Today Trae shares some upcoming fun for the weekend. She also sits down with Cesar Canizales once again to get an update on Charleena Lyles' case, and what the King County inquest has recovered. You'll want to tune in for this one y'all!
12pm - The Big Lead @ Noon // Grizzly murder involving a Shoreline mom and son // Rising number of kids in the NW are attempting suicide // Jack of Hearts not banned in Kent // GUEST: Jonathan Choe on homelessness in the woods around here and King County's inability to act because they're still operating under COVID rules // Texts re: big lead See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Metropolitan King County Council voted this week to change how we vote in King County. Here's a hint: they want election years to be divisible by two. Voters will decide whether or not this change will be made this November, and Soundside invited Crosscut.com state politics reporter Joseph O'Sullivan and Political Science Professor Todd Donovan to discuss what this means for the county.
3PM - Doctor who clashed with anti-mask crowd in Missouri named new King County public health director // COVID-19 Exposed the Truth About the CDC // Amazon's Alexa could soon mimic voice of dead relatives // Feel Like Waze Is Judging You? Get Directions From a Talking Dog Instead // R. Kelly Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison on Racketeering, Sex Trafficking Charges See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Pastor Carey Anderson about his campaign for State Representative in the 30th Legislative District - why he decided to run, how the last legislative session went and his thoughts on addressing issues such as housing affordability and zoning, homelessness, public safety, LGBTQ+ rights, and climate change. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com. Find the host, Crystal, on Twitter at @finchfrii and find more information about Pastor Carey at https://www.electpastorcarey.com/ Resources Campaign Website - Pastor Carey Anderson: https://www.electpastorcarey.com/ Transcript [00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington State through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. Well, I am just delighted today to welcome to the program, a candidate for State Representative in the 30th Legislative District down in Federal Way, Pastor Carey Anderson. Thank you so much for joining us today. [00:00:53] Pastor Carey Anderson: Crystal, it's an honor to be with you, and let me just say right off the bat - thank you for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful, wonderful podcast. I'm just elated to be invited today, and I appreciate the work that you do. [00:01:09] Crystal Fincher: Thank you so much. I appreciate the work that you do, my South King County brethren and leader of so many, and just appreciate the time that you've taken to join here. So I guess I wanna start off asking - you've done so much, you've accomplished so much. What is it that made you think - you know what, it is time for me to run for office? [00:01:33] Pastor Carey Anderson: Well, that's an excellent question. Let me say to our audience - the 30th district is a new district, and I'm running to bring proven new leadership to the new 30th District. The realignment of the boundaries from the 2020 Census shows that Federal Way is a BIPOC-majority city now, the 30th District is growing. I live in Federal Way, I'm the pastor of First AME Church in Auburn and Seattle - Seattle is the mother church. And about 19 years ago, we saw the trend of gentrification and so we started a satellite in the south portion of King County. So, First AME Church is the oldest Black church in the state - 1886 - and so, we see it as a part of our mission to always speak truth to power. So I am running to bring proven new leadership to the new 30th District. And if I could just take a moment - when we're talking about the crime, we're talking about the homeless, we're talking about the issues of housing, we're talking about funding of our schools, we're talking about public safety. Well, these are things that I have been doing in my entire ministry - 44 years in ministry, 38 years as a senior pastor, 18 years as the pastor of First AME Church - matter of fact, in its 100+ years of existence, I'm the longest serving pastor. My boots have been on the ground, fighting all of those things and addressing all of those things. And I want to do it in this open seat - no one has ever served the new 30th District before. And it is time for proven new leadership for the new 30th District. And I'm sure we'll get into some of the specifics a little later. [00:03:34] Crystal Fincher: Well, and looking at this new 30th District - you're running for the seat that is being vacated by Representative Jesse Johnson, who has done a lot of work in the community, certainly made his imprint on the Legislature in the time that he was there. Some of that, including police accountability legislation and other legislation that we saw passed in 2020, and then rolled back in 2022, along with a number of other things. We're dealing with a - how we're gonna treat revenue - are we gonna raise more progressive revenue, or move - continue to move - in a regressive direction. Action on the transportation package, stagnation on affordable housing and the middle housing bill there - as you evaluate this past legislative session, what did you think about it? What did you agree with? What did you disagree with? [00:04:40] Pastor Carey Anderson: Well, first of all, let me commend the work and applaud the work of Representative Jesse Johnson. When he was first running for City Council, we supported him. When he went into the State Legislature, First AME supported him. He came and presented at our church and at both campuses, matter of fact, and we supported him wholeheartedly. I was disappointed to see him leave the seat because we need that type of leadership. And certainly with the police accountability reforms that he pushed through the Legislature - it was a herculean job, but the job is not complete. And so when we talk about fighting crime, let's just stay right there for a moment. I applaud the work of our police force and law enforcement. However, I don't believe that we should put the entire burden of fighting crime on the police. There are other matters and other variables that go along with property crimes and low-level offenders such as drug abuse, mental health, and some of those types of things that cause an environment for crime. And I am trained as a substance abuse counselor, I am trained - I'm the only candidate trained in mental health. I did it, I've been doing it for some 30+ years. And so these are some of the other things that we must address because when we talk about crime and we talk about housing, it's not enough just to find affordable housing and place people in affordable housing. But many times, if they have mental health issues, if they have, if they're suffering from addiction, we need wraparound services. And so this is going to take critical thinking, it's going to take people that have been in the field to know what to say, how to say it, and drum up the support to build collegiality - to really change our community and change the 30th LD. So these are some of the things that I hope to bring to the State Legislature, as a legislator. [00:07:00] Crystal Fincher: You talked just a little bit, just now - obviously issues of addiction, in addition to homelessness. Housing affordability is such an important issue and one that a lot of people are struggling with - the cost of rents have been skyrocketing, cost of daycare skyrocketing - so much is making things really hard for people just to survive. They can be working one, two jobs - it's still not enough. Minimum wage is not sufficient for allowing people to live independently and to afford an average rent. What should be done to make housing more affordable in the 30th District? [00:07:47] Pastor Carey Anderson: Well, thank you for that question - it's really a challenging question, but I do want our audience to know, I've been involved in affordable housing for many, many years, even in my first church in Nevada - we built housing, affordable housing for seniors. First AME Church has been involved in the housing arena through our nonprofit since 1969. And we had three apartment complexes in Seattle, and we formed about five or six years ago - the FAME - Equity Alliance of Western Washington, which is another housing corporation that I serve as the chair of the board. And we just broke ground in January of this year on a $36 million, 119-unit complex - the Elizabeth Thomas Holmes - in South King County. So we're moving down this way - it's an issue that's very personal to me, I've been involved in it. I know that we have to find more housing for struggling families, and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund has money in it. We got to move it quickly and quicker than we have been moving it so that we can build a housing inventory for persons that are really trying to build a home for their loved ones, their children, their families, for sustaining the family unit. And these are things that I've been involved in, engaged in - and you would not imagine, Crystal, how many people come to First AME Church asking for rental assistance, needing food - which we try to provide on a regular basis, since the pandemic in particular. And we do that because we understand the need - I see it on a regular, regular basis. We even have a home, a parsonage - that we rent it out, bringing it out for, since my time, is 18 years at First Family Church. And so during the pandemic, those families that were living in the home could not pay their rent. And so we elected a moral decision to let them stay and not evict them. Matter of fact, we were - they were part of the persons that came for food every Friday in our Friday drive-by - I'm not talking about shooting, I'm talking about groceries. And so we would feed them, give them groceries - I'm not talking about meat, cheese and milk. I'm talking about more than that - meats, vegetables, wholesome grains - so that the family could be fed a nutritional meal. And also we provided vaccinations for COVID-19, as well as boosters. We continue to do that, and so we boosted and vaccinated over 6,000 people - and fed them as well. So we elected to eat the rent so that these families could stay in their home and not be put out on the street. And the Lord makes a way, somehow. So, we're involved in it and engaged in housing - I will continue to do that as a State legislator. [00:11:14] Crystal Fincher: One of the big issues this past legislative session was the missing middle housing bill. And you're absolutely right - we need to designate more housing as affordable housing, find affordable housing. One of the big problems is just that there just is not the supply of housing at all - of all different types and at all levels. Here in the state, we have not been building to keep up with the increase in population and the trends in the flow in population. And so allowing more density, more inclusive zoning was put on the table and all of the data shows that's a necessary ingredient of increasing affordability, of helping to stem the skyrocketing costs of rent and housing. Would you have voted for that missing middle housing bill? [00:12:16] Pastor Carey Anderson: Yes, I would. And let me say this - we have to have more deep-dive conversations for this issue of affordability and housing. And the conversation should center, not so much on - do we wanna build a threeplex or a fourplex in a single-family neighborhood - or what do we really value? If we as a state, if we as people value sheltering and allowing people the opportunity to live a decent life like you are living, then we're gonna have to have those types of conversations. But I believe that there are ways in which we can build housing in single-story homes and two-story homes that are aesthetically beautiful. It would not really disrupt the aesthetic beauty of the community and the neighborhood. These are discussions that I believe would prove to be very valuable instead of just a NIMBY attitude, because today they're homeless, today they're in need - but you miss a couple of paychecks yourself, you get laid off of your job, let another pandemic come and affect and impact your family - you may be the one next in line. And so we have to be very careful at the rocks we throw and the fingers we point because it could easily - you could be up today and you can be down tomorrow. So it's a collective effort - it's going to take collective and courageous conversations so that we could truly address the problem of affordability and density and providing the needed housing inventory for families to live sustained lives. [00:14:11] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Absolutely well said. We talked about public safety earlier - certainly talked about policing, have talked about the need to intervene in a lot of different ways. Safety is a really big conversation, and right now there are a lot of people in our communities fearing for their safety. Hate crimes are near all-time highs, we're seeing hate and bias-motivated crimes, we're seeing harassment and targeting of the LGBTQ community and others for their ethnic heritage, for their religion. What do you say to people who right now are scared and worried, and who are looking at the two parties going in very different directions, and worried that they can't count on the Supreme Court for safety or rights anymore, and increasingly they're relying on local leadership to make sure that people are safe and respected and protected in communities. What do you see as your responsibility in that area, and how will you lead to make sure that everyone in our communities feel safe? [00:15:36] Pastor Carey Anderson: Thank you. Excellent question, Crystal. Public safety is a major issue today, and I believe that we have made some major strides, but there's still a long way to go. And as I had said earlier, I believe that - I don't believe that we should put the entire burden on fighting crime left to law enforcement. When George Floyd was murdered and the unrest happened in Seattle in particular - but across the country - the East Precinct in Seattle was overtaken by the protestors. The East Precinct in Seattle is two blocks from First AME Church. I led the charge in convening the mayor and her staff, the Chief of Police at the time and her command staff, and the leaders of CHOP to come to First AME Church - there was about 75 of us in total. We did so with the sole purpose of learning how to talk, learning how to listen to one another. You have to understand - lives had been lost, bloodshed had been spilled on the pavements and on the streets of our cities behind the George Floyd murder. But out of the conversations - without news media, without the news outlets, without reporters - we were able to come and de-escalate the tension. And out of that, we were able to encourage Mayor Durkan, who was serving at the time, to put money into the BIPOC community - $30 million. She formed a task force that I was privileged to be a founding member of - the Equities Community Initiative Task Force - where we put together teams to talk about what are the central and acentric needs of our BIPOC community. Housing was one, entrepreneurship, looking at closing the wealth gap between Black and Brown people against the dominant culture. And so if we were able to do that there, I believe through our State Legislature, we can form ways of bridging some of these issues. Let me say this, Crystal - every first responder doesn't need to have a gun and a badge. Some of the things that we're dealing with now, we need to put funding into training more officers, law enforcement sensitivity training, cultural sensitivity training. I'm an endangered species as an African American male, even at my age - I'm not 25 - but I'm still an endangered species when pulled over by law enforcement. And so we've got to find ways of how to communicate better, how to empower faith groups, how to empower addiction counselors, how to empower and utilize mental health professionals and social workers to become our first responders. There was a time, a couple of summers ago, when the City SPD, Seattle Police Department, used the United Black Christian Clergy of Western Washington, which I'm a member of, and they would call us in dire situations with street violence amongst gangs. And we were able to find family members, we were able to find gatekeepers to try and de-escalate some of the violence as opposed to law enforcement just going in and pointing a gun and wearing a badge. I think that we must work collectively in this issue, if we're going to really bring about public safety, [00:19:35] Crystal Fincher: I completely agree with that. And then also talking about people's basic rights and people remaining safe regardless of who they are, what their background is, what their gender or sexuality is. [00:19:52] Pastor Carey Anderson: And can I say this - when you talk about the LGBTQIA+, we have to understand - they are a part of our community, just like we are a part. There's a collective we, and the Pride Parade in Seattle was right at the Central and the Capitol Hill area - where is First AME Church, right in the Capitol Hill area. We have always been, and there were even members of the 30th LD Dems, who said I was a homophobe. I said, how dare you? If you even Google Pastor Carey Anderson, you will find out that we are a welcoming church, a welcoming faith group. I am certainly not a homophobe - if anybody is, it's you - because we have always had our doors open for any and everybody. And we'll continue to do that - that's who we are, that's our value. God is a God of love. And so we must precipitate that type of love no matter who you are, and whose you are, because we're all children of God. I have walked with our Jewish brothers and sisters when Temple De Hirsch - our sister congregation right across the street from First AME Church, within walking distance - when they were defaced, their building was defaced, there were bomb threats. I stood with the Jewish brothers and sisters - Rabbi Weiner is a brother of mine from a different mother, we eat together, we worship together. And the Muslim community - we are tight with them - when they were going through threats, bomb threats, defacing of their temples and their mosques, we were right there with them standing by their side. And when Mother Emanuel AME Church back in 2015 lost nine people inclusive of the pastor - this is an AME church. First AME Church was the hub for the Seattle Pacific Northwest area, and we held prayer vigils, we led a 3000-person march through the City, and we engaged peace talks, and with celebratory singing. But we have to stop the killing, and this is what it's about. This is who we must become, and this is what I want to do, as the next voice in Olympia for the 30th District. I'm not talking about what I'm going to do, I'm talking about what I've done and what I continue to do. [00:22:40] Crystal Fincher: And I guess my question - especially, you've been doing work - in your capacity as a State legislator, particularly at this time where there are so many attacks on people because of their identity. And as we see rhetoric ratcheting up - the type of rhetoric that we know leads to violence - what more can be done to protect our LGBTQ community legislatively, to help protect people's rights, to help keep people safe, to help people just feel loved and seen in our community. What can be done in your role as a legislator? [00:23:26] Pastor Carey Anderson: Well, first of all, we need to enforce our equal protections under the laws even more. And we've got to not just put it out there in writing, but we must practice it indeed. We must have an open-door policy, we must train the legislators in terms of what a community looks like from people that are other than you. They look different, they have different values and culture, but they're still a part of this community. So I can love you no matter who you are. Although you may not have the same value that I have - just because you're a person, I am obligated to love you, and to stand in your shoes, and to understand your pain, understand your wants, and understand your desires and your hopes. This is what we must do if we're gonna represent all of the people that we are elected to serve. [00:24:27] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. We also are facing a climate crisis. We are at a point where climate change is happening, we are experiencing extreme heat, extreme cold events, flooding. Marginalized people in our community, lower-income people, BIPOC communities are being hurt worst and first by this climate crisis. And we have work to do to keep it from getting worse, we have work to do to mitigate the impacts that it's currently having. So I guess in - as you're looking at running, as you're looking at legislating, what action would you take to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution? [00:25:19] Pastor Carey Anderson: Well, first of all, when the dominant culture sniffs, has the sniffles, those who are in poverty, those who are living beneath the poverty line, catch the flu. And so we've got to, first of all, realize the disparities, the health disparities. I'm so thankful for the Governor's supplemental budget, that calls for $64 billion, over $64 billion, of priority areas. One of those areas is climate. And so I would be supportive of the Governor's supplemental budget for 2022. Also, when we look at that, one of the other priorities is that of poverty. One in five persons are living in poverty. There are 1.7 million people in this state that are living in poverty. So when we're talking about climate change and gas emissions and things of that nature - trying to be a 2035 clean air environment, which is a very ambitious goal to meet, but we gotta start somewhere. But when we look at the disparities, 1.7 million are living in poverty. And then when you go a little deeper, you find out over half, or nearly half, are people of color. So we are the ones that are the most impacted, as you have so eloquently said. So as a State legislator, I would be in support of the Governor's supplemental plan and would be pushing for the implementation of it. I'm not gonna be Black when necessary and BIPOC when convenient. I am who I am, and these are priorities and we've got to speak truth to power. We've got to have these courageous conversations and that's what I'd be willing to do, as your State legislator. [00:27:16] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely - also in this, transportation is the sector most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in our state. We just passed, as a state, a transportation package that had record investments in transit and mobility - which we all desperately need - but also continue to widen highways and invest billions in doing that. And especially with the impacts, as you just talked about, in the BIPOC community - just people who are in close proximity to roads and highways - the pollution that comes from those are disproportionately causing asthma, heart disease, lung disease in our communities. We now have tons of data showing that widening highways doesn't reduce traffic, it increases traffic and increases emissions. Would you be supportive in future highway packages of highway expansion, or do you think we should cap it at where it's at and focus on investing more in transit and mobility solutions for people who walk, bike and ride. [00:28:43] Pastor Carey Anderson: Yes, excellent question. I think we need to take a serious look at a moratorium on expansion for our highways and really look at some of the measures to bring public transportation and make that more accessible. Here in the 30th District, the transportation - Sound Transit - is moving this way. And a lot of people, though we may live in the Federal Way, 30th District area, we are working in Seattle - let's be clear about it. And so, once that is really completed - that project - that will help ease some of the traffic flow and the emissions that are going out, because I'd rather spend a minimal amount of time and read a book while I'm traveling quickly and swiftly to my job in Seattle, than being stuck in traffic and then having the propensity to get into an accident or having someone hit me or falling asleep while we're in a dead zone deadlock and gridlock and those kinds of things. So I know that a lot of the transit money has already been bonded out. So it's gonna be a difficult thing to look at, but I'd certainly be in favor of a moratorium. [00:30:09] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, that makes sense. And as you are considering your race, your opponent, just the dynamics of what is happening in Federal Way today and what residents are going through and what they want. Why are you the person who they should choose to represent them? [00:30:33] Pastor Carey Anderson: Russell Wilson used to say this when he was with the Seahawks - why not me? So, when we look at public safety, when we look at safe neighborhoods, funding our schools, affordable housing, quality healthcare for seniors, clean environment, and issues surrounding equity for all - I'm the only candidate who has been a K-12 public school teacher. And I'm for state funding - I'm the only candidate who has championed $400 million of state funding for immediate reinvestment into our communities. We've got a $200 million allocation that's gonna drop next month. And the RFPs are soon to be online. And so I was one, along with four others, who helped champion that $400 million state funding for immediate reinvestment into our communities. I'm the only candidate who has been using our church as a clinic for patients, for COVID vaccinations and boosters, and feeding people - to the tune of feeding, we've done nearly 15,000. For boosting and vaccinating people, over 6,000. And we continue to do that through partnerships. I'm the only candidate that provides jobs through affordable housing - our affordable housing projects and my church-based nonprofit organizations. And as I had said earlier, our project just broke ground in January 2022, providing 119 units of affordable housing at a cost of over $36 million. No one else has done that, no one else has been involved in leading the community. I'm just talking about - I'm not talking about Emmett Till, but I am talking about Trayvon Martin, I am talking about Michael Brown, I am talking about the mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. I am talking about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. First AME Church, through this pastor and the leadership that I provided for this community - I was the one out in the street, I was the one organizing these marches along with my colleagues, I was the one that's speaking truth to power, I was the one that convened the mayor, the chief of police who has endorsed me. WEA has endorsed me, the Retired Public Employees Council has endorsed me, and we're still getting endorsements as we speak - because my boots are on the ground. You don't have to wait for Day One to start pushing the button - what are you gonna do? I'm gonna continue to do what I've always done. And so this is my pledge, this is who I am as a person - and preaching and politics have never been separated in my book. And from the historical tradition of the African Methodist Episcopal Church - we were the first to seek public office in state and federal levels in our denomination and have led the charge and led the way. The Reverend Raphael Warnock is standing on the shoulders of historical path and I'm standing on those same shoulders. [00:33:48] Crystal Fincher: We're at an interesting time in our country and there certainly is a lot going on. You're coming to this race as a pastor. Your faith has informed how you have walked through life and how you have chosen to serve others in the community. We also see examples of some people who may be opposing you in this race, and some churches that are much more exclusive, that talk much more pointedly about who is and who is not welcome, who is and who is not moral or just or right in our society, allowed in our society. And we're having lots of conversations about what is the appropriate delineation between church and state. As someone whose faith is important to them, who you are walking into this role as a pastor, what role does faith play in how you serve, and I guess, through this candidacy. And what would you say to people who look around at other examples of religious leadership that they don't feel loved or included by - that you, as a pastor, would be the right choice. What would you say to folks who are thinking that? [00:35:17] Pastor Carey Anderson: Well, you've asked a series of questions, actually. I would like to start by saying - we sang a song when I was coming up in California and They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love. And so my faith is rooted and grounded in love - love for neighbor, and love for self, and love for a community. And so, this is what informs my walk, it informs my talk. I want to be able to stand in the shoes of other people. It's not until you stand in their shoes that you understand their pain, and once you understand their pain, then you can begin to have discussions on how to mitigate the pain, how to address the pain, and how to walk with them through the pain. And so this is what I endeavor to do. The Bible says in the New Testament - we walk by faith and not by sight. So faith is what leads me, every morning, to get up. And it doesn't matter to me if you're Muslim, Jewish, atheist, or whoever you may be. You are a person, you are valued, and you are loved. What is it that we can do to help your walk? What is it that we can do to inform your viability, sustainability for you and your family and your loved ones? That's what we should be about. [00:36:57] Crystal Fincher: Thank you so much, Pastor Carey. If people wanna find out more about your campaign or get involved, where can they go to find out more information? [00:37:06] Pastor Carey Anderson: Google me and go to my, our website - Pastor Carey Anderson or Reverend Dr. Carey Anderson. But our campaign website is electpastorcarey.com and you can go there, and we're still getting lots of hits and the phone number is there 253-296-6370. Well, you're welcome to join us, you're welcome to wave with us, you're welcome to walk with us, you're welcome to phonebank, textbank with us, and to follow us as we follow our call and commitment. So, these are simple ways, but it means so much - reaching people one at a time, one neighborhood at a time, one household at a time, one person at a time. And that's what we're about. [00:38:05] Crystal Fincher: Well, thank you so much for spending time with us today, Pastor Carey Anderson. Thank you so much - we'll continue to follow you on your journey. [00:38:14] Pastor Carey Anderson: Thank you for having me, Crystal. It has certainly been an honor, and it's certainly been a joy to see the work that you and your team are doing. And I am not going to turn this off. I'm gonna keep you in my heart and I'm gonna keep the work that you do in my soul. So thank you so much. God bless you and God keep you. [00:38:37] Crystal Fincher: Thank you. I thank you all for listening to Hacks & Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler with assistance from Shannon Cheng. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I. Now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes. Thanks for tuning in - we'll talk to you next time.
