News Roundup

Top Stories: Campout at City Hall, Sheriff's Allegations, GOP Tax Bill

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Araz Hachadourian November 3, 2017

Housing for all coalition sweeps city hall nov 1 2017 vhsski

Housing for All Coalition members demand council members to stop the sweeps at city hall on November 1, 2017.

1. Seattle City Council budget chair, Lisa Herbold, included the highly contested employee hours tax in her balanced budget proposal Tuesday. The tax would be $100 per full-time employee a year on big businesses to fund homeless services. As of Tuesday, the legislation had four council members in support, four members—and Mayor Tim Burgess—against, while council president Bruce Harrell is still an unknown.

2. The balanced budget proposal did not include a ban on funding homeless encampment sweeps. Protesters outside of city hall Wednesday night demanded no sweeps and more funding for homeless services. Proponents of the sweeps, including mayor Tim Burgess, say Kshama Sawant’s proposal to stop them would pose health and public safety risks and stop connecting encampment residents to services. 

3. King County Sheriff John Urquhart is facing a criminal investigation into an allegation of sexual assault from a former deputy, and in the past appeared to try to keep it quiet with an unusual settlement. The Seattle Times reported the story less than a week before the general election, leading to many of his former supporters withdrawing their endorsements. "The race for sheriff is important and I expect more from someone who seeks to be the top law enforcement officer in the county," said Lorena Gonzalez, who withdrew her support on Wednesday. 

4.  Republicans in Congress introduced their new tax bill Thursday and among the new provisions is eliminating a sales tax deduction, a move that could impact Washington taxpayers. “This giveaway to the wealthy will hurt millions of Washington state families, and specifically, the Republican elimination of the sales tax deduction will mean billions of dollars will be lost from the pockets of Washington state workers in order to line the pockets of billionaires and big corporations,” Senator Patty Murray said in a statement.

5. A King County Superior Court judge on Friday upheld the city's democracy voucher program after two homeowners sued claiming they were forced to support candidates they don’t like. Judge Beth A ruling was based on the point that the vouchers do not promote any particular view or candidate over another.

6. Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards will soon begin investigating industries where employees are vulnerable to crimes like wage theft. The Stranger reported the Office of Labor Standards typically responds when complaints are filed, but the new type investigation will allow “proactive” investigations for workers who may face recourse if they filed a complaint.

 7. Mayoral and city council position 8 candidates faced off in a debate hosted by Seattle Peoples Party and moderated by Nikkita Oliver. Candidates for city council­—Jon Grant and Teresa Mosqueda—went back on forth on the issue of a head tax (which they both support), housing, and labor rights. Mosqueda accused Grant of changing his position on housing for the Seattle Times editorial board endorsement; Grant cited his experience in the Tenant’s Union.

8. Meanwhile, mayoral candidates Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon address the issue of “distrust” from communities of color. Moon said she is committed to being held accountable and working with the Peoples Party, and Durkan pointed to her own experience working with marginalized communities.

9. Mayor Tim Burgess nominated a new director of the civilian-led Office of Police Accountability. Andrew Myerberg, the nominee, has been serving as interim director of the Office of Police Accountability since July, following Pierce Murphy's leave. The city received 145 applications for the position and interviewed four finalists, according to the mayor's office.

10. King County Council vice chair Rod Dembowski introduced legislation last Thursday to ban solitary confinement in youth prisons. Seattle Weekly reported the new legislation comes following a lawsuit from nonprofit firm Columbia Legal Services filed last week on behalf of teens who have been tried as adults and put in solitary confinement.

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