Topic: Seattle City Council
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March 18, 2013 at 5:20 PM
The Seattle City Council today unanimously approved legislation requiring city departments to get prior approval before purchasing or using any surveillance equipment, including drones and cameras.
Departments would have to spell out how they plan to use the devices and the City Council would hold a public hearing on the proposal before giving its okay.
But the bill included an amendment that exempts the police department if the technology is part of a criminal investigation or approved under a search warrant. Privacy and civil-rights advocates objected that the change had not received public scrutiny and could weaken the bill.
“We have a real concern about that,” said Doug Honig, spokesman for the ACLU of Washington, after the council hearing. “It appears to lower the standards for when surveillance cameras can be used.”
November 5, 2012 at 7:30 AM
The Seattle City Council will honor retiring U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks today for his more than four decades of service to Washington state. The Council has proclaimed Nov. 5-9 “Norm Dicks Week” in Seattle.
Dicks, 71, and his wife, Suzie, will be at the 2 p.m. City Council meeting to accept the proclamation. The Council plans to thank Dicks for his work on behalf of the state’s environment, including spearheading efforts to protect Puget Sound, funding for salmon recovery and efforts to preserve Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks.
The Council also will thank Dicks, D-Bremerton, for helping to win federal money to build the downtown Seattle bus tunnel and Sound Transit’s light rail project.
Dicks is stepping down after 36 years in Congress. Only Senators Warren Magnuson and Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson served longer terms. Dicks is the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He’s also been such a strong advocate for Boeing that he’s known as “Mr. Boeing” and was instrumental in helping the company win the $35 billion Air Force refueling tanker contract last year.
October 22, 2012 at 4:25 PM
In a major breakthrough, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn agreed today to allow the name of Los Angeles police-accountability expert Merrick Bobb to be recommended as the independent monitor to oversee police reforms.
McGinn’s decision came shortly after the City Council on Monday directed City Attorney Pete Holmes to join with the Department of Justice in recommending the appointment Bobb to the key job.
The 8-to-1 vote to recommend Merrick Bobb as the independent monitor had set the stage for a potential clash of executive powers within the city as a Friday deadline looms to reach a decision. But a conflict was avoided by McGinn’s decison.
McGinn said last week that he objected to Bobb because a board member of Bobb’s nonprofit helped write the Justice Department report that led to a settlement agreement and the appointment of a monitor to oversee efforts to curb excessive force by officers and biased policing.
But the council, in passing the resolution, cited Bobb’s national reputation in the police-reform field, as well as an opinion by the city’s chief ethics official that Bobb did not have a confict of interest. It passed a resolution directing Holmes to file a joint pleading with federal attorneys urging U.S. District Judge James Robart to appoint Bobb.
Councilmember Mike O’Brien was the sole dissenter.
Federal attorneys have said Bobb is their choice, according to the resolution.
In a statement released late today, McGinn’s office said:
“We know from the experience of other cities that reform efforts are successful when the police force buys in to the effort. Our office and others expressed concerns that Mr. Bobb would not be seen as an impartial monitor of our settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. We are disappointed that the Council did not listen to those concerns and that our reform efforts may prove more difficult as a result of their vote. We believe that their vote was a mistake, but respect that this is now the City’s position. Going forward, the mayor will roll up his sleeves and continue to work with all stakeholders to implement reform in our police force.”
October 15, 2012 at 3:50 PM
The Seattle City Council and Metropolitan King County Council this afternoon approved an agreement to use up to $200 million in public funds to help build a basketball and hockey arena in Sodo that would return the Sonics to town.
The agreement with investor and Seattle native Chris Hansen means Hansen can now begin shopping for a National Basketball Association team, and begin an environmental review of the site that will determine what mitigation is needed for traffic and other concerns.
The county council unanimously approved the revised Memorandum of Understanding, and the city council shortly after approved it 7-2.