Jill Schlesinger on the bear markets/ return to office/ filling vacant office space // Paging Dr. Cohen -- HIPAA regulations regarding medical records // Hanna Scott rounding up recent King County criminal sentencings // Dose of Kindness -- Ruby the Rescue Dog // Shannon Drayer on the Mariners-Angels brawl // Phil Talmadge - former SCOW Justice - live on the SCOTUS Bremerton prayer decision See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Technical difficulties at Regina's house result in a solo Lynn and a guest host swapping stories of fascinating house histories. Special Guest Host Becky tells us the story of a missing person, a gun found in the wall and a suspicious patch of concrete in her house in Seattle. Lynn chimes in with her story of living in a former brothel (yep, I really do) and lays some history upon us of the original Skid Row in Seattle and its famous madam, Lou Graham, who (allegedly) also helped finance the business ventures of some of Seattle's founding families and paid to educate (again, allegedly) the public school kids of King County.Support the show
Have you ever been inspired to make a change in your community after witnessing an issue within it? Nikkita Oliver, gender fluid abolitionist, artist, educator, poet and attorney, grew up witnessing systemic injustice. Now, they are working with Creative Justice, a non-profit based in Seattle, to dismantle the school to prison pipeline. In this episode… Continue Reading How Can We Learn To Shape A Better Tomorrow? – With Community Organizer Nikkita Oliver
Disclaimer: This episode contains graphic content. Some listeners may find the material disturbing and offfensive. In an ever changing and demanding world, very few things persist and endure. So when you meet Dave Reichert you'll see he's kind of a unicorn. He was an American politician, veteran, and former sheriff who served with King County beginning in 1972. Dave rose through the ranks and lead the Green River Task Force, formed to track down the so-called “Green River Killer” one of America's most prolific serial killers. The task force was aided by the infamous Ted Bundy In 2001, DNA evidence identified Gary Ridgway as the Green River killer. He was convicted of murdering 49 people, but he also confessed and was suspected to have killed anywhere between 71-90 or more people. Dave pursued this elusive killer for almost 20 years. Can you imagine almost 20 yrs of chasing frustrating dead end leads? Losing funding and staff? A mounting pile of other homicide cases that needed your attention? This is not to mention how much family time one would have to sacrifice? Through it all, Dave was unwavering in his resolve in bringing justice to the victims and their families. What are the values hat define his foundation? And when you are completely exposed to these horrific, grizzly crime scenes, how do you retain humanity and hope? The is an incredible story about persistence, faith and commitment that ultimately lead to the capture of the Green River Killer.
A King County judge has ordered the state to pay a man, who is accused in two separate attacks at a light rail station and bus stop in Seattle, $250 for each day he is not admitted for treatment. Alexander Jay was charged with second-degree assault for allegedly throwing a woman down several flights of stairs at the light rail station in the Chinatown-International District. He was also charged with first-degree assault after a stabbing at a nearby bus stop that same day as the alleged light rail attack. In April, Jay was deemed incompetent to stand trial and he was ordered to spend the next three months in an inpatient facility until he understands the charges made against him. LIKE & SUBSCRIBE for new videos everyday. https://bit.ly/3KBUDSK
On this Hacks & Wonks week-in-review, Crystal is joined by former Seattle mayor and current Executive Director of America Walks, Mike McGinn. The show starts with a plug for the Institute for a Democratic Future (IDF) graduation party in Seattle this Saturday, 6/18, to celebrate its Class of 2022 completing a program focused on recruiting, training, and promoting the next generation of Democratic civic leaders, and extends an invite to others interested in the program Crystal credits with starting her political career. On the topic of civic leadership, Mike and Crystal note that primary ballots are a month out from arriving in mailboxes and discuss what they each look for in a candidate: where they lie on the urban vs suburban spectrum, whether they hedge or make strong statements on policy, how they demonstrate living the values they espouse, what kind of campaign they run, and a demonstration of being strong in tough scenarios before they are elected. The two then wrap up with a look at the opportunity voters have on the November ballot to make changes to future elections with Seattle set to vote on approval voting and King County Council moving a ballot measure on even-year elections forward. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com. Find the host, Crystal Fincher, on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today's co-host, Mike McGinn, at @mayormcginn. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com. Resources Institute for a Democratic Future: https://democraticfuture.org/ IDF Class of 2022 Graduation Party: https://www.facebook.com/events/677339030035686 RSVP for IDF Class of 2022 Graduation Party: https://secure.anedot.com/idf/graduation “What's The Difference Between Candidates in the 36th Legislative District?” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/news/2022/06/17/75176294/whats-the-difference-between-candidates-in-the-36th-legislative-district “Voters Could Change How And When We Vote This November” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/news/2022/06/15/75135178/voters-could-change-how-and-when-we-vote-this-november “Election Nerds Feud Over Whether or Not Approval Voting Violates Voting Rights” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2022/03/01/67571578/election-nerds-feud-over-whether-or-not-approval-voting-violates-voting-rights @GirmayZahilay - Twitter thread on even year vs odd year elections: https://twitter.com/GirmayZahilay/status/1537124459080929280 Transcript [00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington State through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. Today, we are continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week with a cohost. Welcome back to the program: friend of the show, super popular cohost, activist, community leader, former mayor of Seattle and Executive Director of America Walks, Mike McGinn. [00:00:57] Mike McGinn: Glad to be here - again - thank you. [00:01:00] Crystal Fincher: Glad you are here - always a fun time when you are here. So I wanted to start off just by mentioning - we've talked about the Institute for a Democratic Future before, which is pretty much responsible for my political career and the careers of so many people in politics and policy in Washington State and DC. This year's class is actually graduating tomorrow - super proud of all of them. That is actually a public event that people can attend - tickets are on sale and you can attend, so if you're free Saturday, June 18th, in the evening - check out the Institute for a Democratic Future website for tickets - democraticfuture.org. We'll also put a link in the show notes and it'll be available on the website - or just hit me up on Twitter, whatever - would love to see you there, meet some of you. I'll be there. Look forward to that and seeing this current class graduate and a great opportunity just to learn more about the program - see if you might be interested in doing it. Also, ballots arrive in a month for the primary election. Things are coming in quick, time evaporates really quickly. And so lots of people are trying to figure out who's who, what's differentiating the candidates. The Stranger had an article come out this morning talking about - what's the difference between candidates in the 36th? So starting off, Mike, as you evaluate - how do you evaluate how candidates are different, how are you going to be making the decision about how to vote and who to support? How do you go through it? How do you recommend voters go through it? [00:02:48] Mike McGinn: Yeah, now this is such a great question in Seattle elections, right? Because one of the real, and we could carry on about this at length, one of the things about Seattle is - Seattle is, by comparison to national politics, a very progressive place. You find that 90+ percent voted for Biden in this city - I think was the number, if you go back. So it's pretty clear - some people will try to make it "what flavor of progressive are you," but everybody's gonna work to sound like they're progressive. And occasionally we'll see - for some reason, we seem to get this more from the Seattle Times and the more right side of the spectrum - "but they're all really the same, aren't they?" And I'll warn you about something - that that's not always the case, or they try to claim it - that well, one side is more ideological and the other side is more pragmatic or reasonable - something like that. But there is, in fact, a dividing line in Seattle politics that I'd ask people to consider and maybe about where they fit on that dividing line. So nationally, the ends of the spectrum are urban versus rural. In a city like Seattle, I'd suggest to you that it's urban versus suburban and the attitudes that accompany those. Now, of course, Seattle has areas that are suburban in nature - single-family homes on nice, quiet, tree-lined streets and a fair number of the voters come from those precincts. But they have indeed chosen to live in a city, so they're not - there are progressive sensibilities there. And urban is a catchall that could cover a lot of things. But let me see if I can dig into this just a little bit. Housing and zoning - a suburban approach would be single-family houses are great, an urban approach would be we should have lots of different kinds of housing. Policing - a suburban approach might be how do we keep bad people out of the neighborhood and how do we patrol the neighborhood to prevent folks from getting here. And a more urban approach might be - well, bad things are gonna happen. How do we make sure that the police can work effectively with the community and treat 'em fairly? So you see an urban versus suburban divide there. Homelessness - suburban mentality is can we give them a bus ticket to the city - this is an overstatement. An urban mentality is - well, we're gonna have homeless people, what are we gonna do? So I think on every issue that we look at - where do they fit on that spectrum is a way to look at it. And candidates - we already saw it in that article you showed about the 36th - what would you do about single-family zoning - a couple of whom were hedging, were hesitant. Bruce Harrell, as mayor, when he ran was hesitant - I'm not sure, we shouldn't just rezone the whole City. And then when you look at where they get the votes from, they tend to get the votes from the folks who are more resistant to building more housing and more different types of housing in the exclusive or exclusionary neighborhoods of Seattle. So that would be the first thing I'd look at in candidates - is where do they fit on that divide, and how to ask some hard questions to get at it. Like really pin 'em down - 'cause everybody's for more housing, everybody's for affordable housing - but would you upzone single-family neighborhoods is a hard question. You could ask 'em about what laws they might change in the State Legislature to make it easier to hold police accountable - see where they fall on that. There's a whole bunch of different places you can go to try to pin 'em down on something. So that's my first cut. I have a second cut on that, but Nicole - not Nicole - Crystal! I know you have answers to that one. [00:06:50] Crystal Fincher: That's so funny - you called me Nicole. My name is Nicole, but yes - [00:06:56] Mike McGinn: Is it really? [00:06:58] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, my family's called me Nicole my entire life - that's my middle name. So yes, lots of people call me Nicole. I don't know if you heard someone call me that, but anyway - [00:07:05] Mike McGinn: No, I think it's just that Nicole - it's been on my brain from prior discussions. [00:07:10] Crystal Fincher: Anyway, I think that's good - certainly, housing affordability, the approach to getting people housed - basically, whether you're looking to take a housing first approach and house people primarily. Or if people think the problem is visible homelessness - always a red flag to me when I hear people characterize the problem as visible homelessness - the visible is not the problem, the homelessness is the problem. And a lot of times the characterization of visible homelessness positions people who witness homelessness, or have to see it, as the victims - are somehow harmed - when clearly the harm is absolutely being done mainly to the person who doesn't have a house and who is out there in the elements with no shelter, much more likely to be a victim of crime than most other people in the community. And so that's always something to me. And are we okay with sweeping, even if we don't have shelter available. Or is it - hey, we need to find places for people to stay, we need to create places for people to stay. Are we satisfied with shelter, congregate shelter, which we now have so much data showing that it's really counterproductive in some situations - absolutely as emergency shelter, and some situations better than being on the street and some situations it's actually not. So are we providing people with rooms with a bathroom, a door that locks - somewhere where people can stabilize. Just especially in these Seattle elections - where they are D versus D races - we can have a lot richer conversations. And frankly, be pickier about who we decide to support. This is not a situation where the choice is between a Democrat and a Republican who is denying the 2020 election, who doesn't prioritize democracy and one person, one vote, who wants to end abortion protections, and all of that - where it's almost a - it's a harm reduction approach at minimum to vote for a Democrat, but the consequence is horrible. So you stop quibbling on issues and policy and we're talking really broad strokes. That's not the case in Seattle. You can make a choice for a progressive person or someone who is aligned with you on policy. There isn't something as - well, we don't know if we can elect a progressive in Seattle. We absolutely can. People can make that choice. And so one, drilling down further to see - are people hedging? Are they willing to answer strongly? Are people trying to not take a position? Are they saying - this is where I am, and trying to make the case for bringing other people along with them. I think that's a big thing. Another thing I would say is - working in politics for a while - campaigns are actually horrible job interviews for governing. The skills and the stuff that you use on a campaign - lots of them do not translate to governing, and it's just so interesting that we go about things like this. There's a saying that - Hey, we have the worst system except for all the other ones. Who knows, but I do think that there - one thing that I've seen that has been a consistent transfer is, what are the decisions that people make in their campaigns? How are they choosing - they may not have been in a situation where they were in control of a budget before. They may not have been in a situation where they were making hiring decisions and staffing decisions. Well, now that they are - what are they doing? Are they making decisions in alignment with their values and how they're talking? Are they working with people who are aligned with them, or who are aligned with folks who are doing things very different than what they say they anticipate doing? How are they living their values in this situation, in a campaign, where they are the ones making the calls and making the decisions? How are they using their resources? Just things like that are - you can see how someone is processing information. You can see - hey, you talk about workers - are you paying your campaign staff? Everyone has volunteers, but your campaign manager, other people involved - do you have a diverse staff? Lots of people have pictures with lots of diverse people in them. Who are the people that they're paying. It is a question - [00:12:17] Mike McGinn: That's such a great observation. Everybody's got the right pictures. [00:12:21] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. How are they investing their resources? And that, to me, consistently translates into the decisions that they make when they're elected and how they choose to allocate resources. And so look at their campaigns, see what they're doing, what kinds of decisions they're making, who they're hiring. I think who you hire, a lot of times, speaks a lot more than who you work for. Lots of times people are trying to pay their bills, all that kind of stuff. So - hey, I work for - people, I certainly have lots of issues with Amazon, but am I gonna take issue with someone who works for Amazon? Absolutely not. It's hard to pay bills, it's hard to find a job that - so do that, but once you're doing the hiring, that's a different story. Who are you choosing? How are you going about that? How are you living your values? What have you done that gets away from the rhetoric and more to - are you walking your talk? That is how I look to candidates and campaigns and decisions. I'm looking - this is me, obviously - I'm looking at PDC expense reports to see who they're working with, to see how they're being a steward of the resources in their control. So that would be my recommendation - look and see how they're living the values that they say they're living. That's a good indication of what they're gonna do when they're elected. [00:13:56] Mike McGinn: Those are all great points. So let me see, I'll come around for my second cut and I'll hit some of the ones you hit too. How they run their campaign - are they - is it a top-down campaign which is money and some consultants, or are they really showing the ability to engage and draw volunteers? 'Cause that gives you a sense of how they will operate in office - who's part of their coalition. That's - I think the next one is endorsements matter and they don't matter. I wouldn't - a lot of the endorsing organizations may be trying to figure out who's gonna win as well as their values. But if you look at their money and everybody's gonna have some - everyone's gonna have a mix of checks, but where's the weight of the money coming from? 'Cause the reality is most people, once elected, are gonna serve the base that got them elected. So where's the political base as can be told from looking at all of the data around endorsements and dollars and then again, how they're running the campaign. So does it appear to be a campaign that's built upon a broad coalition of community members volunteering, or is it being financed by certain industries or sectors of the economy? That'll tell you who they'll speak to. So that's worth looking at. Your comments reminded me of two other things. One question I asked, and this is now coming from a Sierra Club background and we interviewed people for endorsements. And again, everybody came in, everybody knew what the right answer was for Seattle politics, and people would hedge a little bit - but this is expanding on one of the things Crystal said. And by the way, your LinkedIn is Crystal Nicole Fincher, so I - [00:15:51] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, I usually put all three names. [00:15:53] Mike McGinn: Nicole is there in a lot of places, so maybe that was there, maybe it was there in my head somewhere. The question is - I would ask - tell me about a time you did something for the environment. Not what's your position on clean air, or what's your position on walking and biking - but tell me about a time you took action because you cared about the environment. And some people have great answers and some people have no answers - and if the answer is, well, I recycle regularly - well, so that's Seattle, right? But if your answer was - oh, I took a summer to volunteer at an animal rescue center or something - okay, this person in their heart really feels something about the world around them. And you could ask that in any number of contexts - tell me a time when you acted on this impulse. The other question I love to ask people and - 'cause people still come to me and ask me for endorsements - and I say, tell me about a time you did something in your life or career that was hard and maybe even unpopular - the time that you had to have some guts and courage. And the reason is 'cause if you don't show guts or courage before you take office, you are not gonna show it once you take office. [00:17:13] Crystal Fincher: That is the truth. [00:17:15] Mike McGinn: This is - yeah, because the dynamic, once you're in office, is really pushing you to not take chances, to go with the flow, to not stand out too much - it's the safer place to be. And those forces only get harder and harder, which is why you end up with elected officials who just - you feel like after a few terms, they don't really seem to be doing anything anymore because it's been taken out - [00:17:43] Crystal Fincher: Ground out of them? [00:17:44] Mike McGinn: Ground out of them, man - it's like a tea bag that's been dipped into the hot water too many times - there's just not much flavor left after they're in for a long time. So that's my thing - tell me about a time you did something hard, unpopular, tough, but you did it anyway. And why you did it 'cause you do want somebody who's gonna be willing to step up on a hard issue and take a chance. My 2 cents - when we're looking at the challenges we face, incremental changes to the status quo in the face of all the challenges we face - you'd like to see people step up and do something hard and take a risk politically for the right thing. And that's what I'd like to see in a candidate too. [00:18:27] Crystal Fincher: That's so good. That's absolutely true. I definitely tell candidates and have conversations with lots of people. To your point, it gets harder after you get elected. There's pressure on candidates sometimes to - well, don't offend these people, you might lose this, don't say this, don't say that don't. And the mindset is almost - well, if I just get elected - I just need to get elected and then I can really do the thing I really wanna do. It does not work like that - it gets harder - the stakes are higher, actually. And so you have to be willing to stand by what you believe before you're elected. If, when it comes down to a negotiation and you're going back and forth on - and we're talking about legislative races - with your colleagues on - well, we can keep this in, I'll agree to keep this in if you take that out. What are the things that aren't going to be compromised on, what are the things that you know you can count on them to say I'm a No vote without this. And that's a big deal. The other thing that I think is really useful and that candidates have to do - they have to be out talking to voters. They have to be out in the community. They have to be knocking on doors. They have to be talking to regular people who are not hacks and wonks, who are not insidery insiders - who are saying this is what I'm dealing with, what are you gonna do about it? And who - you have to talk to them about - I hear you, this is what I think will help - go back and forth, get their feedback on it. Most candidates who are talking to voters regularly - you can tell. And to me, that's the difference between someone who is coming from a philosophical or purely ideological point of view, they may be very online - but you have to engage with your constituents, you have to hear tough feedback, you have to talk to people who are going through rough moments, and you have to see what you can do to help, and explain to them and bring them along with you. You have to actually build a coalition to govern. You have to bring people along to your side. If you want to change policy, you're going to have to change people's minds. And if you don't have practice doing that, if that's not a habit of yours, then it's not gonna happen after you get elected. The pressures to do that lessen after you get elected - schedules get busier. You have to prioritize engaging with people in your district from all different backgrounds, all different walks of life, viewpoints. And if you aren't comfortable with that, if you haven't done that in all of those situations - it does not serve you well as a candidate or as someone who's elected. [00:21:33] Mike McGinn: It's super hard as a candidate too, 'cause candidates - new candidates, in particular, and I'll toss myself - I was pretty engaged in civic affairs before I ran for mayor, but there were still big chunks of issue areas that I was not terribly sophisticated in my thinking on. And so I may have been better than your average new candidate in some areas, but compared to somebody who'd been in office - and so this is one of the traits you see of someone who's been in office for a while - they've got their talking points on every issue, they know where the safe space is on each one. So there's this learning process that occurs when you're running as well. And going back to your point about talking to people, you're not gonna learn if you're not talking to people. So I do like to see that too. It's funny - we're talking about somebody who can hold their principles, but you also want somebody who can be educated by the people they speak to and begin to understand the complexities of the issues. But also understand what really matters to people, and your point is really a strong one. And then be able to say, 'cause if you're running, you're saying you're the best person for the job. If you don't think you're the best person for the job, you shouldn't be in the race. Well, if you think you're the best person for the job, you're gonna have to start challenging yourself to answer the questions in a way that demonstrates that you're capable of making some forward progress on that issue. And I hold new candidates, at the beginning of that race, to a pretty low bar - because they're learning and you're allowed to say - well, I'm learning more about the - I don't recommend any candidates say that in any endorsing interview or to anybody - when you run, you're supposed to have all the answers. It's terrible. And then when you're elected, you're supposed to listen to everybody 'cause you shouldn't have all the answers. So that's another dynamic of running and winning. But when you're running, it is okay to keep learning and I see candidates learn and progress. So that's the other thing I look for in a candidate - just is, are they - what their ability to take up issues, identify, and attach a philosophy to it, and actually start making real recommendations, as opposed to simply talking points. And by talking points, I mean - one of the things to look for is - when you're talking to a candidate, are they just giving you value statements? "Affordable housing is really important. We need to care for every person in our community that's homeless." That's a value statement and it's good - I'm glad to hear people's values - but somebody can say, "We need to fight crime and we need to hold the police accountable." Okay, what's your plan? What's your plan to hold police accountable? How far would you be willing to go, or how far is too far for you as a candidate, and what do you think should be done differently to fight crime? What would you support? So, in a way it's the actual taking a position on an issue. And I also get super suspicious of candidates who don't take a position - who wanna, and I recommend this to candidates too - the way I phrase it now is, if you win votes, sometimes you have to lose votes. If somebody is afraid of losing a vote in the way they talk to you - it's in a way - it's a little bit taking the voter for granted if you're just trying to tell everybody what they want to hear and never take a hard position. Voters can - and I experienced this as a candidate and as a mayor - people will sometimes, people can disagree with you on things and still vote for you. If they like what you say on other issues, or if they like your approach, or if they just think you're coming from the right place, they're gonna work hard to get the right answer even if they don't like your answer then. So don't get hung up on - take a position, particularly on the things that really matter to the voters, so that you can give them some direction. There is a candidate - this is the thing, though - there is a candidate that can get through without taking positions. And this is why I think voters should be suspicious of those candidates. Those candidates can get through without taking a position, 'cause often they're the anointed candidate in the race. Races tend to end up with only one anointed candidate - that's why they're anointed - sometimes you see multiple people fighting for it. And the anointed candidate is the candidate who's wrapping up all the endorsements from the political insiders and the interest groups and the campaign funders. And with those dollars, and then usually with the support of the Seattle Times - in those races, everybody will say what a wonderful person this candidate is. And they will reflect on that person's personal characteristics. And their goal, their way of getting through the campaign is to present themselves to the world as - well, I'm clearly the best person for the job, look at my resume and my wonderful personality. And they don't wanna take a position, 'cause they're gonna count on that to get 'em over the top. The problem with that candidate is they are so beholden to the interests that helped elect them, that they'll never take a hard stance. Now, if you're not the anointed - a lot of candidates make the mistake, then, of trying to be the anointed candidate - getting all the endorsements and not taking a position, 'cause they look at that candidate and they go - so many of those candidates succeed, that's my path too. But there can only be one of them in a race. So what I'd be looking for in a race is who's somebody who's running on something. This is my personal experience, this is my lived experience, these are the things I've thrown myself into, this is the thing I wanna change in the world. Let me tell you how I'm gonna change it. And then evaluate - are they working on the right thing? Does their plan have a good likelihood of success? And that person at least will be willing to take some risks on change. If you want the status quo, elect the anointed candidate. If you think there are problems and unique change, look for the candidate who's willing to take some risks and potentially lose some votes, but hopefully they're gonna win votes because - hopefully the City believes that there are problems that need to be solved and we should elect problem solvers and not defenders of the status quo. [00:27:58] Crystal Fincher: I completely agree. Take a stance. You have to know where people stand - your point about value statements, it's so interesting being in a lot of situations where I'm watching how people and audiences react to things or - hey, this person said "Housing is a human right." I believe housing is a human right. Okay, done. And it's like okay, but have they explained how they're going to house people, what they're willing to do and what they're willing to not do, what their priority is, what they will prioritize funding? What are the details of that? What will you actually do? And there also is sometimes a plague of people, a type of candidate, whose priority is to get elected and who doesn't necessarily understand the type of office that they're running for. 