1. At yesterday's morning city council briefing—where Seattle police chief Kathleen O'Toole updated the council on SPD's efforts to focus police resources where they're needed, improve the transparency of SPD's accountability process, and put body-mounted cameras in action—council member Nick Licata nudged the chief on an SPD budgeting and staffing issue that's rattling city hall. Licata asked O'Toole how long SPD was allowing officers to remain "on loan" to other divisions.
For example, an officer who's technically assigned to patrol duties might actually be doing the duties of a detective or a gang unit officer, and thus be unavailable if SPD wants to reassign him or her to patrol in an area that's seeing an upsurge in street-level crime. The result is that SPD may have fewer officers available to move around to different duties than they appear to have on paper—a problem if, for example, a particular precinct needs more patrol officers because there's a rash of car break-ins in the neighborhood.
In dealing with a recent uptick in crime in the North Precinct, for example, O'Toole said, "I was hopeful that we’d find dozens of people that we could reassign to patrol operations. Unfortunately, a lot of the people on loan are assigned to very important positions that were never permanently assigned, like the gang unit, that we wouldn’t want to disband. ... We are going to do a more comprehensive resource allocation study to determine exactly where the workload is and how front-line detectives and officers should be allocated throughout the city," O'Toole said.
Watch for O'Toole's study to uncover a major budgeting and institutional clusterfuck that's been ignored by SPD top brass for years.
A major budgeting and institutional clusterfuck that's been ignored by SPD top brass for years.
2. Another moment from yesterday's discussion that's worth pausing on: Council member Sally Bagshaw—who does not head up the public safety committee (it's chaired by Bruce Harrell) asked several pointed questions about the "perception" that downtown Seattle is unsafe.
Bagshaw's queries prompted Tom Rasmussen to ask rather sharply, "Why is this your bailiwick?" Bagshaw, a resident of downtown, will have to run for reelection in her new council district next year, which made Fizz wonder whether her interest in downtown crime might be related to her election prospects.
Rasmussen downplayed the incident later in the day, telling Fizz: "Council member Bagshaw has always been keenly in issues relating to downtown—she lives downtown, it’s her neighborhood, and even before district elections were approved she’s focused on downtown."
Bagshaw has not returned a call from Fizz for comment. However, in yesterday's meeting, she responded to Rasmussen crisply: "It's mine, because I'm on the [public safety] committee."
3. Speaking of upcoming elections (and maybe Mayor Ed Murray's preoccupation with his labor left flank), Murray's pollster EMC is out in the field with a hyper-focused poll right now.
After asking what voters think of each council member, the poll then obsessively zooms in on wage and labor issues, asking how important wage theft and stronger enforcement is, asking about Seattle's paid sick leave law, and surveying options for penalizing derelict businesses (including criminal prosecution of businesses with continued violations).
The poll also asks this: Do you agree with the mayor that funding for a labor office should be phased in or do you agree with unions and community-based organizations that it should funded ASAP—and at a higher level?
4. Speaking of Murray's left flank, socialist Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant is calling on her supporters to attend tonight's city council budget committee hearing at the Garfield Community Center (at 23rd and Cherry in the Central District) to protest the mayor's budget proposal for not increasing city workers' wages, potential human service cuts, and for failing to address the gender pay gap.
5. Murray and Sawant both get some love from the left, though, in a new book just self-published by Working Washington, the labor-backed group that helped power the $15 minimum wage movement with renegade fast-food worker strikes.
But really, after a history-lesson intro that gives warm shoutouts to Murray and Sawant, the classy (pun intended) volume, Fifteen Stories: How Workers Struck Poverty and Won $15 for Seattle, highlights the workers themselves, giving the mike to 15 men and women who worked gigs at places like Target, Dominoes, McDonalds, IHOP, and Burger King, letting them tell their real life stories—"the first thing I would do if I got $15 an hour—I'd get four tickets to Lady Gaga! Then I'd pay off my credit cards. In that order"—about joining the movement and about "How Seattle workers made history."
6. And speaking of Lady Gaga. We can't help but continue to hype Key Arena's success, a total burn on conventional wisdom that it was an archaic venue. (And an affront to rosy conventional wisdom about the corporate NBA and misguided single-use district urban planning!)
2014's lineup included: Justin Timberlake, Paul Simon, Lady Gaga, Elton John, the Black Keys, Usher, and coming up: Stevie Wonder.