Tag Archives: Seattle 2021 Budget

More Details Emerge About Black Brilliance Project’s Research Plan

by Paul Kiefer

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


PubliCola has obtained a copy of the King County Equity Now (KCEN) work plan for their public safety research project that’s intended to lay the groundwork for a participatory budgeting process next year. About $30 million of the $1.5 billion general fund budget is supposed to be allocated using participatory budgeting — a process that enables the public to vote on which projects and priorities they want to fund — next year.

The Seattle City Council finalized a $3 million contract with Freedom Project Washington, a nonprofit that offers programs inside and outside prisons to help with reentry and prevent re-incarceration, to fiscally sponsor and oversee KCEN’s research last week. With the contract finalized and the work plan submitted, Freedom Project Washington now has access to the first $1,250,000 of that total. Freedom Project Washington is allowed to subcontract with other groups to conduct parallel research. Currently, though, KCEN is the group’s only subcontractor.

Continue reading More Details Emerge About Black Brilliance Project’s Research Plan

The Morning Update Show — 11/24/20

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We’ll also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Tuesday, Nov. 24

Today on the show:

The City Budget Is in the Books; Kevin Schofield of SCC Insight | LIVE; Colleen Echohawk of Cheif Seattle Club | LIVE; Native American Heritage Month; Cannabis Equity With Aaron Bossett; and Coronavirus Updates with Nikki Barron.

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 11/24/20

The Morning Update Show — 11/23/20

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We’ll also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Monday, Nov. 23

Today on the show:

City Council Budget; Kevin Schofield of SCC Insight; COVID Updates; Communion on Union; and Debonair Decor.

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 11/23/20

The Morning Update Show — 11/19/20

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We’ll also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Thursday, Nov. 19

Today on the show:

COVID-19 Updates; City of Seattle Budget Watch; Sade Smith — Civil Rights Attorney | LIVE; Tomo & Eva — SMASH | LIVE; plus #TBT.

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 11/19/20

The Morning Update Show — 11/18/20

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We’ll also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Wednesday, Nov. 18

Today on the show:

Who gave the order to vacate the East Precinct?; COVID-19 Updates; Northwest Parkinson Foundation; and City Council Budget Watch.

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 11/18/20

Black Brilliance Project Outlines Ambitious Public Safety Agenda That Includes $1B Land Acquisition Fund

by Paul Kiefer

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


As the Seattle City Council wrapped up their 2021 budget deliberations, representatives from King County Equity Now’s (KCEN) Black Brilliance research project held a press conference on Monday afternoon to announce an ambitious slate of potential City investments and social programming aimed at replacing police and improving community safety in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

The Black Brilliance Project, which KCEN announced in September, encompasses the preliminary research for next year’s proposed public safety-oriented participatory budgeting process. The project will be funded through a $3 million grant to The Freedom Project, which will subcontract with KCEN; the City has not yet finalized and published the contract.

Continue reading Black Brilliance Project Outlines Ambitious Public Safety Agenda That Includes $1B Land Acquisition Fund

Compromise City Budget Avoids Major Cuts, Including to Police Department

by Erica C. Barnett

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


The cessation of open warfare between Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council over the 2021 budget doesn’t make for the most dramatic headlines (see above), but the detente between the two feuding branches could mean a budget compromise that won’t end in another spate of open warfare.

The Council’s budget proposal makes dramatic cuts to Durkan’s proposal to designate $100 in funding “for BIPOC communities,” fulfills the City’s 2019 promise to invest proceeds from the the sale of publicly owned land in South Lake Union into housing and anti-displacement programs, and cuts the size of the police department by about 20%, with a commitment to spend the savings from those reductions on community safety projects through a participatory budgeting process, which the budget also funds.