City Council member Tim Burgess said the councils had strengthened the agreement sent to them by Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine by requiring a full state environmental review that includes an analysis of alternate sites, creating a transortation fund to protect freight mobility in Sodo and an economic impact study.
“The steps we’re taking will ensure transportation corridors remains open and accessible,” Burgess said.
County Councilman Joe McDermott said the signing of the MOU sets off a review process that will require further public comment and council approval.
“The MOU makes it abundantly clear there will be no final decision until after an environmental review,” McDermott said.
October 15, 2012 at 3:13 PM
The Seattle City Council approved new campaign finance rules today. Under the changes, candidates for local office can’t roll over campaign funds from one election to the next and can’t start fundraising until Jan. 1 of the year before an election.
Vote was 7-2 with Council President Sally Clark and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen voting no.
Council members said they took the steps to limit the influence of money on local elections and reduce the amount of time that elected officials are fundraising at the same time they’re making policy.
Current incumbents will have 30 days after the legislation is signed to transfer holdover funds to a new campaign without being subject to the new rules.
The state of Washington and 16 other states prohibit state elected officials from fundraising during legislative sessions. Other cities, including Houston, San Diego and Los Angeles, have fundraising windows in place for local elections.
Rasmussen said the legislation did little to address either the costs of running for office or the advantages of incumbents. He also questioned whether it would open the city to a lawsuit for infringing on political speech.
Clark said the changes might encourage bigger checks in a shorter window of time and discourage women and minority candidates who typically rely on more, smaller donations.
October 15, 2012 at 12:04 PM
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against Seattle’s crack-down on yellow pages directories. The phone books are protected under the First Amendment, the court said, so the city can’t require them to get a permit or offer an opt-out system for residents who don’t want a commercial phone directory delivered to their door.
The Seattle City Council voted two years ago to create an opt-out registry for Seattleites who want to avoid unwanted yellow pages. To pay for the program, the city planned to charge yellow pages distributors $100 a year for a license, plus a disposal fee. Council Member Mike O’Brien sponsored the rules and gained publicity by offering to take any unwanted phone books his constituents wanted to drop off. As the books piled up in his office, he asked them, eventually, to stop dropping them off.
Environmentalists rallied around the legislation. On the council, only Jean Godden opposed the registry, which she said raised concerns about free speech.
Four phone book publishers including Dex Media West sued the city. A lower court ruled for the city, saying yellow pages are commercial. But the Appeals Court judges wrote:
We conclude that the yellow pages directories qualify for full protection under the First Amendment. Although portions of the directories are obviously commercial in nature, the books contain more than that, and we conclude that the directories are entitled to the full protection of the First Amendment. As a result, when we evaluate the ordinance under strict scrutiny, it does not survive.
October 13, 2012 at 9:35 AM
Weather: In a word: Wet. Showers are likely throughout the day and don’t expect the clouds to dissipate much. Tonight and Sunday will be pretty much the same. The National Weather Service forecast.
Traffic: Traffic map and cams.
Saving the seawall: Seattle voters will be asked Nov. 6 to approve a $290 million bond measure to replace the waterfront seawall, which has badly eroded over the years by marine borers and tides. The 30-year bond measure would cost $59 per year for the owner of a median-valued, $360,000 home. The measure requires 60 percent approval to pass.
Arena lawsuit: The union representing about 3,000 longshoremen plan to sue Seattle and King County over a proposal to build a new sports arena near Port of Seattle shipping terminals, saying the project will threaten freight movement to port facilities and jeopardizes jobs. The Seattle City Council and Metropolitan King County Council are scheduled to vote Monday on a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the terms under which the city and county will contribute public money to the arena construction.
Baumgartner attacks Cantwell: Michael Baumgartner on Friday used the only debate of this year’s U.S. Senate race to hammer incumbent Maria Cantwell for supporting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Republican and former diplomat said Cantwell has “consistently been in support of poorly planned wars that are bankrupting this country and putting a tremendous, tremendous strain on our troops.” Cantwell said she voted for tax increases on the wealthy to fund the wars and has pushed President Obama to withdraw troops faster than he has proposed.