'Cause running - what you can do as a legislator is very different than what you can do as a King County Councilmember or Port Commissioner, it's different than a city councilmember or a mayor - those are all very different things, very different jurisdictions. Your levers of power, your tools of change are very different. So do you understand the jurisdiction that you're running for? Or are you running for Legislature, like you're a mayor or a city councilmember? Those are very different things. And even the conversation on public safety is very different - and what they can do and how they can engage with that - or homelessness is different based on what you're running for - what you can actually do and what you can't do is different based on the jurisdiction. Has someone even engaged with that yet? Or are they just - this is me, I've always wanted to be elected, this open seat popped up, and so I'm running for it. This is not a commentary on anyone who's running right now. That was an example - I'm not referencing anyone specific, but that is a thing that I see often, that I see every cycle. And it's just - this person wants to be elected, they don't actually wanna make change. [00:30:08] Mike McGinn: So the - yeah, this is - you're reminding me of one of my other favorite sayings - is the candidate - do they wanna be somebody or they wanna do something? And it's a little unfair, 'cause nobody's a 100% one or the other. Like I definitely thought - I was running to do stuff, but it is fun to have people call you mayor, so I'm not immune to that. And I even think the people who I look at and go - oh, they just wanna be somebody, they've just been positioning themselves for the last 15 years to get an elected office, and spent so much time positioning that they haven't actually gotten anything done - they still have a beating heart and there's still things they wanna do. I think it's a mix of both, but where on that spectrum are they - of wanna be somebody or want to do something. And one of the best ways you can tell if they're people who want to do something is the questions we asked earlier - have they made, have they taken hard choices and taken some hits as a result of it? Have they thrown themselves into a cause to try to make change, even if there was no personal gain attached to it or status attached to it. And those can help answer that question of whether they want to do something or just be somebody. [00:31:22] Crystal Fincher: Makes sense. Well, this - a lot of times Fridays are Weeks In Review, but we have a unique opportunity here, when we're speaking with Mike McGinn, who has so much experience in activism, as an executive of one of the largest cities in the country. And so I do think this is a helpful conversation, as we're going to begin to hear a lot more from candidates - as candidates are gonna be communicating with voters, and your mailbox is about to fill up, and they're gonna be commercials and videos that you see - all that. But looking beyond that, this is always such an interesting conversation. As a political consultant, I'm involved in doing all of that - to be clear - but if you actually do care about this stuff, you actually want it to be with good people. I'm extremely picky about who I work with for that reason, this cycle I'm working with one person - working for other causes and in support of things, but when it comes to working with a candidate, I want a candidate that I know is in it to create change, has a history of walking their talk, is doing those things. And so - I'm working with Melissa Taylor in the 46th legislative district - there are lots of great candidates everywhere. I also still volunteer for candidates, because it's important who we elect to do that. And it is heartening - I see so many leaders who pass progressive policy, which is a distinction from people who just label themselves as progressive. That's more of a verb - it should be a verb - but it actually matters who we elect and we do have the opportunity in Seattle to not settle because we're scared of how horrific the opponent can be. We have better choices, so let's not settle for the status quo in so many situations - let's move forward, but do it in a way that just applies a little bit more discernment. And I appreciate having this conversation with you, 'cause I think it's really hard for people to figure out how to make this decision. [00:33:41] Mike McGinn: This will be the final point on this that I'll make, which is - I worked on endorsements within the Sierra Club for 10 years or so, I'm asked for my personal endorsement, I've run for office, gone through everyone else's endorsement processes multiple times. But let me just say - in doing endorsements for the Sierra Club, we got tricked more than once. It's hard. Somebody came in, they said all the right things, they seem to be the right person - but then, and it's really hard in this progressive versus progressive space, and then they get into office and you discover that they're not really with you. And it happens. And so, if you're trying to figure it out, and you find it hard, and you make a mistake, you're not - I can assure you - you're not alone here on this. So we're just trying to give you the best tools we can give you to make what can often be a very hard choice. [00:34:38] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it is - I get it - it's actually a big reason why I do this show - to try and - I've seen people in the candidate stage, I've seen 'em in policy, I've seen the intentions of policy and things that seem good and things that I thought were good. And then seeing, time after time, it go through the legislative process and how it ends up. Or, hey, this type of person or this type of profile does well in an election, and this is how it usually turns out when they govern. And you just start to see the patterns. I think it's hard, if you aren't watching this all the time, to pick up on those patterns. And I think that is helpful in trying to determine who actually does - who actually can make change. And a lot of things go into that - having the right principles, but also understanding how to work productively with your colleagues - balancing that line between yeah, absolutely standing by your principles and listening - and that helping to develop your policy. And testing what you're saying - yeah, this is what I believe - and if you encounter something that challenges that, you have to contend with that, you can't just ignore it - does that mean that your policy needs some tweaking or something - all those things. I just hope to contribute to that conversation, to contribute to help people figure out - what's happening, why it's happening, and what they can do about it - who they can vote for to do something about it. But I really appreciate having this conversation. I'm fine with this being this conversation instead of a Week In Review, because hopefully - and there's just tons of news and sometimes - [00:36:30] Mike McGinn: Well, we gotta bunch of races coming up. Speaking of races, we have different voting methods coming up about or under debate right now. One of the things we've seen is that approval voting will be on the ballot this November. And we also see an effort in King County to move King County elections from odd years to even years, which are big, significant changes. [00:37:01] Crystal Fincher: Big significant changes - we've talked about even year elections, just the difference - King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay tweeted actually this week - just a chart of voter turnout and it just looks - it's high, low, high, low, high, low, high, low - such a stark difference. And it's just even year, odd year, even year, odd year - 53%, 36%, 83%, 54%, 65%, 47%, 84%, 50% - that's the difference between even years and odd year elections. 2021 turnout was 44%, 2020 was 87%. And you're like - okay, well that was a presidential year, maybe that was the reason why it was different. 2019 was 49% - still less than half. 2018 - 76% - every single year - 2017 was 43%, 2016 - 82%. You're, in some years, almost doubling the amount of people who participate in that. To make an argument that we're okay with the amount of people being half that participate in our elections just does not make sense. And in this situation, I think we need to do all we can to help make sure everyone can vote. Speaking as someone who works in politics, you certainly see this yourself. It is tough, especially with how much local media has disappeared, how comparatively thin the resources are stretched now than they were 20 years ago - to just let people know that they're - forget a general election in an odd year - a primary election, it's rough and you basically have to pay to communicate with people and let them know. That's part of what drives up the cost of elections. There is almost no way for you to reach a large chunk of the voters without paying to send the mail, paying to target communication at them - that's the only way to let them know you exist. If you are someone who's a non-incumbent or challenging someone, your biggest opponent isn't your opponent, actually. It's just being known, period. So moving these to even years will just do a lot more and hopefully reduce the amount that needs to be spent on elections 'cause they are too expensive. The race I'm working in has - there's a ton of money in this race, which - okay, this is what it takes to win this race, unfortunately now - congressionally. We need to change the system to get some of the money out of it. And it's a tough go, especially for someone who's standing by their principles, not accepting corporate donations - it's rough to be able to try and afford and do those things. And we need to make it easier for people to get engaged without having to pay so much money to make that happen. [00:40:12] Mike McGinn: Well, if you believe in voter turnout - if you believe democracy is better when more people vote, then conversation should be over for you. But it turns out that there are some people who would prefer that fewer people vote. And so, it was not unanimous on the King County Council. And it goes back to that comment I was making earlier 'cause what we know is - when voter turnout is higher, you tend to have greater, more diverse representation in the voting pool. Similarly, you tend to have more people of lower incomes in the voting pool in high turnout years. More renters, more apartment dwellers, so it's more representative of the population as a whole in high turnout years. And low turnout years are less representative of the population as a whole. It tends to skew older, whiter - which then means also more single-family home ownership. We were talking earlier about the suburban or urban approach to city issues. Well, that's the - this is a difference between a more urban voting bloc, or one that trends towards the more suburban sensibilities about how cities should work. And, it's funny - I've used this line before - we talk about urbanists, but trust me, there are suburbanists in the City of Seattle that run for office and win. And that's challenging when you're trying to make sure you have enough housing for everybody, or that you want progressive policies towards - more progressive policies towards policing and the like. So, there are people who will argue - well, this enables more focus on the races and people can make more informed decisions, but it's a smaller pool of people. So they're really arguing for a smaller, less representative pool of people. And if you wanna put this in a national frame - the people arguing for odd year elections, because it does allow for a greater focus - it has the same effect as people who think the electoral college is good because it gives rural voters more say - without them - it's false to say that the electoral college is meant to protect small states and rural voters. Well, the electoral college has the effect of giving voters from smaller states an undue influence in the course of the country, right? The majority of the country believes certain things and that's not reflected in what the majority of the US Senate is, or what a majority of the electoral vote would count. Same thing happens in local elections held in odd years. The people who participate in the elections and the people who get elected don't actually represent the sentiment of the City as a whole, or the county district that they're running in. So moving to even year elections is just the right thing to do if you believe in democracy. And try to come up with a system to reduce turnout or to favor one population or over another - well, that's pretty anti-democratic, so honestly hope no one would speak up for it, but watch what would happen. I'll make you a bet that if Seattle had the opportunity to do it, state law would have to change. You'd see a whole lot of interests arise to argue that it's wrong, because they're used to helping shape and influence and anoint candidates - we talked about this earlier - their ability to anoint the candidate and push 'em through would be lost in a year in which there was bigger turnout than when holding these in low turnout elections. [00:43:46] Crystal Fincher: I agree with that. And especially with the momentum that ranked choice voting, which is not on our ballot in King County, at least this year, but there's a lot of support and momentum for here and across the state. It looks like they've actually seen this coming, that they've seen the momentum behind even year elections, ranked choice voting and have launched a preemptive strike in the form of this approval voting initiative, which will land on ballots in the City of Seattle in November. Now Hannah Krieg wrote a story about this and ran into a signature gatherer who told her - hey, ranked choice voting and approval voting are the same thing. That's not true, they're very different. And there's a reason why some of the folks who are supporting the main organization who's supporting this look like it would - this approval voting seems to have appeared out of nowhere. It's not - hey, this is my first choice, second choice, third choice. So that if your first choice doesn't make it, at least you can get your second choice in. And that makes a lot more sense in crowded primaries. This is - just vote for everyone who you like, just vote for everybody - which, in a situation where money counts, pretty much guarantees that the most well-funded candidates will make it through. And I think people have seen a gathering threat, especially in districted elections, and saying - okay, well, hey, the recall against Sawant didn't work, we're seeing these progressives being elected in all these different areas, let's make sure they get through. I am extremely suspicious of approval voting, especially with some of the misrepresentations that some of the signature gatherers have been making. It just strikes me as a preemptive strike against some of these other measures that do seem to be, that do seem like they'll have the result of increasing the amount of people who are engaged in voting these elections. [00:46:03] Mike McGinn: Well, I may have a slightly different view on this than you. I think that there are people who are totally into what's the best election system, 'cause I've gone down that rabbit hole and people have really strong views about that. I have to say, I think that approval voting has some positives to it, and which are - first of all, I know how I'm going to vote - if I have a clear winner, I'm gonna vote for the person I really like. You only have to vote for one person in approval voting, but boy, I've had races where I would've gladly voted for two or three people and said they're okay, just to show my support for 'em. Particularly they - 'cause here's what we know in Seattle - here's the counterargument for it. And by the way, I like ranked choice voting more than approval voting, but ranked choice voting has to be approved by the State, and it's probably gonna take a few years before we get there in Seattle - and we can always go there. But right now in Seattle, we tend to end up almost exclusively with candidates that are either endorsed by the Seattle Times or The Stranger. So I kinda like the ability of approval voting to get somebody, to give somebody else the possibility to get through. And I can think of races where I would've voted for more than one person in the race, rather than have to pick The Stranger or Seattle - and by the way, I almost, I pick The Stranger - cards on the table - between The Stranger and Seattle Times, I pick The Stranger. But I looked at these other candidates and said - boy, I'd really love one of them to get through, but they just don't really stand a chance. And I think approval voting would lead to The Stranger having to identify more than one candidate. They don't have to - they could, like me, identify one candidate they approve, but they might also be able to identify two or three that they approve. And I think that might yield better outcomes in terms of the candidates we get. [00:48:03] Crystal Fincher: It's an interesting argument. One thing - does approval voting, approval voting, does ranked choice voting need to be approved by the State? I don't think it needs to be approved by the State, does it? There are initiatives on the ballot for ranked choice voting in Clark County and maybe one other county right now. [00:48:24] Mike McGinn: I think counties are different. I think counties are different than cities in what people can do. I think that there's a - and same thing is true of the district election, excuse me, not district elections, odd year versus even year elections. Right now, the voting system for cities - there's a state statute that says what system you must follow, and when you must vote. And I think counties have greater flexibility, for whatever reason, under state law. So you need a law to give cities the authority to choose ranked choice voting and/or move into even years. And there have been efforts to do both in the legislature, both of which I support. [00:49:10] Crystal Fincher: So I just texted someone for clarification, really - the answer given to me via text, we can obviously clarify this at a further time - speaking from a county point of view, for non-charter counties, they can implement it. As you just said, for charter counties need - should be able to implement county-level, or charter counties should be able to implement it. Non-charter counties can't. Cities - question marks. You probably you're - yeah, I guess I didn't realize that. You probably dealt with this. [00:49:48] Mike McGinn: I'm pretty sure of this because I've worked on promoting the state legislation that would give authority for this. [00:49:54] Crystal Fincher: So how can we get approval voting? [00:49:58] Mike McGinn: Approval voting - just it, that one, I guess, just works differently. It's a good question, but I think it just works differently in the top-two primary system. I don't have legal analysis for you, but I'm sure if somebody did the legal analysis and concluded that it fit under the statutory system in a way that ranked choice voting did not. Yeah. [00:50:20] Crystal Fincher: Well, very interesting. I'm always learning here, I'm learning every week. [00:50:26] Mike McGinn: Oh, I was all ready to collect signatures for moving Seattle elections to even years until I discovered the State prohibition. So Mia Gregerson has legislation in the State Legislature. I actually think that a lot of the organizing that was done around odd year, even year elections has helped influence the County. In fact, when I met with Girmay, when he was running for office, I now recall this - I told Girmay - hey, by the way, win or lose, I hope you could support an effort to move elections to even years. We'll see if Girmay remembers the conversation the same way - that was at The Station up on Beacon Hill, at The Station coffee house. And he said, absolutely, I'd be all in for that. So Girmay, thank you for being - not just saying it, but doing it. So really cool - really cool to see the leadership he's showing on the King County Council. [00:51:25] Crystal Fincher: I would - back to our prior conversation - I would put Girmay in the category of doers. He wants to do something, is not primarily motivated by being someone. So, I appreciate this conversation. Always an interesting conversation with you, former Mayor Mike McGinn, now Executive Director of America Walks - you talked about your Sierra Club days, your City days, just all of it. And just talking about growing over time - look, I'm one of the people who you have convinced on some policies - back when - when you were "Mayor McSchwinn" - [00:52:08] Mike McGinn: Oh my goodness. And I never even owned a Schwinn - why would they say that? Yeah. [00:52:16] Crystal Fincher: Oh my gosh. Yeah, I have certainly learned a lot, continue to learn a lot - but, and it's one of those hallmarks of someone who is willing to engage in conversations. We've had conversations about policy - I'm like, red, and you're like, blue - and it's well, you know what? [00:52:35] Mike McGinn: Well, you've changed my mind, Crystal - [00:52:37] Crystal Fincher: He's making sense. [00:52:37] Mike McGinn: You changed my mind on things too, for what it's worth. You've absolutely changed my mind. [00:52:42] Crystal Fincher: Well, I appreciate it. I appreciate all of you for listening to Hacks & Wonks on this Friday, June 17th, a month out from when we get our ballots and can start voting in this primary election. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler, assistant producer is Shannon Cheng - Dr. Shannon Cheng is a United States orienteering champion - once again, we've talked about this a little bit before - she is just dominating in every where and every way, and is just extremely amazing and incredible. With assistance from Bryce Cannatelli - also, Bryce is just so great. Bryce is a newer addition to our team here and just oozes competence and is a delight. The Hacks & Wonks team is absolutely a team, I just wanna reinforce that again - you hear my voice most of the time with a guest, but this does not happen without these other people. It would be impossible to get one show a week done, let alone two - the amount of editing, preparation, just everything from soup to nuts - I am eternally grateful to Lisl, Shannon, and Bryce. You can find Mike McGinn on Twitter @mayormcginn, you can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, and now you can follow Hacks & Wonks wherever - wherever podcasts are, Hacks & Wonks is. Be sure to subscribe to get the full versions of our Friday almost-live show and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the podcast episode notes. Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.
When you think about libraries, you might picture the maze of bookshelves, the tables and chairs. Or maybe even the squeak of an ungreased wheel as a librarian walks by with a book cart. All that went away when the pandemic hit. But teenagers in King County eventually found a new way to hang out at the library. RadioActive Youth Media's Emily Chua has more.
For months, anti hate groups and the LGBTQ+ community in Washington warned of escalating violence in our region. Especially as pride month events kicked off.Then on Saturday, 31 men were arrested for a conspiracy to riot at Pride in Park in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Some were our neighbors in King County.Daniel Walters, a reporter for the Inlander in Spokane covers extremism in Washington, he'll fill us in on what he's learned so far.UW Medicine's Dr. Helen Chu is here and will tell us how rapid tests can be helpful in reducing Covid cases.Seattle Now runs on listener donations! Support the show by making a gift to our home, KUOW: http://bit.ly/seattlenow
12pm - The Big Lead @ noon // Dori complains about the great rainy, grey weather this spring in the NW // Seattle Fire Chief says they have low staffing numbers - says don't use the term "brown out" // GUEST: Mike Solan, from SPOG, on long response times around King County // Jayapal voted against SCOTUS enhanced security See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
WHAT'S NEW AT 10! Pierce Co, Seattle, and now King County releases report showing racial disparities in policing // The Seahawks have a woman on the coaching staff now. Her name is Amanda Ruller. // GUEST: WA State Superintendent Chris Reykdal on the daily threats, lockdowns and student arrests happening in WA schools // SCENARIOS See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Leesa Manion about her campaign for King County Prosecuting Attorney - why she decided to run, her endorsement by outgoing prosecuting attorney Dan Satterberg, and the experience she brings with 15 years as Chief of Staff in the KC Prosecuting Attorney's office. They then discuss the responsibility of the prosecutor's office in building and maintaining relationships with law enforcement partners, the suitability of diversion versus incarceration as paths in the criminal legal system, and what needs to happen to make prison lead to rehabilitation instead of recidivism. The conversation then shifts to how to balance people's concern about public safety with trust issues with law enforcement and the court system, the ethics of when prosecutors should turn over evidence, her decision to not seek police guild endorsements, and how the system can do better in advocating for victims rather than re-traumatizing them. The show wraps up with the importance of prosecutor accountability and what is at stake in her race against a seemingly more hard-line and punitive opponent. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com. Find the host, Crystal, on Twitter at @finchfrii and find Leesa at https://www.facebook.com/leesaforprosecutor. Resources Campaign Website - Leesa Manion: https://leesamanion.com/ “Juvenile division prosecutor defends Restorative Community Pathways” by Henry Stewart-Wood from The Courier-Herald: https://www.courierherald.com/news/king-countys-juvenile-division-prosecutor-defends-restorative-community-pathways “King County to continue new juvenile restorative justice program, despite pushback” by David Gutman from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/king-county-to-continue-new-juvenile-restorative-justice-program-despite-pushback/ Investing For No Return - Final Report from King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office Reentry Summit: http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~public/meetingrecords/2013/cbriefing20130225_4a.pdf Seattle Community Court: https://www.seattle.gov/courts/programs-and-services/specialized-courts/seattle-community-court Filing and Disposition Standards - King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/prosecutor/criminal-overview/fads.aspx “WA prosecutors who withhold evidence rarely face discipline” by Melissa Santos from Crosscut: https://crosscut.com/news/2022/04/wa-prosecutors-who-withhold-evidence-rarely-face-discipline Transcript [00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington State through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. I am very happy to welcome to the show today: candidate for King County Prosecuting Attorney, Leesa Manion. Welcome to the program. [00:00:45] Leesa Manion: Well, hello, Crystal. Thank you so much for having me, it's a pleasure to be here. [00:00:50] Crystal Fincher: Pleasure to have you here. So you have decided to run for King County Prosecutor. What made you decide to run now? [00:00:59] Leesa Manion: Well, I'm running because I care so much about the work of the office - I care about its importance, I care about its impact on our communities, and I also care about the women and men who have dedicated their careers to public service and are looking for experienced and proven leadership. [00:01:15] Crystal Fincher: So you talk about proven leadership - our current King County Prosecutor, Dan Satterberg, is leaving the office, but has endorsed you and has worked with you. Why do you think he has endorsed you and he supports you? [00:01:29] Leesa Manion: I think it is because of my deep level of experience, I think it's because of my proven leadership. I have had a hand in implementing all of the really good reforms that have come out of the office in the past 15+ years that have earned our office a national reputation of being fair, just, and effective. I am definitely a candidate who can hit the ground running - I'm very deep in operations, I also have very deep ties to our community, and I have really good working relationships with our employees in the office. [00:02:01] Crystal Fincher: So you talk about having a hand in a lot of what has gone on over the past 15 years - what has worked well and what hasn't worked well? [00:02:10] Leesa Manion: One thing that I think has worked well are all of the juvenile justice reforms that we've made - I'm really proud of the fact that I am a co-founding partner of Choose 180. And I have to say - at the time, Choose 180 was revolutionary in the sense that it was the first time that the prosecuting attorney's office intentionally shared power with community, and allowed the community's voice to shape justice and to be equal to ours. And it led the way for a lot of really good reforms that followed. So I think diversion works really well - it doesn't mean that it's foolproof. We've definitely had some pilot projects that didn't yield the types of results that we wanted, but we continued to refine our process, we continue to refine partnerships, we continue to decide how to offer services in a way that is fully funded and effective. And in terms of something that hasn't gone well, I would say - everyone has been affected by the pandemic and we, in the prosecuting attorney's office, aren't any different. I think some of our relationships over the course of pandemic have been frayed, I think our relationships with some of our law enforcement partners have been frayed. And if selected, I would be committed to rebuilding those relationships. And it looks something like this - I think that we have to - as an elected, I would have to go to our Police Chiefs and Sheriffs meeting. I've always said to Dan that I thought it was a mistake that he wasn't in the room as an elected. I think, as an elected, you have to be in the room to develop relationships and to be accountable and to build partnerships. So I would be committed to doing that. [00:03:50] Crystal Fincher: So would you say it's the fault of the prosecutor's office, that there is a frayed