Tag Archives: King County

Seattle, King County councils approve $1.3 million in legal aid for immigrants

lorena gonzalez

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher: Proposed using your tax payer dollars to defend illegal aliens

Suck it, taxpayers. Your hard-earned money is going to defend illegal aliens whether you approve or not.

From Seattle Times: The Seattle City Council on Monday voted to create a $1 million legal-defense fund for immigrants illegal aliens whom the federal government attempts to deport. And the Metropolitan King County Council approved $750,000 for immigrant and refugee programs, including $300,000 for the defense of people in immigration court.

The city and county will distribute the money to nonprofit organizations such as the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project to do the legal work.

City and county leaders have said local immigrant families need the help because of President Donald Trump’s plan to step up deportations.

Immigration-court cases are civil proceedings because living in the country illegally is a civil violation rather than a criminal one. Unlike in criminal cases, people who can’t afford to hire an attorney for immigration court aren’t guaranteed a public defender.

More than one-third of people with immigration-court cases in Seattle and more than 90 percent of those with cases in Tacoma lack legal representation, according to Councilmember M. Lorena González, who proposed the city fund with Councilmember Tim Burgess.

People convicted of crimes wouldn’t be excluded from getting support through the city’s fund in their unrelated immigration-court cases, according to Gonzalez and Burgess. Burgess said Monday that everyone should be afforded due process, including people facing potential deportation.

The city’s fund is separate from $250,000 Seattle is spending to help immigrants and refugees navigate life under Trump, with a focus on children in the city’s public schools.

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Latest firearm legislation in Washington state focuses on protecting victims

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Brainchild of this bill, Drew Hansen

Victims in Seattle of serious crimes wait for more than an hour for police assistance. Also, Seattle neighborhoods hire their own security because police are a rare sighting in their areas. Color me skeptical that the police (at least in the larger cities) are well equipped and staffed to notify a domestic violence survivor in a timely manner.

From MyNorthwest.com: In 2014, Washington State voters approved universal background checks for gun buyers. But what happens to felons, domestic abusers and others who fail those background checks and illegally try to buy a gun? Not much, as it turns out. However, there’s an effort in Olympia to change that.

The idea behind House Bill 1501 began with a conversation between State Representative Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island) and another lawmaker last year.

“If a criminal tries to buy a firearm from a gun store and fails a background check, does law enforcement get notified? Do domestic violence survivors get notified if criminals are ineligible because of a restraining order? Do cops on the street get notified?” Hansen asked. “The answers to those questions are no, no, and no. Our bill makes the answers to those questions yes, yes, and yes.”

The bill adds teeth to the universal background check law. “We had over 3,000 failed background checks in Washington state last year,” Hansen said. “About half of which were failed because the purchaser was a criminal or fugitive … That is a lot of dangerous people trying to buy firearms.”

“If you walk into a gun store and you know you’re ineligible and you try to buy a firearm anyway and get caught and turned down, there should be an investigation, an arrest, and, in appropriate cases, prison time.”

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg agrees. When voters passed universal background check law, there was an implied understanding that there would be consequences for someone who fails a background check, he said.

Hansen says one of the key parts of the legislation is making sure victims, especially domestic violence survivors, are notified when their abuser is trying to arm themselves.

Lying on an application is a felony, and under federal law punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Right now, however, there really isn’t much follow up happening. The legislation would target domestic abusers, felons, people who have been involuntary committed, and people with warrants.

It would also require failed background checks to be reported to local law enforcement. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs would also maintain a statewide system to handle the notifications for domestic-violence survivors.

State grants would help local police agencies pay for the needed follow-up. Prosecutors and local law-enforcement agencies, including the Seattle Police Department, support the legislation. Hansen says they worked closely with the National Rifle Association to ensure Second Amendment rights were protected.

Hansen says it passed out of the House with overwhelming bipartisan support — so he’s hopeful they’ll get this one on the books this session.

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Seattle continues to fight homelessness with more high-paying government jobs

 

Ed Murray

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

Last April I told you about Seattle’s serious homelessness problem. From my post:

In 2016, the King County region saw an increase of 19% of our unsheltered population, the majority of those people residing in Seattle. In November of 2015, Mayor Murray declared a State of Emergency on Homelessness to bring light to this crisis and seek greater support from our state and federal partners. Mayor Murray has increased spending on homelessness intervention and prevention and the City of Seattle is now spending a record high of nearly $50 million dollars to address this crisis.”

