Tag Archives: Seattle

Seattle Mayor: We need more tent cities

lauren bacall

KOMO: Mayor Ed Murray says there’s been a recent spike in the number of illegal homeless encampments in Seattle, and he wants additional “tent cities” approved to help address the issue.

A press release from the Mayor’s office states that the mayor will send proposed legislation to the City Council next month “to make a limited number of unused, vacant lots on private and public land” available for encampments. The areas included are not in residential neighborhoods or parks.

A task force Murray convened in October recommended that Seattle make it easier for tent cities to operate with oversight and legal services. “In recent months, more illegal encampments have popped up on our streets and sidewalks than ever before and the need for alternative spaces has grown immensely,” the mayor wrote in a letter to the task force last week.

Encampments have stirred controversy around Seattle, with politicians and advocates disagreeing about whether they save people from the streets or siphon resources away from safer, cleaner, more permanent options.

A handful of authorized encampments and many more unauthorized ones already exist in Seattle. Religious institutions are allowed to host tent cities with few restrictions, but encampments are allowed elsewhere only under temporary-use permits. The city funds 1,724 shelter beds in Seattle. An annual count of homeless residents in January found 3,123 people living on the streets of the city and King County.

Murray did not say how many lots should be opened, and his press secretary, Jason Kelly, declined to give a number. The task force called for seven.

Last year, a bill sponsored by Councilman Nick Licata would have allowed tent cities for up to a year on nonreligious properties in industrial and commercial zones. The council voted against it.

Seattle mayor Ed Murray

Seattle mayor Ed Murray

Murray said his proposed legislation will build off Licata’s. It calls for organizations operating the encampments to collect data about their clients; city money should only go to organizations that comply, he said. The mayor also said he would push for 150 additional shelter beds by early 2015, including at least 15 reserved for youth.

Murray balked at the task force’s proposal that some community centers be used to provide shelter, saying the centers must continue to focus on services for seniors and children, such as the city’s new preschool program.

The council last month set aside $200,000 in the city’s 2015 budget to help carry out the task force’s recommendations and $100,000 to support encampments.

Murray wrote that he has a separate advisory group working on long-term solutions to the city’s affordable-housing crisis.

Maybe Murray should set up a separate advisory group and task force to evaluate policies that lead to homelessness? He just might find a common thread.


Seattle City Council Member: Free abortions an issue of “racial and economic justice”

Author/city council member Harrell

Author/city council member Harrell

The Stranger: Over 41 years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that every woman has a constitutionally protected right to make her own personal medical decisions about when and if to become a mother. For almost as long—nearly 38 years—the Hyde Amendment has undermined Roe v. Wade by barring public funds from covering abortion care, effectively cutting off access for most women enrolled in public government insurance. Many of those most affected are low-income women, women of color, and immigrant women, who already face significant challenges to accessing safe, respectful, timely health care. This isn’t just a matter of reproductive freedom—it’s an issue of racial and economic justice.

Though the Hyde Amendment frames reproductive healthcare as a political bargaining chip, it is in fact a vital part of women’s health care overall. In a country where 99 percent of women who have had sexual intercourse use or have used birth control, and 1 in 3 will seek abortion care at some point during their lives, safeguarding access to these health care services is crucial to every woman’s safety and well-being, and a requirement for building a society in which all people are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their income.

This is why we are proposing a resolution to the Seattle City Council today, Monday, September 8, calling upon President Obama and Congress to overturn all federal bans on public coverage of abortion, and to improve access to public and private insurance coverage for the full spectrum of reproductive health care options.

If we pass this resolution, Seattle will become the first jurisdiction in the Northwest—and the sixth nationally—to declare its support for overturning the Hyde Amendment and restoring access to reproductive health care for every woman, regardless of her income or what kind of insurance she has.

The timing is critical. There were 205 abortion restrictions passed nationwide from 2011-2013, including state bans on public and even private insurance covering abortion. As women’s reproductive rights are deliberately and strategically eroded in other states, passing the resolution shows that the Hyde Amendment and attacks on women’s health do not reflect Seattle’s values.

As a state that values reproductive justice, we cannot afford to stand still. Passing a resolution against the Hyde Amendment is a reasonable, proactive step we can take as a community to reject laws that come between women and the healthcare they need, and to build momentum until all women across the country can meaningfully exercise their rights. Thirty-eight years is too long to wait for health care.