On Monday, Durkan issued a statement praising the Council’s budget for “continuing that historic $100 million for communities through slightly different community-led processes.” This was a departure from Durkan’s previous position on the Council’s spending priorities. Last month, a mayoral spokeswoman responded to questions about the racial equity implications of Durkan’s $100 million plan by suggesting that the Council’s own spending proposals, including plans for COVID relief, participatory budgeting, and police department cuts, had not gone through a proper vetting to see if they truly benefited Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.

Continue reading Compromise City Budget Avoids Major Cuts, Including to Police Department

Council Staff: Mayor’s Proposals Could Promote “Racism Cloaked in the Language of Anti-Racism and Equity”

by Erica C. Barnett 

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


Foreshadowing what will likely be a heated debate over Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan to wall off $100 million in the city budget for future “investments in BIPOC communities” that will be decided by an Equitable Investment Task Force appointed by the mayor, Seattle City Council central staff released an unusually blunt memo last week cataloguing potential issues with the mayor’s plan.

The memo raises two high-level issues with Durkan’s proposal. First, according to the staffers, it duplicates work that the City has already done, perpetuating the City’s practice of asking members of marginalized communities to provide recommendations again and again without ever taking action on those recommendations.

Continue reading Council Staff: Mayor’s Proposals Could Promote “Racism Cloaked in the Language of Anti-Racism and Equity”

Incoming Cold Snap This Weekend Could Prove Lethal for Unhoused People. Here’s How to Help.

by Carolyn Bick


“Deaths of despair” is what WHEEL executive committee member Anitra Freeman calls most of the ways in which 106 unhoused people have already died this year.

“Suicides, homicides, and drug overdoses — all three are deaths of despair. They are things that happen when people are extremely stressed out. … All the time, being homeless is stressful, but it’s even more stressful than ever, this year,” Freeman said, referring to the current novel coronavirus pandemic.

But there is now another worry plaguing the unhoused community and their advocates: the incoming early cold snap set to hit Seattle this weekend.

Already, two people have died from hypothermia this year, data from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office compiled by homelessness advocacy and shelter nonprofit SHARE/WHEEL shows. One of those deaths was in late May, when the recorded low that day was 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the high was 74 degree Fahrenheit.

“In this environment, it doesn’t have to be extremely cold to kill you. Just getting wet and not being able to get dry can kill you,” Freeman said.

David White, who lives in SHARE-managed Tent City 3 in North Seattle with his nine-year-old spaniel Gabe, knows well what it feels like to be wet and cold. A recent transplant from Iowa, White has only been living in Seattle since June, but has been on the road on and off for years. He is one of the city’s nearly 12,000 unhoused residents, and currently only lives here so that he can have access to a neurosurgeon to handle some spinal problems from which he will then need to heal in a sterile environment.

While White himself has a safe place to rest his head, he knows that not everyone does.

“We have resources being donated to Tent City, and we have protection from the elements in these tents … but people sleeping loose in doorways, or people who are camped by themselves don’t always have that support,” White said. “We’ve got hot food donated every day and a coffeemaker. [Other unhoused people] don’t have those means necessarily to get themselves internally warm.”

Even though the managed encampment is a much better place to live than out on the street, White said supplies of warm items — particularly blankets and men’s clothes in sizes ranging from medium to 2XL — are running low. He said the encampment could also use “anything waterproof,” as well as wool socks, which are much better than cotton socks that let in the cold and, once wet, are essentially useless. Even sleeping bags with broken zippers are great, White said — “makes a great quilt!” — and new tents are always welcome to replace the ones at the encampment that are old and falling apart.

The best things are “stuff for layering,” White said, because of the variable temperatures and the incoming cold.

“It’s warm now … but this morning I sure needed them,” White said, referring to blankets and warm layers. “We don’t have an indoors to go to.”

White also said that while Tent City 3 is fortunate enough to have portable toilets that are emptied daily, those who don’t have access to that would likely appreciate a plastic bag and a roll of toilet paper.

“It’s hard to find a safe place to go to the restroom,” White remarked. “A lot of people are using alleys or bushes or whatever.”