relationship? [00:03:57] Leesa Manion: I think we definitely play a role in it, and I think we definitely can take a leadership role in rebuilding that relationship. And I've been doing that in my current role. For example, just last week I met with our Kent Police Chief and our Des Moines Police Chief and our juvenile leadership team to talk about some of the juvenile justice reforms that have gone on in recent years. And talk about the new juvenile diversion program, Restorative Community Pathways. And that was a really good conversation because we had an opportunity to share information, to air some frustrations, to clarify some misunderstandings, and to really start to build an open line of communication. And I really think that we have a lot of opportunity to do that with law enforcement throughout King County, but also with community partners. I really think that we in the prosecutor's office can serve as a bridge. [00:04:49] Crystal Fincher: When you talk about that bridge, it seems like there has been some resistance to moving toward diversion, certainly from some entities in law enforcement. We have recently seen an attempt to move some folks away from diversion from the Seattle City Attorney's office. Do you think that there's a possibility that you have of convincing folks like that to move in a different direction and to partner with you in doing that, or do you also see a hesitance? [00:05:25] Leesa Manion: What I see is a request to partner, I see a request for additional information, I see a request to have a seat at the table to help shape what diversion looks like. And I think that sometimes those questions can be mischaracterized or misunderstood as rejection or maybe resistance. But when I met with law enforcement, I found that they were curious. I found that they wanted to ensure that we were working together. I found that they wanted to ensure that there was some accountability, that if we offered diversion and there were individuals who were not successful - because sadly we will have some individuals who are not successful in diversion, what's the backup plan? What is the next step? What does accountability look like? And I think that we can have those conversations and have some agreed standards of conduct, but in order to do that, we really have to have relationships. We really have to start the conversation. We really have to bring people together to work on a common goal. [00:06:29] Crystal Fincher: So when do you think diversion is appropriate, and do you think incarceration is appropriate in the cases when diversion is not? [00:06:39] Leesa Manion: I think diversion is appropriate for low-level offenses. I think that there are individuals, particularly among youth, who make some poor decisions that shouldn't haunt them for the rest of their lives, that shouldn't define who they are as individuals. And I think that we can offer some services that look like getting to the root cause of poor decision-making, that give them tools, that provide some guided opportunities - maybe job training - a way to redirect behavior into something that's more positive and that also increases pro-social behavior. I think for violent crimes, of course, incarceration is definitely appropriate. I think that most people can agree that homicides and violent assaults and violent sexual assaults are the type of behaviors where we would expect that the individuals are processed through our traditional legal system, and if convicted are isolated away from our community. I think that there are a lot of areas in between where we can talk about what's appropriate for diversion. I think that there are some low-level first-time felony offenses that would be right for diversion as a way to keep people out of the court system and into something that is more effective - whether it's actually more response, not less response than what we're getting through our regular legal court system. [00:08:13] Crystal Fincher: And one question I have - when we talk about locking people up and putting them away, certainly we need action to make our streets safer - there's a lot going on that is unacceptable and not okay. And it really is helpful to focus on what makes the community safer. So with evidence and research - a large body of research - pretty conclusively pointing towards - when people get out of prison, prison is actually making them more likely to reoffend. If the goal is to prevent people from being victimized, how do you square that with incarcerating people and the approach that we're taking now? [00:08:58] Leesa Manion: Well, I really think we owe it to ourselves to have an honest conversation about prison reform. I am a strong believer in prison reform. I think that we talk a lot about the Department of Corrections being a place of rehabilitation, but we actually do not fund the level of services that are needed to address trauma, to address substance use disorder, to address underlying health conditions, mental health, or behavioral health issues. And until we get honest about that, we won't actually have the results that we want that help people while they are literally a captive audience, have the tools they need to be released better than when they first entered into prison. I think we have to be really honest about the fact that we have, stepping apart from the criminal justice system but through our legislative process, put up a lot of barriers to people who have criminal convictions or former contact with the criminal justice system. And if we expect people, because we say this a lot - you have served your time - then we have to be honest about the fact that they've served their time, they've paid their debt to society. And not continue to ask them to pay in all kinds of ways that are hidden - that prevent people from getting housing, jobs, access to student loans and education. [00:10:18] Crystal Fincher: I think that's an excellent point. And given that, I'm wondering - they seem to be not the only ones who are paying, that the community is also paying because they - a lot of people coming out of prison and prison itself makes people more likely to reoffend. So until we have those kinds of supports in place that are consistent with people committing less crime, not victimizing people - does it make sense to put people into a system that is creating victims? [00:10:55] Leesa Manion: Well, I think it only makes sense if we're willing to make the investments to get the returns that we want. I do think that when people commit violent crime, I do think that our community is asking for safety. I think our community is asking that certain individuals be isolated until they have, to be quite frank, have been held accountable - and sometimes that means punishment or rehabilitated. And in order to have rehabilitation, we have to have services. There are on average 8,000 women and men released from Washington State prisons every year back into our community - and unless we equip those individuals with the tools they need to be successful, they will go back to committing crime to survive - out of trauma, out of poor decision-making, out of criminogenic both behaviors and maybe patterns. And as a result, we are creating future victims of crime. So if we want to reduce crime and reduce victimization, we have to make the investment in prison reform and in re-entry. [00:12:04] Crystal Fincher: Can you impact that investment from your office? [00:12:08] Leesa Manion: I was really proud to be one of the key stakeholders behind the scenes in our 2012 conversation around re-entry. Dan Satterberg was the name on the door and the elected official who got people into the room, but I was the person who was helping behind the scenes, put all of those reforms into place to help create our report "Investing for No Return," shopping it with lawmakers and legislators, convening voices to weigh in on recommendations. I was meeting with the Black Prisoners' Caucus at Monroe and solicited from them an unedited chapter into the report, because the men and women who are leaving prison are the experts on re-entry and the barriers that they face. So I think I could, as an elected official, continue that conversation. And one thing about being an elected official is that your voice is given a megaphone and you have the power to convene, and convene really important and necessary conversations. [00:13:12] Crystal Fincher: I completely agree those conversations are absolutely necessary and it is really important to include the voices, as you have, of people who have been incarcerated or are currently incarcerated. I guess my question is - we seem to be in complete agreement and I think most of the community probably agrees - that the current system is broken and we are in desperate need of reform. Until it's reformed, and even if we're all pushing for that, does it make sense to keep putting people into that broken system? Is there an alternative that you see, or do you feel that we don't have an alternative? [00:13:49] Leesa Manion: Well, I think diversion, for certain cases, is the alternative that we're all looking for. And connecting young people in particular, or people facing their first offense, into community-based resources - not only is it wise, not only does it help people avoid the criminal justice system and the harmful impacts and collateral consequences of criminal history, I think it's more cost-effective. I think we can also agree that there are certain crimes where, when people are charged and convicted, they are going to go away to prison - and we can still offer services to those individuals. I'm a firm believer that we should be offering services and treatment in our community and our jails and in our prison. [00:14:35] Crystal Fincher: So you talked a little bit about meeting with different departments across the County. You will definitely be working with all of the cities and the counties. How are you going to approach those relationships? And are you asking any of the cities to do anything different than they're doing now? [00:14:56] Leesa Manion: Right now, we are starting a new partnership with the Seattle City Attorney's office. And it's really about how do we share information on individuals who are cycling in and out of our system. And some of that information sharing is how do we best pivot those individuals into services. And then for some who are systematically preying on individuals and small businesses in our communities, how do we trade information so that we can hold that person appropriately accountable? Whether it's with misdemeanor filings or with felony filings. And again, it's because our community is asking for us to take public safety seriously. They're asking us to look at behavior and to make it stop, and they're asking for accountability. And accountability for people who are systematically preying on individuals and communities can look one way, and people who are committing non-violent offenses over and over again, out of mental health disorder, substance use disorder, or to basically survive - that kind of accountability can look different as well. [00:16:03] Crystal Fincher: Well, and that brings up a question. It seems like the City Attorney, even for people who may not be committing crimes against other people, she's looking to remove them or to eliminate the possibility of diversion for those and move in the opposite direction. Are you aligned with that belief? Do you think that's the right approach? [00:16:27] Leesa Manion: I don't know all of the details of Ann Davison's proposal, but my understanding is that she has it very narrowly drawn - those are individuals who have been referred to the system - I believe it's eight times in a year. That maybe those individuals have been given an opportunity to participate in Community Court, but have committed eight offenses within a short period of time and maybe it's an opportunity to try something different. So I think that having the courage to try something new is something that we should endeavor for. And then we should be willing to pivot if it doesn't yield the results that we want. [00:17:08] Crystal Fincher: Okay. So there have been a wide variety of challenges when it comes to public safety - crime is up, people are very, very concerned - but also people have issues with trust and law enforcement and in the court system. How do you plan to prioritize truth and justice when sometimes there's seemingly a conflict of interest with your relationship with the police? [00:17:41] Leesa Manion: Again, I'm the type of leader - I like to identify common ground and build from there. And I think, when it comes to police, I think that there's so much common ground in terms of police reform. I think we can agree that when we are afraid and we call 911, we want a response. Maybe the response is from a sworn officer, maybe the response is from a social worker, but we all know that we want a response. And I think we can all agree that if we have officers who are abusing their discretion, we want them off the force. We want that, and I think the police want that too. So when I think about building trust, I really think, again, it begins with building relationships. And as I mentioned, I'm hard at work in rebuilding relationships with law enforcement. I presently have very deep ties within our community, and what I'd like to do is take the trust of the community, that they have instilled in me, and be the bridge into convening some conversations with law enforcement. And I also know and recognize that there are law enforcement officers who have really deep ties in the community. And so can we work together to broaden that circle, broaden those partnerships, and build trust together? [00:18:59] Crystal Fincher: There was recently a story in Crosscut by Melissa Santos talking about a challenge and problems with prosecutors sometimes withholding evidence improperly in those situations and that being another issue that is a challenge. It was not about the King County Prosecutor's office, specifically talking about the issue as a whole. Do you see that issue and tension, and how do you approach that? [00:19:29] Leesa Manion: I am really proud of the fact that we have built a model Brady policy. We take that very seriously and we have a conservative filing policy. We endeavor to turn over all evidence as soon as we are able, and I think those practices should continue. One, it's not just about being ethical. It's also about building trust and transparency into our system. And if we aren't transparent, people will never perceive our office as fair. If they don't understand our decision-making, they will never perceive our office as fair. And tying in this issue of fairness and transparency and also talking about trust and our relationship with law enforcement, as a candidate, I have been intentional about not seeking the endorsement of police guilds and it's not because I dislike police, it's because I fought for resources to create a public integrity unit within the office to look at officer-involved shootings and use-of-force cases that are coming to us as a result of I-940. And if I am endorsed by a bunch of police guilds, it doesn't appear to be fair, it doesn't appear to be neutral. And so I just wanted to explain that because it is another action that goes toward trust. And for some people that might seem like a really small thing, but to me it's a really big thing. [00:21:01] Crystal Fincher: Are there any other items like that, or within your office, that you feel you can do to help restore trust in a similar way, and in that same way? Is there anything else that you think would be helpful, or that you have planned, to increase the amount of transparency and trust in the process? [00:21:22] Leesa Manion: I'm currently working with our communications team to create a list of frequently asked questions to put on our website, because there's a lot of confusion about the criminal justice system and the various stakeholders and actors in the justice system. For example, there are a lot of people who are really confused about what's the difference between the King County Prosecuting Attorney's office, the City Attorney's office, the US Attorney's office - and being able to have that information that's readily accessible is super helpful. I'm also a big fan of being really transparent in our decision making. We have long had filing and disposition standards that we share and we share openly, but I think that there are opportunities to invite in media to have them read our FADS, to ask questions. We could do that with community groups as well. I think the more that we can have people understand our work, the more that they will begin to trust the work. [00:22:23] Crystal Fincher: Gotcha. That makes sense. Now, a lot of crimes are currently going unreported and victims are hesitant to report - whether it's elder abuse, or intimate partner abuse, sexual abuse - and a lot of people citing that going through the court system and the process of prosecution and investigation is retraumatizing. How would you handle these situations so that further victimization of people, who've already been violated, doesn't happen? [00:22:58] Leesa Manion: I really care about victim services. And one of the things that I've done is I've added 10 victim advocate positions within the office, including some bilingual advocates, because access and representation really matter. I've also secured funding and created a Director of Victim Advocacy. And that's with the sole purpose of really examining and really challenging ourselves within the office of what does it mean to be a victim. And sometimes the victim is someone who is going through the criminal justice system, sometimes it is a person who might have one loved one who's being prosecuted by the system and maybe lost another loved one to gun violence. Sometimes victims don't report crimes because they don't understand the process. Sometimes victims don't report crimes because they don't feel that they have an advocate or someone who will respect their cultural difference and their view of our US justice system. Sometimes people don't report crime because they really want something that's more restorative - they're not looking for retribution, they're looking for explanation and healing. And so I think we have an opportunity to really expand how we provide victim services so that it's more culturally responsive, more inclusive, more understanding - so that we actually have more voices from impacted individuals who help us shape what that looks like. [00:24:24] Crystal Fincher: How would that look different to a victim, or what are you proposing that would look and feel different to someone who has previously been hesitant to come forward or fearful? [00:24:39] Leesa Manion: Well, I think for some individuals, it might be that they need some reassurance that there are not going to be immigration consequences to them reporting their crime. I think for some individuals they're going to need access to an interpreter because language is a barrier. I think for some individuals, they really want to know what's going to happen to the person that they have complaints about. For example, in the realm of domestic violence, I think that there can be some barriers to reporting because maybe the person who's committing the violence is someone who is the father of your children, or it's someone that you care about or love, maybe it's a young person or a sibling or a child. So how can we take this fear - working with communities, because we really have to rely on our communities to help us build those bridges and also to expand the reach of our services. So how can we demystify the process? How can we make it feel more safe? [00:25:38] Crystal Fincher: How do you navigate - you've talked about so many societal challenges, so many challenges from the pandemic. We are dealing with a lack of adequate support in - whether it's substance use disorder, behavioral health, and mental health resources - with that and basically putting people in the criminal legal system, who are suffering from other issues that may prevent them from acting rationally and having a calculation that we may think - okay, I don't want to experience consequences, so I'm not going to do this. Not everyone is in that frame of mind or maybe going through something preventing that. How do you handle, or what is your approach to people who are clearly suffering and the root cause of the issue is a lack of a basic need not being met in a different area? We can put them in jail, we can send them to diversion, but until those needs are met, we're looking at landing in the same place. What do you do in that situation? [00:26:52] Leesa Manion: I think in those situations, we really have to rely on alternatives that are therapeutic. I am a really big supporter of our Drug Court, our Veterans Court, or Mental Health Court. Those are collaborative team models where we have all of the actors - we have the court, we have probation, we have designated crisis responders, we have public defenders, and we have prosecutors - really working together to ensure that the person has access to services, that they have access to housing, that their basic needs are being met, and that they have the supports and the structure they need to be successful. So how can we build more of that? And here's an example of an area that I think I'm curious about and I think it's prime opportunity, but it would require a change in state law - in our Involuntary Treatment Act Court. Right now that's an adversarial model where I have prosecutors representing designated crisis responders and hospitals, trying to get someone committed for services. And on the other side of the table, I have a public defender who is advocating for the release of that individual. And often that leads to nothing and sometimes against the wishes of the family. So if we were able to make that a more therapeutic collaborative model, not only do I think that it would offer better outcomes, we could also use our mental illness, drug dependency tax dollars to support the therapeutic court. So I would really love to work with lawmakers and experts and leaders in this field - to launch that conversation, to see if that's something that we could have happen. [00:28:39] Crystal Fincher: Should we be charging people with crimes related to possession of substances, or is that more appropriately handled in a different way? [00:28:52] Leesa Manion: Well, as you know, because of the Blake decision, the possession of drugs was declared unconstitutional. And in our most recent legislative session, it was re-criminalized for a period of a year, but we have to offer two diversion opportunities. I will be really curious to see what that year experiment reveals, but personally I think those are opportunities for us to try to get to the root cause of behavior. And I don't think there's anything magical about a jail cell or a prison cell - because, as I mentioned earlier in this podcast, there aren't enough services to really adequately address the amount of need that we're seeing behind bars. So how can we, in a more cost-effective way, offer those services in lieu of jail or prison, but still meet the desire for public safety, to still ensure that those individuals are stopping their harmful behavior, to ensure that those individuals are themselves safe and not creating chaos in our communities. [00:30:06] Crystal Fincher: Yeah. Now we have - you talk about being in that conversation about keeping people safe and that being the ultimate goal. Lots of elements in the criminal legal system - you're one of them, you can't control all of them or all of the societal issues that may be contributing to that - but in your role, if you were to be elected as the prosecuting attorney, what changes, could you make that would have the largest impact on preventing people from being victimized? [00:30:41] Leesa Manion: Well, I really think that again goes to the heart of partnership and it really goes to the heart of identifying common ground and building from there. I'm a 'Yes, and...' thinker and that 'Yes, and...' thinking has come to me and been shaped by my lived experience. And I want to share just a little bit of a story and a little bit of my personal story, because it helps explain why I'm a 'Yes, and...' thinker. So I know I've shared with others - I was born in South Korea to a Caucasian father and a Korean mother. And when my father brought us to his home state of Kentucky, my mother was met with discrimination and racism. And when I was about four years old, my dad's mother, my grandmother, got into an argument with my mom - threw her out of the house with only the clothes she was wearing. And my brother and I did not see her again for 25 years. And so, that story and that experience taught me a lot about what happens to someone who was marginalized, who doesn't have a voice, who doesn't have advocacy. It also taught me about forgiveness. My grandmother was someone who advocated for me, she shaped me, she taught me about hard work, she loved me, and she was not the sum of her worst decision. My brother and I grew up in an area where we experienced discrimination and racism - and the disproportionate school discipline, the disproportionate law enforcement contact that so many young men of color experience, my brother experienced too. And when I think about public safety, it means a lot of things to me. It means that we are free of hate crimes that are born out of discrimination. It means that no person is the sum of their worst mistakes. It means that we can offer non-violent young people a second opportunity because sometimes they make really stupid choices. It means that we have to respect that people who live in our community may have experienced law enforcement differently, and we have to build trust, and we have to be able to show that we respect their lived experience before they will come to us with their problems. It also means that we can hold repeat perpetrators accountable, that we can hold violent crime and violent criminals accountable. It means that our victim services have to be responsive. It means that they have to be culturally sensitive. That's a lot of my, 'Yes, and...' So it drives how I approach this work, it drives my desire to create partnerships, it tries my desire to say 'Yes, and...' how can we work together? Yes, we can address the incidents of crime, and we can address the root cause. [00:33:39] Crystal Fincher: Before we go, also wanted to talk about issues of fairness and frustration that people are having in feeling like - hey, if you are rich or if you're powerful, we're watching you get away with stuff that it looks like other people are not. And that there's a disproportionate focus on people who are at the bottom, people who are struggling or poor or marginalized - while watching people in power seemingly skirt laws without people blinking an eyelash, whether it's watching some Seattle Police Department officers vote from an unauthorized address, or watching text messages get deleted, or watching corporations sometimes flaunt the law and victimize their employees. What can you do, or how would you approach fostering a sense of transparency and fairness as to who you seek to intervene with? Whether they're rich or poor or powerful - are you tracking that? What are your plans? What's your general approach to that? [00:34:59] Leesa Manion: It really, at the heart of it, is transparency and accountability. And prosecutor accountability in this sense. So that really means, and it starts with how we bring people into the office - what do our job announcements look like? Who has a seat at the table? What characteristics are we looking at? What barriers would be put away so that more people have an opportunity to join the office and have a seat at the justice table? What values do we reward? When it comes to our decision-making, it's really about being very transparent about the disproportionality that's in the system - being honest about that and not pretending that it doesn't exist. But then also inviting others to the table to help us get to the heart of that, and to be really open about what that conversation looks like, what that type of decision making looks like. And it also involves being willing to change our behavior, being able to change our practice around certain areas, and also being willing to admit - if we make a change and it's not successful, then we have to be willing to pivot and try something different. And not hiding that, but really sharing that with our community, sharing it with our law enforcement stakeholders, sharing it with the court. They're all part of our community and we all have to work together to make this happen. It's too important not to. [00:36:20] Crystal Fincher: It really is. Now you have an opponent who has done some of the things that you haven't been willing to do. He has sought and received endorsements from police unions and from public safety organizations, has taken seemingly a more hard-line and punitive approach - focused a lot on punishment and does not seem to be welcoming diversion to the degree that you do. And just seems to have a completely different perspective. Why, if you're talking to voters, why should they choose you? And what is at stake in this race? [00:37:04] Leesa Manion: I think the thing that is at stake is that we have this opportunity right now to continue to build this justice system that we should all be proud of. Right now, we have earned a national reputation of being fair, just, and effective. But that doesn't mean that we're perfect, it doesn't mean that we don't have work to do, it doesn't mean that everyone trusts us. So we have an opportunity to build trust. I'm someone who's been doing this work for a very long time. I can hit the ground running, I'm a 'Yes, and...' thinker, representation matters - my lived experience matters. If elected, I would be the first woman and the first person of color to hold this seat, and my perspective and my community involvement and the way I build broad coalitions and the way I collaborate matter. And I think that's why people should vote for me because we have this common ground of wanting things to be fair. We want to feel safe where we work, live, and play. We want to be the community that gives young people a second chance. We want to be a community where victims feel safe, and come forward, and report, and ask for help. We want to be a community that is in this together working toward a common goal. [00:38:27] Crystal Fincher: Well, thank you so much for spending the time with us today. We will include links to your website for people who are looking for more information and information about your campaign. And just appreciate you taking time to help us get to know you better. [00:38:41] Leesa Manion: Well, thank you so much, Crystal. Thank you for having me - this was a pleasure and it was a great conversation. Thank you so much. [00:38:49] Crystal Fincher: I thank you all for listening to Hacks & Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler with assistance from Shannon Cheng. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I. Now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks & Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes. Thanks for tuning in - we'll talk to you next time.
