjustments, which continue to place focus on the City’s One Seattle comprehensive plan priorities. One Seattle focuses in large part on activating the downtown core, creating housing, increasing walkability, and combating displacement challenges.
The proposed budget is now in the hands of the Seattle City Council, which will hear public comment, make adjustments, and vote on the final budget on Nov. 21. Any adjustments the council makes must be “self-balancing,” meaning any new spending must have new revenue identified to fund it or take reductions from another aspect of the budget.
Today, the Seattle City Council’s Select Budget Committee had its first meeting about the budget, where members heard the first bit of public comment regarding the proposals. Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda says she will continue to prioritize three tenets: accountability, to provide greater transparency in the budget forecast and increase community engagement; sustainability, to address concerns about new proposals and initiatives when core City services that have been underfunded need to be prioritized; and equity, to ensure that critical investments in affordable housing, residential services, climate resilience, and wage equity are made.
While each City department will see more granular and specific updates to their budgets, some high-level aspects of the Mayor’s proposed adjustments, as outlined on his website, include:
- $334 million investment in affordable housing, representing a 32% increase from the 2023 adopted budget.
- $106 million investment in the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) to support outreach, shelter, and other critical programs.
- $26.5 million to support the new Community Assisted Response and Engagement (CARE) Department, an increase of 30% over 2023.
- $26 million for the Housing for Workforce Stabilization Fund to support permanent supportive housing providers wages.
- $23 million investment in human service provider wages and wage equity, representing a 9.5% increase in pay over 2023, along with child care worker-retention bonuses.
- $17 million toward diversion programs like Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), supporting the recently passed law regarding public consumption by prioritizing diversion for drug users.
- $15 million to support the Downtown Activation Plan (DAP) and Future of Seattle Economy agenda ($3.9 million DAP, $6.6 million Future of Seattle Economy, and $4.7 million overlapping).
- $2 million to expand the Seattle Fire Department’s Health 99 post-overdose response team and other health services, building on $7 million toward capital improvements in treatment centers to address addiction with a health-forward approach.
- $1.9 million for an additional year of funding to We Deliver Care providing outreach as part of the Third Avenue Project.
- $1.8 million investment in piloting a new suite of advanced safety technologies to protect neighborhoods impacted by recurring gun violence, collect new evidence to solve crimes, and address the increase we see in stolen vehicles.
- $850,000 in start-up costs to the new Social Housing Public Development Authority.
- $350,000 to expand Trees for Neighborhoods program to 1,300 trees planted in 2024 and evaluate siting a One Seattle tree nursery to grow trees locally, building on recent $12.9 million grant from the Biden–Harris administration to expand access to tree canopy.
- $150,000 to Immigrant and Safety Access Network to continue increased support and resources for immigrant and refugee communities.
To help Seattle residents better understand the City budget, City Council has created a new tool called the Seattle Budget Dashboard to make a more transparent and easy-to-understand process. A video tutorial provides a walk-through of the tool.
There are multiple ways for Seattle residents to participate in the budget process and offer their feedback. They can:
- Understand the proposed budget: Read more about the mayor’s proposed budget and send all questions directed at the mayor’s team to MOS_Comms@Seattle.gov.
- Attend Select Budget Committee meetings: The next meetings take place on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 9:30 a.m. and Friday, Oct. 27, at 9:30 a.m. Residents can participate remotely or in-person, and they can sign up for public comment two hours before the start of the public meeting.
- Attend public hearings on the budget: Two public hearings are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 5 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 13, at 5 p.m. Residents can participate remotely or in-person, and they can sign up for public comments two hours before the public meeting. All who sign up to speak will have the opportunity to do so.
- Send in written feedback: Written feedback about the budget can be offered at any time. Locate your councilmember here, or email all nine councilmembers at Council@Seattle.gov.
Federal Trade Commission and State Attorneys General File Complaint Against Amazon
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a bipartisan group of state attorneys general from 17 states — not including Washington State — filed a complaint against Amazon “alleging that the online retail and technology company is a monopolist that uses a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain its monopoly power.” Specifically, they believe Amazon prioritizes its own goods above those of third-party vendors that sell similar things on its website, as well as charges exorbitant fees for those third-party vendors to participate in its Prime program.
The case alleges, “Most sellers must now pay for advertising to reach Amazon’s massive base of online shoppers, while shoppers consequently face less relevant search results and are steered toward more expensive products.” It goes on to note that the system allows Amazon to continue extracting increased advertising revenue and providing worsening services to its customers and vendors, while creating a complex system that stifles competition from other retailers.
Amazon responded to the suit immediately, issuing a public statement that the FTC lawsuit was misguided and that if it were successful, it would “force Amazon to engage in practices that actually harm consumers and the many businesses that sell in our store—such as having to feature higher prices, offer slower or less reliable Prime shipping, and make Prime more expensive and less convenient.”
The investigation originally began under former President Donald Trump but has continued under the leadership of FTC Chair Lina M. Khan and the administration of current President Joe Biden. It comes following a number of other cases the FTC has brought against big tech companies in recent days, such as one against Meta to block a proposed merger between it and another VR studio, and one against Google for allegedly monopolizing its ad services.
Kapit Bisig Tour 2023 Calls for Solidarity for Philippine Labor Under Attack
Join BAYAN Seattle, Malaya Movement, and International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) Seattle in a series of weekend events called the “Kapit Bisig (Link Arms) Tour 2023: Solidarity for Philippine Labor under Attack.” As BAYAN Seattle writes in an invitational letter, “In the face of attacks against the Philippine labor movement and intensifying worker struggles, Filipino worker-leaders are visiting the United States to strengthen solidarity with unions, worker organizations, and community groups based in the U.S., as well as share the situation of workers in the Philippines.”
The weekend schedule of events as a part of this tour will involve Mylene Cabalona, president of the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) Industry Employees Network (BIEN), as well as Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, chair of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), an independent labor center in the Philippines. The event organizers describe Ka Bong as coming “from the ranks of the workers,” as a previous president of the hotel and restaurant Union GLOWHRAIN Federation and a labor organizer since the country’s martial law period.
Events this weekend include:
- Sept. 30, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.: Labor Notes Troublemakers School at South Seattle College, a day of workshops and sessions for activists around Puget Sound to learn about movement-building.
- Oct. 1: 12–2 p.m.: Labor Lunch
- Oct. 1: 4–7 p.m.: Community Forum on Philippines Labor Organizing at Japanese Baptist Church
RSVP online for any and all using the Kapit Bisig Tour 2023 Seattle Interest Form.
Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the editor-in-chief of REDEFINE, a co-chair of the Seattle Arts Commission, and a film educator at the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they previously served as executive director and played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences. After a recent stint as the interim managing editor at South Seattle Emerald, they are moving into production on their feature film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multilingual POC buddy comedy. Learn more about them at linktr.ee/hellomynameisvee.
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