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SDOT West Seattle Bridge Virtual Public Meeting on July 21; Office of Police Accountability Findings on Officers’ Attendance of January 6 Insurrection; Federal Judge Upholds Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing Law; Welcome Back Weeks July 12-26; Virtual Office Hours

SDOT West Seattle Bridge Virtual Public Meeting on July 21

On July 21 SDOT will hold a virtual public meeting on the West Seattle Bridge. Here’s SDOT’s announcement:

On July 21 at 5:30 PM, the West Seattle Bridge Program will hold a virtual public meeting for you to hear more about the work we’re doing to reopen the bridge in mid-2022 and ask your questions.

Members of our team will provide updates about the ongoing repair effort on the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge (high bridge), expanded access on the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge), and our work to improve access to and around West Seattle through the Reconnect West Seattle, Home Zone, and neighborhood travel options programs. We’ll also have plenty of time for you to submit questions, which will be answered live at our meeting by a panel of team members.

How to join the meeting

On Wednesday, July 21 at 5:30 PM, join us in one of two ways: 

  • To join by computer or mobile device | Click this link to launch Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89190663370
  • To join by phone | Dial (253) 215 8782 and then enter the webinar ID: 891 9066 3370.

We’ll provide live captioning in English and interpretation in Spanish, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.

Additional information is available at SDOT’s blog post.

 

Office of Police Accountability Findings on Officers’ Attendance of January 6 Insurrection

Yesterday the Office of Police Accountability released its investigation into six SPD officers who were in Washington, D.C. during the insurrection on January 6th. I released the following statement:

“On January 6 in Washington D.C., an insurrection targeted the US Capitol and our democratic institutions and attempted to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power that is the cornerstone of our democracy. That assault resulted in the death of a Capitol Police officer. Our elected leaders in Congress were in grave danger.

“Upon learning that Seattle police officers were in Washington, D.C. on January 6 attending the rally that preceded the insurrection, I heard very strong concern from numerous constituents.

“The recommendations of the Discipline Committee to terminate two officers for lack of professionalism and violations of law and policy are sound, and a necessary step for public confidence in police accountability and justice.

“Seattle police officers made up the largest known contingent of police attending the January 6 rally, more than any other municipality across the country. Many of my constituents question whether they can trust officers who attended “Stop the Steal” to uphold the mission and principles of SPD’s Code of Ethics. Whether they were “directly involved” in the insurrection, or if they attended with the intent to passively support the unlawful insurrection and violent assault of our nation’s Capitol, neither act is an example of protected free speech nor should our support of free speech shield accountability for these acts.

The SPD Code of Ethics states: ‘“As a Seattle Police employee I am responsible for supporting the mission and principles of the Seattle Police Department.’”  These principles are justice, excellence, humility and harm reduction.  Further, the standards and duties policy states:  ‘“Regardless of duty status, employees may not engage in behavior that undermines public trust in the Department, the officer, or other officers….It is not the Department’s intent to interfere with or constrain the freedoms, privacy, and liberties of employees; discipline will only be imposed where there is a connection between the conduct and the duties, rank, assignment, or responsibilities of the employee.’” (emphasis added)

“The strong ‘objection’ and characterization of the investigation as ‘unlawful and discriminatory’ by the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) in their opposition to OPA’s investigation, seems intended only to unreasonably stall accountability.  Court precedent grants law enforcement agencies more latitude to restrict speech and association, citing their ‘heightened need for order, loyalty, morale and harmony.’

“At the onset of the investigation, I told Director Myerberg that I believed that the investigation should go further than asking the question of what actions SPD employees took while in D.C. on January 12 and should include an inquiry of whether SPD employees traveled to D.C. with knowledge, like so many people did, that there was going to be an attempted insurrection.  According to research from nonpartisan nonprofit Advance Democracy, before January 6 there were calls for violence that proliferated in tens of thousands of comments on posts on Twitter, TikTok, right-wing platform Parler, an online forum formed last year in support of Donald Trump, and other message boards. Since 2006, the FBI has been warning us that extremist groups have strong ties to law enforcement.

