Category Archives: News

Mayor’s New ARTS Interim Director Appointment Prompts Community Unease

by Alexa Peters


Over the last 10 days, tensions between Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the City Council, Seattle Arts Commission (Commission), the Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS), and local Black arts community members have mounted following the mayor’s early September appointment of Royal Alley-Barnes as interim director of ARTS. The mayor made the appointment with a little more than 100 days left in her term and without having consulted with local arts community stakeholders about her decision.

Following the resignation of permanent ARTS Director Randy Engstrom in December 2020, the mayor agreed to a plan in which then Deputy Director of ARTS Calandra Childers would step in as interim director and oversee a committee of staff members and arts community members, called the Seattle Arts Director Advisory Committee, with the objective of centering community voices in the process of selecting a new permanent ARTS director.

“The Office of Arts and Culture [asked] me to co-chair the Seattle Arts Director Search Advisory Committee in early 2021, in hopes of ensuring there would be community input in the process [of finding] the new director of the Office of Arts and Culture,” said Sharon Nyree Williams, a storyteller and executive director of the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas. “So that process began and … the mayor, at that time, had said that she would not be searching for a new director during her term.”

Continue reading Mayor’s New ARTS Interim Director Appointment Prompts Community Unease

Duwamish River Cleanup Rally Challenges EPA Proposed Changes

by Ronnie Estoque


Cars honked and community members chanted while crossing the South Park Bridge on Friday, Sept. 24. They were voicing concerns over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed changes to the cleanup of the Duwamish River. In 2001, the Duwamish River was listed as a federal Superfund site, one of the country’s most toxic hazardous-waste sites.

“We’re asking for this river to get cleaned up the way we agreed to in 2014 … to change things now makes no sense at all,” James Rasmussen, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC) Superfund manager and member of the Duwamish Tribe, said. “That’s why we’re here today. We want to clean this river the best possible way we can.”

Continue reading Duwamish River Cleanup Rally Challenges EPA Proposed Changes

Glaring Discrepancies in OPA Report on Labor Day 2020 Protest

by Carolyn Bick

The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.

This article is part three of a multi-part series concerning the protests that took place in Seattle in late 2020. It describes the apparent inaccuracies in the Office of Police Accountability’s (OPA) official report of the events as documented in the police oversight entity’s Director’s Certification Memo, which appears to have been signed off on as final by the OPA director. It also connects the dots between the certification memo and the recent ethics complaint filed by a former Office of Inspector General auditor, as reported here. Find the first article in this series here


In late June, the Emerald published a story about an Office of Inspector General auditor’s memo detailing concerns with the way the OPA investigators handled a case about last year’s Labor Day protest at the Seattle Police Officers Guild headquarters. That protest has been a topic of contention throughout Seattle for a number of reasons, including the amount of force the Seattle Police Department used against protesters and whether officers were actually responding to a credible threat in the crowd, as they claim.

OPA Director Andrew Myerberg told the Emerald in a June 28 email that he was planning on finalizing the Director’s Certification Memo and releasing the Case Closed Summary related to complaints filed in the wake of the incident the following week. 

As of this writing, not only has the OPA still not released the Case Closed Summary — more than a year after the protest — but the Emerald has learned through an email it obtained, as well as the Director’s Certification Memo (DCM) itself, that the DCM appears to have been finalized in early April. Myerberg told the Emerald in a Sept. 20 email that the DCM will be amended — an issue the Emerald addresses at the end of this story — but did not deny that it had been finalized in April, despite saying in June that “I was planning on finalizing the DCM that week [the week of July 5].”

Continue reading Glaring Discrepancies in OPA Report on Labor Day 2020 Protest

City Reaches Agreement With Unions on Vaccine Mandates; SPOG Agreement Still to Come

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


On the evening of Thursday, Sept. 23, a coalition of Seattle City employee unions reached a tentative agreement with the City of Seattle about the enforcement of the City’s new mandatory vaccination policy. The agreement, which outlines rules for vaccination exemptions and offers paid time off for vaccinated employees, now needs the approval of both the unions’ membership and the City Council. Union members will vote on the agreement this weekend.

On Friday, Sept. 24, both Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City labor leadership heralded the agreement as a key victory in the City’s fight to control the spread of COVID-19. Karen Estevenin, the executive director of PROTEC17, which represents employees across multiple City departments, told PubliCola the union coalition didn’t object to the vaccine mandate itself but wanted to give City employees a hand in shaping how the mandate will play out in their workplace.

“One of the key benefits of having a union is that workers have a voice on policy changes that affect their workplaces and their livelihoods,” she said. “By negotiating the terms of the vaccine mandate, we wanted to ensure that this was a fair, transparent, and equitable policy for all City employees.”

Continue reading City Reaches Agreement With Unions on Vaccine Mandates; SPOG Agreement Still to Come

‘Ready for Action’: City Officials, Community Organizers Converge Over Crime in Mt. Baker

by Luke Schaefer


Following a spike in crime during the coronavirus pandemic that culminated in three deaths near the Mt. Baker light rail station in June, community members at Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts (Artspace) urgently called upon City officials to tour the neighborhood and hear grievances from residents and business operators during an hour-long conference on the afternoon of Sept. 17.