How did the city respond to this emergency? They hired a “Director of Homelessness.” This was “to ensure that the City’s increased efforts are well coordinated and driving toward the greatest outcomes for those in need, the new Director of Homelessness will be tasked with executing the Mayor’s priorities on this issue.” The pay rate when this position was advertised? Between $97,279.92 and $160,483.68.

In August 2016, the city hired George Scarola to fill this position, who makes $137,500 per year.

Apparently just one high-paid city worker is not enough to help the homeless. Now comes this: Seattle hiring to clean up after the homeless.

From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle is putting its money where its mouth is in its latest effort to staff the homeless crisis. The city seeks to fill three positions, all targeted at cleaning up garbage along Seattle streets and around encampments.

“All three positions will support the city’s efforts to mitigate impacts of unsanctioned encampments,” said Julie Moore with the City of Seattle.

The first position will supervise pilot programs that address homeless litter in neighborhoods affected by encampments. Two other jobs will organize the cleanup efforts around encampments. All are already funded under the 2017-18 budget and pay between $37-46.80 and hour (that translates to $76,960/year – $97,344 [not including benefits]).

Seattle Public Utilities started two pilot programs in 2016 to address the issue of litter and trash related to the homeless crisis — the litter abatement pilot, and the encampment trash pilot. The Homeless Encampment Trash/Litter Abatement Pilot Program Administrator will oversee both programs. The position pays up to $46.80 an hour.

The homeless litter program focuses on street sweeping, washing sidewalks, and picking up trash in general. “The encampment trash pilot program provides scheduled solid waste pick-up services to five unsanctioned homeless encampments and on-call trash pick-up service, as needed,” Moore said. “This service is separate of collection of trash following a scheduled encampment cleanup.”

The program focused on the International District and Little Saigon when it was enacted last year. Four new neighborhoods will be added in 2017. It is unknown which four neighborhoods those will be.

Two Field Operations Supervisor positions were created in 2016 and have been filled temporarily. The city is seeking to fill them permanently for up to $42 an hour ($87,360/year). “They provide additional capacity to increase the city’s response to unsanctioned encampments…” Moore said, noting the supervisors will work with the city’s Navigation Team.

According to the job post:

The Field Operations Advisors will be responsible for coordinating cleanup efforts, directing on-site operations, overseeing assigned City employees and contract laborers, ensuring compliance with legal and environmental standards and regulations including outreach to offer alternative safe shelter, overseeing proper collection and storage protocols, collecting data, and liaising with other city departments, outside agencies, property owners, law enforcement, contractors and the public to ensure collaborative and efficient operations at assigned encampment sites.

All three jobs had an application deadline of March 14. It is unknown how soon the city plans on filling the positions.

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Father of detained Dreamer – with previous felony drug conviction and deportations – pleads guilty to immigration crime

maga

Adios muchacho…

From Seattle Times: The father of a so-called Dreamer — the young man whose arrest in Des Moines by immigration officials sparked fears of an immigration roundup and drew a national outcry — pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to entering the country illegally.

Court documents indicate that Antonio Ramirez-Poledo, 43, could face up to 20 years in prison because he has a prior drug felony in King County. However, federal prosecutors are recommending in a plea agreement filed with the court that he be released for time served when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez. Martinez is not bound by the prosecutor’s recommendation.

Ramirez-Poledo will likely face immediate deportation back to Mexico after the sentence is served.

He was deported from the U.S. at Paso del Norte, Texas, in 2004, after he was convicted in King County for possessing heroin and cocaine for distribution. He then returned to King County.

According to the criminal complaint, Ramirez-Poledo spent a year and a day in jail after his drug arrest and was then ordered deported. The complaint states that, in addition to the deportation, Ramirez-Poledo had been granted seven “voluntary departures,” including five in 2000, one in 2001 and another in 2006.

Ramirez-Poledo was arrested Feb. 10 outside a home in Des Moines after he was located by an agent from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Criminal Alien Program. Agents also took his 23-year-old son, Daniel Ramirez Medina, into custody.

The younger man had been brought to the country as a child and had been legally allowed to stay under the Obama administration’s 2012 “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program, which deferred deportation or other adverse immigration actions against individuals who entered the U.S. illegally as children. Proponents call its participants “Dreamers,” alluding to their desire to become U.S. citizens.

The arrest was the first involving a DACA-eligible immigrant under the Trump administration, and immigration and civil-rights officials reacted by suing ICE over his detention.

However, ICE insisted that the son was a gang member, and he remains in custody. His lawyers have disputed that claim and alleged government misconduct.

