1. In a neat scoop yesterday, the PI.com reported that the city council is opposing efforts by the Seattle Police Foundation to give SPD money to preserve the city's $728,000 mounted equestrian unit, which ranked 36th out of 42 police priorities this past year, according to council public safety committee chair Tim Burgess. The PI reports:
“…maintaining the Mounted Unit would be contrary to what the Police Department and Mayor recommended and the Council adopted as part of our budget legislation last fall,” Burgess said in an e-mail last week to Seattle Police Foundation members and others obtained by seattlepi.com. [...]
Burgess says the department needs to prioritize “first response services” and “proactive response services” by police who respond to 911 calls and those on Anti-Crime and other teams.[...]
“When the Police Department is fully staffed and either the original 605 officer threshold or the revised 585 threshold is met, reconstituting the Mounted Unit might be appropriate. In the meantime, my colleagues and I must still make difficult decisions in the face of economic realities, and one of these is to stay the course on our decision to disband the Mounted Unit.”
2. The ACLU argued a major case in the United States Court of Appeals 9th Circuit in Seattle yesterday. The ACLU, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argued that Congress acted inappropriately in 2008 when it granted immunity to telecom companies such as AT&T for doing the government's bidding by conducting surveillance without warrants at the behest of the US attorney general.
In a statement from the ACLU says:
“Under our constitutional system, Congress cannot bar all claims for enforcing federal constitutional rights,” said Harvey Grossman, legal director for the ACLU of Illinois and co-lead counsel for the combined cases challenging the actions of the telecoms. “The courts – not the Congress and the Executive branch–must determine if constitutional rights have been violated. The grant of immunity issued by Congress has blocked our clients’ access to the courts to consider these constitutional claims.” The ACLU also notes that the bill permitting the Attorney General to block these lawsuits empowers action “for his own policy reasons” and contains very few standards.
"Congress ducked its responsibility by giving the Attorney General complete discretion to decide whether the telecoms are immune from our ongoing lawsuits and significantly limited judicial review over that executive decision," said Julia Harumi Mass, staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California. "Our constitutional system of checks and balances is designed to limit concentrations of power in one branch. Allowing this law to stand would encourage big companies to seek similar immunity--under a cloak of secrecy--for conduct that violates consumers' rights or environmental protections in the future."
3. And yet another Democrat is running for US Rep. Jay Inslee's (D-WA, 1) open seat. Unlike the rest of the crowd, local attorney Andrew Hughes is not a state legislator or a former one.
Fizz wouldn't have noticed him in a field that also includes state Sen. Steve Hobbs, state Reps. Roger Goodman and Marko Liias, and former state rep. Laura Ruderman, but Hughes, an SU and UW grad tax attorney who interned for the state senate on the Energy, Transportation, and Telecommunications Committee, reports that he raised $50,000 in the last month.
The records are not yet available at the Federal Elections Commission.
In a statement, Hughes says:
I’m not a politician looking to move up, I’m a citizen looking to move us forward. I am running for Congress because we need an innovative approach to the issues of job creation, tax reform, and the neglect of the middle class. Both Republicans and Democrats have demonstrated a stunning level of incompetence and inefficiency – both in DC and Olympia.
4. In case you missed PubliCola's own news yesterday, we've hired local crime reporter Jonah Spangenthal-Lee. Spangenthal-Lee founded the scoop-heavy local news site SeattleCrime.com in 2009, and he's also worked as an assignment editor at KIRO-TV for the past year.
Before that, Spangenthal-Lee was the cops reporter at the Stranger, where he worked with both Josh and Erica.
Stay tuned for some Morning Fuzz.
5. Is it just us or have both Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell totally stolen Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess' thunder as the public safety guy?
McGinn has picked up Burgess' fight against child prostitution and Harrell, who stole the show at this week's John T. Williams' memorial service with a moving speech, has flanked Burgess from the other side, finding a popular hit for police accountability—body cameras. Harrell flagged the idea again during his star turn at the Williams' ceremony on Tuesday.