Category Archives: Public Policy

Activists Rally Over Death at Hands of Pierce County Law Enforcement

Photos and reporting by Susan Fried

Nina Gregory, a volunteer with “Not This Time” passed out shirts emblazoned with the words #Justice4Billy as a crowd gathered in the drenching rain at Westlake Center on Saturday, April 14th to support the friends and family of William “Billy” Langfitt. Continue reading Activists Rally Over Death at Hands of Pierce County Law Enforcement

Congestive Failure

by Geov Parrish

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s announcement that she wants the city to come up with a plan for “congestion pricing,” to toll surface streets in downtown and South Lake Union, is only the latest in a growing tradition of city policies that are meant to sound and feel good, but that are deeply delusional and throw Seattle’s working poor under the bus – in this case, literally. Continue reading Congestive Failure

America Devastates Itself

by John Stafford


November 8, 2016 was an inconceivable, shameful and dangerous day for America.

How does a candidate who:  questions the birth certificate of its first black president; refers to Mexicans as “rapists”, demonizes Muslims; demeans women; wants to increase tax cuts for the rich in an age of unprecedented income inequalities; calls global warming a concept, “…created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”1; is copacetic about the prospects of nuclear weapon proliferation; knows virtually nothing about public policy; does not acknowledge scientific fact; says that, he could, “…shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters”2 ; and so on; become president of the United States? Continue reading America Devastates Itself

A Preview of the 2017 Washington State Legislative Session

by John Stafford


The 2017 Washington State Legislative Session will likely be one of the most momentous in recent history.  The reason for this is the imperative to finally, fully address McCleary.  And addressing McCleary will entail tax reform.  Thus, the session holds promise for much-needed change in two critical areas — educational finance and tax policy.  In the next two months, several critical events will define the political landscape for the upcoming session.  This article previews the 2017 Legislative Session.  There are four sections:  political context, central issues, legislative topics and themes. Continue reading A Preview of the 2017 Washington State Legislative Session

Much Ado About McCleary

by John Stafford


In 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court, in its McCleary decision, upheld a lower court ruling that found the State to be in violation of Article 9, Section 1 of the State Constitution.  This article asserts (in part) that, “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”  The Supreme Court ordered the State to make additional investments in K-12 education.  Then, in 2014, The Court found the State to be in contempt for failing to make adequate progress toward achieving these objectives.  Last week, the Court held a hearing to listen to arguments from both the McCleary plaintiffs and the State regarding whether the State has made sufficient progress since 2014 to warrant purging the contempt finding.  The Court will make a ruling in the near future.  Continue reading Much Ado About McCleary

Homelessness Report Calls For “Narrowing the Focus”

by Kelsey Hamlin

This is the first of a three-part series analyzing last week’s reports on Seattle’s homelessness crisis coming from City Hall. This week looks at Barbara Poppe’s recommendations (70 pages long), next week will look closer at Focus Strategies’ data findings (134 pages), and the following week will hone in on the Pathways Home report (68 pages) that was produced by the Human Services Division. South Seattle Emerald feels each document deserves the time to be combed through and scrutinized such that it may be reported on properly.

The recent recommendations on homelessness call for a complete overhaul of Seattle’s system. This means some drastic changes, program cuts, and new forms of evaluation. Though that sounds grim — and it very well may be for some — it’s needed. Continue reading Homelessness Report Calls For “Narrowing the Focus”

Community Members Pledge Action on Deadly Use of Force by Police

 By Clifford C. Cawthon and Tammy Morales

 It’s no secret that in America, Black and Brown people are killed by police at a higher rate than white people. In 2015 Think Progress, a progressive policy magazine infamously listed the police among many common things that are more likely to kill you than an act of terrorism. 

In April, the state legislature passed a resolution commissioning a Joint Legislative Task Force on the Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing to review current practices and recommend changes. But after 9 hours of meetings the task force has yet to discuss deadly force. So the community thought they’d take a crack at it.  Continue reading Community Members Pledge Action on Deadly Use of Force by Police

Brexit, Trump and Washington State Politics

by John Stafford


The June 23 Brexit vote, when interpreted in conjunction with other global phenomena, was a revelatory event.  The vote to leave the EU was supported in every region of England, except for London, revealing a powerful demographic divide between the more urban, white collar, younger, educated, affluent, pro-immigration, and pro-globalization elite; and the more rural, blue collar, older, less educated, less affluent, anti-immigrant, anti-globalization constituency. Continue reading Brexit, Trump and Washington State Politics

Seattle and King County Join Forces on Homelessness, but is it Just More of the Same?

by Kelsey Hamlin

Sitting in the two hour-long joint meeting of the King County and Seattle City Councils, listening to them discuss housing and human services for the homeless was, well, nothing new. And perhaps my lack of motivation to write this piece is a testament to that. Nothing substantial was discussed. Nothing was surprising. No changes were made.

In May, King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw took a trip to San Francisco to visit the city’s Navigation Center. The experimental homeless shelter, contains dorm-like sleeping quarters, showers and bathrooms, laundry facilities, counseling offices, and a 24-hour dining room. It also allows pets and provides them with designated dwelling spaces and food. Continue reading Seattle and King County Join Forces on Homelessness, but is it Just More of the Same?

New City Council Dynamics Have Shaken Up Seattle

by John Stafford


The arguments for the Seattle City Council’s 2015 transition to district elections (of the nine seats, seven are elected by district and two are at-large) are well-chronicled.  District elections increase the prospects for the representation of people of color by enabling districts with large concentrations of them to maintain their demographic voting advantage, which would be diluted in a citywide race.  Indeed, the 2015 elections produced a council with five women, four people of color and a socialist.  Second, the lower spending requirements for district elections induce more candidates to run, which increases the scope of public dialogue.  In 2015, there were 47 candidates (for nine seats) relative to 10 candidates (for four seats) in 2013.  Third, district elections encourage policy that promotes neighborhood distinctiveness.  Fourth, the district focus places an emphasis on the basics of city service – neighborhood policing, parks maintenance, trash collection, etc. – that are at the heart of city government.  Fifth, they generate broader civic engagement and ground-up rather than top-down policy.  Finally, district elections encourage more equal representation across socio-economic groups, rather than a more concentrated representation of affluent interests. Continue reading New City Council Dynamics Have Shaken Up Seattle