The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.
During interviews with the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) in 2021, after her retirement, former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best told investigators she was not involved in plans to abandon the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct on June 8, 2020. But text messages obtained by the Emerald tell another story.
According to texts between Best and Assistant Police Chief Lesley Cordner, it appears that Best was in contact with former Mayor Jenny Durkan about the Seattle Police Department (SPD) removing items from the East Precinct and that she was aware, on the morning of June 8, 2020, of a plan to remove firearms, ammunition, and evidence from the building by 5 p.m. that day. (Note: The Emerald has redacted phone numbers that appeared in the above-linked text log transcript.)
As shootings spike in King County, disproportionately impacting Communities of Color, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced last week the City will distribute $12.4 million to organizations working to curb gun violence and improve safety in BIPOC communities.
The year 2020 was particularly deadly for Seattle, recording the highest number of homicides in more than a quarter century. This past weekend, a series of shootings in Belltown, Pioneer Square, the Chinatown-International District, and Yesler Terrace left five people dead and nine injured according to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). In a press conference on Monday, July 26, Durkan said the violence was part of a surge in homicides across the United States.
“This weekend delivered a sober reminder that Seattle is not immune from gun violence,” Durkan said during the press conference. “This is a national crisis. Over the past week, from Chicago to Minneapolis to Washington, D.C., there have been over 900 shooting incidents.”
(This article originally appeared in Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
“I used to live in those apartments,” Dee Powers, a 38-year-old Seattleite, said wistfully, “but I got priced out.” Standing in Seattle’s Occidental Park, coffee in hand, Powers stared at the distinctive white point of Smith Tower where across the street rests the old apartment Powers called home for five years.
The burst of the housing bubble in 2008 allowed Powers to rent a downtown apartment for $650 a month, but in 2015 they came home to a 60-day notice and a warning of a 40% rent increase. Since then, Powers has called a 40-foot RV home.
On April 13, five vehicle residents gathered at an action meeting in Occidental Park to share their unique car-living experiences in a city with a checkered past. All of the residents, including Powers, have either lived or are currently roaming Seattle’s streets in vehicles.
With Seattle’s biggest snowfall of the winter slated to strike this weekend, Mayor Jenny Durkan gathered virtually Friday afternoon with regional partners from Sound Transit, King County Metro, Washington State Department of Transportation (SDOT), and other department directors to provide an update on the city’s preparations and advice on what Seattlites should do to stay safe.
“If you can stay home, please do,” said Durkan during the virtual press conference. “I know that over the last year we’ve been staying home mostly, but it’s really important to stay off the roads and not drive unless it’s an absolute emergency. ”
With COVID-19 hospitalization rates still high in King County during Christmas week, the City of Seattle announced the opening of three new COVID-19 testing kiosks at locations across the city, including one near the Mount Baker Link Light Rail Station. The Mount Baker kiosk begins service on Saturday, Dec. 26.
The walk-up kiosks offer an observed and directed self-collected oral fluid swab COVID-19 test that’s less uncomfortable than nasal swab tests. The tests are free, but online reservations are required at the City of Seattle’s COVID-19 testing website or at www.curative.com. The kiosk operates from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, although these hours may be adjusted to meet demand. Check the city’s testing website for more details.
In an online news conference on Tuesday, the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing announced a new round of $55.8 million in affordable rental and owned housing that would create 840 new units, putting the City on track to either approve or start construction on a record $115.8 million worth of new affordable housing in 2020. The funds, which in total will create 1,430 units in projects across the city, include $62.58 million from a 2016 voter-approved housing levy, $5 million from HOME, a federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) program that makes grants to states and local governments, and $53.22 million from the City’s Incentive Zoning and Mandatory Housing Affordability programs.
The fund represents a major leap forward for low- and moderate-income housing in Seattle during a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and a major economic downturn. Eager to burnish her legacy after announcing she won’t run for another term, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office pointed out that the City and City Council have funded $400 million to create 5,300 new affordable units since Durkan took office in 2017.
The Seattle City Council adopted a 2021 budget today that reduces the Seattle Police Department’s budget while funding investments in alternatives to policing; repurposes most of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed $100 million “equitable investment fund” to Council priorities; and replaces the encampment-removing Navigation Team with a new program intended to help outreach workers move unsheltered people into shelter and permanent housing.
Though officials say this year’s expanded flu vaccination clinic offerings are specifically meant to serve uninsured and underinsured communities of color and people experiencing homelessness, many of whom live in South Seattle, most of the clinics available in South Seattle appear to have relatively few open clinic slots.