Anyone interested in donating to Tent City 3 can find more information about what the encampment needs here, while other SHARE/WHEEL-managed encampments’ needs can be found here. Donations to Tent City 3 can be dropped off at any time.

For those who are interested in helping, but want to start closer to home, Homeless Organizing Community Seattle (HOCS) co-organizer Chris Barker suggested personally asking an unhoused person who lives in the neighborhood what they need. Barker invited those who are interested in getting involved in this way but don’t know where to start to join the HOCS Facebook group and connect with other community members who may already be doing such work. He also said that people may drop off donations at The Waystation, a no-contact drop-off spot in SoDo that is a part of an ongoing grassroots homeless mutual aid network started up in response to the current pandemic.

The cold only serves to add an extra layer of danger to the threat the unhoused community already faces from the pandemic. With nowhere to sleep and little-to-no access to hygiene, it’s more likely that unhoused people will be exposed to the novel coronavirus and die from COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.

To that end, Freeman and other homelessness advocates at SHARE/WHEEL are trying to get the Seattle City Council (SCC) to continue funding for SHARE/WHEEL to operate its shelters 24 hours per day, seven days per week into 2021, rather than going back to the old model of only being able to keep the shelters open at night. The group is also pushing for a slew of other proposed budget items, including upgrades to a currently shuttered hygiene center that would allow unhoused people to take showers and wash their clothes, as proper hygiene is key to staying healthy

Freeman said that she and other have been trying to get ahold of other SCC members, as she said only Councilmembers Tammy Morales and Kshama Sawant have signed on to the proposal to continue SHARE/WHEEL shelter funding, and a third councilmember needs to sign on for it to pass. However, they haven’t been able to leave voicemails — the mailboxes are full — and emails just receive an automated reply saying the office has been inundated with messages. The deadline for such requests is tonight, Oct. 22.

“I don’t know if any of our last-minute pleas are even going to be noticed before midnight … but keep trying,” Freeman said. “That’s all we can do.”

Late in the evening on Oct. 22, the Emerald learned from Freeman that Councilmember Lisa Herbold signed on before the midnight deadline to continue funding to allow SHARE/WHEEL to keep their shelters open 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Freeman also said that the Homeless Remembrance Project’s Women in Black will be standing vigil at City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 27, for another seven unhoused people who died just this past week. Though the group usually holds vigils on Wednesdays, Freeman said they have altered the vigil schedule this coming week to coincide with the SCC’s budget hearings.

When the Emerald asked Freeman, White and Barker what the City could be doing to better help its unhoused residents, Barker said that the City could provide funding for more sanctioned encampments, housing, and more case workers. Freeman said that the City should be opening severe weather shelters now.

White said that that while he has personally not yet had any negative experiences with the City, he thinks the City needs to stop sweeping encampments, a practice that makes people feel unsafe.

“If somebody felt like they weren’t going to have to go hide, maybe they would make a safer camp, or take precautions to sleep in a more obvious spot,” White said. “Really, it’s the harassment by the police that’s really a problem for homeless people.”

Author’s Note: The organizations and groups mentioned in this article are just a few within the City of Seattle.


Carolyn Bick is a journalist and photographer based in South Seattle. You can reach them here and here.

Featured image: A pile of 1,000 stones sits on an ofrenda meant to commemorate homeless people who have died in Seattle at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle, Washington, on Nov. 1, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

Durkan Suspends Navigation Team

by Erica C. Barnett 

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


On Wednesday afternoon, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced in a press release that she is suspending the operations of the Navigation Team — which removes encampments and provides outreach and shelter offers to their displaced residents — and pursuing “out of order” layoffs for 70 Seattle Police Department officers, “with the expectation that layoffs cannot be completed by November 1, 2020.”

The City Council’s adopted budget, which Durkan unsuccessfully attempted to veto, calls for a reduction of 100 police positions and the elimination of the Navigation Team. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navigation Team has not been removing encampments in significant numbers.

Continue reading Durkan Suspends Navigation Team