Last Week in Politics

Top 10 Stories: Sexual Assault Accusations, Licton Springs, and Durkan's Budget

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Anne Dennon October 2, 2018


Image: WSDOT

1. One of Seattle’s controversial tiny house villages will close in early 2019. That’s when the two-year permit for the Licton Springs encampment expires, and city officials announced that they are not planning on renewing the permit or relocating the village. Licton Springs was the first of Seattle's sanctioned villages to allow residents to use alcohol or drugs.

2. Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan proposed a $5.9 billion budget that focuses on transit and safety. Durkan’s first budget as mayor adds an additional $300 million over last year’s, but funnels only an additional $3 million to homelessness efforts—a far cry from the $48 million a year anticipated from the failed head tax. The city’s budget office director Ben Noble doesn't anticipate a decrease in revenues, though economic forecasters are anticipating an economic slowdown in Seattle. The Seattle City Council votes on the budget November 6.

3. State representative Matt Manweller announced he will continue to run for re-election, but will step down if elected, the Yakima Herald reported. This comes after 10 years of investigations by Central Washington University, where Manweller was employed, and coverage of Manweller’s alleged misconduct with female students. Manweller’s post-election resignation would ensure a Republican takes his seat—a strategy his Democratic opponent Sylvia Hammond believes undermines the voting process. 

4. A UW Medicine professor has become involved in the sexual misconduct allegations over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, her classmate at Yale. The Washington Post contacted Dr. Elizabeth Swisher as a former roommate of accuser Deborah Ramirez. Swisher said she felt compelled to correct Kavanaugh’s self-depiction as a moderate drinker who never lost memory of his actions. “Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him,” Swisher told the Washington Post

5. A Seattle woman accused state senator Joe Fain of raping her in 2007. With the Kavanaugh hearing in full swing Thursday, Candace Faber revealed on Twitter the name that her previous tweets and Medium post withheld. “@senatorfain, you raped me the night I graduated from Georgetown,” she wrote.

In a subsequent Medium essay, Faber said she was inspired to come forward by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. She first spoke in detail about the alleged sexual assault to KUOW. Fain denied the accusation in a text message to The Seattle Times but added, “Any allegation of this serious nature deserves to be heard and investigated for all parties involved.”

6. The Seattle Municipal Court signed an order reversing convictions and charges for marijuana possession between 1996 and 2010, The Seattle Times reported. Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes filed a motion in April asking the court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges around pot possession prior to statewide legalization, citing the unfair hindrance of a legal record for a now-legal substance. The motion discloses the racial demographics of prosecuted individuals and notes the disproportionate impact on the African American community.

7. King County Superior Court judge Timothy Bradshaw ordered Seattle to release internal records of the decision to repeal the head tax before Friday. The order comes out of a lawsuit brought against the city that alleges officials secretly decided to repeal the tax before the public vote. The Seattle Times shared text messages from Durkan and council member Lorena González, part of the internal records, discussing the repeal.

8. Bail practices in Washington state courts institute a “two-tiered’ criminal justice system” —one for the rich and one for the poor, Seattle Weekly reported. Money bail as a criminal justice system mechanism intends to keep defendants both from skipping court and committing further crimes. But Anita Khandelwal, interim director of the King County Department of Public Defense, calls the practice “innately flawed.” The majority of inmates in Washington county jails that keep data haven’t even been convicted of a crime. They just can’t make bail.

9. Garfield High School teachers staged a work stoppage Friday in response to "staffing adjustments," The Stranger reported. The school district overestimated student numbers and, since state funding hinges on actual enrollment count, the district's budget has shrunk—by $7.5 million. Teacher layoffs and relocations have incensed staff, parents, and students who point to the short notice and the shake-up to schools in just their third week of classes. 

10. Governor Jay Inslee signed a directive to actively combat hepatitis C (HCV) in the state, The Seattle Times reportedThe directive unites the efforts of state and local government agencies, tribal governments, and other local officials to eradicate the curable disease by 2030.

HCV's rise is partly linked to the opioid epidemic, and poses particular threat to members of already at-risk populations, who may carry the virus without knowing it. One key element of the directive: a plan to drive down costs for the five drugs currently on the market capable of curing HCV.  

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