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My Plans for 2023 / Police Chief Confirmation / Delridge Pedestrian Bridge Retrofit / Mental Health in Cities / Heating Oil Tax Repealed

Contents

Plans for 2023

After 25 years working in the very best branch of municipal government and using my role to lift the voices of those in our City fighting for workers’ rights, tenants’ rights, more funding for affordable housing and life-sustaining services, community-led safety interventions, police reform, progressive revenue, and constituent services for D1 residents, I’m so proud of all that we’ve accomplished together:

List of Herbold Policy Accomplishments 2016-2022
(Non-inclusive of budget actions)

Housing Policy

Workers’ Rights Policy

Pandemic Help

Police Reform Policy

Civil Rights Policy

District 1 Ordinances     

I will not be running for re-election in 2023.  Above my love of public service to the constituents of District 1, I don’t want the Council to lose a progressive voice on the Council.

The 2022 elections last month were good for progressives.  I feel like it’s time to do my part to create an open seat election in District 1.  I believe that an open seat can better drive turnout and deliver District 1 to another progressive.

When a segment of the Seattle left says that they intend to “primary” sitting Council members who are not proposing a 50% cut to SPD’s budget, I am reminded that we cannot repeat the 2021 race for the City Attorney when a very strong and proven progressive didn’t advance to the general, forcing a choice between a carceral system abolitionist and a Republican.  In a similar 2023 scenario, progressives could lose District 1, and a seat on the Council.

On the other side of the political spectrum, I’m not worried about the center right or the Chamber of Commerce or any of the cynical big money Independent Expenditure campaigns in what would be yet another likely very ugly re-election bid if I were to run again.  There was $4,395,075 spent in independent expenditures in the 2019 Council races; I won my re-election by nearly 12%.  Rather, my choice is because I love and honor the work the progressive left has done in Seattle and I don’t want to do anything that makes it less likely for a non-progressive to be elected to represent the great District 1.

I will continue to represent and advocate for District 1 over the next year.  We’ve still got a lot of work to do!

Chief of Police Confirmation in PSHS Committee December 13

The Public Safety and Human Services (PSHS) Committee will hear the appointment of Adrian Diaz as permanent Chief of Police on Tuesday, December 13th. Diaz has served as Interim Chief since September, 2020.

The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m., and will be broadcast live on the Seattle Channel.

In accordance with the Seattle City Charter, the police chief must be confirmed by the City Council. At Tuesday’s meeting, Interim Chief Diaz will be present in person to answer Councilmember questions. The appointment is listed on the agenda for discussion and possible vote. If approved by the committee, the full Council would consider his appointment at its next meeting on January 3.

Mayor Bruce Harrell announced his appointment of interim Chief Diaz to the position in late September, in accordance with the process established by the City Charter. That was too late for the Council to consider the appointment before regular committee meetings were suspended for the Council to review and pass the 2023-2024 budget, as was previously scheduled.

Councilmembers submitted and received answers to written questions from interim Chief Diaz, as is standard with high-level appointments. You can view those answers here.

Delridge Pedestrian Bridge Retrofit

SDOT announced at the Levy Oversight Committee meeting on December 6 that they will be proceeding with a seismic retrofit of the Delridge Pedestrian Bridge adjacent to the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and the Delridge Community Center, and SW Youth and Family Services.

They will advertise for construction in the 4th quarter of next year and identify construction timing in 2024.

SDOT considered pedestrian and vehicle counts, collisions during the previous 3 years within 4 blocks, adjacent uses, and community outreach. 63% of survey respondents wanted the bridge to be retrofitted, and people preferred not wanting to see more changes to the neighborhoods.

Mental Health is Also a Matter for Cities

This was the title of an international mental health conference that I had the privilege of representing Seattle at last week in Nantes, France.  I am heartened that cities all over the world are recognizing that our people are suffering.  I thank the municipal government of Nantes, France for bringing us together to join this call to action, as follows:

300 million people across the world are affected by depression and 1 billion suffer from a mental disorder of some kind. All societies are impacted. Women, men and children in all countries are afflicted, their daily lives seriously undermined. Everywhere, this is an illness that kills: over 700,000 people commit suicide every year. It is even the fourth most common cause of death among young people between 15 and 29 years old.

COVID 19 and forced isolation made the situation even worse. The WHO’s finding is indisputable: during the first year of the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety disorders increased by 25%. What this shows is simple enough: our environment plays a significant role in our wellbeing.

The influence of the environment is clearly acknowledged for diseases that afflict the body. It is of urgent importance that we also assert its responsibility for the ills impacting our mental health.