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Seattle tax dollars at work: New protected bike lane in downtown

How the City sold it: “This new facility will more safely connect Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square for people biking. Protected bike lanes are especially attractive to people who might be willing to bicycle but are concerned about safety. The City Council prioritized the design and implementation of a safe network in Center City for people of all ages and abilities. The bike signals will let cyclists know when to move and the left turn signals for eastbound streets will alert drivers when they can safely move through the intersection. This could be a game changing project to help Seattle better understand how to build and operate great protected bike lanes. Reduce conflicts of left turning vehicles and people biking and walking.

Watch this video and: 1) note how many cyclists are using the bike lane and 2) see if you can decipher the traffic lights on the left hand side.

The report on the day the bike lane opened: New, protected bicycle lanes opened through Downtown Seattle on Monday, realizing a long-awaited goal for cyclists who previously had to endure a dangerous route.  They opened Monday morning, providing a separation from traffic for cyclists going both directions between Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square.

The Seattle Department of Transportation said that for the next couple of days it will have ambassadors wearing vests out on the street helping people understand how the bike lanes work.

At Second and University, flowers and mementos still stand in honor of bicyclist Sher Kung.   The 31-year-old attorney and new mother was killed more than a week ago when she was struck when a truck turned into her, less than two weeks before the new bike lanes opened.

Cyclists say it’s about time the new, improved lanes are installed. “I think it’s long overdue. People have gotten killed. I bike this street all the time and it’s one of the most dangerous streets in the city and it’s because cars have to go around in front of you. It’s terrible.  So yes, it absolutely has to happen,” said bicyclist Jan Campbell.

On the first day, KIRO 7 found considerable confusion among drivers using the new left turn laneParking is allowed in parts of the turn lane during the day, resulting in drivers trying to turn unknowingly backing up behind empty, parked cars. “I think it’s ridiculous. I couldn’t even imagine that, so I’m sitting behind parked cars,” said driver Harvey Rosene, when KIRO 7 alerted him to the parked cars in front.

We also noticed drivers and cyclists running red lights on the first day. The new system includes separate lights for cyclists, drivers going straight and those turning.

An SDOT spokesman said a period of adjustment is always to be expected with a new traffic configuration. He said traffic engineers would watch how the revamped street is working and, if necessary, make changes.

Total cost? $1.2 to $1.5 million and is being paid for using Bicycle Master Plan Implementation funds. The estimate includes design, outreach, infrastructure, construction and contingency funds.

Good job Seattle!


Seattle City Council to consider Columbus Day name change


KOMO: The Seattle City Council will consider changing the name of Columbus Day after a resolution initiated by tribal community members.

The federal holiday should be recognized in Seattle as “Indigenous Peoples Day” according to the Seattle Human Rights Commission.

“This move would put the City in good company with Minneapolis, which took similar action in April, and other cities such as Berkeley that have already made the change,” the Human Rights Commission said in a news release Thursday.

For the second year, Matt Remele is calling on the Seattle City Council to rename the holiday. “It’s just an ongoing fight and struggle, and I’m just continuing on in that legacy,” Remele said.

Seattle City Council members Bruce Harrell and Kashama Sawant are co-sponsoring the measure.

For Remele, a Lakota tribal member, Columbus Day represents what he calls mass killing and genocide by Christopher Columbus. He also says the purpose of the resolution is to celebrate the thriving indigenous cultures, honor their history, and educate students.

We can’t change the course of history to what has happened in the past, but we can change the future and move forward together,” Remele said.

The council will vote September 2 at Seattle City Hall. The observation of Columbus Day dates from a proclamation by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892. It became a federal holiday in 1937.


Seattle City Council approves historic $15 minimum wage


Seattle Times: The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a $15 minimum wage Monday, giving its lowest-paid workers a path over the next seven years to the nation’s highest hourly pay.

The outcome was not in doubt as a progressive mayor and City Council throughout the spring vowed to address the national trend of rising income inequality and a city that has become increasingly unaffordable for many of its residents.

But amid the celebration outside City Hall after the vote, cautionary notes also were sounded about Seattle’s leap into the unknown.

“No city or state has gone this far. We go into uncharted territory,” said Seattle City Council member Sally Clark before the council agreed to give workers a 61 percent wage increase over what is already the country’s highest state minimum wage.

Within minutes of the vote, an organization representing national franchises vowed to sue over the law’s treatment of them as large businesses.

And 15 Now activists, who are collecting signatures for a charter amendment that would speed up the phase-in to three years, said they haven’t yet decided whether to go forward with the measure for the November ballot.

A standing-room-only crowd made up largely of fast-food workers, union activists and 15 Now volunteers cheered the council’s vote.

