Morning Fizz

Statement of Legislative Intent

By Morning Fizz February 25, 2011

1. Every year, the city council passes a series of so-called Statements of Legislative Intent (SLIs)---essentially, nonbinding instructions to city departments that nonetheless put the mayor on notice that his departments will have to take certain actions if he wants the city council's support.

The number of SLIs tends to be inversely proportional to the amount of money the council has to spend---in other words, during years like this one (when the city has no money), the number of SLIs tends to increase.

This year, the council came up with 45 SLIs; by way of comparison, in 2007, before the great recession started, there were just 16.

Some of this year's council legislative directives are:

• A request for a written report about the Seattle Police Department's trial use of body-mounted cameras, which are intended to provide a record of police conduct, and that the city pursue federal grant money to pursue the pilot program;

• A request for a report on ways the city could reduce the size of its 4,000-vehicle fleet;

• A directive that the city's municipal court explain any discrepancies between the amount of fines it should have collected for parking tickets and the amount it actually collected---a clear response to the recent revelation that municipal court magistrates and judges were reducing fines to the tune of millions of dollars;

• A request that the mayor do an evaluation of the city's shelter services, focusing on ways the city could improve shelter services for underserved people like victims of domestic violence, people with mental illness or addiction, and the chronically homeless;

• A demand for a written report from the city's Human Services Department on the availability of housing for domestic-violence victims, exploring ways housing for those victims could be expanded;

• A request for recommendations for paid parking in five to ten city parks;

• A directive that the city expand the role for victims' advocates in the police department---an obvious response to Mayor Mike McGinn, who proposed eliminating two victim advocates during his budget proposal last year.

• A request that the city study the potential impacts of the recently adopted "scofflaw" law, which allows the city to boot and impound cars whose owners have four or more unpaid parking tickets, to make sure it doesn't unfairly impact poor people and people with disabilities (the law requires scofflaw drivers to remove the heavy boot themselves).

• A stipulation that, in replacing the public-access TV service currently provided by Seattle Community Access Network (whose current contract is going up for a public bid), the city's IT department try to serve existing SCAN viewers and producers, including communities of color and low-income communities;

2. The Seattle Times details the state auditor's investigation into a "rogue" contracting program at Seattle Public Schools that's being accused of securing questionable contracts, overbilling, and intimidating critics. The program—with $1.8 million in questionable bills—was set up to get minority-owned, women-owned, and small businesses into the contracting loop at the school district.

The manager of the program, Silas Potter, is also being accused of diverting funds to a private offshoot of the program.

The Times also talks to some of the prominent contractors—former state Democratic Party Chair Charles Rolland and former Urban League head James Kelley—who are caught up in the scandal becaues the services they provided are being questioned.
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