“If public employees knowingly travelled to a location in support of people whom they knew were intending to attempt an insurrection, even if their participation was as a passive observer, that is a ‘clear connection between conduct and duties or…responsibilities’ and is an offense that merits termination.  I will review the OPA investigation with an eye towards whether questions were asked of the four officers without sustained findings, and whether evidence was sought, to determine the advance knowledge they had of the planned violent events at the Capitol insurrection of January 6.”

 

Federal Judge Upholds Seattle’s Fair Chance Housing Law

Earlier this week a federal judge upheld the Fair Chance Housing ordinance I sponsored. Below is the press release City Attorney Pete Holmes and I released:

U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour today rejected a challenge to the City’s Fair Chance Housing law, which bars most landlords from denying housing to applicants or taking other actions against tenants because of their criminal history. The City Council adopted the law in 2017 and it has remained in effect during the pendency of the case, which began in 2018.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “A criminal conviction should not be a lifelong sentence to living on the streets. Housing access is core to stabilizing a person’s life, so I’m thankful to the judge for making the sound legal decision today. This case racks another win for the City by Assistant City Attorneys Roger Wynne and Sara O’Connor-Kriss and our outside counsel, Jessica Goldman.”

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park), co-sponsor of the legislation, said, “When Seattle became the first city in the country to pass Fair Chance Housing in 2017, we knew it would change the lives of many who were unfairly rejected as tenants because of a criminal record, despite having served their time, or for others, never convicted in the first place. This policy is more important today than ever.  Policymakers are reimagining the criminal justice system and the public health benefits of being housed during a deadly pandemic are self-evident. Further, blocking people who have fulfilled the terms of their sentencing from accessing housing is a recipe for recidivism.  With housing, a person is seven times less likely to reenter the criminal justice system. I would expect anyone in favor of a safer Seattle to support this decision.”

Herbold added, “Thank you to the City Attorney’s Office, and all those who worked on this case, for successfully defending this policy, which gives so many Seattleites a fair shot at accessing housing.”

The court’s decision today represents yet another loss for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which has recently unsuccessfully challenged Seattle’s Democracy Voucher program and First-in-Time law. In a lawsuit that remains ongoing, PLF faced a setback in January in their case against Seattle’s and Governor Inslee’s eviction moratoria, the City’s three-to-six month overdue rent repayment plan ordinance, and the City’s six-month eviction defense after the current COVID-19 eviction moratorium ends.

The Fair Chance Housing ordinance made it an unfair practice for landlords and tenant screening services to “require, disclosure, inquire about, or take an adverse action against a prospective occupant, a tenant, or a member of their household, based on any arrest record, conviction record, or criminal history,” subject to certain exceptions.

Landlords represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation challenged the ordinance, claiming it violated their constitutional rights to free speech and substantive due process. Judge Coughenour rejected their claims.

Today’s ruling was informed by a State Supreme Court decision that answered Judge Coughenour’s questions about Washington’s substantive due process law. The Supreme Court’s 2019 decision overturned over sixty prior decisions that had hampered Washington governments’ ability to enact and enforce laws for the betterment of their residents.

 

Welcome Back Weeks July 12-26

In partnership with the Downtown Seattle Association, the City recently announced a series of Welcome Back Weeks events in Downtown area neighborhoods from July 12-26.

Welcome Back Weeks are part of the City’s downtown recovery effort, with the goal of bringing workers, small businesses, and visitors back downtown

Welcome Back Weeks will feature promotions across downtown neighborhoods, with large-scale events will take place in the Chinatown-International District, Pioneer Square, and Westlake. Details on all events, including live music, can be found here.

All three large-scale events will include vaccine pop-ups from the Seattle Fire Department, with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer available.

 

Virtual Office Hours

On Friday July 30, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours which will continue as virtual office hours until indicated otherwise. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, August 20, 2021
  • Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Friday, October 29, 2021
  • Friday, December 17, 2021

 

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