“We did this. Workers did this. Today’s first victory for 15 will inspire people all over the nation,” said Councilmember Kshama Sawant, whose election in November on a $15-an-hour minimum platform helped galvanize the Seattle effort.

Mayor Ed Murray praised the vote as a bold step to address what he called more than three decades of economic policy that resulted in a dismantling of the middle class. “Today we have taken action that will serve as a model for the rest of the nation to follow,” he said.

Council members acknowledged it would take more than a gradual pay increase to make the city more affordable.

Both business and labor representatives who worked on the compromise plan said they would continue to lobby for strong education and enforcement of the higher wages that take effect in April.

Some fast-food workers, whose walkouts a year ago launched the campaign to win workers’ higher pay, cried after the vote. Brittany Phelps, who makes $9.50 an hour at a Seattle McDonald’s, brought her 5-year-old daughter to the council hearing to witness the historic vote. “I’m really happy. This means a lot,” said Phelps, brushing tears from her eyes.

Ubah Aden, a Somali immigrant who works as a home-health-care worker earning $10.95 an hour, also celebrated passage of the ordinance. “A lot of people thought, ‘Oh no, it’s not going to happen.’ It’s happening,” she said.

But the same activists jeered and chanted “Shame!” as the City Council voted down several amendments introduced by Sawant to make the final measure more worker-friendly.

As she did Thursday when the bill was voted out of committee, Sawant attempted to remove provisions that create a training wage for teenagers and disabled workers, that allow tips and health-care benefits to be counted for up to 11 years, and to move the start date from January to April.

After her efforts failed, Sawant denounced her council colleagues as corporate representatives posing as the progressive alternative to the Republican Party, and gave parts of the same speech she made Thursday after the bill passed out of committee.

But even as labor activists began celebrating, the International Franchise Association announced plans to sue Seattle to overturn the ordinance.

Steve Caldeira, the association’s president and chief executive officer, said it unfairly counts local franchise owners as large employers because of their ties to national or global chains and gives them only three years to phase in the increase, while many of their nonfranchise competitors have seven years.

In all, 600 franchisees employ 19,000 workers at 1,700 establishments in Seattle, he said.

“These are independently owned small businesses who have their own skin in the game. They’ve either invested their life savings or taken out loans, or maybe done both, to take a shot at the American dream,” he said in an interview at City Hall.

“We intend to aggressively sue the city of Seattle for what we believe to be an extremely unfair and discriminatory policy against those hardworking, jobs-creating small-business owners.”

Local franchisee David Jones, who owns two Subway stores in Seattle, puts his cost of a $15 minimum at $125,000 annually. He pays the stores’ 18 employees $10.50 an hour, on average; he figures he’ll have to raise sandwich prices by a dollar or more to maintain profits.

“I’m going to increase prices and work hard to provide the best service possible so that I don’t lose sales,” he said, noting that his nonfranchise competitors will have four more years to phase in the increase. “The playing field is not even.”

Murray and representatives of SEIU Local 775 said their legal research showed that franchises can be treated as part of the corporations that license them.

“We never expected the lawyers from McDonald’s to agree with us,” said David Rolf, president of SEIU, one of the unions that backed the fast-food workers strike and helped pass a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac.

Some small-business owners praised the city’s move toward a $15 minimum wage. Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of Molly Moon’s ice cream, said the mandate will drive up her labor costs by $100,000 a year, but she expects to benefit from workers with more money to spend locally.

“A hundred thousand people next year will have more money in their pockets,” she said, referring to the estimated number of workers who now make less than $15. “They’ll have more money to buy ice cream.”

Neitzel has about 80 employees at six stores in Seattle. Last fall, she raised pay for her non-tipped employees to $15 from between $11 and $13.50.

She said another probable benefit from the higher minimum wage is reduced employee turnover. “They’re so appreciative of the raise,” she said of her non-tipped employees. “Retention is great, and their quality of life has increased.”

David Watkins, general manager at the Inn at the Market in downtown Seattle, said his 50-employee hotel will begin paying a $10 minimum next April, as required under the plan, and work toward $15 by 2021.

“I’m glad it’s not $15 Now on Jan. 1. I’m glad it’s phased in. There are some good compromises,” said Watkins, who also is president of the Seattle Hotel Association and a member of Murray’s advisory committee. “We as an industry will have to learn to adjust.”

He said prices will go up in the face of higher labor costs, but no layoffs are planned at his hotel. “We don’t want to sacrifice service for labor costs,” he said.

Under the $15 minimum-wage ordinance, minimum-wage workers will get raises starting April 1, the date set by the council.

