Council President Burgess’ statement on the public service of Councilmember Clark


Council President Burgess’ statement on the public service of Councilmember Clark

SEATTLE – Councilmember Sally J. Clark announced this morning that she will step down from her position on the City Council effective 5:00 p.m. Sunday, April 12, to take on a new challenge at the University of Washington. Her formal notice to Council President Tim Burgess is available here.

Burgess issued the following statement in response:

“Councilmember Clark has been a dedicated, hard-working public official for the people of Seattle. I deeply appreciate her thoughtful approach to policy development, disarming leadership style, and sharp wit. She tackled projects of incredible complexity with patience, diligence, and grace. She is a trustworthy colleague and a good friend. Sally will be missed at City Hall.”

Burgess will release information about the process and timeline for filling the upcoming vacancy in Council Position 9 later today.

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Murray salutes Councilmember Clark

Mayor Murray today issued the following statement after Councilmember Sally Clark announced that she will not run for re-election:                             

“Councilmember Clark is the best kind policymaker, a leader who will dig deep into issues to bring clarity to the opaque. She often plays the role of pathfinder, helping find the common ground to move legislation forward. She has a long history as an effective leader in the LGBT community and has served Seattle for years in many roles in City government. As a strong advocate for neighborhoods, she has helped create vibrant communities where families thrive. This coming year, we will implement solutions to make housing more affordable in Seattle and I know her leadership will be a key element of our success. On a personal note, I’m going to miss her sharp wit, which brings the right note of levity at the perfect moment in a long meeting.”

Visiting YouthBuild.

Guest post by LaTonya Brown, Legislative Aide

Sally and I visited YouthBuild, a nationally recognized pre-apprentice construction training program housed at the Georgetown campus of South Seattle College. This was an amazing and heartfelt tour that every public agency contractor and labor group should invest the time to attend. We were joined on the tour by other City of Seattle staff. King County, Sound Transit, Port of Seattle, Port Jobs, Turner Construction and Mortenson Manson, the prime contractor on the Seawall.

Councilmember Sally Clark crouching down in a timed tape measuring contest with Marie Kurose from the Port of Seattle. Councilmember Clark was declared the winner. Great job Sally and Marie!

What is YouthBuild?

YouthBuild, part of YouthCare, is a 6-month paid pre-apprenticeship construction training program designed to help young adults earn a GED while establishing a clear path to a high-paying career in the construction industry. Participants have to be 18-24 years old, low-income and out of school but seeking a diploma, and legally authorized to work in the United States. As a part of the program, participants receive educational support, job readiness, community service and leadership training skills while getting real money and real experience.

Why is it important?

Young people need a goal to work towards that produce real results and portable skills into future.  Programs such as YouthBuild give young people who are often faced with systemic and racial barriers a chance to become their own advocates by becoming self-efficient in ways some young people thought was impossible.  With the recently passed Priority Hire legislation, the tour was a great starting place to see the impact and vision come true for so many young adults who want to work in the construction field in Seattle.

How to get involved

Young people who come to YouthBuild come for a variety of reasons and from a variety of places in the city.  These youth are looking to better themselves and are ready to take the next step in their lives. If you are a young adult wanting to make a commitment to work, education, and your community, YouthBuild  may be right for you.

We’re particularly excited about YouthBuild’s success since they will be one of the pre-apprentice programs feeding people into the new Priority Hire program. Through Priority Hire, YouthBuild grads will test into the trade or craft of their choice and become full-fledged apprentices on the way to journey-level careers. That means better pay, benefits and meaningful work to support themselves and their families.

What a great presentation and tour led by YouthBuild cohorts!  I was proud to be invited!

Budget 2015

We’re just about to end our work adopting a City budget for 2015. Each year we go through hours of review and discussion about available revenue, efficiency, effectiveness and values. This year’s review, wrapping with a Full Council vote Monday, Nov. 24, like most others I’ve had the privilege to be part of, has focused greatly on how our spending can improve the safety and well-being of those around us who are homeless, food-less and, too often, feeling hopeless.

As the chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing Affordability, Human Services & Economic Resiliency, I put forward and gained support for a number of additions to Mayor Murray’s proposed 2015 spending plan:

$200,000 to address recommendations from the Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness– We’ll set this money aside because the task force won’t wrap up until the middle of December. For a variety of reasons we have more people living outside in Seattle than ever before. I hope to see new ideas from the task force on ways to keep homeless people safe now and better ways to keep people from becoming homeless in the first place.

$175,000 to incentivize regional partners to develop homeless shelters. The Committee to End Homelessness advocates a regional approach to ending homelessness and I serve with Mayor Murray on the Governing Board. At this point, the City of Seattle shelters constitute 91% of the cot and mat space in King County. That means that when someone becomes homeless outside the city they may have to travel to Seattle for help, making it harder to maintain contact with services and jobs in their home community. I put forward this first-ever fund as a way to have Seattle more fully support regional help for people experiencing homelessness. The fund will match funding put forward by regional partners to create shelter beds in their communities.

$150,000 for homeless youth street outreach. Organizations like YouthCare reach out to young people living on the streets to connect to case management, health care, education and employment training, and move them toward housing. You might see these outreach and case management staff at Westlake Park. YouthCare told me a few weeks ago that federal funding for this outreach is being cut. So, we’ll backfill this funding. I had hoped to propose new funding for outreach to places like Cal Anderson Park, but I’ll have to look for that money next year.

A Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) to Investigate City Owned Property for Shelter Space. At the same time we help regional partners open up more shelter beds we need to explore what City-owned buildings might be used for more shelter. Already City Hall shelters 40-50 men and women every night. When the thermometer goes down below 36 degrees, Seattle center opens up emergency shelter in the Northwest Rooms. This SLI asks the City’s Human Services Department to look at other City properties (for instance, community centers) to identify possible locations for shelter.

$250,000 for the soon to be new and improved University District Food Bank. The University District Food Bank serves hundreds of individuals and families living in the greater U-District and North Seattle in need of help to get them through the month. They’ve been doing all of this out of a small, cramped space. This funding will help complete fundraising for a new, larger space on the ground floor of a low-income housing project. I proposed this because, having worked at Chicken Soup Brigade and seeing CSB move into its new home earlier this year, I know that better space can make a huge difference for agency efficiency and client access.

This is a small subset of the changes the Council made for 2015. I haven’t touched on the other adds in human services (domestic violence case management and support, covering minimum wage changes for providers with City contracts, support for encampments and more low-barrier women’s shelter), economic development (support for small manufacturing), and pedestrian safety (more sidewalks and crosswalks).

Unfortunately, these additions still aren’t sufficient when you look at the level of need in our city and region. We’re still working to meet basic survival needs when no one should become homeless in the first place.

Field trips during 2015 budget review

Councilmembers have been locked in 2015 city budget review for the past few weeks on our way to a final vote the Monday before Thanksgiving. It’s a little difficult to schedule other work during this time because we’re in three-hour sessions morning and afternoon, but breaks do come up to give staff time to research questions and build proposed adds and subtractions.

In those breaks I’ve managed three recent “field trips” that have served to further illustrate for me the strange combination of growing wealth and growing disparity in our city, and to remind me that the budget we talk about in Council Chambers has real impact out in the world.

Nickelsville and Northacres – On a rainy Thursday afternoon a couple of weeks ago my legislative aide Jesse Gilliam and I met up with Alison Eisinger from the Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness at Nickelsville’s new site on Dearborn just east of I-5. Approximately 40-50 people live at Nickelsville currently, some in small pink shacks and some in tents pitched on platforms or the ground. The site, for which the group has permission from the owner, slopes and now that the Fall rains have started, the site is muddy and slippery. Some residents are new to homelessness and a few have been with Nickelsville for many years, finding at Nickelsville safety, community and a sense of purpose in the management of the camp. For one reason or another, including a lack of space, the residents have eschewed the shelter system. In the past month many families with children have shown up at Nickelsville either staying or getting connected to a shelter or other help.

We then drove to Northacres Park, the park in north Seattle that you likely have never visited. It’s a great park, though. Great trees. And, for the past few weeks, home to a small encampment that splintered from Tent City 3 when TC3 decided to leave its Haller Lake site. Disagreements over decision-making prompted a group of approximately 20 people now known as United We Stand to strike out on their own and seek a new spot. They set up originally at Licton Springs, but then moved to Northacres where they’re set back from the street and parking lot, but still prompting complaints from neighbors and other park users. We met one family with kids and multiple people with jobs, but not enough to put together first, last and a deposit. The group welcomed us and ran through the work they’re doing to find a church host somewhere in Seattle or King County. At that point, as a dozen of us stood in the creeping darkness under a couple of tarps at a picnic table with camp stoves, coffee pots, plastic boxes of supplies and rain splattering a small fire in a barbecue stand, they’d been told no almost 30 times.   

Career Bridge Cohort 13 Graduation – Through Career Bridge, started two years ago by the City’s Human Services Department, formerly incarcerated men, predominantly African-American, go through a two-week intensive confidence and job search skills building program. This year the program has been picked up and stabilized by the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. They’ve done a great job structuring the curriculum, the intake, the support and the job connections needed for these men to get jobs and earn the income they need to support themselves and their families. I was glad to be able to help celebrate at the recent graduation for Cohort 13. Held Tues., Nov. 4, at a church in Rainier Valley, the men stood before friends and family as Career Bridge graduates, speaking of self-worth, who they want to be and that they want not just jobs, but careers.

Casa Latina – When Casa Latina had to move from their original spot in Belltown they had a tough time finding a new home. They finally landed on S. Jackson where they have a dispatch hall, classrooms and offices. My other legislative aide LaTonya Brown and I visited Wed., Nov. 5, to see the dispatch system (with rules devised by the workers themselves) and to talk about Casa Latina’s wage theft work recovering wages for workers shorted by their employers. Unfortunately, this happens far more often in this region than it should. Casa Latina works through communication with employers, sometimes though direct action drawing attention to disreputable businesses and through legal action to recover wages.

Projects like these have changed the lives of many of the families and individuals that I had the opportunity to meet over the past few weeks, and they have also been priorities in the City’s budget. Shelter expansion has been a part of almost every budget on which I’ve voted. Career Bridge funds are in the 2015 proposed city spending plan with possible expansion on the horizon. Casa Latina received capital funds from the City when they built on S. Jackson in return for the public benefit of the agency’s work.

Although government budgets are political documents full of compromises large and small, they’re also maps showing if our tax payer money flows to our priorities.