Top Stories of the Week: Seattle's Budget, Purdue Pharma Lawsuit, and Mayoral Candidates' Proposals
1. New mayor Tim Burgess signed an executive order Wednesday creating a civilian-run internal office to oversee off-duty work of police officers. The order follows an FBI investigation into cops (and the Seattle Police Officers Guild) allegedly involved in intimidation and price-fixing while working secondary jobs. Kevin Stuckey, president of SPOG, criticized Mayor Burgess for issuing an executive order instead of negotiating with police unions.
2. Burgess also released the 2018 budget proposal which sets aside another $500,000 for sexual abuse survivors following the child rape allegations against former mayor Ed Murray. The budget also details spending plans from Seattle’s new soda tax”— revenues will go toward helping struggling families have more access to fresh food and education. The city is also still trying to address a $13.4 million cost overrun on litigation.
3. Last week, city council president Bruce Harrell announced he would open applications for the council seat Mayor Burgess left vacant. The original plan included two community forums that would be optional for both council members and applicants. On Monday, council members changed that to require applicants attend at least one of the forums. The deadline to apply for the council vacancy is October 1, and the first forum will be at 5:30pm on Tuesday, October 3. Council members are slated to choose an applicant by October 6.
4. State attorney general Bob Ferguson and Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes each filed separate lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies over their role in the current opioid epidemic on Thursday. The lawsuits accuse the companies of excessive marketing and illegal conduct contributing to over-prescription and addiction. Purdue Pharma— the subject of the state’s suit and one of the defendants in the city’s— said it would seek dismissal. A federal judge denied a request for dismissal in a similar suit filed by the city of Everett on Tuesday.
5. The Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled partly in favor of Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) in its lawsuit against King County, putting the future of its youth detention center (which is already being constructed) in limbo. Judges ruled that the county improperly calculated the tax revenues used in the project—and it's unclear as to whether that'll be applied retroactively or moving forward, and what financial consequences that entails. The county is appealing the decision to the Supreme Court.
6. Tuesday also marked the beginning of Ferguson’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump's decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Washington is a co-leader on the suit as well as New York and Massachusetts. With no new bill in place to replace DACA, the repeal could jeopardize the 18,000 DREAMers that live in Washington.
7. After the Republican-led Obamacare repeal bill Graham-Cassidy failed to gather votes Tuesday, senators turned their attention to tax legislation. One of the new GOP tax-reform plan's most notable components is a tax break for businesses and corporations. Washington state senator Patty Murray took to Twitter to condemn the plan as “tax breaks for the wealthy,” and to throw some shade:
Good to see Republicans are learning from their mistakes. pic.twitter.com/RS4Hp0mXzg— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) September 27, 2017
8. Senator Murray is relaunching her efforts to reach a bipartisan solution on the healthcare debate. Prior to Graham-Cassidy, Murray worked alongside Rep. senator Lamar Alexander to conducting hearings on the best ways to work across the aisle and stabilize health insurance markets while a long-term healthcare solution is in the works. Alexander abandoned the effort to support Republican's repeal effort but King 5 reports he is now back to the negotiating table alongside Murray.
9. Seattle mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan released her small business agenda this week. Her plans include tax exemptions for startups, establishing a small business council and liason between business owners and the mayor, as well as increasing contracts with women and minority-owned businesses.
10. Cary Moon also released to her plans for Seattle’s transportation system. Moon plans to increase bike and pedestrian safety by lowering speed limits and creating a more robust bike network. She also hopes to increase public transportation access by speeding up Sound Transit 3 development—loaning money upfront through the city's bonding capacity—improving public education on biking, and providing school students with free Orca cards (which was a proposal by mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver, who didn't make it through the primary). Moon didn't have cost estimates for her plans, though, and didn't say specifically where in the budget that money would come from.
11. The Seahawks made headlines on Sunday for opting to stay in the locker room during the national anthem in a Tennessee game against the Titans. The Seattle team's response was two days after Trump in a speech said players should be "fired" for disrespecting the flag. Last year Colin Kaepernick began to kneel during the national anthem in response to police killings of black people.
Updated 8pm on September 29, 2017, to include the lawsuit against the King County youth detention center.