There is a mental and behavioral health crisis in King County schools, prompting the expansion of a program designed to address counseling and care for students in need. "It could not be more clear that we have a crisis in behavioral health, mental health in our youth. It shows up routinely. It shows up in many ways, it shows up in things as terrible as kids taking their own lives. It shows up in what we are hearing from staff at school districts, what they see every day, and we need to act," said Leo Flor, the King County Department of Community and Human Services director. His office points to data from the CDC and US Preventative Services Task Force, which points to a spike in suicide rates and anxiety among teens.LIKE & SUBSCRIBE for new videos everyday. https://bit.ly/3KBUDSK
What's Trending: The State is paying an attack suspect $250 per day he's not in treatment, and King County to propose buyback program for guns and ammunition. Big Local: Pride flags stolen in downtown Burien, and in-person commencements return. Portland romance novelist sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her chef husband. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Jill Schlesinger on why everything is so darn expensive // Paging Dr. Cohen -- noisy joints [archive segment] // Hanna Scott rounding up recent King County criminal sentencings // Dose of Kindness -- raising the next generation of sports broadcasters // Hanna Scott on WA gun laws compared to the new Senate framework See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
5PM - Report shows drop in use of force among King County sheriff's deputies // California Sends Democrats and the Nation a Message on Crime // Biden readies for balancing act in first late-night sit-down // CNN says they are going to stop calling everything breaking news // Class Reunions Are Back. So Is the Social Anxiety That Comes With Them // LETTERS See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
3PM - King County to propose buyback program for guns and ammunition // CNN Panel Erupts Into Chaos Over Simple Fact About School Shootings // Burger King has a ‘Pride Whopper' with ‘two equal buns' // Two-thirds of consumers world-wide now buy on beliefs // John talks about feeling judged by the man who made his omelet over the weekend See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
What's Trending: A man was arrested for plotting to assassinate Brett Kavanaugh, and King County to propose buyback program for guns and ammunition. Matthew McConaughey speaks from the White House Press Room on the Uvalde shooting. Jack Stine is better than most. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Feliks Banel on plans to tear down an old Parkland school, despite community concerns // Hanna Scott on the KingCo Council's gun buyback proposal // Dose Kindness -- food donations for seniors' pets, organized by teen // Gee Scott on the UK's 4-day workweek pilot // Matthew Gardner, Windermere Chief Economist, on inflation/energy prices // Rachel Belle on uniform phone chargers/ the return of HS reunions See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Don't miss the second annual Safe Schools Summit, August 6, Sheraton Hotel, Portland Airport! Get Connected, Get Empowered, and Get Motivated. K-12 Education is the heart of our nation, and we are fighting for it! Our friend and partner, Rebecca Friedrichs, producer of Whose Children Are They? will share the truth about the Teachers Union takeover, and how to stop it! You will learn how to fire up your local community, run an initiative campaign, recruit candidates, run for school board, land lobby your representatives. Registration information coming this week.Black Lives Matter at SchoolThe Gender Variant Universe, Christopher F. Rufohttps://christopherrufo.com/the-gender-variant-universe/A consortium of publicly funded nonprofits wants to "decolonize gender" and normalize male genitalia as a form of authentic womanhood.Transgender activism has been making inroads into America's public institutions. The Biden administration has recently promoted neo-pronouns and gender reassignment surgery for minors, government agencies have celebrated the expansion of identity categories such as “pansexual” and “non-binary,” and public schools across the country have adopted curricula teaching students about transitioning from one gender to another. Trans activists often present their ideological program through a series of euphemisms and tautologies, such as “gender diversity,” “LGBTQ inclusion,” “love is love,” “protect trans kids,” and “comprehensive sexual education.” But these slogans obscure more than they reveal. The deeper nature of trans ideology is much much more radical and the public should have a clear-eyed understanding of what trans activists believe, beyond the protective layer of obfuscatory language....Though this kind of ideology might appear to be the work of a fringe minority, it is becoming increasingly mainstream in activist and educational institutions. The host organizations for the “Decolonizing Gender” presentations have been remarkably successful in securing taxpayer funding and gaining access to children through educational and social service programs. TRACTION conducts education programs for transgender-identifying youth and has received funding from Washington State. Gender Justice League has received funding from King County and runs a housing program for transgender-identifying homeless minors. The Lavender Rights Project and Black Trans Task Force provide legal services for LGBT youth and have received funding from King County. UTOPIA Washington provides Support the show
Paging Dr Cohen -- longer virus seasons post-lockdown // Hanna Scott recapping recent King County criminal sentencings // Dose of Kindness -- art benefiting Ukraine // Gee Scott on going back to movie theaters // Hanna Scott on efforts to clarify WA drug possession laws post-Blake decision See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
On today's week-in-review, Crystal is joined by staff writer covering Law and Justice at The Stranger, Will Casey. After another difficult news week across the nation and locally, Crystal and Will wade through the latest controversies facing Washington's police departments. They break down the revelation that SPD has not been investigating adult sexual assault cases, and why this is more of an issue of priorities rather than staffing. They also question Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell's accountability for the actions of the department, which he leads. Next they look into Pierce County Council candidate Josh Harris's shooting of a man Harris alleges stole from him and ask why Auburn's police department put the image of an officer accused of multiple murders on their recruitment banner. For housing news, Crystal and Will question the usefulness of Bruce Harrell's new Homelessness Data Dashboard and ask why landlords are enraged over the Seattle City Council's proposal to ask them to report the rents they're charging renters. Finally, the show wraps up with a check-in on controversy surrounding former Mayor Jenny Durkan's missing text messages, and how it's one example of why Washington's Public Records Act needs to be updated to meet our modern era. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com. Find the host, Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today's co-host, Will Casey, at @willjcasey. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com. Resources “Seattle police stopped investigating new adult sexual assaults this year, memo shows” by Sydney Brownstone and Ashley Hiruko from The Seattle Times and KUOW: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/times-watchdog/seattle-police-halted-investigating-adult-sexual-assaults-this-year-internal-memo-shows/ “Auburn officer charged with murder featured on department's recruiting banner” by Mike Carter from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/law-justice/auburn-officer-charged-with-murder-featured-on-departments-recruiting-banner/ “This Auburn cop killed 3 and injured others. His department didn't stop him — outsiders did” by Ashley Hiruko and Liz Brazile from KUOW:https://www.kuow.org/stories/this-auburn-cop-killed-3-and-injured-others-it-took-outsiders-to-stop-him “Pierce County candidate with pro-law enforcement platform shoots at suspected car thief” by Patrick Malone from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/pierce-county-candidate-with-pro-law-enforcement-platform-shoots-at-suspected-car-thief/ “Seattle greenlights minimum wages for app-based delivery drivers” by MyNorthwest Staff from MYNorthwest: https://mynorthwest.com/3499857/seattle-city-council-passes-payup-legislation/ “Harrell's New Homelessness Data Dashboard Invites More Questions Than It Answers” by Natalie Bicknell Argerious from The Urbanist: https://www.theurbanist.org/2022/06/02/the-urbanist-podcast-harrells-new-homelessness-data-dashboard-invites-more-questions-than-it-answers/ “How Many Dashboards Does it Take to Build a House?” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2022/05/31/74506931/how-many-dashboards-does-it-take-to-build-a-house “Pedersen Pisses Off Seattle Landlords: Is the rent too high? The City wants to know, but landlords don't want to say” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/news/2022/06/01/74545296/pedersen-pisses-off-seattle-landlords “Did Our Last Mayor Commit a Felony? Washington's Public Records Act Needs An Overhaul” by Will Casey from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/news/2022/06/02/74581748/did-our-last-mayor-commit-a-felony Transcript [00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those during the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced on the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. Today, we are continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week with a cohost. Welcome to the program for the first time today, today's co-host: staff writer covering Law and Justice at The Stranger, Will Casey. [00:00:55] Will Casey: Thanks for having me, Crystal - excited to be here. [00:00:57] Crystal Fincher: Hey, excited for you to be here - excited that you're at The Stranger covering Law and Justice. We all need great coverage of law and justice and wow, there is no shortage of law and justice news this week. So want to start by discussing a revelation that made my jaw drop, and made me gasp, and made me absolutely infuriated and perplexed - the news that Seattle police stopped investigating new adult sexual assault cases this year. What is going on? [00:01:34] Will Casey: Well, the mayor would like you to believe that a staffing shortage at the Seattle Police Department is responsible for their inability to process these new allegations of sexual assaults. To be specific, they are still investigating cases that involve children, but these are for new allegations of assault against an adult. And unfortunately, the mayor's not really telling the whole story there because other police departments in our area and nationally are also dealing with the labor shortage, but they have not made the same decisions in terms of how they allocate their existing staff out of the unit that's supposed to be handling these kinds of cases. [00:02:19] Crystal Fincher: That's right. And even within our department, every type of department has not seen decreases. They have moved people out of these investigative positions into other roles. What does that look like in the police department? [00:02:37] Will Casey: Well, so you probably heard a lot last year, during the mayoral campaign, about 911 response times. This is the frequent calling card of the more-law-and-order folks who want to conjure this image of - this resident's in distress, trying to get help and not having it come, while they're presumably being made the victim of a crime. Well, here we have actual victims of real crimes who are trying to ask for help from the Seattle Police Department and getting basically silenced. So, while they've shifted deputies and investigators out of this unit, they're moving people into things like these hotspot policing efforts or other just general patrol duties in attempts to presumably reduce those 911 response times. [00:03:24] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, definitely. And operation support has seen an increase, actually, in the amount of personnel allocated to that in the past couple years, despite the shortage - as they're calling it and dealing with it - the shortage of police that we have here. And just what is the rationale behind saying these other things are priorities more than investigating violent sexual assault? [00:04:00] Will Casey: Honestly, I can't personally vouch for the rationale that's backing this up. The only comment that our City leaders have offered on the record to The Seattle Times here is just that the mayor finds this situation "unacceptable." They noted that they tried to interview several other City councilmembers about the issue - they all ducked from being interviewed on the record. Chief Diaz says that - if we don't have an officer to respond to the sexual assault, then we're never going to be able to have the follow-up to investigate it. And so that's - and at least from him - why they seem to be maintaining the patrolling staffing levels rather than this investigative situation. But that doesn't really seem to be offering much comfort to the advocates for survivors of sexual assault who are bringing these criticisms to the public's attention. [00:04:54] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. And beyond that, it continues to be perplexing to me how the mayor is finding himself becoming aware of this right now. As the executive of the City, he is in charge of this department - the police chief reports to him. Lots of people - I hear talking about the Council - the Council can pass policy, they can fund things. But operationally, administratively - all of that falls under the control of the mayor's office. So how - one, either how does the mayor not know this is happening, or are they doing this despite different direction - which we've seen examples of that happening before - where is the disengagement? How is it okay that policy like this is being enacted and the mayor doesn't know? Are there any steps taken to get answers about that, to address that? How are they saying they plan to increase monitoring of what's going on within the police department if stuff like this is happening without him being notified of it? [00:05:58] Will Casey: It's hard to say, honestly. And I think that there's some other details here in The Seattle Times report that really call into question the mayor's surprise - that at least that he's expressed - about this issue. Because it seems as though he doesn't have any difficulty getting SPD to allocate resources when he does have a policy interest in something - so notably the department's alternative response team, which is the unit that responds to homeless encampment removals. Monisha Harrell on the show a couple of weeks ago - that unit is now staffed by twice the number of officers on the sexual assault unit, after an additional seven patrol officers were added to that unit. And then you also have twelve detectives, compared to the four in the sexual assault investigation units, devoted to property crimes. So that's three times the number of detectives we have - looking at things like catalytic converter thefts, as opposed to sexual violence. So I don't know, maybe the mayor has an explanation for that, but it's not one that's been heard by the public thus far, at least. [00:07:07] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and it's perplexing, especially as we're hearing plans from the City Attorney for people who would previously be eligible for Drug Court or other court - that they're cracking down harder on them. How is it that we are finding ways to invest more, change policy, apply resources in different directions when they have an initiative, when they have an idea - but stuff like this has to be uncovered by reporters outside of the City to even begin to get answers or to see what's happening. It's just really, really perplexing and outrageous, especially given so much work done legislatively to make sure that all of the things downstream, especially when it comes to sexual assault, are being investigated, are they taking rape kits and processing those in a timely fashion. And I don't think anyone anticipated that the next problem we were going to be encountering is just police deciding not to investigate sexual assault at all. And if you're trying to project a safer image for the City and that you're taking action to make people safer, which is absolutely necessary, it seems like this would be a critical component of that. So it just feels very disjointed, very disappointing, and really infuriating that these decisions can be made that are so at odds with public safety. Another thing at odds, seemingly, with public safety that we saw this week was with Pierce County Council candidate, Josh Harris, who's running on a pro-law enforcement platform. People may be familiar with his name from a while back when he bailed out the police who had killed Manny Ellis - very, very problematic. Well, just recently he decided to go into an encampment where he felt some things had been stolen and engaged in an altercation with someone. The altercation escalated, police were - the story's murky - police were there, told him to stand back and stand by, somehow the person who they were engaging with got into a car. They're saying that the car went in the direction of Josh Harris and potentially charged at him. Josh Harris, then in front of police, fired into this car - does not seem like police fired into that car - really confusing what happened. And then somehow this person was not stopped, wound up back in the encampment - where Harris and a partner went in and took some things they said were stolen. They didn't say they were stolen from them, they didn't say how they knew that there were stolen, they were just a variety of things that evidently they're characterizing as stolen and we're not questioning this yet. But it just seems like we have seen more incidences of people feeling like they can go into encampments and communities where people are living, who don't have other shelter, and just assume that they're places of crime - to have no problem victimizing people, don't seem to have to substantiate whether or not something was indeed stolen, and hey - if something's stolen, someone should be able to get it back. We have processes for that that people should follow. But seeing this escalate to violence, seeing people go into these encampments armed with guns is just asking for a violent situation to happen. It's asking for people to get shot and killed. There have been several examples of this happening and why is this person running for office - who seems to have some kind of a complex that he needs to go and do this macho thing - it just seems really problematic. This is someone running for office in Pierce County right now, and I hope more people start talking about this and examining this and really getting to the details of this situation and his prior situations. 'Cause there seems to be a history of problematic or questionable activity here. Just really concerning. [00:11:37] Will Casey: Yeah, and the only thing I have to add to that is - this is not an isolated trend, data point here, right? We're seeing across the country, in contested Republican primary after primary, this is just becoming part of - this vigilantism is becoming part of their mainstream rhetoric. And I think that that's - frankly, very deeply troubling for our ability to continue to maintain our democracy and yeah, not the kind of moral leadership you'd like. But the sad fact is I doubt there are very many of his base voters who are going to have a problem with this behavior. [00:12:16] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and that's the challenge. And I just hope that, as these things that happen are covered, that they're covered critically and that facts are verified and that accounts are verified because the framing of this sometimes seems really problematic. And it's just also worth mentioning the fact that although we have some real troubling characterizations and narratives about unhoused people and crime, the fact is that there are few people in society who are more frequently victims of crime than the unhoused population. It's a very, very vulnerable place to be - there was talk this week about potentially - Reagan Dunn, actually, introduced the idea of basically mapping where every unhoused person is and stays. And there's just a ton of concern by a lot of people about that. Because one, as we just said, unhoused people are already extremely vulnerable, are frequently victims of crime, are much more vulnerable than most of the rest of us. And we have seen, from reporters who have been very inappropriate in the way that they have tracked down and covered and photographed and videotaped folks in these encampments, and people feeling like they are entitled - if they know where one of them is - to walk in, to harass them, to assault people there. We've seen this happen several times. And so anytime you target a group and just point a big red arrow at them and say there they are, while simultaneously dehumanizing them with rhetoric and talking about how much of a problem they are - we know that's a recipe for violence, and we know that's a recipe for targeting. So no, we don't want to do that and that's a bad thing, Reagan Dunn - among the number of variety of bad things that Reagan Dunn seems like he's doubling down on doing. But aside from that, also - Auburn, City of Auburn, featured a police officer - who is currently charged with murder - who is featured on the department's recruiting banner. They were at an event, banner sitting here - big picture, officer's smiling - well, it's an officer who's charged for murder. What is the deal here, Will? [00:14:43] Will Casey: When you literally have a poster boy for your department being someone who's currently facing an accusation of murder and has a history of killing several other civilians while on duty, that's a problem. And I think, especially in this atmosphere of new-found focus not just on big city police departments, like Seattle's, but also how these same dynamics are playing out frequently with far less oversight in these smaller towns and cities throughout the state. And I think - what this shows is that there's a culture issue here in Auburn, at least in their police departments, with not being concerned, apparently, with the image that they're projecting into the community. And this is not someone who, at least from my perspective, it seems like you'd want to be holding out as a representative of the kinds of officers you're looking to hire, if you're really interested in changing the culture of the police department. KUOW has done a fantastic investigative series documenting all of the various moments throughout this officer's lengthy career - where he's been involved in violence repeatedly, has not found not been held accountable for any kind of discipline. And frankly, you shouldn't have to look at anything other than his own hands to tell you that he's someone you should be worried about. He's got tattoos that show - frankly, very common slogan - I guess, is the right word, motif - among the more extreme police officers that refer to being judged by 12 - meaning 12 jurors in a courtroom, presumably for reviewing some sort of act of violence that they engaged in, rather than carried by 6, which is - or 8 sometimes - referred to pallbearers bearing a coffin. And this is kind of warrior mentality where you're always under threat, the people who you're supposed to be protecting and serving are a constant possible source of danger to you, and if you "fear for your life" - that really does need to shift. This particular officer also has a combat veteran background, and there have been reports from within the department of people trying to get the Auburn PD to take some practice steps, get him some specialized counseling that may be necessary for someone adjusting to a civilian, law enforcement position. And it's just apparently never stuck. So, we have a lot more work to do in following the story and keeping everyone's attention trained on it - that pending murder charge will next be at issue in the public, possibly this September, because the judge overseeing that case just had to issue a continuance in the scheduled trial date for June. [00:17:56] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and just the family dealing with this - it's really hard. The family is very disappointed, very dismayed that - one, this officer did have a history, it was not addressed before. Unfortunately, he killed their family member and egregious enough - we all know how high the bar is for a police officer to get charged - he is charged. He's just waiting to go on trial, and unfortunately this trial keeps being delayed, which is very painful for the family. And just - there are people attached to this, these are real stakes and real people who are being impacted by this. And it just makes it that much more insulting that all of this is there - that we talk about wanting to keep people safe and healthy and whole, and treating people with dignity and respect - and wow, how this is not happening in the operations. And I just cannot - I cannot imagine being a family member of this person and then reading that he's literally the poster boy for the department. Just very, very disappointing. The department did say - well, hey, this is an old poster, this was before this happened and before he was charged with murder. It didn't happen before he killed other people - he has killed two other people, injured others aside from that. And so, they are putting that kind of behavior and history and record up on display. And so the question is, so who are you actually looking to recruit with this? What message are you sending? What does it say about the culture of the department? And I just hope that we begin to grapple with those questions as a community because it's absolutely necessary. In some better news this week, Seattle City Council passed PayUp legislation. What does this do? [00:19:56] Will Casey: Effectively, this is going to give a whole slew of app-based gig workers - finally - a minimum wage, which is a huge, huge deal. There's a little bit of back and forth in the final version of the law that got passed - Councilmember Alex Pedersen introduced a late amendment that did exclude a certain category of workers from the legislation, which was strange because he was the original sponsor of the bill. So it's not often you see - [00:20:26] Crystal Fincher: Andrew Lewis! [00:20:27] Will Casey: Oh, I'm sorry - did I say - yes, yes, yes - sorry, I made the frequent mistake of confusing him with the two other squishy progressives from the Council - my apologies to Andrew. But yeah, so anyway, he did undermine his own bill here in a relatively strange move that he said was to "take down the temperature on the issue." But that didn't really seem to happen because advocates for the workers are very upset that that exemption was inserted last minute into the legislation. But the large takeaway here is - this is still a significant step forward for a large class of employees who - Uber and Lyft, and these similar-style companies have been fighting tooth and nail in every state that tries to do this - to keep these people from getting a fair wage. So, let's not look a gift horse in the mouth here, I guess. [00:21:21] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. This is a step forward - it does meaningfully help a lot of drivers in the City, so this is a good thing, this is helpful. It would have been nice if it could be good for more people - we talked about that a lot last week. Councilmember Tammy Morales did offer an amendment that was passed that says they will take up legislation for the people left out of this bill - the marketplace workers who were excluded from this bill in that amendment that you just spoke about - that they will take that up by August of 2023. So there is now a date attached to it. One of the issues last week was - yeah, we'll get to it. But there was nothing concrete following that, there was no - well, when are you going to get to it, when are you going to address it if it's not here. And so now we do have a date, so hopefully app-based, or marketplace app-based workers, will also be included. But that's a very positive thing, very helpful. A number of these app-based service companies were very much in opposition to this, certainly were pushing for the amendment that Councilmember Lewis eventually passed for this bill. But it is a step forward, and I do not think it is too much to say that everyone deserves to make the minimum wage. And that just because you have figured out some technological loopholes does not absolve you with the responsibility for paying people who you're profiting from - to be clear, who you're profiting very handsomely from - a minimum wage. It's the least that should be done. So this week also, in City of Seattle news, Mayor Harrell introduced a new homelessness dashboard. What happened here? [00:23:09] Will Casey: Well, we've got a bunch of the data we already have now being aggregated into one place with some data visualization that made a tech worker friend of mine send me a long string of Twitter DMs talking about how terribly organized and poorly visualized the data is. And so - and his criticism is not the only one. My colleague at The Stranger, Hannah Krieg, had an excellent piece talking to some of the folks at Tech 4 Housing, who are experts in this field, and included an excellent breakdown of - that basically this dashboard presents the point of view that homelessness is a problem for the people seeing it, rather than for those who are experiencing the lack of shelter. And for me personally, I think this is going to be - a little bit of background here - part of the reason that the City is so concerned with visualizing this data and proving that they have the shelter capacity is that there's a federal lawsuit out of the Ninth Circuit, which is where Seattle resides, that effectively makes it illegal to do the encampments sweeps that the administration has been engaging in, unless there's adequate shelter available for everyone who's being forced to move. And so that's why you'll hear City officials so focused on this idea of referrals and saying that they had available capacity, without really ever getting into the details of - are you actually getting these people housing? Just - it was available, technically. And so we can't be punished by the courts for sweeping the problem to some other part of the city. [00:24:50] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it is - it is a challenge. And we've certainly talked about before, talked about even last week, the issue with that shelter - just because we're hearing shelter is available, an offer of services was made, does actually not mean that those services were applicable to the person who they were made to. Someone may have a job that requires them to work hours later than the shelter will accept people. Well, the offer was made - that person couldn't accept them - and you're making someone choose between having a job and spending a night somewhere. And to be clear, many of these shelters, it is a night. This is not housing. This is oftentimes a bed. If we're talking about congregate shelter, those for a variety of reasons can - not be safe places, not be places that help people become more stable. And oftentimes in these shelters, you have to leave early in the morning with all of your