Tag Archives: PubliCola

Council Changes Course, Won’t Require City Attorney to Run Diversion Programs

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

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


The Seattle City Council is backpedaling its plans to add diversion to the Seattle City Attorney’s list of mandatory responsibilities.

Earlier this year, City Council President Lorena González said she would propose legislation to require the city attorney to send some misdemeanor cases to diversion programs instead of filing charges. Instead, on Thursday, Dec. 9, González introduced a pared-down bill that would require the city attorney to notify the Council 90 days before making any changes to, or eliminating, the office’s diversion programs and provide quarterly reports to the Council about the effectiveness of any diversion programs.

Continue reading Council Changes Course, Won’t Require City Attorney to Run Diversion Programs

Family of Charleena Lyles Reaches Settlement With City of Seattle for 2017 Shooting

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

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


After a grueling 13-hour mediation on the night of Monday, Nov. 29, the family of Charleena Lyles reached a $3.5 million settlement with the City of Seattle and two Seattle police officers, ending a four-year-long wrongful death lawsuit that began when the officers shot and killed Lyles in her Magnuson Park home in June 2017.

“This has been a horrible case. Shameful,” said Karen Koehler, the lead attorney representing Lyles’ family, during a press conference at the Stritmatter law firm on Tuesday afternoon. On a television behind her, Lyles’ eldest daughter — watching from her aunt’s house in California, seated in front of a Christmas tree — leaned off-screen to cry.

Continue reading Family of Charleena Lyles Reaches Settlement With City of Seattle for 2017 Shooting

King County Will Forego Annual Count of Homeless Population

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


Last week, the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) announced that it will forego next year’s annual count of King County’s unsheltered homeless population, leaving the region without one major source of information about how many people are living unsheltered, and in what circumstances, for two consecutive years after last year’s count was scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The count, which is generally regarded as an undercount, is often used to measure whether homelessness is increasing or decreasing over time and how; in 2020, for example, the count suggested a large increase in the number of people living in their vehicles.

Continue reading King County Will Forego Annual Count of Homeless Population

Patti Cole-Tindall Announced as Interim King County Sheriff

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

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


Starting Jan. 1, King County will have a new interim sheriff: Patti Cole-Tindall, previously an undersheriff in the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), will assume the role until County Executive Dow Constantine appoints a permanent sheriff in mid-2022.

Last year, county voters approved a charter amendment that sets up a process for appointing, rather than electing, the King County sheriff. Tindall will be King County’s first appointed sheriff in more than two decades.

Continue reading Patti Cole-Tindall Announced as Interim King County Sheriff

In Reversal, Council Keeps Durkan’s Expanded Police Budget Mostly Intact

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

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


The Seattle City Council voted Thursday, Nov. 19, to leave Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposal for the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) 2022 budget largely untouched, and, in the process, put an internal messaging battle — whether to attempt to make peace with SPD or repurpose dollars from the department’s budget in the future — in the spotlight.

The council’s decision to leave Durkan’s budget largely untouched was overshadowed by a dramatic last-minute press release from interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, who inaccurately claimed that Council President Lorena González had proposed eliminating more than 100 officers’ jobs. In reality, González’s amendment would have eliminated 101 positions that SPD doesn’t expect to fill in 2022. While Durkan’s budget has already redistributed the unspent salaries for other purposes in 2022, the amendment would have allowed the council to repurpose more than $17 million in future years.

Continue reading In Reversal, Council Keeps Durkan’s Expanded Police Budget Mostly Intact

SPD’s 2022 Budget Proposal Relies on Optimistic Hiring Projections

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

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


The Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) staffing goals for 2022 are extremely ambitious and could leave the department with millions in unspent salaries, according to a staff presentation to the City Council’s Budget Committee on Friday, Oct. 15.

More than 300 sworn officers have left the department since January 2020. In 2022, SPD hopes to begin replenishing its ranks, starting with the restoration of 31 paid positions that the council eliminated last year. That proposal would leave SPD with a total of 1,357 funded officer positions, but the department can’t realistically fill all of those positions in a year; instead, SPD estimates that it would end 2022 with 134 vacancies.

Continue reading SPD’s 2022 Budget Proposal Relies on Optimistic Hiring Projections

Durkan Budget Would Gut JumpStart Spending Plan, Increase Funding for Encampment Response

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


Mayor Jenny Durkan released the final budget of her term yesterday, Sept. 27, outlining the proposal at a very high level in a six-minute speech from North Seattle College. In the coming weeks, the proposal will be debated, analyzed, and rewritten by the Seattle City Council (the addition of 35 net new police officers is an obvious target for their red pens), and PubliCola will be covering every aspect of those upcoming discussions. For now, though, here are a few initial notes on the plan, which reflects better-than-expected revenues and incorporates a lot of ongoing federal funding for COVID-19 relief.

Continue reading Durkan Budget Would Gut JumpStart Spending Plan, Increase Funding for Encampment Response

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

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