We are not all equal in the face of such diseases. Major social, economic and societal determinants increase vulnerabilities. Economic situation, level of education, income, work, family and friends, neighbours, colleagues, housing, access to water and sanitary facilities, security, green spaces, sporting activity, existing solidarities in the event of job loss or health problems, presence of art and culture, and citizens’ ability to take action – all these play a clearly identified role not only in wellbeing but also in good or poor mental health. This is evidenced by the high suicide rates among people facing discrimination, such as refugees and migrants, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, as well as among well as among prison inmates.

Nonetheless, in this field, individual responsibility is all too often singled out. Nobody accuses someone who has breathed polluted air all their life of being responsible for their cancer. It makes no more sense to think that someone suffering from depression could simply pull themselves together and get better. Taking care of health doesn’t just mean combating “visible” diseases. Healthcare professionals and the WHO remind us of the fact: health is a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing.

However, the responses provided are still inadequate. On a global scale, the share of national budgets dedicated to mental health only accounts for 2% of overall healthcare budgets. And 70% of these low sums is devoted to psychiatry in middle-income countries. A whole, absolutely essential area of necessary action is neglected: promotion and prevention, along with support to people afflicted with mental disorders.

It is here that cities have a role to play, by make a top priority of combating inequalities and discrimination, by taking action to create an environment supportive of health and prevention. Although the therapeutic approach is indispensable and a fully rounded healthcare system structured by qualified professionals is essential, what we want to do is act upstream, before distress makes its appearance.

Our cities have undertaken a wide range of actions over the last many years, in particular by participating in the health policies implemented in our countries in the context of the WHO’s Global Action Plan for mental health and the Sustainable Development Goals. By making happier cities a priority focus, the Copenhagen Consensus, adopted by many cities in 2019, confirmed these goals.

As community Mayors and Federations, we are resolute in asserting that mental health must play an integral part in the design and implementation of public policies. It is our direct responsibility to create cities that foster good health, mental health included.

In order to do so; we intend to play our part to the full, alongside States and all actors in civil society, citizens, associations, companies, professionals, academics, and non-governmental organizations, all stakeholders in fact.

Hence, by signing this call born of fruitful dialogue that took place in the city of Nantes in France, in the context of a “Cities and Mental Health” international colloquium held on 1 and 2 December 2022, following the 2019 Barcelona Declaration, we undertake to mobilize in order to:

  • We promote societies in which people with mental health problems are no longer excluded or discriminated against. This means combating prejudice and stereotypes in order to break their isolation and prevent their exclusion.
  • It is alongside all those who have or have had mental health problems that we intend to make our action part of a “health democracy” that gives a voice and the power to take back control of their lives to those primarily concerned.
  • We advocate an interdisciplinary approach to mental health and the stepping up of collaboration between all actors involved. This is an essential condition if we are to transform our immediate environments and so lastingly and effectively improve the physical and mental health of all those who live in our cities.
  • We demand that mental health be integrated into primary health care and social offers alike
  • Every urban project designed by urban planners and developers must take account of the determining criterion of mental health.
  • We undertake to integrate mental health into our public policies, for example by encouraging a psychosocial approach to schoolchildren’s health from the earliest possible age, improving everybody’s access to sport and culture, and developing parks, gardens and areas where there is no internet connection.
  • We shall add to the current global momentum by continuing this ongoing dialogue with all actors concerned, via organization of a biannual colloquium held in one of the signatory cities.
  • We call upon all governments to increase resources dedicated to mental health, in particular for children and young people, as well as for all the most vulnerable groups, and to create cooperation contracts with cities in order to develop the necessary policies in close collaboration with local authorities and fully in line with these needs.

In addition to presenting at the Mental Health Conference I also had the privilege of meeting with municipal officials to learn about the Nantes Participatory Budgeting Program, the Nantes Gender Neutral CIty, and the Nantes Cultural District.  Seattle and Nantes have a Sister CIty relationship, or a “twinning” relationship. This exchange would not have been possible without the support of the Seattle Nantes Sister City Association (SNSCA) and Susan Kegel, the SNSCA Board President.  See here for more:  SNSCA | Seattle-Nantes Sister City Association.

Municipal Court to Start Taking Action on Unpaid Spokane Street (low) Bridge Tickets

Last month Publicola reported that as of late October, over half the traffic camera citations for using the Spokane Street (low) Bridge remain unpaid.  89,041 of the 192,432 citations issued during the period restrictions on bridge use were unresolved.

The article quotes Seattle Municipal Court saying that “People with unpaid tickets from 2020-2022 should plan to respond to their tickets by January 30, 2023,” and “People can respond to their tickets by setting up a payment plan, setting up a community service plan if they are low-income, or scheduling a hearing.”