possessions - it's not an easy thing to do. Anyone suggesting that people who are unhoused are somehow getting by in the system, or doing this because it's easy, or because they're lazy - does not understand what being out on the street is actually like. It's a dangerous place, it's a scary place, it's a very destabilizing place. And to help people get back to the point where they can find stability for housing requires stabilizing so many things in their lives that are made worse by the trauma and experience of being on the street. So it is actually important - if we're going to solve this issue, there has to be housing for people, not a shelter bed. I am pretty fed up with just talking about shelter bed capacity. Is it better than nothing? Sometimes, actually not all the time. And we actually need, we do need to have capacity to get people out of extreme heat or extreme cold, those situations, but we are doing nothing to address the problem. And in fact, making it worse if we just force people to start over and over and over again, get the little bit of their lives and stability that they've gotten, and the bit of community that they've built to help them try and - one, just stay alive and two, get things together enough where they can just get a little bit more and get more stable - to just keep sweeping and moving and sweeping and moving. And it just is not working, and for as much money as we're spending on all of this sweeping, on all of the resources going into this - we could be spending that on housing, we could be spending that on services. We are throwing a ton of money at this in ways that are only moving people around and not getting anyone actually off the street, or very few people off the street, while more people are falling into homelessness. So it's - if you listen to this show, you know how frequently frustrated this is. But I - yes, this is a dashboard. Yes, we are tracking this. I want it to be more than checking off a box to justify sweeps. And I think that's the bottom line. And I am hoping to see some evidence that this is coming online. There has been hopeful talk. There has been talk about providing services - there've been too many sweeps that have not had them at all. And so when is it going to start? I would like to see that more than a dashboard in terms of this. But we will continue to follow how this progresses - it has just been frustrating to continue to watch us relocate people and not do that. Also want to cover - this week, an interesting situation with talk about requiring landlords to disclose the rent that they're paying. What is happening here? [00:28:49] Will Casey: Well, it seems like Alex Pedersen - I'm getting my white male councilmembers correct now - might've pissed off a few members of his base in pushing forward this legislation. It actually caused a relatively interesting 5-4 split among the Seattle City Council. It wasn't your traditional divide between conservatives and progressive factions. On the conservative side, you had Sara Nelson and Debora Juarez voting No - each of them had their own reasons. Dan Strauss and Teresa Mosqueda also voted No - Mosqueda mostly due to the budget concerns with implementing this bill. But he did get support from Andrew Lewis, Lisa Herbold, Tammy Morales, and Kshama Sawant - who are all in favor because in their perspective, if you're already doing the paperwork to advertise the units and pay taxes on the income that you're gathering from these investments - passively I might add - it shouldn't be that much more of an effort to collect some of that data and report it to the City on a regular basis so that we actually have an idea of what it costs to live here. It'd be very, very helpful for a lot of things the City's trying to do. [00:30:10] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. A number of cities across the country are moving in this direction - Seattle is not unique in doing this. And originally I misspoke - I said the rent that landlords are paying, I meant to say the rent that they're charging - but this is good and useful information. And absolutely will help inform policy and determine what is appropriate, what is not appropriate, and what action could or should be taken to help address this affordability crisis which we are absolutely in the middle of. And so having this happen is - having landlords at the table is perfectly fine, but we need all of the information. If they're giving us input on how this might be onerous or how this is affecting their ability to do this or that, then let's see the data for that. We ask that for so many other people and so many other ways - hey, to get rent assistance, we make people divulge lots of things about their income and living situation and personal life - and the hoops that they have to jump through just to do that. They're asking for a ton of information from renters about their qualifications, they're running background checks. We're only asking for them to divulge the rent that supposedly they're advertising what they're charging - they may be unhappy for people to see if they raise the rent in exorbitant amounts. I know a number of people who've had their rent raised by over 30%. Someone close to me had their rent raised by over 45% - it's egregious, and so this is an issue that I'm sure that they may not want lots of visibility on, but - hey, everyone else is required to put in a whole lot of information, to divulge a lot of information - we're in a crisis. This is the least they could do. And to the point that Hannah Krieg covered, and that you mentioned, they're already doing it. We're just organizing it in the same place - for a dashboard - we know how much the City loves the dashboard. Let's get a dashboard together. But I think this is a good situation, I commend Alex Pedersen for stepping up to address this crisis, for talking about this very common sense, really low-effort step that can be taken to help get more information on how we can solve this. And understanding that his constituents are his residents and people who are afraid of being priced out of the places where they're at. The City has - about half of its residents are renters. This is a pressing issue for so many people, so commend him and the rest of the councilmembers who did vote to support this. It's really important. And people really are expecting action to be taken. And so I'm happy that they're heeding that call. Another issue this week that we've talked about before and that you covered was - hey, what's going on with those texts that were deleted? Was that a felon - like it wasn't supposed to happen. They're saying it's a crime, a serious crime - a felony in fact - for things like that to happen. And so the question has been, are you going to refer this for investigation? Who can do this? Why isn't it done? What is going on? [00:33:34] Will Casey: Well, this was a very wonderful deep dive into a realm of a lot of people not wanting to admit anything was their fault, which is a lovely place to be. And as - I cannot believe I'm about to say this, but this is the cost of not having an effective opposition party - because if King County had a Republican Party that was remotely capable of winning any elections, we'd have a partisan incentive for someone to dig into the truth of what's going on here. And we'd actually benefit from a little bit of competition, but currently everyone who's involved. [00:34:14] Crystal Fincher: Well, the Republican Party has resources that make them effective as an opposition party, but there could be other opposition parties that were stood up - technically it wouldn't have to be a Republican Party, although they are more integrated statutorily into our system. But anyway - keep going. [00:34:29] Will Casey: Yes, yes, yes - trust me, I'm the last person who's going to wish for success for any Republican candidates. But my point being that this is a situation where - normally, this is where the political realities of government tend to work towards the interests of people actually finding out what's going on. Instead - here, we have a bunch of political allies - Bob Ferguson at the Attorney General's office, Governor Inslee, Dan Satterberg - all kind of just doing the Spiderman meme of pointing at each other and saying - it's your responsibility to kick this off. But actually, in reporting this out this week, what I learned is that the real culprit here, I think, is just a lack of stewardship at the Legislature in how this law is written. So the Public Records Act has been updated several times, it's something that voters put onto the books through initiatives at various points in Washington State's history - that part of the law is very well tended to. However, it only really includes civil penalties for agencies who fail to produce a given record on the required timeline, or if there is some other - hey, they're being overly aggressive about the redactions that they're making in providing these sorts of records. So there's a specific grant of civil action authority for any private person to sue a government agency and say - hey, you were supposed to get me this record by X date. It's now Y date. Where's the paper? The problem is there's also a separate law on the books in a different part of the RCWs that makes the willful destruction of a public record a felony. And that's what the publicly available information suggests Mayor Durkan and/or former Chief of Seattle Police Department Carmen Best may have done with their messages. That law was last substantively amended in 1909. And in speaking with legislative staff, they agreed with my guess - which is that this was something that's a relic of back in the pioneer days - when one small town would lead a raid onto somebody else's records office and burn all of the deeds so that they could just take over their farms or mining stakes or whatever. So what needs to happen, in the next legislative session, is for the Legislature to specifically grant the authority of - either to the County Prosecutor or the Attorney General - but basically make it very clear that if we ever encounter a situation like this again, there's a very specific person whose job it is to investigate. And so we don't end up with this farcical game of hot potato that's going on right now. [00:37:15] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and it is farcical - to be clear. And even - you touched on in the article that you wrote, which we will be including in the show notes, along with the other articles that we've discussed - was that - just incentives for accountability aren't there, they're actually pointing in the other direction. And so if there is no expectation that - hey, if I do something that I shouldn't do here, or if there's no record of other people being held accountable for those same things. And - hey, it would be easy for me to do this thing that I'm not supposed to do, and then just cover up that I did the thing that I'm not supposed to do - because the penalties of doing what I'm not supposed to do are greater than just covering it up and all that kind of stuff. And this is what we see. And especially that it was not just one person, it was multiple people involved in these incidences, and so it seems like - hey, we are trying to get rid of a record of what happened. And so many troubling things that happened - this is around the time when the precinct was abandoned. And again another issue of just - we find out that either there is no control or negligence or a refusal to own decisions that were made from the Mayor's office - but very troubling things that are happening that the public is owed - is literally owed - and just no accountability for that. So there needs to be, this should not be a my-team-versus-your-team type of thing. As we've seen in so many different instances, if we let this go now and even if - hey, well, that's my buddy, that's my team, that's my party, whatever it is - someone else is going to get a hold of it that you don't like and do worse. We have seen so many different examples of this. These are just good governance things that should not only apply to people who you are in opposition to politically - they're best when they apply to everyone, and they serve everyone better when they do apply to everyone, and we should find out what happened with these and there should be accountability attached to that. And I just wish we would take that more seriously. It would do a lot to create more trust in people in institutions. We're at a time right now where there is a crisis of confidence in all of our institutions, and only bad things happen in society when people lose trust in the institutions that are supposed to provide an orderly way of resolving disputes, find out information, talking about who has power and how they're able to wield it - all of those things. If we don't trust, if the public doesn't trust how that happens, then people start to take things into their own hands and use their own means - and that never turns out well, it never ends peacefully. [00:40:22] Will Casey: Yeah, and I think that there are some people who I think are looking at this as - oh, there's just a couple of people who've got it out for Mayor Durkan and they just don't want to let this go or move on - and we need to unify and heal after the 2020 protests. And I cannot disagree with that strongly enough - because in criminal law, we talk all the time about how we have to have these harsh sentences as a deterrent for criminal behavior, as if someone who has no other way to put food on the table except for stealing that food is going to think about the consequences of like - oh, well, down the line, this is going to mean X, Y, or Z for me. But here - these are sophisticated actors, right? These are people with power and leverage and public office who have the ability to make a cold, calculated decision about whether or not - how likely it is - they're going to get caught. And if they are, how bad are the consequences going to be, really? And we've already seen this trend continue in a disturbing way. This didn't make it into the piece that I wrote this week, but it's been reported elsewhere. We've seen similar issues with deleting texts at the Washington Redistricting Commission when they just blew past their midnight deadline. And voted without actually having maps in front of them. And so I think that this is a live issue, this is a real problem for people's faith in government, as you pointed out. And it's frankly, not that hard to fix - one-line amendment to say it shall be the responsibility of the Attorney General's office to investigate whenever there has been a destroyed public record - would solve this entire problem. [00:42:03] Crystal Fincher: It would, and it certainly needs solving and we certainly should have some accountability to this. I'm sure we'll be talking more about this subject more in the future as developments unfold, but it's just a challenge. There's lots that's been challenging this week, lately. We don't even get into the national stuff here - that's enough. And then just to see these types of events and headlines on a local level is challenging, but it is possible to create positive change. There are some good things happening and ways that we can all engage to make this better. And part of what we want to do in talking about this is to - like we say - understand what's happening, and why it's happening, and what we can do about it. And we see what's happening, and got further insight into the why this week and the levers that we can use to fix it. And so certainly is something that people need to do - is to advocate with their legislators that - hey, this is something that is an easy fix, a quick fix, and that should be fixed, and that we're expecting to be fixed. So hopefully that does happen. And with that, we thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks today, this Friday, June 3rd, 2022. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler with assistant producer Shannon Cheng and help with Bryce Cannatelli. Our wonderful co-host today is staff writer covering law and justice - and if it wasn't clear to people, who is also a lawyer who is a reporter, which is helpful when reporting on law and justice and it shows - Will Casey. You can find Will on Twitter @willjcasey - that's C-A-S-E-Y. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii. Now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, wherever else you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks & Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes. Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.
Summer is almost here and after two years of living with Covid people are ready to get back out.But quick reality check…we're seeing some of the highest case counts of the pandemic right now.We'll get an update from Dr. John Lynch about COVID in King County. He's an Infectious Disease doctor at UW Medicine.
Car theft victims want to know who is responsible for what they're calling a “chop shop” operating in plain sight beneath Seattle's First Avenue Bridge.According to King County property records, the parcels of land right next to the Duwamish River, overrun by trash and dozens of stripped cars, are jointly owned by both the state and the city of Seattle.Jamie Housen, spokesperson for Mayor Bruce Harrell's office, confirmed to KIRO 7, that they've received complaints about the property.“Over the last several months, the city has received complaints regarding a variety of issues in this area,” said Housen, “including encampment obstructions, trash build-up, environmental impact and public safety.”LIKE & SUBSCRIBE for new videos everyday. https://bit.ly/3KBUDSK
Feliks Banel on Port Townshend's Rose Theater, now for sale // Paging Dr. Cohen -- near-death experiences // Hanna Scott wrapping up recent King County criminal sentencings // Dose of Kindness -- signs of support // Jill Schlesinger on stock market turbulence See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
On this Hacks & Wonks week-in-review, Crystal is joined by defense attorney, abolitionist and activist, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy. After reflecting on a tough news week across the country, Crystal and Nicole turn back to local happenings with a look at last-minute entries into Seattle judicial races and a breakdown of why these downballot positions are important. They then discuss how cities like Edmonds, Mercer Island and Seattle exacerbate the issue of homelessness by criminalizing camping in public spaces without actually providing adequate shelter or services to those already struggling. The show wraps up with Seattle City Council putting over $1M more towards police and Councilmember Andrew Lewis watering down his own bill to ensure app-based workers are paid a minimum wage. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com. Find the host, Crystal, on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today's co-host, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, at @NTKallday. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com. Resources King County Elections - Who Has Filed - 2022 Candidate Filing: https://info.kingcounty.gov/kcelections/Vote/contests/who-has-filed.aspx “The Hunger Games of Housing” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2022/05/24/73946179/the-hunger-games-of-housing “Edmonds passes law criminalizing camping in public spaces — but lacks local homeless shelter options” by Greg Kim from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/edmonds-passes-law-criminalizing-homelessness-in-public-spaces-but-lacks-local-shelter-options/ “Mercer Island restricts camping on public property in near-unanimous vote” by Paige Cornwell from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/eastside/in-near-unanimous-vote-mercer-island-restricts-camping-on-public-property/ “Encampment at Woodland Park swept on a rainy Tuesday” by Tobias Coughlin-Bogue from Real Change: https://www.realchangenews.org/news/2022/05/18/encampment-woodland-park-swept-rainy-tuesday “The Seattle City Council Authorizes SPD to Spend Over $1 Million to Hire More Cops, With Millions More to Come” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2022/05/24/74009467/the-seattle-city-council-authorizes-spd-to-spend-over-1-million-to-hire-more-cops-with-millions-more-to-come “Seattle City Council OKs more than $1M for police incentives, recruitment despite opposition” by Sarah Grace Taylor from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattle-city-council-oks-1-5-million-for-police-hiring-incentives-despite-calls-more-law-enforcement-reforms/ Crosscut-Elway Poll - 2022 Seattle Public Safety: https://crosscut.com/sites/default/files/files/crosscut-elway-poll.pdf “Councilmember Andrew Lewis Guts His Own Policy, Excluding Thousands of App-Based Workers from a Minimum Wage” by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2022/05/26/74095030/councilmember-andrew-lewis-guts-his-own-policy-excluding-thousands-of-app-based-workers-from-a-minimum-wage “Report shows Seattle's ‘app gap' in gig worker pay” by Tobias Coughlin-Bogue from Real Change: https://www.realchangenews.org/news/2022/05/25/report-shows-seattle-s-app-gap-gig-worker-pay Transcript [00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. Today, we're continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week with a cohost. Welcome back to the program today's co-host: defense attorney, abolitionist, and activist, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy. Hey! [00:00:52] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: Hey, thanks for having me again - I appreciate it, this is fun. [00:00:55] Crystal Fincher: This is fun - appreciate having you back. We just got done talking for a long time - that could have been a podcast and we're like, we should probably get started recording. There is a lot to talk about - obviously we are here in a week with so much news that is ridiculous and depressing. We generally focus on local politics and policy, but certainly - what can be said about the continuing rash of gun violence, racist violence - just it's a lot, it's a whole lot. And I don't know what to say about it that hasn't been said, but I'm just so, so exhausted and infuriated. And either people need - either policies need to change, or people need to change until we get people who will change policies. That's just where I'm at. [00:01:52] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: Yeah, absolutely. I think everything has been - everything gets watered down to the status quo on the Democrat side a lot of times, or the moderate side - it's the status quo. But the right just keeps pushing things further and further right, both in rhetoric and policy, and I think there was a time when people would be upset - George Bush got a second term, and I remember people saying - I'm gonna move to Canada, I'm going to get out of here. But then also not - there wasn't a connection with everyday life in the United States, I think, the way there is now. And so a lot of people that have been yelling about these conservative policies, or things taking effect that don't seem to have any material effect immediately are now all coming to fruition. And yeah, it's, it's really, really overwhelming. [00:02:55] Crystal Fincher: It is overwhelming. So, totally get that y'all might be having a rough time just making it through the day and keeping focused and handling all the responsibilities that just don't stop. 'Cause I'm feeling a lot of that too, but we do have other things to talk about today. In a continuation - filing week was last Friday, it concluded last Friday, there were a lot of candidates. It actually concluded at the end of the day - we record the podcast at the beginning of the day - and so there were a couple of late entries that I found very interesting, that we didn't have the opportunity to talk about. And they're in races that are often really overlooked - judicial races are so important, and a lot of times there are just incumbents who are never challenged. Occasionally a challenger will pop up, but information about them is so sparse, hard to understand exactly what they do have control of, what kind of a difference do they make. Why are judicial races so important? [00:04:11] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: Judicial races are important because there is - obviously judges have a huge amount of power in how they sentence, basically more or less, and also how they rule over trials. And I'm just talking about from a criminal perspective, but there are judges who are just basically like a second prosecutor in the room - that's how a lot of them are - that will help the state make their case, overlook a lot of their mistakes. And a lot of them get overturned on appeal and it's this gigantic time-waster, it's a waste of resources, but then also people are convicted in the meantime and have to - once something's overturned on appeal for, especially for a misdemeanor trial, that person's already served the sentence. It's good that it's - it's just a huge waste of resources. And judges could be doing so much more, but they're not for the most part. And also most of them are former prosecutors. [00:05:24] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and just being limited to that one side of law - it's one perspective, but it's missing a lot of perspectives, whether it's a defense attorney or an advocate in other parts of the court system. Having a variety of perspectives and experience and background only helps in how you understand and are able to deal with the people who are appearing before you. And there's just a lot of discretion that people have. Some great follows on Twitter are those who live-tweet court proceedings, and it's really eye-opening to see the disparity between landlords who own a lot of properties and they're routinely in the court evicting people - and they have a great rapport with the judge, they know who they are, the other people in the court - they're all like pal, pal, buddy, buddy. And then there's someone who is obviously in a very hard time in their lives, a tough situation, oftentimes has never dealt with anything like this before, it's an intimidating process - and they feel like an outsider and lots of times they're treated like an outsider. And so it can just make such a huge difference. So there are two races, City of Seattle Municipal Court Judge Position 3, where the incumbent is Adam Eisenberg, has a challenger in Pooja Vaddadi who is actually an exciting challenger and filed at the very end of filing week. I saw that she just received the King County Democrats endorsement, is certainly talking about an approach to justice that respects and defends the law - but sees people for who they are and understands that the goal is to have an outcome that works for everybody and that makes everybody whole, keeps everyone safe, and is not just focused on punitive solutions that sometimes really backfire when it comes to making people safer, making people whole, and getting people, everyone back on the right track. What's your take on that? [00:07:37] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: When I think about judicial elections, I think back to when I was in law school and someone said to me - well, everybody in law school is rich, right, because law school costs a lot of money. And I was like - whoa, incredible. And, but it, to some degree, it's true - a lot of people I went to law school with - their parents were lawyers or, you know what I mean? That's just the way of things, and especially when we're talking about the commissioners who oversee housing stuff or the municipal court judges who only oversee misdemeanors, there is no understanding a lot of the times of what leads to these situations. So it always ends up being a personal failing, when what we're seeing is actually a systemic problem. But if you've never dealt with any of those systemic problems - if you've never had a car towed and it's been potentially catastrophic, then you don't understand why this is a problem. You don't understand why - you just don't understand a lot of things. There's no way to - and as defense attorneys, we spend a lot of time trying to explain that to judges. But I think to them, to a lot of them, it just sounds like excuses - and so to have a judge that has some life experience, that has worked with clients, the type of people that would be appearing in front of her - I think it's hopeful. And it's just something that we don't have - we don't get it very often. And it's so hard with judicial elections to get any real information because no judge in Seattle is going to come out and say - Everyone gets the max, that's my policy - that's not going to be a winning proposition in Seattle. So especially in a race for Adam Eisenberg's seat - Judge Eisenberg talks a lot about and has developed alternative programs for different things, but at the end of the day, if you don't appear in front of him all the time, you don't know that he criminalizes addiction, that he's not progressive, that what he's doing is actually harming people. And what he's doing is actually making sure that we have a system in place that can keep harming people. And that he is - operates like a second prosecutor in the room, helping the state constantly. There's just no way to know those things, and so that's what makes judicial elections really difficult - is because nobody's going to say that they stand for injustice, and so it's hard to parse out who has that experience and who doesn't. But I'm really excited to see that she jumped into the race. [00:10:32] Crystal Fincher: As am I. There is another contested race on the Seattle Municipal Court in Position 7, with Damon Shadid the incumbent being challenged - and I'm not sure how to pronounce her name, so apologies if I do mispronounce this - Nyjat Rose-Akins is the challenger. Now this is a bit of a different challenger than the last one, it appears. This is an attorney from our current, an attorney within our current City Attorney's office - meaning she's working for Republican Ann Davison right now. And all indications are - that office and those aligned with it are moving in a different direction than a lot of other folks in Seattle, has been a little different than most people are willing to accept within Seattle. So it's just going to be interesting to see what she says - I've actually not heard her speak yet, or seen much from her. So it will certainly be interesting to examine the record, to hear how she compares with the incumbent Judge Shadid - who has been a proponent of Community Court and of diversion and trying to do things that help reduce the chance of people re-offending, and that have a better record of reducing the chance that people re-offend. So running against that would seem that you're running against those things that may not be jail, but that are proven to be more effective in keeping people from committing further crime and getting on a positive path in their life. So that is certainly one to pay attention to. And so I just encourage us all to be aware, to talk to friends about it - 'cause these races often don't have a lot of money associated with them, they're at the very bottom of the ballot, lots of people overlook them, with so many being unopposed some people just miss the spots on the ballot where they do have an opponent. And these are really, really important decisions, particularly if we care about how things are turning out when it has to do with public safety and our criminal legal system, particularly in the City of Seattle. So those were definitely on my mind to look at and pay attention to. Another thing I wanted to talk about this week was a couple of developments in cities' policy towards the unhoused. We had a week where Edmonds passed a law criminalizing camping in public spaces, even though they don't have