This morning, Mayor Mike McGinn proposed a new, $125,000 "domestic violence response center" that sounded an awful lot like the "family justice center" his opponent, state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill), has been touting at every campaign appearance.
The center would is part of McGinn's upcoming 2014 budget proposal; additional funding for a new domestic violence coordinator in the city's human services department and more money for housing for DV victims would bring the total new funding for domestic violence services to $438,000.
Although McGinn said his office had been working on the proposal to build a domestic violence response center since January, this was the first time he has mentioned it explicitly. McGinn said he was not using the term "family justice center"—that is, Murray's term—because the services will be available to victims "whether or not they are in the criminal justice system."
Murray's campaign consultant, Sandeep Kaushik, said McGinn was "playing catch-up and copycat" with today's proposal. "We made it a priority in our human services plan from the beginning."
"Every day is Christmas Day when Mike McGinn is running for mayor, with this hypothetical budget," Kaushik added.
Shortly after taking office, McGinn eliminated the domestic violence and sexual assault division of the city's human services department and fired the division director. He also proposed eliminating two domestic violence victims' advocates from the Seattle Police Department (the city council restored both positions). Since 2009, domestic violence reports in the city have increased 60 percent.
At this morning's press conference, McGinn dismissed questions about the elimination of the domestic violence division, saying, "we did make administrative adjustments" to save money during the recession but that "all of the programs remained that were previously in place, and all the funding for those programs remained as well."
Murray's campaign issued a preemptive press release: "The reality of the last four years is that the mayor's record on domestic violence is a dismal failure, with domestic violence cases in the city surging 60 percent as the mayor dismantled the city's Office of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention -- even deriding opponents of the move as 'defenders of the status quo,'" Kaushik said in a press release this morning.