News Roundup

Top Stories of the Week: City Council Appointment, ICE Arrests, Birth Control Rollbacks

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Araz Hachadourian October 6, 2017


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Photo by Accozzaglia / Flickr

1. Seattle council members voted for Kirsten Harris-Talley as the new temporary council member. Harris-Talley, program director for Progress Alliance of Washington and an activist in the Block the Bunker movement, will be filling Tim Burgess's empty seat after he became mayor—a major victory for the Transparent Seattle coalition members who lobbied for the public to be allowed to apply and had Harris-Talley as their first choice. She will fill the council role until November 28, when election results get certified, but would have a voice in the 2018 budget process during that time. 

2. Mayoral candidate Cary Moon announced the first four members of her transition team and assured city employees she would not begin her term with mass firings as previous mayors have done, The Stranger reported. Moon stated in a letter to city employees that she would meet with department heads to discuss their experience and resumes “to gain a better understanding of the experience and perspective they each bring to their jobs, and what they need to be successful.” With a large number of voters still undecided, both candidates have released more detailed policy proposals over the last few weeks.

3. Seattle council members unanimously passed legislation that would upzone Lower Queen Anne. The new law would allow taller buildings (between 40 and 160 feet, depending on location) and require developers to include affordable housing units or face fees. The council also passed a bill to reform the city's design review process for new developments based on square footage, not units, and include more community outreach by developers.

4. Following the Las Vegas shooting, gun violence has resurfaced as a contentious topic for elections. Both Republican and Democratic candidates for the 45th Legislative District, a race that will determine which party controls the Senate, have said they favor stricter gun control laws. The Seattle Times reports candidate Manka Dhingra says she supports the gun control bills the Democratic party has introduced to Congress this year (all of which were stalled), while Republican candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund says she would support more extensive background checks and better mental health care.

5. Two defamation lawsuits filed against council member Kshama Sawant could end up costing the city close to $300,000 in litigation costs, The Seattle Times reported. Carl Haglund—a landlord who Sawant has referred to as a “slumlord”—is suing both Sawant and the city for her remarks. The second suit, brought by two police officers, claims Sawant falsely accused them of committing a “brutal murder.” Council president Bruce Harrell is expected to make a decision on whether the city will defend her in the next week.

6. The city attorney’s office has asked a U.S. district judge to declare Seattle fully compliant with the 2012 Department of Justice Demands on police reform and use of excessive force. A report from a court-appointed monitor said the city had made great progress and met all of the 10 assessments but was not yet compliant because of some unfinished business with police unions and the June shooting of Charleena Lyles

7. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrested over 400 people in the U.S. last week as part of the nationwide operation “Safe City.” An ICE spokesperson said arrests were targeted at cities that have declared they would not cooperate with ICE including Los Angeles, Baltimore, Denver, and New York. However, ICE issued a number of retractions and corrections following the arrests. The Seattle Weekly reported officials originally claimed to have arrested 33 people in Portland, and later corrected their statement to 33 arrests in Seattle, before revealing there was only one arrest in Seattle, 25 across Washington, and seven in Oregon.

8. President Donald Trump rolled back Affordable Care Act regulations to make it possible for more employers to opt-out of covering birth control for their employees for “religious or moral” reasons. Washington senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell condemned the decision as an attack on women.

9. The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three physicists who developed a laser at the Hanford nuclear reservation site in Eastern Washington and a sister observatory in Louisiana. The physicists are professors at the California Institute of Technology and MIT and used the laser to detect gravitational waves, or wrinkles in space-time.

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