any local shelter options. And Hannah [Krieg] with The Stranger actually wrote a really good article this week titled, The Hunger Games of Housing. What did that talk about? [00:13:38] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: That talked about how, while the mayor or city council - whether it's Seattle, whether it's Edmonds - is constantly talking about people refusing shelter, but that shelter is actually non-existent. She lays out pretty carefully in the article that, in King County, there's about 40,000 homeless people and without shelter, and in order to get someone into permanent housing, most outreach workers want to get them into temporary shelter first because they have to get an ID, they need documents, things like that. And the sweeps that they're doing actually make getting people housed so much more difficult. So there's this intermediary step of temporary shelter, but 40,000 people without shelter, 3,000 temporary shelter beds. And so when there's this idea that - oh, everybody's just refusing housing, they're refusing housing - and that it doesn't exist. It just doesn't exist and it's a lie. And it always has been, and it's not just housing too - it's services. They say - oh, they're refusing services - but those services, they don't include inpatient mental health treatment or inpatient drug addiction or an alcohol treatment - these are not the things that people are being offered. We don't have these services. We don't have this housing. Those are things that we defunded a long time ago. And pretending as if it's just the problem of people refusing, I think just sets the stage for further abuses of people who already have nothing. And it's pretty - it's not just horrible, it's also making the problem worse. Because as people get pushed around the City, they're losing things - and I had this with - when I was a defense attorney, I would have a person who was already unsheltered and then they would be in jail over a misdemeanor for a week, a few days, or whatever it was and they would lose everything. And so then they have to go back to DESC, get a new sleeping bag, get a new tent, get new IDs, get a new EBT card - everything about it just made things so demonstrably worse, not just for that person but also for everybody else. The outreach workers that I speak to are - they're exhausted. The sweeps keep - there's just this constant churn that they're dealing with these emergency situations all the time. And at the same time, they don't have anything to offer people other than tents and things to keep them alive, and I think it's a really huge failing on everybody's part to buy into this narrative, but also I really hope people understand that people are not camping because it's a good time - it's not an urban vacation. People don't have places to live, and not just because they don't have money even - we don't have places for people to live. And she talked about how, for permanent supportive housing, one or two beds come up and there's 30 case managers with 70 people on their, or 70 case managers with 30 people on their list and everyone's clamoring for those two beds. It's really - it's a nightmare out there. [00:17:22] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it is a nightmare and there are so few spots and just imagine that. You are right - there are 70 case managers, each with 30 people that they're trying to get housed. Two spots open up and these things don't happen often. It's not - okay, let's wait until next week when the next two spots open up. This is not a frequent thing. They term it - this happens once in a blue moon - and so does that count as the offering of services and the refusal of services - if all of those people vying for those two spots - hey, this spot is available, try to get you in it. And all of those people except two don't win that lottery. It was referred to as the Hunger Games of Housing, which it truly is. And we just are moving this problem around and making it worse as we do. And even with the Woodland Park sweep that we saw last week and the excellent Real Change article about what happened there - it happened with a lot of fanfare, Mayor Harrell was there, city councilmembers were there saying - this is the model that we want to use for sweeps here. We got people on a list, we connected them all to services, we were successful with just about all of them. This was a success. What wasn't talked about is that they started that list when they first got there - and I want to say 50 people, I need to double-check that number - so they had those people on the list and they did work that list. What they didn't talk about is - as soon as they got someone out and connected them with housing, that spot was backfilled by someone coming to Woodland Park who had been swept from another location in the City. Except this time, now that they've been destabilized from where they were at before, they're in even worse shape and they're not on a list. They weren't taking any additional names on the list. So you just had a situation where we're backfilling faster than we're pulling people out of the queue. It really is like trying to take a bucket to the ocean and it's just not working. We're just sweeping people from one location to another. 'Cause it's not like they're going home when you tell them to get out of - when you tell them to get out of a spot, they have nowhere else to go. So yes, they're going to another spot where they can be. And so it's just such a challenge and we see more cities - Edmonds acted this week, Mercer Island acted recently. And lots of people had questions, as did I - okay, well, there's this federal ruling saying that you can't outlaw homelessness, essentially - outlaw sleeping in public areas, living in a public area because you have nowhere else to go, if there is nowhere for them to go. And so these cities seem to be trying to get creative and saying - well, people are either refusing services, or there are services available in another city and maybe we'll just put them on a bus and ship them out there - which I always find really, really interesting because those are the same people who always talk about - homeless people are just coming there because - this is Seattle's problem. And it's not - these are people who were in that community. Meanwhile, they're making their community's issue that they have responsibility to solve some other city's problem. [00:20:56] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: And I'm sure the City of Everett will bring that up. I'm sure the City of Everett will be like - well, now we have to absorb all of Edmonds' people that they're sending to us as well. But it's just - it's all - it's the same, it's the same thing. It's just moving the problem around and getting it out of certain people's eyeline - is really the goal of things like that. It's not - there's no solution there. You know what I mean? And it's not even masquerading as a solution. There's a solution to the problem of - I don't want to see this - certain people don't want to see this and they shouldn't have to. That's the problem that's being addressed - it's not addressing how many unsheltered people there are, it's not helping people get shelter. It's just saying I don't care as long as I don't see it. And it's - [00:21:49] Crystal Fincher: That's exactly what it is. It's exactly what it is. And I cringe every time I hear someone characterize the problem as "visible homelessness" - we need to solve visible homelessness. The visible part is not the problematic word in that sentence, it's the part where people don't have a home - let's actually solve that. Because we only make both of those problems worse if we don't address getting people into housing. So we will continue to pay attention to that. The country is continuing to invest more in policing and Seattle is actually not an exception. So on the day before [after] the anniversary of George Floyd's death - in Seattle, the City approved over a million dollars in police hiring incentives and recruitment efforts. This has been part of developing conversation related to - hey, these bonuses for signing up or retention bonuses don't seem to have much data behind them to show that they're actually effective in keeping police there. Even for people who believe there should be more police, who want more police on the street, this actually is not appearing to be an effective way to accomplish that goal, but it is a substantial expenditure. And it's interesting, particularly in the City of Seattle and the overlooked poll that we talked about last week, where when Seattle residents were asked - hey, if you could tell the City where you wanted more of your tax dollars spent, what would you say? Over 90% of people said - when it comes to public safety, the number one thing I want you to invest my dollars in are addiction treatment and recovery services. 80% of people were like - absolutely want you to address root causes of crime. And further down the list, about half the people were also like - and we want more cops. One thing that I notice in these conversations is that - the conversation about public safety, it's just bigger than policing. And so, itit gets flattened when peopl - well, do you want to defund or not fund? Do you back the blue or are you just on the other side? And what is a disservice is that a lot of times in the public sphere, in major media publications, our elected leaders are just talking in those pretty binary terms. But as polling continues to show, regular people understand that even if you're like - you know what, I'm happy with a cop coming down my street. They're also saying - but I know they don't have the tools to address everything. And what I see you doing is exclusively addressing policing and hiring while ignoring all of these other things. And we're begging you - there aren't that many things that poll at 90% ever, the fact that 90% of residents when asked specifically about where you want to spend more of your tax dollars and they gave you a list of ideas and interventions - that also happen to be backed by evidence and science. The conversation is just so much bigger. And even for folks who are just fine with our police and who want more police to come, and they'll get here eventually, it's not an immediate solution, it's going to take a while for them to get there. They're like - but also, we've got to address these other things. And when are we going to start investing in that? I'm asking you, I'm begging you to invest in that. My safety is depending on you investing that, I want to do everything in our power to prevent people from being victimized instead of waiting until they are to then respond. That seems like a pragmatic, logical thing to do that regular people are demanding. Extremely popular things are like background checks for gun purchases and investing in the types of services that help people address their root causes of disorder, dysfunction, all of those. So I just grow frustrated because we are not having a conversation about public safety when we only are having a conversation about policing. And no matter how you feel about policing, we're not covering half the ground if we're leaving out all of these other things. And there have been plenty of police officers who themselves have said - we don't have the tools to address someone who is in a mental health crisis. We actually don't have the tools to effectively intervene in an intimate partner violence situation. And we're not the right people to deal with people who are unhoused, but that's all on our plate. And so we're acting, we're investing in this, but we're not getting the outcomes that we want. It just seems like such a common sense thing that the public is almost entirely behind. And it's invisible to the folks in power - that's what's frustrating to me. [00:27:14] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: Yeah. Agreed. And it is that - it's that sort of confusion of police with safety, that the binary flattened thing that you were talking about, where it just doesn't leave any room for anything else. You're right - police say I don't want to be a marriage counselor, I don't want to be a social worker, I'm not trained to do this. And it's great - then let's not have them do it. Then let's not have them do it. But in order for that to happen, we need people who are going to do it, and we just don't invest in those things. And Washington state, I think, is third in the nation for highest-paid police. And Seattle is number one in Washington for highest-paid police. What more do they need? There is a nationwide shortage of officers, people don't want to be cops anymore. And so, just constantly throwing more money, more money, more money at a non-solution is just so frustrating. And to know that's what our money is paying for - nothing that's going to actually prevent something happening to me or my family, but just this performative optics of - since so many people do confuse police with safety, if we just go with that narrative and just get more cops, do whatever we have, then that problem is solved. And it's - nothing could be further from the truth. And I really wish there was more political will to stand up and speak back to that. Because to me, that's what people in leadership should do - is not kowtow to certain interests of the people who have the loudest voices, but really try to figure out how to solve problems. And that's just not what we're doing here at all. And it's - yeah, I agree, it's very frustrating, [00:29:09] Crystal Fincher: We will see - and so with an issue like that, where a million dollars can accomplish a lot in a lot of different places. And so it was - these dollars are available for us to invest in public safety. And all of these other areas that our residents have identified and are begging us to invest in - that are currently suffering from a lack of investment - we're ignoring once again where we do have evidence and data to show that this actually does make people safer. Instead, we're spending it in a way that doesn't have any kind of a track record of accomplishing what they're saying it's going to accomplish. And so, in a conversation that I recently had on the show with Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell, she talked about - hey, we're undergoing a rigorous review of our partners in the City who are standing up alternative responses to help make people safer. And we're evaluating how effective they are, and basically they need to prove that they're making a difference for them to earn any more funding. I just want to take that approach across the board. And if something is working - yes, let's invest in it. Absolutely. And if it's not, let's move it to where it is working. So that seems like a common sense approach, that seems like it shouldn't be controversial, that doesn't seem like it's a progressive or conservative approach. Just what makes sense and how we usually go about our daily business when we're making decisions on what we're going to spend on, what we're doing at work - same type of thing. So I just, I find myself continually frustrated and like you, it does seem like there just isn't the political will, and there is a detachment that some folks in power have that we're not talking about the entire gamut of public safety, that we do have to talk about more than policing. And even if policing is part of it, we've got to talk about more than that. Even for people who think that, it's not the only ingredient that is necessary to keep people safe. [00:31:31] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah - I don't know that I've ever talked to someone who was like - I don't want to invest in preventative measures. I'm not interested, I'm fine being the victim of something as long as the cops respond to it. I've never heard anyone say that thing, and so - but it just gets so obscured, I think, in the very simplified conversation that we have. [00:31:59] Crystal Fincher: It does and you bring up a really good point in that - people don't talk about - people are, again as polling reinforces, people are open to that. And when regular people have conversations, and you've had a ton of conversations with people, residents in the City of Seattle about public safety. I've had a number of conversations with residents in Seattle about the same. And when they talk about it, they're not talking about - well, how many officers and what is the bonus? Usually when regular people are talking about this, they're just saying - hey, my car was broken into and I don't like that, I don't want that to happen again. Or I am really uncomfortable going out at night, I'm scared. How are you going to help me? Or I'm worried about my kid walking to school and even being in school with school shootings and violence going on. They're just concerned about their safety, and they're looking for you to do something to keep them safer. Policing is certainly visible and most associated and known for public safety. So lots of people do acknowledge that, but they also acknowledge - yeah, but that doesn't keep me from being victimized and that's what people want most of all - is not to have to deal with it at all. If they need to - yes, they want someone to respond to their call, but they would rather not have to make the call. And if we engage in that conversation, and starting with - what are people really asking us for? What are people really worried about? Instead of getting caught up in these numeric conversations that are really driven by people invested, one way or another, in our current system and keeping it that way instead of centering the residents in the City and what they're asking for, and just trying to do all you can to keep them safe. And that is a range of things that has to be done. So we could have this conversation for hours - we've had it before. There's developments every week that talk about it, but I do think that it's worth continuing to talk about this and to put this in context in the City, because it's missing - a lot of context is missing in a lot of these conversations that we see and hear in major media, and I do think it's important just to understand where the residents of Seattle are coming from, and what they're demanding, and what they're very clearly saying they want from the mayor, from the Council, from their legislators, from leaders across the board. They want people to keep them safe and use all the tools at their disposal to do it. [00:34:46] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: Right, yeah. I've talked to so many people, and the thing that I ran into a lot is that people thought that the common sense thing to do, whether it's someone stole a sandwich, so maybe they're hungry, let's address that problem. Or addiction issues or mental health issues - I think a lot of people have this idea that the common sense solutions are already taking place, and so the problems that we're seeing are - people have already been dealt with, they've already been offered this - it's the same as the services conversation. People support common sense things, but also don't realize that those, like I said, they've been defunded a long time ago. We don't put money into those things. And so, to keep throwing more money at policing instead of those programs that have a proven track record - it just, it's really sad. It's really sad, because I don't want to be the victim of crime, I don't want my daughter - nobody wants that. Literally nobody wants that, so why don't we do things that will prevent that from happening? [00:36:04] Crystal Fincher: I'm right there with you. Well, another thing that happened this week was Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis wound up gutting the bill he was originally a proponent of, which had the result of excluding thousands of app-based workers from a minimum wage. This was a proposal that would have helped a lot of workers in the City. This would help out a number of workers - whether it's DoorDash, or Rover, or Uber Eats, just a variety of app-based workers - who currently, because of some of the wiggling between regulations that these app companies have, are making much less than minimum wage. When all of their responsibilities and obligations are considered, the cost of gas is going through the roof as everyone knows. A lot of times tips are supposed to supplement a lot of the salary, and it just winds up not happening and they're making less than the minimum wage. This proposal was supposed to fix that, Andrew Lewis was a proponent of it. But late in the process, he actually seemed to back away from that and put in a really significant exemption that took a lot of workers out of this policy and is leaving them in the same situation that he seemed to acknowledge it was critical be fixed. What's going on? [00:37:34] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: Yeah, it's a little bit mind-boggling. But at the same time, I feel like that's how sort of an incremental moderate politician works - is getting forward - it just never gets to the root of who are the people that are most affected? Who have the least protections? Those people are almost always cut out of everything. And I said before, when Sara Nelson got elected to the Council - to me, I saw that as the end of a progressive council, because we know how Juarez is going to vote, we know how Pedersen is going to vote. And I know Andrew Lewis, and I know that he's going to go whichever way the wind blows. And so now that there's more conservative people than progressive people on the Council, he's going to go with the popular, what seems popular in the circle that he's in. So it's really, really not shocking to me that this happened. [00:38:37] Crystal Fincher: We're always getting spicy with NTK in this. This was action taken in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, so this was a five-person vote. This will go for - but in this, just five people - and so Andrew Lewis actually aligned with Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Sara Nelson. And this article by Hannah [Krieg] in The Stranger referred to as "the council's corporate bloc." But this had been stakeholdered - this had been worked on with input by workers, by these app companies and platforms. This didn't just appear upfront, and while there are concerns that no one had ever heard before, and therefore we need to make a change - these companies were at the table, along with the workers, in these situations. It's like - hey, we need to do this. We don't want to create any undue burden, but we do need to make sure people are getting a minimum wage. The concerns that were brought up are not new. Some of the platform-based services that are a little bit different than some of the app services that allow workers to negotiate directly, like a Task Rabbit, where I'm hiring someone to do a specific task and there's more interaction between the worker and the person requesting the services. It is a bit of a distinction between something like Uber Eats, where you're putting in your order and basically everything about how that job is going to be performed is already decided and dictated by the app company. And so the exemption was saying - well, on these other platforms, these marketplace workers, where there is more interaction between the end user and the worker - they might need different rules, this may penalize them too much, this may be too harsh for them, and they're different. They're different enough that they should qualify for some tweaked rules that really don't do the same thing and enable people to receive a minimum wage. Working Washington, an organization that is working with workers was like - whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa, hold up - wait a minute. No, everyone deserves a minimum wage. And this exemption is something that these companies specialize in modifying their business models to achieve. And what it appears is that this exemption does not say you have to only have a marketplace model, but just if marketplace services are in your portfolio as an app. So there could be, and there is an app that does have mostly non-marketplace services - they have a few marketplace services that would qualify them for this exemption, from how my understanding from how this is being covered. So it just seems to set up a pretty significant loophole. [00:41:46] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: And loopholes are what are always exploited by business. That's considered good business - is exploiting those loopholes and finding ways to get around paying taxes and paying workers and paying for all sorts of things. That's what people consider to be good business. And so, writing in a loophole - writing in just a loophole you can drive a truck through - it just doesn't make any sense. Gig workers are some of the most vulnerable workers in our city, and when the most vulnerable are not protected, it ends up sort of externalizing to the whole community. It's hard for the whole community to have people who are not making enough money to live. It causes all kinds of other problems and strains on other services and things like that, so it really would have benefited the entire city if this had not been done. And it's just - yeah, it is puzzling as to why, after everything, this happened at the last minute. [00:42:54] Crystal Fincher: Now in a conversation with The Stranger, Andrew Lewis did give a few reasons for why he took this action. One was, "I'm not saying we won't do them. I just don't want to do them in this bill," signaling that there was another bill that maybe he could incorporate this in. There is no date for when that other bill is come up. He also said it's basically a "moot point," 'cause this bill won't even take effect for another year while the Office of Labor Standards gets its ducks in a row. He's like - it's not like immediately these apps are going to have certain rights and the marketplace workers won't - that is literally what he voted for. And as with most laws, unless there is usually some emergency clause, they don't take effect initially, this is the standard course of legislation - so it's interesting to hear that - hey, it's not a big deal. This doesn't take effect immediately - when, if it's something that is popular, they're saying it's a really big deal, even if it doesn't take effect immediately. He also had said - that these companies and other people were saying, these companies currently have not - hey, this happened in New York too. And these companies didn't change their business model after this exemption was passed in New York - they're really good corporate citizens and we can trust them to continue to do the right thing. I would note that we see so many times that they are on their best behavior while legislation is getting passed. And if they know this is up for a vote in subsequent cities, oftentimes they're on their best behavior. We've seen this in California with some app-based bills that impact employment, and who's considered an employee and a contractor. And then once legislation is all on their side, then the change is made. We've seen that a lot of times. This is one of the reason, the reasons why corporate profits are skyrocketing and incomes are doing nothing to keep up with the rate that corporate profits and executive compensation - how that's been skyrocketing - and income inequality is largely due to not regulating these companies and ensuring that they're all playing by the rules and meeting the minimum standards of pay and worker conditions that we expect from people. So this was - it was disappointing for me to see, it was disappointing for others to see - this was a close vote. It was a 3-2 vote. And Andrew Lewis seems to have been the swing vote here, and for him to be such a proponent of this and then just change his mind on this at the very end - he's reading as - hey, we'll get to it, it'll be fine. I don't know that people who are counting on this money and who this would provide immediate relief to, whether it's paying for gas or making their rent or paying for their insurance, it feels like a big deal and it feels like we did not center the people who are closest to harm and crisis. And we did center people who are in a relatively comfortable position. And adding an exemption to a baseline standard, usually doesn't turn out well - there's a reason why we set standards and why we have baselines - it's so we don't go beneath them and so we don't allow exemption. So I do hope that Councilmember Lewis delivers on his promise to incorporate this into an upcoming bill. I hope that happens quickly. And I hope this is able to get resolved for the impacted workers. [00:46:47] Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: Same. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it's deeply unsatisfying to hear - oh, I just didn't want to do it in this bill, or it's not even going to take effect. It feels like giving up before anything's tried and that's not what we need from people in positions of power. We need someone championing the rights of workers - they don't have the lobbying power, they don't have all the power, they don't have all the money. And so there needs to be champions, worker champions in our City government and our State government - at all levels of government. Because these corporations are not going to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. The way a corporate structure is set up, their only obligation is to the shareholders. So there is actually not much of a legal option to just do the right thing. That's why we need regulations. That's why we need standards and we need a floor and things like that. And the erosion of so many of those things - unions, protections, regulations - over time have led us to this place where we are right now. And we need people to be strong in their positions. And so, yeah, this was sad to see. [00:48:06] Crystal Fincher: We do and it's a deeply popular position. As we see, there is a workers' rights movement that is just spreading across the country, like wildfire locally, absolutely. If there's one thing that people are actively cheering on and that seems like a really bright spot in the midst of so much negative news, it's that so many workers are standing up for their rights and securing better working conditions for themselves and bringing just some - a little bit more of an element of fairness into this. And that the profits that would not be possible without them - that they are entitled to some of them and they shouldn't have to rely on public assistance or wonder if they can pay their most basic bills, while others are working on financing their third house and second yacht. It just doesn't seem to make sense. So I do hope that action can be taken soon - look forward to Councilmember Lewis making himself a champion on this issue because the people need it. And with that, we thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks on this Friday, May 27th, 2022. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler and assistant producer is Shannon Cheng. And our insightful co-host today is defense attorney, abolitionist and activist, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, who is always a pleasure to have on. You can find Nicole on Twitter @NTKallday. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii and now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts - just type “Hacks and Wonks” into the search bar and be sure to subscribe to get the full versions of our Friday almost-live show and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes. Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.
For the last couple of years, Covid-19 had reigned as the dominant virus on everyone's minds. But if you've been on social media, or followed the news lately, you've probably heard about monkeypox, a rare viral disease that's related to smallpox.