Jamil Suleman, the Mt. Baker-based artist and business leader who organized the event, asked for officials and community members to set aside personal politics in order to relay the neighborhood’s reports of theft, arson, and toxic dumping to City officials. Among those in attendance were Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales, Chief Adrian Diaz and Mark Solomon of the Seattle Police Department, as well as members of the Artspace staff and the adjacent preschool. Suleman expressed that having all these voices together was quite unprecedented, and in order for action to be swift, bureaucracy must be circumvented. Everyone had to understand firsthand. Everyone had to be there.

Continue reading ‘Ready for Action’: City Officials, Community Organizers Converge Over Crime in Mt. Baker

King County Proposal Would Ban Natural Gas in New Multifamily and Commercial Buildings

by Ben Adlin


In an effort to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions, King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing rules that would sharply limit the use of natural gas in new multifamily homes and commercial developments as well as encourage wider adoption of solar power.

“These updates will save money, they’ll create jobs, and they’ll have an impact on climate change,” Constantine said at a media event Wednesday, Sept. 22, at Yesler Terrace Park. 

Constantine declined to provide a timeline for the proposal other than to call it “wildly urgent.” The changes would need approval from the King County Council to take effect.

Continue reading King County Proposal Would Ban Natural Gas in New Multifamily and Commercial Buildings

NEWS GLEAMS: Eviction Moratorium, WA Redistricting, Flu Shots, & More!

curated by Emerald Staff

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!


Dr. Jeffrey Duchin speaks during a Thursday press conference, held in the Columbia City neighborhood, where city and county officials announced that proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test will be required to enter certain establishments and attend outdoor events. (Photo: Alex Garland)

ICYMI: King County’s Proof of Vaccination Requirements for Recreational Activities

Last week, Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Durchin issued a Health Order that will require people to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to participate in recreational activities in most public spaces.

From Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC): “Beginning Monday, Oct. 25, people in King County will be required to show proof of vaccination in a number of public places, such as:

  • Outdoor events with 500 or more people
  • Indoor recreational activities of any size, such as performances, movie theaters, conferences, or gyms
  • Indoors at bars and restaurants (outdoor dining, grocery stores, and take-out are exempt).”

For more reporting on PHSKC’s Health Order, check out the Emerald’s article “King County Will Require Proof of Vaccination at Outdoor Events, Indoor Restaurants.”

Continue reading NEWS GLEAMS: Eviction Moratorium, WA Redistricting, Flu Shots, & More!

As COVID Cases at Shelters Rise, Many Are Reluctant to Enter County Quarantine Sites

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


An alarming increase in COVID-19 cases among people experiencing homelessness has been exacerbated in recent weeks, homeless service providers say, by rumors that if people enter a County-run isolation and quarantine site, they won’t be allowed to leave.

And even before these rumors began circulating widely, many unhoused people who tested positive for COVID-19 were reluctant to enter isolation and quarantine, for reasons that ranged from active substance use to the fear that if they left an encampment, they would lose everything they had — a not unreasonable assumption, given the recent uptick in encampment sweeps.

“The resistance, in my experience, has been across the board,” Dr. Cyn Kotarski, medical director for the Public Defender Association (PDA), said. “I haven’t met anyone so far who doesn’t have some fear and some resistance to go, and that’s mostly just because it’s overwhelming. It can feel pretty scary to think that you don’t know where you’re going or why, especially when you’re taking someone out of their own environment and their own community,” Kotarski said. The PDA is a partner on several efforts, including Co-LEAD and JustCAREare, to move unsheltered people into hotels during the pandemic.

Continue reading As COVID Cases at Shelters Rise, Many Are Reluctant to Enter County Quarantine Sites

With Future of Tiny Houses Up in the Air, Advocates Push for Action This Year

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


Advocates and city councilmembers are putting pressure on Mayor Jenny Durkan and the City’s Human Services Department (HSD) to move forward with three new tiny house villages — groups of small shed-like shelters for people experiencing homelessness — this year, before the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) takes over the City’s homelessness-related contracts in 2022.

The short-term (and at this point, probably quixotic) goal is to convince Durkan and HSD’s short-staffed homelessness division to commit to moving forward with all three villages before the City’s homelessness contracts move to the KCRHA at the end of the year. The long-term goal, which may be equally quixotic, is to demonstrate strong community support for tiny house villages in the face of strong opposition at the new authority, whose leader, Marc Dones, has no allegiance to what has become conventional wisdom at the City.

Earlier this year, the Seattle City Council adopted (and the mayor signed) legislation accepting $2 million in state COVID-19 relief funding to stand up three new tiny house villages and setting aside an additional $400,000 to operate the villages once they open — the Seattle Rescue Plan. Since then, HSD has declined to issue a request for proposals to build the villages, arguing that the council doesn’t have a long-term plan to operate the villages after this year. The longer HSD waits, the more likely it is that the job of deciding whether to stand up additional tiny house villages will fall to the regional authority.

Continue reading With Future of Tiny Houses Up in the Air, Advocates Push for Action This Year

Court Approves City Attorney’s Motion To Clear Outstanding Prostitution Warrants

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


On the morning of Thursday, Sept. 18, a Seattle Municipal Court judge approved a motion by Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes to quash all outstanding warrants for misdemeanor prostitution, including some issued well over a decade ago.

Continue reading Court Approves City Attorney’s Motion To Clear Outstanding Prostitution Warrants