Employees of businesses with more than 500 workers will start at $11 and reach $15 in 2017. Large businesses that provide health care will have an additional year.

Businesses with fewer than 500 will be required to pay $15 in 2019. Small businesses that claim a credit for tips and benefits will reach $15 an hour in 2021. The wages increase each year under all plans.

By 2025, according to city projections, all workers will be earning a minimum wage of $18.13 an hour, nearly double the state’s current $9.32 an hour.

Kaylee Bond, 19, who works at a Seattle Subway store, said that earning more than her current $9.32 minimum will mean she can save for a car and move to a better apartment.

“On one hand, it could mean inflation,” Bond said. “At the same time though, people would have more money to spend more. “It could be better for the economy,” she said.


50 Things We Don’t Do Any More.

January 28, 2013 by 

50 Things We Don’t Do Anymore Due to Technology

A study conducted by Mozy last year found that technology is replacing many of the tasks that have been mainstays in our lives for years. When you consider the telecom industry, for example, when was the last time you looked something up in a phone book? Or used a phone book? Sure, they have 50 listings for party clowns for your 8-year-old’s birthday party, but isn’t it just faster to search online? Have you or your children ever called to hear “At the sound of the tone, the time will be 4:13 PM”? Technology is making life easier, faster, more accurate, and more personal. Take a stroll down memory lane with us and review 50 of the things we don’t do (or maybe have never done) thanks to technology.

50-Things-Technology-Has-Taken-Over-4 (1)

Try link if pic’s are not clear enough.



Crime pays for perpetual Seattle criminal?

Man who got $42K for SPD kick is arrested in shooting case

Seattle Times: D’Vontaveous Hoston, who received a $42,000 settlement from the city of Seattle after he was kicked by a police officer, has been arrested on a warrant for allegedly firing a gunshot that almost hit a mother and her infant.

Hoston, 19, was captured by U.S. marshals in the Seattle area, near his last known address, according to Federal Way police. He was questioned by detectives and then booked into jail in Des Moines, police said.

Hoston was wanted on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and reckless endangerment stemming from the Oct. 15 shooting at the Crestview West Apartments in Federal Way. According to the charges, the shooting happened in the apartment Hoston’s girlfriend shares with another woman. Hoston’s girlfriend told police that the two women and their boyfriends, including Hoston, had been arguing over rent the day the gunshot was fired.

There were three children 1 years old or younger in the home at the time, charges said. The roommate of Hoston’s girlfriend told Federal Way police a bullet went through her bedroom wall and she saw something fly near her 6-month-old baby’s head, according to charging documents. “She believed that Hoston intentionally tried to shoot her through the wall,” police Detective Matthew Leitgeb wrote in charges.

Hoston’s girlfriend said the gun went off accidentally when Hoston went to retrieve it from a bedroom closet before leaving the apartment, according to charging documents. She told police that he’d been carrying a firearm lately because he’s afraid gang members would rob him after he received his $42,000 settlement, the documents say.

Police briefly spoke with Hoston over the phone and asked him to meet with them to talk about the incident, but Hoston refused and hung up, according to the charges.

Earlier this fall, the city of Seattle agreed to pay $42,000 to settle a civil-rights federal lawsuit filed by Hoston after he was kicked several times by a police officer who arrested him in a Belltown convenience store.

In October 2010, Officer James J. Lee arrested Hoston, then 17, and kicked him because the officer believed Hoston had been involved in the assault of an undercover police officer. The incident was captured on store video and broadcast widely in local media and online. Hoston was acquitted of attempted robbery in the incident involving the undercover officer.

Lee was charged with fourth-degree assault, but the City Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge last year after an expert witness for the prosecution changed his mind about Lee’s criminal culpability. Lee was later cleared of wrongdoing in a Seattle police internal investigation.

In a separate case, Hoston was found guilty in February of unlawful possession of a firearm arising from a July 2011 incident in downtown Seattle. Hoston also has convictions for third-degree malicious mischief, cocaine delivery and resisting arrest, according to prosecutors.

The gun went off “accidentally” after “retrieving” it from a closet?  Of all the times in my life I’ve retrieved a gun, I’ve never once had an accidental discharge (AD). From what I understand, the majority of AD occurs when someone places their finger on the trigger and 1) fires having not identified their target or 2) is “trigger happy”. Either Hoston failed to follow the basic principles of firearm safety or he “accidentally” shot the gun, IMO.

I’m counting at least five incidents here where this guy could have/should have been pulled off the streets. What are the odds he’ll blow through this $42,000 and be in jail soon?  I’d bet a hundred bucks on that.