Sound Transit is bringing back fines for non-payment on its trains and buses this fall after the agency paused fare enforcement during the pandemic, but it has also instituted a more lenient and accommodating system for riders who don’t pay their fare.
(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement)
The King County Council is considering draft legislation that would give adults the right to consult with a defense attorney before being searched by officers with the King County Sheriff’s Office, a right the county and the city of Seattle extended to youth in 2020 and that state legislators expanded statewide last year.
Of late, King County councilmembers have called on Gov. Jay Inslee to get rid of an old governor directive that some activists have argued effectively banned affirmative action in the state — Seattle City leaders and others have also joined in the call.
Earlier this month, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert faced repercussions for a racist campaign ad she funded. The ad depicted her colleague, Councilmember Girmay Zahilay as a socialist puppeteer pulling the strings of Sarah Perry. Perry, Lambert’s opponent, is bringing Lambert the first real fight for a seat she’s held comfortably for 20 years.
Lambert’s ad also associated Zahilay, who is not a socialist, with Vice President Kamala Harris and Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. After public outcry, Lambert resigned from the King County Council committees she chaired.
In the age of Trump and social media-fueled polarization, “conflict and sensationalism” sells, says Zahilay. Politicians have pivoted to “divisiveness and scare tactics” to “rile up their base.” Zahilay sees this trend emerging across all levels of politics, local King County elections included.
I’m going to skip right to the punchline here: The King County Council failed last week when it asked Kathy Lambert to apologize for what six of them termed her “racist piece of political mail.” It also acted insufficiently on Tuesday when it voted to strip Lambert of her committee leadership positions. Nothing short of her resignation or removal is enough of a reckoning for what even in today’s divisive climate were absurdly blatant, public, and undeniably racist actions.
With a super-majority endorsing her opponent, Sarah Perry, the Council has only partly done a deed that they should have finished.
That is, unless they all can rationalize that, by following the research and advice of her political consultant, Lambert simply was representing her constituency. Even that is more problematic than it sounds.
The King County Council curtailed an effort July 12 to put a new form of voting before the electorate in November, citing a desire for more time to work through the details before presenting the option to voters.
The original legislation — sponsored by Councilmember Girmay Zahilay — would have given voters the option to approve ranked-choice voting (RCV) for certain nonpartisan County positions including the executive, assessor, director of elections, prosecuting attorney, and County Council.
Had the legislation gone forward and been approved by voters, the new system wouldn’t have taken effect until the Council hammered out the details and voted on a series of protocols, staff said at the July 7 Committee of the Whole. But after initially advancing the matter to its July 13 Council meeting, the Council decided to put the legislation on hold.
A couple of retired guys that spent their careers making television dish on the good, bad, and ridiculousness of life for People of Color in America. They tear apart the news of the week, explore the complexities of race, and talk to people far more interesting than they will ever be.
Girmay Zahilay joins the Chino Y Chicano to talk about his first year and a half on the King County Council. It has been a rollercoaster of crises from COVID-19 to police violence and racial justice protests, a growing homelessness and gun violence problem, and now a reopening of the state as vaccination efforts continue. Zahilay reflects on a council experience that so far has been full of emotion, and unpredictability.
On May 25, the King County Council passed a supplemental budget bill allocating $367 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for COVID-19 relief, while Seattle officials unveiled a draft plan for how the City intends to spend its share of the $1.85 trillion pie.
The King County budget bill includes $631 million in new spending: $367 million from ARPA, $249 million from a variety of other sources, and $16 million from the County’s existing reserves. The Seattle plan appropriates $128 million from ARPA: $116 million of flexible-use “COVID Local Recovery Funds” or CLRF, and $12 million specifically targeted for housing and homelessness programs. CLRF funds are received from the federal government in two equal payments: one now, and the second approximately one year from now. Seattle is planning to spend its CLRF funds as they come in; however, King County has chosen to front-load $367 million of their total $437 million allocation this year, spending from its cash balance now and using much of next year’s second payment as reimbursement.