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Of course: A community organizer and BLM supporter is going to run against the progressive Seattle mayor, Ed Murray

nikkita oliver

Just what Seattle needs…another radical proggie

I wouldn’t bet $100 that she has no chance. Because if you know anything about Seattle, you know there’s a good possibility that the proggies will elect her.

From Seattle Times: Nikkita Oliver, an attorney, community organizer and spoken-word artist who’s been active in Seattle’s Black Lives Matter movement and in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, will run for mayor against Ed Murray.

Oliver is seeking office under the banner of the Peoples Party of Seattle, “a community-centered grass roots political party led by and accountable to the people most requiring access and equity,” says a website for Oliver and the party.

South Seattle Emerald and Crosscut first reported her candidacy. She is Murray’s highest-profile challenger so far. In an interview Wednesday, the 31-year-old said Donald Trump’s inauguration as president and conversations with community members inspired her to run.

Oliver said she was “feeling stuck, not having a voice in the process and not knowing how we change things at the federal level” before she decided to become a candidate. “We have to get involved locally, because that will begin to shift the narrative and the policy,” she said.

The Indianapolis native, who moved to Seattle for college, said her campaign will focus on housing, education and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

She said officials should reassess the “area median income” benchmark they use to define affordable housing. The Seattle area’s median income is much higher than what the average working person actually makes.

Many of us in the Peoples Party have been forced from our homes by unmanageable rent increases. But we are not alone. In fact, displacement has become the story of so many Seattleites. Construction cranes, blocked roads, and rerouted buses are the status quo. Developer-driven rezones and growth are swallowing our city whole!” Oliver’s campaign website says.

“The residents who made the Emerald City the innovative and cultural gem it is today are being pushed out and replaced with murals, cultural relics, and colorful crosswalks. Seattle is quickly becoming a museum of our contributions, a place we can visit but we cannot live.”

The party is running Oliver “to break down barriers and open doors for collective leadership that is willing, able, and experienced in divesting from practices, corporations, and institutions that don’t reflect the values and interests of our city,” the website says.

“Whether on stages and in classrooms as a teaching artist, or in the courts and streets as a lawyer and legal observer, her track record, experience, and selfless dedication as a truly progressive servant of the people speaks for itself.”

Oliver works as a teaching artist and mentor in Seattle Public Schools and through Creative Justice, a nonprofit that uses art to work with court-involved youth. She holds law and education degrees from the University of Washington, was the 2015 grand champion of the Seattle Poetry Slam, and received the 2015 artist human-rights leader award from the Seattle Office of Civil Rights. She’s been a leader in efforts to stop the city from building a $160 million North Precinct police station and King County from building a new youth jail.

Oliver said her work in schools and with court-involved youth would help her craft better policy as mayor. She said Murray talks about aiding young black men in Seattle but hasn’t been engaging enough with community activists.

Murray has raised $272,376 and has been endorsed by a number of labor unions. Another candidate, safe-streets activist Andres Salomon, has raised $2,886.

Oliver told the Emerald, “We’re going to lack financially. But what we lack in funding we’ll make up in actual, real community relationships. If you see pictures of me with young people, it wasn’t a photo op. It’s not because I went down to Rainier Beach High School to have a fake conversation with young people and take a picture and say it happened. It’s because I actually spend time at Rainier Beach.”

She added, “If you ask those young people about who I am they’ll say I’ve seen Nikkita in the community. You’ll see pictures of me with young people, but they were taken in community, not just some transactional stuff that politicians do.”

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King County seeks to allocate $750,000 to help immigrants

dow-constantine

King County Executive Dow Constantine: “We have this much taxpayer money for illegals!”

Only in America: Illegally enter our country and the proggies will use taxpayer dollars to defend your “human rights.” Ain’t it grand?

From the Seattle Times: King County may allocate $750,000 to help immigrants become U.S. citizens and to educate them about their rights.

County Executive Dow Constantine plans to propose legislation to make the money available. Metropolitan King County Council Chair Joe McDermott plans to sponsor it.  They held a news conference Wednesday, but the legislation wasn’t yet available.

The money would be used for three purposes, according to Constantine and McDermott: to provide free guidance to immigrants seeking to become citizens, to develop and distribute “know your rights” materials and to boost outreach and education work carried out by community organizations that serve immigrants.

Constantine and McDermott say the legislation would create a “legal defense fund,” because it would pay for naturalization assistance. But that may be a stretch. Some other local governments, such as Los Angeles, are spending money to actually provide people facing deportation with immigration-court lawyers.

That doesn’t appear to be what Constantine has in mind, though McDermott said some of King County’s money would likely go to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which provides immigration-court representation, among other services.