The article further notes “The court also plans to start sending unpaid fines to a collections agency, which tacks on a 15 percent fee on each ticket, as soon as the end of April.”

The 89,041 citations issued during 2021 were 46% of the citywide total camera citations. 41,535 were issued for the low bridge during 2022.

Here’s Seattle Municipal Court’s Traffic Camera Infractions data page. The “Traffic Camera Citations by Location tab includes this data.

Here’s a link to Seattle Municipal Court’s page for paying tickets.

Here is information for low-income persons, and how to apply for payment plans and community service, and other options.

Here is the page for Parking and Traffic Ticket debt reduction hearings for low-income people.

To dispute a ticket, you must request a hearing within 15 days of the date the ticket was issued.

Heating Oil Tax Repealed

In late November, along with adopting the 2023 budget, the Council repealed a tax on heating oil adopted in 2019. Councilmember Morales sponsored the measure during budget discussions.

The Council has delayed implementation of the legislation on three occasions, to avoid any additional financial burden on residents with heating oil during the pandemic, so the legislation had never gone into effect.

The original intent of the tax was to provide funding to assist low-income persons and seniors in decommissioning their heating oil tanks and transitioning to energy-efficient electric hearing pumps.

Instead, the JumpStart payroll tax dedicates funds to this purpose, as recommended by the Green New Deal Oversight Board and the 2023-2024 budget reflects this. Consequently, with this funding source, the tax can be repealed.

When the tax was adopted, the Office of Sustainability and the Environment estimated 16-18% of residential carbon emissions were from oil, accounting for 8-9% of the overall total in Seattle.

City Council Seeking Candidates for Seattle Public Safety Civil Service Commission

The Seattle City Council is now accepting applications to be appointed to the Public Safety Civil Service Commission (PSCSC).

About the PSCSC

The PSCSC is made up of three commissioners. The Mayor and Council each appoint one and the third is elected by eligible City of Seattle employees.

The PSCSC oversees and directs a civil service system for sworn personnel of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and uniformed personnel of the Seattle Fire Department (SFD). The Public Safety Civil Service system governs appointments, promotions, promotional testing, layoffs, recruitment, retention, classifications, removals, and discipline, in certain cases, pursuant to state and local law.

Commissioner duties

PSCSC commissioner duties vary depending on the workload of the commission. The minimum commitment can be as few as eight hours per month but can be greater at times. Commissioner duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Overseeing entrance and promotional examinations for ten ranks within the police and fire department;
  • Hearing and deciding some employee appeals of serious discipline and civil service-related matters with support from the City Attorney’s Office and PSCSC staff;
  • Participating in PSCSC’s monthly meetings; and
  • Supervising the work of the PSCSC’s Executive Director.

Commissioners are also expected to be well-prepared for meetings, be responsive to communications, and participate in trainings. Commissioners will receive a stipend of $200 every two weeks.

Who should apply?

Current and former PSCSC commissioners have been employment and/or labor lawyers, elected or appointed government leaders, human resources professionals, members of the judiciary, and community leaders. This flyer includes more details on the selection criteria.

Applying

Interested applicants should send a letter of interest and CV/resume to PSCSC Executive Director Andrea Scheele at andrea.scheele@seattle.gov.

One Seattle Climate Portal

The Office of Sustainabilty and the Environment (OSE) announced the launch of the One Seattle Climate Portal. Below is information shared by OSE:

The One Seattle Climate Portal is a publicly available map-based website that houses more frequent and granular data indicators of emissions in Seattle’s neighborhoods to allow for better policy and programmatic decision making.

Seattle has typically relied on our biennial communitywide GHG emissions inventory reports to track progress towards our climate reduction goals. However, the data in these reports are annual and city-wide, meaning that they are not a good base from which to make equitable policy and program decisions. To address this, the Green New Deal Executive Order directed OSE and IT to develop more frequent and granular indicators of our climate progress.

Over the past 18 months, OSE worked with both internal and external stakeholders to identify data improvements, gaps, and community needs. The Portal as launched today is a culmination of those efforts, and will improve on the data in our GHG inventories in the following ways:

  • Transportation: trips by mode, VMTs, and emissions estimates are now available by census tract and paired with the City’s Race and Social Equity Index as a base layer.
  • Buildings: emissions from building energy use (gas and electricity) in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors are now available on a quarterly basis and by census tract. This data is also paired with the City’s Race and Social Equity Index as a base layer.

OSE is collaborating on new updates to the portal which aim to incorporate community-led data efforts, as well as ways to spatially track city-led investments like those through the JumpStart funded Green New Deal Opportunity Fund, share climate stories, and track more indicators of a healthy and sustainable city. 

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