Next Week in the Budget
Next week, the City Council will begin the 2022 budget process. The Council’s process begins after the Mayor presents her proposed 2022 budget on Monday, September 27th.
Beginning on September 29, the Council will begin to meet as the Select Budget Committee to hear presentations from the City Budget Office and some departments. This stage of the budget process allows Councilmember and the public to hear from the departments a description of the notable changes proposed in the Mayor’s proposed budget for that particular department.
All Councilmembers are members of the Select Budget Committee. Each day’s meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. and, after a break, reconvene at 2 p.m. All meetings are broadcast live on the Seattle Channel.
Here’s the meeting schedule:
Wednesday September 29th:
- Morning: City Budget Office overview
- Afternoon: Office of Economic Development, Office of Sustainability & Environment, and Department Of Education and Early Learning
Thursday September 30
- Morning: Office of Housing, Human Services Department, Homelessness response
- Afternoon: Community Safety & Community Led Investments, Seattle Police Department
Friday, October 1
- Morning: Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Recreation
- Afternoon: COVID Response and Recovery
Budget Committee meetings have public comment for 30 minutes at the beginning of the morning session.
Public Safety & Human Services Committee Work
I held a special meeting of the Public Safety & Human Services committee today, my last committee meeting before budget season launches and committee work is put on hold.
Taking Pre-Arrest Diversion to Scale: Seattle City Council passed RES 31916 in November 2019, in which we acknowledged the City’s responsibility to reduce unnecessary justice system involvement and declared our commitment to ensuring that law enforcement pre-arrest diversion programs, such as LEAD, receive public funding sufficient to accept all priority referrals citywide by 2023.
Today, representatives from LEAD and the Human Services Department presented on the number of referrals that might be expected, and the funding that would be required to expand pre-arrest diversion to accept those referrals. The analysis was requested by a Statement of Legislative Intent that I sponsored and was adopted unanimously by Council last fall. You can view the presentation here.
LEAD provides community -based care for people who commit law violations related to behavioral health issues or extreme poverty, as an alternative to punitive enforcement -based responses. Ensuring that LEAD has sufficient resources to expand its critical work will be a budget priority for me.
Task Force Recommendations for Realigning the Criminal Legal System (CLS): For the past year, individuals impacted by the criminal legal system have been meeting as a Task Force, convened by the Seattle Office of Civil Rights, to develop recommendations for policy changes to the criminal legal system that will 1) reduce as much harm as possible; and 2) prevent people from ending up in the system to begin with. They presented their recommendations this morning; you can view the presentation, and read the full report, “Centering Impacted Voices.” Here are their key recommendations:
In July, my committee heard a presentation on criminal legal system realignment resulting from the 2019 budget, when Council funded a term-limited position in the Legislative Department to write a strategic plan, and a position at the Office of Civil Rights to coordinate stakeholder engagement around realigning the criminal legal system. That strategic plan, Realigning Seattle’s Criminal Legal System through a Public Health Approach: The intersection between Community wisdom and evidence-based practices, relied on previous rounds of stakeholder engagement to identify “Community Guiding Principles” which served as a foundation for research into theories on the causes of crime as well as best practices and expert recommendations on creating effective alternatives to the traditional criminal legal system. You can view that July presentation here.
Welcome Back to Seattle Public Libraries
The Seattle Public Library has reopened all District 1 libraries and expanded hours. If you’ve been missing your local library during the pandemic, now’s the time to visit in person! Find library hours and locations.
Eviction Moratorium Extension
While Seattle has a high vaccination rate the City and County are in the process of allocating tens of millions in rental assistance – and as reported by the Seattle Times there are roughly 60,000 Seattle-area renters that are behind on rent.
Residential tenants who receive an eviction notice during the moratorium should contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700 or go online to submit a complaint.
You may recall from my blog update in July that we’ve been conducting stakeholder meetings to discuss Working Washington’s PayUp policy proposal (which you can read more about here). This policy proposal covers workers in the “gig economy” that are working on-demand or pre-scheduled jobs that are facilitated by a network company (think: food delivery or someone you might hire via a website to assemble your IKEA furniture). Our stakeholder meetings continued through mid August, and during my September 14 committee meeting we heard another update from Council Central Staff.
The presentation from Central Staff goes over the first, unintroduced bill, and describes the policy decisions we’ve made to-date. The draft covers the first three policy areas: minimum compensation, transparency, and flexibility. I would encourage you to look through the previously linked presentation from Central staff which includes details about the structure of pay, transparency and flexibility.
We have continued the stakeholder process for this unintroduced draft legislation with two additional meetings in September to gather additional feedback. While in budget, beginning September 27, we will pause consideration of this legislation, but will be working with stakeholders and the Office of Labor Standards to ensure policy decisions can be made post-budget.
Other cities are working on similar labor standards for gig workers too. Yesterday, New York City passed legislation requiring their Office of Labor Standards to study and implement rules to establish a minimum pay standard, including transparency for how trips are calculated. Additionally, they passed legislation requiring access to restrooms and allowing gig workers to limit the distance they want to travel as an independent contractor. Bill sponsor Councilperson Carlina Rivera is quoted in this article saying: This package of bills is historic…We’re hoping other cities will look to us for inspirations.” Alex Clardy from my office, whose been staffing this policy development was quoted too, “There’s been a slow federal response to how technology changes work,” Clardy said, adding that local governments “need to trailblaze here.”
Pre-Filing Diversion Racial Equity Toolkit Report for Adults 25 years Old and Older
In the Public Safety and Human Services Committee last week we heard a briefing from the City Attorney’s Office regarding the Pre-Filing Diversion Racial Equity Toolkit Report for Adults 25 years Old and Older.
Since 2017 the City Attorney’s Office has operated a prefiling diversion program for adults aged 18 to 24. Council requested this is a Statement of Legislative Intent adopted with the 2020 budget (sponsored by Council President Gonzalez). Like many things in the City, this has taken additional time due to the impact of the COVID pandemic.
Work on these issues dates back to the establishment in 2015 by the City Council of a Prisoner and Community Corrections Re-Entry Workgroup, which issued its final report in October 2018.
The RET report notes that pre-trail diversion is a type of disposition offered by the City Attorney’s Office. If the person completes community service and has no new criminal law violations, the case is dismissed after a set period of time. For 2019, for the existing program 73% of cases were dismissed through completion; 15% were still open, and 11% were sentenced, after not completing the program. Completion rates for the program in 2017 were 84%, with 9% sentenced.
From 2016 to 2020, 41% of defendants age 25 or older are in the 25-34 age range, while those 55 and over represent 13%.
The report notes significant disparities in defendants:
When comparing the census data to the data collected by Seattle Municipal Court to those identified as Black, represented 7.3% of the population, but accounted for 25% of the defendants and 30% of the cases filed. Additionally, according to the most recent census data, American Indian and Alaskan Native individuals account for 0.5% of the population but are 2% of the defendants.
One of the report recommendations includes better data gathering to include identifying Latinx persons:
Mechanisms to gather racial and demographic data need to include identifying Latinx/Hispanic individuals. Currently, this information is not asked. We have no data on the impact of Seattle’s criminal legal system on the Latinx population.
Recommendations of participants include capturing data when the program is implemented; piloting can be effective; adequate funding from the beginning is important; public awareness of benefits, and informing the community about the program.
We’ll find out what’s included regarding this program in the Mayor’s proposed 2022 budget on Monday.