Constantine linked the plan to President Donald Trump’s recent actions on immigration. “People in our community are afraid — afraid for their human rights, their families, and their safety,” he said in a statement. “Our message to the White House, the country, and the rest of the world is clear: We proudly uphold the fundamental American promise that we are — and will be — a nation of hope, freedom, and opportunity for all.

In an interview, McDermott said he views the legislation not only as a response to Trump’s actions but also as an investment in the people of the county. “Almost one-fourth of our residents are foreign-born,” he said.

Seattle is spending $250,000 to help immigrants and refugees navigate life under the Trump administration, with a focus on children in the city’s public schools. Mayor Ed Murray announced the allocation in November, details of his plan were still being hammered out last month. The City Council adopted a resolution last month that says the city will work to create a legal-defense fund.

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Seattle, King County move to open nation’s first safe injection sites for drug users

constantine-and-murray

Constantine and Murray

Well, this should be a real enticement for tourists to visit Seattle.

From Seattle Times: Seattle and King County will create two safe-consumption sites for drug users, the first of their kind in the country, as part of an effort to halt the surge of heroin and prescription opioid overdose deaths in the region, Mayor Ed Murray and County Executive Dow Constantine announced Friday.

The sites, stocked with the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, aim to save lives and connect people dealing with addiction to treatment services.

Murray and Constantine said they will move forward with all the recommendations of the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force that they convened last year, the most controversial of which are the safe drug-use sites.

Other recommendations include increasing access to naloxone and medication assisted treatment drugs like Suboxone. “The crisis is growing beyond anything we have seen before,” Murray said. “We can do something about that.”

No locations or funding have been announced, but Murray said the first of the two sites will be in Seattle, and the second will be outside the city. He also acknowledged that getting funding may be more difficult with the new presidential administration.

There are still big battles to come, as an “implementation work group,” chaired by Patty Hayes, the director of Public Health – Seattle and King County, tries to determine funding and locations for the sites, which are likely to spur protests from surrounding neighborhoods.

“These things have to exist, physically, somewhere,” said Daniel Malone, director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center, and a task force member. “There is significant trepidation about a location becoming an area that gets really damaged by having this particular activity happen there.”

Both Murray and Constantine were resolute that they could deal with any political blowback caused by the locations of the sites. “Whatever our discomfort with this as elected officials, as a community, put yourself in the place of a parent who is trying to save his or her child,” Constantine said. “We can put up with a little discomfort in order to be able to help that family heal and help that child recover.”

Said Murray: “Our biggest challenge is ahead of us, making it operational.”

The sites aim to quell the flood of overdose deaths and to connect drug users with health care and long-term treatment. They also aim to move drug abuse off sidewalks and out of alleys.

More than 600 used needles were found in Seattle’s urban core in November, said Brad Finegood, a task force member with the county Department of Community and Human Services.

“People use drugs all throughout our country,” said Caleb Banta-Green, a public health professor at the University of Washington specializing in drug abuse, and a task force member. “People use in public; they don’t want to use in public, and the public doesn’t want them using in public.”

Although no such sites exist in the United States, Vancouver, B.C., has had one since 2003. Drug users come to get clean needles and inject in a safe, supervised environment. Naloxone is used multiple times a day and is credited with preventing nearly 5,000 overdoses at the site in Vancouver.

But the site has not stopped overdose deaths outside its walls. There were 914 overdose deaths in British Columbia, which has about double the population of King County, in 2016. That’s a record number, one largely driven by the rise of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic painkiller that is as much as 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Heroin overdoses killed 132 people in King County in 2015. The death toll rises to 209 when overdoses from prescription opioids — which are, molecularly, virtually identical to heroin — are included.

In the state Legislature, Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, has introduced legislation that would ban safe injection sites throughout the state. “We must stop the push for decriminalization of drugs,” Miloscia said earlier this month. “Standing idly by while addicts abuse illegal drugs is not compassionate, and it does not solve the problem.”

Another potential complication: While local law enforcement is on board with the sites and Gov. Jay Inslee has said they are a local decision, the task force has not consulted with any federal agency to discuss a possible federal law-enforcement reaction. Task-force members compared the consumption sites to needle-exchange programs, which the federal government initially opposed but nevertheless allowed localities to implement.

“This is an extension of our needle exchange. We’re treating this as a local issue and we’re using tools that we have,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, the county public health officer and the task force’s co-chair. “We don’t routinely, and we haven’t in this case, consulted any other authority, and we don’t think we need to.”

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