Most-read stories this morning on seattletimes.com:
September 24, 2012 at 4:06 PM
The Seattle City Council voted to approve an agreement with investor Chris Hansen to build a $490 million sports and entertainment arena in Sodo.
Council members praised the revised agreement as providing significant protections for the public’s $200 million contribution and providing a revenue stream to address transportation issues in Sodo and the future of KeyArena.
“This is about a can-do spirit looking to the future and grabbing an opportunity that has been presented to the city,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess.
The vote was 6-2, with Councilmembers Richard Conlin and Nick Licata voting no. Conlin said the taxes generated by private business should go to public needs, not a private enterprise such as a for-profit sports arena.
Licata said he didn’t want to support huge public subsidies for a private business that doesn’t provide measurable public benefit.
The complex financial agreement now goes to the King County Council for ratification. County Councilmember Bob Ferguson said: “Basketball and hockey fans in our region reason have reason to cheer today, with the Seattle City Council approving a revised MOU (memorandum of understanding), but the final buzzer hasn’t sounded yet. In order to move forward with the proposed arena, all three parties – City, County, and private investors – must reach a final unified agreement.”
In a prepared statement, Hansen praised Seattle’s elected officials for working diligently on the proposed deal: “I think that today’s vote demonstrates that by listening to each other and working hard to address the concerns of all stakeholders that we can make the arena a reality and bring professional basketball and hockey back to Seattle.” He acknowledged that there is still much more work to do.
September 17, 2012 at 3:54 PM
The Seattle City Council declared today “Cheryl Chow Day” and honored the former council member and educator who is battling brain cancer.
Two former mayors, Norm Rice and Paul Schell, joined several former city council members in council chambers to honor Chow. Chow attended the ceremony in a wheelchair with her partner, Sarah Morningstar, and their daughter, Liliana.
Council President Sally Clark read a proclamation that praised Chow for her “relentless commitment to youth,” her 18 years as a teacher and principal in Seattle schools, her 47 years as a participant and adult leader of the Seattle Chinese Community Club girl’s drill team, 30 years as a youth basketball coach and eight years on the City Council, from 1990-1997.
Clark noted that Chow was known for her direct style, wicked sense of humor and for her “quiet protest for bathroom equity” on the 11th floor of the old city Municipal Building by using the men’s restroom.
Chow took the microphone after the proclamation was read and talked about how hard it had been for her to show love and affection, growing up in an Asian household with a strong mother, former King County Council Member Ruby Chow. She said Morningstar had taught her how to love.
Chow announced in July, at age 66, that she is gay. She told reporters last month that she felt she’d wasted 66 years. She explained today that she didn’t feel like she’d wasted her life, but that all those years she could have been helping more kids and their families accept who they were.
Chow also thanked Shannon Gee, from the Seattle Channel, who made a video about Chow’s achievements and legacy shown during the ceremony. Chow said that Shannon was the tallest basketball player she’d ever coached and a former member of the drill team.
“My circle goes around and around,” Chow said.
September 4, 2012 at 3:51 PM
The Seattle City Council approved today an agreement that clears the way for the Seattle Housing Authority to dramatically rebuild Yesler Terrace, which opened in 1941 as the city’s first public housing project.
The council agreement allows high-rise buildings up to 300 feet tall at Yesler Terrace, just south of Harborview Medical Center on First Hill. The housing authority plans to sell some of Yesler’s 30 acres to private developers who would build market-rate office, condo and apartment towers on the property.
The housing authority hopes to use $145 million from the property sales to rebuild Yesler’s 561 well-worn apartments, along with streets and water and sewer lines. Residents would be relocated during phased construction that could take up to 20 years.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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