6PM - Seattle's population dropped, but another King County city saw fastest growth in WA // Ray Liotta, of ‘Goodfellas' and ‘Field of Dreams,' Dies at 67 // The Summer Long Weekend Has Rarely Been This Hard to Pull Off // Seattle residents painted their own crosswalk. The city scraped it off See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
4PM - Seattle's population dropped, but another King County city saw fastest growth in WA // Ray Liotta, of ‘Goodfellas' and ‘Field of Dreams,' Dies at 67 // Do Republicans and Democrats really hate each other? Not as much as you think, study says // Make womb for breakfast! 'UTERUS-shaped' cereal aims to normalize conversations about periods at the breakfast table // Spain Considers Bill to Give Period Leave to Women With Menstrual Pain See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
What's Trending: Biden introduces police reforms that don't address the issue, and Monkeypox strikes in King County. Big Local: Stop hiking, Mercer Island home gets broken into by people impersonating police, and you can now adopt a wasp. A scary carjacking in Ballard. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
King County outreach leaders say an approach informed by lived experience can help solve the worsening crisis. In January, the King County Homeless Authority issued a report stating that more than 40,000 people had experienced homelessness in the county in the past year. It was a much larger number than any previously reported, in part a result of using new methodology, but it was not necessarily surprising. Now seven years after the city and the county declared a state of emergency to help address homelessness, the problem has become so widespread in the greater Seattle area that it is nearly impossible to ignore. It can also seem nearly impossible to address in a meaningful way. For this episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, we listen in on a conversation with three people who are nonetheless attempting to do just that: King County Regional Homeless Authority CEO Marc Dones, outreach provider Karen E. Salinas and the CEO of the Racial Equity Action Lab, Lamont Green. In conversation with Crosscut city reporter Josh Cohen, these three outreach leaders discuss why the homeless population has grown so large, where leadership has gone wrong in the past and how an approach informed by the lived experience of those living in a state of homelessness could help them get things right. --- Credits Host: Mark Baumgarten Producer: Sara Bernard Event producers: Jake Newman, Andrea O'Meara Engineers: Resti Bagcal, Viktoria Ralph
KIRO's own Shari Elicker is in to talk about campus walkouts over a University same sex marriage policy. As well as nasty claims made about same sex marriage. // Dr.William Zinnanti, MD, PhD is in to chat about the tragedy today in Texas as well as the Instance of monkey-pox investigated in King County. // Biden speaks about shooting at Texas elementary school. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
On this midweek show, Crystal chats with Jeff Manson about his campaign for State Representative in the 36th Legislative District - why he decided to run, how the last legislative session went, and where he stands on issues such as COVID response and recovery, housing affordability and zoning, homelessness, guaranteed basic income, public safety, drug decriminalization, and climate change. As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com. Find the host, Crystal, on Twitter at @finchfrii and find Jeff at @VoteJeffManson. Resources Campaign Website - Jeff Manson: https://www.votejeffmanson.com/ Transcript [00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. Well today, I am very excited to welcome to the program, Jeff Manson, who's a candidate for the 36th District State House seat. Welcome, Jeff. [00:00:49] Jeff Manson: It's great to be here, Crystal - thank you. [00:00:51] Crystal Fincher: It's great to be here, it's great to see you. We were in the IDF class of 2010 together. [00:00:59] Jeff Manson: Yes we were - 2010 forever. [00:01:01] Crystal Fincher: 2010 forever. So I'm thrilled to have you on here and to have this conversation, excited to see you again. So starting off, what made you choose to run? [00:01:12] Jeff Manson: Yeah - great question. So, I'm an administrative law judge with the state, I'm a labor leader, and a disability community advocate. As a state administrative law judge, we resolve disputes that people have with state government - so I see every day how underfunded government affects people, including the most vulnerable individuals in our state. So I'm running for State Representative to fund the services and infrastructure that we need and utilizing progressive revenue sources. I've been fighting for progressive values since the fourth grade, when I co-founded my elementary school's Earth Club after reading a book for kids on the environment - it was 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth and each page described an environmental problem and then what a kid could do about. And I did most of the things and it really taught me not only about environmental issues at a young age, but also that one person can make a difference - if you get off your butt and start doing stuff, you can make incremental differences and possibly take that to scale. So since then I've developed a track record of effecting progressive policy change. I was lucky to go to law school at Seattle University, where I did an emphasis in poverty and inequality law, and I represented people with disabilities as a young attorney. But I saw them struggle with our legal system - there's just a lot of systemic barriers, especially for people with disabilities to accessing justice. So I gathered legal and disability experts and people with disabilities, and we wrote a guide for judges on how to accommodate people in legal proceedings. And then, when I saw the negative effects of corporate and wealthy donations on our democracy, I became a leader with the group that brought the Democracy Voucher program to Seattle City elections. And it took about a decade - we had to change state law first, and then we tried to go to the ballot and decided not to, then we did go to the ballot and we failed, and then we went to the ballot again a couple of years later and were finally successful - and it's been a really successful program. And then in my own profession, our salaries were stagnating, we were having issues in our workplace. But we were not allowed as - even though we're state employees as administrative law judges - we were not allowed to collectively bargain for almost 40 years. So a few years ago I organized my colleagues and we successfully lobbied the Legislature - my own representative who I'm running to replace, Representative Noel Frame, sponsored the bill. And we successfully got collective bargaining rights for administrative law judges. And in the few weeks before COVID shut everything down, we got 85% of our judges to sign union authorization cards. So, and now we're unionized, we've got a contract, we got a salary increase, and last year I was elected as President of WFSE Local 562. So I'm a restless personality - always seeing problems and trying to fix them and pulling people together to fix them - and I can't wait to hopefully be elected so I can work for the people of the 36th doing the same stuff in the legislature. [00:04:33] Crystal Fincher: Yes, and it is exciting to have watched you do all of this over the years and get the opportunity to - see so many more people get the opportunity to see all of the work that you've done and how helpful that has been. You just mentioned COVID. Right now, we're still dealing with COVID, but trying to move forward with COVID - sometimes lurching forward prematurely in how we're dealing with COVID. And so it seems like - to a number of people still - there still needs to be more done to mitigate COVID. I was just - a friend just yesterday came down with COVID. Lots of talk about - hey, we have the tools to address this, we have therapeutics and Paxlovid - and she and others that I've known have had challenges even accessing that with COVID, in addition to testing and some of the financial mitigation things. Should we - should the Legislature be doing more to keep us safe from COVID, and if they should, what should be happening from the legislative point of view? [00:05:44] Jeff Manson: Yeah, it seems like two steps forward, one step back - or sometimes two steps forward, three steps back - depending on the season. It's been a long couple of years - I guess we're on 26 months now. And yeah, this isn't over. I don't know about you or the listeners, but it seems like more people that I know have caught it in the last few weeks than in the couple of years prior to that. And yeah, so it isn't over. Ideally this would be handled at the federal level, and I think the federal government has done some things right and some things not right. And our federal system, I think, makes it more difficult - when we first had the vaccines last year, I waited my turn until my category came up and then I went online to try to find a place, and it was just a mess to just find - it's like, can't you just tell me where to go. I'll drive to Yakima - I'll totally drive to Yakima if that's my assigned place - just tell me where to go instead of giving me 20 websites to click on, all of which say it's full. If the federal government had just taken it over, it may have run more smoothly, but we have this decentralized form of government in this country where the states were in charge and then they would turn it over to the counties. And I think we've seen some of the flaws in that system, especially when there's a crisis. I think federalism creates - we have the laboratories of democracy or whatnot - but in a crisis where you have emergencies declared and you need quick responses and top-down efficiency, that decentralized system doesn't work very well. So I think from the Legislature - what the Legislature can do - is still provide the resources that people need, who are not able to stop quarantining. In my job, we adjudicate unemployment benefits appeals, and that's most of what I'm doing right now - we still have a big backlog. And there's still lots of people who are not comfortable leaving their homes, either because of their own health situation, or that of someone else in their household, or of a parent they care for in another household, or because their child is under five years old. And it's one of the main reasons a lot of people aren't going back to work yet. And why we have a - we talk about supply chain issues, but we have a labor supply issue in almost every industry right now. And people aren't able to go back to work 'cause they don't feel safe doing it. So for those who can't, I think we need to continue some of the safety net programs that we had for a year, year and a half, but many of which have expired. And then beyond that, I think a lot of it is communication - there are free tests that - I bought a test at a grocery store, it was 20 bucks when it's like - oh, wait a minute, I could have ordered one of these if only I had known to go to this website and then do this and then do that. I think our state and our county health departments could help with that communication - that does require funding though, and the state provides a lot of that funding. [00:08:56] Crystal Fincher: All right. Well, you talk about what the Legislature has done here in our state. We just got done recently with a session where there are some things that happened that were great and other things that were pretty disappointing. What was your evaluation of this past session? What would you have done differently than our Legislature did? [00:09:19] Jeff Manson: Yeah, there were, like any session, there were highs and lows. Some of the high - we got a transportation package which was good. It wasn't a perfect transportation package, but it does fund a lot of really good things, including transit, bike, and pedestrian infrastructure. We got - for education, it's still just a - we haven't fully funded education in my mind yet, but we did take a step in the right direction. Teachers got a COLA [Cost-of-Living Adjustment], we got more funding for school counselors and nurses and social workers. But there were also some disappointments - there were some environmental bills that didn't pass. We had electric vehicle subsidies that didn't pass and there were some other environmental bills that we'll need to take up next year. And I think we have a housing crisis in the state - but in particular in Seattle, it's a regional housing market, but we see it acutely here in Seattle. And I think leaving housing decisions to the cities hasn't worked and there is a place for the state to step in. And I know Jessica Bateman, Representative Bateman, had a bill. There were a few different versions of it before it died, but I think we need to - I support the concept of the state directing changes in zoning and we should - that should be a priority next session. [00:10:49] Crystal Fincher: Should we be increasing zoning density in single-family neighborhoods? [00:10:53] Jeff Manson: I think in some of them - the devil will be in the details, but I think - we're at tens of thousands of housing units behind where we need to be. People are moving here and staying here faster than we're building housing units. And the result has been increased housing prices. We're seeing housing prices increase across the country the last year or so, but Seattle has been seeing this much longer than just the last year. And the result is that people are being priced out of the City or onto our streets. And so we need to - we need more housing stock. We need it - and of every type - we need more large apartment buildings in transit corridors, we need more duplexes and fourplexes. And the City of Seattle has taken some steps in recent years to add density, which I've supported - more ADUs [Accessory Dwelling Units], some up-zoning in urban villages. But a lot of cities elsewhere in the region haven't done the same, so I think state action is needed to prod that along. And ADUs and DADUs [Detached Accessory Dwelling Units] - I think that's great and for those who are able to afford to build one or renovate for one - it's wonderful. But the first year after that change, we saw an increase of about 300 ADU and DADU permits than the previous year. And 300 housing units - that's one large apartment complex, it's just a drop in the bucket. It's great, but we need to attack this from all angles, but it's just a drop in the bucket compared to the tens of thousands of units that we need over the next several years. [00:12:39] Crystal Fincher: Do you support the social housing initiative that is currently gathering signatures in the City of Seattle. And do you think that's an approach that could be taken statewide? [00:12:49] Jeff Manson: I'm very intrigued by it - I've not read the actual initiative, but I understand from what I've read, that it's a model that's been used in Europe, especially in Vienna. So I'm very intrigued by the idea and excited about the idea. I think we need to try as many things as we can and see what works. I need to see how it pencils out and what it looks like before I make a decision about whether I'll support it at the ballot or not, but I really like that we're having the conversation. And if it does look like it's a model that could work, then I think it should be expanded to the rest of the state. I do - we were talking about the market rate housing and supply and demand, which is a big part of housing affordability. But I really think that there is a significant - government should also be responsible for subsidizing and directly building housing units. We need both the free market and the commons to take responsibility for housing people - and whether that's traditional public housing, or Section 8, or subsidies - the government needs to be stepping up to the plate. And the state provides a lot of the funding for those - cities and counties make a lot of the micro-level decisions, but the state provides funding for the Housing Trust Fund. This last session, we put money in for about 2000 units of supportive housing, which is great - it may not be enough, but it's great. But we really need government being part of this market. There's the free market, but it should be - we should have a safety net of housing, just like we have a safety net of food assistance for low-income people and disability benefits for people. We need a housing benefit, so to speak, and government role in that space. [00:14:42] Crystal Fincher: And part of our housing problem, housing affordability problem, is one of the root causes of homelessness. And we are experiencing a crisis of homelessness. What are you proposing, that you can do as a legislator, to help make a tangible difference? [00:15:05] Jeff Manson: Yeah, and it really comes back to funding. There can be - there's some at the edges, we can tweak policies to help with homelessness, but really it's a funding issue. We need more funding for more housing options, and that's really at every level - that's emergency shelter, it's tiny homes, it's supportive housing as I mentioned, and it's other public housing that I mentioned. But we have an acute crisis right now, and we need to get people off of the streets and into some sort of shelter that is safer for them and safer for all of us. And then longer term, increasing our housing stock will reduce the root cause, which is evictions - a lot of people are homeless. They were not born homeless - most of them. They, at some point, lost their housing or lost their support system. So yeah, it's really about funding and our state government has been, I believe, chronically underfunded for decades. And really that gets back to our tax structure. We have the worst tax structure in the country, where the lowest-income people pay the most and the wealthiest pay the least, and it's completely upside down. So we need more progressive revenue sources to fund things like housing and everything else that we feel like we need as a society. [00:16:30] Crystal Fincher: There are currently about 30 cities across the country piloting some form of a guaranteed basic income program - a set amount of money each month targeted to low-income households just to help take care of basic needs. And with it showing results in everything from health outcomes, to educational outcomes, to public safety outcomes. Do you support a guaranteed basic income? [00:16:58] Jeff Manson: I love the idea and I think we should continue experimenting with it. And actually, I am in the public benefits arena where everything - a lot of things are means-tested - unemployment benefits aren't, it's an insurance program. But in my office, we adjudicate food assistance, TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families], state disability benefits, Medicaid - and these are all means-tested programs. And maybe I'm going to get myself in trouble with my union because I'm going to propose putting us out of work. But what we do is try to figure out whether people qualify for these programs. Somebody will be getting - say, $182 per month in food assistance. And then they get a letter that reduces it from $182 to $165, so it's gone down $17 a month. They request a hearing, they come to the hearing. And so now we have this whole hearing about whether they should have their benefits reduced by $17, and then I issue a decision and then it's implemented. And this is all after the person shows up in a building, they fill out paperwork, they go to their doctor or they go to their landlord to get supporting documentation, a financial worker and sometimes a social worker with DSHS looks it up - so we've got all of this expense for the bureaucracy of determining how much this person should - just give everybody $200 per month of food assistance. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, you, me, everybody - and is $200 the right amount? I don't know, but I think the concept of UBI [Universal Basic Income] has helped sort of change the conversation about this. There is so much bureaucracy around a lot of these means-tested programs, where if you just gave it to people, we know that almost everybody spends it in the way that we think people should spend it, which is on their basic needs. I think we saw this with the refundable childcare tax credit at the federal level - I don't think we would have had that conversation if it wasn't for Andrew Yang and him talking about UBI in the previous presidential election - even Mitt Romney was on board with a refundable child tax credit for everybody, which gives it to people who have children, who are the ones who need it. And it was too bad that it hasn't been extended, but I think all the studies have shown that it's been better than just about anything to reduce child poverty in this country. So wherever - actually having UBI like Andrew Yang was talking about is incredibly expensive, and so I wouldn't want to flip the switch and necessarily devote resources to giving everybody thousands of dollars per month right now. But I do think the concept is a good one for changing our approach to a lot of these public benefits. It is also demeaning as hell to go through the process of getting public benefits. You jump through all these hoops just to prove that you're poor enough, or disabled enough, or fleeing domestic violence enough - to get the paperwork necessary to prove that you're fleeing a domestic violence situation is awful. It's retraumatizing just to get what you need to survive on the street, because we don't have public benefits that really house everybody. Most of the benefits and most of the people I see in hearings in King County are unhoused people trying to get benefits - just to eat, much less get a job or whatnot. [00:20:26] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, that is the current situation and it is a shame, and we can do better. Another area where we can and have to do better is in keeping people safe. It's a concern that a lot of people have - people are looking at crime - wondering if they're going to be victimized and wondering if we're doing the right things about it. What can you do in your capacity as a state legislator to make people safer? [00:20:55] Jeff Manson: Yeah, no, it's a real issue, and it's something I feel - I live in Greenwood, I ride the E line downtown and it's an adventure every time. I've had stuff stolen and I've been doorbelling for about a month now, and it's what I hear more than just about anything. I think it's - as Democrats nationally - we're out of practice talking about crime. You know what I mean? Crime has been much lower - even now - over the last 20 years, 30 years than it was in say the 70s and the 80s. And now that it's ticking back up, and not just ticking back up, but accelerating back up here and nationwide, I think we're trying to figure out how to talk about it again. But it is going up and one of the basic public duties is to protect citizens. And I think it goes back to underfunded government, both on the services side and the criminal justice system side. On services, I think if you give people housing and you provide mental health supports, addiction supports, and provide access to community and to both government and individual support, then that's the root cause of a lot of crime. And we have not been - part of what we're seeing now is the results of under-investment in our government supports over the last several decades. So I think first and foremost, we need to get people housed and give them the support they need for their own individual recovery. I do believe housing needs to come first because anyone who's trying to take a step towards recovery, whether it's mental health or addiction, is just not gonna be able to take that first step if they are in fight-or-flight mode, 24/7 on the streets, and more vulnerable to the kind of crime we're talking about than the rest of us are. But once they are housed, then there's at least the opportunity to be able to get them services that they need. I also think we need more funding on the criminal justice side. Our courts have a two-year backlog in criminal trials, we don't have enough prosecutors or defenders or investigators or paralegals or social workers or mental health therapists. And we also have a police force, law enforcement that at least in Seattle has seen a lot of people leave. And I have mixed feelings about law enforcement, especially the last couple of years - after the murder of George Floyd, there was a big movement to increase accountability and oversight of police, which I 100% supported. We can not have law enforcement killing Black and Brown people and not having any consequences. So I supported the reforms from two sessions ago and was opposed to many of the attempts to roll those back this past session. But, while we do need accountability, while we need training, and while we need independent oversight, we still do need law enforcement - often they're responding to things that others could respond to. Maybe we don't need law enforcement to respond to every mental health crisis, but we do still need police officers and Seattle Police Department is down about 25% of their officers. They have homicide detectives who are now responding to 911 calls. So I do think our whole criminal justice system, including alternatives to incarceration and mental health supports, all need funding. And as a public servant myself, I see underfunded government in my line of work, and I think we should fully fund my public service, just like we need to fund the public servants who teach in our schools, and public servants who try our cases, and the public servants - the police, firefighters, first responders, who are the frontlines of our criminal justice system. [00:25:06] Crystal Fincher: Well, and you bring up an interesting point there in - looking at police and having them to respond to certain things, also looking at alternative responses or things that get more to treating the root cause. When, just as a general approach to crime, do you think - right now the majority of our resources are going into responses to crime pretty much after they've happened and trying to figure out are those right resources there, whether it's police or in the criminal legal system, to have it there. And we have severely underfunded alternative responses that get more to the root causes. So should we be shifting that priority in how we allocate our resources towards prevention and keeping people from being victimized in the first place? [00:25:58] Jeff Manson: Yes, but I think we can do both, and. I think it's all of the above. And I think after - a couple of years ago there was the slogan, Defund the Police. And I think it - I never thought that was the best slogan at the time or now, but I think the intent behind that for a lot of people who said that was - we should be funding alternatives to police response, and alternatives to incarceration, alternatives to solely punitive response - which I am 100% in support of. I don't think, and as someone who thinks government's underfunded and as a progressive Democrat, I don't think it's a zero-sum game. I don't think in order to fund something, you have to take away from another government service. I think law enforcement - just like firefighting, just like roads and electricity - are just a basic government resource that should be funded at a basic level. But in terms of where we should be directing new resources - should be towards those alternatives and getting at the root cause of a lot of crime. We have an acute crisis right now in that people call 911, or call the police, and they literally don't get a response. That's an immediate right now, this year, this month issue. While, on the other hand, the reason we're having an uptick in crime is that over the last couple of decades, we haven't invested in all this stuff to prevent the crime. So you need both - you need to attack the acute problem right now, but you also need to lay the groundwork and start investing in the social infrastructure to prevent crime in the future. And also when we talk about alternatives to incarceration, Drug Court is amazing - anecdotes say this, but studies show as well that those who successfully do Drug Court, it is a life-changing experience. But you don't get into Drug Court unless a police officer arrests you first. So I don't want to suggest that we start arresting people in order to get them into treatment that they need. But often it is the mechanism that gets them into where they need to go. I mean, Drug Court is hard - people talk about it - when I say people, people who may come at this from a different perspective than me - it's like, oh, that's the easy way out. It's just handing them services instead of actually being tough on crime or whatnot, but Drug Court's hard - you have to make regular court appearances, you have mandatory treatment, regular drug tests, and if you slip up you're back to jail. But those who graduate, who actually get all the way through, actually stay clean and get housed and become productive members of society. And we need to expand that opportunity - and things like LEAD, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, is another great program that - we hear the stories of how it's successful, but also the studies show that it actually has good outcomes and the amount of money invested is less than jailing somebody. But it is law enforcement that is assisting that diversion - it's that interaction with law enforcement that is allowing that to happen. So - [00:29:22] Crystal Fincher: Well and that brings up an interesting question. So in your perspective, should addiction, or even possession, be criminalized? Is that the best approach, or should we be treating it like a public health problem? [00:29:33] Jeff Manson: No, it's absolutely a public health problem. Yeah, it's - if you're pulled over and you've got half a ton of meth in your truck or something that's different, but yeah - simple possession, just being an addict - that is, these are people who are sick and they need treatment, just like someone who has COVID or cancer. It is a public health problem, and I very much believe in a harm reduction approach to addiction. But I do think that a lot of the property crime that we're seeing and other kinds of low-level criminal activity is the result of addiction. It doesn't mean that all addicts commit crimes - not all homeless people commit crimes, it's a unfair stereotype - but a lot of the criminal activity that we're seeing - packages stolen from porches, windows being broken in small businesses - a lot of that is people trying to feed their addiction and that's not an excuse for the behavior, but it is an explanation of the root cause of a lot of what we're seeing. [00:30:47] Crystal Fincher: And seemingly a roadmap to how to reduce the occurrences of crime committed as a result of addiction or dependency - that if we solve the root, then we also solve for the crime in many of those instances. I'm also wondering - we need to make such dramatic progress in terms of our approach to climate change, in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in mitigating the impacts that we're already feeling and that those who are most marginalized are feeling most acutely. And just starting off, our transportation sector is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, so it seems like any solution needs to start there and it needs to be substantive. What would you propose, especially that impacts transportation-related emissions, to reduce those and help meet our climate goals? [00:31:54] Jeff Manson: Yeah, you know what? I was in fourth grade and I read the environment book, I remember explaining climate change to my parents and it was news to them - this was 1990, so it was news to them. I remember telling them - look, this is my future, mom and dad. And now I'm realizing now it's our present, right? And it's going to get worse, even if we do all the things right, it's going to get worse. But we've got the smoke from forest fires in our summer days, our few summer days here in Seattle, we can see the glaciers get smaller and smaller on the mountains every year. I have a family member who was essentially a climate refugee, who was living in a more tropical area and two Category 5 hurricanes left her without housing. She fortunately had the supports necessary to relocate, but this is scary. Fortunately, Washington State has been arguably the leader among the states in tackling climate change. Unfortunately, that's nowhere near close enough, but we should continue to push that envelope and be on the forefront as a state, not just for our own sake and doing our own part, but also to be a model for other states and other countries - look, here's what you can do. And not only is it not devastating to your economy to make these transitions, but it actually can make an economy more resilient if you do it the right way. So in terms of the things we need to do, we had a transportation package this last session. I don't think we need to wait another 10 years for the next transportation package, which has sort of been the model - it's 6 to 10 years between transportation packages. There was no gas tax increase on this last one. Some of it was federal money that was passing through, so I think there's an opportunity - maybe not this next session, but within the next couple - to do another transportation package which should be very heavily focused on climate-friendly infrastructure - transit and other alternative modes of transportation. We have the Link Light Rail coming through the middle of the 36th a decade from now, right through Interbay and into Ballard. And we need to make sure that - first of all, that happens, but also that it happens in a way that we have a light rail system that people are actually going to ride. And I think that means having light rail underground under the Ship Canal. We just saw that the Coast Guard is saying that any bridge would need to be - I think it's 205 feet above - and I saw the drawing - [00:34:36] Crystal Fincher: Gotta accommodate those mega-yachts. [00:34:38] Jeff Manson: You gotta accommodate the mega-yachts. [00:34:40] Crystal Fincher: That's a big priority. [00:34:41] Jeff Manson: And maybe - I don't know if there are other vessels that would also require it or not, but there's an easy solution here, guys - go under the Ship Canal. It's not that deep, and actually it turns out that a tunnel is not that much more expensive than going above ground than we thought it would be. It's not that tunneling got cheaper it's that we're realizing the cost of going above ground is even more expensive than it used to be. And now with the bridge height needing to be that high, it's probably even more expensive. So, if the state needs to provide additional funding in order to make that happen, then let's do it. If we can find funding from some other third party source, that'd be great. But I think this is going to be - this is a hundred year decision, right? Like wherever this line goes and wherever these stops go, those stops will still be there a hundred years from now. We have to get this right now and we can't just say - oh, interest rates went up by 0.5%, therefore we need to remove a stop or we need to do it this way or that way. By going underground, it also allows the light rail to go west of 15th Avenue - right now, the proposals are along 14th, but that's not where people want to go. The historical downtown Ballard, which will still be the historical downtown Ballard a hundred years from now, is about six blocks west of where they're wanting to send it. If you go underground, then you're not having to destroy all those buildings and we need to provide the funding for that. Whether that's a transportation package or some other source, I don't know, but - [00:36:18] Crystal Fincher: If you do get the opportunity to vote on a new transportation package, or help shape it - will you vote or support a package that includes highway expansion? [00:36:29] Jeff Manson: Not if that's the overwhelming priority of the money - what the priority needs to be - green infrastructure and transit. And representing the 36th - my duty would be to do the best that I can for the 36th District. And we already have two highways - we don't need anymore. Now would I absolutely never vote for something that expanded a highway? Sometimes you have to make compromises - there are also - I would be open to an argument about a freight corridor or something. Maybe there's a one particular spot where there needs to be an expansion. But overall, my philosophy is - the place that we are the farthest behind from where we should be is in terms of our transit system. We are 40 to 50 years behind where we should be on transit. [00:37:19] Crystal Fincher: What more can we do to help meet our goals? We've taken actions, but we're still behind our goals. We need to catch up and accelerate. Is there anything else we can do outside of our transportation system? Action that you could take to help make that change? [00:37:39] Jeff Manson: Yeah, there's a lot we can do. And our own goals are reduced carbon emissions by about half by 2030 - we're almost to 2030. It sounds weird to say that, but we're talking about - I would be in a legislative session in 2023. Those policy - the laws would take effect summer of 2023 and the actual effects of those policies won't even start until 2024, and then we're only basically five years away from 2030. So we have to do whatever we're going to do now. There are some things that did not pass this last session, which is where we can easily just start off - electric vehicle subsidies didn't pass - we should do that in order to encourage the electrification of our vehicle fleet and people's cars. There was a bill to require climate impacts to be part of comprehensive plans and the Growth Management Act that didn't pass - something we should look at. Other opportunities to move towards more electrification of homes - some of those bills didn't pass. So it was just a lot of opportunities to invest in our electric grid. We already have one of the less carbon-emitting electric grids since we have so much hydroelectric power in this state, but if we're going to electrify homes and vehicles, we are going to need more electrical capacity than we have historically. So that means we're going to have to expand our electric grid, and we really have an opportunity to model for the nation and the world on how you can build an electric grid that is totally carbon neutral. We can build more wind farms, more solar power, and the transmission lines to get it to population centers. We need to move - we need cleaning up the electric grid and moving things towards electricity that are not currently electricity. That's about 90%, probably, of our carbon goals - transportation being electric and investing in transit, and then electrifying pretty much every building, vehicle, or tool that we have is really the key to solving climate change. [00:40:10] Crystal Fincher: Well, and as we conclude our time today and are wrapping up, what is it that you think sets you apart from the crowded field of candidates that you are competing against in the 36th and how will voters' lives feel different as a result of you being their elected representative? [00:40:31] Jeff Manson: Well, I think I bring two things to the race primarily. One is - I have been doing, doing, doing to solve problems like this since I was a kid. I am not comfortable sitting still when I see a problem - I want to fix it. And I know that sometimes it takes a decade or more, it often takes working with a lot of other people. And I've been following that model for 30 years now, since I was 10 or 11 years old. And that's - I think that's the model of action that we want in a legislator - someone who sees a problem, is motivated and works their butt off to try to solve it, and is able to bring people together to do that. And I think I have a track record of doing that with progressive causes over the years. And I think the other is just an expertise in state government. I literally see how state laws and state budgets affect thousands of people every year and know at a granular level, how a turn of phrase in a statute can affect the outcome in an individual's case, or how a reduction in the state disability benefit by 20% results in changes in people's lives. And I think that perspective and being able to bring those stories of the people in my hearings into the Legislature and being able to speak to it from the perspective that I've been in, in my day job, could make a real difference. And besides that, I just love the 36th District. I've been there - I've been in this district for 15 years, it's a beautiful place, wonderful people - for those who could still afford to live in it. And would just really be honored to represent the 36th District in the Legislature and would just be such a joy to solve problems for people in the district. [00:42:28] Crystal Fincher: Well, thank you so much for joining us here today. [00:42:31] Jeff Manson: Thank you, Crystal. [00:42:32] Crystal Fincher: I thank you all for listening to Hacks & Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM. The producer of Hacks & Wonks Lisl Stadler with assistance from Shannon Cheng. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I. Now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks & Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes. Thanks for tuning in - we'll talk to you next time.
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